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State socialism is a political and economic ideology within the socialist movement advocating state ownership of the means of production, either as a temporary measure or as a characteristic of socialism in the transition from the capitalist to the socialist mode of production or communist society.[1][2] Aside from anarchists and other libertarian socialists, there was confidence amongst socialists in the concept of state socialism as being the most effective form of socialism. Some early social democrats in the late 19th century and early 20th century such as the Fabians claimed that British society was already mostly socialist and that the economy was significantly socialist through government-run enterprises created by conservative and liberal governments which could be run for the interests of the people through their representatives' influence, an argument reinvoked by some socialists in post-war Britain.[3] State socialism went into decline starting in the 1970s, with the discovery of stagflation during the 1970s energy crisis,[4][5][6] the rise of neoliberalism and later with the fall of state socialist regimes in the Eastern Bloc during the Revolutions of 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union.[7]

As a term, state socialism is often used interchangeably with state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist–Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as state capitalism.[8] Democratic and libertarian socialists claim that these states had only a limited number of socialist characteristics.[9][10][11] However, others maintain that workers in the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states had genuine control over the means of production through institutions such as trade unions.[12][13][14][15][16] Academics, political commentators and other scholars tend to distinguish between authoritarian state socialism and democratic state socialism, with the first representing the Soviet Bloc and the latter representing Western Bloc countries which have been democratically governed by socialist parties such as Britain, France, Sweden and Western social-democracies in general, among others.[17][18][19][20]

As a classification within the socialist movement, state socialism is held in contrast with libertarian socialism which rejects the view that socialism can be constructed by using existing state institutions or by governmental policies.[21] By contrast, proponents of state socialism claim that the state—through practical considerations of governing—must play at least a temporary part in building socialism. It is possible to conceive of a democratic socialist state that owns the means of production and is internally organized in a participatory, cooperative fashion, thereby achieving both social ownership of productive property and workplace democracy.[17][18][19][20] Today, state socialism is mainly advocated by Marxist–Leninists and others supporting a socialist state.[22][23]

Otto von Bismarck implemented a set of social programs between 1883 and 1889 following his anti-socialist laws, partly as remedial measures to appease the working class and detract support for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). Bismarck's biographer A. J. P. Taylor wrote: "It would be unfair to say that Bismarck took up social welfare solely to weaken the Social Democrats; he had had it in mind for a long time, and believed in it deeply. But as usual he acted on his beliefs at the exact moment when they served a practical need".[51] When a reference was made to his friendship with Ferdinand Lassalle (a nationalist and state-oriented socialist), Bismarck said that he was a more practical socialist than the Social Democrats.[52] These policies were informally referred to as State Socialism by liberal and conservative opponents and the term was later adopted by supporters of the programs in a further attempt to detract the working class from the SPD, with the goal of making the working class content with a nationalist-oriented capitalist welfare state.[53][54]

Bismarck made the following statement as justification for his social welfare programs: "Whoever has pensions for his old age is far more easier to handle than one who has no such prospect. Look at the difference between a private servant in the chancellery or at court; the latter will put up with much more, because he has a pension to look forward to".[55]

This did not prevent the Social Democrats to become the biggest party in parliament by 1912. According to historian Jonathan Steinberg, "[a]ll told, Bismarck's system was a massive success—except in one respect. His goal to keep the Social Democratic Party out of power utterly failed. The vote for the Social Democratic Party went up and by 1912 they were the biggest party in the Reichstag".[56]

Criticism

Many democratic and libertarian socialists, including anarchists, mutualists and syndicalists, criticize state socialism for advocating a workers' state instead of abolishing the bourgeois state apparatus outright. They use the term state socialism to contrast it with their own form of socialism which involves either collective ownership (in the form of worker cooperatives) or common ownership of the means of production without centralized state planning. Those socialists believe there is no need for a state in a socialist system because there would be no class to suppress and no need for an institution based on coercion and therefore regard the state being a remnant of capitalism.[21][40][41] They hold that statism is antithetical to true socialism,[42] the goal of which is the eyes of socialists such as William Morris, who wrote as follows in a Commonweal article: "State Socialism? — I don't agree with it; in fact I think the two words contradict one another, and that it is the business of Socialism to destroy the State and put Free Society in its place".[57]

