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Authoritarian vs. Fascism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 6, 2023
Authoritarianism emphasizes strict obedience to a central authority, while Fascism is a far-right ideology combining nationalism with dictatorial power.

Key Differences

Authoritarian systems revolve around strong central power, demanding obedience to its authority. Fascism, though bearing some similarities, is a specific far-right ideology, combining dictatorial power with extreme nationalism and often racial superiority.
Authoritarian leaders might not prescribe to a particular ideological belief; their primary focus is on maintaining and consolidating power. On the other hand, Fascism is rooted in specific beliefs, encompassing nationalism, often combined with elements of racism, xenophobia, and militarism.
While all Fascist regimes are Authoritarian in nature, not all Authoritarian regimes are Fascist. Authoritarian governments can range in their ideologies from left to right, whereas Fascism is firmly positioned on the far-right of the political spectrum.
The mechanisms of control in Authoritarian systems can be varied, from military juntas to single-party states. Fascism, in contrast, typically leans towards militaristic and aggressive expansionist policies, paired with a fervent rejection of communism and socialism.
In terms of individual freedoms, both Authoritarian and Fascist regimes suppress them. However, Fascism often goes a step further, promoting a collective identity where the state's goals overshadow individual aspirations and rights.

Comparison Chart

Ideological Basis

Power concentration; varies in ideology
Far-right; nationalism & racial superiority

Position on Political Spectrum

Can span from left to right
Firmly on the far-right

Typical Mechanisms of Control

Military juntas, single-party states
Militaristic, expansionist, anti-communist

Individual Freedoms

Generally suppressed
Suppressed; state's goals overshadow individual rights

Role of Nationalism

Not always central
Central; often combined with racism and xenophobia

Authoritarian and Fascism Definitions


Authoritarian leadership enforces strict obedience and limits individual freedoms.
Under the Authoritarian rule, protests were swiftly shut down.


It rejects liberal democracy, socialism, and communism.
Fascism arose as a response to growing communist movements.


Such systems often arise from coups, revolutions, or concentrated political power.
The military coup led to an Authoritarian government.


Fascism is a far-right political ideology combining nationalism with dictatorial power.
Fascism took root in Europe in the early 20th century.


Authoritarianism emphasizes strong centralized power without constitutional accountability.
The nation's Authoritarian regime silenced any opposition.


This ideology often emphasizes racial and national superiority.
Fascism's doctrine promoted the idea of a superior race.


It's a political system where a single entity dictates policies, without public participation.
The Authoritarian leader made decisions without consulting the citizens.


Fascism fosters collective identity over individual rights and freedoms.
Under Fascism, the state's goals took precedence over individual aspirations.


Authoritarian regimes prioritize stability and control over democratic processes.
The Authoritarian state maintained a tight grip on media and communication.


A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.


Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom
An authoritarian regime.


A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.


Tending to tell other people what to do in a peremptory or arrogant manner.


Oppressive, dictatorial control.


Of, or relating to, or exhibiting strict obedience to an authority; favoring authoritarianism over civic and individual liberties.
The authoritarian personality


Any right-wing, authoritarian, nationalist ideology characterized by centralized, totalitarian governance, strong regimentation of the economy and society, and repression of criticism or opposition.


Demanding obedience to authority; marked by authoritarianism; dictatorial, tyrannical.
The authoritarian government was demanding stricter laws for low-wage peasants.


Any system of strong autocracy or oligarchy usually to the extent of bending and breaking the law, race-baiting, and/or violence against largely unarmed populations.


Tending to impose one's demands upon others as if one were an authority.


Any extreme reliance on or enforcement of rules and regulations.


One who commands absolute obedience to his or her authority.
The dictator was an authoritarian.


A political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government; - opposed to democracy and liberalism.


One who follows and is excessively obedient to authority.


An authoritarian system of government under absolute control of a single dictator, allowing no political opposition, forcibly suppressing dissent, and rigidly controlling most industrial and economic activities. Such regimes usually try to achieve popularity by a strongly nationalistic appeal, often mixed with racism.


Characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty; - of governments or rulers; as, an authoritarian regime


Specifically, the Fascist movement led by Benito Mussolini in Italy from 1922 to 1943.


Expecting unquestioning obedience: "he was imperious and dictatorial"; "the timid child of authoritarian parents"; "insufferably overbearing behavior toward the waiter"


Broadly, a tendency toward or support of a strongly authoritarian or dictatorial control of government or other organizations; - often used pejoratively in this sense.


Behaves like a tyrant.


A political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism)


A person behaves in an tyrannical manner;
My boss is a dictator who makes everyone work overtime


Fascist regimes are characterized by militarism and expansionist policies.
The Fascist regime embarked on an aggressive expansion campaign.


Characteristic of an absolute ruler or absolute rule; having absolute sovereignty;
An authoritarian regime
Autocratic government
Despotic rulers
A dictatorial rule that lasted for the duration of the war
A tyrannical government


Likened to a dictator in severity


Expecting unquestioning obedience;
He was imperious and dictatorial
The timid child of authoritarian parents
Insufferably overbearing behavior toward the waiter


What ideologies does Fascism oppose?

Liberal democracy, socialism, and communism.

Is Fascism always Authoritarian?

Yes, but not all Authoritarian systems are Fascist.

Are Authoritarian regimes always right-wing?

No, they can span from left to right on the political spectrum.

Can Authoritarian leaders be elected democratically?

Initially, yes, but they may undermine democratic processes once in power.

What's the core of Authoritarian systems?

Centralized power and lack of constitutional accountability.

What role does nationalism play in Fascism?

It's central, often fused with concepts of racial or national superiority.

Why did Fascism arise in Europe?

As a reaction to perceived threats from communism and socio-political changes.

Do Fascist regimes have a specific economic model?

Not strictly, but they often lean towards corporatism.

How does Fascism view diversity?

Often negatively, promoting a homogenous national identity.

Is military involvement common in Authoritarian regimes?

Yes, military juntas or involvement is common in many Authoritarian states.

How do Authoritarian leaders maintain power?

Through suppression of opposition, control over media, and limiting freedoms.

How does Authoritarianism view individual rights?

They're often suppressed in favor of state stability and control.

Can democracies become Authoritarian?

Yes, if democratic institutions and norms are eroded.

How is Fascism different from other far-right ideologies?

Its emphasis on nationalism, racial superiority, and dictatorial power sets it apart.

Is Fascism linked to any religious beliefs?

Not inherently, but it can co-opt religious themes for its agenda.

Is public opinion relevant in Authoritarian states?

Typically, public opinion is controlled or manipulated, not genuinely valued.

Was Fascism limited to Europe?

It originated there, but similar ideologies have appeared globally.

How do Fascist leaders typically come to power?

Through populist movements, coups, or other non-democratic means.

What's a common feature of Authoritarian governance?

Limited press freedom and suppression of dissent.

Do Authoritarian regimes have ideologies?

Not always; some prioritize power over ideology.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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