Fascism and (Marxist) socialism are sisters. Close sisters. Both are fundamentally about controlling the economy in a quest for a greater “good.” They have important differences which are more than stylistic differences. But both are fundamentally opposed to free markets, free prices, and fundamentally the free will of individuals. At least most individuals.
What is “socialism” and what is “fascism” is a point of ongoing debate on this site. Invariably someone posts a meme which purports to define fascism as what we see it in the movies. See, FDR and Obama can’t have fascist tendencies. (In FDR’s case it was probably more than just a tendency.) They don’t (didn’t) wear jack boots and goose step around the White House. Fascists have a look. They are “right-wing.” (Right and Left as we know them in this country really are vestiges of another time and are less and less useful.)
But fascism is not about a look. It is about state control of a nominally private economy. And most of the fascists I know of tend(ed) not to watch Triumph of the Will on loop. Many look(ed) perfectly respectable.
I forgot who said it, but it is true that the most dangerous fascist of all may prefer tweed jackets to arm bands and over-starched shirts.
Anyway, more for the debate.
(From The Library of Economics and Liberty)
In The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Sheldon Richman succinctly states: “As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer.”7 He contends that socialism seeks to abolish capitalism outright, while fascism gives the appearance of a market-based economy, even though it relies heavily on the central planning of all economic activities. According to authors Roland Sarti and Rosario Romeo, “[U]nder Fascism the state had more latitude for control of the economy than any other nation at the time except for the Soviet Union.”8
Interestingly, Mussolini found much of John Maynard Keynes’seconomic theories consistent with fascism, writing: “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 (l926) 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.”9
…As the effects of the Great Depression lingered, Italy’s government promoted mergers and acquisitions, bailed out failing businesses and “seized the stock holdings of banks, which held large equity interests.”12 The Italian state took over bankrupt corporations, cartelized business, increased government spending, expanded the money supply, and boosted deficits.13 The Italian government promoted heavy industry by “nationalizing it instead of letting the companies go bankrupt.”14