Socialist state

A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country (sometimes workers' state or workers' republic) is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term "Communist state" is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to single-party socialist states governed by Marxist-Leninist or Maoist political parties despite being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism; these countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having achieved a communist society.[1][2][3] Additionally, a number of countries which are not single-party states based on Marxism-Leninism make reference to socialism in their constitutions; in most cases these are constitutional references alluding to the building of a socialist society that have little to no bearing on the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems.

The idea of a socialist state stems from the broader notion of state socialism, the political perspective that the working class needs to use state power and government policy to establish a socialist economic system. The concept of a socialist state is mainly advocated by Leninists and Marxist-Leninists, and most socialist states have been established by political parties adhering to variations of these political ideologies. The concept of a socialist state is considered unnecessary or counterproductive and therefore rejected by some classical Marxists, libertarian socialists and political thinkers who view the modern state as a byproduct of capitalism which would therefore have no function in a socialist system.[4] Libertarian socialists and socialist anarchists reject the idea that the state can be used to establish a socialist society due to its hierarchical and arguably coercive nature.

Socialist states in the Marxist-Leninist sense are sovereign states under the control of a vanguard party which is organizing the country's economic, political and social development toward the realization of socialism. Economically this involves the development of a state capitalist economy with state-directed capital accumulation with the long-term goal of building up the country's productive forces while simultaneously promoting worldwide socialist revolution.[5][6]

A Socialist state is to be distinguished from a multi-party liberal democracy governed by a self-described Socialist Party, where the state is not constitutionally bound to the construction of socialism. In such cases, the political system and machinery of government is not specifically structured to pursue the development of socialism.


The term "Socialist state" is widely used by Marxist-Leninist parties, theorists, and governments to mean a state under the control of a vanguard party that is organizing the economic, social, and political affairs of said state toward the construction of socialism. States run by Communist parties that adhere to Marxism–Leninism, or some variation thereof, refer to themselves as "Socialist states" or "workers' states". They involve the direction of economic development toward the building up of the productive forces to underpin the establishment of a socialist economy, and usually include that at least the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized and under state ownership.[7][6] This may or may not include the existence of a socialist economy, depending on the specific terminology adopted and level of development in specific countries. For example, the Leninist definition of a socialist state is a state representing the interests of the working class which presides over a state capitalist economy structured upon state-directed accumulation of capital, with the goal of building up the country's productive forces and promoting worldwide socialist revolution, with the realization of a socialist economy as the long-term goal.[6]

Because all socialist states operated along Marxist-Leninist principles of governance, the term "Marxist-Leninist state" or "Marxist-Leninist regime" is also used by scholars, particularly when focusing on the political systems of these countries.[8]

In the Western world, particularly in mass media, journalism and politics, these states and countries are often called "Communist states" (though they do not use this term to refer to themselves), despite the fact that these countries never claimed to have achieved communism in their countries—rather, they claim to be building and working toward the establishment of socialism (and the development towards communism thereafter) in their countries.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Sosialist dövlət
Bahasa Indonesia: Negara sosialis
日本語: 社会主義国
norsk nynorsk: Sosialiststatar
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sotsialistik davlatlar
português: Estado socialista
română: Stat socialist
Simple English: Socialist country