A system of government that flourished in Europe from the 1920s to the end of World War II. Germany under Adolf Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco were all fascist states. As a rule, fascist governments are dominated by a dictator, who usually possesses a magnetic personality, wears a showy uniform, and rallies his followers by mass parades; appeals to strident nationalism; and promotes suspicion or hatred of both foreigners and “impure” people within his own nation, such as the Jews in Germany. Although both communism and fascism are forms of totalitarianism, fascism does not demand state ownership of the means of production, nor is fascism committed to the achievement of economic equality. In theory, communism opposes the identification of government with a single charismatic leader (the “cult of personality”), which is the cornerstone of fascism. Whereas communists are considered left-wing, fascists are usually described as right-wing.
Note: Today, the term fascist is used loosely to refer to military dictatorships, as well as governments or individuals that profess racism and that act in an arbitrary, high-handed manner.