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Victor E. Frankl –Man’s Search for Meaning — Videos

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Viktor Frankl on Meaning

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What is the meaning of life? Is it possible to find happiness in the midst of suffering? What can you do to take responsibility for your destiny? These questions are answered in the book In Search of Meaning. Viktor Frankl recounts his survival experience in a Nazi concentration camp – and most importantly – how to make sense of life even if we find that we’re lost. The video today has two parts – in the first part, we’ll talk about life in the concentration camp. How was the daily life of those prisoners? In the second part of the video you’ll learn how to find meaning for your life in line with the teachings of the author of the book. If you’re a more sensitive person, go straight to minute 24:50 and jump directly to the second part.

FIND MEANING IN YOUR LIFE – JORDAN PETERSON [AMAZING]

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Jordan Peterson on the meaning of life for men. MUST WATCH

2014 Personality Lecture 11: Existentialism: Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist, wrote the famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, a description of his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps, in an attempt to describe the need for a profound and meaningful life.

2015 Personality Lecture 12: Existentialism: Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard

Dostoevsky, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, prophetic thinkers of the late 1800’s, foretold the inevitable rise of nihilism and totalitarianism in the bloody 20th century.

Jordan Peterson on The Necessity of Virtue

 

Viktor Frankl

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” Victor Emil Frankl (1905 – 1997), Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, devoted his life to studying, understanding and promoting “meaning.” His famous book,Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. He went on to later establish a new school of existential therapy called logotherapy, based in the premise that man’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” even in the most difficult of circumstances. Frankl pointed to research indicating a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behaviors, addictions and depression. Without meaning, people fill the void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions. Some may also strive for Suprameaning, the ultimate meaning in life, a spiritual kind of meaning that depends solely on a greater power outside of personal or external control.

Striving to find meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man (Frankl 1992, p. 104).

While Frankl rarely touches on the topic of the pursuit of happiness, he is very concerned with satisfaction and fulfillment in life. We can see this in his preoccupation with addressing depression, anxiety and meaninglessness. Frankl points to research indicating a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behavior, addiction and depression. He argues that in the absence of meaning, people fill the resultant void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions (Frankl 1992, p. 143).

Frankl’s Background

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist who founded what he called the field of “Logotherapy”, which has been dubbed the “Third Viennese School of Psychology” (following Freud and Alder). Logotherapy developed in and through Frankl’s personal experience in the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp. The years spent there deeply affected his understanding of reality and the meaning of human life. His most popular book, Man’s Search for Meaning, chronicles his experience in the camp as well as the development of logotherapy. During his time there, he found that those around him who did not lose their sense of purpose and meaning in life were able to survive much longer than those who had lost their way.

Logotherapy

In The Will to Meaning, Frankl notes that “logotherapy aims to unlock the will to meaning in life.” More often than not, he found that people would ponder the meaning of life when for Frankl, it is very clear that, “it is life itself that asks questions of man.” Paradoxically, by abandoning the desire to have “freedom from” we take the “freedom to” make the “decision for” one’s unique and singular life task (Frankl 1988, p. 16).

Logotherapy developed in a context of extreme suffering, depression and sadness and so it is not surprising that Frankl focuses on a way out of these things. His experience showed him that life can be meaningful and fulfilling even in spite of the harshest circumstances. On the other hand, he also warns against the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures because of its tendency to distract people from their search for meaning in life.

Meaning

Only when the emotions work in terms of values can the individual feel pure joy (Frankl 1986, p. 40).

In the pursuit of meaning, Frankl recommends three different courses of action: through deeds, the experience of values through some kind of medium (beauty through art, love through a relationship, etc.) or suffering. While the third is not necessarily in the absence of the first two, within Frankl’s frame of thought, suffering became an option through which to find meaning and experience values in life in the absence of the other two opportunities (Frankl 1992, p. 118).

Though for Frankl, joy could never be an end to itself, it was an important byproduct of finding meaning in life. He points to studies where there is marked difference in life spans between “trained, tasked animals,” i.e., animals with a purpose, than “taskless, jobless animals.” And yet it is not enough simply to have something to do, rather what counts is the “manner in which one does the work” (Frankl 1986, p. 125)

Responsibility

Human freedom is not a freedom from but freedom to (Frankl 1988, p. 16).

As mentioned above, Frankl sees our ability to respond to life and to be responsible to life as a major factor in finding meaning and therefore, fulfillment in life. In fact, he viewed responsibility to be the “essence of existence” (Frankl 1992, 114). He believed that humans were not simply the product of heredity and environment and that they had the ability to make decisions and take responsibility for their own lives. This “third element” of decision is what Frankl believed made education so important; he felt that education must be education towards the ability to make decisions, take responsibility and then become free to be the person you decide to be (Frankl 1986, p. xxv).

Individuality

Frankl is careful to state that he does not have a one-size-fits all answer to the meaning of life. His respect for human individuality and each person’s unique identity, purpose and passions does not allow him to do otherwise. And so he encourages people to answer life and find one’s own unique meaning in life. When posed the question of how this might be done, he quotes from Goethe: “How can we learn to know ourselves? Never by reflection but by action. Try to do your duty and you will soon find out what you are. But what is your duty? The demands of each day.” In quoting this, he points to the importance attached to the individual doing the work and the manner in which the job is done rather than the job or task itself (Frankl 1986, p. 56).

Techniques

Frankl’s logotherapy utilizes several techniques to enhance the quality of one’s life. First is the concept of paradoxical Intention, wherethe therapist encourages the patient to intend or wish for, even if only for a second, precisely what they fear. This is especially useful for obsessive, compulsive and phobic conditions, as well as cases of underlying anticipatory anxiety.

The case of the sweating doctor

A young doctor had major hydrophobia. One day, meeting his chief on the street, as he extended his hand in greeting, he noticed that he was perspiring more than usual. The next time he was in a similar situation he expected to perspire again, and this anticipatory anxiety precipitated excessive sweating. It was a vicious circle … We advised our patient, in the event that his anticipatory anxiety should recur, to resolve deliberately to show the people whom he confronted at the time just how much he could really sweat.A week later he returned to report that whenever he met anyone who triggered his anxiety, he said to himself, “I only sweated out a little before, but now I’m going to pour out at least ten litres!” What was the result of this paradoxical resolution? After suffering from his phobia for four years, he was quickly able, after only one session, to free himself of it for good. (Frankl, 1967)

Dereflection

Another technique is that of dereflection, whereby the therapist diverts the patients away from their problems towards something else meaningful in the world. Perhaps the most commonly known use of this is for sexual dysfunction, since the more one thinks about potency during the sexual act, the less likely one is able to achieve it.

The following is a transcript from Frankl’s advice to Anna, 19-year old art student who displays severe symptoms of incipient schizophrenia. She considers herself as being confused and asks for help.

Patient: What is going on within me?

Frankl: Don’t brood over yourself. Don’t inquire into the source of your trouble. Leave this to us doctors. We will steer and pilot you through the crisis. Well, isn’t there a goal beckoning you – say, an artistic assignment?

Patient: But this inner turmoil ….

Frankl: Don’t watch your inner turmoil, but turn your gaze to what is waiting for you. What counts is not what lurks in the depths, but what waits in the future, waits to be actualized by you….

Patient: But what is the origin of my trouble?

Frankl: Don’t focus on questions like this. Whatever the pathological process underlying your psychological affliction may be, we will cure you. Therefore, don’t be concerned with the strange feelings haunting you. Ignore them until we make you get rid of them. Don’t watch them. Don’t fight them. Imagine, there are about a dozen great things, works which wait to be created by Anna, and there is no one who could achieve and accomplish it but Anna. No one could replace her in this assignment. They will be your creations, and if you don’t create them, they will remain uncreated forever…

Patient: Doctor, I believe in what you say. It is a message which makes me happy.

Discernment of Meaning

Finally, the logotherapist tries to enlarge the patient’s discernment of meaning in at least three ways: creatively, experientially and attitudinally.

a) Meaning through creative values

Frankl writes that “The logotherapist’s role consists in widening and broadening the visual field of the patient so that the whole spectrum of meaning and values becomes conscious and visible to him”. A major source of meaning is through the value of all that we create, achieve and accomplish.

b) Meaning through experiential values

Frankl writes “Let us ask a mountain-climber who has beheld the alpine sunset and is so moved by the splendor of nature that he feels cold shudders running down his spine – let us ask him whether after such an experience his life can ever again seem wholly meaningless” (Frankl,1965).

c) Meaning through attitudinal values

Frankl argued that we always have the freedom to find meaning through meaningful attitudes even in apparently meaningless situations. For example, an elderly, depressed patient who could not overcome the loss of his wife was helped by the following conversation with Frankl:

Frankl asked “What would have happened if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you.”

“Oh,” replied the patient, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!”

Frankl continued, “You see such a suffering has been spared her; and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving her and mourning her.” The man said no word, but shook Frankl’s hand and calmly left his office (Frankl, 1992).

Conclusion

Frankl’s surprising resilience amidst his experiences of extreme suffering and sadness speaks to how his theories may have helped him and those around him. As the alarming suicide and depression rates among young teenagers and adults in the United States continue, his call to answer life’s call through logotherapy may be a promising resource.

Bibliography

Frankl, Victor (1992). Man’s Search for Meaning. (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Frankl, Victor (1986). The Doctor and the Soul. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Frankl, Victor (1967). Psychotherapy and Existentialism. New York, NY: Washington Square Press.

Frankl, Victor (1988). The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Frankl, Victor (2000). Recollections: An Autobiography. New York, NY: Perseus Books.

Recommended reading:

The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism (Touchstone Books)

The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy (Meridian)

Viktor Frankl

https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/viktor-frankl/

 

An Overview of Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy

Meaning in life can help to improve resilience.

 

Getty / Ascent/PKS Media Inc.

 

A Brief History of Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was born March 26, 1905 and died September 2, 1997, in Vienna, Austria. He was influenced during his early life by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, earned a medical degree from the University of Vienna Medical School in 1930. From 1940 to 1942, he was the director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital, and from 1946 to 1970 was the director of the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology.

In 1942, Frankl was deported to a Nazi concentration camp along with his wife, parents, and other family members. He spent time in four camps in total, including Auschwitz, from 1942 to 1945, and was the only member of his family to survive. In 1945, he returned to Vienna and published a book on his theories, based on his records of observations during his time in the camps. By the time of his death, his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” had been published in 24 languages.

During his career as a professor of neurology and psychiatry, Frankl wrote 30 books, lectured at 209 universities on five continents, and was the recipient of 29 honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He was a visiting professor at Harvard and Stanford, and his therapy, named “logotherapy,” was recognized as the third school of Viennese therapy after Freud’s psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler’s individual psychology. In addition, logotherapy was recognized as one of the scientifically-based schools of psychotherapy by the American Medical Society, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association.

 

Understanding Logotherapy

Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a “will to meaning,” which equates to a desire to find meaning in life. He argued that life can have meaning even in the most miserable of circumstances, and that the motivation for living comes from finding that meaning. Taking it a step further, Frankl wrote:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.

