There is a painting, by the French Revolutionary Jaques-Louis David, that effectively sums up the difference between fascism and national socialism. It was painted in 1789 and is titled “The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons”. View here.
After having led the battle against the monarchy, Lucius Brutus condemned his sons to death for fighting on King Tarquin’s side. This was the beginning of the Ancient Roman Republic. Brutus showed that his loyalty was to the Roman Republic (the State), whose symbol was the fasces, rather than to his own family. Contrastingly, Germanics have traditionally always put race, blood and kinship first. A Germanic would rather have gone into exile, renouncing his political power, with his sons than to kill them for the sake of the State. Germanics were renowned for holding liberty , blood, race and kinship sacred.
A fasces refers to a bundle of rods wrapped together with an axe. It is the symbol adopted by fascism, and implies that the people are tied to the State, with the axe representing force. The idea is that, by being thus bound, the State is made much stronger.
The political ideology of fascism was formulated by Benito Mussolini in Italy post WWI. He was greatly influenced by the Roman Empire and Republic. Mussolini founded the fascist movement 1919, calling it “Fasci Di Combattimento” which means “fighting sheafs”. The idea of the sheaf was popular already with socialists, who liked the idea of the “unbreakable union“. Mussolini himself had originally been a Leftist socialist in his ideology, and was anti Nationalist – but his ideas were to undergo a dramatic change by the time he had founded the fascist movement. He became very anti-communist and a nationalist.
In the Roman Republic, and the Empire, Law took precedence over kinship, and that has always been a characteristic of fascism. The very term “King” comes from the idea of kinship. In national socialism, as with traditional Kingship, tribal cohesion is paramount. In democracy, the individual is supposed to be paramount, and, when the state comes first, you have fascism.
It is a characteristic of fascism to allow foreigners who show an allegiance to the State to become citizens. In ancient Rome, despite several wars being fought to prevent this from happening, eventually foreigners were allowed to become Romans. Similarly, the fascist States in Spain (under Franco) and in Italy were not founded on blood, race and tribal cohesion. Franco used Muslim Moroccan troops to rape women in white towns which he had identified as being sympathetic to communism.
Ever since foreigners were allowed to become Roman citizens, there has been weak racial tribalism in Italy. Patriotic feeling, and dynastic loyalty there has surely been, but the concept of race has suffered in Italy, and only truly exists as a nostalgia for the earliest period of Rome. The patriotic loyalty is to the State. Thus fascism is ideally suited to the Italian, and Southern European nations, for whom race tends to prove somewhat divisive. After a period of eugenics this situation would change.
The national socialist program was worked out by Hitler in 1919, before he had heard of Mussolini, yet he still regarded events in Italy to have been an important influence. Mussolini’s march on Rome in 1922 was Hitler’s inspiration. It showed what it was possible to achieve. Hitler, in turn came to greatly influence Mussolini, causing him to introduce racial loyalty into Italian fascism towards the end. While the two leaders had initially been hostile towards each other, with Mussolini initiating this animosity with his public speeches denouncing Hitler as a “barbarian” and even as a “pederast”, they eventually became close friends. Hitler even organized a rescue mission when Mussolini ended up in prison, after the Fascist Council had decided they no longer wished him to be leader.
From Walther Hadding’s introduction to Mein Kampf:
Hegelianism and neohegelianism justified the state as an end in itself. National-Socialism did not regard the state as an end in itself, but because the examples of Prussia and Fascist Italy loomed large at the time, it was tempting for people not thoroughly familiar with national-socialism to see it in this light (and even today it is not unusual for careless sources to mislabel national-socialism as “fascism”).
Mussolini’s Doctrine on Fascism:
“Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.” From paragraph 7.
Alfred Rosenberg on the relationship of National-Socialism to Totalitarianism:
“The State is only a means to an end. Its end and its purpose is to preserve and promote a community of human beings who are physically as well as spiritually kindred. “
“On all these grounds it is recommended for all national-socialists to speak no longer of the total state, rather of the completeness (totality) of the national-socialist worldview, of the NSDAP as the body of this worldview, and of the national-socialist state as the tool for the preservation of the soul, spirit, and blood of national-socialism as the powerful phenomenon which made its beginning in the 20th century. “
The far Left is especially keen that the term “socialism” should belong to them, and not to the ideas of the Third Reich, so they perpetuate the term “fascism” to describe National Socialism. Stalin started this by calling the Nazis “fascists” while, oddly enough, the democratic West was keen not to confuse the two ideologies, and political analysts kept them conceptually apart. When reading about WWII events, it used to be easy to tell if the speaker or writer was inspired by communism. If he or she talked about Nazis as “fascists”, then the argument or point of view had in all probability originated in communist circles.
Confusion also arises, for the public, because both National Socialism and fascism are dictatorial and anti-democratic.