Statism (or Etatism) is a very loose and often derogatory term that is used to describe:
There is no precise definition of how much state intervention represents statism. Thus, at one extreme, some anarchists consider that the mere existence of a state is enough to make a country statist, while at the other extreme it is argued that only the most rigid totalitarian systems are truly statist. Usually, however, the term "statism" is used with a negative or derogatory connotation, in reference to something that the speaker considers to be an example of too much state intervention.
The term tends to be used most often with respect to economic policies. For instance, Merriam-Webster defines statism as a "concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government." Advocates of economic liberalism typically use the term "statism" to refer to any economy that does not conform to the standard of laissez-faire capitalism. "Statism" is also used to refer to specific policies in countries that would not be identified as statist overall (for example, the state monopoly on mail delivery in the United States).
Opponents of statism often use the term as a synonym for collectivism. However, there is no necessary connection between the two. It is possible to have a commune or some other form of collectivist society that is entirely stateless (indeed, this is the kind of society advocated by most anarchists, and the final goal of the communists). Conversely, it is possible to have a strong central state which does not implement any policy that may be regarded as collectivist.
On another note, Fascist Italy openly espoused statism as its centerpiece, and it based its ideology around a positive conception of an absolute state to such a degree that the system of Italian Fascism was even accused of statolatry.
With regard to individual freedom, some statists argue that statism provides more positive freedom than a market-oriented economy, by giving some individuals (especially the poor) options and choices that would not have been available to them under a strictly capitalist system. In contrast, many opponents of statism, notably Friedrich Hayek, argue that any move away from a market economy leads inexorably to loss of political freedom.
There are also many who believe that a limited degree of statism is beneficial, but only as long as it does not become excessive. This view is held by most supporters of a mixed economy or various middle-ground or third way ideas, such as the American School.
Clarence Thomas' Favorite Anarchist: the radical anti-statism of Lysander Spooner.("Lysander Spooner: American Anarchist")(Book review)
Oct 01, 2010; Clarence Thomas' Favorite Anarchist: The radical anti-statism of Lysander Spooner. Lysander Spooner: American Anarchist,...