Communism was supposed to be the final product of human civilization, which went through certain socio-economic-political stages and would culminate in communism. Socialism would, however, represent a transitional state system. In certain countries, communism manifested as a highly regimented, state-regulated system but such forms of government cannot be truly called communist. Rather, they are more like authoritarian or totalitarian socialist states. Like many fascist regimes, communist states have been headed by dictators and run as military dictatorships or police states. The heavy-handed government, the control and suppression of governmental opposition, and the use of propaganda to promote the needs of the ruling party are all aspects common to both fascism and communism, in spite of their ideological differences. To garner support from among detractors in the working classes, fascists relied on a clever and systematic use of propaganda. In fact, the use of propaganda is one of the major similarities between fascist and communist authoritarian regimes, both of which rely heavily on the use of sophisticated propaganda and spin-doctoring. Both types of regime also rely on the stable implementation of one mass party, creating a type of unilateral authoritarianism.
Fascism was and is historically supported by different social groups than communism. Because fascism was a reaction against attempts to quell capitalism, such as labor unions, the primary supporters of fascist regimes in Europe tended to be capitalists, industrialists, aristocrats, corporatists, and conservative intellectuals ("Fascism"). Communism, on the other hand, began as a working-class socialist revolutionary ideology that found major support among organized labor. Communists view the capitalist control of the market as detrimental to the working classes; fascists view the capitalist market as an essential vehicle of the state. Private property is permitted in a fascist regime but not in a strictly communist one, although communist regimes like those in Eastern Europe degraded into authoritarian, totalitarian governmental systems that rather than create egalitarianism instead created a harsh imbalance in power. Soviet-style communism more resembled fascism than its Marxist-Leninist roots; post-Maoist Chinese communism more resembles capitalism than its defunct Soviet-style counterparts. Fascism and communist socialism are essentially at different ends of a right- and left-wing political and economic spectrum because of their conflicting economic philosophies.
While communism is based on a doctrine of egalitarianism, fascism is based on segmentation and stratification. "The most notable characteristic of a fascist country is the separation and persecution or denial of equality to a specific segment of the population," (Lewis). In fascist regimes, one group, the ruling group, is deemed superior to all others based on class, creed, or race. Nazism was one of the offshoots of fascism and unlike Mussolini's brand of fascism Hitler's was based on race. Fascistic regimes may attempt to impose distinct legal systems on different groups of citizens, by expressly denying legal rights to some citizens (Lewis).
From a purely economic standpoint, fascism differs from communism in its focus on corporatism. Private ownership of corporations is permitted in fascist regimes if those corporations are regulated by the state and if they serve the needs of the state. Communism, on the other hand, discourages corporatism and denies the right to private ownership. However, communism has rarely if ever been implemented in its ideal form; rather, nations with communist governments like China practice an amalgamation of economic and political philosophies. China, for example, supports a capitalist market even with its underlying communist and socialist institutions.
Fascism and communism differ in their core philosophies, political and economic ideologies, and histories. Communism is a broad category of belief systems that has ancient roots. Its doctrine was first codified by Marx and Engels and while communist ideals have been infused into many so-called communist parties and socialist governments, a truly communist state does not exist. Rather, communism has found clearer expression in smaller communities like religious communes ("Communism"). Fascism is more narrowly defined than communism and basically entails the idolatry of the state. The two systems have taken on authoritarian and totalitarian forms, but communism and fascism remain at opposite ends of the political spectrum.