I used to take so much pride in being born in the 21st century. The technological advancement and increased accessibility to information fascinated many of my generation. A brand new world, waiting for us to discover.
One would hope that we would unravel the exciting future ahead by carefully considering lessons of the past. A story of two world wars and the rise of evil ideologies left many of our ancestors scarred for life, or worse. My keen involvement in politics has provided many opportunities for me to be exposed to two groups that claim to hate each other: communists and fascists. When a communist is asked for their opinion on fascism, they often claim that fascism is the great evil that communists have fought against and of course, the same would apply if you were to get the opinion of a fascist on the matter.
Fascism is often associated with authoritarianism and ultra-nationalism and communism is linked with collective ownership and social equality. This portrayal of communism is often why these two ideologies seem so different at first sight. However, upon closer examination, they share a surprising number of similarities. To say that they’re on the completely opposite sides of the spectrum is very misleading.
In his influential book Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek argues that fascism, Nazism and state socialism had common roots in central economic planning and empowering the state over the individual. Unfortunately, this fundamental similarity goes unnoticed by the individuals who view the world through the rose-coloured glasses of communism and fascism.
According to the Fraser Institute, 1 in 3 young people in the UK identify as communist. The idea propagated by many on the Right that young people will grow out of these ideologies couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do these young people identify as communists but they are so indoctrinated that they also agree that ‘communism would’ve worked if it had been better executed’. Their young fascist counterparts, however, are not as comfortable identifying with a label, as the far-Right ideologies are more frowned upon.
But why is that? Both ideologies are responsible for genocides, famines, and catastrophic consequences that the world still suffers from. But the difference here lies in how these ideas are perceived. Fascism is very straightforward, it does not try to hide itself and play nice, instead, it is quite explicit in picking its enemies. Communism, however, does. It had done so through Marx, and it has done so in recent political movements whereby the silencing of critics is justified through the lens of protecting marginalised groups.
Of course, this behaviour aligns with the original objectives of fascist and communist ideologies. In fascist regimes, the stifling of dissent is achieved through censorship, propaganda, and the curtailing of civil liberties, as a means to establish the idea of national unity. Similarly, within communist states, dissidents are frequently labelled as enemies of the state, leading to their censorship and oppression.
As you can see, censorship is essential for these groups to remain in power but there is an additional tool they use to rule with an iron fist: propaganda. Both ideologies rely heavily on the manipulation of information to shape public opinion and maintain their grip on power. In fascist regimes, this is often evident through the dissemination of nationalistic and xenophobic narratives that portray the state as the ultimate authority. Similarly, communist states use propaganda to promote the image of a classless society and to uphold the dominance of the ruling party. So too do both types of regimes use propaganda to deify their leaders and create cults of personality to instil popular loyalty.
These practices erode the concept of individualism and replace it with collectivist identities. Fascism emphasizes the nation or race as a whole, often advocating for conformity and homogeneity. Likewise, communism underscores the importance of the collective proletariat and working class, discouraging individual ambitions that might conflict with the goals of the state. Through this shift, the economic and political system becomes completely dehumanised and individuals lose their sense of self. This sense of entitlement to strip people of their individual liberties and force them to work toward a collective purpose is the common denominator of these two groups. As a fellow Zoomer, I find it challenging to comprehend the rationale behind it, but my gut feeling tells me that propaganda efforts have achieved their goal.
The parallels between fascism and communism in practice raise important questions about the potential pitfalls of extreme ideologies, regardless of their initial intentions. As history has shown, any system that places too much power in the hands of a few can lead to abuses of power and the erosion of individual freedoms. By acknowledging these similarities, we can better understand the complexities of political ideologies and work towards educating the citizens on the dangers that follow from these ideas. Liberty makes all the difference in the world and individualism is by far the greatest gift of civilisation. Young people do not be fooled.