The term “fascism,” like terms of political discourse generally, is used in a great variety of ways and has no clear and explicit meaning.

Mussolini’s Fascism, the first explicit one, was a kind of state-corporatism, which crushed labor and destroyed the parliamentary system, but was very supportive of business, one of the reasons it was so admired in the West.  As late as 1939, Roosevelt was still praising Fascism as a worthwhile experiment, though corrupted by association with Hitler.  It also had deeply reactionary cultural and jingoist elements, a commitment to violence and terror as a proper way of life, etc. 

Hitler’s variant was similar in some respects in the 1930s, and was also greatly admired by the West, though in this case coupled with fear of Germany’s power.  US investment in Italy shot up when Mussolini took over, and in Germany when Hitler took power, in both cases creating a favorable climate for business.  Bolshevism was quite different in these respects: it was regarded from the start rather in the way third world independent nationalism has been since: a “virus”

that might “infect” others, as it takes a traditional semi-colonial economy towards a path of independent development, that certainly was not favorable to Western investment, unlike Hitler and Mussolini.  And there were many other differences.  And similarities.  The term “fascism” was in fact used quite broadly in the 1930s, sometimes including the New Deal, for example.  One of the best studies is by the outstanding Veblenite economist Robert Brady, Business as a System of Power (along with others).  By the second World War, the term just came to be a term of abuse for ugly regimes that we don’t like — as distinct from ugly regimes, maybe worse ones, that happen to be clients, and are sometimes called “emerging democracies” or some other favorable term.

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