I think an often overlooked facet of fascism is the emphasis on reviving the glory of the past. Both Mussolini and Hitler hearkened back to the past, historical lands, and made people believe they were part of a great line of people that had just gotten on the wrong path briefly. While I don't disagree with anything stated above, don't overlook the mental part of instilling pride in people in this movement.
Fascist governments are very controlling. They involved dictators who want to tell people how to live every aspect of their lives. Usually they focus on some kind of ideology that they can convince people to go along with, and then slowly take over the country.
It was the rise of fascism, particularly the militaristic versions of it that developed in Italy and especially Germany, that caused World War II. German expansionism was inextricable from Hitler's brand of Nazism, and his rise to power helped create an atmosphere where war was almost inevitable.
If you're asking about the impact of fascism, the biggest impact on the world as a whole was WWII. Fascism and the ambitions of fascist dictators was one of the biggest causes of the war. In the various countries, the biggest impact of fascism was to suppress personal liberties and, particularly in the case of the Jews, to cause the death of people deemed to be "wrong" for the country in some way.
Characteristics: (during inter-war period)
- Strongly nationalistic
- Strongly/Violently anti-Communist
- Opposed to international org.
- Elitist and Authoritarian (‘Obedience not discussion’ — Mussolini)
- Close identity btw the party and the state
- Strongly anti-Semitic
- Glorified war (promoted Social Darwinism)
- Profoundly racist
- Had a paramilitary wing (ie: Blackshirts / S.A.)
- Promoted the myth of the race (use victories of the past)
- Placed emphasis on the myth of the predestined leader
- Made great use of symbolism (ie: swastika)
- Did not have a clear doctrinal base
Reasons for the Appeal of Fascism
- Fascism was not clearly developed in theory and could appeal to all groups irrespective of status
- The emphasis upon law and order was appealing (it was seen as an alternative to social unrest)
- People were turning to other forms of Gov. due to immense economic problems.
- Weak governments were easy preys for the fascists
- The fear of communism led to support for the fascists who were violently anti-Communist
- Fascism gave its members a sense of identity
- Fascism made great use of the potentials of the newly developed mass media
- Traditional parties lacked inspiration and the fascists:
- Represented a dynamic alternative
- Were not opposed by the Gov. which they sought to bring down
Fascism during WWII was a catalyst of the war, but not its cause. If not for Nazi Fascism, it would never have gotten enough popular support to control the government. It provided the foundation for a reframed national identity so as to appeal to the Germans of post WWI. The Nazi party sold the people on a strong national image of international independence and a historic national value which the country had lost in the aftermath and reparations of WWI. Nazi fascism also set about the state control of almost all social and welfare needs of the people which encouraged reliance on the government and violently suppressed any forms of independent opinion or social deviation. Furthermore, Nazi fascism relied on the value of propaganda in advertising and social media to extent not seen up until that point in world history.