The Social State vs. The Liberal State

We are all aware of the fact that there is so much political difference between the countries of the world that sometimes they all seem too far apart to make any communication. International institutions exist precisely to help us with such problems and to resolve the tensions between the opposing worldviews. But there are also many similar aspects to political governance that make countries collaborate and work together towards a single goal. That will be the topic of this article. We will look at two political and economic systems that have shaped the modern discussion about the state and the role it should have in the future for governing people.

What are exactly the differences between the two models? And how is this manifested in the countries that have implemented the different ideologies?

Social State or the Parent State

post2aThis form of governance goes back all the way to the enlightenment and the revolutions that came in the midst of those new ideas being born. Socialism, even though it is often associated with communism has actually developed separately as a political perspective. Even Karl Marx wrote about socialism as a stepping stone towards what he envisioned as the global worker’s revolution.

The form of governance is based on the principle that the state should be as a parent to their citizens. What does that mean? The state should not control the market or any other aspect of public life but it should have a say in it. That also means that the main focus of the socialist politician is to ensure funds for socially important aspects of the state.

That is, the state should make free health care and education possible for all its citizens and it should also make sure that there are no socially endangered individuals. Generally, the state cares for its citizens even though it can sometimes cost the country too much money. Governing bodies should balance those things out over time.

Liberalism and the Free Market

post2bAs a complete opposite to communism and to some extent to socialism is what we often term as neo-liberal capitalism. The biggest difference is in the level of influence the state displays over any of its bodies. The state is redundant in social affairs and this is left to the NGO sector.

The state in the idealized version of this governing system should not interfere in the market and therefore should not interfere in social issues unless it is mandatory for ensuring the stability. This system presupposes that bureaucracy is the only thing we need for a successful country.

The market is free as is society, and by this, I mean that elements from society cam mix with each other freely and without any influence from “above”. That way new and exiting forms can come to life, and trade will not stop because it is based on natural reactions between the market and consumers.


Most modern countries try and find a way to balance out the two mentioned ideas of governance and to make the best possible amalgam of them so it is functional for their own country.