Democratic Fascism?

The recent primary victory of a member of the Democratic Socialists of America in New York raises an interesting question:  Does socialism become any less coercive when you add the adjective Democratic to it?  Or does that just obscure the fact that socialism is, by its very nature, undemocratic?  Let’s try a thought experiment.  During WWI, Benito Mussolini broke ranks with the Italian Socialist Party over Italy’s entry into the war (Mussolini favored it).  He then formed his own party, which he named after the symbol of Roman civic order, an axe wrapped in a bundle of sticks, known as the Fasces.  Mussolini’s Fascisti were nationalists, unlike the internationalist socialist parties, and took on the idea of Syndicalism, in which major industries are formed into groups, which are then managed by the government.  Unlike the socialists, who sought to abolish private property, Syndicalism permitted titular ownership, with all of the responsibilities implied by that, but the government ran the show.  The endstate was the same, except that when a government policy failed, the owners of the companies were convenient scapegoats.

In the 1924 election, the Fascisti crushed the opposition, racking up more than 60% of the popular vote, more than twice the totals of the next two parties combined.  Mussolini formed his government, and kept power until 1943.  But, having taken power through a democratic election, could Mussolini have claimed to be a Democratic Fascist?  And is democratic fascism, like democratic socialism, an different from the undemocratic version?  Ask a self-described democratic socialist this, preferably from outside of the range of a swinging bicycle lock (Antifa types don’t like intellectual engagement).

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