This opinion was based on his experiences of suffering, and his attitude of finding meaning through the suffering. In this way, Frankl believed that when we can no longer change a situation, we are forced to change ourselves.

 

Fundamentals of Logotherapy

“Logos” is the Greek word for meaning, and logotherapy involves helping a patient find personal meaning in life. Frankl provided a brief overview of the theory in “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Core Properties

Frankl believed in three core properties on which his theory and therapy were based:

  1. Each person has a healthy core.
  2. One’s primary focus is to enlighten others to their own internal resources and provide them tools to use their inner core.
  3. Life offers purpose and meaning but does not promise fulfillment or happiness.

Methods of Finding Meaning

Going a step further, logotherapy proposes that meaning in life can be discovered in three distinct ways:

  1. By creating a work or doing a deed.
  2. By experiencing something or encountering someone.
  3. By the attitude that we take toward unavoidable suffering.

An example that is often given to explain the basic tenets of logotherapy is the story of Frankl meeting with an elderly general practitioner who was struggling to overcome depression after the loss of his wife. Frankl helped the elderly man to see that his purpose had been to spare his wife the pain of losing him first.

Basic Assumptions

Logotherapy consists of six basic assumptions that overlap with the fundamental constructs and ways of seeking meaning listed above:

1. Body, Mind, and Spirit

The human being is an entity that consists of a body (soma), mind (psyche), and spirit (noos). Frankl argued that we have a body and mind, but the spirit is what we are, or our essence. Note that Frankl’s theory was not based on religion or theology, but often had parallels to these.

2. Life Has Meaning in All Circumstances

Frankl believed that life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. This means that even when situations seem objectively terrible, there is a higher level of order that involves meaning.

3. Humans Have a Will to Meaning

Logotherapy proposes that humans have a will to meaning, which means that meaning is our primary motivation for living and acting, and allows us to endure pain and suffering. This is viewed as differing from the will to achieve power and pleasure.

4. Freedom to Find Meaning

Frankl argues that in all circumstances, individuals have the freedom to access that will to find meaning. This is based on his experiences of pain and suffering and choosing his attitude in a situation that he could not change.

5. Meaning of the Moment

The fifth assumption argues that for decisions to be meaningful, individuals must respond to the demands of daily life in ways that match the values of society or their own conscience.

6. Individuals Are Unique

Frankl believed that every individual is unique and irreplaceable.

 

Logotherapy in Practice

Frankl believed that it was possible to turn suffering into achievement and accomplishment. He viewed guilt as an opportunity to change oneself for the better, and life transitions as the chance to take responsible action.

In this way, this psychotherapy was aimed at helping people to make better use of their “spiritual” resources to withstand adversity. In his books, he often used his own personal experiences to explain concepts to the reader.
Three techniques used in logotherapy include dereflection, paradoxical intention, and Socratic dialogue.
  1. Dereflection: Dereflection is aimed at helping someone focus away from themselves and toward other people so that they can become whole and spend less time being self-absorbed about a problem or how to reach a goal.
  2. Paradoxical intention: Paradoxical intention is a technique that has the patient wish for the thing that is feared most. This was suggested for use in the case of anxiety or phobias, in which humor and ridicule can be used when fear is paralyzing. For example, a person with a fear of looking foolish might be encouraged to try to look foolish on purpose. Paradoxically, the fear would be removed when the intention involved the thing that was feared most.
  3. Socratic dialogue: Socratic dialogue would be used in logotherapy as a tool to help a patient through the process of self-discovery through his or her own words. In this way, the therapist would point out patterns of words and help the client to see the meaning in them. This process is believed to help the client realize an answer that is waiting to be discovered.
It’s easy to see how some of the techniques of logotherapy overlap with newer forms of treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In this way, logotherapy may be a complementary approach for these behavior and thought-based treatments.

 

Criticisms

Frankl was not without his critics. Some felt he used his time in the Nazi camps as a way to promote his brand of psychotherapy, and others felt his support came only from religious leaders in the United States (indeed, he did recruit ministers and pastoral psychologists to work with him).

In 1961, his ideas were challenged by psychologist Rollo May, known as the founder of the existential movement in the United States, who argued that logotherapy was equivalent to authoritarianism, with the therapist dictating solutions to the patient. In this way, it was felt that the therapist diminished the patient’s responsibility in finding solutions to problems. It is not clear, however, whether this was a fundamental problem of logotherapy, or a failing of Frankl as a therapist himself, as he was said to be arrogant in his manner of speaking to patients.

In this way, it may be that logotherapy argues that there are always clear solutions to problems and that the therapist has the task of finding these for the client. However, Frankl argued that logotherapy actually educates the patient to take responsibility. Regardless, it is clear that in the application of Frankl’s theories, it is important to highlight that the patient must be a participant rather than a recipient in the process.

 

Evidence

More than 1700 empirical and theoretical papers have been published on logotherapy, and more than 59 measurement instruments developed on the topic. While Frank’s early work involved case studies, this eventually evolved to include operationalization of concepts and estimates of clinical effectiveness. In other words, Frankl believed in empirical research and encouraged it.

A systematic review of research evidence pertaining to logotherapy conducted in 2016 found correlations or effects pertaining to logotherapy in the following areas or for the following conditions:

  • Correlation between presence of meaning in life, search for meaning in life, and life satisfaction, happiness
  • Lower meaning in life among patients with mental disorders
  • Search for meaning and presence of meaning as a resilience factor
  • Correlation between meaning in life and suicidal thoughts in cancer patients
  • Effectiveness of a logotherapy program for early adolescents with cancer
  • Effectiveness of logotherapy on depression in children
  • Effectiveness of logotherapy in reducing job burnout, empty nest syndrome
  • Correlation with marital satisfaction

Overall, not surprisingly, there is evidence that meaning in life correlates with better mental health. It is suggested that this knowledge might be applied in areas such as phobias, pain and guilt, grief, as well as for disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, substance abusepost-traumatic stress, and anxiety.

Frankl believed that many illnesses or mental health issues are disguised existential angst and that people struggle with lack of meaning, which he referred to as the “existential vacuum.”

 

Logotherapy in Everyday Life

How might you apply the principles of logotherapy to improve your everyday life?

  • Create something. Just as Frankl suggested, creating something (e.g., art) gives you a sense of purpose, which can add meaning to your life.
  • Develop relationships. The supportive nature of spending time with others will help you to develop more of a sense of meaning in your life.
  • Find purpose in pain. If you are going through something bad, try to find a purpose in it. Even if this is a bit of mental trickery, it will help to see you through. For example, if a family member is going through medical treatments for a disease, view your purpose as being there to support that person.
  • Understand that life is not fair. There is nobody keeping score, and you will not necessarily be dealt a fair deck. However, life can always have meaning, even in the worst of situations.
  • Freedom to find meaning. Remember that you are always free to make meaning out of your life situation. Nobody can take that away from you.
  • Focus on others. Try to focus outside of yourself to get through feeling stuck about a situation.
  • Accept the worst. When you go out seeking the worse, it reduces the power that it has over you.

A Word From Verywell

While concepts of logotherapy continue to be studied to this day, you aren’t likely to hear of people receiving this type of treatment directly. Rather, the components of logotherapy are more likely to be intertwined with other therapies or treatments.

https://www.verywellmind.com/an-overview-of-victor-frankl-s-logotherapy-4159308

Viktor Frankl

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Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl2.jpg
Born
Viktor Emil Frankl

26 March 1905

Died 2 September 1997 (aged 92)

Vienna, Austria
Resting place Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Austria, Old Jewish Section
Nationality Austrian
Education Doctorate in Medicine, 1925, Doctorate in Philosophy, 1948
Alma mater University of Vienna
Occupation Neurologist, psychiatrist
Known for Logotherapy
Existential analysis
Spouse(s) Tilly Grosser, m. 1941
Eleonore Katharina Schwindt, m. 1947
Children Gabriele Frankl-Vesely
Parent(s) Gabriel Frankl and Elsa Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997)[1][2] was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He survived TheresienstadtAuschwitzKaufering and Türkheim. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of existential analysis, the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy“. His best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism, and originally published in 1946 as Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager, meaning Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp) chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate, which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, and thus, a reason to continue living. Man’s Search for Meaning has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into 24 different languages.[3] Frankl became one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists.[4]

Frankl has been the subject of criticism from several holocaust analysts[5][6] who questioned the levels of Nazi accommodation that the ideology of logotherapy has and Frankl personally willingly pursued in the time periods before Frankl’s internment, when Frankl voluntarily requested to perform unskilled lobotomy experiments approved by the Nazis on Jews,[7] to the time period of his internment, in what is hinted upon in Frankl’s own autobiographical account and later under the investigative light of biographical research.[8][9]

Contents

Life before 1945

Frankl was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of civil servants (Beamtenfamilie). His interest in psychology surfaced early. For the final exam (Matura) in Gymnasium, he wrote a paper on the psychology of philosophical thinking. After graduation from Gymnasium in 1923, he studied medicine at the University of Vienna. In practice he specialized in neurology and psychiatry, concentrating on the topics of depression and suicide. His early development was influenced by his contacts with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, although he would diverge from their teachings.[3][4]

Physician, therapist

During part of 1924 he became the president of the Sozialistische Mittelschüler Österreich, a Social Democratic youth movement for high school students throughout Austria.[1]:59

Between 1928 and 1930, while still a medical student, he organized and offered a special program to counsel high school students free of charge. The program involved the participation of psychologists such as Charlotte Bühler, and it paid special attention to students at the time when they received their report cards. In 1931, not a single Viennese student committed suicide. The success of this program grabbed the attention of the likes of Wilhelm Reich who invited him to Berlin.[2][10][promotional source?][11][non-primary source needed]

From 1933 to 1937, Frankl completed his residency in neurology and psychiatry at the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna. He was responsible for the so-called Selbstmörderpavillon, or “suicide pavilion”. Here, he treated more than 3000 women who had suicidal tendencies.[2][unreliable medical source?] In 1937, he established an independent private practice in neurology and psychiatry at Alser Strasse 32/12 in Vienna.[2]

Beginning with the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, he was prohibited from treating “Aryan” patients due to his Jewish identity. In 1940 he started working at the Rothschild Hospital, where he headed its neurological department. This hospital was the only one in Vienna to which Jews were still admitted. His medical opinions (including deliberately false diagnoses[12][better source needed]) saved several patients[example needed] from being euthanised via the Nazi euthanasia program.[citation needed] In December 1941 he married Tilly Grosser.[2][4]

Prisoner, therapist

On 25 September 1942, Frankl, his wife, and his parents were deported to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto in Occupied Czechoslovakia. This Ghetto which housed many of the Jewish middle class, as a “model community” was set up by the Schutzstaffel (SS) with the expressed purpose of fooling Red Cross representatives about the ongoing slave labor, the Holocaust, and, later, the Nazi plan to murder all Jews.[13] There, within the Cultural life of the Theresienstadt ghetto, Frankl worked as a general practitioner in a clinic and wrote and gave lectures. When his skills in psychiatry were noticed by the Nazis, he was assigned to the psychiatric care ward in Block B IV, establishing a camp service of “psychohygiene” or mental health care. He organized a unit to help camp newcomers to overcome shockand grief. Later he set up a suicide watch, assisted by Regina Jonas.[2][14]

