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

Splitting out what could be an interesting tangent from the Free Speech thread to its own place.
Doc Tor wrote: »
You really need to read some political theory, because your ideas as to what communism is (or anarchy, for that matter) are not even wrong.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", right? Which is, IMO, the most bullshit political theory ever imagined.
KarlLB wrote: »
Really? It seems like Heaven to me. Everyone has what they need, everyone has challenging things to do that match their ability.

It sure beats "From each according to his mixture of ability, circumstance and opportunity, to no other fucker unless he's feeling generous, and tough shit to your needs" which is Capitalism.

OK, here's why I think it's utter bullshit - it incentivises people to maximise their need while minimising their ability. Why bother making sacrifices and working as hard as you possibly can to add worth to society when even if you sit around playing computer games all day you're still going to be given exactly the same amount - to wit, whatever some bureaucrat has decreed you "need". No free society can possibly function in that way, which is probably why no Communist nation has ever been considered free.

From each... to each... is the apotheosis of society being more important than the individual. It's a political theory that expects us all to be good little worker ants, dedicating everything we have to the greater good of our society and never wanting or asking more for ourselves than the minimum we need to fulfil that role. It has no respect for individual wants, desires or dreams. It offers no escape whatsoever from the crushing oppression of endless unrewarded toil. It is, quite simply, slavery - but with the faceless, distant and uncaring State as master rather than a human being who may at least have some compassion for those he enslaves.
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Comments

  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    That's interesting. Of course, it doesn't say that ability and need are to be defined by each person. But that response does, sort of, explain why, long long ago, when I attended East Kent Young Congregationalist conferences, the minister giving lectures found that statement to be an unsuitable basis for life.
    He had three such statements, and blowed if I can remember the other two, one of which was the right Christian one, or his arguments, and I have certainly lost the Gestetnered sheets that came with them.
    Until I found out it was from Paul, I thought that the other rejected one was "He that does not work, then neither shall he eat", also used by Lenin.

    I really am with KarlLB on the Marx one. I see it as seeing each person as an individual, not as a cog in the state.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited October 21
    Ah. So we're looking at practical outworkings rather than philosophical principle?

    I agree that human nature being what it is an absolute imposition of the principle is unlikely to work.

    However I can't get away from the fact that in principle it sounds brilliant. People find things they can do and do them, no-one is short of things they need.

    Which is probably why, like many a democratic socialist, I don't advocate a Communist entirely controlled economy. I allow for human frailty and financial motivation. But I can't allow that motivating aspect to lead to misery and abject poverty for some, as it will and always does, left unchecked. Left to itself, Capitalism has nothing in it to avoid destitution.

    But that we should employ our talents for the good of society rather than just ourselves seems a noble intention, does it not?
  • I thought it was the basis of social democracy, but I think Marvin's point about bureaucracy is a good one. It works to an extent with things like health, where your treatment is determined by your condition, not your income, that is, in the UK.

    But the idea of some official determining your life is chilling. So I suppose social democracy has hybridized with other more individualist approaches. In fact, isn't this part of the left/right conflict and dialogue which seems universal, and is often expressed as small state/big state?
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Ah. So we're looking at practical outworkings rather than philosophical principle?

    Both. I neither believe it would work, nor agree with the basic principle of unrewarded toil.
    However I can't get away from the fact that in principle it sounds brilliant. People find things they can do and do them, no-one is short of things they need.

    Things they can do, or things they want to do? Can we choose to do the things we find enjoyable, or must we do only the things society finds useful?

    And I doubt I'm alone - even on this thread - in wanting to have more than just the basic necessities of life.
    Which is probably why, like many a democratic socialist, I don't advocate a Communist entirely controlled economy. I allow for human frailty and financial motivation. But I can't allow that motivating aspect to lead to misery and abject poverty for some, as it will and always does, left unchecked. Left to itself, Capitalism has nothing in it to avoid destitution.

    Capitalism has nothing to avoid destitution, no. In offering the ability to win it also offers the ability to lose. Communism offers neither, which means it offers nothing worth trying for.
    But that we should employ our talents for the good of society rather than just ourselves seems a noble intention, does it not?

