The 14 Characteristics of Fascism

Dr. Mike Ghouse   March 29, 2022   Comments Off on The 14 Characteristics of Fascism

by Lawrence Britt Spring 2003

Free Inquiry magazine

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism
Anyone?,” Free Inquiry , Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler
(Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr.
Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics
of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

The 14 characteristics are

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs,
and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing
and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are
persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The
people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions,
assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a
perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals;
communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a
disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected.
Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated.
Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to
abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the
media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media
spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a
tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from
government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically
opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put
the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government
relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government,
labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and
academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or
even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often
refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The
people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the
name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited
power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who
appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority
to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for
national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by
government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are
manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition
candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries,
and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to
manipulate or control elections.