Classical and orthodox Marxists also view state socialism as an oxymoron, arguing that while an association for managing production and economic affairs would exist in socialism, it would no longer be a state in the Marxist definition which is based on domination by one class. Preceding the Bolshevik-led revolution in Russia, many socialist groups—including reformists, orthodox Marxist currents such as council communism and the state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist–Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as state capitalism.[8] Democratic and libertarian socialists claim that these states had only a limited number of socialist characteristics.[9][10][11] However, others maintain that workers in the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states had genuine control over the means of production through institutions such as trade unions.[12][13][14][15][16] Academics, political commentators and other scholars tend to distinguish between authoritarian state socialism and democratic state socialism, with the first representing the Soviet Bloc and the latter representing Western Bloc countries which have been democratically governed by socialist parties such as Britain, France, Sweden and Western social-democracies in general, among others.[17][18][19][20]

As a classification within the socialist movement, state socialism is held in contrast with libertarian socialism which rejects the view that socialism can be constructed by using existing state institutions or by governmental policies.[21] By contrast, proponents of state socialism claim that the state—through practical considerations of governing—must play at least a temporary part in building socialism. It is possible to conceive of a democratic socialist state that owns the means of production and is internally organized in a participatory, cooperative fashion, thereby achieving both social ownership of productive property and workplace democracy.[17][18][19][20] Today, state socialism is mainly advocated by Marxist–Leninists and others supporting a socialist state.[22][23]

The role of the state in socialism has divided the socialist movement. The philosophy of state socialism was first explicitly expounded by Ferdinand Lassalle. In contrast to Karl Marx's perspective, Lassalle rejected the concept of the state as a class-based power structure whose main function was to preserve existing class structures. Lassalle also rejected the Marxist view that the state was destined to "wither away". Lassalle considered the state to be an entity independent of class allegiances and as an instrument of justice that would therefore be essential for the achievement of socialism.[24]

Early concepts of state socialism were articulated by anarchist and libertarian philosophers who opposed the concept of the state. In Statism and Anarchy, Mikhail Bakunin identified a statist tendency within the Marxist movement which he contrasted to libertarian socialism and attributed to Marx's philosophy. Bakunin predicted that Marx's theory of transition from capitalism to socialism involving the working class seizing state power in a dictatorship of the proletariat would eventually lead to an usurpation of power by the state apparatus acting in its own self-interest, ushering in a new form of capitalism rather than establishing socialism.[25]

As a political ideology, state socialism rose to prominence during the 20th century Bolshevik, Leninist and later Marxist–Leninist revolutions where single-party control over the state and by extension over the political and economic spheres of society was justified as a means to safeguard the revolution against counter-revolutionary insurrection and foreign invasion.anarchist and libertarian philosophers who opposed the concept of the state. In Statism and Anarchy, Mikhail Bakunin identified a statist tendency within the Marxist movement which he contrasted to libertarian socialism and attributed to Marx's philosophy. Bakunin predicted that Marx's theory of transition from capitalism to socialism involving the working class seizing state power in a dictatorship of the proletariat would eventually lead to an usurpation of power by the state apparatus acting in its own self-interest, ushering in a new form of capitalism rather than establishing socialism.[25]

As a political ideology, state socialism rose to prominence during the 20th century Bolshevik, Leninist and later Marxist–Leninist revolutions where single-party control over the state and by extension over the political and economic spheres of society was justified as a means to safeguard the revolution against counter-revolutionary insurrection and foreign invasion.[26] The Stalinist theory of socialism in one country was an attempt to legitimize state-directed activity in an effort to accelerate the industrialization of the Soviet Union.