    Perhaps, but that doesn't mean it should be compulsary.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Capitalism has nothing to avoid destitution, no. In offering the ability to win it also offers the ability to lose. Communism offers neither, which means it offers nothing worth trying for.

    I would love to live in a society where I didn't have to compete just to have the basic necessities.

    And what do you consider worth trying for?
  • I am of the general opinion that actual data are much much more valuable that opinion and moral indignation. The Mincome experiment is one that actually provides some, even though it is from 40 years ago.

    "in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 percent, with fewer incidents of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from accidents and injuries.... lower lifetime fertility .... reduction in rates of psychiatric hospitalization...

    ...working hours dropping one percent for men, three percent for married women, and five percent for unmarried women."
    _____________

    I'd also note that it is very important not to equate views of communism derived from the 20th century dictatorships with modern ideas of using taxation and economic policy to level the disparity between the advantaged rich (usually via inheritance) and the have-nots of our societies.

  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Unrewarded toil? Sorry, but this is totally ridiculous. The notion that people in bonebreaking poverty would look to maximize their need over minimizing their ability is completely divorced from people’s lived experiences. The poor are born into structural modes of oppression, forced to work jobs that don’t capitalize on their ability, which don’t pay them enough because it’s mindless and meaningless, and then when they have the gall to try and use the spoils of civilization to go somewhere, they’re told they don’t belong, that those spoils belong to the Properly Contributing Members of society.

    I’ve lived and worked with the marginalized my whole life, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t themselves want to do better without assistance, they just don’t have that opportunity. Like all of the other opportunities they don’t have.
  • Capitalism does not promote the rising to one's ability. It technically allows for this, but in reality stratifies society. Those descended from people who got to the top are more likely to stay on top, regardless of there own ability. Those at the top create laws to stay at the top, directly or indirectly making it difficult for others to rise, regardless of ability.

    A note regarding terminology.
  • The idea that no one does anything more than they are forced to is belied by the technological progress and social innovations that happened pre-agriculture.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    The idea that no one does anything more than they are forced to is belied by the technological progress and social innovations that happened pre-agriculture.

    It's the belief of an aggrieved middle class who can see the heels of the monied classes above them.
  • But the idea of some official determining your life is chilling. So I suppose social democracy has hybridized with other more individualist approaches. In fact, isn't this part of the left/right conflict and dialogue which seems universal, and is often expressed as small state/big state?

    I have no interest in a state that tries to control what foods you eat, or that imposes a preference for baseball over basketball, or any similar nonsense.

    But I am rather a fan of one that ensures that everyone is able to provide themselves with good quality food that they would like to eat, and has the opportunity for leisure (in whatever form they prefer), and exercise, and education.

    In general, this means I tend to favour giving people money over subsidizing particular activities.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    I would assume that 'to each according to their need' is meant to go all the way up the Maslow hierarchy.
  • But the idea of some official determining your life is chilling. So I suppose social democracy has hybridized with other more individualist approaches. In fact, isn't this part of the left/right conflict and dialogue which seems universal, and is often expressed as small state/big state?

    I have no interest in a state that tries to control what foods you eat, or that imposes a preference for baseball over basketball, or any similar nonsense.

    But I am rather a fan of one that ensures that everyone is able to provide themselves with good quality food that they would like to eat, and has the opportunity for leisure (in whatever form they prefer), and exercise, and education.

    In general, this means I tend to favour giving people money over subsidizing particular activities.
    And that is working out how? The fallacy of private contributions is that we have both state and private contributions and they still fail to satisfy the need. The idea that private contribution will step up in order to fill the need when it currently fails to do so is a powerful delusion, but delusion no less.
  • I have recently been introduced to the late medieval practice of Skimmingtons which was a way that medieval people enforced social standards of behavior. It was a custom practiced in villages across Europe under different names, and was portrayed in Game of Thrones as Cersi's walk of shame.

