With the rise of some groups claiming to fight fascism, and other groups claiming the ones claiming to fight fascism are the fascists, I was reading about fascism in Wikipedia. There fascism is described as a right wing ideology. In my personal opinion, I believe I've seen other articles in Wikipedia not being objective but politicized so I went for a second opinion. And I found this other article where 69% of the people describe it as a left wing ideology.

Moreover in the same Wikipedia, I read the founder of Fascism was a former member of the socialist party, he was described by others as a socialist , he refered to himself as a socialist ( Benito Mussolini ) and that Fascism claimed to economically represent a type of nationalist productivist socialism that condemned parasitical capitalism. In other regions of the world at the same time outside Italy, such as in Chile, parties under the name of socialism borrowed and practiced ideas described as fascists. National Socialist Movement of Chile

As we know, socialism is left-wing.

So what is it? A right, left or transversal ideology?

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    Perhaps the right/left distinction is less than useful when applied to the most extreme forms of government.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 16:09
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    Properly conducting polls is rather complicated business and does not just devolves to just "yes or no". Internet polls add a degree of complication and bias. Internet polls that the interviewed people must search for add more complications and bias (how is the link shared?). All of which could be worked out with a lot of effort from the interviewer, but the site that you link to is a joke, including multiple comments -and I guess votes- from the same people. It does not even show the very basic info of how many votes are being counted. Downvote for the link to a clickbait.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 16:41
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    I don't really understand the negative score for this question. It seems perfectly valid to me and has generated some good answers.
    – Time4Tea
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 21:45
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    @Time4Tea The downvotes may be because fascism is trivially extreme-right, as can be confirmed by looking up what left-wing politics is and what fascism is. Therefore, this question shows poor research.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:08
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    By the way, who claims that Wikipedia is biased on this and what scholarly sources do they back up to support this claim? The Wikipedia article is extremely well sourced and does not have a NPOV tag. It is unreasonable for anyone to dispute that fascism is extreme right. See also 50 pages of talk pages on the related Wikipedia article. That fascism is extreme right is not an opinion. It is a fact.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 15:46

10 Answers 10


For reference, the part of the article you seem to be referring to:

fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

Later sections go though this assertion in significant detail. I'm not going to go through each of the scholars that they set out the position of, but I think the opening section is helpful:

Fascism was influenced by both left and right, conservative and anti-conservative, national and supranational, rational and anti-rational. A number of historians regard fascism as either a revolutionary centrist doctrine, as a doctrine that mixes philosophies of the left and the right, or as both of those things.

I'm not going to go into the independence of Wikipedia but this poll that you quote as 69% agreeing defines yes as left wing and and no as right wing and doesn't leave a middle ground. There are many issues with polls especially ones that pigeon hole and reasons why it might not be accurate at all and isn't necessarily a good way of establishing something factual, again I'm not going to go into this.

For reference, a definition of the spectrum:

In Europe, left and right reflect mainly class-issues, with the Left seeking more redistributive policies. In the US, social policies are also important, with the Left promoting social reform and the Right defending conservative Christian values.

It's worth noting that the left-right spectrum conflates liberalism/conservatism and communism/socialism/capitalism into one single spectrum. I think this is where the confusion comes from, it is tempting to put policies that do not really feature in the economic spectrum on the right or left of the conflated spectrum according to how parties that promote such policies are traditionally aligned on the economic spectrum.

According to Wikipedia:

Generally, the left wing is characterized by an emphasis on "ideas such as equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform, and internationalism," while the right wing is characterized by an emphasis on "notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism."

According to Wikipedia the mentioned issues with the right-left spectrum have been recognized as an issue:

Some political scientists have suggested that the classifications of "left" and "right" are no longer meaningful in the modern complex world. Although these terms continue to be used, they advocate a more complex spectrum that attempts to combine political, economic and social dimensions.

A right, left or transverse ideology?

Putting to one side the historical examples and where they traditionally get their support from and in stead focusing on the values of fascism.

Fascist tenets include Nationalism,Totalitarianism, Dictatorship, Militarism. Where you place these tenets on the spectrum is somewhat up for debate. Perhaps these tenets are really not suitable for placing on the left-right spectrum. However so that this question can be somewhat answered

As fascism fits many of these tenets associated with the right of the spectrum above it could therefor, be said that fascism is somewhat right wing by association. However these are only characterization and don't necessarily fit by definition into either left or right.