As a political ideology, state socialism is one of the major dividing lines in the broader socialist movement. It is often contrasted with non-state or anti-state forms of socialism such as those that advocate direct self-management adhocracy and direct cooperative ownership and management of the means of production. Political philosophies contrasted to state socialism include libertarian socialist philosophies such as anarchism, De Leonism, economic democracy, free-market socialism, libertarian Marxism and syndicalism. These forms of socialism are opposed to hierarchical technocratic socialism, scientific management and state-directed economic planning.[27]

The modern concept of state socialism, when used in reference to Soviet-style economic and political systems, emerged from a deviation in Marxist theory starting with Vladimir Lenin. In Marxist theory, sociali

The modern concept of state socialism, when used in reference to Soviet-style economic and political systems, emerged from a deviation in Marxist theory starting with Vladimir Lenin. In Marxist theory, socialism is projected to emerge in the most developed capitalist economies where capitalism suffers the greatest amount of internal contradictions and class conflict. On the other hand, state socialism became a revolutionary theory for the poorest, often quasi-feudal, countries of the world.[28]

In such systems, the state apparatus is used as an instrument of capital accumulation, forcibly extracting surplus from the working class and peasantry for the purposes of modernizing and industrializing poor countries. Such systems are described as state capitalism because the state engages in capital accumulation, mostly as part of the primitive accumulation of capital (see also the Soviet theory of the primitive socialist accumulation). The difference is that the state acts as a public entity and engages in this activity in order to achieve socialism by re-investing the accumulated capital into the society, whether be in more healthcare, education, employment or consumer goods, whereas in capitalist societies the surplus extracted from the working class is spent in whatever needs the owners of the means of production wants.[29]

In the traditional view of socialism, thinkers such as Friedrich Engels and Henri de Saint-Simon took the position that the state will change in nature in a socialist society, with the function of the state changing from one of political rule over people into a scientific administration of the processes of production. Specifically, the state would become a coordinating economic entity consisting of interdependent inclusive associations rather than a mechanism of class and political control, in the process ceasing to be a state in the traditional definition.[30][31][32]

Preceding the Bolshevik-led revolution in Russia, many socialist groups such as anarchists, orthodox Marxist currents such as council communism and the Mensheviks, reformists and other democratic and libertarian socialists criticized the idea of using the state to conduct central planning and nationalization of the means of production as a way to establish socialism.[33]

State socialism was traditionally advocated as a means for achieving public ownership of the means of production through nationalization of industry. This was intended to be a transitional phase in the process of building a socialist economy. The goals of nationalization were to dispossess large capitalists and consolidate industry so that profit would go toward public finance rather than private fortune. Nationalization would be the first step in a long-term process of socializing production, introducing employee management and reorganizing production to directly produce for use rather than profit.[34]

The British Fabian Society included proponents of state socialism such as Sidney Webb. George Bernard Shaw referred to Fabians as "all Social Democ

The British Fabian Society included proponents of state socialism such as Sidney Webb. George Bernard Shaw referred to Fabians as "all Social Democrats, with a common confiction [sic] of the necessity of vesting the organization of industry and the material of production in a State identified with the whole people by complete Democracy".[35] Nonetheless, Shaw also published the Report on Fabian Policy (1896), declaring: "The Fabian Society does not suggest that the State should monopolize industry as against private enterprise or individual initiative".[36] Robert Blatchford, a member of the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party, wrote the work Merrie England (1894) that endorsed municipal socialism.[37] In Merrie England, Blatchford distinguished two types of socialism, namely an ideal socialism and a practical socialism. Blatchford's practical socialism was a state socialism that identified existing state enterprise such as the Post Office run by the municipalities as a demonstration of practical socialism in action while claiming that practical socialism should involve the extension of state enterprise to the means of production as common property of the people. Although endorsing state socialism, Blatchford's Merrie England and his other writings were nonetheless influenced by anarcho-communist William Morris—as Blatchford himself attested to—and Morris' anarcho-communist themes are present in Merrie England.[38]

