Jack D. Douglas penned an interesting article listing 10 core factors of fascism. You might call them “markers”.
The first three:
1. A hardcore, totalitarian party masquerading as the people’s party, but secretly working totally with the rich and powerful corporations, uniting them under the party. [Fascism, unlike
communism and other forms of socialism and so on, is above all
a corporatist form of totalitarianism.]
2. Stroking mass vanity with big lies – “Germany over all,” “America is the greatest nation in the world.” And mass greed and lust for power with utopian promises of free money and endless prosperity and great conquests over nature and nations
3. Infiltration secretly by the party of all major institutions at the top by secret take-overs, threats, bribes, co-option, etc.
I did have something to add to his number 10:
10. Foreigners, racial or religious or party groups or others used as “evil and secret witches” to stoke terror and blood lust for wars, used as threats and as conquests to fuel vanity and hubris. [Germany and the US. Used the "communists" as
witches to inspire terror and hate and blood lust in their
early rise to power, then used religious-race groups, foreign
enemies, drug fiends destroying the nation, etc.]
Just a comment about #10. You mentioned the anti-communist bugaboo in their propaganda set. But today, the bugaboo has been transformed magically, through Groupthink, into a threat by capitalism, aka “corporations”, to pollute the air again, cook the earth into cinders, rob everything you have by selling you stuff. That way corporations are subsumed into the corporate-government-media complex and bullied into staying on the plantation.
The other big “threat” they use to scare the apathetic and indifferent public into obedience is Christianity. The state rules over religions. They want to make the world safe for the elimination of religions, because religious individuals are among the strongest resisters to blind total obedience. Whatever else you think of religious faith.
But note the subtle difference in the treatment of the three major monotheistic faiths. It seems like official policy out of D.C. treats Christians as the threat but Jews and Muslims are given a pass. Oh yes, and suppression of Christian faith. This was major policy in both Hitler’s Germany and in Stalin’s Russia, was to pick fights they could win of the state over Christianity. Teutonic paganism trumped up in Germany, atheism in Russia (with subtle mixes in their media of pro-communist spirituality, manifest in some of their movies that I watched during the Cold War era).
Note that the example of China’s “stepwise” introduction of limited capitalistic structures shows us that there is really no difference at all in essence between government-enforced “socialism” and “communism”, as we know them today. Both are all about enforcing as much control and conformity as possible on the populace, whether the nominal title of ownership says “the state” or not.