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Statism is a term employed to characterize practices, examples, or doctrines of state intervention that are regarded as illegitimate exercises of power. There is no single theory of what constitutes statism. However, since the appellation is negative, the reference of the term statist (or the specific example or theory of statism) will depend on what one holds to be an unjustified exercise of state power. For example, an anarchist may view any instance of state action as statism, a businessperson may believe that certain regulations are statist, and a citizen may regard government wiretapping as statist.

The term presupposes a basic distinction between state and society. Max Weber characterized the modern state—emerging only after the Renaissance—as exercising a monopoly of legitimate force over a territorial area. ...

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