Difference Between Nazism and Fascism


Fascism and Nazism are quite often considered to be the same or at least refer to the same ideologies. However, the two are entirely different from each other in very many aspects. Both are totalitarian ideologies and are closely related in design. The two totalitarian and dictatorial regimes came into reality in Germany and Italy, respectively, because the democratic form of government failed to solve the economic crisis, unemployment, inflation and loss of prestige the two countries faced after World War II.

Mussolini and Hitler rose to power swiftly, but their countries’ transformations from constitutional governments to fascist regimes did not take place overnight. Rather, the two countries experienced a similar pattern of a fascist party gaining a foothold in government through initially democratic methods, consolidating power, and ultimately dismantling democratic institutions and securing a dictatorship for its leader.

What is Fascism?

Fascism is a far-right, authoritarian, ultranationalist political ideology and movement, characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracy, militarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race, and strong regimentation of society and the economy.

Fascism political ideology dominated many parts of central, southern, and eastern Europe between 1919 and 1945 and that also had adherents in western Europe, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Latin America, and the Middle East. Europe’s first fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, took the name of his party from the Latin word fasces, which referred to a bundle of elm or birch rods (usually containing an ax) used as a symbol of penal authority in ancient Rome.

There are many definitions of fascism; some people describe it as a set of political actions, a political philosophy or a mass movement. Most definitions agree that fascism is authoritarian and promotes nationalism at all costs, but its basic characteristics are a matter of debate.

In many ways, fascist regimes are revolutionary because they advocate the overthrow of existing systems of government and the persecution of political enemies. However, when it advances their interests, such regimes can also be highly conservative in their championing of traditional values related to the role of women, social hierarchy, and obedience to authority. And although fascist leaders typically claim to support the everyman, in reality their regimes often align with powerful business interests.

What is Nazism?

Nazism, the common name in English for National Socialism, is the far-right ideology or a form of fascism, with disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system. It incorporates fervent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, and the use of eugenics into its creed. Nazism was associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany between 1933-1945.

Nazistands for ‘Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei’, or National Socialist German Workers Party. Nazism took the Socialist idea of the community and applied it on a nationalist scale. The Nazi party wanted to unify Germany under a collective purpose. The ideology of Nazism can be described in four parts: expansion, racial purity, power, and militarism.

Nazism’s ideology was shaped by Hitler’s beliefs in German racial superiority and the dangers of communism. It rejected liberalism, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, stressing instead the subordination of the individual to the state and the necessity of strict obedience to leaders. It emphasized the inequality of individuals and “races” and the right of the strong to rule the weak.

Politically, Nazism favoured rearmament, reunification of the German areas of Europe, expansion into non-German areas, and the purging of “undesirables,” especially the Jewish people.

Despite its economic and political success, Nazism maintained its power by coercion and mass manipulation. The Nazi regime disseminated a continual outpouring of propaganda through all cultural and informational media.

Nazism vs Fascism: Key Differences

Nazism comes from the German name of the Nazi Party or National Socialist German Workers’ Party.Fascism comes from the word fascismo, which further comes from fascio, meaning a bundle of sticks’. Also, fascio comes from the word fasces, a symbol of power in the ancient roman empire.
Racism was intrinsic to Nazism, which propounded that the Aryan race is supreme and has pureblood. Jews were conspired to be anti-national or anti-German.Statism is the crux of fascism, where the state is all-embracing where no individual or spiritual value exists beyond the state. Fascism is not racial and holds no strong opinion of any race.
The state plays an instrumental role in preserving and propagating racial discrimination.Fascism believes in corporatism which incorporates and binds up all the social elements to achieve the goal of an organic state.
Nazism vehemently opposes class discrimination as it is a stumbling block in the path of the Aryan supremacy theory of nazists. Aryans shall remain united against Jews and not divided between bourgeoisie and proletariat.Fascism recognises the class system and even practices it openly.
Nazism is against social mobility or even wants to kill every Jew.Social mobility exists in fascism.
Nazism was a more intense and brutal ideology that took the life of almost 6 million JewsThe ideology of fascism was comparatively less brutal, and fewer killings happened in Italy under fascism.
The degree of penetration was higher because of the politicisation of race. Dubious conspiracy theories against Jews brainwashed the people of Germany.The degree of penetration was comparatively lower in the case of fascism in Italy.
Nazism was the ideology of Germany created by Adolf Hitler. Another nazist is Joseph MengeleBenito Mussolini in Italy instituted fascism. Another fascist is Oswald Mosley.

Similarities Between Nazism And Fascism

Mussolini and Hitler rose to prominence in the aftermath of World War I, capitalizing on the political and economic fallout of the Great War and popular dissatisfaction with their countries’ leaders and thus how the two ideologies (fascism and Nazism) began.

In its intense nationalism, mass appeal, and dictatorial rule, Nazism shared many elements with Italian fascism. However, Nazism was far more extreme both in its ideas and in its practice. On an economic level, there are also quite a few significant differences.

Both ideologies reject Capitalism and Communism. They see them as two sides of the same coin. They both wish for an alternative however, the Fascist alternative differs from the Nazistic alternative. When it comes to economics, both sides are quite leftwing in the sense that they defy the status-quo and break away from traditional rightwing economics. Both ideologies seem to veer towards a more centrally planned economy as opposed to a traditional free market economy. Both ideologies favour economic regulation and government oversight.

In summary, Fascism and Nazism are close ideologically. They feature:

  • Anti-liberalism and anti-communism;
  • The idealization of a strong national state;
  • Imperialism and militarism;
  • Charismatic authoritarian leadership, the cult of personality of the leader;
  • Disregard for traditional social institutions.
  • Both sprung up after the First World War in Europe.

They are so similar to such an extent that throughout history, National Socialist and Fascist states have practically always worked together and been allies, even today in the modern world, Fascists and National Socialists continue to fight side by side as comrades.

Key Takeaways

  • Fascist movements are nationalist and often racist whereas the socialist movement is internationalist.
  • Fascism rejects assertions that violence is inherently bad and views imperialism, political violence and war as means to national rejuvenation.
  • Mussolini and Hitler rose to prominence in the aftermath of World War I, capitalizing on the political and economic fallout of the Great War and popular dissatisfaction with their countries’ leaders.
  • Hitler’s most important individual contribution to the theory and practice of Nazism was his deep understanding of mass psychology and mass propaganda. He stressed the fact that all propaganda must hold its intellectual level at the capacity of the least intelligent of those at whom it is directed and that its truthfulness is much less important than its success.
  • The Nazis aimed to unite all Germans living in historically German territory, as well as gain additional lands for German expansion and exclude those they deem community Aliens or “inferior” races.