Deng Xiaoping

Adhere to the Principle “To Each According To His Work”


Spoken: March 28, 1978
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


I have read the article, “Implement the Socialist Principle `To Each According to His Work’ ”, drafted by the Office of Research on Political Affairs under the State Council. It’s a good article, and it explains why the principle discussed is socialist, not capitalist. But it still needs some revision to make clear how the principle applies to current practical problems.

We must adhere to this socialist principle which calls for distribution according to the quantity and quality of an individual’s work. In accordance with this principle, a person’s grade on the pay scale is determined mainly by his performance on the job, his technical level and his actual contribution. Political attitude should also be taken into account, but it must be made clear that a good political attitude should find expression mainly in a good performance in socialist labour and a greater contribution to society. If, in handling distribution, we judged mainly on the basis of a person’s politics rather than on the basis of his work, that would mean we were following the principle “to each according to his politics” rather than “to each according to his work”. In short, distribution should be made only according to a person’s work, not according to his politics or his seniority.

We are following a policy of low pay, and will continue doing so for a considerable time to come. At present, the maximum monthly pay for a worker of Grade 8 [the highest grade at present] is a little over 100 yuan. In the future, as production expands, there will gradually be more promotions to higher grades on the pay scale, and the amount of pay accruing to each grade will also be increased. Today, salaries for primary school teachers are too low. The work of good primary school teachers is quite onerous, so their salaries should be raised. In future, those primary school teachers who have done an excellent job may be classified as special-grade on the pay scale. The special-grade system should be introduced in all trades and professions so as to encourage people to devote their entire lives to one line of work.

It is imperative to institute a system for the evaluation of work. The evaluations must be strict, comprehensive and regular, and they should be made in all trades and professions. In the future, promotion on the pay scale will be based on the result of these evaluations. Those who reach the required standard will be upgraded and may even jump grades. Those who do not won’t be promoted.

We must have rewards and penalties, and the criteria must be perfectly clear. Those whose work is evaluated as good should be paid at a different rate from those who have done poorly. Our general policy is to place moral encouragement first, material incentives second. The awarding of medals and certificates of merit constitutes moral encouragement and represents a political honour. This is essential. However, material incentives cannot be dispensed with either. All related measures which have proved effective in the past should be restored. The bonus system should also be reinstated. Money awards should be given to those who have made special contributions, including inventors and innovators. As for persons who have scored major achievements in scientific research, in addition to being given awards for their inventions or innovations, they should be promoted on the pay scale. On the other hand, if a person has no achievement to his credit after several years’ effort, he should be asked to switch to some other occupation. According to a decision recently made in Romania, a somewhat higher remuneration will be given to cadres and workers in factories which do good work, while those in factories which do poorer work will be docked. This makes a clear distinction between reward and penalty. The system of making additional payments to writers and artists for articles, etc. should be restored, with some modifications in the light of the new situation.

There is still a lot to be done to implement the principle “to each according to his work”. Some problems must be solved step by step, through investigation and study. Some former practices should be restored, and some new ones introduced. The point of all this is to encourage people to make progress.

(Excerpt from a talk to leading members of the Office of Research on Political Affairs under the State Council.)