TLDR; ideologies don't always fit well into the left-right spectrum. Although fascism is, in some senses a, centrist ideology it is often by association placed on the right.

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    An excellent answer. Especially since the entymology of the word comes from the italian fasces which means "to-group". I believe frustration may give birth to fascism when the group wants to solve problems by increased force of authority. Ironically, Antifa in the US of 2017 is doing much of what falls into that definition: with their cries of "hate speech is not free speech" and enforcing it with the authority of violence. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 13:43
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    Influenced by the left as in being a reactionary movement in opposition to the left, in the way that antifascism is influenced by fascism...
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:15
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    Downvoted because the "TLDR" claims fascism as centrist, without providing any evidence for this rather outlandish claim.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:17
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    @gerrit: It is centrist on the "progressive-conservative" axis, seeing as it cares for the goals of neither. It is extremist on the "liberty-authority" axis.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 21:07
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    "Fascist tenets include Nationalism, Totalitarianism, Dictatorship, Militarism. Where you place these tenets on the spectrum is somewhat up for debate" Really? Nationalism (center-right),Totalitarianism (right in the social domain), Dictatorship (extreme-right), Militarism (right). Rivals groups don't need to be on opposite ideological sides. Basically Mussolini wanted to substitute one oligarchy for another where he was the leader. In practical terms, when he spoke of "to-group" he was talking "we the new formed elite to take over the state". It's a more Old power versus New power.
    – jean
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 14:45

Fascism is extreme-right, and quite obviously so.

The opening line on Wikipedia for left-wing politics:

Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy.[1][2][3][4]

For right-wing politics:

Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable,[5][6][7] typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition.[8]:p. 693, 721[9][10][11][12][13]

The opening line on Wikipedia for fascism:

Fascism is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism[14][15] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy[16] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[17]

Fascism supports extreme social hierarchy, and is therefore as far as one possibly can be removed from left-wing politics, by taking right-wing politics to the extreme. Quite obviously, fascism is extreme-right.

A somewhat simplified way to put it would be:

  • Left-wing: increase equality, usually with the government, but in some (more radical) cases proposed without the government (anarchism, Democratic Confederalism)
  • Laissez-faire (right wing): reduce government and let "natural" inequality be ("why should I have to pay more taxes to pay for your children to go to a better school?")
  • Fascism (extreme right): use government to enhance social stratification (the strong rule the weak)

Whether the company I work for is owned by the state or by private shareholders doesn't really matter directly (although if owned by the state, the state could in theory use profits to promote equality, it can also use it to invade countries and implement genocide).

Note 1: it seems some people believe that state control is left wing. That is too simple. Institutions of the state, such as the military or the police, are usually viewed critically by the left, and very critically by the far left, as institutions of oppression. For example, the leftist Black Panther Party very actively challenged police brutality, and in leftist Rojava there is an aim to eliminate the police: «(...) police academy (Asayiş). Everyone had to take courses in non-violent conflict resolution and feminist theory before they were allowed to touch a gun. The co-directors explained to us their ultimate aim was to give everyone in the country six weeks of police training, so that ultimately, they could eliminate police.». On the other hand, conservative parties often support enhanced power for police or secret services. The extreme case of this is a totalitarian police state.

Note 2: it is debatable whether one can divide left-wing into "socially" and "economically". The economic system is a social system, in which people trade with each other with certain ownership structures and economic rules.

Note 3: where does laissez-faire anarcho-capitalism fit in then? That could be up for debate (unlike fascism). Many left-wing people will argue that laissez-faire anarcho-capitalism will lead to a strong class society with strong de facto social stratification, in which some people have much stronger opportunities than others. So even though the means are very different from the means of fascism, many/most people on the left would describe both of those as right-wing. But if you had proposed to not have a state at all in the 1930s, you would likely have been grouped with left-wing anarchists, although I'm not sure if "anarcho-capitalists" existed in the first half of the 20th century.

Note 4: How about economically egalitarian authoritarian dictatorships? Is there such a thing? Cuba is a one-party state that is relatively economically egalitarian. North Korea is a totalitarian dictatorship. Both are run by parties that claim to thrive for communism. But how egalitarian are those countries in practice? That is a question for another post (and I do not have the expertise to answer it).

