Material and Moral Stimulation

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Material and Moral Stimulation


under socialism the forms, methods, and means of attracting and motivating people to work and increasing their drive and initiative.

Interests are the moving force of human labor activity in any socioeconomic system. “The economic relationships of any particular society,” F. Engels wrote, “manifest themselves above all as interests” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 18, p. 271). Among the many diverse interests, the priority belongs to material interests: the necessity of satisfying material and cultural needs. The extent to which these needs are satisfied and the form of the satisfaction are conditioned by the level of development of productive forces and the established production relations. In antagonistic societies the exploiting classes have resorted to coercion in its two basic forms—noneconomic and economic—to force people to work and then to appropriate the results of their labor. In the precapitalist class systems the basic form was noneconomic coercion: that is, direct force, subordination, and the personal dependence of working people on the exploiters.

With the appearance of the capitalist system noneconomic coercion was replaced by economic coercion. Working people, ostensibly free, are forced to work for the owners of the means of production out of fear of hunger and the real danger of being left without the means of existence. This system creates the appearance that there are equal relations between the entrepreneur, the owner of the means of production, and the worker, the owner of the labor. This appearance is intensified by the forms and systems of wages that are used; they engender the illusion that the standard of living of each working person depends only on his attitude toward work,capabilities, skills, labor productivity, and so on.

Under capitalist conditions, economic coercion is combined with various types of incentive systems and with the payment of bonuses for such attributes as “diligence,” “special effort,” “initiative,” and “striving for cooperation.” The chief purpose of all of these methods is to involve the workers in the successful operation of the capitalist enterprise, to smooth over class contradictions between labor and capital, and to increase surplus value, which is appropriated by the entrepreneur. However, attempts by the capitalists to proclaim a “community of interests” between the exploiters and the exploited are not usually successful. The class contradictions in capitalist society are becoming increasingly acute; the struggle of the working people for their economic and political rights is intensifying in all countries.

Under socialism the objective necessity of material stimulation of labor is conditioned by the level of development of productive forces that has been achieved, as well as by the nature of production relations and the nature of the social division of labor.

In the first phase of communism, under socialism, the socioeconomic heterogeneity of labor has not yet been overcome and labor has not yet become a prime necessity of life. At the same time the process of expanded socialist reproduction assumes an influx of production and office workers to all areas of public production without exception, regardless of working conditions. In this case, society has an interest not only in attracting people to work and providing all enterprises with the necessary workers but also in seeing that workers in all areas of production systematically raise their level of knowledge, improve their skills, and economize on social labor. In other words, it is in society’s interest that workers raise the individual and social productivity of labor. In the first phase of communism all of these tasks are accomplished through personal and collective material incentives and through scientifically substantiated wage differentiation, with due regard for such factors as worker skills and the difficulty of the work.

The Communist Party and the Soviet government attach great importance to material incentives for workers. Summarizing the experience of the first years of Soviet power, V. I. Lenin formulated the principle that it is possible to lead millions of people toward communism “not relying directly on enthusiasm, but aided by the enthusiasm engendered by the great revolution, and on the basis of personal interest, personal incentive, and business principles” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 44, p. 151). Personal material interest, in turn, influences many aspects of the socialist economy. Virtually all the factors on which growth in labor productivity depends are linked in some way to the personal and collective material interests of production workers.

Under socialism the principal form of material stimulation of the workers is the wage payment, which is made up of three interrelated and interdependent elements: the tariff system, labor rate fixing, and forms and systems of payment. The report of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the Twenty-fourth Congress of the party stated: “A major aspect of economic activity, on which the efficiency of production depends to a large extent, is the improvement of the system of payment for work. Conscientious, highly productive work must be encouraged and better remunerated. It would be expedient to provide enterprises with broader possibilities for giving incentives to those workers and collectives who make the largest contribution to the development of production, combine trades, and adopt a careful and thrifty attitude toward social wealth” (Materialy XXII’s”ezda KPSS, 1971, p. 70).