On 29 July 1943, Frankl organized a closed event for the Scientific Society in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, and with the help of the equally controversial Judenrat/Jewish collaborator Leo Baeck,[15][16] Frankl offered a series of lectures, including “Sleep and Sleep Disturbances”, “Body and Soul”, “Medical Care of the Soul”, “Psychology of Mountaineering”, “How to keep my nerves healthy?”, “Medical ministry”, “Existential Problems in Psychotherapy”, and “Social Psychotherapy”.[14] Biographers state that Frankl’s father Gabriel, starved to death at Theresienstadt,[17] by Frankl’s account he died of pulmonary edema and pneumonia.[2][4][14]

On 19 October 1944, Frankl, his wife Tilly, Regina Jonas and many others from the Theresienstadt Ghetto, were transported to the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland, where he was processed.[citation needed] On 25 October, Frankl is listed as arriving in the southern German Kaufering III, of XI labor camp,[17] which held up to 2,000 male prisoners in earthen huts, who upon its opening in June of that year, the prisoners were required to construct a transport route to connect underground aircraft factories, laying the infrastructure for the mass production of the world’s first jet-powered Messerschmitt Me 262 bomber destroyer, the Nazi response, to regain vital air supremacy, under the growingly unopposed effectiveness of Allied bombing upon the Nazi armament industry.[18][19][20]According to Frankl, his feats of physical initiative at this work camp were such that they did not go unnoticed and he was gifted “premium coupons” in late 1944.[17] According to Frankl’s autobiography, when infected with the ubiquitous typhoid,[2][4] he was allowed to leave the work camp and was offered a move to the so-called rest camp of Türkheim, prison records list his departure from Kaufering as 8 March 1945.[17] Frankl states that in Turkheim he was placed in charge of fifty men with typhus, it was here he rose to the position of “senior block warden” and began writing his book anew, until 27 April 1945, when the camp was liberated by American soldiers.[17]

Frankl’s mother Elsa and brother Walter were murdered at Auschwitz. Frankl’s wife was similarly transported out of Auschwitz and moved to Bergen-Belsen, a facility that housed a considerable number of women and minors, including Anne Frank, where they were forced to work in the shoe recycling labor camp; she would similarly be murdered, from the brutal conditions sometime close to the time of its liberation in 1945.[17] The only survivor of the Holocaust among Frankl’s immediate family was his sister, Stella, who had emigrated from Austria to Australia.[2][4]

Life after 1945

Liberated after several months in concentration camps, Frankl returned to Vienna, where he dictated to stenographer-typists his well known work, “the flood gates had opened”, completing the book, by 1946.[17] Frankl then published his world-famous book entitled, Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe Erlebt das Konzentrationslager (“Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp”), known in English by the title Man’s Search for Meaning (1959 title: From Death-Camp to Existentialism).[21] In this book, he described the life of an ordinary concentration camp inmate from the objective perspective of a psychiatrist.[4][22] Frankl believed that people are primarily driven by a “striving to find meaning in one’s life,” and that it is this sense of meaning that enables people to overcome painful experiences.

After enduring the suffering in these camps, Frankl concluded that even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that, therefore, even suffering is meaningful. This conclusion served as a basis for his logotherapy and existential analysis, which Frankl had described before World War II. He said, “What is to give light must endure burning.”[23]

Frankl’s concentration camp experiences shaped both his therapeutic approach and philosophical outlook, as reflected in his seminal publications.

He often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of Men to exist: decent ones and unprincipled ones. These were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups. “Under such conditions, who could blame them for trying to dope themselves?” “These were the men who were employed in the gas chambers and crematoriums, and who knew very well that one day they would have to leave their enforced role of executioner and become victims themselves.”[22]

In 1946, he was appointed to run the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology. He remained there until 1971. In 1947 he married his second wife Eleonore Katharina Schwindt. She was a practicing Catholic and the couple respected each other’s religious backgrounds, going to both church and synagogue, and celebrating Christmas and Hanukah. They had one daughter, Gabriele, who went on to become a child psychologist.[2][4][24]

In 1948, Frankl earned a Ph.D. in philosophy. His dissertation, The Unconscious God, is an examination of the relation of psychology and religion.[25]

Grave of Viktor Frankl in Vienna

In 1955, he was awarded a professorship of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna, and as visiting professor, he resided at Harvard University (1961), at Southern Methodist University, Dallas (1966), and at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh (1972). Frankl published 39 books, which were translated into as many as 49 languages.[26][promotional source?] He lectured and taught seminars all over the world and received 29 honorary doctoral degrees.[24]

The American Psychiatric Association awarded Frankl the 1985 Oskar Pfister Award for important contributions to religion and psychiatry.[27]

Frankl died of heart failure on 2 September 1997. He was survived by his wife Eleonore, one daughter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.[28]

Controversy

In The Missing Pieces of the Puzzle: A Reflection on the Odd Career of Viktor Frankl, Timothy Pytell of California State University, San Bernardino,[29] conveys the numerous discrepancies and omissions in Frankl’s “Auschwitz survivor” account and later autobiography, which many of his contemporaries, such as Thomas Szasz, similarly have raised.[8] In Frankl’s Search for meaning the book devotes approximately half its contents to describing Auschwitz and the psychology of its prisoners, suggesting a long stay at the death camp, however his wording is contradictory and to Pytell, “profoundly deceptive”, when rather the impression of staying for months, Frankl was held close to the train, in the “depot prisoner” area of Auschwitz and for no more than a few days, he was neither registered there, nor assigned a number before being sent on to a subsidiary work camp of Dachau, known as Kaufering III, the true setting of much of what is described in his book.[30][20][31]

On Frankl’s doctrine that one must instill meaning in the events in one’s life that work and suffering to find meaning, will ultimately lead to fulfillment and happiness. In 1982 the highly cited scholar and holocaust analyst Lawrence L. Langer, who while also critical of Frankl’s distortions on the true experience of those at Auschwitz,[32] and Frankl’s amoral focus on “meaning” that could just as equally be applied to Nazis “finding meaning in making the world free from Jews”,[33] would go on to write “if this [logotherapy] doctrine had been more succinctly worded, the Nazis might have substituted it for the cruel mockery of Arbeit Macht Frei“[“work sets free”, read by those entering Auschwitz].[34] With, in professor Pytell’s view, Langer also penetrating through Frankl’s disturbed subtext that Holocaust “survival [was] a matter of mental health.” Noting Frankl’s tone as almost self-congratulatory and promotional throughout, that “it comes as no surprise to the reader, as he closes the volume, that the real hero of Man’s Search for Meaning is not man, but Viktor Frankl” by the continuation of the very same distortions of reality and the fantasy of world-view meaning-making, that were so disturbingly, precisely what had preturbed civilization into the holocaust-genocide of this era and others, to begin with.[35]

Pytell later would remark on the particularly sharp insight of Langer’s reading of Frankl’s holocaust testimony, noting that with Langer’s criticism published in 1982 before Pytell’s biography, the former had thus drawn the controversial parallels, or accommodations in ideology without the knowledge that Victor Frankl was an advocate/”embraced”[36] the key ideas of the Nazi psychotherapy movement (“will and responsibility”[37]) as a form of therapy in the late 1930s. When at that time Frankl would submit a paper and contributed to the Göring institute in Vienna 1937 and again in early 1938 connecting the logotherapy focus on “world-view” to the “work of some of the leading Nazi psychotherapists”,[38] both at a time before Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938.[39][40]

The origins of logotherapy, as described by Frankl, were therefore a major issue of continuity that Biographer Pytell argues were potentially problematic for Frankl because he had laid out the main elements of logotherapy while working for/contributing to the Nazi-affiliated Göring Institute. Principally Frankl’s 1937 paper, that was published by the institute.[40] This association, as a source of controversy, that logotherapy was palatable to National Socialism is the reason Pytell suggests, Frankl took two different stances on how the concentration-camp experience affected the course of his psychotherapy theory. Namely, that within the original English edition of Frankl’s most well known book, Man’s Search for Meaning, the suggestion is made and still largely held that logotherapy was itself derived from his camp experience, with the claim as it appears in the original edition, that this form of psychotherapy was “not concocted in the philosopher’s armchair nor at the analyst’s couch; it took shape in the hard school of air-raid shelters and bomb craters; in concentration camps and prisoner of war camps.” Frankl’s statements however to this effect would be deleted from later editions, though in the 1963 edition, a similar statement again appeared on the back of the book jacket of Man’s Search for Meaning.

Frankl over the years would with these widely read statements and others, switch between the claim that logotherapy took shape in the camps to the claim that the camps merely were a testing ground of his already preconceived theories. An uncovering of the matter would occur in 1977 with Frankl revealing on this controversy, though compounding another, stating “People think I came out of Auschwitz with a brand-new psychotherapy. This is not the case.”[17]

In the post war years, Frankl’s attitude towards not pursuing justice nor assigning collective guilt to the Austrian people for collaborating with or acquiescing in the face of Nazism, led to “frayed” relationships between Frankl, many Viennese and the larger American Jewish community, such that in 1978 when attempting to give a lecture at the institute of Adult Jewish Studies in New York, Frankl was confronted with an outburst of boos from the audience and was called a “nazi pig”.[39]

In 1988 Frankl would further “stir up sentiment against him” by being photographed next to and in accepting the Great Silver Medal with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria as a holocaust survivor, from President Waldheim, a controversial president of Austria who concurrent with the medal ceremony, was gripped by revelations that he had lied about his WWII military record and was under investigation for complicity in Nazi War crimes. Frankl’s acceptance of the medal was viewed by a large segment of the international Jewish community as a betrayal and by a disparate group of commentators, that its timing was politically motivated, an attempt to rehabilitate Waldheim’s reputation on the world stage.[41]

None of Frankl’s obituaries mention the unqualified and unskilled brain lobotomy and trepanation medical experiments approved by the Nazis that Frankl performed on Jews who had committed suicide with an overdose of sedatives, in resistance to their impending arrest, imprisonment and enforced labour in the concentration camp system. Operating without any training as a surgeon, Frankl would publish some of the details on his experiments, the methods of insertion of his chosen amphetamine drugs into the brains of these individuals, resulting in at times an alleged partial resuscitation, in 1942, prior to his own internment at Theresienstadt ghetto in September later in that year. Historian Günter Bischof of Harvard University, suggests Frankl’s voluntary request to perform lobotomy experiments could be seen as a way to “ingratiate” himself amongst the Nazis, as the latter were not appreciative of suicide being on arrest records.[17][9][32]

Legacy

Frankl’s logotherapy and existential analysis is considered the third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,[26][promotional source?] among the broad category that comprises existentialists.[42] For Irvin Yalom, Frankl, “who has devoted his career to a study of an existential approach to therapy, has apparently concluded that the lack of meaning is the paramount existential stress. To him, existential neurosis is synonymous with a crisis of meaninglessness”.[42]

He has coined the term noogenic neurosis, and illustrated it with the example of Sunday neurosis. It refers to a form of anxiety resulting from an awareness in some people of the emptiness of their lives once the working week is over.[43] Some complain of a void and a vague discontent.[42] This arises from an existential vacuum, or feeling of meaninglessness, which is a common phenomenon and is characterised by the subjective state of boredom, apathy, and emptiness. One feels cynical, lacks direction, and questions the point of most of life’s activities.[42]