Sources in Wikipedia quote on left-wing politics:

[1] Smith, T. Alexander; Tatalovich, Raymond (2003). Cultures at War: Moral Conflicts in Western Democracies. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press. p. 30.
[2] Bobbio, Norberto; Cameron, Allan (1997). Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction. University of Chicago Press. p. 37.
[3] Ball, Terence (2005). The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought (Reprint. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 614. ISBN 9780521563543. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
[4] Thompson, Willie (1997). The Left In History: Revolution and Reform in Twentieth-Century Politic. London: Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0745308913.

Sources in Wikipedia quote on right-wing:

[5] Johnson, Paul (2005). "Right-wing, rightist". A Political Glossary. Auburn University website. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
[6] Bobbio, Norberto; Cameron, Allan (1996). Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 51, 62. ISBN 978-0-226-06246-4.
[7] Goldthorpe, J.E. (1985). An Introduction to Sociology (Third ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-521-24545-6.
[8] Carlisle, Rodney P. (2005). Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right. Thousand Oaks [u.a.]: SAGE Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4129-0409-4.
[9] T. Alexander Smith, Raymond Tatalovich. Cultures at war: moral conflicts in western democracies. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press, Ltd, 2003. p. 30.
[10] Left and right: the significance of a political distinction, Norberto Bobbio and Allan Cameron, p. 37, University of Chicago Press, 1997.
[11] Seymour Martin Lipset, cited in Fuchs, D., and Klingemann, H. 1990. The left-right schema. pp. 203–34 in Continuities in Political Action: A Longitudinal Study of Political Orientations in Three Western Democracies, ed.M.Jennings et al. Berlin:de Gruyter
[12] Lukes, Steven. 'Epilogue: The Grand Dichotomy of the Twentieth Century': concluding chapter to T. Ball and R. Bellamy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought. pp.610–612 [13] Clark, William Roberts (2003). Capitalism, Not Globalism: Capital Mobility, Central Bank Independence, and the Political Control of the Economy ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Ann Arbor [u.a.]: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-11293-7.

Sources in Wikipedia quote on fascism:

[14] Turner, Henry Ashby, Reappraisals of Fascism. New Viewpoints, 1975. p. 162. States fascism's "goals of radical and authoritarian nationalism".
[15] Larsen, Stein Ugelvik, Bernt Hagtvet and Jan Petter Myklebust, Who were the Fascists: Social Roots of European Fascism (Columbia University Press, 1984; ISBN 978-82-00-05331-6), p. 424, "organized form of integrative radical nationalist authoritarianism".
[16] Paxton (2004), pp. 32, 45, 173; Nolte (1965) p. 300.
[17] "fascism". Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 22 August 2017. Peter Davies; Derek Lynch (2002). The Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far Right. Routledge. pp. 1–5

  • 8
    Wikipedia is not a source to be trusted on this; The OP said this himself, and is looking for other sources. And to answer his question, you just quote Wikipedia.
    – Sjoerd
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 22:03
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    @Sjoerd I quoted eight non-Wikipedia sources. I can happily cut out the middle man if you prefer.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 15:41
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    For questions like this especially, Wikipedia is extremely biased and suspect. -1
    – user9790
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 12:43
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    @KDog As stated in a previous comment, I'm citing eight non-Wikipedia sources, and no, Wikipedia is not biased here, all serious scholarly sources agree.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 7:47
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    @KDog Wikipedia has clear objective criteria for approved sources. If you want to allege Wikipedia of bias, you should provide some evidence. The Wikipedia article also has 52 pages and counting archived on its talk page, so if you have anything to add that hasn't been said there I propose you take it there, and of course provide scholarly sources (which you haven't in your answer).
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 10:36

Let’s ask the fascists.
Benito Mussolini was indeed a socialist until the First World War, as quotes like these show:

For us the national flag is a rag to be planted on a dunghill. There are only two fatherlands in the world: that of the exploited and that of the exploiters.
(La Lotta di Classe (1910) paraphrasing French socialist Gustave Hervé, quoted in Mussolini in the Making (1938) by Gaudens Megaro)

Do not believe, even for a moment, that by stripping me of my membership card you do the same to my Socialist beliefs, nor that you would restrain me of continuing to work in favor of Socialism and of the Revolution.
Speech at the Italian Socialist Party’s meeting in Milan at the People’s Theatre on Nov. 25, 1914. Quote in Revolutionary Fascism by Erik Norling, Lisbon, Finis Mundi Press (2011) p. 88.