As the economic reforms go into effect, the interests of each worker are increasingly integrated with the interests of the enterprise collective and of society generally. Worker collectives have a growing material interest in improving the qualitative and quantitative indexes of their economic activity. The size of the material incentive fund and the fund for sociocultural measures and housing construction at each economically self-supporting enterprise depends on the actual results achieved by the enterprise collective. Bonus systems play a large part in providing material incentives for the personal initiative of workers. The material incentive fund is used to pay bonuses to production and office workers for fulfillment of particularly important production assignments and for actual achievements, as well as to provide assistance if needed. Approximately one-third of the fund is spent to pay bonuses to production and office workers on the basis of the results of the enterprise’s economic activity for the year. This system stimulates productive and continuing work by every working person at the particular enterprise.

A very important characteristic of the socialist economy is the combining of material and moral stimulation of labor. The increased material interest of workers should foster an expansion of moral stimuli to labor—this is what the party’s economic policy demands. Moral stimuli are based on socialist production relationships.

The understanding by the working people of a socialist society that their standard of living and the cultural development of the individual depend directly on the overall successes of the country’s national economy forms the basis of the new, conscious attitude toward labor under socialist conditions.

The development and expansion of socialist democracy and involvement of the working people in production management promote greater moral stimuli to labor.

The development of moral stimuli to labor is based on the common interests of each worker and collective of workers of the particular socialist enterprise. Raising the real income of each worker and increasing social consumption funds, which go for the construction of housing, children’s nursery schools and daycare centers, clubs and stadiums, houses of rest, recreation buildings, and the like, depend directly on successful production activity by the enterprise collective.

The collectives at Soviet enterprises and institutions, above all the party, Komsomol, and trade union organizations, play an enormous part in instilling a communist attitude toward labor and developing moral stimuli. The creation of a friendly, benevolent atmosphere that combines high and mutually respected standards with mutual assistance in work ensures that all members of the collective will have a real opportunity to study, improve their skills, and move ahead on the basis of past service; each worker can expect a solicitous attitude toward his talents and capabilities.

The combination of material and moral stimuli to labor and the activism of the builders of a new society manifest themselves in the appearance and development of different forms of socialist emulation. Lenin’s demands that socialist emulation be given broad publicity, that results be comparable, and that know-how be disseminated are very important in strengthening the moral stimulation of labor.

At every socialist enterprise and institution various forms of moral stimulation are employed, such as expressing gratitude, awarding Certificates of Honor, entering the name of a distinguished worker in the Honor Book or on the Honor Board, and awarding the title of best worker in a particular occupation. In many cases material incentives are added to moral incentives by giving distinguished workers valuable gifts and paying monetary bonuses. In all activities related to worker incentive the administration operates together with the trade union committee or in agreement with it. In some sectors of the national economy and in some republics, medals have been instituted for the best workers (such as the Honorary Railroad Worker medal or the Distinguished Worker in Socialist Emulation of the Ukrainian SSR). Every collective at a Soviet enterprise or institution has the right and broad opportunities to use various forms and methods of moral stimulation for its best workers.

A system of national incentives for workers who have distinguished themselves has taken shape in the USSR. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awards orders and medals to production leaders and innovators: production workers, engineers, technicians, office workers, and workers in science and culture. The highest distinction for working people in the USSR is the title Hero of Socialist Labor. In 1974 the following awards were instituted: Order of Labor Glory with three classes, for production workers and kolkhoz members for long years of selfless, highly productive labor at one enterprise, and the Veteran of Labor Medal. The Lenin Prize and State Prize are awarded for major achievements in the development of production, science and technology, culture, and art.

The harmonious combination of material and moral stimuli ensures that it will be possible to make full use of those advantages inherent in the system of socialist production relations, advantages that guarantee the rapid development of productive forces and the creation of the material and technical base of communism.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, ch. 8, pp. 274-86, chs. 17-20, pp. 545-75.
Lenin, V. I. “K chetyrekhletnei godovishchine Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 44.
Materialy XXIV’s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
Kapustin, E. I. Kachestvo truda i zarabotnaia plata. Moscow, 1964.
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Manevich, E. L. Material’noe i moral’noe stimulirovanie truda. Moscow, 1971.
Gruzinov, V. P. Material’noe stimulirovanie truda v stranakh sotsializma. Moscow, 1968.
Sukharevskii, B. M. Stimulirovanie proizvodstva i ekonomika sotsializma. Moscow, 1968.
Shkurko, S. I. Material’noe stimulirovanie v novykh usloviiakh khoziaistvovaniia. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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