People without a meaning in their life are exposed to aggression, depression and addiction.[22]

Viktor Frankl once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast:

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.[44][45]

Decorations and awards

Bibliography

His books in English are:

See also

References …

External links[edit]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl

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Dinesh D’Souza — The Big Lie: Exposing The Nazi Roots of The American Left — Videos

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Fascism

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Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler(right), the fascist leaders of Italy and Nazi Germany, respectively

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical, right-wingauthoritarian ultranationalism,[1][2][3][4] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy,[5] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[6] The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries.[6] Opposed to liberalismMarxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A “military citizenship” arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[12][13] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[12][13]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[14] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[14] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[15][16][17][18] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky(national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[19]

Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far-right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th-century fascist movements.[6][20]

Contents

Etymology

The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio meaning “a bundle of sticks”, ultimately from the Latin word fasces.[21] This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates. According to Mussolini‘s own account, the Fascist Revolutionary Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario or PFR) was founded in Italy in 1915.[22] In 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Milan, which became the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) two years later. The Fascists came to associate the term with the ancient Roman fasces or fascio littorio[23]—a bundle of rods tied around an axe,[24] an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate[25] carried by his lictors, which could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.[26][27]

The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.[28] Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements: for example, the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.[29]

Definitions

Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism.[30] Each group described as fascist has at least some unique elements, and many definitions of fascism have been criticized as either too wide or narrow.[31][32]

One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts:

  1. the fascist negations (anti-liberalismanti-communism, and anti-conservatism);
  2. nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and
  3. a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth, and charismatic leadership.[33][34][35]

According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism, and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far-right.[36]

Historian Stanley Payne identifies three main strands in fascism. His typology is regularly cited by reliable sources as a standard definition. First, Payne’s “fascist negations” refers to such typical policies as anti-communism and anti-liberalism. Second, “fascist goals” include a nationalist dictatorship and an expanded empire. Third, “fascist style” is seen in its emphasis on violence and authoritarianism and its exultation of men above women and young against old.[37]

Roger Griffin describes fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populistultranationalism“.[38] Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: “(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism, and (iii) the myth of decadence”.[39] Fascism is “a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism” built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist “armed party” politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.[40]

Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion”.[41]

Racism was a key feature of German fascism, as they made the Holocaust a high priority. According to the historiography of genocide, “In dealing with the Holocaust, it is the consensus of historians that Nazi Germany targeted Jews as a race, not as a religious group.”[42] Umberto Eco,[43]Kevin Passmore,[44] John Weiss,[45] Ian Adams,[46] and Moyra Grant[47] stress racism as a characteristic component of German fascism. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “Hitler envisioned the ideal German society as a Volksgemeinschaft, a racially unified and hierarchically organized body in which the interests of individuals would be strictly subordinate to those of the nation, or Volk.”[48] Fascist philosophies vary by application, but remain distinct by one theoretic commonality. All traditionally fall into the far-right sector of any political spectrum, catalyzed by afflicted class identities over conventional social inequities[6]

Historian John Lukacs argues that there is no such thing as generic fascism. He claims that National Socialism and communism are essentially manifestations of populism and that states such as National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy are more different than similar.[49]

Position in the political spectrum

Most scholars place fascism on the far right of the political spectrum.[6][7][8][9][10][11] Such scholarship focuses on its social conservatism and its authoritarian means of opposing egalitarianism.[50][51] Roderick Stackelberg places fascism—including Nazism, which he says is “a radical variant of fascism”—on the political right by explaining: “The more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be”.[52]

Fascism’s origins, however, are complex and include many seemingly contradictory viewpoints, ultimately centered around a myth of national rebirth from decadence.[53] Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who drew upon both left-wing organizational tactics and right-wing political views.[54]

Italian Fascism gravitated to the right in the early 1920s.[55][56] A major element of fascist ideology that has been deemed to be far-right is its stated goal to promote the right of a supposedly superior people to dominate, while purging society of supposedly inferior elements.[57]

In the 1920s, the Italian Fascists described their ideology as right-wing in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right,’ a fascist century”.[58][59] Mussolini stated that fascism’s position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue for fascists: “Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center … These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don’t give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words”.[60]

Major Italian groups politically on the right, especially rich landowners and big business, feared an uprising by groups on the left such as sharecroppers and labour unions.[61] They welcomed Fascism and supported its violent suppression of opponents on the left.[62] The accommodation of the political right into the Italian Fascist movement in the early 1920s created internal factions within the movement. The “Fascist left” included Michele BianchiGiuseppe BottaiAngelo Oliviero OlivettiSergio Panunzio, and Edmondo Rossoni, who were committed to advancing national syndicalism as a replacement for parliamentary liberalism in order to modernize the economy and advance the interests of workers and common people.[63] The “Fascist right” included members of the paramilitary Squadristi and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI).[63] The Squadristi wanted to establish Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought to institute an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy while retaining the existing elites.[63] Upon accommodating the political right, there arose a group of monarchist fascists who sought to use fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.[63]

After King Victor Emmanuel III forced Mussolini to resign as head of government and placed him under arrest in 1943, Mussolini was rescued by German forces. While continuing to rely on Germany for support, Mussolini and the remaining loyal Fascists founded the Italian Social Republic with Mussolini as head of state. Mussolini sought to re-radicalize Italian Fascism, declaring that the Fascist state had been overthrown because Italian Fascism had been subverted by Italian conservatives and the bourgeoisie.[64] Then the new Fascist government proposed the creation of workers’ councils and profit-sharing in industry, although the German authorities, who effectively controlled northern Italy at this point, ignored these measures and did not seek to enforce them.[64]

A number of post-World War II fascist movements described themselves as a “third position” outside the traditional political spectrum.[65] Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera said: “[B]asically the Right stands for the maintenance of an economic structure, albeit an unjust one, while the Left stands for the attempt to subvert that economic structure, even though the subversion thereof would entail the destruction of much that was worthwhile”.[66]

“Fascist” as a pejorative

The term “fascist” has been used as a pejorative,[67] regarding varying movements across the far right of the political spectrum.[68] George Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist'”.[68]

Communist states have sometimes been referred to as “fascist”, typically as an insult. For example, it has been applied to Marxist regimes in Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh.[69] Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise the Soviets used the term to denounce Chinese Marxists[70] and social democracy (coining a new term in “social fascism“).

In the United States, Herbert Matthews of The New York Times asked in 1946: “Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?”.[71] J. Edgar Hoover, longtime FBI director and ardent anti-communist, wrote extensively of “Red Fascism”.[72] The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was sometimes called “fascist”. Historian Peter Amann states that, “Undeniably, the Klan had some traits in common with European fascism—chauvinism, racism, a mystique of violence, an affirmation of a certain kind of archaic traditionalism—yet their differences were fundamental….[the KKK] never envisioned a change of political or economic system.”[73]

Professor Richard Griffiths of the University of Wales[74] wrote in 2005 that “fascism” is the “most misused, and over-used word, of our times”.[32] “Fascist” is sometimes applied to post-World War II organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term “neo-fascist“.[75]

History

Nineteenth-century roots

According to Encyclopædia Britannica[better source needed] the roots of fascism are either tied to the Jacobin movement or a 19th-century backlash against the Enlightenment.[76] Historians such as Irene Collins and Howard C Payne see Napoleon III, who ran a ‘police state’ and suppressed the media, as a forerunner of fascism.[77] According to David Thomson,[78] the Italian Risorgimento of 1871 led to the ‘nemesis of fascism’. William L Shirer[79] sees a continuity from the views of Fichte and Hegel, through Bismarck, to Hitler; Robert Gerwarth speaks of a ‘direct line’ from Bismarck to Hitler.[80] Julian Dierkes sees fascism as a ‘particularly violent form of Imperialism‘.[81]

Fin de siècle era and the fusion of Maurrasism with Sorelianism (1880–1914)

The historian Zeev Sternhell has traced the ideological roots of fascism back to the 1880s and in particular to the fin de siècle theme of that time.[82][83] The theme was based on a revolt against materialismrationalismpositivism, bourgeois society and democracy.[84] The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalismirrationalismsubjectivism and vitalism.[85] The fin-de-sièclemindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.[84] The fin-de-siècle intellectual school considered the individual only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals.[84] They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.[84]

The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including Darwinian biologyWagnerian aestheticsArthur de Gobineau‘s racialismGustave Le Bon‘s psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich NietzscheFyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson.[86] Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest.[86] Social Darwinism challenged positivism’s claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behaviour of humans, with social Darwinism focusing on heredity, race, and environment.[86] Social Darwinism’s emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism.[87] New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behaviour being governed by rational choice and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason.[86] Nietzsche’s argument that “God is dead” coincided with his attack on the “herd mentality” of Christianity, democracy and modern collectivism; his concept of the übermensch; and his advocacy of the will to power as a primordial instinct, were major influences upon many of the fin-de-siècle generation.[88] Bergson’s claim of the existence of an “élan vital” or vital instinct centred upon free choice and rejected the processes of materialism and determinism; this challenged Marxism.[89]

Gaetano Mosca in his work The Ruling Class (1896) developed the theory that claims that in all societies an “organized minority” will dominate and rule over the “disorganized majority”.[90][91]Mosca claims that there are only two classes in society, “the governing” (the organized minority) and “the governed” (the disorganized majority).[92] He claims that the organized nature of the organized minority makes it irresistible to any individual of the disorganized majority.[92]

French nationalist and reactionary monarchist Charles Maurras influenced fascism.[93] Maurras promoted what he called integral nationalism, which called for the organic unity of a nation and Maurras insisted that a powerful monarch was an ideal leader of a nation. Maurras distrusted what he considered the democratic mystification of the popular will that created an impersonal collective subject.[93] He claimed that a powerful monarch was a personified sovereign who could exercise authority to unite a nation’s people.[93] Maurras’ integral nationalism was idealized by fascists, but modified into a modernized revolutionary form that was devoid of Maurras’ monarchism.[93]

French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel promoted the legitimacy of political violence in his work Reflections on Violence (1908) and other works in which he advocated radical syndicalist action to achieve a revolution to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoisie through a general strike.[94]In Reflections on Violence, Sorel emphasized need for a revolutionary political religion.[95] Also in his work The Illusions of Progress, Sorel denounced democracy as reactionary, saying “nothing is more aristocratic than democracy”.[96] By 1909 after the failure of a syndicalist general strike in France, Sorel and his supporters left the radical left and went to the radical right, where they sought to merge militant Catholicism and French patriotism with their views—advocating anti-republican Christian French patriots as ideal revolutionaries.[97] Initially Sorel had officially been a revisionist of Marxism, but by 1910 announced his abandonment of socialist literature and claimed in 1914, using an aphorism of Benedetto Croce that “socialism is dead” because of the “decomposition of Marxism”.[98] Sorel became a supporter of reactionary Maurrassian nationalism beginning in 1909 that influenced his works.[98] Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Sorelian syndicalism as a means to confront democracy.[99]Maurras stated “a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand”.[100]

