Socialist State has become very popular and powerful movement in modern states. It has exercised deep influence on the policies of every state. Today it is seen in different parts of the world in one form or the other. Everywhere the state is interfering in economic and industrial affairs where public welfare is involved. It is owning, controlling and managing industries and public services which are of national importance. The trend of every state today is, thus, towards socialist state. Its merits are:
1. It puts society above the individual and considers the good of all as something superior to the mere good of the individual. It regards social welfare as the basis of production.
2. It rightly depicted the evils existing in the present day society. It desires to put an end to the evils of capitalism like economic inequalities, wastage of resources lack of proper planning wasteful production etc.
3. It wants to destroy the institution of private property, reduce the present economic inequalities, put an end to all types of exploitation and create a better society.
4. Its principle of production is social benefit but not personal profit. It manages and regulates industries not with profit motive but with social needs.
5. It secures better conditions of work for the workers. It raises their status and importance in the society.
6. It favours gradual changes based on peaceful and constitutional methods. It is evolutionary in nature. So it paved the way for the success of democracy.
7. Finally, it will free the individual from want and starvation and will thereby provide him with greater opportunities for political and economic activities.
In spite of the above advantages, socialist state has been subjected to severe criticism on the following grounds:
1. It leads to authoritarianism as it puts too many powers in the hands of government. It results in the restriction of individual liberty as the state interferes in every sphere of individual activity. State becomes the master and the individual becomes its servant.
2. It kills individual initiative and enterprise because it does not allow private property. In the absence of private property, men may not like to do maximum work.
3. It advocates socialisation of means of production. It is difficult for the state to manage all industries, control the means of production and distribution. complete management of all industries by the state will result in inefficiency, redtapism, corruption and nepotism. Industries may not be run on sound and economical lines
4. It ignores and neglects completely the interests of the consumers. It does not provide to the consumer any choice in respect of consumption. The consumer has to adjust his needs to production which is controlled by the state.
5. It is argued by the critics that practical instances show that countries with a socialist system like China has made less progress compared to those having laissez faire system as United States.
Finally, the theory of Socialist state is like a storehouse of confusion. One fails to understand as to what it really aims at. Despite these weaknesses, the theory of Socialist state has now become a matter of universal appreciation. All thinkers ranging from the advocates of Liberalism to that of Communism express their unflinching faith in the doctrine of Socialist state. The days of a hundred percent Individualism are gone for ever. Today all states are moving towards Socialist state. People everywhere expect that the state will actively promote their welfare and that it should play a positive role in their life. J.C.Johari says: 'None can deny the fact that the movement of socialist state has brought about numerous reforms. The rise of wages, reduction in the hours of work improvement of working conditions, curbs on the prevalence of destructive competition, decrease in the degree of exploitation and the like are some of the leading achievements of socialist state.