“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (German: Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jeder nach seinen Bedürfnissen) is a term popularized by Karl Marx in his Critique of the Gotha Programme published in 1875. The principle refers to free access to and distribution of goods, capital and services.

“from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.
“from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

  • This is best read in context:

In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

The issue is how many generations of slavish servitude of the person to the division of labor you are willing to endure in order to discover if this higher phase of communism is possible.

  • Marx envisioned communism as a society devoid of money, state, and class. It would occur in a highly sophisticated civilization where automation would cause such unemployment that workers would rise up and take the means of production.

Capitalism is predicated on scarcity. Supply and demand influence market pricing. However, when energy is very cheap owing to distributed solar energy and automation performs the majority of work, and machines can even manufacture and repair machines, the cost of commodities would be almost nothing.

People will have everything they need. Each individual will undertake meaningful tasks such as assisting others, learning, and spending time with friends and family. Each shall contribute to the best of his or her capacity. And everybody will be given according to their needs.

Marx’s idea is far from utopian. Relationship disputes, sports rivalries, and other issues will still exist in a communist society. However, the root of such clashes will not be money, class, or state. These things are only important in a world of scarcity.

  • From each according to his ability: free individuals behave according to their preferences, while slaves are obliged to perform according to their masters’ capacities.

Two according to his needs: we need relatively few calories every day, as well as food, air, and water. These are the only things we require to life, unless anything else modifies “need,” such as what it is needed for. That would be a horrible life, perhaps one worse than that of the majority of slaves.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his necessities” is a slavery description in which both abilities and needs are determined by the slave maste.

  • Yes, I concur. It is intended to demonstrate that we can all exist in our human communities without resorting to exploitation or famine.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and other responses have flaws, but there is no reason why simple assertions cannot be true explanations of how society should work.

It is the polar opposite of individualism: ‘try your best to climb as high as you can to accomplish your objectives without regard for others, since if you achieve your goals, you will be able to serve others as well.’

If everyone could do their best in their chosen field – or in a field that benefits others – and be rewarded with a reasonable and comfortable life, that seems like a better approach than competition, strife, power structures, and so on, even if in modern society we need others to deputize for us in governmental or management positions.

  • Of course, it has drawbacks like any other mode of distribution.

The disadvantage is that success will be heavily reliant on the availability of resources and who does the distribution. Is the state responsible for distribution? Is it democratic distribution or mutualism? Is it an anarchistic method of distribution?

The distribution of such resources is critical. Not only that, but the amount of resources will determine how effectively the system functions. If there is more than enough food to go around, it works perfectly; but, if you were attempting to distribute more rare commodities, such as gold or silver jewelry, not everyone would be able to have one, leading society to prioritize certain individuals over others – even in a democratic society.

The difficulty with the system is that it demands a society where everything is plentiful because without plenty, you end up with power conflicts for particular items and individuals striving to show their value more than others.

Unluckily, if done incorrectly, it might lead to division. That’s not to suggest it couldn’t coexist with a capitalistic society, where it could distribute many things.

  • It’s a fantastic concept. You may even call it a fantastic ideal.

Of course, we live in reality, which is messy and full of uncertainty, probabilities that offer fantastic outcomes to one and terrible consequences to another, and is sometimes beyond our control.

It is impossible to completely even things out, or even to see if some individual action helps or hurts that goal, but as a guide, the goal of helping others have as good a life as we have is absolutely what we should work toward, in balance with reality, which means making difficult decisions about individual situations that will not always be resolvable in ways completely in line with the ideal… but we should do our best.

Is it ethical for Bill Gates, for example, to earn billions and then utilize those billions to benefit others? There can’t be a question of ‘is it the best way?’ since we don’t know for sure. We can all argue about whether he was ‘allowed’ to make too much money or whether he’should have given more’ (now or in his will?) or whatever, but he clearly worked to contribute according to his abilities and now works to contribute to the welfare of others ‘according to his abilities and their needs.’

That seems to be all we can ask from everyone… and everyone, in their own tiny or great ways. It has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism as a theory or goal, but with human existence – that we progress farther in total by supporting one other and contributing where we can, rather than working at odds with ourselves.

  • Yes, if you understand well.

This is my interpretation:

1. “Needs” refers to a specific collection of things: food, water, housing, medical care, and education, to prevent any type of odd philosophical reasoning that may go on forever (‘eel wiggling’). The amount at which these items must be given may be assessed scientifically using objective stress indicators, with the goal of minimizing suffering due to deprivation.”

2. “To each according to his needs” indicates that everyone is entitled to the full complement of things that scientific evidence requires.

3. “From each according to his ability”suggests that everyone is required to contribute to society to the best of their potential, i.e. to fully develop their producing capacities (e.g. talents) in order to maximize their worth to society. No slackers or freeloaders are permitted.

There is just one entitlement and one responsibility.

It is worth noting that nothing is written regarding whether or not one may or cannot accumulate any form of private money for oneself only on the basis of this concept. Yes, Marx was unequivocally opposed to private property, but you didn’t ask about all of Marx’s views, nor did you ask what I’d think about it; you asked precisely about this one.

Fulfilling 1 and 2 naturally implies that some extra money will have to find its way to people who lack the capacity to create enough to satisfy their needs solely via the fruits of their work. But, despite all that financial flow, there’s nothing to suggest that whatever left over couldn’t be amassed privately.

  • It’s a fantastic notion, but it comes with significant limitations, as do any basic concerns about the human condition. Individual needs are self-regulated and self-determined; a steady-state economy is sustainable and possible; we all have different capacities; ability and need do not contradict one other; and there is universal agreement that the purpose is to meet human wants.