    This is a good example of the way social mores can be enforced without recourse to money. Now it may seem a little extreme to stick a slack gamer on the back of a horse and throw potatoes and other rotten vegetables at them, but there are other ways to do it. Commercial current affairs programmes in Australia like to chase dodgy tradies around with microphone and camera. Great television.

    So the opprobrium of your friends and neighbors is a good way to punish non-compliance with the social rule 'to each according to their needs...'. In the same way, social status can be a very nice reward for compliance with '... from each according to their abilities'.

    The key is to have the maxim absolutely soaked through every pore of the society. Everyone must agree that the rule is right without even thinking about it. How to get there is a toughie...

    Hmmm. I know. Lets smash the state, institute a Dictatorship of the Proletariat with me in charge, export the Revolution to other parts of the world and then she'll be apples!
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    I'm late to the party, because I've been away all weekend, drinking beer and talking books. Yay me.

    Marvin: I reiterate your need to actually read books on political theory, rather than to see a aphorism and assume you know what it means. You start off not even wrong, but do end up as very wrong indeed.

    Anarchy has a very great tendency to end up as a series of tiny tyrannies, which is the Right Libertarian ideal, just as long as you're one of the people running a tyranny. It relies on a functionally post-scarcity society, because as soon as there's resource competition, it goes tits up very quickly. There is a Left Libertarian corrective for that, but that's essentially Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism and also only works in a post-scarcity society.

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is an aspiration. Marvin can only imagine other people like himself, who would game the system in order to maximise their needs and minimise their abilities, and therefore it could never be realised - but he fails to understand that the aspiration itself is part of the journey. It's the movement towards realising everyone's abilities that allows fulfilling everyone's needs.

    While we have a system that rewards wealth over ability, it is impossible to create a system that distributes goods according to need. For example, as long as we tax labour at a higher rate than we do wealth, there is no linkage between ability and 'from' - moving to a taxation regime that taxes unproductive wealth at the same rate as productive labour is somehow a revolutionary act, yet would create a fund of money that might just allow people the basics - affordable housing, good education, decent healthcare, adequate pensions.

    Nothing I've said above can be accurately caricatured as "a political theory that expects us all to be good little worker ants, dedicating everything we have to the greater good of our society and never wanting or asking more for ourselves than the minimum we need to fulfil that role."

    People still work. They are still rewarded for their labour. (In fact, people are actually more rewarded for their labour.) There will be those who refuse to work, like Marvin who doesn't see why his needs should be dictated by some faceless bureaucrat, although the solution is straightforward at that point. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is outrageous because it generously adheres to the 'to everyone's need' part. I refuse to be outraged by it.
  • Ruth wrote: »
    And what do you consider worth trying for?

    Anything I want that I can't get without trying. Which in a "From each.. to each..." society is nothing, because anything I "need" I'll be given anyway and anything I don't "need" I won't get anyway.
  • I am of the general opinion that actual data are much much more valuable that opinion and moral indignation. The Mincome experiment is one that actually provides some, even though it is from 40 years ago.

    Mincome is not a "From each... to each..." system, and is therefore not what's being discussed here.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I would say productivity and creativity are their own reward. Many, many comfortably retired people could sit at home all day playing video games. But they don’t.

    They volunteer and/or take part in productive hobbies or studies.

    I’m a member of the U3A and meetings are very well attended, often with standing room only.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    The idea that no one does anything more than they are forced to is belied by the technological progress and social innovations that happened pre-agriculture.

    You misunderstand me. I'm saying that people do things for two primary reasons - they find them enjoyable, or the things will be of benefit to them. The progress and innovation you refer to all falls under the second category.

    In a "From each... to each..." society, the second category no longer exists as no individual will see a benefit from doing things they don't find enjoyable. You will be given what you "need" whether you're a surgeon or a layabout.
  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    This is a good example of the way social mores can be enforced without recourse to money. Now it may seem a little extreme to stick a slack gamer on the back of a horse and throw potatoes and other rotten vegetables at them, but there are other ways to do it. Commercial current affairs programmes in Australia like to chase dodgy tradies around with microphone and camera. Great television.

