Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives, values, and systems such as the political system and the economy. Fascism was originally founded by Italian national syndicalists in World War I who combined left-wing and right-wing political views, but gravitated to the political right in the early 1920s. Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right of the conventional left-right political spectrum.
Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus rejects individualism. In viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they claim that pluralism is a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety. They advocate the creation of a single-party state. Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement. They identify violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality.
Fascists reject and resist autonomy of cultural or ethnic groups who are not considered part of the fascists' nation and who refuse to assimilate or are unable to be assimilated. They consider attempts to create such autonomy as an affront and threat to the nation.
Fascism is strongly opposed to core aspects of the Enlightenment and is an opponent of liberalism, Marxism, and mainstream socialism for being associated with failures that fascists claim are inherent in the Enlightenment. Fascists view egalitarianism, materialism, and rationalism as failed elements of the Enlightenment. In contrast, Fascists promote action, discipline, hierarchy, spirit, and will. They oppose liberalism as a bourgeois movement and Marxism as a proletarian movement for being exclusive economic class-based movements. Fascists present their ideology as that of an economically trans-class movement that promotes ending economic class conflict to secure national solidarity. They believe that economic classes are not capable of properly governing a nation, and that a merit-based aristocracy of experienced military persons must rule through regimenting a nation's forces of production and securing the nation's independence.
Fascism perceives conservatism as partly valuable for its support of order in society but opposes its typical opposition to change and modernization. Fascism presents itself as a solution to the perceived benefits and disadvantages of conservatism by advocating state-controlled modernization that promotes orderly change while resisting the dangers of pluralism and independent initiative to order in society.
Fascists support a "Third Position" in economic policy, which they believe superior to both the rampant individualism of laissez-faire capitalism and the severe control of state socialism.
Following the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II and the publicity surrounding the atrocities committed during the period of fascist governments, the term fascist has been used as a pejorative word, often referring to widely varying movements across the political spectrum.