Social democrats and other democratic socialists argue for a gradual, peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism. They wish to neutralize or to abolish capitalism, respectively, but through political reform rather than revolution. This method of gradualism implies utilization of the existing state apparatus and machinery of government to gradually move society toward socialism and is sometimes derided by other socialists as a form of socialism from above or political elitism for relying on electoral means to achieve socialism.[39] In contrast, Marxism and revolutionary socialism holds that a proletarian revolution is the only practical way to implement fundamental changes in the structure of society. Socialists who advocate representative democracy believe that after a certain period of time under socialism the state will "wither away" because class distinctions cease to exist and representative democracy would be replaced by direct democracy in the remaining public associations comprising the former state. Political power would be decentralized and distributed evenly among the population, producing a communist society.[40][41][42]

In 1888, the individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker, who proclaimed himself to be an anarchistic socialist in opposition to state socialism, included the full text of a "Socialistic Letter" by Ernest Lesigne in his essay "State Socialism and Anarchism".[43] According to Lesigne, there are two socialisms: "One is dictatorial, the other libertarian".[44] Tucker's two socialisms were the state socialism which he associated to the Marxist school and the libertarian socialism that he advocated. Tucker noted that "the fact that State Socialism has overshadowed other forms of Socialism gives it no right to a monopoly of the Socialistic idea".[45] According to Tucker, what those two schools of socialism had in common was the labor theory of value and the ends, by which anarchism pursued different means.[46]

The economic model adopted in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc and other communist states is often described as a form of state socialism. The ideological basis for this system was the Marxist–Leninist theory of socialism in one country. The system that emerged in the 1930s in the Soviet Union was based on state ownership of the means of production and centralized planning, along with bureaucratic management of the workplace by state officials that were ultimately subordinate to the all-encompassing communist party. Rather than the producers controlling and managing production, the party controlled both the government machinery which directed the national economy on behalf of the communist party and planned the production and distribution of capital goods.

Because of this development, classical and orthodox Marxists as well as Trotskyist groups denounced the communist states as being Stalinist and their economies as being Because of this development, classical and orthodox Marxists as well as Trotskyist groups denounced the communist states as being Stalinist and their economies as being state capitalist or representing deformed or degenerated workers' states, respectively. Within the socialist movement, there is criticism towards the use of the term socialist states in relation to countries such as China and previously of Soviet Union and Eastern and Central European states before what some term the "collapse of Stalinism" in 1989.[47][48][49][50]

Trotskyism argues that the leadership of the communist states was corrupt and that it abandoned Marxism in all but name. In particular, some Trotskyist schools call those countries degenerated workers' states to contrast them with proper socialism (i.e. workers' states) while other Trotskyist schools call them state capitalist to emphasize the lack of true socialism and presence of defining capitalist characteristics (wage labor, commodity production and bureaucratic control over workers).

Otto von Bismarck implemented a set of social programs between 1883 and 1889 following his anti-socialist laws, partly as remedial measures to appease the working class and detract support for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). Bismarck's biographer A. J. P. Taylor wrote: "It would be unfair to say that Bismarck took up social welfare solely to weaken the Social Democrats; he had had it in mind for a long time, and believed in it deeply. But as usual he acted on his beliefs at the exact moment when they served a practical need".[51] When a reference was made to his friendship with Ferdinand Lassalle (a nationalist and state-oriented socialist), Bismarck said that he was a more practical socialist than the Social Democrats.[52] These policies were informally referred to as State Socialism by liberal and conservative opponents and the term was later adopted by supporters of the programs in a further attempt to detract the working class from the SPD, with the goal of making the working class content with a nationalist-oriented capitalist welfare state.[53][54]

Bismarck made the following statement as justification for his social welfare programs: "Whoever has pensions for his old age is far more easier to handle than one who has no such prospect. Look at the difference between a private servant in the chancellery or at court; the latter will put up with much more, because he has a pension to look forward to".[55]