As the second quote indicates, Mussolini was expelled from the socialist party after the beginning of the war because he changed from the official anti-war party line to a supporter; at the time believing the war to be good for the power struggle of the working class. However, he also began supporting nationalism—a clearly right-wing ideology—at this time:

We declare war against socialism, not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism … We intend to be an active minority, attract the proletariat away from the official Socialist party. But if the middle class thinks that we are going to be their lightning rods, they are mistaken.
Mussolini’s speech in Milan (March 23, 1919), quoted in Stanislao G. Pugliese, Fascism, Anti-fascism, and the Resistance in Italy: 1919 to the Present, Oxford, England, UK, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., (2004) p. 43

Later, he became more explicit in rejecting his socialist history:

We deny the existence of two classes, because there are many more than two classes. We deny that human history can be explained in terms of economics. We deny your internationalism. That is a luxury article which only the elevated can practise, because peoples are passionately bound to their native soil.
We affirm that the true story of capitalism is now beginning, because capitalism is not a system of oppression only, but is also a selection of values, a coordination of hierarchies, a more amply developed sense of individual responsibility.
Speech (21 June 1921), Through Fascism to World Power: A History of the Revolution in Italy. Ion Smeaton Munro. 27 January 2008.

It was therefore not sufficient to create—as some have said superficially—an anti-altar to the altar of socialism. It was necessary to imagine a wholly new political conception,adequate to the living reality of the twentieth century, overcoming at the same time the ideological worship of liberalism, the limited horizons of various spent and exhausted democracies, and finally the violently Utopian spirit of Bolshevism.
My Autobiography, New York, C. Scribner's Sons, 1928. Reprinted in Benito Mussolini, My Rise And Fall, Volumes 1-2 Da Capo Press, 1998 (p. 68-9)

The Socialists ask what is our program? Our program is to smash the heads of the Socialists.
undated, Article in Popolo d'Italia, quoted in A History of Terrorism (2001) by Walter Laqueur, p. 71

(All quotes taken from Mussolini’s Wikiquote page)

Okay, but what about the other poster fascist? Adolf Hitler was never in a socialist party. He did say:

Everyone was at one time a Social Democrat.
1921, as quoted in Hitler: Sämtliche Aufzeichnungen 1905-1924, Eberhard Jäckel and Axel Kuhn, (editors) Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1980, p. 448

He uses past tense though; if he once considered himself one, he probably does no longer. See also these:

There are only two possibilities in Germany; do not imagine that the people will forever go with the middle party, the party of compromises; one day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to dissociate themselves from it. And that party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead us to complete destruction – to Bolshevism, or else it is a party of the Right which at the last, when the people is in utter despair, when it has lost all its spirit and has no longer any faith in anything, is determined for its part ruthlessly to seize the reins of power – that is the beginning of resistance of which I spoke a few minutes ago. Here, too, there can be no compromise – there are only two possibilities: either victory of the Aryan, or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.
Speech in Munich on 12 April 1921

Germany is the bulwark of the West against Bolshevism, and, in combating it, will meet terror with terror and violence with violence.
Speech in Berlin (29 November 1935), quoted in The Times (26 September 1939), p. 9

Of course, the name of the Nazi party includes (national-) socialist. How does he describe that?

'Socialist' I define from the word 'social; meaning in the main ‘social equity’. A Socialist is one who serves the common good without giving up his individuality or personality or the product of his personal efficiency. Our adopted term 'Socialist' has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism. Marxism is anti-property; true socialism is not. Marxism places no value on the individual, or individual effort, of efficiency; true Socialism values the individual and encourages him in individual efficiency, at the same time holding that his interests as an individual must be in consonance with those of the community. All great inventions, discoveries, achievements were first the product of an individual brain. It is charged against me that I am against property, that I am an atheist. Both charges are false.
Speech given on December 28, 1938, quoted in The Speeches of Adolf Hitler: April 1922-August 1939 pg. 93

(All quotes taken from Hitler’s Wikiquote page.)

