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Fascism versus Socialism comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartFascismSocialism
Political System One charismatic leader has absolute authority. Often the symbol of the state. Advisers to Government are generally picked by merit rather than election. Cronyism common. Can coexist with different political systems. Most socialists advocate participatory democracy, some (Social Democrats) advocate parliamentary democracy, and Marxist-Leninists advocate "Democratic centralism."
Key Elements Actual idealism, centralized government, social Darwinism, planned economy, anti-democratic, meritocratic, extreme nationalism, militarism, racism (Nazism). Traditional and/or exaggerated gender roles. One-party system. Calculation in kind, Collective ownership, Cooperative common ownership, Economic democracy Economic planning, Equal opportunity, Free association, Industrial democracy, Input–output model, Internationalism, Labour voucher, Material balancing.
Ideas The union between businesses and the State, with the state telling the business what to do, with nominally private ownership. Corporatism in Italy, National Socialism in Germany. Central planning of National economy. Redistribution of wealth (Nazi). All individuals should have access to basic articles of consumption and public goods to allow for self-actualization. Large-scale industries are collective efforts and thus the returns from these industries must benefit society as a whole.
Economic Coordination Businesses are nominally privately owned; the State dictates outputs and investments. Planning is based on projected labor output rather than money. Planned-socialism relies principally on planning to determine investment and production decisions. Planning may be centralized or decentralized. Market-socialism relies on markets for allocating capital to different socially-owned enterprises.
Social Structure A strict class structure was believed necessary to prevent chaos (Italian Fascist). All class distinctions are eliminated (German Nazi). Nazism believes in a “superior” race. Italian Fascism was not racist in doctrine originally. Class distinctions are diminished. Status derived more from political distinctions than class distinctions. Some mobility.
Philosophy The state must gain glory through constant conquest and war. The past was glorious, and the State can be renewed. The individual has no value outside of his or her role in promoting the glory of the State. Philosophies varied by country. From each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution. Emphasis on profit being distributed among the society or workforce to complement individual wages/salaries.
Religion 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. Freedom of religion, but usually promotes secularism.
Ownership Structure The means of production are nominally privately owned but directed by the State. Private ownership of the business is contingent upon the submission to the direction and interests of the State. The means of production are socially-owned with the surplus value produced accruing to either all of society (in Public-ownership models) or to all the employee-members of the enterprise (in Cooperative-ownership models).
Economic System Autarky (national self-sufficiency). Keynesian (mostly). Large public works, deficit spending. Anti-trade union and syndicalism. Strongly against international financial markets and usury. The means of production are owned by public enterprises or cooperatives, and individuals are compensated based on the principle of individual contribution. Production may variously be coordinated through either economic planning or markets.
Private Property Nominally permitted. Contingent upon service, obedience, or usefulness to the State. Two kinds of property: Personal property, such as houses, clothing, etc. owned by the individual. Public property includes factories, and means of production owned by the State but with worker control.
Definition An extremely nationalistic, authoritarian state is usually led by one person at the head of one party. No democratic election of representatives. No free market. No individualism or individual glory. The State controls the press and all other media. A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of most property in common, with actual ownership ascribed to the workers.
Political Movements National Socialism, Falangism, Nazism, Strasserism, neo-Nazism, neo-Fascism, National-Bolshevism. Democratic socialism, communism, libertarian socialism, social anarchism, and syndicalism.
Discrimination Belief in one superior race (Nazism). Belief in a superior nation (Fascism & Nazism). Gender (F & N). Mental or physical handicaps. Mental illness. Alcoholics. Homosexuals. Roma. Jews (Nazi). Ideological and political opposition, trade unions (F&N). The people are considered equal; laws are made when necessary to protect people from discrimination. Immigration is often tightly controlled.
Free Choice The individual is considered meaningless; they must submit to the decisions of the leadership. Traditional gender roles are upheld and/or exaggerated. Religion, jobs, & marriage are up to the individual. Compulsory education. Free, equal access to healthcare & education provided through a socialized system funded by taxation. Production decisions driven more by State decision than consumer demand.
Way of Change The government in a fascist state is the agent of change rather than any market or desire on the part of consumers. Change by the government can be swift or slow, depending on a change in labor output or even at the whim of the dictator. Workers in a socialist state are the nominal agent of change rather than any market or desire on the part of consumers. Change by the State on behalf of workers can be swift or slow, depending on change in ideology or even whim.
Modern Examples Recent far-right dictatorships include the Republic of Chile under Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and the Republic of Argentina under Juan Perón (1946-1955) / (1973-1974). There are presently no openly fascist governments in existence. Modern examples of socialist countries include China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. Countries like India, Portugal, North Korea and Sri Lanka also refer to themselves as socialist in their constitution.
Means of control Fascism employs direct force (secret police, government intimidation, concentration camps, and murder), propaganda (enabled by State-directed, heavily-censored media), rallies, etc. Usage of a government.
Examples Fascist governments are generally headed by one person: a dictator. This is not an aberration of doctrine, in fact it is an important component of it. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR): although the actual categorization of the USSR's economic system is in dispute, it is often considered to be a form of centrally-planned socialism.
Variations Nazism, Austrofascism, British Fascism, Christofascism, Clerical Fascism, Falangism, Francoism, Italian Fascism, National Socialism, Neo-fascism, Proto-fascism, Tropical fascism. Market socialism, communism, state socialism, social anarchism.
Earliest Remnants The Roman Empire, which could be argued was a fascist entity. The earliest fascist theories were based on examples left behind by the Roman Empire. In 1516, Thomas More write in "Utopia" about a society based around common ownership of property. In 1776, Adam Smith advocated the labor theory of value, ignoring the previous Cantillonian view that prices are derived from supply and demand.
View of the world Fascists are ultra-nationalists who identify strongly with other Nationalistic nations and leaders. Fascists distrust internationalism and rarely abide by international agreements. Fascists do not believe in the concept of international law. Socialism is a movement of both the worker and middle-class, all for a common democratic goal.
View of war War is good for the morale of the nation and therefore good for the State. Through the conquest of war, the State can attain glory. The Nation State is bolstered through the use of subjugation of inferior nations. Opinions range from prowar (Charles Edward Russell, Allan L. Benson) to antiwar (Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas). Socialists tend to agree with Keynesians that war is good for the economy by spurring production.
Literature The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascist Manifesto, "La Conquista del Estado", "Mein Kampf", My Autobiography, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, The Last Will of a Russian Fascist. The Communist Manifesto, “Das Kapital”, The State and Revolution, The Jungle, Reform or Revolution, Capital (Vol I: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production), Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, the Grapes of Wrath.
History Term coined by Mussolini in the 1920s when he gained control of Italy. Other major fascist regimes include the NSDAP in Germany (1933-45), the National Union in Portugal (1934-68), and Francoist Spain (1936-1975). Historic socialist examples include the Paris Commune, the Strandha Commune, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria; none continue to have Communist governments.

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