Fascism requires the follower to identify with the leader to the point of redefining the leader as a greater self, and thus demolishes boundaries between the two. We can trust fascism to tell the truth about its intentions even when fascists themselves won't.
The truth of power is its influence; its influence is its existence. The meaning of this maxim, plain to most, is that power can be claimed by anyone for anyone, but social veracity can only be found in the effects it has on those who make no such claim in a given instance – and its existence can only be measured by apparent veracity, like any other purely qualitative entity. The power understood here is expressly not a post-structuralist, Foucauldian power array: it is not "power" understood as a vast system of interconnected discourses between loci. It is power, in fact, in the form that Foucault expressly rejected – power as it is popularly perceived; that is, power as an eminently desirable and nigh-karmic measure of merit whose accumulation or loss is unique to a identifiable and sovereign individual or loosely unified group. It is the power owned by someone, usually a leader, and used to control something, usually a system, in opposition to that power wielded against that leader by other potential leaders. That power is usually accumulated in popular fashion, by either skill at convincing others that their individual power in a given system is duly represented by the leader in question, or threatening those same individuals with a loss of power even unto loss of life, or better put, the powerful and only socially apparent recognition of their lives as valuable. This is the common view of fascism; I advance that it is quite the correct one, as fascism's power comes in its own recognition of its obvious simple avarice for power (as commodity) and lust for power (as a semi-sexual prize to be won).
Thus we find the majoritarian element of any given fascist movement: the populist element, to use the proper term. This element is well-studied (by Umberto Eco and Roger Griffin among others) and easily recognized as a common one in all fascism. The leader is given power by the follower's self-identification with him. The leader then proceeds to strengthen himself by brutal means, acquiring power by exploiting already existent systems while redirecting them towards himself. Individuals, identifying themselves with their leader, and usually with a national or otherwise political body with which he is assumed to be synonymous, lose self-identification. They are happy to give power to a grander, more beautiful self-image, as long as that image has been integrated into their own identity and no (self-)crisis is at hand. The leader is the prettiest part of the follower; the follower has been afforded the freedom and duty to go everywhere in limousines, to dress and eat and live like a king, to have sex with all objects of desire, to dictate law unto the follower's inferiors, and most importantly, to wage war against the problems and enemies that trouble the follower day and night. This is how fascism differs from monarchism and other autocracies where the leader is the state in which the follower has a part to play. When one is the follower, the leader is simply the ultimate dolled-up, Saturday-night version of oneself. The leader is a 'father' as oneself would obviously be, if one tried hard enough to apply one's own wise principles; similarly 'friend', 'lover', and any other epithet applied to the leader. One trusts the leader, and knows that all must trust the leader, because one is genuinely confused when any given benign stranger in one's own society does not trust oneself.
In an organically racist fascism, the leader retains that power by strengthening himself at the expense of a perceived foe, whose social identity serves as the dumping-ground for all undesirable traits within the populace. Sartre, Zizek, Carroll and other thinkers have identified 'the Jew' in the world of true Nazism and contemporary antisemitism as just this: the Jew is allowed no identity besides a historical one that relates to the populace the leader desires to capture for his own, specifically the sum total of every unfortunate event or evil quality within the given society. Defined as parasite historically, the Jew is also defined epistemologically in the same way, which makes for an easy task of dealing with dissent by creating mechanisms within individuals which allow them to act as the leader and state in their own lives.
Experiences are redefined within the framework; if the leader has done his job, this does not even require analysis or struggle within the mind of the follower. Friendly or virtuous action by any particular person identified as 'the Jew' is redefined automatically in the follower's mind as duplicitous and conspiratorial. 'The Jew' is a cunning, ancient, and even respected opponent when unseen, pulling the strings which lead to what is likely every problem in the follower's life. However, when 'the Jew' is encountered in the particular, he is weak and can be easily destroyed by 'the Aryan', i.e., the unified follower-leader identity, which has individual strength in face-to-face confrontations identified with all the noble qualities for which 'the Jew' must compensate with his perfect deceit. 'The Jew' can thus be easily rounded up and sent off to die by the follower under the (self-)instruction of the leader, reinforcing the follower's self-identification with the leader and the rejection of non-virtuous intention and behavior in himself. And even as the temporal qualities identified with 'the Jew' are seemingly eradicated – his religion, his appearance, and so on – and the leader-follower praises himself for his skill at elimination, there is no shortage of 'Jews'. They are defeated but still everywhere, pulling every evil string, until even memory fades and a new scapegoat must be identified.
The value of interpersonal relationships, and the real power of one individual to alter the perception of another in a democratic fashion, are both vastly overwhelmed by the power of the leader (understood as individual or collective) and his influence over the definition of common reality. Many have claimed this as a collective, and individual, renunciation of moral authority, but nothing could be further from the truth. The follower reinforces himself by connection with the leader, as the leader must successfully represent himself as the best aspects of the follower to achieve power. The follower then makes his own moral action synonymous with the state, and each time he acts out of accordance with the position of the leader-self, he creates a gap between the leader-self and the present-self which he feels obligated to close by loyal action. The only thing the follower renounces is the superiority of the will of the present self; he agrees to act in accordance not with the will of the leader, but with the will of the self who he considers the leader to be.
When the apparatus of power is created with the leader at its head, there is of course the greatest risk: that the leader will become 'corrupt', that is, he will fail to embody the greater part of the self and cause crises that will shatter the follower's self-image. Fascism in theory and practice, despite conventional wisdom, is premised on identity over ideology. An effort must be made to distinguish the fascism of identity from the 'false democracy' of other twentieth-century systems unthinkingly grouped with fascist states as 'totalitarian'.
Examine, if you will, a non-fascist example of corrupt totalitarianism: the Soviet Union's bureaucracy, which held its power in the name of a theory of philosophy of history. The state apparatus identified itself with great figures who achieved demigod status in the mythology of the age, but expressly disconnected itself from common identity; it mythologized an eternal 'worker' but could not build a satisfactory image of that worker with which all could identify. The ostensible internationalism of Marxist ideology, and the facile claim of a unified U.S.S.R. containing many races and former nations but only one newly created culture, led to the inability of the bureaucracy to identify with those it governed, and thus led to corruption and cronyism on a massive scale.
Specifically, despite the best attempts at 'socialist realism' and a truly Soviet form of art, there was no true ideal of beauty which the leaders and followers alike were supposed to embody. Rather, the followers were aesthetically represented as leaders and were supposed to content themselves with this (obviously false) new self-image, while the bureaucrats 'acknowledged' in false self-deprecation that they held no power compared to the twelve-foot tall, muscular, handsome 'worker' of Soviet murals. Of course, they were totalitarians – constantly deceitful, and necessarily corrupt, totalitarians. The Soviet system was one of an open secret of false democracy, which is where its greatest weakness lay. Fascist systems, on the other hand, make no bones about their utter contempt for democracy in any form. In a world where the leader is identified with the follower, there is not much need for mediation between the two.