Episode 103: “From Each According to Their Ability, to Each According to Their Needs”—Part 1

Andrew Kliman and Brendan Cooney discuss this famous principle of distribution, in the context of Marx’s work and as discussed in a recent Ph.D. dissertation by Edoardo Bellando, From Each According to His Ability, to Each According to His Needs”: What Could it Possibly Mean, and What Lies Behind this Marxian Principle? After briefly reviewing the origins of the principle and pre-Marx advocacy of it, Andrew and Brendan talk about what the principle means and doesn’t mean as well as the part it plays within Marx’s overall argument in the Critique of the Gotha Program.
They then discuss a variety of questions associated with the principle. Was Marx advocating it? Is it a moral principle? Did Marx reject the concept of “right” or justice (Recht)? What socioeconomic conditions must exist before the principle can be realized? Does its realization require abundance? Why and when can a society be what Marx called “communist” (socialist), prior to the principle being realized? Will there be more than two phases of communist society? Is it helpful to think in terms of phases? Do libertarian and egalitarian criticisms of the principle apply to Marx’s employment of it? Is the fact that it is a general principle, not a specific plan, a good thing or a bad thing? What accounts for the principle’s popularity? (This episode includes the first half of the discussion of these topics. Ep. 104 will carry the second half.)

Plus current-events segment: Mike Who? Anne Jaclard, organizational secretary of Marxist-Humanist Initiative, joins Andrew to discuss the new Speaker of the US House of Representatives, a Christian nationalist who played a key role in the Trumpite conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.
Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

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November 6, 2023

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