In case it is not immediately obvious from these quotes, there were actions to back up the quotes. To list just the two most obvious:

  • The SA frequently fought against the Rotfrontkämpferbund (Red Front Fighters League; the corresponding communist organisation)
  • The fire in the Reichstag of February 1933 was blamed on the Communist party and served as an excuse to imprison all members of that party including the members of parliament

One might also look at Hitler’s rise to power. The initial cabinet with chancellor Hitler from January 1933 was a coalition government of Hitler’s NSDAP and the far-right conservative DNVP (Deutschnationale Volkspartei; German People’s National Party). They were appointed by a rather conservative president Hindenburg. These people certainly didn’t view Hitler as anywhere close to the left wing or they would never have entered a coalition with him. But all I am adding here is little more than sugar decorations on the icing on the cake.

I’m sure that if I search long enough, I can find a list as long as this answer containing only quotes from key figures of the Nazi party spouting hate towards communists, socialists and social democrats.

tl;dr: Fascists did not consider themselves left-wing, they considered the left wing their natural enemies, there is no indication of them ever wanting to be left-wing and they strongly spoke out against key left-wing ideas and politics. There is not a question that fascism is right-wing.

  • 5
    +1 purely for the most thorough and decisive debunking of *the Nazis were socialist" that I've ever read.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 14:35
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    Yes the National Socialists and the Communists were competing for the same voter block
    – user9790
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 14:56
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    Bit hard not to compete for the workers if they almost made up a majority of the German population in the Weimar republic.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 18:38
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    @tal you act like Stalin didn't purge the Trostkieites. It's the first thing Socialists do, off their closest rivals
    – user9790
    Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 7:28
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    What K Dog described is a pretty common tactic of dictators and those who want to be one: kill off whoever might be a threat to one’s success. Happened in South Korea, Egypt, Indonesia and Iran among others. But maybe K Dog is going to call all those dictatorships leftist in the next comment, who knows.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 15:48

In 1944 George Orwell published 'What is Fascism?' He said:

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else...

By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

It's clear that most people use the term to mean something they consider awful and extreme. Generally we could say a 'fascist' is anyone more right wing than you, just as a 'communist' is anyone more left wing than you. However, these intuitive and frankly bullshit explanations demonstrate a complete lack of ideological comprehension.

Fascism has been described as 'third way', incorporating aspects of what is traditionally considered 'left' and 'right' into something very different. Whatever way you attempt to generalise left and right, it tends to fall into some sort of a trap. To understand 'left' as being the pursuit of revolutionary collective equality, in opposition to 'right' being the pursuit of traditional individual freedom, does at least touch on the origins of the distinction from the French revolution. But this is clearly insufficient to describe fascism.

Complicating matters is the fact that there is considerable variation between fascist regimes; Italy, Germany, Spain. But there are common elements. Fascism experts often conclude fascism's uniqueness is in its belief in violence as morality. Fascism is anti-democratic, anti-individualist, anti-intellectual, and pro-violence for its own sake; not just as a means to an end.

Fascists believe that violence is a life-affirming act which allows the natural order to be restored. While the prioritisation of the collective above the individual may be considered typically left-wing, equally the emphasis on natural hierarchy and inequality is undeniably right-wing. So with Fascism we have an ideology which doesn't make any sense in a left-right dichotomy.

To the fascist, democracy is a perverse exercise which denies the strong the ability to rule over the weak. This requires violent revolution to conquer society, that this act will be proof of their superiority.

In the fascist state the people become a superior race through transcendent purging violence, in the same way as the body combats infection. This has led to interesting contradictions. Hitler was supremely anti-Semitic, regarding Jews as a fundamentally alien threat and global problem. While, initially at least, Mussolini was forced to concede that in Italy Jews were not alien others. Between seizing power in 1922 and 1938, Italy's Jews suffered little persecution. But as Italy's relationship with Germany intensified so too did the transfusion of German anti-Semitism.

World expert in the holocaust, Timothy Snyder, presents an even more counter-intuitive analysis of Hitler's ideology and Nazism more specifically. Snyder concludes that Hitler cannot be understood as merely a nationalist or anti-Semite who went further than most, but that his ideology was unique: 'racial anarchism'. What he means by this, is that Hitler viewed most things; religion, philosophy, rule of law, liberalism, communism, etc, as essentially inventions of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy superior races.

In this context, Nazi activity in occupied Poland makes a great deal of sense, as the Nazi regime was not simply occupying a foreign state, it was attempting to completely destroy all institutions which prevented racial warfare. What used to be the Polish state was reduced to a region of effective lawlessness in which the allegedly superior race could do what was natural, and wipe out the competition.