This did not prevent the Social Democrats to

Bismarck made the following statement as justification for his social welfare programs: "Whoever has pensions for his old age is far more easier to handle than one who has no such prospect. Look at the difference between a private servant in the chancellery or at court; the latter will put up with much more, because he has a pension to look forward to".[55]

This did not prevent the Social Democrats to become the biggest party in parliament by 1912. According to historian Jonathan Steinberg, "[a]ll told, Bismarck's system was a massive success—except in one respect. His goal to keep the Social Democratic Party out of power utterly failed. The vote for the Social Democratic Party went up and by 1912 they were the biggest party in the Reichstag".[56]

Many democratic and libertarian socialists, including anarchists, mutualists and syndicalists, criticize state socialism for advocating a workers' state instead of abolishing the bourgeois state apparatus outright. They use the term state socialism to contrast it with their own form of socialism which involves either collective ownership (in the form of worker cooperatives) or common ownership of the means of production without centralized state planning. Those socialists believe there is no need for a state in a socialist system because there would be no class to suppress and no need for an institution based on coercion and therefore regard the state being a remnant of capitalism.[21][40][41] They hold that statism is antithetical to true socialism,[42] the goal of which is the eyes of socialists such as William Morris, who wrote as follows in a Commonweal article: "State Socialism? — I don't agree with it; in fact I think the two words contradict one another, and that it is the business of Socialism to destroy the State and put Free Society in its place".[57]

Classical and orthodox Marxists also view state socialism as an oxymoron, arguing that while an association for managing production and economic affairs would

Classical and orthodox Marxists also view state socialism as an oxymoron, arguing that while an association for managing production and economic affairs would exist in socialism, it would no longer be a state in the Marxist definition which is based on domination by one class. Preceding the Bolshevik-led revolution in Russia, many socialist groups—including reformists, orthodox Marxist currents such as council communism and the Mensheviks as well as anarchists and other libertarian socialists—criticized the idea of using the state to conduct planning and nationalization of the means of production as a way to establish socialism.[58] Lenin himself acknowledged his policies as state capitalism.[23][59][60][61]

Some Trotskyists following on from Tony Cliff deny that it is socialism, calling it state capitalism.[62] Other Trotskyists agree that these states could not be described as socialist,[63] but deny that they were state capitalist.[64] They support Leon Trotsky's analysis of pre-restoration Soviet Union as a workers' state that had degenerated into a bureaucratic dictatorship which rested on a largely nationalized industry run according to a production plan[65][66][67] and claimed that the former Stalinist states of Central and Eastern Europe were deformed workers' states based on the same relations of production as the Soviet Union.[68] Some Trotskyists such as the Committee for a Workers' International have at times included African, Asian and Middle Eastern constitutional socialist states when they have had a nationalized economy as deformed workers' states.[69][70] Other socialists argued that the neo-Ba'athists promoted capitalists from within the party and outside their countries.[71]

Those socialists who oppose any system of state control whatsoever believe in a more decentralized approach which puts the means of production directly into the hands of the workers rather than indirectly through state bureaucracies[40][41][42] which they claim represent a new elite or class.[72][73][74][75] This leads them to consider state socialism a form of state capitalism[76] (an economy based on centralized management, capital accumulation and wage labor, but with the state owning the means of production)[77] which Engels stated would be the final form of capitalism rather than socialism.[78] Furthermore, nationalization and state ownership have nothing to do with socialism by itself, having been historically carried out for various different purposes under a wide variety of different political and economic systems.[79]

State socialism is often referred to by right-wing detractors simply as socialism, including Austrian School economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who continually used the term socialism as a synonym for central planning and state socialism.[80][81][82] This is notable in the United States, where socialism is a pejorative term to mean state socialism used by conservatives and libertarians to taint liberal and progressive policies, proposals and public figures.[83] One criticism especially related to state socialism is the economic calculation problem,[84][85] followed by the socialist calculation debate.[86][87][88]