From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

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From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs (or need) is a slogan that Karl Marx made popular in his writing Critique of the Gotha program, published in 1875. The German original is Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen. According to Marx, once a communist society has been established, it will produce enough goods and services so that everyone's needs can be satisfied.[1][2]

Even though the phrase is commonly attributed to Marx, he was not the first to use it. The slogan was common within the socialist movement. Louis Blanc first used it in 1839, in "The organization of work". [3] The origin of this phrasing has also been attributed to the French communist Étienne-Gabriel Morelly,[4] who proposed in his 1755 Code of Nature "Sacred and Fundamental Laws that would tear out the roots of vice and of all the evils of a society" including the following:

I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. Schaff, Kory (2001). Philosophy and the problems of work: a reader. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 224. ISBN 0-7425-0795-5.
  2. Walicki, Andrzej (1995). Marxism and the leap to the kingdom of freedom: the rise and fall of the Communist utopia. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. p. 95. ISBN 0-8047-2384-2.
  3. "à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés". L'Organisation du travail, 1839.
  4. Norman E. Bowie, Towards a new theory of distributive justice (1971, p. 82.
  5. Gregory Titelman, Random House dictionary of popular proverbs & sayings (1996), p. 108.