The fusion of Maurrassian nationalism and Sorelian syndicalism influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini.[101] Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight.[101] Corradini spoke of Italy as being a “proletarian nation” that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the “plutocratic” French and British.[102] Corradini’s views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy’s economic backwardness was caused by corruption in its political class, liberalism, and division caused by “ignoble socialism”.[102] The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics and the business community.[102] Italian national syndicalists held a common set of principles: the rejection of bourgeois values, democracy, liberalism, Marxisminternationalism and pacifism; and the promotion of heroismvitalism and violence.[103] The ANI claimed that liberal democracy was no longer compatible with the modern world, and advocated a strong state and imperialism, claiming that humans are naturally predatory and that nations were in a constant struggle, in which only the strongest could survive.[104]

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian modernist author of the Futurist Manifesto (1909) and later the co-author of the Fascist Manifesto (1919)

Futurism was both an artistic-cultural movement and initially a political movement in Italy led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who founded the Futurist Manifesto (1908), that championed the causes of modernism, action, and political violence as necessary elements of politics while denouncing liberalism and parliamentary politics. Marinetti rejected conventional democracy based on majority rule and egalitarianism, for a new form of democracy, promoting what he described in his work “The Futurist Conception of Democracy” as the following: “We are therefore able to give the directions to create and to dismantle to numbers, to quantity, to the mass, for with us number, quantity and mass will never be—as they are in Germany and Russia—the number, quantity and mass of mediocre men, incapable and indecisive”.[105]

Futurism influenced fascism in its emphasis on recognizing the virile nature of violent action and war as being necessities of modern civilization.[106] Marinetti promoted the need of physical training of young men, saying that in male education, gymnastics should take precedence over books, and he advocated segregation of the genders on this matter, in that womanly sensibility must not enter men’s education whom Marinetti claimed must be “lively, bellicose, muscular and violently dynamic”.[107]

Benito Mussolini (here in 1917 as a soldier in World War I), who in 1914 founded and led the Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionaria to promote the Italian intervention in the war as a revolutionary nationalistaction to liberate Italian-claimed lands from Austria-Hungary

World War I and its aftermath (1914–1929)

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war. The Italian Socialist Party (PSI) opposed the war but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported war against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes had to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism.[108] Angelo Oliviero Olivetti formed a pro-interventionist fascio called the Fasci of International Action in October 1914.[108] Benito Mussolini upon being expelled from his position as chief editor of the PSI’s newspaper Avanti! for his anti-German stance, joined the interventionist cause in a separate fascio.[109] The term “Fascism” was first used in 1915 by members of Mussolini’s movement, the Fasci of Revolutionary Action.[110]

The first meeting of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action was held on 24 January 1915[111] when Mussolini declared that it was necessary for Europe to resolve its national problems—including national borders—of Italy and elsewhere “for the ideals of justice and liberty for which oppressed peoples must acquire the right to belong to those national communities from which they descended”.[111] Attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective and the organization was regularly harassed by government authorities and socialists.[112]

German soldiers parading through Lübeck in the days leading up to World War I. Johann Plenge‘s concept of the “Spirit of 1914” identified the outbreak of war as a moment that forged nationalistic German solidarity

Similar political ideas arose in Germany after the outbreak of the war. German sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a “National Socialism” in Germany within what he termed the “ideas of 1914” that were a declaration of war against the “ideas of 1789” (the French Revolution).[113]According to Plenge, the “ideas of 1789” that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism were being rejected in favor of “the ideas of 1914” that included “German values” of duty, discipline, law and order.[113] Plenge believed that racial solidarity (Volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that “racial comrades” would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of “proletarian” Germany against “capitalist” Britain.[113] He believed that the “Spirit of 1914” manifested itself in the concept of the “People’s League of National Socialism”.[114] This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the “idea of boundless freedom” and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state.[114] This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism because of the components that were against “the national interest” of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy.[114][115] Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.[116]

Impact of World War I

Fascists viewed World War I as bringing revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state and technology, as the advent of total war and mass mobilization had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant, as civilians had become a critical part in economic production for the war effort and thus arose a “military citizenship” in which all citizens were involved to the military in some manner during the war.[12][13] World War I had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[12][13] Fascists viewed technological developments of weaponry and the state’s total mobilization of its population in the war as symbolizing the beginning of a new era fusing state power with mass politics, technology and particularly the mobilizing myth that they contended had triumphed over the myth of progress and the era of liberalism.[12]

Members of Italy’s Arditi corps (here in 1918 holding daggers, a symbol of their group), which was formed in 1917 as groups of soldiers trained for dangerous missions, characterized by refusal to surrender and willingness to fight to the death. Their black uniforms inspired those of the Italian Fascist movement.

Impact of the Bolshevik Revolution

The October Revolution of 1917—in which Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia—greatly influenced the development of fascism.[117] In 1917, Mussolini, as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action, praised the October Revolution, but later he became unimpressed with Lenin, regarding him as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas.[118] After World War I, fascists have commonly campaigned on anti-Marxist agendas.[117]

Liberal opponents of both fascism and the Bolsheviks argue that there are various similarities between the two, including that they believed in the necessity of a vanguard leadership, had disdain for bourgeois values and it is argued had totalitarian ambitions.[117] In practice, both have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, one-party states and party-armies.[117] However, both draw clear distinctions from each other both in aims and tactics, with the Bolsheviks emphasizing the need for an organized participatory democracy and an egalitarian, internationalist vision for society while the fascists emphasize hyper-nationalism and open hostility towards democracy, envisioning a hierarchical social structure as essential to their aims.

With the antagonism between anti-interventionist Marxists and pro-interventionist Fascists complete by the end of the war, the two sides became irreconcilable. The Fascists presented themselves as anti-Marxists and as opposed to the Marxists.[119] Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement, known as Sansepolcrismo, in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci italiani di combattimento.

The Fascist Manifesto of 1919

In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (the Fascist Manifesto).[120] The Manifesto was presented on 6 June 1919 in the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia. The Manifesto supported the creation of universal suffrage for both men and women (the latter being realized only partly in late 1925, with all opposition parties banned or disbanded);[121] proportional representation on a regional basis; government representation through a corporatist system of “National Councils” of experts, selected from professionals and tradespeople, elected to represent and hold legislative power over their respective areas, including labour, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc.; and the abolition of the Italian Senate.[122] The Manifesto supported the creation of an eight-hour work day for all workers, a minimum wage, worker representation in industrial management, equal confidence in labour unions as in industrial executives and public servants, reorganization of the transportation sector, revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance, reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55, a strong progressive tax on capital, confiscation of the property of religious institutions and abolishment of bishoprics, and revision of military contracts to allow the government to seize 85% of profits.[123] It also called for the fulfillment of expansionist aims in the Balkans and other parts of the Mediterranean,[124] the creation of a short-service national militia to serve defensive duties, nationalization of the armaments industry and a foreign policy designed to be peaceful but also competitive.[125]

Residents of Fiume cheer the arrival of Gabriele d’Annunzio and his blackshirt-wearing nationalist raiders, as D’Annunzio and Fascist Alceste De Ambrisdeveloped the quasi-fascist Italian Regency of Carnaro (a city-state in Fiume) from 1919 to 1920 and whose actions by D’Annunzio in Fiume inspired the Italian Fascist movement

The next events that influenced the Fascists in Italy was the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d’Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920.[126] D’Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatistproductionism alongside D’Annunzio’s political views.[127] Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy.[128] This behaviour of aggression towards Yugoslavia and South Slavs was pursued by Italian Fascists with their persecution of South Slavs—especially Slovenes and Croats.

Italian Fascists in 1920

In 1920, militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy and 1919 and 1920 were known as the “Red Years”.[129]Mussolini and the Fascists took advantage of the situation by allying with industrial businesses and attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy.[130]

Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I.[128] The Fascists and the Italian political right held common ground: both held Marxism in contempt, discounted class consciousness and believed in the rule of elites.[131] The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign by allying with the other parties and the conservative right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.[131]

Fascism sought to accommodate Italian conservatives by making major alterations to its political agenda—abandoning its previous populismrepublicanism and anticlericalism, adopting policies in support of free enterprise and accepting the Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy.[132] To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce limiting the woman’s role to that of a mother. The fascists banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state.[133] Though Fascism adopted a number of anti-modern positions designed to appeal to people upset with the new trends in sexuality and women’s rights—especially those with a reactionary point of view—the Fascists sought to maintain Fascism’s revolutionary character, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti saying: “Fascism would like to be conservative, but it will [be] by being revolutionary”.[134] The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.[135]

Prior to Fascism’s accommodations to the political right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members.[136] After Fascism’s accommodation of the political right, the Fascist movement’s membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.[137]

Fascist violence in 1922

Beginning in 1922, Fascist paramilitaries escalated their strategy from one of attacking socialist offices and homes of socialist leadership figures to one of violent occupation of cities. The Fascists met little serious resistance from authorities and proceeded to take over several northern Italian cities.[138] The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic labour unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano.[138] After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.[138]

Benito Mussolini with three of the four quadrumvirsduring the March on Rome (from left to right: unknown, de Bono, Mussolini, Balbo and de Vecchi)

On 24 October 1922, the Fascist party held its annual congress in Naples, where Mussolini ordered Blackshirts to take control of public buildings and trains and to converge on three points around Rome.[138] The Fascists managed to seize control of several post offices and trains in northern Italy while the Italian government, led by a left-wing coalition, was internally divided and unable to respond to the Fascist advances.[139] King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy perceived the risk of bloodshed in Rome in response to attempting to disperse the Fascists to be too high.[140] Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment.[140] Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as “March on Rome“, as a “seizure” of power because of Fascists’ heroic exploits.[138]

Fascist Italy

Historian Stanley G. Payne says Fascism in Italy was:

A primarily political dictatorship….The Fascist Party itself had become almost completely bureaucratized and subservient to, not dominant over, the state itself. Big business, industry, and finance retained extensive autonomy, particularly in the early years. The armed forces also enjoyed considerable autonomy….The Fascist militia was placed under military control….The judicial system was left largely intact and relatively autonomous as well. The police continued to be directed by state officials and were not taken over by party leaders…nor was a major new police elite created….There was never any question of bringing the Church under overall subservience…. Sizable sectors of Italian cultural life retained extensive autonomy, and no major state propaganda-and-culture ministry existed….The Mussolini regime was neither especially sanguinary nor particularly repressive.[141]

Mussolini in power

Upon being appointed Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini had to form a coalition government because the Fascists did not have control over the Italian parliament.[142] Mussolini’s coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani, a member of the Center Party, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service.[142] Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions were limited.[142]

The Fascists began their attempt to entrench Fascism in Italy with the Acerbo Law, which guaranteed a plurality of the seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote.[143] Through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won a majority of the vote, allowing many seats to go to the Fascists.[143] In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteotti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist.[143] The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession.[144] On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but insisted that he had done nothing wrong. Mussolini proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament.[144] From 1925 to 1929, Fascism steadily became entrenched in power: opposition deputies were denied access to parliament, censorship was introduced and a December 1925 decree made Mussolini solely responsible to the King.[145]

