Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
december 2006

Concepts de l’histoire du Québec / Quebec History Concepts


Notes on the Nature and Characteristics of Fascism


Claude Bélanger,

Department of History,

Marianopolis College.

Fascism is above all a state of mind, an ideology, which admits of an infinite variety of forms. Not all fascist movements share equally in all of its characteristics; however, despite some differences, they recognize their affinities and support one another across state boundaries.

Core principles of fascism: virulent anti-Marxism (true fascism cannot really be found where the threat of communism is not perceived as strong), allied to profound disgust for liberal democracy (judged corrupt, inefficient, divisive, promoting selfish interests and failing to promote true values), as well as nationalism.

  • Fascism is reaction (defines itself through reaction to something else): against those that have debased the nation, those that disunite it, that cannot defend it against its enemies. It is further a reaction to Marxism and to Liberal democracy.

  • In fascism, the enemies of the nation are old corrupt politicians, foreigners, especially Jews, communism (promoted by Jews).

  • Exaltation of force, strength, violence: slogans, symbols, costumes, insignias, military. Promotes discipline, sacrifice, blind obedience to the leader.

  • Fascism is revolution: the revolutionary vocabulary is continually used.

  • Fascism is often an ideology of the young or seeking to promote a youthful image; “bravade de jeunesse”, refusal to conform, displaying easily a lack of respect for others, especially for the older generation.

  • Glorification of the past (before the debasement of the nation); past seen as glorious, source of inspiration for the present.

  • Statism: the state is the epicentre of the nation, its creation, its tool.

  • “Culte du chef” (cult of the leader) : The leader is the embodiment of the nation, of its will, and of the state. He must be obyed without question.

  • To the class struggle proposed by Marxists, or the selfish interests promoted by liberal capitalism, fascists promote the necessity to impose the “national will” on all.

  • Rejection of the principles coming out of the French Revolution: especially the liberal values of the primacy of the individual, and of its rights, and of fraternity. To the liberal idea that the state exists to protect the individual, they oppose the idea of the individual serving the nation, the state and its leader.

  • Organization of the state around corporatism (state corporatism)

  • Fascists often claim to have a social character (such as national socialism) and some of the fascist leaders have come from the left.

© 2006 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College