A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term communist state is often used synonymously in the West specifically when referring to one-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist communist parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries that are multi-party capitalist states make references to socialism in their constitutions, in most cases alluding to the building of a socialist society, naming socialism, claiming to be a socialist state, or including the term people's republic or socialist republic in their country's full name, although this does not necessarily reflect the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems. Currently, these countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, Portugal, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
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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 socialised economic system. This may either mean a system where the means of production, distribution and exchange are nationalised or under state ownership, or simply a system in which social values or workers' interests have economic priority. However, the concept of a socialist state is mainly advocated by Marxist–Leninists and most socialist states have been established by political parties adhering to Marxism–Leninism or some national variation thereof such as Maoism, Stalinism or Titoism. A state, whether socialist or not, is opposed the most by anarchists, who reject the idea that the state can be used to establish a socialist society due to its hierarchical and arguably coercive nature, considering a socialist state or state socialism as an oxymoron. The concept of a socialist state is also considered unnecessary or counterproductive and rejected by some classical, libertarian and orthodox Marxists, libertarian socialists and other socialist political thinkers who view the modern state as a byproduct of capitalism which would have no function in a socialist system.
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. 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 world communism. Academics, political commentators and other scholars tend to distinguish between authoritarian socialist and democratic socialist states, with the first representing the Soviet Bloc and the latter representing Western Bloc countries which have been democratically governed by socialist parties such as Britain, France, Sweden and Western social-democracies in general, among others.