Difference between Socialism, Communism and Welfare State

Though communism, socialism and welfare state are three different systems, most people do not know the actual differences between them. Welfare can exist under any political structure, be it monarchy, dictatorship, totalitarianism, socialism or even communism. Welfare state is, thus, independent of political structure of the country and all it needs is people who care about the under privileged.

Let’s understand the basics of socialism, communism and welfare state in this article.


  • Socialism is not purely an economic system. Its main objective is to distribute wealth equally and attain classless society free from oppression.
  • Economy is controlled by the government. Government collects taxes from the rich and upper-middleclass and provides benefits to poor in the form of pensions, insurances, etc.
  • Socialistic state allows as many people as possible to influence the governing of the state.
  • Socialism allows possession of some private properties like clothes, food, etc., and can be used for personal enjoyment. But it do not allow possession of properties like factories, lands, etc. that can be used for benefits of many people. Such private properties are taken over for market exchange from the owner and are included into public property.
  • Religions are accepted in socialistic state but it must be kept as a private affair.
  • From each according to his ability, to each according to his deeds” – it means wealth is distributed among all the people participated in production and based on their efforts put by people in the production.


  • Communism is both economic and political system. It is more powerful and controls everything. Its main objective is to attain stateless, oppression-free, classless and equalitarian society. But in reality many controls are ultimately leading to oppression because no freedom of choice by people.
  • Economy is absolutely in control of the government and it imposes high taxes on rich forcefully in order to distribute wealth.
  • Power is seized in communism. There is no multi-party system. Single party in power rules and do not entertain any opposition parties to establish and question them. Also, existence of independent judiciary is not possible.
  • In communism, all private properties including consumer goods cannot be held by individuals and cannot be used for personal enjoyment – everything is public property.
  • Communism does not encourage religions.
  • From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” – it means wealth is distributed to all people of the community based on the needs of the people (people who do not participate in production will also get share).

Though socialism and communism look good initially, they bring rigidity into the system. They do not support innovation. There are many controls, which ultimately kill the freedom of choice and initiative to take decision in individuals.

The risk of socialism and communism is that each of them gives too much power to individuals or group of individuals on a continuous basis and the absolute power corrupts absolutely. Also, it is possible over time that people who are in power forget their responsibility of serving people and they use power to lead a privileged and leisure life.

Welfare state is completely different from socialism and communism. While socialism and communism are political ideologies, welfare state is a way of doing good things for the people.

Welfare State
It is a social system, where government believes that its primary objective is to serve the needs of its people and ensures well-being of all its citizens.

  • Welfare State provides speed justice to people and ensures good governance or efficient administration keeping the state free from corruption, laziness, etc.
  • Welfare state provides many facilities to its citizens like education, healthcare, housing, transportation, childcare and other social amenities like parks, libraries, etc.
  • It respects equality in opportunity and accepts individual liberty.

Historically, Chandragupta Maurya in 4th century BC, Akbar in 17th century AD, Harshavardhana in 7th century AD, Srikrishna Devaraya, all headed welfare states.

Welfare state is the oldest structure of the three. A modern capitalistic country, United States, is also a welfare state. A welfare state can exist independent of the political structure.

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