Americans are very inclined to confuse these two terms. Fascism entails the fusion of the state with capitalist interests while socialism entails a collectivization of the means of production.
Socialism, in its pure form, IS essentially DEMOCRATIC.
Fascism is NOT democratic.
Of course, socialism is elusive, while fascism is all too ubiquitous.
Jesse's Cafe Americain has today several excellent links that explore these ideas.
Len Bracken describes the difference between socialism and capitalism using a historical example in his essay, "The Invisible Currency of Fascism":
"While fascists make populist, even revolutionary propaganda, on questions of class they differ from socialists and are more inclined to work with and for the financial elite. In the case of Mussolini, he rewarded the financiers and industrialists who brought him to power and rescued their firms when they failed during the Depression, privatizing profits and socializing losses."
Authentic Socialism would do precisely the opposite: Socialism socializes profits.
Unfortunately, what has happened in the U.S. is precisely what we find in fascism, the socialization of losses after the privatization of profits.
Another noteable essay highlighted by Jesse examines this socialization of losses in more detail.
Ismael Hossein-zadeh, a professor of economics at Drake University, explains the financial terrorism being exercised by the fascist-look-alike-bankers-in an essay published at OpEdNews:
"A most outrageous aspect of the debt burden that is placed on the taxpayers' shoulders since 2008 is that most of the underlying debt claims are fictitious and illegitimate: they are largely due to manipulated asset price bubbles, dubious or illegal financial speculations, and scandalous conversion of financial gamblers' losses into public liability..."
Both of the essays cited in this post are instructive and eloquent reads.
One could can hope that enough people will come to understand the fundamental difference between fascism and socialism before it is too late for any hope for America.
I would like to conclude with a final paragraph by Ismael Hossein-zadeh:
"Rectification of this unsavory situation poses stark alternatives: either the powerful financial interests, using the state power, succeed in collecting their debt claims by impoverishing the public; or the public will get tired of the vicious cycle of debt and depression, and will rise in protest--akin to the "IMF riots" in Argentina--to repudiate the largely fictitious and illegitimate debt. This is of course a class war. The real question is when the working people and other victims of the unjust debt burden will grasp the gravity of this challenge, and rise to the critical task of breaking free from the shackles of debt and depression."