    So the opprobrium of your friends and neighbors is a good way to punish non-compliance with the social rule 'to each according to their needs...'.

    Wow, you're really selling it to me. What a paradise you describe.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    @Marvin the Martian said -
    I'm saying that people do things for two primary reasons - they find them enjoyable, or the things will be of benefit to them.

    You are missing a category. People also do things because they will be of benefit to others.

    My friends who run the soup kitchen don’t enjoy the work, but they are very pleased to help others. They spend a lot of their own time and resources doing it.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is an aspiration. ... the aspiration itself is part of the journey. It's the movement towards realising everyone's abilities that allows fulfilling everyone's needs.

    What exactly does that mean to you? Are you picturing some kind of utopia where everyone can do the things that they enjoy doing and yet somehow enough resources are still generated to fulfill everyone's needs?
    Nothing I've said above can be accurately caricatured as "a political theory that expects us all to be good little worker ants, dedicating everything we have to the greater good of our society and never wanting or asking more for ourselves than the minimum we need to fulfil that role."

    Surely "To each according to his needs" must perforce mean that nobody gets more than he needs? Now, if it was "to each according to his wants", that would be something worth getting excited about.
    People still work. They are still rewarded for their labour. (In fact, people are actually more rewarded for their labour.)

    More rewarded? Awesome, so how big will my annual salary be now?

    Or is this one of those "the satisfaction of a job well done is it's own reward" sort of deals? Because I saw through that shit when I was still in infant school.
    There will be those who refuse to work, like Marvin who doesn't see why his needs should be dictated by some faceless bureaucrat, although the solution is straightforward at that point. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is outrageous because it generously adheres to the 'to everyone's need' part. I refuse to be outraged by it.

    Indeed. The trouble is, you're advertising the fact that all workers will get the same payment regardless of how long they work, presumably in the hope that there will be enough people who actually enjoy working in a vineyard to get everything done. And if there aren't, what then? Appeal to people to do extra work for no extra pay purely out of the goodness of their hearts? Send in the goons to force them to do the extra work?
  • Boogie wrote: »
    I would say productivity and creativity are their own reward. Many, many comfortably retired people could sit at home all day playing video games. But they don’t.

    They volunteer and/or take part in productive hobbies or studies.

    That's all well and good, but somebody still needs to sweep the streets, mine the resources, run the sewage plants, and do all the other nasty, unpleasant jobs that still have to be done for society to function. How many people do you think have them as a hobby?

    For a society to function it's not enough that everybody is engaged in productive or creative tasks that give them a sense of achievement and purpose. Those tasks also have to be useful.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    Again, Marvin, you're simply seeing this through the (extraordinarily distorted) lens of your own desires.
    Surely "To each according to his needs" must perforce mean that nobody gets more than he needs?

    No. The 'needs' are a minimum base. That is all. Getting angry that someone, somewhere has a roof over their head and food in their belly, is completely fucked up.

    The rest of your comments simply flow from a collision of your wilful misunderstanding of the premise, and your well-advertised economic selfishness. You only care about what it means to you. That's fine. You may gracefully exclude yourself from a future where the hungry are fed and the homeless housed. For the rest of us, we can look forward to a time when people who create value in society are properly recompensed for their work, where the educational aspirations of an individual are not dictated by their circumstances, and where the gulf between the health of the rich and the poor becomes insignificant.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited October 22
    Boogie wrote: »
    I would say productivity and creativity are their own reward. Many, many comfortably retired people could sit at home all day playing video games. But they don’t.

    They volunteer and/or take part in productive hobbies or studies.

    That's all well and good, but somebody still needs to sweep the streets, mine the resources, run the sewage plants, and do all the other nasty, unpleasant jobs that still have to be done for society to function. How many people do you think have them as a hobby?

    For a society to function it's not enough that everybody is engaged in productive or creative tasks that give them a sense of achievement and purpose. Those tasks also have to be useful.

    It is good to feel useful.

    My MIL used to invent tasks in order to feel useful!

