Red fascism refers to the association of certain communist regimes with having similarities with fascism. Red fascism is commonly used in a pejorative way to describe Stalinism. However ideological similarities between Stalinist and fascist governments have been noted. Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick, in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared (2009), note close ideological similarities between Stalinism and Nazism.
Benito Mussolini positively reviewed Stalinism as having transformed Soviet Bolshevism into a Slavic fascism. Despite ideological differences, Adolf Hitler admired Stalin and his politics and believed that Stalin was in effect transforming Soviet Bolshevism into a form of National Socialism.
Many leftists over time became disillusioned and estranged by the Soviet Union, and condemned it for its rigid authoritarianism. Otto Rühle, a German left communist, wrote that "the struggle against fascism must begin with the struggle against bolshevism," noting the possible influence the Leninist state had on fascist states by serving as a model.
The problem of 'red fascism' has much of its origin in the misunderstanding and misapplication of the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which in Russia developed in a very literal way, in the terms of a dictatorship over the proletariat. Analyses of the Soviet state have regarded it as highly authoritarian from the beginning, as inherent in the nature of Bolshevism, but there have also been accounts of the psychological nature of Lenin as one which was not visibly hungry for power. In this sense, the Soviet Union and other communist states cannot properly be considered "red fascism", because ideologically they diverge sharply from Mussolini's or Hitler's fascism, which were openly autocratic, though in practice, a similar subordination of the individual to the state took place.
- Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick. Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared. New York, New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. 33-37.
- MacGregor Knox. Mussolini Unleashed, 1939-1941: Politics and Strategy in Italy's Last War. Pp. 63-64.
- François Furet. Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century. Chicago, Illinois, USA; London, England, UK: University of Chicago Press, 1999. ISBN 0226273407. Pp. 191-192.
- See Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Victor Serge, and The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, Bertrand Russel.