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State socialism, broadly speaking, is any variety of socialism which relies on or advocates for control of the means of production by the state, either through state ownership or state management.

Proponents of state socialism claim the state, through practical considerations of governing, must play at least a temporary part in building socialism. Many Socialists take the position that the state will change in nature and function in a socialist society; specifically, the nature of the state would change from political rule (via coercion) over men and the creation of laws into a scientific administration of things and a direction of processes of production; that is the state would become a coordinating economic entity rather than a mechanism of class or political control.[1][2] It is also possible to conceive of a democratic state that owns the means of production but is organized as an association of cooperatives, achieving both collective ownership and direct workplace democracy.

State socialism is contrasted with forms of socialism that advocate direct worker management and worker's cooperative ownership of the means of production, which are in opposition to technocratic socialism, scientific management and state economic planning. [3]

Contents

Description

In the traditional way, public ownership through nationalization is the preferred method for establishing socialism. State socialism is often referred to simply as "socialism"; the attributive "state" is usually added only by socialists with a different vision (such as libertarian socialists, social anarchists and some forms of market socialism), to criticize state socialism[citation needed]. Some socialists may deny that it even is socialism, calling it instead "state capitalism". 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--which they claim represent a new elite.

In the former Yugoslavia, the successor political parties to the League of Communists in Serbia and Montenegro, the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro have advocated progression towards a free-market economy but also advocated state economic planning of elements of the economy, maintaining social welfare and have advocated significant state influence in the media.

Democratic socialists argue for a gradual, peaceful transition from capitalism to (full) socialism. They wish to abolish capitalism, but through political reform rather than revolution.

In contrast, Marxism holds that a socialist revolution is the only practical way to implement fundamental changes in the capitalist system. Marxists maintain that after a certain period of time under socialism, the state should "wither away" in the sense that political power should be decentralized and distributed evenly among the population, producing a communist society.

The state did not, in fact, wither away in the 20th century's so-called communist states. Some Marxists defend them and contend that the transitional period simply wasn't finished. Other Marxists denounce those "Communist" states as Stalinist, arguing that their leadership was corrupt and that it abandoned Marxism in all but name. In particular, some Trotskyist schools of Marxist-Leninism call those countries degenerated workers' states to contrast them with proper socialism (i.e. workers' states); other Trotskyist schools call them state capitalist, to emphasise the lack of true socialism.

Today, many political parties on the political center-left advocate a mild version of what may be considered "state socialism" or "regulated capitalism", in the form of modern social democracy, in which regulation is used in place of ownership. These social reformers do not advocate the overthrow of capitalism in a social revolution, and they support the continuing existence of the capitalist state and the capitalist economic system, only turned to more social purposes. Modern social democracy can also be considered "state capitalism" because the means of production are almost universally the private property of business owners in this arrangement.

Criticism

Many libertarian socialists and anarchists go further, deriding even Marxism as state socialism. They use the term in contrast with their own form of socialism, which involves collective ownership of the means of production without state control, though some calling themselves libertarian socialists are similar to modern social democrats in advocating regulation rather than ownership. Many libertarian socialists and anarchists believe there is no need for a state in a socialist system, with the state being a remnant of capitalism.

Trotskyists believe that central planners, regardless of their intellectual capacity, operate without the input and participation of the millions of people who participate in the economy who understand/respond to local conditions and changes in the economy, and because of this criticize central state planning as being unable to effectively coordinate all economic activity.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Saint Simon; Socialism
  2. ^ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, on Marxists.org: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch01.htm: "In 1816, he declares that politics is the science of production, and foretells the complete absorption of politics by economics. The knowledge that economic conditions are the basis of political institutions appears here only in embryo. Yet what is here already very plainly expressed is the idea of the future conversion of political rule over men into an administration of things and a direction of processes of production."
  3. ^ "Leicester Research Archive: Redistribution Under State Socialism: A USSR and PRC Comparison". lra.le.ac.uk. https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/3186. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  4. ^ Writings 1932-33, P.96, Leon Trotsky.







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