HOME
        TheInfoList






"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" (German: Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen) is a slogan popularised by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.[1][2] The principle refers to free access to and distribution of goods, capital and services.[3] In the Marxist view, such an arrangement will be made possible by the abundance of goods and services that a developed communist system will be capable to produce; the idea is that, with the full development of socialism and unfettered productive forces, there will be enough to satisfy everyone's needs.[4][5]

Marx delineated the specific conditions under which such a creed would be applicable—a society where technology and social organization had substantially eliminated the need for physical labor in the production of things, where "labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want".[17] Marx explained his belief that, in such a society, each person would be motivated to work for the good of society despite the absence of a social mechanism compelling them to work, because work would have become a pleasurable and creative activity. Marx intended the initial part of his slogan, "from each according to his ability" to suggest not merely that each person should work as hard as they can, but that each person should best develop their particular talents.[18][19]

Claiming themselves to be at a "lower stage of communism" (i.e. "socialism", in line with Vladimir Lenin’s terminology),[20] the Soviet Union adapted the formula as: "From each according to his ability, Claiming themselves to be at a "lower stage of communism" (i.e. "socialism", in line with Vladimir Lenin’s terminology),[20] the Soviet Union adapted the formula as: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work (labour investment)".[21] This was incorporated in Article 12 of the 1936 Constitution of the Soviet Union, but described by Leon Trotsky as "This inwardly contradictory, not to say nonsensical, formula". [22]

While liberation theology has sought to interpret the Christian call for justice in a way that is in harmony with this Marxist dictum, many have noted that Jesus' teaching in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30) affirms only "TO each according to his ability" (Matt. 25:15), and not "FROM each according to his ability".[23][unreliable source?]

In Ayn Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, a large and profitable motor company adopted this slogan as its method for determining employee compensation. The system quickly fell prey to corruption and greed, forcing the most capable employees to work overtime in order to satisfy the needs of the least competent and to funnel money to the owners. As a result, the company went bankrupt within four years.

In Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale, members of a dystopian society recited the phrase thrice daily.Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale, members of a dystopian society recited the phrase thrice daily.[24] Notably the phrase is altered to read "From each according to her ability; to each according to his need," demonstrating a perversion of the phrase's original intention by Atwood's fictional society.

In Vladimir Voinovich's 1986 novel Moscow 2042, the slogan was parodied in the context of "communism in one city". Every morning the radio announced: "Comrades, your needs for today are as follows: ...".