Anarchism has typically been defined as a far-left ideology which promotes the equality of individuals, and rejects the necessity of an involuntary state. Anarchists advocate for a 'free territory' of voluntary association and fair distribution of resources. This is quite the contrast to Nazi anarchist ideas, which are about the violent enforcement of inequality. So again we have a direct conflict within the traditional left-right dichotomy.

It has been said that because the Nazis were 'National Socialists' that they must therefore be socialists, but if you believe that perhaps you also believe the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has free and fair elections.

I would tend to accept self-identification, but this does require a basic ideological consistency. Catholics and Protestants both claim to be Christian, and they both adhere to a lot of common fundamental ideas about Jesus which does suggest they are both a sort of Christian. Not so with socialist beliefs about equality and fascist beliefs about inequality, there is no commonality.

The state control of industry is by no means uniquely socialist. After all, state corporations were part and parcel of imperialism which was neither socialist nor fascist; like the British East India Company. In capitalism industry exists for individual profit. In socialism industry exists to share surplus. In fascism industry exists to be loyal to the state; fascist states had varying economic policies and didn't seem to care much for consistency in this regard. There simply isn't a 'fascist' economic model.

In conclusion, fascism is third way because it does not make sense in a left-right dichotomy. The pursuit of revolutionary collective inequality doesn't fit anywhere on that spectrum.

EDIT: I watched a documentary 'Ben Building: Mussolini, Monuments and Modernism' which has one of the best distinctions I've yet heard:

What is fascism? The response that it's a pathology of the extreme right is idle, thoughtless. Equally, the response that it's a cancer of the extreme left is idle, thoughtless. If the extreme right is a race horse, and the extreme left is a cart horse, what sort of horse is fascism? It's the sort of horse called a combine harvester. Which is of course, not a horse. It's not even an animal. It is a category error to invoke right and left in the explanation of this phenomenon. Fascism exists in a world parallel to that of democracy.


General disagreement as to the meaning of fascism seems to be a lasting phenomenon. In 1938 Stuart Chase did a little straw poll of acquaintances, then devoted pages of The Tyranny of Words, (see page 131 here), contrasting people's varying working definitions of fascism -- while the definitions collected varied considerably, most speakers' general usage at that time was seldom much qualified enough to allow others to distinguish whichever definition was being used, assuming the hearers didn't automatically suppose the speaker always meant the hearer's own definition.

Since the term fascism hasn't been notably standardized since 1938, the answer of whether fascism is left wing or right wing would be: it depends on one's preferred definition.


This answer depends on our definition of Left and Right, which is often complicated by their use in US politics. In the US two-party system, each party is a coalition of diverse and sometimes contradictory interests. This leads to a lot of confusion about what these political terms are supposed to mean.

The concepts of "Left" and "Right" originate from France during the Revolutionary era. Nobles and Monarchists sat to the right side of the head of the National Assembly. Commoners and Revolutionaries were seated to his left.

There is a confusing web of different ideologies whose names sometimes change over time. But diluting everything down, Left-wing ideologies seek to democratize power and spread it among the population. Right-wing ideologies seek to concentrate power to a handful of 'great men' trusted to maintain order.

Most of us in the West live in some form of combined Democratic Capitalist society. Usually, this combination seems to work. We all tend to have a mix of internal leanings from both of these sets of ideas in our minds, and they usually dont have to conflict in our everyday lives. So what generally defines Left and Right in our societies is how you react when those two ideologies do come in to conflict.

(Should the poor man have access to basic needs like food and shelter? Or is he at fault for not succeeding in the market and now belongs at the mercy of others because of his failure? Do his circumstances matter? Or should he have overcome whatever burdens were placed upon him on his own?)

An idealist on the Left will seek to democratize power and allow collective decision-making where each individual can have a say about the society they live in. How exactly that is done can vary between ideologies.

An idealist on the Right will believe that those who have the most power are best equipped to make the 'right' decision. Who those people are can vary between ideologies. Maybe 'the market' decides. Or maybe God does. Or there's some other factor. As an answer to the question, this is where Fascism sits.

Fascism is a branch of Right-wing ideology in which the 'correct people' are of a specific national or cultural identity rather than being plutocratic or theocratic like other hierarchical ideologies. Fascists see history as a series of battles between nationalities. And they intend to win.

These differing tendencies are also why "the Left" tends to appear from the outside to be a confused squabbling mess. While the "the Right" appears more willing to latch onto 'the party man', whoever that happens to be at the time.

