While the term "statism" has been in use since the 1850s, it gained significant usage in American political discourse throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
Statism can take many forms from minarchism to totalitarianism. Minarchists prefer a minimal state such as a 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. The welfare state and other moderate levels of statism also exist on the scale of statism. Totalitarians prefer a maximum, all-encompassing state.
Authoritarians view 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 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.
Statism may be used to refer to state capitalism. State capitalism refers to forms of capitalism that feature high concentrations of state-directed commercial enterprises.
In some cases, state capitalism refers to economic policies such as dirigisme, which existed in France during the second half of the 20th century; and to the present-day economies of the People's Republic of China and Singapore, where the government owns controlling shares in publicly traded companies. Some authors also define the former economies of the Eastern Bloc as constituting a form of state capitalism.
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, regulating against overreaches of private sector industry and either providing or subsidizing goods and services not adequately produced by the market.
State socialism broadly refers to forms of socialism based on state ownership of the means of production and state-directed allocation of resources. It is often used in reference to Soviet-type economic systems of former Communist states.
In some cases, when used in reference to Soviet-type economies, state socialism is used interchangeably with state capitalism on the basis that the Soviet model of economics was actually based upon a process of state-directed capital accumulation and social hierarchy.
Politically, state socialism is often used to designate any socialist political ideology or movement that advocates for the use of state power for the construction of socialism, or to the belief that the state must be appropriated and used to ensure the success of a socialist revolution. It is usually used in reference to Marxist-Leninist socialists who champion a single-party state.
State capitalism has inconsistently been used as a synonym for 'state socialism', although neither phrase has a stable denotation
The repressive state apparatus is in fact acting as an instrument of state capitalism to carry out the process of capital accumulation through forcible extraction of surplus from the working class and peasantry