In many ways, communist and fascist movements had opposing ideologies but both ended up being repressive political systems based on the control of a single leader. While communism is based around a theory of economic equality, fascism is based around the glory of the state and strength displayed through violence and conquest. Both communism and fascism originated in Europe and gained popularity in the early to mid 20th century.
|Philosophy||From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Free-access to the articles of consumption is made possible by advances in technology that allow for super-abundance.||No single philosophy. The state must gain glory through constant conquest, aka war. Belief that the past was glorious, and that the State can be renewed.|
|Economic System||Wealth redistributed so that everyone in society is given equal shares of the benefits derived from labor. All means of production are controlled by the state.||Focused on glorifying and strengthening the State. Both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany attempted to pursue self-sufficiency.|
|Ideas||Human societies have always been divided into warring classes. The Industrial Revolution has enriched the wealthy and impoverished the poor. The workers must overthrow the bourgeois.||Union between businesses and the State, with the state telling the business what to do, with private ownership. Also Known as National-Socialism.|
|Definition||A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, with actual ownership ascribed to the community or state.||A government system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly oppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism.|
|Economic Coordination||Government controls all business, as well as business decisions.||People control businesses properly, but Government makes business decisions.|
|Political System||No leader, directed directly by the people. This has never been actually practiced, and has just used a one-party system.||One charismatic leader has absolute authority. Often the symbol of the state.|
|Political Movements||Leninism, Trotskyism, Marxism-Leninism, Maoism, Left-Communism.||Nazism, Falangism|
|Social Structure||All class distinctions are eliminated.||Strict class structure believed necessary to prevent chaos. Everyone has a specific, defined role. While a certain race is considered superior, individuality among members of that race is discouraged.|
|Religion||Abolished.||Fascism is a civic religion - citizens worship the state through nationalism. The state only supports religious organizations that are nationally/historically tied to that state; e.g. the Iron Guard in Romania supported the Romanian Orthodox church.|
|Free Choice||In real communism, where a leader does not exist, everything is chosen freely.In those that have been practiced though, all choices, including education, religion, employment and marriage, are controlled by the state.||The individual is considered meaningless; they must be dedicated to the power of the State. Traditional gender roles are upheld.|
|Key Proponents||Karl Marx, Fredrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky.||Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler|
|History||First conceived by Thomas More in his book Utopia in 1516. Most famously associated with Karl Marx and his Communist Manifesto in 1848. First used by the Bolshevik party when they took control of Russia in the 1917 October Revolution.||Term coined by Mussolini in the 1920s when he gained control of Italy. Other major fascist regimes include the Nazi Party in Germany (1933-45), the National Union in Portugal (1934-68), and Francoist Spain (1936-1975).|
|Key elements||An enhanced form of the principle of "Production for use".||Used to want to control the government, usually used by a harsh or demanding leader.|
|Discrimination||In theory, all members of the state are considered equal.||Belief in one superior race (Nazism). Blames society’s problems on members of other races or social groups.|
|Way of Change||Government in a Communist-state is the agent of change rather than any market or desire on the part of consumers. Change by government can be swift or slow, depending on change in ideology or even whim.||Change can only occur within the party and the system itself.|
|Famous Examples||Stalin (USSR), Mao (People’s Republic of China)||Mussolini (Italy), Hitler (Germany), Franco (Spain), Ion Antonescu (Romania)|
|Modern Examples||Cuba||Recent far-right dictatorships include Pinochet's regime in Chile and Peron's regime in Argentina. Many Neo-Fascist organizations exist and engaged in terrorist attacks in the US, Germany and the UK in the 1990s.|
|Variations||Include Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism.||Nazism, National Socialism, Falangism, Strasserism|
|Means of control||Proletariat engages in violent rebellion.||Force and national fanaticism through rallies etc.|
|view of the world||Communism is an international movement; Communists in one country see themselves in solidarity with Communists in other countries.||Fascists are ultra-nationalists who see no reason to respect the rights of other nations.|
What is Communism and Fascism?
