What are the main differences between Fascism in the 1930s and today?

Fascism in the 1930s believed in racial (biological) superiority, had a cult personality, included a lot of symbolism and was very anti communist. Fascism today is more directed at immigration, specifically Muslims, and is more anti globalization. In addition, this essay will be arguing if fascist ideology has entered mainstream politics which will be incorporated with the conclusion at the end.

Fascism in the 1930s can be distinguished by a number of characteristics. Fascism in the 1930s believed in a superior race, this was prevalent in Nazi Germany where the ideal man/ women was white with blue eyes and blonde hair. This led to Hitler proclaiming that his ideal ‘people’ are biologically superior to other races which was one of the main pillars of fascism in the 1930s. Moreover, fascists’ states like Germany and Italy did not allow opposition parties/ideas to spread and one of the ways of stopping this was by the militarization of gangs. These ‘gangs’ were given full license to use violence against any suspecting member with violence against minorities being glorified as seen with the Jews in Nazi Germany. In addition, minorities, especially Jews, were treated as economic scapegoats and this led to further harassment in fascist states. Furthermore, in all fascist states cult personality was intertwined with symbolism, this can be seen with Hitler and the swastika or Mussolini and his propaganda in Italy. Finally, the fear of communism in Europe, specifically Germany, Austria and Hungary where Communist revolts occurred meant anti- communism was a central theme in all fascist states.

Fascism today has “to be understood in the context of contemporary socioeconomic and sociocultural trends and developments.”[1] There is no meaning of fascism due to the vagueness of what fascist stand for, but there are differences between the two. One difference is that the emphasis on race has changed into culture, religion and immigration with the bulk of resistance aimed towards Islam and Muslim immigrants. Additionally, another reason for fascism today is globalization “which comes along with a lot of uncertainty for people’s lives and with an increasing gap between winners and losers”[2] it has been fertile ground for fascists. Moreover, fascism has increased due to the “migratory pressure on a lot of liberal democracies, experienced especially last year with millions of migrants and refugees arriving to the shores of the European Union”[3] and the fascists believe in an “overtly ‘ethnopluralist’ notion of cultural protectionism, based on the notion that cultures and ethnicities are incompatible with each other and that cultural mixing should therefore be resisted.”[4]

Fascism in the 1930s and today are still similar in some regard for example there is still symbolism and a cult personality involved for example Nick Griffin and the BNP party used the British bulldog as a symbol. In addition, the Golden Dawn, a fascist party in Greece, won 7% of the election vote which shows fascism hasn’t died down yet. Moreover, thug like behavior is prevalent in fascists groups as seen with the Golden Dawn and BNP which is similar to fascism in the 1930s.

To conclude, fascism has evolved since the 1930s and this can be seen by the many differences between the two. However, there are still many similarities for example symbolism and cult personalities which still exist. But fascism has had a greater impact than that as seen by recent events. I believe that some elements of fascist sentiments have entered mainstream politics and this has come in the form of populism. This can be seen by the election of Trump who during the campaign trail spoke increasingly like a fascist such as banning all Muslims. Moreover, Theresa May has become more hostile to immigration in order to appease the right showing how mainstream politics has been infiltrated by fascist sentiments.



  • Minkenberg, M. (2000) The Renewal of the Radical Right. 1st Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, p.180.
  • Merkl,P. and Weinberg, L. (2003) Right-wing extremism in the twenty-first century. 1st London: Frank Cas, pp. 72-73

[1] Merkl,P. and Weinberg, L. (2003) Right-wing extremism in the twenty-first century. 1st ed. London: Frank Cas, pp. 72-73

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] Minkenberg, M. (2000) The Renewal of the Radical Right. 1st ed. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, p.180.