State capitalism, for Marxists and heterodox economists is a way to describe a society wherein the productive forces are owned and run by the state in a capitalist way, even if such a state calls itself socialist. Within Marxist literature, state capitalism is usually defined in this sense: as a social system combining capitalism — the wage system of producing and appropriating surplus value — with ownership or control by a state apparatus. By that definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single giant corporation. There are various theories and critiques of state capitalism, some of which have been around since the October Revolution or even before. The common themes among them are to identify that the workers do not meaningfully control the means of production and that commodity relations and production for profit still occur within state capitalism.
This term is also used by some advocates of laissez-faire capitalism to mean a private capitalist economy under state control, often meaning a privately-owned economy that is under economic planning. In the 1930s, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini claimed that Italian Fascism's economic system of corporatism could be seen either as a form of state capitalism or as state socialism, as he claimed that both were essentially the same. This term was often used to describe the controlled economies of the great powers in the First World War. In more modern sense, state capitalism is a term that is used (sometimes interchangeably with state monopoly capitalism) to describe a system where the state is intervening in the markets to protect and advance interests of Big Business. This practice is in sharp contrast with the ideals of both free market and laissez-faire capitalism.[...]
Most current Communist groups descended from the Maoist ideological tradition still hold to the description of both China and the Soviet Union as being ‘state-capitalist’ from a certain point in their history onwards — most commonly, the Soviet Union from 1956 to its collapse in 1991, and China from 1976 to the present day. Maoists and ‘anti-revisionists’ also sometimes employ the term ‘Social-imperialism’ to describe socialist states that they consider to actually be capitalist in essence — their phrase, "socialist in words, imperialist in deeds" denotes this.