He who does not work, neither shall he eat

he who does not work

He who does not work, neither shall he eat‘ is a Biblical aphorism derived from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, which became a slogan for new colonies and socialist societies. The slogan was used by Captain John Smith in setting up the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia after his experiment with the common store system, or socialism, was abandoned. According to Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, it is the first principle of socialism. The phrase is mentioned in his 1917 work, ‘State and Revolution.’ Through this slogan Lenin explains that in socialist states only productive individuals would be allowed access to the articles of consumption.

This is not really directed at lazy or unproductive workers, but rather the bourgeoisie. Marxist theory holds that the bourgeoisie buy the commodity labor-power of workers and enlists them in the process of production. Profits are then made by the expropriation of surplus value. Accordingly, in a communist society, with the abolition of property and the law of value, there would be no class of individuals that lives off the labor of others. The principle would not apply to those who could not work, such as the elderly or the lame. These groups would have a right to society’s products because they were not at fault for their condition. The elderly, furthermore had worked during their youth, and so could not be denied life’s basic necessities.

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