An Analysis of Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism and Their Relevance for Today’s World

Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism are highly significant and riveting political ideologies in which all three ideologies are characterized as having a strong, totalitarian government that controls political decisions within a specific region, usually a country. All three ideologies have also been characterized as ideologies in which individualism is not supported, anti-rationalism is prevalent, anti-modernization is a common theme and ultra-nationalism is rampant. Evidence of ultra-nationalism is clearly visible within “nation-states” as nation-states receives supreme political importance and contains the main “headquarters” of political action within a geographic region, (e.g. Germany and Italy were both nation-states for Nazism and Fascism, respectively). Other essential ingredients of fascism include a “survival of the fittest” mentality (social Darwinism) and other themes are anti-rationalism, struggle, leadership and elitism, socialism and ultra-nationalism (Haywood 2007: 207). Common themes of Nazism include racism, anti-Semitism, immensely passionate feelings for Germany, expansionism and racial purity, (Aryans were considered “pure”). Common themes of Stalinism are much similar to both fascism and Nazism as stated above, but Stalinism was prevalent in Joseph Stalin’s USSR and communism is slightly different from socialism and corporatism, (Germany and Italy were socialist countries). As three political ideologies with rich history, Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism have many similarities and differences.

Before Fascist Italy is discussed in greater detail, it is essential to further highlight and define the major components of fascism. One of the most important components of fascism is “anti-rationalism” and this generally means that individuals should not be allowed to think and act in an intellectual manner and that inactivity is severely frowned upon (Haywood 2007: 207-8). Other fundamental components of fascism are mentioned above, but ultra-nationalism can be further defined by commenting that it is a concept which involves an individuals’ or groups’ “intense, even hysterical, form of nationalist enthusiasm in which individual identity is absorbed within the national community” (Heywood 2007: 215). Historically, Benito Mussolini (and Giovanni Gentile) propounded fascism as Mussolini, with great assistance from Gentile, wrote several documents centering on the birth of Fascism as a political ideology and Mussolini was an Italian fascist dictator in early 20th century, (“The Doctrine of Fascism”). In addition, fascism is a political ideology in which the betterment and flourishing of the “nation-state” receives the upmost precedence while the concept of individualism is fundamentally weak, (“Modern History Sourcebook: Mussolini: What Is Fascism, 1932”). Additionally, Mussolini’s Italy was a politically significant country in the 20th century as Mussolini controlled Italy with a fascist and totalitarian government, Mussolini assumed a “cult of personality” status, and Mussolini’s Italy allied with Hitler’s Germany during World War II.

Similar to Mussolini’s Italy, Adolf Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” (in English, “my struggle”) which was a historical document that helped Hitler advance German fascism and Nazism while also advocating that Germans should believe in anti-Semitism, (Hitler: 2001). Although born in Austria and not having an Aryan physical appearance, Hitler strongly believed that Aryans were the master race and that members of other races should be exterminated, (esp. Jews, Gypsies, African-Americans, etc.) It is also interesting to note that Hitler achieved political power because of the vastly unfair Versailles treaty and that Hitler promised Germans that they would become strong, resilient, and socio-economically prosperous. In a sense, Hitler’s promised message to Germans after the Versailles treaty is strikingly similar to the “American Dream”.

As for Hitler’s and Nazism’s political significance, Hitler established Nazism as a political ideology that is very similar to Italian fascism as Nazis strongly believed in a totalitarian government in which individualism was drastically reduced, (Kershaw 2000: 23-4). However, one of the most important fundamental differences between the two ideologies is Nazism strongly advocates Aryanism as the master race and that members of other races should undergo mass extermination, (Freeden 2003: 91). Nazism also centered on Germany expanding its territory through expansionist ways, including Nazi Germany capturing Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and even France. Hitler and his fellow Nazis were also brilliant in suggesting that Jews have had a historical tendency to be greedy, stingy and barbaric. Nazism literature even painted Jews as the inferior race and suggested the idea that Jews were responsible for Germany’s socio-economic issues in the past, especially with the Versailles Treaty. Although Mussolini’s Italy started to create political laws against Jews in 1937, Mussolini passed these laws to please Hitler and Nazi Germany, (Heywood: 2007, 220).