Fascism is a system where the government is led by a dictator. The dictator has complete authority and forcibly oppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism.
Communists believe that a utopian (perfect) society can be achieved if, and only if, the proletariat (or working classes) overthrow the capitalist system in a social-revolution, usually using armed rebellion. Communism is an extreme form of socialism.
Fascism is based around the glory of the nation state. Fascists believe that constant conquest of other nations is necessary to uphold this glory. Fascist parties and movements in various countries differed significantly from each other. But they also had many characteristics in common, including extreme militaristic nationalism, opposition to parliamentary democracy, conservative economic policy that favored the wealthy, contempt for political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community”), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation.
Social Structure and Class Hierarchies
Communists inspired by Karl Marx believe class hierarchies must be abolished by the state seizing control of private property and industry, thereby abolishing the capitalist class. Oh the other hand, fascists believed in a rigid class hierarchy, especially rule by an elite, and were opposed to socialist movements. Fascism upholds a strict class structure, ensuring that every member of society has a specific, unchangeable role. Often in fascist societies a certain racial group is considered superior and national and ethnic unity is encouraged at the expense of individuality. For example, Hitler's fascist regime glorified the Aryan race and called for the extermination of Jews during World War II.
Both fascism and communism are against the democratic process but with some differences. Fascism looks down upon parliamentary democracy. Fascist leaders like Hitler and Mussolini participated in electoral politics before coming to power. But after seizing power, fascist leaders tended to abolish political parties, oppose universal suffrage and became dictators and rulers for life.
In a communist system, there is rule -- in theory -- by a single party. Democracy was to be practiced only within the party, constrained by the policy of democratic centralism i.e. full and vigorous debate would lead to a decision that would determine the party’s “line” on an issue, whereupon the party’s central leadership would close off debate and require adherence to the party line. In short, the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat had to be a dictatorship of the communist party in the name of the proletariat.
Communism is based on the equal distribution of wealth. The tenet of Marxian communism was "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Everyone in society receives an equal share of the benefits derived from labor, e.g. food and money. In order to ensure that everyone receives an equal amount, all means of production are controlled by the state.
Fascism allows for private enterprise, but its economic system is focused entirely on strengthening and glorifying the state. Both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany aimed for self-sufficiency, so that each country could survive entirely without trade with other nations. See Fascist corporatism
In both communism and fascism, individual choice or preference matter less than society as a whole. In communism, religion and private property are both abolished, the government controls all labor and wealth, and individual choices such as job or education are dictated by the government. While private property is permitted in fascism, most other choices are also controlled to increase the strength of the State.
Videos explaining the difference
History of Fascism and Communism
Communism can be traced back to Thomas More, who wrote about a society based around common ownership of property in Utopia in 1516. Communism is most commonly associated with Karl Marx and his 1848 book The Communist Manifesto. Marx was a critic of the Industrial Revolution who disagreed with how capitalism took advantage of the working classes. He imagined that a utopia would be formed when all people were economically equal.
The first real-world example of Marxist Communism was in Russia in 1917, when the Bolshevik Party seized control in the October Revolution. This was the beginning of many communist revolutions in the 20th century, including in China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola and Mozambique.
Modern Fascism originated in Italy in the 1920s, when Mussolini gained control and coined the term “fascism” to describe his form of government. Fascism then spread throughout Europe, including to Germany beginning in 1933 with the Nazis, and Portugal in 1934.
Communism is still practiced in Cuba and North Korea. Communism is also nominally the system of government in China, but China’s current economic system is far more capitalist in nature than traditional communism.
No countries are currently ruled by fascism, but neo-fascists (or neo-Nazis) exist in many countries, including the US. The bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 was caused by neo-fascists.
- Fascism. (2012). In Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Communism. (2012). In Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Fascism - Wikipedia
- Communism - Wikipedia