Increasing Requirements, Law of

Increasing Requirements, Law of


a law of the de velopment of society, expressing the growth and improvement of its requirements along with the development of its productive forces and culture.

In the course of a society’s development the requirements of its members grow and change in form. Certain requirements disappear and new ones arise, as a result of which the circle of requirements is expanded. At the same time qualitative changes occur in the very structure of the requirements. There is an increase in the proportion of intellectual and social requirements. Physical requirements become more and more sophisticated in the sense that in their origin and in the determination of the means to satisfy them an ever greater role is played by social and cultural factors. The law of increasing requirements operates and is manifested as objective only with respect to the social system of the requirements, including the aggregate of the personal requirements of all the members of a society but not those of each of its individual members. In order to reveal the essential quantitative and qualitative shifts in the relationship of the various requirements, it is necessary to consider periods of several decades or even hundreds of years. In speaking about the law of increasing requirements under the conditions of capitalism, V. I. Lenin operated with periods of 50 and 100 years (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1, pp. 101-02). However, the modern scientific and technical revolution has speeded up the tempo of economic development, which means that the process of increasing requirements may be clearly traced by analyzing data for shorter and shorter periods of time.

The law of increasing requirements occurs in any socioeconomic system, but under differing historical conditions it operates in various forms. In presocialist class formations, the law of increasing requirements operates in an antagonistic form. Glaring socioeconomic inequality remains, and the ruling classes, who hold the means of production, monopolize the decisive spheres of intellectual activity as well as the functions of socioeconomic management. The lot of the exploited classes is primarily that of hard physical labor. Under these conditions the law of increasing requirements operates extremely unevenly among the different classes of the society. The advantages are on the side of the exploiting classes, whose requirements increase with the growth of their wealth and are satisfied at the expense of the interests of the masses. However, even in societies based on exploitation there occurs a definite growth in the capabilities and capacities of the toiling masses, accompanied by an increase in their requirements. But the possibilities for the workers to satisfy their needs are limited by their social position as exploited and oppressed persons. Because of its socioeconomic nature, capitalism does not create conditions for the rapid development of the capacities of the working masses; it holds back the process of development of the labor force, a process which would objectively result from the improvement of production alone.

Socialism cannot immediately eliminate the socioeconomic inequality that has taken shape in all spheres of the economy, culture, education, and sociopolitical activity during the many centuries of society’s growth on the basis of private property. It is, however, radically changing the character of the development of the members of the society, abolishing private ownership and affirming the public ownership of the means of production. Under such conditions the law of increasing requirements has taken on new traits, traits inherent only in a socialist society. The most important of these are the generality and comprehensiveness of the rise in requirements, the gradual socioeconomic leveling off of their structure, development according to plan, and the continuous and rapid rate of the rise in requirements. The possibilities of increasing needs are enjoyed by all the members of the society on the same foundations. Moreover, there is development not only of those requirements whose satisfaction leads directly to the reproduction of work capacity but also of those needs whose satisfaction results in human beings’ becoming more cultured in their daily lives, having more creative initiative, and being more active with regard to society and its tasks. With the establishment of the material and technical base of communism and the equalization of people’s socioeconomic status, a corresponding equalization of work capacities in production occurs, as well as an equalization in the structure of requirements on the part of society’s members.


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