    When she babysat our children she would iron all sorts of things I never ironed and she’d feel very pleased with herself for doing so. She’d make many cakes so that our cake tins were all filled - unasked.

    As to the dangerous and dirty jobs, more and more are being done by robots.

    I believe in a living wage for everyone, regardless of whether they have work or not, very high taxes for the rich and very high pay for the nasty, unpleasant jobs.

    (I say that as one of the rich, my sons are both very well off too)
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    No. The 'needs' are a minimum base. That is all.

    So can an individual still receive more than he needs?
    Getting angry that someone, somewhere has a roof over their head and food in their belly, is completely fucked up.

    I'm not angry in the slightest. Something like Mincome that guarantees a minimum amount that everyone shall have but leaves the maximum they can have open to whatever their abilities, dedication and good fortune can get is a very different system indeed to the one I'm critiquing.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited October 22
    Boogie wrote: »
    My friends who run the soup kitchen don’t enjoy the work, but they are very pleased to help others. They spend a lot of their own time and resources doing it.
    I'm clueless as to most of this debate, but I think they enjoy what is known as a secondary benefit.

    Anybody claiming to devote time and resources to others solely on the grounds of self-sacrifice is deluded, hard to manage, and potentially dangerous.
  • What the heck are you critiquing then? Welfare systems like Universal Credit, and Personal Independence Plans are very minimal indeed. Not only that, but you have to be pretty smart to get your claim right, as you are between the devil of understating your case and losing benefits and overstating it and getting prosecuted for benefit fraud.

    HMRC (the taxman) is a good deal more understanding and helpful than the DWP (Welfare & benefits).
  • sionisais wrote: »
    What the heck are you critiquing then?

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". It's right there in the OP.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    What the heck are you critiquing then?

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". It's right there in the OP.

    That's the glib phrase behind an invalid principle. I'm talking about the reality which shows that Commie paradise you cite doesn't exist in the UK, and has probably never existed anywhere on earth. Except in your mind and those of other reactionaries and those who run the media and many political parties that serve the interest of business and the economy over those of man. You have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Don't lose your job or get sick, you'll find out the hard way, as I did.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    I'm not angry in the slightest. Something like Mincome that guarantees a minimum amount that everyone shall have but leaves the maximum they can have open to whatever their abilities, dedication and good fortune can get is a very different system indeed to the one I'm critiquing.

    What you are critiquing is a complete figment of your own imagination, as you've been told repeatedly, in many threads, throughout the years.

    If you've finally realised the truth of that, then well done.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    My friends who run the soup kitchen don’t enjoy the work, but they are very pleased to help others. They spend a lot of their own time and resources doing it.
    I'm clueless as to most of this debate, but I think they enjoy what is known as a secondary benefit.

    Anybody claiming to devote time and resources to others solely on the grounds of self-sacrifice is deluded, hard to manage, and potentially dangerous.

    True.

    Looking in at what they do I can’t see the benefit for them at all - but they must get a sense of satisfaction from seeing the homeless fed (More than fed - they bring in doctors, nurses, hairdressers etc too)

    Is that a benefit?

  • sionisais wrote: »
    sionisais wrote: »
    What the heck are you critiquing then?

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". It's right there in the OP.

    That's the glib phrase behind an invalid principle.

    I'm glad you agree with me.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    I'm not angry in the slightest. Something like Mincome that guarantees a minimum amount that everyone shall have but leaves the maximum they can have open to whatever their abilities, dedication and good fortune can get is a very different system indeed to the one I'm critiquing.

    What you are critiquing is a complete figment of your own imagination, as you've been told repeatedly, in many threads, throughout the years.

    The phrase that forms the title of this thread is taken directly from Marx, though it can of course be traced back further (some say all the way to the Acts of the Apostles). I have yet to read an explanation or definition of it that means people are free to become as rich as they are able, so long as nobody else's needs are unmet. Quite the reverse, in fact.
  • Boogie wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    My friends who run the soup kitchen don’t enjoy the work, but they are very pleased to help others. They spend a lot of their own time and resources doing it.
    I'm clueless as to most of this debate, but I think they enjoy what is known as a secondary benefit.

