What Is Fascism?
Today, the word “fascism” has become almost entirely meaningless. Politicians, journalists and political activists hurl it as an insult at practically anybody espousing a political ideology they dislike. Yet although the true meaning of fascism has been largely forgotten, the ideology has a dark 2,600-year history.
The English word fascism derives from the Latin fasces, a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. To the ancient Romans, this represented the power of the state. In the time of the Roman Kingdom (753–509 b.c.), political power was wielded by the king of Rome, while religious power was wielded by the pontifex maximus, the chief priest of the pagan College of Pontiffs. These two officials were accompanied by 12 lesser magistrates who carried fasces. The fasces were weapons to enforce the decrees of the king and the pontiff. Political, religious and economic power were bundled together, giving the average Roman little freedom.
This situation changed when Lucius Junius Brutus and Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus founded the Roman Republic (509–31 b.c.), but consuls still punished enemies of the state with rods and axes. Caesar Augustus eventually turned Rome into an empire (31 b.c.–a.d. 476) that was more authoritarian than the Roman monarchy by merging the positions of prince and pontiff into one office, held by himself. The number of Roman magistrates provided with fasces increased dramatically as the empire was subdivided into imperial and senatorial provinces, each governed by high-ranking military officers assisted by five fasces-wielding officials.
The fascist political system was once again decentralized when Emperor Gratian refused the title of pontifex maximus in a.d. 381. The emperor ceded that power to the Catholic bishops of Rome, and he gradually lost power over imperial and senatorial provinces to the magistrates. The Western Roman Empire fell, and the medieval feudal system developed, establishing the pontiff as supreme authority, delegating some authority to kings, who in turn delegated some to lords, who delegated some to knights.
The feudal system fell when the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated at Waterloo. However, it was revived in 1891 when Pope Leo xiii wrote his encyclical On Capital and Labor, asserting that equality is a cruel illusion and that people are happiest when placed in a hierarchy controlled by the Roman Church. Business, labor and the state should work together in vertically connected swathes of the economy called corporations, he wrote, which control the economy by setting quotas, prices and wages, and which regulate individual behavior and the social order.
Such corporatism sounded sophisticated, but it was merely updated feudalism, in which employees are serfs, corporate elites are lords, prime ministers are kings, and the pope is still the pontifex maximus.
After the stock market crash of 1929, Benito Mussolini more or less co-opted Pope Leo’s economic system. He named it fascism because he saw himself as the restorer and rebuilder of the Roman Empire. Other nations, including Adolf Hitler’s Germany, followed the same pattern and established economies based on the Catholic corporatist model.
So when officials at the World Economic Forum hail Pope Francis’s exhortation All Brothers as a “prescription for resetting the global economy,” they are not praising a new system—they are praising the same system that has dominated the city of Rome since the time of King Romulus.
The late educator Herbert W. Armstrong understood this truth. He wrote in 1952, “Nazism has always been defined as the German form of fascism. And so it is, with one slight shade of difference! Nazism was purely a national German fascism—whereas pure fascism, as it has existed since 600 years before Christ, is an international fascism! And pure fascism always united with the Roman Church!”
Continue to watch the World Economic Forum’s efforts to team up with the Vatican and impose “stakeholder capitalism” on the world. These efforts are all part of a strategy to resurrect the Holy Roman Empire.