When a workers state is created, new tasks are developed and must be accomplished. These tasks are particularly related to the realm of economics, as economic stability is crucial to maintaining a socialist state. The role of the state in a socialistic society is to organize economic activity in an effort to transform society to reach the goal of legitimate socialism, through improving production and growth. It also must monitor the prosperity of the working class and to make sure it is well disciplined, ready to work, and has fair conditions to do so. The socialist state also merges economic interests of social groups and social classes with the interests of the workers and vanguard. Historically, the Soviet Union based its economic organization on generally scientifically sound economic policies created by the planners of the CPSU, which was a democratic-centralist manner of running the economy, as necessary according to Marxism-Leninism.
For the CPSU, economy is one of the main focuses. Whether or not the economy was aligned with socialist thought and development, and moreover, whether or not it was stable, was key in determining the future status of the Soviet Union, and the eventual goal of abolishing the state and pursuing communism. The CPSU therefore took into account material conditions, both nationally and internationally. When transitioning from capitalism to socialism, the state becomes the instrument of revolutionary socialist activity, as the relations to the means of production are radically altered, by and for the working class. The state concentrates the means of production, as Marx stated famously in The Communist Manifesto, allowing it to organize the economic routes of the nation. With a strong Marxist-Leninist framework, this enables the legitimate development of socialism, as it did in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, where the principles of democratic-centralism guided the economy. Furthermore, it is this principle that guides the management and administrative systems, the structures of relations to production, the rate of growth, the nature of capital, and of course the effects of productive forces. Scientific and technological advances are also guided firmly by the principles of Leninist democratic-centralism.
The socialist state furthermore directs the flow of commodities and influences the forms of service, and retail they take, so as to meet the demands of the people. It therefore assumes trade, nationally and foreign as well. Money, budget, price fixation, the purchasing prices of certain products such as those from farms, and the financial system as a whole are also controlled by the socialist state. All of this, including control over work and consumption measures, is done in relation to the principle “from each according to his abilities and labor, to each according to his needs.” Millions of people are organized into work through the socialist states leadership, and they receive appropriate work ethic and discipline, as material and moral incentives make labor more necessary, and the conditions of their work make it more fulfilling. Although the socialist state embraces planning, utilizing trained economists and so forth, innovations and creativity are always encouraged in the workplace as well, reducing the amount of bureaucracy too.
On a foreign level, a socialist state trades, and assists with other socialistic countries, based on mutual cooperation, planning, and in regards to division of labor on an international level. Of course historically there were instances of socialistic states who refused to cooperate, but if revisionism or other such detriments plague some states, then it is more justifiable not to develop relations, as it could lead to the infiltration of capitalistic elements. It is also the duty of any socialist state to provide assistance to other developing countries in the efforts to further spread international socialist aims, weaken imperialism, and create political independence from capitalist nations. Relations to capitalist countries will vary in regards to material conditions and such. For example, the Soviet relations with the West during World War II were more positive because the popular front was necessary in defeating the Nazis.
Ultimately, the final goal of any legitimate socialist state is to develop a classless, stateless, communist society. The fundamental role of the socialist state is to lay the infrastructure for socialist development, improve relations to production, educate the people into communists, increase the standards of living through social services such as health care and cultural improvements, provide a safe and fair working environment, develop environmentally sound policies, encourage innovation and creativity, and defend against enemies of socialism and progress. Communes and self-management on their own are not enough to fully develop a socialist society, as all the great Marxists have known. When hearing the criticisms of “statism,” one must remember that the state is merely an instrument of class power, and the socialist state is therefore a state assumed by the workers themselves, spearheaded with the vanguard. It is radically different from any capitalist state, no matter what claims are made by rightist opportunists.