Catholic Church

In 1929, the Fascist regime briefly gained what was in effect a blessing of the Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century, but within two years the Church had renounced Fascism in the Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno as a “pagan idolotry of the state” which teaches “hatred, violence and irreverence”.[146] Not long after signing the agreement, by Mussolini’s own confession the Church had threatened to have him “excommunicated”, in part because of his intractable nature and that he had “confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years”.[147] By the late 1930s, Mussolini became more vocal in his anti-clerical rhetoric, repeatedly denouncing the Catholic Church and discussing ways to depose the pope. He took the position that the “papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must ‘be rooted out once and for all,’ because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself”.[148] In her 1974 book, Mussolini’s widow Rachele stated that her husband had always been an atheist until near the end of his life, writing that her husband was “basically irreligious until the later years of his life”.[149]

The National Socialists of Germany employed similar anti-clerical policies. The Gestapo confiscated hundreds of monasteries in Austria and Germany, evicted clergymen and laymen alike and often replaced crosses with a swastikas.[150] Referring to the swastika as the “Devil’s Cross”, church leaders found their youth organizations banned, their meetings limited and various Catholic periodicals censored or banned. Government officials eventually found it necessary to place “Nazis into editorial positions in the Catholic press”.[151] Up to 2,720 clerics, mostly Catholics, were arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned inside of Germany’s Dachau concentration camp, resulting in over 1,000 deaths.[152]

Corporatist economic system

The Fascist regime created a corporatist economic system in 1925 with creation of the Palazzo Vidioni Pact, in which the Italian employers’ association Confindustria and Fascist trade unions agreed to recognize each other as the sole representatives of Italy’s employers and employees, excluding non-Fascist trade unions.[153] The Fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations, banned workers’ strikes and lock-outs and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers’ rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes.[153] In practice, the sectoral corporations exercised little independence and were largely controlled by the regime and employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves, but instead by appointed Fascist party members.[153]

Aggressive foreign policy

In the 1920s, Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive foreign policy that included an attack on the Greek island of Corfu, aims to expand Italian territory in the Balkans, plans to wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia, attempts to bring Yugoslavia into civil war by supporting Croat and Macedonian separatists to legitimize Italian intervention and making Albania a de facto protectorate of Italy, which was achieved through diplomatic means by 1927.[154] In response to revolt in the Italian colony of Libya, Fascist Italy abandoned previous liberal-era colonial policy of cooperation with local leaders. Instead, claiming that Italians were a superior race to African races and thereby had the right to colonize the “inferior” Africans, it sought to settle 10 to 15 million Italians in Libya.[155] This resulted in an aggressive military campaign known as the Pacification of Libya against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps and the forced starvation of thousands of people.[155] Italian authorities committed ethnic cleansing by forcibly expelling 100,000 Bedouin Cyrenaicans, half the population of Cyrenaica in Libya, from their settlements that was slated to be given to Italian settlers.[156][157]

Hitler adopts Italian model

Nazis in Munich during the Beer Hall Putsch

The March on Rome brought Fascism international attention. One early admirer of the Italian Fascists was Adolf Hitler, who less than a month after the March had begun to model himself and the Nazi Party upon Mussolini and the Fascists.[158] The Nazis, led by Hitler and the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, attempted a “March on Berlin” modeled upon the March on Rome, which resulted in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923.[159]

International impact of the Great Depression and the buildup to World War II

Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler (right)

The conditions of economic hardship caused by the Great Depression brought about an international surge of social unrest. According to historian Philip Morgan, “the onset of the Great Depression…was the greatest stimulus yet to the diffusion and expansion of fascism outside Italy”.[160] Fascist propaganda blamed the problems of the long depression of the 1930s on minorities and scapegoats: “JudeoMasonicbolshevik” conspiracies, left-wing internationalism and the presence of immigrants.

In Germany, it contributed to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which resulted in the demise of the Weimar Republic and the establishment of the fascist regime, Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1933, liberal democracy was dissolved in Germany and the Nazis mobilized the country for war, with expansionist territorial aims against several countries. In the 1930s, the Nazis implemented racial laws that deliberately discriminated against, disenfranchised and persecuted Jews and other racial and minority groups.

Fascist movements grew in strength elsewhere in Europe. Hungarian fascist Gyula Gömbös rose to power as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1932 and attempted to entrench his Party of National Unity throughout the country. He created an eight-hour work day, a forty-eight-hour work week in industry and sought to entrench a corporatist economy; and pursued irredentist claims on Hungary’s neighbors.[161] The fascist Iron Guard movement in Romaniasoared in political support after 1933, gaining representation in the Romanian government and an Iron Guard member assassinated Romanian prime minister Ion Duca.[162] During the 6 February 1934 crisisFrance faced the greatest domestic political turmoil since the Dreyfus Affair when the fascist Francist Movement and multiple far-right movements rioted en masse in Paris against the French government resulting in major political violence.[163] A variety of para-fascist governments that borrowed elements from fascism were formed during the Great Depression, including those of GreeceLithuaniaPoland and Yugoslavia.[164]

Integralists marching in Brazil

In the Americas, the Brazilian Integralists led by Plínio Salgado claimed as many as 200,000 members although following coup attempts it faced a crackdown from the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas in 1937.[165] In the 1930s, the National Socialist Movement of Chile gained seats in Chile‘s parliament and attempted a coup d’état that resulted in the Seguro Obrero massacre of 1938.[166]

During the Great Depression, Mussolini promoted active state intervention in the economy. He denounced the contemporary “supercapitalism” that he claimed began in 1914 as a failure because of its alleged decadence, its support for unlimited consumerism and its intention to create the “standardization of humankind”.[167] Fascist Italy created the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), a giant state-owned firm and holding company that provided state funding to failing private enterprises.[168] The IRI was made a permanent institution in Fascist Italy in 1937, pursued Fascist policies to create national autarky and had the power to take over private firms to maximize war production.[168] While Hitler’s regime only nationalized 500 companies in key industries by the early 1940s,[169] Mussolini declared in 1934 that “[t]hree-fourths of Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state”.[170] Due to the worldwide depression, Mussolini’s government was able to take over most of Italy’s largest failing banks, who held controlling interest in many Italian businesses. The Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, a state-operated holding company in charge of bankrupt banks and companies, reported in early 1934 that they held assets of “48.5 percent of the share capital of Italy”, which later included the capital of the banks themselves.[171] Political historian Martin Blinkhorn estimated Italy’s scope of state intervention and ownership “greatly surpassed that in Nazi Germany, giving Italy a public sector second only to that of Stalin’s Russia”.[172] In the late 1930s, Italy enacted manufacturing cartels, tariff barriers, currency restrictions and massive regulation of the economy to attempt to balance payments.[173] Italy’s policy of autarky failed to achieve effective economic autonomy.[173] Nazi Germany similarly pursued an economic agenda with the aims of autarky and rearmament and imposed protectionist policies, including forcing the German steel industry to use lower-quality German iron ore rather than superior-quality imported iron.[174]

World War II (1939–1945)

In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, both Mussolini and Hitler pursued territorial expansionist and interventionist foreign policy agendas from the 1930s through the 1940s culminating in World War II. Mussolini called for irredentist Italian claims to be reclaimed, establishing Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea and securing Italian access to the Atlantic Ocean and the creation of Italian spazio vitale (“vital space”) in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions.[175] Hitler called for irredentist German claims to be reclaimed along with the creation of German Lebensraum(“living space”) in Eastern Europe, including territories held by the Soviet Union, that would be colonized by Germans.[176]

Emaciated male inmate at the Italian Rab concentration camp

From 1935 to 1939, Germany and Italy escalated their demands for territorial claims and greater influence in world affairs. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935resulting in its condemnation by the League of Nations and its widespread diplomatic isolation. In 1936, Germany remilitarized the industrial Rhineland, a region that had been ordered demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria and Italy assisted Germany in resolving the diplomatic crisis between Germany versus Britain and France over claims on Czechoslovakia by arranging the Munich Agreement that gave Germany the Sudetenland and was perceived at the time to have averted a European war. These hopes faded when Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by ordering the invasion and partition of Czechoslovakia between Germany and a client state of Slovakia in 1939. At the same time from 1938 to 1939, Italy was demanding territorial and colonial concessions from France and Britain.[177] In 1939, Germany prepared for war with Poland, but attempted to gain territorial concessions from Poland through diplomatic means.[178] The Polish government did not trust Hitler’s promises and refused to accept Germany’s demands.[178]

The invasion of Poland by Germany was deemed unacceptable by Britain, France and their allies, resulting in their mutual declaration of war against Germany that was deemed the aggressor in the war in Poland, resulting in the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France or the United Kingdom and waited until France was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender from the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940 on the assumption that the war would be short-lived following France’s collapse.[179] Mussolini believed that following a brief entry of Italy into war with France, followed by the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain some territorial concessions from France and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.[180] Plans by Germany to invade the United Kingdom in 1940 failed after Germany lost the aerial warfare campaign in the Battle of Britain. In 1941, the Axis campaign spread to the Soviet Union after Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Axis forces at the height of their power controlled almost all of continental Europe. The war became prolonged—contrary to Mussolini’s plans—resulting in Italy losing battles on multiple fronts and requiring German assistance.

Corpses of victims of the German Buchenwald concentration camp

During World War II, the Axis Powers in Europe led by Nazi Germany participated in the extermination of millions of Poles, Jews, Gypsies and others in the genocide known as the Holocaust.

After 1942, Axis forces began to falter. In 1943, after Italy faced multiple military failures, the complete reliance and subordination of Italy to Germany, the Allied invasion of Italy and the corresponding international humiliation, Mussolini was removed as head of government and arrested on the order of King Victor Emmanuel III, who proceeded to dismantle the Fascist state and declared Italy’s switching of allegiance to the Allied side. Mussolini was rescued from arrest by German forces and led the German client state, the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany faced multiple losses and steady Soviet and Western Allied offensives from 1943 to 1945.

On 28 April 1945, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian communist partisans. On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide. Shortly afterwards, Germany surrendered and the Nazi regime was systematically dismantled by the occupying Allied powers. An International Military Tribunal was subsequently convened in Nuremberg. Beginning in November 1945 and lasting through 1949, numerous Nazi political, military and economic leaders were tried and convicted of war crimes, with many of the worst offenders receiving the death penalty.

Post-World War II (1945–present)

Juan PerónPresident of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, admired Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on those pursued by Fascist Italy

The victory of the Allies over the Axis powers in World War II led to the collapse of many fascist regimes in Europe. The Nuremberg Trials convicted several Nazi leaders of crimes against humanity involving the Holocaust. However, there remained several movements and governments that were ideologically related to fascism.

Francisco Franco‘s Falangist one-party state in Spain was officially neutral during World War II and it survived the collapse of the Axis Powers. Franco’s rise to power had been directly assisted by the militaries of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War and Franco had sent volunteers to fight on the side of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II. The first years were characterized by a repression against the anti-fascist ideologies, a deep censorship and the suppression of democratic institutions (elected Parliament, Constitution of 1931, Regional Statutes of Autonomy). After World War II and a period of international isolation, Franco’s regime normalized relations with the Western powers during the Cold War, until Franco’s death in 1975 and the transformation of Spain into a liberal democracy.

