Fascism in World War Ii: History Flashbacks


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Fascism is an ultranationalistic and militaristic ideology based upon a struggle for the desired rebirth of a nation or ethnic group. The idea of Fascism developed in France after the Napoleonic wars. It made its way into Germany and Italy, ultimately causing the Second World War. The tenets of Fascism deem it a controversial ideology, which is why people are opposed to it. Stanley G. Payne suggested the fundamental hope of Fascism was to create unity through the movement and its structure as a state in order to implore social cohesion. 

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It seeks to naturalize group differences to try and create a hierarchy of human worth. When groups begin to divide, fear sets in to fill in the void of understanding between different groups. In turn, this allows the fascist government to have a greater hold on its population. The Fascist movements in Italy and Germany are examples of fascist regimes though both of them did not exactly stick to the correct doctrine of the movement. For instance, Mussolini never did make himself an absolute dictator.

Jason Stanley argued that Fascism is a one-party dictatorship against democracy as a way to prepare for war and to respond to economic struggles. This system is used by a single leader who speaks for all the people as a justification to get rid of other governing bodies. Fascism is justified by pointing towards a mythical past and twisting ideals, using propaganda in order to create an anti-intellectualism mindset among its citizens. 

Fascism most importantly tries to create a “us and them” mentality as a way to persuade the population into mass mobilization. Stanley G. Payne proposed that Fascism also tended to be chauvinistic, placing the male on a pedestal and often the male majority would seek to showcase their masculinity. Although women were allowed into fascist societies, the men enjoyed dominance. The problem with defining Fascism is that most of its regimes do not identify themselves as fascists. 

Rarely are states born Fascist, rather leaders transform their state into a Fascist regime, which is why most scholars end up preferring to use the names of leaders. Fascism is militaristic because it believes that the only way a state can survive is through being militarily superior. Fascist governments were heavily focused on Vitalism and Dynamism, and consequently, the movement was always in a state of revolution. 

So by definition, Fascism could never take a final form. Fascist ideologies are mainly socio-economic; thus, it can appear in many different ways and evolve to try and appeal to modern times. Although, since in recent times, Fascism is used as a pejorative for dictatorships and brutal regimes, it takes away any useful specificity.

The majority of the tenets of Fascism developed in France. Stanley G. Payne suggested French pseudo-scientists like Arthur de Gobineau had been spreading the idea of the racial inferiority of the Jew and Black populations. With the rise of Liberal thought of leisure and a sort of bourgeoisie mindset, Fascists gained support for their idea of a fundamentalist state that rejected Liberalism. The concept of extreme nationalism originated from the Jacobin faction of the legislative assembly. 

Napoleon left the French population yearning for another powerful leader. One of the first fascist-like leaders was Georges Ernest Boulanger. He was elected to power because he appealed to the population through rousing populist sentiments, showcasing himself as a strong leader. He appealed to the radical right through nationalist sentiments and to the left with anti-bourgeois viewpoints. 

Although, he never ended up rising into power in France because the government feared he would do a coup. So the interim government decided to persecute Boulanger’s party as he fled the country. A fascist government never took place in France because they never faced severe economic troubles as Germany would.

Fascism is best known for being the root cause of the Second World War. Stanley G. Payne describes the fascist leaders of Italy and Germany and the desire for their countries to become large, utopian ethnostates through militarism. Japan began to adopt Fascist ideologies because the Taisho Democracy was failing, and consequently, the military was gaining power and control. 

The First World War and the Great Depression destroyed Germany’s economy. Hitler rose to power because the German people were tired of weak governments and the suffering that resulted from the economic failures. Italy became Fascist through intimidation tactics that forced the king to make the Fascist leader Mussolini president of Italy. After World War Two, these fascist nations were eventually defeated, and the western powers reorganized their government structures in order to prevent similar events from recurring.

Fascism has a history of violence and repression; it is a terrifying ideology for many people due to its doctrine. Jason Stanley suggests the violence of the Second World War was caused by the idea of Fascism and the fanaticism that it instills in its population. Fascism is a controversial topic in western philosophy, where democracy and freedom are the fundamental values. The election of Donald Trump has revived the debate surrounding Fascism. 

The secretive nature of his election leads people to believe he is the embodiment of a fascist. Further, he has acted in manners that could be associated with fascist ideologies. For example, his targeting of Latino illegal immigrants and his short term travel ban against Muslim countries. Another debate surrounding him is his populist style of getting people to vote for him. Trump is known for using fear-mongering and nationalism to sway voters. Poland is another area filled with debates about fascism. 

The debates started in 2017 on Poland’s independence day when the world was shocked to see signs promoting white supremacy all over the rally filled with 60000 people. Also, the Polish government has been ignoring EU laws and not following its own constitution. Consequently, Poland is viewed as fascist. The opposing argument is that Poland is trying to express its freedom from the EU “tyranny” and the Polish people wish to express their national identity. 

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