But we are all humans. We all can sometimes be weak to the draw of powerful personalities. Its a constant danger of the human condition regardless of politics. Especially in dangerous or violent times. That is how numerous revolutions of all stripes have turned into authoritarian regimes regardless of their original principals. Its how a revolution to overthrow a French King created an Emperor. Its how a revolution to overthrow a Russian Tsar created a Dictator.

  • 1
    This is an excellent answer, but the first paragraph is disconnected from the rest and actually superfluous rather than a summary.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:05
  • @gerrit I was going back and forth on that. This may be US-centric, but to me it feels like this is a topic which commonly comes out of US politics. Generally in regards to aligning the two parties on the Left-Right axis, and then assuming that their actions and policies are what defines that axis. I was hoping to diffuse some of that misunderstanding. But if it really doesnt make sense it could be removed.
    – Tal
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:48
  • @Tal I rewrote your first paragraph a bit – hopefully that makes it more clear. I think putting "US politics" up front was a big confusing at first glance. That aside: this is a really great answer!
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 20:49
  • @divibisan Thanks, your rewrite much more clearly gets to what I was trying to say.
    – Tal
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 17:05

Fascism is socially right wing, exhibiting conservativism, mythologised national heritage, and traditionalism...

Idealised Nazi family

...and economically left wing, with extensive hyper-centralised state control.

...in Nazi Germany privatization was applied within a framework of increasing control of the state over the whole economy through regulation and political interference. (Source)

So fascism is both left and right wing, depending on whether you are talking about social policy or economic policy.

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    Down-voted for perpetrating the myth that state control is left-wing.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:12
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    Increasing state control of the economy is right wing?
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:15
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    If that state is a dictatorship (which a fascist state always is), yes. Left-wing is people control, not state control, nor oligarchy control.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:19
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    Fascism is trivially extreme-right, as any cursory look at the definitions of left-wing and fascism will show. There is nothing that could be further from left-wing than fascism is. A centralised command and control system for the economy that acts in the interest of a small ruling elite is not a left wing construction. A command and control system which is under democratic control can be a left wing construction if genuinely democratic. Your answer does not cite any sources for its definitions of fascism, of right wing, or left wing.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:23
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    The whole point of consistent left-wing politics is that you can't really distinguish clearly between "socially left-wing" and "economically left-wing", because the economy is a social system. The left-wing idea is that in an economy under democratic control, people cease to be wage slaves and enjoy more freedom. Similarly, women's suffrage and same sex marriage increase people's control over their own lives. As for your answer, your only "source" links to the English language Wikipedia article of the University of Barcelona which has nothing to do with the answer.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:27

Fascism is a right-wing form of authoritarian government, while Communism is left-authoritarian government. Both ideologies rely on a powerful, centrally-planned state, but the alleged moral premises behind that state come from opposing ends of the political spectrum (i.e. "tradition" vs. "equality")


Fascism is Right Wing. People are stuck in these absolutes. A Right Wing party can as well incorporate some left wing ideology and vice versa. Very few of us are all one way or another. In order to understand WHY it has historically been considered Right Wing is because you have to understand where those terms came from. 1789 French Revolution. To the Left of the King were the commoners, the radicals, the Liberals etc. They believed the govt should work to help the people, ie provide bread for poor people tec. To the Right were those who supported the Monarchy, the Aristocrats, the Merchants, Law and Order, Traditional Values, etc. They would say let them eat cake. Let the "market" decide etc.

What people get confused by is that the Soviet Union under Stalin was more totalitarian therefor this is a Left Wing ideology when it is not. Stalin was employing Right Wing ideology but that did not make Communist USSR right wing though. Someone can be pro choice, universal healthcare, tuition free education but be pro gun. Are they now Right Wing because they are pro gun? Of course not. Centrist as well does not mean straight up Noon. Most lean left or right. That means mostly one side with some views on the other. Hitler never had a planned economy. It is unfair to characterize a wartime economy with that of a planned economy otherwise you just called the US communist as we had a wartime economy all during WWII. The Nazis were socially to the right and right leaning when it came to the economy. Hitler privatized many govt run institutions known as Prussian Socialist that he handed over to be run for profit. He lessened gun control on Germans overall but then abolished gun rights for Jews. What he was against was extreme capitalism and staunchly anti anything Marxist as he saw that being an abomination against individuals. He anti church stance was only in how it divided the German people and caused suffering, pointing to the 30 years war. He wanted a single unified German Church. He as well believed he was doing Providence. So pro family. Pro Patriarch. Traditional values. Extreme Nationalism. He was anti collectivist.