Giorgio Almirante, leader of the Italian Social Movement from 1969 to 1987

Historian Robert Paxton observes that one of the main problems in defining fascism is that it was widely mimicked. Paxton says: “In fascism’s heyday, in the 1930s, many regimes that were not functionally fascist borrowed elements of fascist decor in order to lend themselves an aura of force, vitality, and mass mobilization”. He goes on to observe that Salazar “crushed Portuguese fascism after he had copied some of its techniques of popular mobilization”. [181] Paxton says that: “Where Franco subjected Spain’s fascist party to his personal control, Salazar abolished outright in July 1934 the nearest thing Portugal had to an authentic fascist movement, Rolão Preto’s blue-shirted National Syndicalists […] Salazar preferred to control his population through such “organic” institutions traditionally powerful in Portugal as the Church. Salazar’s regime was not only non-fascist, but “voluntarily non-totalitarian,” preferring to let those of its citizens who kept out of politics “live by habit”.[182] Historians tend to view the Estado Novo as para-fascist in nature,[183]possessing minimal fascist tendencies.[184] In Argentina, Peronism, associated with the regime of Juan Perón from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, was influenced by fascism.[185] Between 1939 and 1941, prior to his rise to power, Perón had developed a deep admiration of Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on Italian Fascist policies.[185]

The term neo-fascism refers to fascist movements after World War II. In Italy, the Italian Social Movement led by Giorgio Almirante was a major neo-fascist movement that transformed itself into a self-described “post-fascist” movement called the National Alliance (AN), which has been an ally of Silvio Berlusconi‘s Forza Italia for a decade. In 2008, AN joined Forza Italia in Berlusconi’s new party The People of Freedom, but in 2012 a group of politicians split from The People of Freedom, refounding the party with the name Brothers of Italy. In Germany, various neo-Nazi movements have been formed and banned in accordance with Germany’s constitutional law which forbids Nazism. The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) is widely considered a neo-Nazi party, although the party does not publicly identify itself as such.

Golden Dawn demonstration in Greece in 2012

After the onset of the Great Recession and economic crisis in Greece, a movement known as the Golden Dawn, widely considered a neo-Nazi party, soared in support out of obscurity and won seats in Greece‘s parliament, espousing a staunch hostility towards minorities, illegal immigrants and refugees. In 2013, after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by a person with links to Golden Dawn, the Greek government ordered the arrest of Golden Dawn’s leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other Golden Dawn members on charges related to being associated with a criminal organization.

Tenets

Robert O. Paxton finds that the transformations undertaken by fascists in power were “profound enough to be called ‘revolutionary.'” They “often set fascists into conflict with conservatives rooted in families, churches, social rank, and property.” Paxton argues:

[F]ascism redrew the frontiers between private and public, sharply diminishing what had once been untouchably private. It changed the practice of citizenship from the enjoyment of constitutional rights and duties to participation in mass ceremonies of affirmation and conformity. It reconfigured relations between the individual and the collectivity, so that an individual had no rights outside community interest. It expanded the powers of the executive—party and state—in a bid for total control. Finally, it unleashed aggressive emotions hitherto known in Europe only during war or social revolution.[186]

Nationalism

Ultranationalism combined with the myth of national rebirth is a key foundation of fascism.[187] Dylan Riley argues that in Italy in the early 1920s:

Neither organized socialism nor the Italian liberals championed the democratic demands of the left nationalists. Fascism stepped into this vacuum, constituting itself as an antisocialist and antiliberal civil society movement. It was the failure of this counterhegemonic movement that would lead to the fascist seizure of power. Veterans’ organizations are the clearest manifestation of civic mobilization in postwar Italy.[188]

The fascist view of a nation is of a single organic entity that binds people together by their ancestry and is a natural unifying force of people.[189]Fascism seeks to solve economic, political and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else and promoting cults of unity, strength and purity.[41][190][191][192][193] European fascist movements typically espouse a racist conception of non-Europeans being inferior to Europeans.[194] Beyond this, fascists in Europe have not held a unified set of racial views.[194] Historically, most fascists promoted imperialism, although there have been several fascist movements that were uninterested in the pursuit of new imperial ambitions.[194]

Totalitarianism

Fascism promotes the establishment of a totalitarian state.[195] It opposes liberal democracy, rejects multi-party systems and supports a one-party state. Mussolini’s The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) – partly ghostwritten by philosopher Giovanni Gentile,[196] who Mussolini described as “the philosopher of Fascism” – states: “The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people”.[197] In The Legal Basis of the Total State, Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt described the Nazi intention to form a “strong state which guarantees a totality of political unity transcending all diversity” in order to avoid a “disastrous pluralism tearing the German people apart”.[198]

Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and the media and regulation of the production of educational and media materials.[199][200] Education was designed to glorify the fascist movement and inform students of its historical and political importance to the nation. It attempted to purge ideas that were not consistent with the beliefs of the fascist movement and to teach students to be obedient to the state.[201]

Economy

Fascism presented itself as a third position,[when?] alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism.[202] While fascism opposed mainstream socialism, it sometimes regarded itself as a type of nationalist “socialism” to highlight their commitment to national solidarity and unity.[203][204] Fascists opposed international free market capitalism, but supported a type of productive capitalism.[115][205] Economic self-sufficiency, known as autarky, was a major goal of most fascist governments.[206]

Fascist governments advocated resolution of domestic class conflict within a nation in order to secure national solidarity.[207] This would be done through the state mediating relations between the classes (contrary to the views of classical liberal-inspired capitalists).[208] While fascism was opposed to domestic class conflict, it was held that bourgeois-proletarian conflict existed primarily in national conflict between proletarian nations versus bourgeois nations.[209] Fascism condemned what it viewed as widespread character traits that it associated as the typical bourgeois mentality that it opposed, such as materialism, crassness, cowardice, inability to comprehend the heroic ideal of the fascist “warrior”; and associations with liberalism, individualism and parliamentarianism.[210] In 1918, Mussolini defined what he viewed as the proletarian character, defining proletarian as being one and the same with producers, a productivist perspective that associated all people deemed productive, including entrepreneurs, technicians, workers and soldiers as being proletarian.[211] He acknowledged the historical existence of both bourgeois and proletarian producers, but declared the need for bourgeois producers to merge with proletarian producers.[211]

While fascism denounced the mainstream internationalist and Marxist socialisms, it claimed to economically represent a type of nationalist productivist socialism that while condemning parasitical capitalism, it was willing to accommodate productivist capitalism within it.[205] This was derived from Henri de Saint Simon, whose ideas inspired the creation of utopian socialism and influenced other ideologies, that stressed solidarity rather than class war and whose conception of productive people in the economy included both productive workers and productive bosses to challenge the influence of the aristocracy and unproductive financial speculators.[212] Saint Simon’s vision combined the traditionalist right-wing criticisms of the French Revolution combined with a left-wing belief in the need for association or collaboration of productive people in society.[212] Whereas Marxism condemned capitalism as a system of exploitative property relations, fascism saw the nature of the control of credit and money in the contemporary capitalist system as abusive.[205] Unlike Marxism, fascism did not see class conflict between the Marxist-defined proletariat and the bourgeoisie as a given or as an engine of historical materialism.[205] Instead, it viewed workers and productive capitalists in common as productive people who were in conflict with parasitic elements in society including: corrupt political parties, corrupt financial capital and feeble people.[205] Fascist leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler spoke of the need to create a new managerial elite led by engineers and captains of industry—but free from the parasitic leadership of industries.[205] Hitler stated that the Nazi Party supported bodenständigen Kapitalismus(“productive capitalism”) that was based upon profit earned from one’s own labour, but condemned unproductive capitalism or loan capitalism, which derived profit from speculation.[213]

Fascist economics supported a state-controlled economy that accepted a mix of private and public ownership over the means of production.[214] Economic planning was applied to both the public and private sector and the prosperity of private enterprise depended on its acceptance of synchronizing itself with the economic goals of the state.[215] Fascist economic ideology supported the profit motive, but emphasized that industries must uphold the national interest as superior to private profit.[215]

While fascism accepted the importance of material wealth and power, it condemned materialism which identified as being present in both communism and capitalism and criticized materialism for lacking acknowledgement of the role of the spirit.[216] In particular, fascists criticized capitalism not because of its competitive nature nor support of private property, which fascists supported—but due to its materialism, individualism, alleged bourgeois decadence and alleged indifference to the nation.[217] Fascism denounced Marxism for its advocacy of materialist internationalist class identity, which fascists regarded as an attack upon the emotional and spiritual bonds of the nation and a threat to the achievement of genuine national solidarity.[218]

In discussing the spread of fascism beyond Italy, historian Philip Morgan states:

Since the Depression was a crisis of laissez-faire capitalism and its political counterpart, parliamentary democracy, fascism could pose as the ‘third-way’ alternative between capitalism and Bolshevism, the model of a new European ‘civilization’. As Mussolini typically put it in early 1934, “from 1929…fascism has become a universal phenomenon… The dominant forces of the 19th century, democracy, socialism, liberalism have been exhausted…the new political and economic forms of the twentieth-century are fascist'(Mussolini 1935: 32).[160]

Fascists criticized egalitarianism as preserving the weak, and they instead promoted social Darwinist views and policies.[219][220] They were in principle opposed to the idea of social welfare, arguing that it “encouraged the preservation of the degenerate and the feeble.”[221] The Nazi Party condemned the welfare system of the Weimar Republic, as well as private charity and philanthropy, for supporting people whom they regarded as racially inferior and weak, and who should have been weeded out in the process of natural selection.[222] Nevertheless, faced with the mass unemployment and poverty of the Great Depression, the Nazis found it necessary to set up charitable institutions to help racially-pure Germans in order to maintain popular support, while arguing that this represented “racial self-help” and not indiscriminate charity or universal social welfare.[223] Thus, Nazi programs such as the Winter Relief of the German People and the broader National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) were organized as quasi-private institutions, officially relying on private donations from Germans to help others of their race—although in practice those who refused to donate could face severe consequences.[224] Unlike the social welfare institutions of the Weimar Republic and the Christian charities, the NSV distributed assistance on explicitly racial grounds. It provided support only to those who were “racially sound, capable of and willing to work, politically reliable, and willing and able to reproduce.” Non-Aryans were excluded, as well as the “work-shy”, “asocials” and the “hereditarily ill.”[225] Under these conditions, by 1939, over 17 million Germans had obtained assistance from the NSV, and the agency “projected a powerful image of caring and support” for “those who were judged to have got into difficulties through no fault of their own.”[225] Yet the organization was “feared and disliked among society’s poorest” because it resorted to intrusive questioning and monitoring to judge who was worthy of support.[226]

Action

Fascism emphasizes direct action, including supporting the legitimacy of political violence, as a core part of its politics.[17][227] Fascism views violent action as a necessity in politics that fascism identifies as being an “endless struggle”.[228] This emphasis on the use of political violence means that most fascist parties have also created their own private militias (e.g. the Nazi Party’s Brown shirts and Fascist Italy’s Blackshirts).

