Home Politics Fascism and Communism: A comparative analysis

Fascism and Communism: A comparative analysis

This article is an attempt to analyze the two ideals — fascism and communism — to understand their differences and similarities and provide insight into the socio-economic and political superstructure which fermented the ground for the creation of the two conflicting principles of fascism and communism...

Fascism and Communism are two systems of governance that form two opposite ends of a spectrum but are loosely connected by certain philosophies. Humans believe more in stories than they do in facts, and the simpler the story the better. Every person, group, or nation have their own tales and stories. However, during the 20th century, the global elites of New York, London, Berlin, and Moscow formulated three grand narrations that attempted to explain the past and predict the future of mankind. They told the Fascist, Communist, and Liberal story.

Communism

“Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains” is one of the most famous rallyings from the “Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels” aimed towards uniting the working class from all over the world to promote equality in the distribution of wealth and augment the nations’ economic and social well being by communal hard work and create a classless society. In a classless society, there is no distinction between the poor and rich (bourgeoisie and proletariat), gender, or races. Marxist communism is the most common form of communism believing in the inevitability of a class struggle between the proletariat (working class) and bourgeoisie (the capitalist owners) oppression of the proletariat (masses) and creation of a classless society with no private property, and profits. The focal point of communist ideology is that inequality and suffering stems form capitalism. Under capitalism, few owners own all the means of production, factories, equipment, and use these to exploit the working class to sell their labor in return for wages. There are only a few countries that still practice communism e.g. China, North Korea, and Cuba with imbibed principles of liberalism and capitalism.

Fascism

There is no particular definition of fascism. Some social scientists define it as a political philosophy comprising a set of political actions or a mass movement. While some contend fascism is an authoritative and nationalistic form of governance with particular emphasis on the socio-political superstructure. In a fascist country, the social, economic, and political layout is determined by the ruling dictator. A fascist government demands some basic allegiances from its citizens to the nation and a master race. Robert Paxton an emeritus professor of Columbia University regarded as the father of “fascist ideology” defines it as an idea “to make the nation stronger, more powerful, larger and more successful”.  

The salient themes promulgated by the fascist ideology are youth, masculinity, and militarism. This idea is often associated with the German Nazi and the Italian regime. During WWII, fascists perceived “national strength” as the basis of the power of a nation and used the country’s assets to increase its strength via nationalization of assets. Any idea that challenged the supremacy of a state was perceived as a threat, consequently,  any conflicting political opinions on liberalism, conservatism, democracy, etc were shunned. To the fascist ideal, gender and equality of races are irrelevant, so long the supremacy of the nation-state is preserved.

Communism and Fascism: A conflict

Communism and Fascism
Picture courtesy: Intellectual Takeout

Philosophy

The communist and the fascist ideology differs at several levels of interpretation. In terms of philosophy, political system, economic coordination, social structure, and religion. The communist ideal is based on the philosophy that free access to products of consumption should be ensured by technological advancement creating super-abundance. Communists believe individuals should not be discriminated in terms of access to basic services on their abilities but their needs. The fascist philosophy is not concerned with the distribution of wealth based on needs. For fascists, the individual has no value outside his/her role in promoting the glory of a state, through participation in wars and constant conquest.

Political structure

A communist society is stateless and governed by the masses. However, in practice,  this ideal has not been achieved. Communist states are subverted totalitarian, with the governing party influencing the social fabric. In a fascist state, on the other hand, one leader has absolute authority who often stands as a metaphor for the state. Cronyism is common and government advisers are nominated not elected.

Social hierarchy

While the fascist government believes in a strict class structure to prevent mayhem, communism propounds the elimination of all classes. The communist state aim towards creating a society where everyone is the owner of means of production and their employees. A fascist government believes in one superior race e.g. The Aryan Race of Nazi Germany.

Religion

“Religion is the opium of the masses” is the premise in which communism structures its religious affiliations. All religions and metaphysics are rejected. Both Engels, Marx, and Linen perceived religion as a drug which blurred the vision of masses from the ulterior motive of creating a classless society. Atheism they perceived is a means to overthrow all prevailing social conditions. Fascism, on the other hand, propounds the notion of civic religion, wherein the citizens are obligated to worship the state as their God. Only religious institutions tied to the state nationally/historically are encouraged. 

Economic superstructure

A communist system negates the existence of private ownership of property and believes the means of production should be held by one and all. Based on the theory of material abundance, communism believes in organizing production to cater to human needs directly.  The fascist government based on the principle of Autarky (national self-sufficiency) encourages large public work and deficit spending. Based on the Keynesian model of economic growth Autarky strongly condemns Trade Unionism, Usury, and International financial markets.

Fascism and Communism: Common ground

Despite coming from absolute ends of the political spectrum – extreme left for the former and extreme right for the latter, communism, and fascism has much in common. Such as the emphasis on substantial militarism aided by ardent nationalism. Other common grounds shared by the two systems are their rejection of democratic, liberal, and capitalistic principles that benefit the rich and bestows on them the means of production. Both the doctrines are in opposition to political liberalism and the decries the notion that power in society resides with the aristocrats under a system of “social hierarchy”. Rather they believe in a “people’s community” where the well being of state precedes everyone else’s desires and aspirations. Both communism and fascism are totalitarian in controlling the media to spearhead their respective propaganda.

Communism and Fascism: A lost battle

The communist view of the word is as a whole defined easily. A classless society where all individuals own the means of production and are their employees. Like this, there is no exploitation of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat. However, all countries across the world which tried to abide by the communist philosophy slumped to totalitarianism sooner or later and the populace had to encounter interminable suffering in terms of Human Rights Violations and maximal poverty. Fascism lost its glory after the second world war with the maturing of International Originations and International doctrines enamoring Human Rights values. The world fervently gripped to the liberal story after encountering decades of a blood bath and economic decimation.

There are only limited examples of communist countries in a world driven by the capitalist tendencies of globalization and liberalization namely:  China, Cuba. China has adopted a few capitalist practices to continue the growth of its manufacturing sector. Cuba has refurbished ties with the quintessential Capitalist United states, after a period of tension amidst the Cold War. There are no modern-day examples of fascist countries, although neo-Nazis and Neo-fascists are still prevalent.

Also read : Historical materialism and Marx: A guide to the theory

Communism and Fascism
Picture credit: Brewminate

Conclusion

Fascism and Communism have similarities and fundamental differences by the common thread of progression of the nation-state and its indisputable supremacy. In contrast, the two systems are implausible as they keep overlapping irrespective of their disparate political associations. Even capitalism borrows certain principles from the communist and fascist ideals. E.g., Lewis PLC adopts certain traits of the communist model by ensuring workers are allowed the same privileges and rights as owners. Lobbying a trait-based on fascism is common in a capitalist structure, especially the United States. The amalgamation of communism and fascism in capitalist structure makes a categorical compare and contrast highly unlikely and debatable.

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