In political science, statism (French: étatisme) is the belief that the state should control either economic or social policy, or both, to some degree. Statism is effectively the opposite of anarchism. Statism can take many forms from minarchism to totalitarianism. Minarchists prefer a minimal or night-watchman state to protect people from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud with military, police, and courts. Some may also include fire departments, prisons, and other functions. Welfare state adepts and other such options make up more statist territory of the scale of statism. Totalitarians prefer a maximum or all-encompassing state.
State, society and individuals
Some analyses[who?] use a dichotomy between state and market, viewing the state as a homogeneous institution capable of using political power to force policy on the market which is the sum of peaceful human action. Such an analysis depends on an elitist theory of power rather than a pluralist theory of power; that power is exercised by individuals and competing organisations within society.
Authoritarianism, on the other hand, views a strong, authoritative state as required to legislate or enforce morality and cultural practices. The ideology of statism espoused by fascism holds that sovereignty is not vested in the people but in the nation state, and that all individuals and associations exist only to enhance the power, prestige and well-being of the state. It repudiates individualism and the family and exalts the nation as an organic body headed by the Supreme Leader and nurtured by unity, force, and discipline. Fascism and some forms of corporatism extol the moral position that the corporate group, usually the state, is greater than the sum of its parts and that individuals have a moral obligation to serve the state.
Economic statism promotes the view that the state has a major, necessary, and legitimate role in directing the economy, either directly through state-owned enterprises and other types of machinery of government, or indirectly through economic planning.
The term statism is sometimes used to refer to market economies with large amounts of government intervention, regulation or influence over a market or mixed-market economy. Economic interventionism asserts that the state has a legitimate or necessary role within the framework of a capitalist economy by intervening in markets, attempting to promote economic growth and trying to enhance employment levels. Although this intervention may be undertaken in the name of the public interest, in many instances unintended consequences may ensue, to the opposite of those good intentions. For example, in one interpretation, the USA promoted the Federal National Mortgage Administration (FNMA) as a cure for widespread home ownership; however, coercion of banks to lend to multitudes of unqualified buyers, accentuated with unintended trading of the financial derivatives of these mortgages, led to a dramatic collapse of the housing market in the USA in the period 2008 to 2012.
State socialism refers to any socialist political movement that advocates for or relies upon the use of the state to build a socialist society (or for achieving a socialist revolution), in the form of democratic centralism and a Vanguardist single-party state.
Statism may also refer to state capitalism, referring to forms of capitalism with high concentrations of government-owned commercial enterprises and/or high degrees of indirect economic planning such as dirigisme.
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- Timothy Mitchell (March 1991). "The Limits of the State: Beyond Statist Approaches and Their Critics". The American Political Science Review 85 (1): 75–96. JSTOR 1962879. "The state has always been difficult to define. Its boundary with society appears elusive, porous, and mobile. I argue that this elusiveness should not be overcome by sharper definitions, but explored as a clue to the state's nature. Analysis of the literature shows that neither rejecting the state in favor of such concepts as the political system, nor « bringing it back in », has dealt with this boundary problem. The former approach founders on it, the latter avoids it by a narrow idealism that construes the state-society distinction as an external relation between subjective and objective entities. A third approach, presented here can account for both the salience of the state and its elusiveness. Reanalyzing evidence presented by recent theorists, state-society boundaries are shown to be distinctions erected internally, as an aspect of more complex power relations. Their appearance can be historically traced to technical innovations of the modern social order, whereby methods of organization and control internal to the social processes they govern create the effect of a state structure external to those processes"
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- Wall Street Journal. Sept. 3, 2012. Assessing Fannie's past and future