Posts Tagged ‘Maslow’

Time for socialists to rethink the role of government

12/03/2013, 04:48:43 PM

by Robin Thorpe

In December 2011 I wrote a piece for Uncut on the subject of how we address the meaning of socialism today and in the future. In this piece I discussed the notion of solidarity and how Leo Panitch describes this as meaning “transcending diversity” and not merely collating groups of ethnically or culturally similar people. I was reminded of this article and a few of the comments by several recent events.

The first of these was a training course in which the trainer presented Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This made me think of the following comment by Amber Star;

“Here’s the dichotomy… the more successful a Labour government is in legislating for minimum wages, equality in the workplace, health & safety, maternity/ paternity leave, paid vacations & other workers’ rights, the less need there is for working people to join a Union &/or organise themselves”.

The fundamental basis of Maslow’s theory is that each of us is motivated by needs. “Only when the lower order needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied are we concerned with the higher order needs of influence and personal development” (

This notion has particular relevance in industry where employers can optimize the workers potential by ensuring that they have a secure standard of living, welfare etc and are therefore focused on doing their job. The other side of Maslow’s needs based model is that where systems of support that maintain lower order needs are removed, then an individual no longer has the motivation to achieve higher order needs.

This has particular resonance in the field of politics. Amber Star’s statement is superficially true but it misses the point that we need to maintain this safety net to enable us to succeed in life. Furthermore, successfully resolving these needs is not possible without collaboration.


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