Aside from that, our most fundamental necessities are: shelter, food, and clothes, in that order, in order for us to live. However, as civilization has progressed, human wants have evolved to the point where we recognize that, in addition to the essential necessities, our current demands include education, medical care, and leisure.

Marx always wrote in the context of a socialist society consisting of self-determining and self-regulating needs within a steady state economy based on the assumptions that the problem of producing an abundance had been solved with the introduction of capitalism and that socialism would provide the framework to solve the problem of distribution. Thus, Marx, socialists, and some anarchists are essentially projecting a post-scarcity society in which the connected voluntary producers give and take what they need from the common store to meet their wants and potentialities.

Scarcity has already been defeated, not in the crazy meaning of the lack of overwhelming plenty as economists believe, but in the sense that the resources, technology, and human talents exist to generate enough to meet anticipated human needs and desires.

In terms of the dispute over needs vs wants, we can confidently argue that privately owned planes, manors, and yachts are good instances of expensive desires rather than necessities, particularly when they serve just a few individuals. Rather of destroying such riches, it would be transformed such that it might be used to benefit society as a whole. However, such democratic choices would be made by the community as a whole.

  • Yes, it’s a fantastic concept, and if realized, it would result in a society as near to nirvana as possible. But it won’t work due of one problem: human nature.
  • It is unworkable as a universal distribution basis in a complicated urban, industrial society. However, it makes sense in a narrow context.

A principle of natural justice in such a society would suggest that each individual is to be granted equal access to the means to develop their potential, their skills, learning, and to retain their talents throughout time. Without it, people cannot successfully engage in social decision-making and self-management of their life.

This has ramifications for things like free-to-use social services systems in sectors like health care and education. This is where we discuss the growth of a person’s talents, skills, learning, and also the preservation of their human potential.

So think about health care. If someone is really unlucky and suffers from a significant illness or terrible injury, a commitment to a system of social support for health care states that they should get necessary health care. “Need” has an objective criteria in this situation since we know what health is.

However, if someone else is far more fortunate and does not have big sicknesses or injuries, they will spend much less of the public health care budget than the unlucky individual who does have a major ailment or injury. This is an illustration of the concept of “to everyone according to need.”

Consider early childhood education. Some youngsters learn more slowly than others. Giving them the greatest chance of developing their cognitive potential may need additional tutoring or seminars.

As a result, they use more of the educational budget than a young kid who is a quick learner and takes up the topic — such as arithmetic or whatever — more quickly. “To everyone according to need,” once again. But, once again, we have some rather objective methods of assessing how well a person’s learning is progressing (such as tests).

However, the idea cannot be applied to everything. What you “need” for many things is determined by what you desire. If I wish to cultivate strong bell pepper plants in my back yard and ask the gardener for advice, he could answer, “you need some fertilizer for this soil.” So “need” just means “whatever is required to get what you desire.”

As a result, the “to everyone according to need” premise would imply “to everyone whatever they desire,” which is neither a realistic nor relevant economic philosophy. Scarcity is a natural component of the human experience. There are only so many hours in a day to work on anything. And if I work on building A, I won’t be able to work on building B.

As a result, although the “to everyone according to need” approach is acceptable for some types of objective, shared human needs, it cannot be adequately generalized. This implies that further distribution rules, such as “to everyone according to the work they put to produce the social product,” and maybe others, are required.

  • It is not obvious looking at someone what their ability is, or what their need is.

If you take from each according to his ability, then you are encouraging people to act as if they have low ability. Oops, the only thing that I am good at is watching online videos. I guess that I need a job that involves watching videos.

If you give to everyone according to his need, this encourages people to have a high need. I need a large screen TV. I need health care. I need an easy job. I need a masseuse to give me back rubs for my scoliosis. I need ice cream. I need a reliable car to get to my summer cottage. I need good wine.

This idea might sound good on paper. In practice it is fundamentally flawed.

  • It is a fundamentally sound notion, but it has only been implemented on a very limited scale, particularly in the Israeli kibbutzim system.

In principle, it is a lovely high fundamentally excellent notion. If someone lives their daily life in accordance with that ideal and is generous, that person is a beautiful person.

As a political financial system, it is a horrible notion bound to failure, corruption, and bloodshed.

It will only work if you first modify human nature. People do not labor without a personal profit incentive. Not even the most idealistic individuals. Let alone expecting it from the wider public.

If individuals are catered for according to their necessities, they will not work according to their ability. Even those who are currently doing will cease if the rewards of their effort are taken away and handed to others.

Simple demonstration that it won’t work.

(1)Most proponents of the “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” philosophy do not willingly relocate to communes that follow that approach. Even existing communes that adhere to that principle (a)do not welcome members who expect to be supported by them. (2)fire slackers who don’t contribute.

(2)Despite their great talk, proponents of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need don’t conduct their daily lives in line with that idea. None of them compensate their employees, such as Uber drivers, based on their needs rather than going rates.

F.A.Q: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

What does “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” mean?

Karl Marx popularized the phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program. The concept relates to the free flow of products, capital, and services.

Is Karl Marx a socialist?

Karl Marx and the Origins of Communism

Then there was Karl Marx, the German political philosopher and economist who would go on to become one of the most prominent socialist theorists in history.

Is Marx a supporter of capitalism?

Marx criticized capitalism for alienating the people. His logic was that, although workers generate goods for the market, market forces, not workers, govern the market. People are forced to labor for capitalists who control the means of production and wield authority in the workplace.

What are Karl Marx’s primary ideas?

Karl Marx founded Marxism, a social, political, and economic ideology that focuses on the conflict between capitalists and the working class. Marx believed that the power dynamics between capitalists and workers were fundamentally exploitative and would result in class strife.

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