'From Each according to Ability; To Each according to Needs': Origin, Meaning, and Development of Socialist Slogans

History of Political Economy 51 (2):237-57 (2019)
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There are three slogans in the history of Socialism that are very close in wording, viz. the famous Cabet-Blanc-Marx slogan: "From each according to his ability; To each according to his needs"; the earlier Saint-Simon-Pecqueur slogan: "To each according to his ability; To each according to his works"; and the later slogan in Stalin’s Soviet Constitution: "From each according to his ability; To each according to his work." We will consider the following questions regarding these slogans: a) What are the earliest occurrences of each of these slogans? b) Where does the inspiration for each half of each slogan come from? c) What do the Saint-Simonians mean by “To each according to his ability”? d) What do they mean by “To each according to his works”? e) What motivates the shift from “To each according to his ability” to “From each according to his ability”? f) How should we envisage the progression toward “To each according to his needs”? g) What is the distinction between from “To each according to his works” and “To each according to his work”?



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Author Profiles

Luc Bovens
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Adrien Lutz
Université de Saint-Étienne

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