The basis of fascism’s support of violent action in politics is connected to social Darwinism.[228] Fascist movements have commonly held social Darwinist views of nations, races and societies.[229] They say that nations and races must purge themselves of socially and biologically weak or degenerate people, while simultaneously promoting the creation of strong people, in order to survive in a world defined by perpetual national and racial conflict.[230]

Age and gender roles

Members of the Piccole Italiane, an organization for girls within the National Fascist Party in Italy

Members of the League of German Girls, an organization for girls within the Nazi Party in Germany

Fascism emphasizes youth both in a physical sense of age and in a spiritual sense as related to virility and commitment to action.[231] The Italian Fascists’ political anthem was called Giovinezza (“The Youth”).[231] Fascism identifies the physical age period of youth as a critical time for the moral development of people who will affect society.[232]

Walter Laqueur argues that:

The corollaries of the cult of war and physical danger were the cult of brutality, strength, and sexuality….[fascism is] a true counter-civilization: rejecting the sophisticated rationalist humanism of Old Europe, fascism sets up as its ideal the primitive instincts and primal emotions of the barbarian.[233]

Italian Fascism pursued what it called “moral hygiene” of youth, particularly regarding sexuality.[234] Fascist Italy promoted what it considered normal sexual behaviour in youth while denouncing what it considered deviant sexual behaviour.[234] It condemned pornography, most forms of birth control and contraceptive devices (with the exception of the condom), homosexuality and prostitution as deviant sexual behaviour, although enforcement of laws opposed to such practices was erratic and authorities often turned a blind eye.[234] Fascist Italy regarded the promotion of male sexual excitation before puberty as the cause of criminality amongst male youth, declared homosexuality a social disease and pursued an aggressive campaign to reduce prostitution of young women.[234]

Mussolini perceived women’s primary role as primarily child bearers and men, warriors—once saying: “War is to man what maternity is to the woman”.[235] In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families and initiated policies intended to reduce the number of women employed.[236] Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as “reproducers of the nation” and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women’s role within the Italian nation.[237] In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a “major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment” and that for women, working was “incompatible with childbearing”. Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the “exodus of women from the work force”.[238]

The German Nazi government strongly encouraged women to stay at home to bear children and keep house.[239] This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more children. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted premarital and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood and divorce, but at other times the Nazis opposed such behaviour.[240]

The Nazis decriminalized abortion in cases where fetuses had hereditary defects or were of a race the government disapproved of, while the abortion of healthy pure German, Aryan fetuses remained strictly forbidden.[241] For non-Aryans, abortion was often compulsory. Their eugenics program also stemmed from the “progressive biomedical model” of Weimar Germany.[242] In 1935, Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders.[241] The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable[243][244] and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.[245][246]

The Nazis said that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted and undermined masculinity because it did not produce children.[247] They considered homosexuality curable through therapy, citing modern scientism and the study of sexology, which said that homosexuality could be felt by “normal” people and not just an abnormal minority.[248] Open homosexuals were interned in Nazi concentration camps.[249]

Palingenesis and modernism

Fascism emphasizes both palingenesis (national rebirth or re-creation) and modernism.[250] In particular, fascism’s nationalism has been identified as having a palingenetic character.[187]Fascism promotes the regeneration of the nation and purging it of decadence.[250] Fascism accepts forms of modernism that it deems promotes national regeneration while rejecting forms of modernism that are regarded as antithetical to national regeneration.[251] Fascism aestheticized modern technology and its association with speed, power and violence.[252] Fascism admired advances in the economy in the early 20th century, particularly Fordism and scientific management.[253] Fascist modernism has been recognized as inspired or developed by various figures—such as Filippo Tommaso MarinettiErnst JüngerGottfried BennLouis-Ferdinand CélineKnut HamsunEzra Pound and Wyndham Lewis.[254]

In Italy, such modernist influence was exemplified by Marinetti who advocated a palingenetic modernist society that condemned liberal-bourgeois values of tradition and psychology, while promoting a technological-martial religion of national renewal that emphasized militant nationalism.[255] In Germany, it was exemplified by Jünger who was influenced by his observation of the technological warfare during World War I and claimed that a new social class had been created that he described as the “warrior-worker”.[256] Jünger like Marinetti emphasized the revolutionary capacities of technology and emphasized an “organic construction” between human and machine as a liberating and regenerative force in that challenged liberal democracy, conceptions of individual autonomy, bourgeois nihilism and decadence.[256] He conceived of a society based on a totalitarian concept of “total mobilization” of such disciplined warrior-workers.[256]

Criticism

Fascism has been widely criticized and condemned in modern times since the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II.

Anti-democratic and tyrannical

Hitler and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in Meeting at Hendaye, on 23 October 1940

One of the most common and strongest criticisms of fascism is that it is a tyranny.[257] Fascism is deliberately and entirely non-democratic and anti-democratic.[258][259][260]

Unprincipled opportunism

Some critics of Italian fascism have said that much of the ideology was merely a by-product of unprincipled opportunism by Mussolini and that he changed his political stances merely to bolster his personal ambitions while he disguised them as being purposeful to the public.[261] Richard Washburn Child, the American ambassador to Italy who worked with Mussolini and became his friend and admirer, defended Mussolini’s opportunistic behaviour by writing: “Opportunist is a term of reproach used to brand men who fit themselves to conditions for the reasons of self-interest. Mussolini, as I have learned to know him, is an opportunist in the sense that he believed that mankind itself must be fitted to changing conditions rather than to fixed theories, no matter how many hopes and prayers have been expended on theories and programmes”.[262] Child quoted Mussolini as saying: “The sanctity of an ism is not in the ism; it has no sanctity beyond its power to do, to work, to succeed in practice. It may have succeeded yesterday and fail to-morrow. Failed yesterday and succeed to-morrow. The machine first of all must run!”.[262]

Some have criticized Mussolini’s actions during the outbreak of World War I as opportunist for seeming to suddenly abandon Marxist egalitarianinternationalism for non-egalitarian nationalism and note to that effect that upon Mussolini endorsing Italy’s intervention in the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, he and the new fascist movement received financial support from foreign sources, such as Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies[263] as well as the British Security Service MI5.[264] Some, including Mussolini’s socialist opponents at the time, have noted that regardless of the financial support he accepted for his pro-interventionist stance, Mussolini was free to write whatever he wished in his newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia without prior sanctioning from his financial backers.[265] Furthermore, the major source of financial support that Mussolini and the fascist movement received in World War I was from France and is widely believed to have been French socialists who supported the French government’s war against Germany and who sent support to Italian socialists who wanted Italian intervention on France’s side.[266]

Mussolini’s transformation away from Marxism into what eventually became fascism began prior to World War I, as Mussolini had grown increasingly pessimistic about Marxism and egalitarianism while becoming increasingly supportive of figures who opposed egalitarianism, such as Friedrich Nietzsche.[267] By 1902, Mussolini was studying Georges Sorel, Nietzsche and Vilfredo Pareto.[268] Sorel’s emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal democracy and capitalism by the use of violence, direct actiongeneral strikes and neo-Machiavellianappeals to emotion impressed Mussolini deeply.[269] Mussolini’s use of Nietzsche made him a highly unorthodox socialist, due to Nietzsche’s promotion of elitism and anti-egalitarian views.[267]Prior to World War I, Mussolini’s writings over time indicated that he had abandoned the Marxism and egalitarianism that he had previously supported in favour of Nietzsche’s übermenschconcept and anti-egalitarianism.[267] In 1908, Mussolini wrote a short essay called “Philosophy of Strength” based on his Nietzschean influence, in which Mussolini openly spoke fondly of the ramifications of an impending war in Europe in challenging both religion and nihilism: “[A] new kind of free spirit will come, strengthened by the war, … a spirit equipped with a kind of sublime perversity, … a new free spirit will triumph over God and over Nothing”.[106]

Ideological dishonesty

Fascism has been criticized for being ideologically dishonest. Major examples of ideological dishonesty have been identified in Italian fascism’s changing relationship with German Nazism.[270][271] Fascist Italy’s official foreign policy positions were known to commonly utilize rhetorical ideological hyperbole to justify its actions, although during Dino Grandi‘s tenure as Italy’s foreign minister the country engaged in realpolitik free of such fascist hyperbole.[272] Italian fascism’s stance towards German Nazism fluctuated from support from the late 1920s to 1934, when it celebrated Hitler’s rise to power and meeting with Hitler in 1934; to opposition from 1934 to 1936 after the assassination of Italy’s allied leader in AustriaEngelbert Dollfuss, by Austrian Nazis; and again back to support after 1936, when Germany was the only significant power that did not denounce Italy’s invasion and occupation of Ethiopia.

After antagonism exploded between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy over the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss in 1934, Mussolini and Italian fascists denounced and ridiculed Nazism’s racial theories, particularly by denouncing its Nordicism, while promoting Mediterraneanism.[271] Mussolini himself responded to Nordicists’ claims of Italy being divided into Nordic and Mediterranean racial areas due to Germanic invasions of Northern Italy by claiming that while Germanic tribes such as the Lombards took control of Italy after the fall of Ancient Rome, they arrived in small numbers (about 8,000) and quickly assimilated into Roman culture and spoke the Latin language within fifty years.[273] Italian fascism was influenced by the tradition of Italian nationalists scornfully looking down upon Nordicists’ claims and taking pride in comparing the age and sophistication of ancient Roman civilization as well as the classical revival in the Renaissance to that of Nordic societies that Italian nationalists described as “newcomers” to civilization in comparison.[270] At the height of antagonism between the Nazis and Italian fascists over race, Mussolini claimed that the Germans themselves were not a pure race and noted with irony that the Nazi theory of German racial superiority was based on the theories of non-German foreigners, such as Frenchman Arthur de Gobineau.[274] After the tension in German-Italian relations diminished during the late 1930s, Italian fascism sought to harmonize its ideology with German Nazism and combined Nordicist and Mediterranean racial theories, noting that Italians were members of the Aryan Race, composed of a mixed Nordic-Mediterranean subtype.[271]

In 1938, Mussolini declared upon Italy’s adoption of antisemitic laws that Italian fascism had always been antisemitic,[271] In fact, Italian fascism did not endorse antisemitism until the late 1930s when Mussolini feared alienating antisemitic Nazi Germany, whose power and influence were growing in Europe. Prior to that period there had been notable Jewish Italians who had been senior Italian fascist officials, including Margherita Sarfatti, who had also been Mussolini’s mistress.[271] Also contrary to Mussolini’s claim in 1938, only a small number of Italian fascists were staunchly antisemitic (such as Roberto Farinacci and Giuseppe Preziosi), while others such as Italo Balbo, who came from Ferrara which had one of Italy’s largest Jewish communities, were disgusted by the antisemitic laws and opposed them.[271] Fascism scholar Mark Neocleous notes that while Italian fascism did not have a clear commitment to antisemitism, there were occasional antisemitic statements issued prior to 1938, such as Mussolini in 1919 declaring that the Jewish bankers in London and New York were connected by race to the Russian Bolsheviks and that eight percent of the Russian Bolsheviks were Jews.[275]

See also

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

 

 

 

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