STATIST [STEY-tist]: one who believes that the state should have partial or total control of the people.


I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about statism.  I thought it was probably a term that could be applied to good, liberal Democrats in a complimentary way.   But the more I read, it sounds like a radical person who has “stolen” the personal liberties from people and replaced them with adherence to the laws, regulations, and requirements of the government (whoever that may be!).

Then I realized that the only definitions of statism I was reading were written by radical reactionaries who don’t want the state to have any authority over a person’s personal rights.

I went back and read the definition of statism again, and recognized that those making the definition were scholars and intellectuals who could care less about the fuming battles between those on the far right and those on the far left.   They were just trying faithfully to state the meaning of the word statism … “the belief that the government should be involved in the protection and welfare of the citizens.”  It doesn’t say anything about total control.   It doesn’t deny the need to protect individual rights.  The statist recognizes that there is some value in the government participating in the management of the people.

In fact, a true statist would be someone who saw the responsibility of both the individual AND the state in regulating the nation.   That involves the recognition that there are some things a government can (and ought) to do which an individual could not possibly do.


  • building and maintaining an armed force.
  • building and maintaining roads, bridges, and tunnels.
  • overseeing the proper health practices required to protect us from disease.
  • assuring that the educational system for our children is appropriate, and that the states are doing a proper job of designing and supporting it.
  • maintaining a foreign policy that protects our people and a fiscal policy that prevents our economy from failing.
  • etc., etc., etc., ….

At the same time, a statist would recognize that individuals have rights and privileges that are best attributed to those individuals without interference by the government, such as

  • the right and privilege of raising a family that is healthy, educated, and safe.
  • the right to practice a faith without government interference.
  • the ability to work, secure wages, and spend money according to one’s preferences and needs.
  • the right to privacy and protection from abuse.
  • etc., etc., etc., ….

Granted, the ground between these is sometimes foggy and needs clarification.   But the abolishment of either the government or the individual’s role in being a citizen of this country is appropriately wrong.  That’s why we have courts and the justice system…to work out the apparent conflicts between the individual and the state.

Unfortunately, it seems as if the attribution of the term “patriot” to someone  who believes that state should be abolished is inappropriate and damaging.   As is the term “statist” to someone who believes the opposite.   Both are extremist words which are black and white, with no room for moderation.

I think I’ll put statist on my “don’t use” list, not to be employed unless absolutely necessary, and then with a good dose of clarity when I do use it.


Cartoon Credit:  Fired Breathing Christian.

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