    Anybody claiming to devote time and resources to others solely on the grounds of self-sacrifice is deluded, hard to manage, and potentially dangerous.

    True.

    Looking in at what they do I can’t see the benefit for them at all - but they must get a sense of satisfaction from seeing the homeless fed (More than fed - they bring in doctors, nurses, hairdressers etc too)

    Is that a benefit?

    It's something they want to do, which is enough for me to class it as a benefit to them.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    sionisais wrote: »
    What the heck are you critiquing then?

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". It's right there in the OP.

    That's the glib phrase behind an invalid principle.

    I'm glad you agree with me.

    Oh for goodness sake, nothing on earth has remotely approached that. It is pointless to discuss something that only exist in the minds of those who seek to kill the poor.

  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    edited October 22
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    I'm not angry in the slightest. Something like Mincome that guarantees a minimum amount that everyone shall have but leaves the maximum they can have open to whatever their abilities, dedication and good fortune can get is a very different system indeed to the one I'm critiquing.

    What you are critiquing is a complete figment of your own imagination, as you've been told repeatedly, in many threads, throughout the years.

    The phrase that forms the title of this thread is taken directly from Marx, though it can of course be traced back further (some say all the way to the Acts of the Apostles). I have yet to read an explanation or definition of it that means people are free to become as rich as they are able, so long as nobody else's needs are unmet. Quite the reverse, in fact.

    [citation needed][preferably one that doesn't come from some loony libertarian blog]

    Yes, I'm unsurprisingly aware that it's a quote from Marx. Thank God I'm not taking out of context though, because that would mean tilting at windmills and calling an entirely reasonable proposition "utter bullshit."

    For those who are actually interested in where the quote comes from, it's about two thirds of the way down this page.
    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!

    Previous to this passage, Marx acknowledges the various stages of the growing socialist economy will produce inequity due to differences in work, ability and production. Only when there is essentially Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism (ie, we are freed entirely from labour as a means of survival and a mode of slavery) do we enter the stage where our needs are entirely met without labour.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    I'm not angry in the slightest. Something like Mincome that guarantees a minimum amount that everyone shall have but leaves the maximum they can have open to whatever their abilities, dedication and good fortune can get is a very different system indeed to the one I'm critiquing.

    What you are critiquing is a complete figment of your own imagination, as you've been told repeatedly, in many threads, throughout the years.

    The phrase that forms the title of this thread is taken directly from Marx, though it can of course be traced back further (some say all the way to the Acts of the Apostles). I have yet to read an explanation or definition of it that means people are free to become as rich as they are able, so long as nobody else's needs are unmet. Quite the reverse, in fact.

    [citation needed][preferably one that doesn't come from some loony libertarian blog]

    Actually, I got it from exactly the same website as you.
    Yes, I'm unsurprisingly aware that it's a quote from Marx. Thank God I'm not taking out of context though, because that would mean tilting at windmills and calling an entirely reasonable proposition "utter bullshit."

    For those who are actually interested in where the quote comes from, it's about two thirds of the way down this page.
    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!
    

    Previous to this passage, Marx acknowledges the various stages of the growing socialist economy will produce inequity due to differences in work, ability and production. Only when there is essentially Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism (ie, we are freed entirely from labour as a means of survival and a mode of slavery) do we enter the stage where our needs are entirely met without labour.

    That's not what I read him as saying at all. The phrase "after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want" indicates, to me, a state of being where every individual's desire (want) is to labour for the good of society. In one of those earlier passages, Marx also says:
    Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning.

    This is no more than saying that individuals will no longer have the right even to the proceeds of their own labour, as their own labour will be subsumed into the overall whole - the "total labour".

    It is exactly these observations that led to my statement about us all being good little worker ants dedicating everything we have to the greater good of our society and never wanting or asking more for ourselves than the minimum we need to fulfil that role.
  • I am of the general opinion that actual data are much much more valuable that opinion and moral indignation. The Mincome experiment is one that actually provides some, even though it is from 40 years ago.

