There are multi-dimensional factors that led to this phenomenon:
- Against the horrors of industrialization: It was a reaction to the frightening, dehumanising characteristics of industrialisation. Fascism sought to fuse the benefits of modern society with a traditional moral order centred upon wholesome family virtues. Fascist imagery is rife with depictions of happy domestic families in traditional national garb.
- Eugenics and Survival of the fittest: Darwin’s terminology of natural selection was invoked to describe the relative success or failure of nation states. German fascism, like its sister movements, was born out of a collective despair and anxiety over the failure of Germany as a nation state. Essentially, society would be purified by the removal of all sick elements – disabled, dissidents, elderly, vagrants, homosexuals, Jews – and on and on, closer and closer to a pure, idealised vision of a clean country.
- After effect of WWI: The men who returned from the trenches of WWI had, effectively, been brutalised. They formed angry, savage political movements, and saw nothing wrong with beating and killing those who stood in their way. Fascism inherited this spirit of brutality and power through violence. Europe was faltering, and social disorder almost always leads to the rise of a violence-oriented ruling group. A la post-colonial Africa.
- National identity: It articulated and reaffirmed national identity during a time of widespread confusion and disorientation in Europe.It is no coincidence that fascism emerged most strongly in the two youngest countries in Europe – both Italy and Germany had only recently unified in the latter half of the 19th century.
- Hope: Fascism offered people a vision of a strong country and hope for a bright future in difficult times of economic depression.