"Left was Liberal, Right was Conservative. Those on the Left wanted the King to have less power. Those on the Right wanted the King to keep his power."


This is a very good one:



The problem is that as Orwell predicted the language has been intentionally twisted in order to create confusion. The modern usage of the term 'liberal' for example doesn't mean what it did in Locke's day. Locke's writing on the subjects of the 'consent of the governed' & that of natural individual rights is no longer recognized by people who currently are referred to as liberal. If the modern liberal is a leftist ideology, then we would have to classify 'classical liberalism' as right wing. With Anarchal Capitalism on the furthest right, meaning complete and total individual rights, on the furthest right, the US Republic as defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution slightly to the left of An Cap, and I would put all types of totalitarianism on the far left, whether it be Communism, Socialism, Fascism etc. This is the only way that really makes sense. Having two different forms of collectivism on opposite ends of the spectrum, defies logic. Of course fans of Marxism will argue that Socialism is democratic(although in most cases it has not been or hasn't been for very long), but any who understands history as America's framers did, know that all democracies self destruct because the majority tyrannizes the minority & democracy rapidly becomes just as despotic as any other form of government. That's why the Framers designed a republic with protections(the Constitution) to attempt to prevent the tyranny of the majority.

Communism & Fascism have always been ruled by dictators so placing them furthest left on the spectrum, right next to one another makes the most sense. The only difference between the 2 is that under Communism, economically the state literally owns all businesses, while under Fascism a small % of private ownership is allowed, but every aspect of these "privately" owned businesses are regulated right down to the smallest details and taxed all but a very small % of profit. Benito Mussolini was actually a Marxist, but he noticed that government was really crappy at running and managing businesses. His "marriage" if you will; of Communist collectivism, ran by a dictator and a small group of ruling elites, combined with the Capitalist idea that experts in their field were better at running and managing businesses gave birth to Fascism. In Italy's case capitalism didn't turn into Fascism, Socialism turned into Fascism. As most people know the word NAZI is a German acronym for National Socialist Workers Party. Again Fascism was birthed out of Socialism. Can you really, logically put Fascism on the opposite end of the spectrum as Marxism?

All forms of collectivism are antithetical to individual rights. Whether it's democratic socialism, communism or fascism the collective owns everything, and has all the rights, property rights and all others. Under all of these types of systems individuals can and do get sacrificed for the good of the collective. The opposite end of the spectrum should be determined by individual rights. Call whichever side you like right and the other left, but Fascism definitely belongs on the side of the rest of the forms of collectivism. I know what the text books say, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

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    Your confusion arises from the fact you thing "individual rights" as the "individual right to own". While this is an important question the real issue on "individual rights" is the "individual right to be".
    – jean
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 12:06
  • Your Individual or Natural Rights are Life, Liberty and Property and all that stems from them. The right to Life is 1st and encompasses, your "right to be". I am NOT confused
    – Aporter
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 9:22
  • 1
    The right to be treated as a first-class citizen, to live your life the way you choose (since you respect other people ways in the process) to not be judged by your color, gender, beliefs, etc. The right to own a gun is not necessary if you live in a low crime place, the right to own a car is not necessary if public transport is all you need. You have the right to live in peace, go where you please, etc. That's the utopic left world. In the dystopic right world, you can buy an armored SUV and a military-grade rifle.
    – jean
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 10:46
  • The right to live your life the way you choose is also covered under your Natural right to liberty. In essence under "Natural Law", every individual is free to do what ever they like as long as it doesn't hinder another person's rights. Yes, that includes your right to purchase whatever material things that you wish to, that makes you happy. It doesn't matter what it is, I have no right to tell you that you do or don't need a car. If I or a group could tell you otherwise, then you wouldn't be very free
    – Aporter
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 10:58
  • 1
    Well, that enters into conflict with the right to purchase and operate hazardous and dangerous stuff like explosives and guns. That's the only thing (beyond good sense) preventing me from entering Walmart to buy thermite. To me is obvious to have a strong organization to oversee how such perilous materials are being put to use and obvious it needs to be a transparent organization overseen by the public. IMHO today we are lacking the well-educated citizen body to overseen such organizations.
    – jean
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 11:06

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