The gift shop of The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum used to sell a famous poster with 14 early signs of fascism listed on it. Apparently, the list was originally created by self-proclaimed historian Laurence Britt in 2003 for an article published by Free Inquiry magazine. Although the museum’s gift shop doesn’t sell this poster anymore, it occasionally goes viral on the internet. 

But what are we actually talking about? What is fascism?

Fascism, in a nutshell, is a political ideology marked by dictatorial power, extreme nationalism, suppression of opposition, and a strong centralized government with no other parties or political views. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it’s a combination of authoritarian rule and a fervent sense of absolute pride in one country and race. 

Why would people still be interested in learning about it? 

Apparently, people find it particularly familiar at this point in American politics. In recent years, the term  “fascism” has been thrown around loosely to critique various issues, such as media restrictions. While scholars often frame fascism within a historical context, its characteristics are still noticed in modern days. Though a complete fascist movement hasn’t emerged post-World War II, understanding its stages is crucial to detect conditions conducive to the rise of destructive regimes.

In case you’re wondering, the dark cycle of the five stages of fascism starts with rising in hopeless times, becoming legitimate with a political party, strengthening positions via partnerships, dominating institutions by force, and applying totalitarian reforms and actions. Now, let’s check how close these stages are to modern days and comment on your thoughts on this.

14 Early Signs of Fascism in One Poster by Laurence Britt

Image credits: TuEstUnePommeDeTerre

The poster highlights 14 characteristics of fascism. As we can see, features of fascism are strong nationalism, disregard for human rights, widespread cronyism, corruption, controlled media, and manipulation of their citizens’ hearts and minds. These signs are often a hot topic for political jokes


To exemplify this even more, let’s show you how the principles of fascism are contrary to those of a liberal democracy. Fascism is characterized by extreme nationalism, promoting the supremacy of specific nations based on race, religion, or ethnicity. Hitler’s Nazi Party, for instance, advocated Aryan racial superiority. Mussolini in Italy, maintained a powerful image by emphasizing masculinity and crafting his image for the country.

Laurence W. Britt’s Note About Signs of Fascism in April 2003

Image credits: TuEstUnePommeDeTerre

People Think Signs of Fascism Are Present in American Politics

Image credits: ndla

The first early sign of fascism is described as powerful and continuing nationalism. Do we even need to talk about this one? Donald Trump’s slogans such as “America First!” or “Make America Great Again!” are well-known for being his favorite ones. Besides, back in 2018, at a campaign event in Houston, Trump said this: “You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, ‘Really? We’re not supposed to use that word?’ You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”

“Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia,” writes Laurence Britt in the article.


Image credits: photolibrarian

“The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions,” Laurence Britt writes in the article. People have been pointing out that Trump always finds a way to blame others for the things happening in the country. For instance, the ex-president has been placing blame for the pandemic outside the United States on the Chinese government and the World Health Organisation (in his presidency days).

Moreover, it’s not a secret to anyone that Trump has said and written many things that were quite sexist, to say the least. From referring to a former porn actress who he allegedly had an affair with as “Horseface” to alleging that cable TV anchor Mika Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift,” the list goes on.

You can read Britt’s full article here.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

The author ends his article by saying, “Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.”


Check People’s Reactions to This Poster

Image credits: Hermetiaillucen

Image credits: Graceann319


Image credits: Momqueen95

Image credits: avbran

Image credits: MollyCSMD

Image credits: Maddy_Pappas_

Image credits: docmartin22

Image credits: mom2kns