What is the difference between fascism and communism?|
"All of the answers below incorporate important elements that show similarities as well as differences between fascism and communism. However, it is important to keep in mind a few things.
First, both communism and fascism are types of authoritarian rule, where the interests and freedoms of the individual are subordinated to those of the state, and quite frequently a powerful leader. Secondly, in many cases both fascist and communist rule are bolstered by a highly powerful military apparatus, as a way to stifle opposition. Thirdly, both types of government are statist, in that the central government has some degree of control over the economic means of production (as opposed to, say a free market, or laissez-faire economy as in the US), and also oftentimes social policy.
However, there are also notable differences.
Fascism tends to be driven by nationalistic or ethnic divisions. For example, Hitler's NAZI party used populist appeals to ethnic divisions in Germany- especially hatred towards Jews- as a way to gain popular support.
Secondly, fascism has strong corporatist elements, where the government has significant control over private enterprise, but does not entirely co-opt it (as in, say, communism). The NAZIs, for example, considered themselves a "Third Way" between laissez-faire capitalism and socialism, in that rather than completely nationalizing industry and taking over the means of production, the government had a very powerful influence.
Keep in mind a few things, however. There are corporatist elements in many countries that are not fascist, especially some of the East Asian democracies, notably South Korea. Secondly, many nations have strong central leadership and even a powerful autocrat in command of the government, but are neither communist nor fascist. Many political scientists argue about the extent to which generally accepted fascist and communist governments are truly fascist or communist.
For example, many Italian parties in the post-Mussolini era have labeled themselves "communist", but few would claim that they share fundamental similarities with Soviet-style communism. For one, Soviet style communism completely subjugates political freedoms, thus making parties obsolete.
How do you know when you "see" a fascist or communist government? It is hard to tell, and frequently labels can be misleading, but normally fascist governments have strong ties to the industrial sector without completely subjugating it to state control, while tending to focus on ethnic, nationalist divisions. Communist governments have strong cental control over all means of production, but do not play off of nationalistic and ethnic divisions.
Here are opinions:
* Very little actually. They were both totalitarian systems, that is they sought to control all aspects of the economic and cultural life of the country as a whole and of the individual citizen. In order to achieve this they both used a combination of populist enthusiasm built around a cult of personality for the leader, and sheer terror. Communism got started first but the Fascists learned from the Communist experience and put their methods into practice. Stalin and his henchmen then studied the Nazi methods and borrowed from their ideas. I think there were two significant differences. First that Fascism was nationalist, basing its ideology on the glory and superiority of one people over the others whereas Communism was, at least nominally, internationalist, claiming to seek to spread it's "benefits" to all peoples of the world. Second, whereas communism siezed all private property in the name of the state and put all industrial and economic production under the direct control of the government, Fascism left farms and large industries in the hands of their owners and let them run them as they saw fit so long as they provided the output the government demanded.
* The truth of the matter is that in actually ideology the differences between communism and fascism are very small. fascists are often mislabeled as "right wing" and anti-communists because during the rise of Stalin all ideas different from the main Moscow approved, line of communism were dumbed "right-wing." Trotsky, who was by no means a Nazi or conservative, was accused of trying to stage a Nazi coup and called a right winger by hardliner Stalinist after his fall from favor. Programs enacted by the Nazi party and Fascisti in Italy were, guaranteed employment for all citizens, confiscation of WWI profits, shared profits of labor; expanded old age pensions, communalization of department stores, out lawing of child labor, universal health care and anti smoking programs, to name a few. None of these programs can be called right wing or anti communist. Hitler himself said " We have endeavored to depart from the external, the superficial, endeavored to forget social origin, class, profession, fortune, education, capital, and everything that separates men, in order to reach that which bind them together." To a communist the struggle is international and as Marx put it "working men have no country" to fascists they said that the dreams of communism can be made INSIDE a country, and did not need to be an international struggle. That was the principle difference, as all communist regimes have embraced corporatism in some aspect in their history. Hitler and Mussolini both wanted to create Volksgemeinschaft or "peoples (workers) communities." Communism and fascism are two sides of the same coin, with fascism not being as controlling to private business as communism was but still very totalitarian. Keep in mind the Nazi part was called the National SOCIALIST party, if that is any indication of their true leanings.
Rather than editing the article, I will add my comments to the end:
Communism is NOT a form of Government. Communism is a form of Economy. Communism is to Capitalism as Dictatorship is to Democracy.
The confusion between Communism and Fascism rests not in the economic structure, but in the theoretical definition of Communism (via Karl Marx) and the practiced version of Communism that usually results in a system that is very similar to the definition of Fascism.
Theoretically, Communism gives total power to the people. True Communism gives ownership of all aspects of the economy, from labor to land to factories to stores, to the public. The public, in theory, controls these things democratically and spreads the benefits of these things equally among the population. From each according to their ability, to each according to their means.
The practical applications of Communism create issues not foreseen, or ignored, by Marx and other proponents. Human Nature desires betterment, recognition, and self satisfaction. These natural desires lead to conflicts within a Communist economy where individuals perceiving that they are contributing more to the social system than others are not compensated for their more valuable efforts. In the Communist system, all individuals are compensated equally regardless of the value of their best efforts (so long as best efforts are made.) If an individual does not see added personal compensation from his/her best efforts, s/he will cease to provide best efforts and will simply provide adequate efforts. Additionally, seeing others receive equal share of benefits while not providing equal efforts, or results, causes resentment and jealously.
Because of these nature human desires, the public must create a working government and lay into the framework of the government rules and regulations that quell these desires. The government then must constantly remind people not to desire more. To accomplish this, the government must take control of media and education and teach citizens while they're young not to desire more. The "re-education" system fights nature human thought. Thus the government must take increased efforts to keep human tendancies in check. It is for this reason that every Communist economy, while theoretically should be a Democratic government, ultimately must result in an authoritarian form of Government (i.e. a one-party system, a dictatorship, or an oligarchy.)
Once this happens, the resulting Authoritarian Communist system resembles something very similar to a Fascist system. In a Fascist system, a central power uses the assets of the state for the betterment of the state. A Fascist system is never designed to be a democracy and never intends for the public to lay ownership claim to the assets of the state. Fascism is designed to be a Oligarchical-Socialist system where a strong central body controls individual enterprises and endeavors.
There is a semantic difference between Fascism and Communism in that the terms describe dissimilar concepts. Comparing the two is comparing apples and oranges. "Fascism" describes a complete social system (Oligarchical-Socialism) while "Communism" only describes the economic portion of the social system.
There is a very significant theoretical difference between a Fascist (Oligarchical-Socialist) system and a Democratic-Communist system. But since the theoretical Democratic-Communist system when put into practice results in Oligarchical-Communist system, there is very little difference between working Fascism and working Communism."