    Mincome is not a "From each... to each..." system, and is therefore not what's being discussed here.

    It's actual information which is worth more than opinion. The system provided people with minimum income, and this reduced incentive to work by very small amounts only. Which speaks directly to you opinion as stated in in your @OP.
    OK, here's why I think it's utter bullshit - it incentivises people to maximise their need while minimising their ability. Why bother making sacrifices and working as hard as you possibly can to add worth to society when even if you sit around playing computer games all day you're still going to be given exactly the same amount - to wit, whatever some bureaucrat has decreed you "need". No free society can possibly function in that way, which is probably why no Communist nation has ever been considered free.

    Noting again this response to your ideas:
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    Again, Marvin, you're simply seeing this through the (extraordinarily distorted) lens of your own desires.
    Surely "To each according to his needs" must perforce mean that nobody gets more than he needs?

    No. The 'needs' are a minimum base. That is all. Getting angry that someone, somewhere has a roof over their head and food in their belly, is completely fucked up.

    The rest of your comments simply flow from a collision of your wilful misunderstanding of the premise, and your well-advertised economic selfishness. You only care about what it means to you. That's fine. You may gracefully exclude yourself from a future where the hungry are fed and the homeless housed. For the rest of us, we can look forward to a time when people who create value in society are properly recompensed for their work, where the educational aspirations of an individual are not dictated by their circumstances, and where the gulf between the health of the rich and the poor becomes insignificant.

    You have an ideology and wish to make things fit with it, so it seems.
  • From the German Ideology:

    With the division of labour, in which all these contradictions are implicit, and which in its turn is based on the natural division of labour in the family and the separation of society into individual families opposed to one another, is given simultaneously the distribution, and indeed the unequal distribution, both quantitative and qualitative, of labour and its products, hence property: the nucleus, the first form, of which lies in the family, where wife and children are the slaves of the husband. This latent slavery in the family, though still very crude, is the first property, but even at this early stage it corresponds perfectly to the definition of modern economists who call it the power of disposing of the labour-power of others. Division of labour and private property are, moreover, identical expressions: in the one the same thing is affirmed with reference to activity as is affirmed in the other with reference to the product of the activity.

    Further, the division of labour implies the contradiction between the interest of the separate individual or the individual family and the communal interest of all individuals who have intercourse with one another. And indeed, this communal interest does not exist merely in the imagination, as the “general interest,” but first of all in reality, as the mutual interdependence of the individuals among whom the labour is divided. And finally, the division of labour offers us the first example of how, as long as man remains in natural society, that is, as long as a cleavage exists between the particular and the common interest, as long, therefore, as activity is not voluntarily, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him instead of being controlled by him. For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic. This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    That is literally the opposite of what Marx is saying. His whole critique of capitalism comes down to the problem that laborers do not own the product of their own labor. Therefore, in a communist society, laborers will own their labor. Marx was vague about communism because his own work mostly revolved around critiquing capital. Also, he wrote tens of thousands of pages. You can’t soundbite one sentence and get it all.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    That's not what I read him as saying at all. The phrase "after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want" indicates, to me, a state of being where every individual's desire (want) is to labour for the good of society. In one of those earlier passages, Marx also says:
    Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning.

    This is no more than saying that individuals will no longer have the right even to the proceeds of their own labour, as their own labour will be subsumed into the overall whole - the "total labour".

    It is exactly these observations that led to my statement about us all being good little worker ants dedicating everything we have to the greater good of our society and never wanting or asking more for ourselves than the minimum we need to fulfil that role.

    Pfft. Your interpretation of Marx is back into the 'not even wrong' camp.