In a political ideology context, Nazism is a political ideology in which a vast majority of Germans strongly admired and passionately believed in Germany and these Germans were ready to fight at all costs for the fate of Nazi Germany, (Baldwin 1990: 6). With the help of effective propaganda, Germans also had a great sense of security, esteem, and national pride as Germans appreciated their traditions, ways of life and other German cultural aspects, (“How to Fight Friendly Fascism”). In a social sense, Germans expanded their cultural borders through militaristic victories that positively helped Germans believe in their country, desire to help Germany in other aspects of life, and their many military victories further increased the desire for Germans to fight for Germany. One example of strong German pride and jingoism is when some German soldiers triumphantly started to march in unity together before the Battle of the Bulge as the soldiers enthusiastically desired militaristic victory against the Allies, (Toland: 1999).

Like Fascism and Nazism, Stalinism shares similar features and these features include a strong totalitarian government, a severe lack of individualism as individuals were only supposed to believe and act in the country’s best interest, and Stalinism did not achieve political significance through respect, but by appealing to individuals through terror and fear. Another significant connection between the three ideologies is that Stalinism encouraged its followers (Russians) to believe passionately in the government’s actions and to fight for Joseph Stalin and for the USSR.

Joseph Stalin, the founder of Stalinism, was a significant political leader who was USSR’s first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee. Stalin, with the help of his devoted political followers, established USSR as a totalitarian government that was effective in creating a strong sense of collectivization and communism, (Suny 1997: 28). A great overall description of Stalinism, as a political ideology, is Stalinism advocated a “centrally planned economy supported by systematic and brutal political oppression, based on the structures of Stalin’s Russia,” (Heywood 2007: 126).

The fundamental differences between Stalinism and Fascism and Nazism are that after Operation Barbarossa in 1939, Stalin’s USSR was no longer allied with Hitler’s Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, (English, Jones 1998: 106). In addition, Stalinism advocated a stronger collective economy as Stalin’s USSR practiced communism compared to varying levels of socialism in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Another difference is that many scholars view Stalinism as an extreme leftist political ideology while fascism and Nazism have been viewed as extreme right political ideologies. In addition, Stalinism is different from Nazism as Stalin did not encourage his fellow citizens to install and organize mass extermination camps to mass murder Jews, African-Americans, Gypsies or members of other races that were considered “inferior”. Stalin, however, did use terror and fear tactics to murder his political opponents, who included Martemyan Ryutin, (Ryutin was a political opponent of Stalin who attempted to oust Stalin of political power).

In addition to these three ideologies, socialism seems to have similar characteristics and relevance to fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism. Socialism, as defined by Andrew Heywood, is a political ideology that “has traditionally been defined by its opposition to capitalism and the attempt to provide a more humane and socially worthwhile alternative. At the core of socialism is a vision of human beings as social creatures united by their common humanity,” (Heywood 2007: 99). Socialism is politically relevant to fascism as both ideologies advocate a strong communal and collective bond between individuals and a significantly powerful government. Both socialism and Nazism are significantly relevant as Nazism stands for National Socialism and Adolf Hitler helped establish Nazi Germany as a country in which individuals were intensely patriotic and a lack of individualism was prevalent. The relationship between socialism and Stalinism is probably the strongest out of all three ideologies as Stalin believed in extreme levels of collectivization. In addition, Stalin’s USSR economy has also been described as “state socialism” as Stalin passed governmental laws and procedures that enabled a strong state-level economy that eradicated any sense of a free-market society.

To conclude, fascism, Nazism and Stalinism are three radical political ideologies that have recently emerged from the 20th century. Although these three political ideologies are directly related to a country and time, there still seems to be a debate that all three still have relevance to global world politics and social life. There are political similarities between fascism and Islamo-fascism, Nazism and Neo-Nazism, and Stalinism with communism, especially within contemporary Russia. If these three ideologies are to have some sort of “rebirth” in the 21st century politically, one can assume that there is a more than likely chance that the politicians (or governments) harboring these ideologies will most likely incorporate the political ideology onto their political platform, but not publically announce their true intent.

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