Much of the confusion about what constitutes fascism comes from the pre-World War II Soviet Union – their propagandists used the terms fascist and capitalist interchangeably. Instead of taking the Soviet talking points, we can look to the writings of Benito Mussolini, fascism’s founder. Fortunately (for the history) before becoming a fascist dictator, Mussolini was a (socialist) newspaper editor, and left a reasonably complete record. These quotations demonstrate the basis – a totalitarian, statist belief system, with the large corporations allied with the fascist party, firmly supporting a controlled economy:
“All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
“The fascist state is the corporate state.”
“Fascism accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with the state’s.”
“Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”Benito Mussolini
Mussolini started out as a run of the mill socialist revolutionary, born and raised a socialist, and, over time, developed fascism. (The socialists booted him out during World War I)
Merriam-Webster gives a definition that looks at the completed fascism: Definition of fascism
1 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
Mussolini’s 1919 Fascist Manifesto is at https://conservapedia.com/Fascist_Manifesto,_1919
(copied below, emphasis added at personal whim)
“Italians! Here is the program of a genuinely Italian movement. It is revolutionary because it is anti-dogmatic, strongly innovative and against prejudice.
For the political problem: We demand:
a) Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women.
b) A minimum age for the voting electorate of 18 years; that for the office holders at 25 years.
c) The abolition of the Senate.
d) The convocation of a National Assembly for a three-years duration, for which its primary responsibility will be to form a constitution of the state.
e) The formation of a National Council of experts for labor, for industry, for transportation, for the public health, for communications, etc. Selections to be made from the collective professionals or of tradesmen with legislative powers, and elected directly to a General Commission with ministerial powers.
For the social problems: We demand:
a) The quick enactment of a law of the State that sanctions an eight-hour workday for all workers.
b) A minimum wage.
c) The participation of workers’ representatives in the functions of industry commissions.
d) To show the same confidence in the labor unions (that prove to be technically and morally worthy) as is given to industry executives or public servants.
e) The rapid and complete systemization of the railways and of all the transport industries.
f) A necessary modification of the insurance laws to invalidate the minimum retirement age; we propose to lower it from 65 to 55 years of age.
For the military problem: We demand:
a) The institution of a national militia with a short period of service for training and exclusively defensive responsibilities.
b) The nationalization of all the arms and explosives factories.
c) A national policy intended to peacefully further the Italian national culture in the world.
For the financial problem: We demand:
a) A strong progressive tax on capital that will truly expropriate a portion of all wealth.
b) The seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics, which constitute an enormous liability on the Nation and on the privileges of the poor.
c) The revision of all military contracts and the seizure of 85 percent of the profits therein.”
Well, it is kind of interesting to see that Fascism stood for women’s suffrage, the 8-hour work day, retirement at 55, mandatory national service, expropriating a portion of all wealth, and mandatory national service.
Benito’s manifesto was really an unfinished document. As he gained political power, he kept filling in the blanks as he went along. Benny’s 1932 description of fascism expands on his 1919 manifesto, is long-winded, and available here.
Since it’s 35 pages, I’d rather just leave the link. With these descriptions of fascism, from its founder, you can decide the ideology that actually makes someone anti-fascist. My research suggests that the folks who call themselves antifa are anti-capitalist, with the same definitional problems inherited from the Soviet propagandists. On the other hand, it’s hard to see where crony-capitalism is far removed from Benito Musolini’s statement “The fascist state is the corporate state.” When corporations work hand in hand with politicians, it gets harder to see where crony-capitalism ends and fascism begins.