Definition of Fascism, But is it Left-Wing or Right-Wing?

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Everyone knows what “fascism” means. It's something about dictator and terror. But, the question is, is it Left-Wing or Right-Wing? that gets people worked up.

After looking at several classic English dictionaries, the answer is, indefinite!

Here's how major dictionaries define it.

Merriam Webster (abridged) Defines Fascism

often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control early instances of army fascism and brutality — J. W. Aldridge


Note: no mention of left or right.

American Heritage Dictionary Defines Fascism


1. often Fascism

  1. a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
  2. b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.

2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

[Italian fascismo, from fascio, group, from Late Latin fascium, from Latin fascis, bundle.]

Word History: It is fitting that the name of an authoritarian political movement like Fascism, founded in 1919 by Benito Mussolini, should come from the name of a symbol of authority. The Italian name of the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, “bundle, (political) group,” but also refers to the movement's emblem, the fasces, a bundle of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power. The name of Mussolini's group of revolutionaries was soon used for similar nationalistic movements in other countries that sought to gain power through violence and ruthlessness, such as National Socialism.

American Heritage Dictionary.

Note: no mention of left or right.

Longman Dictionary Defines Fascism

fas‧cis‧m /ˈfæʃɪzəm/ noun [uncountable] a right-wing political system in which people’s lives are completely controlled by the state and no political opposition is allowed

longman dictionary.

Note: says explicitly it's right-wing.

Oxford Living Dictionaries, Defines Fascism

(also Fascism)

1 An authoritarian and nationalistic system of government and social organization.

1.1 (in general use) extreme authoritarian, oppressive, or intolerant views or practice. ‘this is yet another example of health fascism in action’

1920s: from Italian fascismo, from fascio ‘bundle, political group’, from Latin fascis (see fasces).


Note: no mention of left or right.


So, is it left or right?

Wikipedia has this to say:

Fascism was influenced by both left and right, conservative and anti-conservative, national and supranational, rational and anti-rational.[42] 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.[43][44] Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who drew upon left-wing and right-wing political views.

[2017-05-02 Wikipedia Fascism]