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Communism relies on a command economic system where all economic activities
are controlled by the government. All economic activity was focused on heavy industry and militarism which
led to a shortage of consumer goods. All land, factories, machinery, and natural resources are run by the
state. Prices and amount produced are determined by the government. There are no individual corporations
who compete for wealth in a communist system. The government runs all economic activity and privately
owned businesses and land are seized/nationalized by the government. Since everyone essentially works for
the government, wealth is equalized by paying these government employees roughly equal salaries. Collective
farms distributed food equally after government quotas were met. In this way the communist claim that they
created a truly equal society.
Ethnic minorities
While everyone was supposed to be equal under communism, in reality certain ethnic minorities can often be
picked on in the communist system such as the way Stalin allowed Ukrainians to starve to death during the
Holodomor. This oppression of ethnic minorities is often hidden in a communist state as communism is
supposed to create an equal society for all.
Totalitarian control and Imperialism
The communist system that emerged under Joseph Stalin was a unique political and economic system. It was
based on the ideas of Karl Marx but in many ways Marx would have been horrified by what Stalin did in the
name of communism. For this reason, historians often separate the two systems and identify the beliefs of
Karl Marx as “Marxism”, and the system created by Stalin as “Stalinism”. Stalin’s brand of communism was
often copied by communist nations around the world and thus Stalin, more than Marx has come to define
communism. Although Marx called for a “dictatorship of the proletariat (poor factory workers and farmers),
Stalin created a dictatorship of the communist party leaders. Communism has come to mean a totalitarian
system of government where individuals have no rights. Under Communism there is no freedom of speech,
no fair trials, no protection from torture, no privacy (phones were tapped, mail read, conversations reported
by secret police, and no religious freedom. Religion was basically destroyed under Stalin as the Russian
Church had their land taken over, their bank accounts drained, and their churches demolished. Prison work
camps (gulags) were used to house suspected political dissidents. Propaganda, censorship, and indoctrination
were all used in schools and all aspects of public life to convince the people to be completely loyal to the state.
Individuality is lost as people simply are regarded as part of the collective population. Individual thoughts,
ideas and art/music are only accepted if they further the communist party’s power. Other political parties
don’t exist as members of those parties are intimidated, arrested, tortured, and/or executed. Generally
communist governments are militaristic and want to expand their influence and spread communism
throughout the world. Under Stalin, the USSR expanded to take over Eastern Europe and dominated the
region for nearly 50 years during the Cold War.
Under a Fascist government, the government strongly
regulates businesses but often doesn’t take direct ownership of
them. Instead,
corporations can continue to function privately and accumulate wealth as long as they don’t do anything to
offend the government. So in a sense Fascists allowed capitalism but it certainly wasn’t Laissez-faire. Most
economic activity was designed to increase the military such as weapons production and road construction.
However, because private industry still technically existed, consumer products were still produced under
Fascism right up until WWII. There were clear rules for doing business in a Fascist state and failure to follow
the rules could mean imprisonment, or worse, for entrepreneurs. Fascist governments often took businesses
away from people they didn’t like and then allowed more loyal people to operate them. The surest way to
ensure that your business would continue to survive in a Fascist state was to bribe high powered government
officials to not harass you or your business and to produce things that the government wanted such as military
equipment to fuel the militaristic imperialism that drove the Fascist economy. Many entrepreneurs
attempted to formally join the Nazi or Fascist party to avoid any problems.
Ethnic minorities
Fascists did NOT preach equality as the communists did. In fact, Fascist leaders openly preached that
their nationality was supreme and genetically superior to all others. In Italy and Germany, Jews were the most
frequently targeted minority groups which led to their mass murder during WWII in the Holocaust. Ethnic
minorities were often scapegoated (blamed for things they did not do) for the problems of the nation. In this
way, the government could deflect any anger over economic problems onto an easy target and the
government could avoid taking the blame for anything wrong in the country. While the Nazis openly
oppressed Jews, they sought to keep the extent of that persecution during the Holocaust a secret. Picking on
a group was one things, genocide was a far more serious matter.
Totalitarian control and Imperialism
Fascism emerged under the leadership of Benito Mussolini in Italy and was further developed by Adolf Hitler
in Germany. Fascism glorifies the leader/government through the use of propaganda, censorship, and
indoctrination. As fascism is totalitarian, opposing political parties are outlawed and destroyed. There is no
freedom of speech for anyone who criticizes the government. The use of secret police, concentration camps
for political enemies, torture, and execution were permanent features of the Fascist system. All art/music was
channeled into approved themes that glorified the government and military. Religious groups are allowed as
long as they don’t interfere with government policy. In fact the Nazis created a new branch of Christianity that
denied that Jesus was Jewish. Political dissent is not allowed by anyone. Even the Pope in Italy didn’t oppose
the Fascist government of Mussolini. In fact the Pope signed a treaty with Mussolini which established the
Vatican as its own separate tiny country. Compared to the Italian Communist, the Fascist were better for the
Pope because the Communists would destroy religion altogether. Fascism focused on nationalism, militarism,
and Empire. The Fascist states of both Italy and Germany conquered their neighbors and helped to start WWII
in Europe.