fascists tend to come down on the wrong side of history. Several atrocities are rightfully blamed on fascist regimes, but it is nationalism, not racism that is the key principle of fascism. The original fascists were staunch anti-communist members of the Italian socialist movement who rejected the pacifist views of the socialist party. In 1914 Benito Mussolini was forced out of the Italian Socialist Party. Later, Mussolini founded the Fasci di Combattimento, the first fascist organization. A report by the blog Staugustine presented much of the information used in this post.

In a 1925 speech, Mussolini defined the three principles of fascism, "Everything in the state - Nothing outside the state - Nothing against the state." Simply put, fascism is a form of socialist totalitarianism. Nowhere in these fascist principles is there a call for bigotry or racism. In theory, Mussolini was bringing together the ethnic diversity of varied Italian regions for the greater good of the Italian nation.

Nationalism is paramount to fascism. Merriam-Webster defines nationalism as "loyalty and devotion to state." In its simplest form, nationalism is thought of as a virtue. When we agree with someones nationalistic views we may call them a patriot. So being a nationalist is not by itself discrediting, but at its worst nationalism can be perverted into xenophobia.

Still, by itself, being a xenophobe or even a nationalist doesn't make you a fascist.

Fascism vs socialism

According to an article in the St. Augustine's Press, the main difference between socialism and fascism is that in fascism the means of production are privately owned, in socialism, they are held by the state. In either case, the government dictates what is to be produced and how much.

In the US we have public utilities that run on the same principle. The government will mandate standards, regulate utility rates and select regions where private companies provide electrical power. Utilities may remain privately own but they are run under the direction of the state.

At its best, fascism is a good intermediary step for emerging economies.

Pure capitalism offers little to developing nations. Undeveloped economies tend to be exploited for their resources with little benefit to the society at whole. The People's Republic of China may be known as a communist power, but today they are more closely aligned to Mussolini's fascism than the teachings of Karl Marx. Today in China, the means of production are increasingly in private hands.

Racist is not the same as fascist

So where does that leave us? Is the Aryan Nation really a group of fascists? I would like to see hate groups called out for what the really are; they are racists. They are xenophobes. Being a white supremacists doesn't mean you're a fascist, it means you're a racist. Like all racists before them, racists are on the wrong side of history.