    Those who currently own (capitalists and landowners) the means of production do not labour. In a socialist society, workers own the means of production: the amount of labour they input decreases as they approach a communist ideal. End goal: labour is no longer required except that which is for personal satisfaction.
  • Yeah, Marx actually wrote remarkably little on the practical workings of communism. I think part of it was that he didn't think it useful to speculate too much on the details, since communism would arise inevitably from the rupture of capitalism and develop in ways that no one could foresee. One would have to turn to later thinkers- such as Kropotkin, Pannekoek, Bookchin- who tried to work out the ways that a communist society could practically function.
  • I am of the general opinion that actual data are much much more valuable that opinion and moral indignation. The Mincome experiment is one that actually provides some, even though it is from 40 years ago.

    Mincome is not a "From each... to each..." system, and is therefore not what's being discussed here.

    It's actual information which is worth more than opinion. The system provided people with minimum income, and this reduced incentive to work by very small amounts only.

    Yes, because by working they could earn more. My point is not that people won't want to work once their basic needs are met, it's that they won't want to work if they can't earn any more than their basic needs by so doing. It's what happens the day after the story of the workers in the vineyard. The day when everyone knows they'll get the same wage whether they work for the whole day or just the last ten minutes. How many of them do you think are going to turn up at 8am?
  • In his The State and Revolution Lenin gives what is probably the most straightforward and detailed Marxist explanation of the stages of socialism, developing finally into communism, as hinted in the Critique of the Gotha Programme and other works.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    Those who currently own (capitalists and landowners) the means of production do not labour. In a socialist society, workers own the means of production: the amount of labour they input decreases as they approach a communist ideal.

    I can understand how the amount of labour they input decreases in line with the increase in labour put in by those who currently do none, to the point where all labour is equally divided between all individuals. How does it shrink beyond that point, unless by reducing the total amount of labour being done?
    End goal: labour is no longer required except that which is for personal satisfaction.

    Then who produces the food and keeps the lights on?
  • From the German Ideology:

    Further, the division of labour implies the contradiction between the interest of the separate individual or the individual family and the communal interest of all individuals who have intercourse with one another.

    Yes, absolutely. My interests are not the same as the communal interests of all individuals. To say that they should be is to leap right back into "good little worker ant" territory.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    Anarchy has a very great tendency to end up as a series of tiny tyrannies, which is the Right Libertarian ideal, just as long as you're one of the people running a tyranny. It relies on a functionally post-scarcity society, because as soon as there's resource competition, it goes tits up very quickly. There is a Left Libertarian corrective for that, but that's essentially Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism and also only works in a post-scarcity society.

    Also in the classic Marxist scheme, in the course of socialist development the state "withers away." Marx put it this way: "All socialists see anarchy as the following program: Once the aim of the proletarian movement – i.e., abolition of classes – is attained, the power of the state, which serves to keep the great majority of producers in bondage to a very small exploiter minority, disappears, and the functions of government become simple administrative functions."

    Even Mao said, ""Don't you want to abolish state power?" Yes, we do, but not right now. We cannot do it yet. Why? Because imperialism still exists, because domestic reaction still exists, because classes still exist in our country. Our present task is to strengthen the people's state apparatus - mainly the people's army, the people's police and the people's courts - in order to consolidate national defense and protect the people's interests."

    As Marxist-Leninist states became established and the anticipated world revolution did not materialize, stateless communism got pushed further and further into the horizon. I think the Chinese Communist Party's current line is that it will be 100 years or more.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    Previous to this passage, Marx acknowledges the various stages of the growing socialist economy will produce inequity due to differences in work, ability and production. Only when there is essentially Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism (ie, we are freed entirely from labour as a means of survival and a mode of slavery) do we enter the stage where our needs are entirely met without labour.
    FALGSC cannot exist, because people.
    The problem with capitalism* is that it assumes unlimited growth. And we are already seeing that natural growth is ending, so increasingly, the "growth" is coming at the expense of the average person. Wages are declining with no reverse in sight. Marvin's capitalism ends in feudalism.

    *One of the many, of course
  • Some good comments here. There is a confusion surely between Marx's notion of communism, in which the state disappears, and I think, classes disappear, and the use of the word by the Soviets and China. Marx's view seems very idealistic and far-off, hence indefinitely postponed. I think Engels wrote, where there is freedom, there is no state.
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