Finally, a quick word about distribution. How should goods be allocated to individuals? Marx’s dictum that each would contribute according to their ability, but receive according to need obviously anticipates a world in which everyone willingly pulls their weight—they do what they can. They do not raise questions about the return they are getting for their labour, or try to ensure some proportionality between input and output. Utopian? But this is how the family often works. You contribute what you reasonably can, and your needs are taken care of as far as this is possible.
The crunch question, of course, is what about those who refuse to contribute? If they fail to contribute according to ability, will communist society refuse them what they need? Marx does not discuss this, but I think that his official answer is that this question would not arise. Once labour is ‘life’s prime want’ who would refuse to work if they could? But the point can be pressed. Suppose there are people who just refuse to play the game. Presumably Marx should say that communist society would have to find a way of dealing with this issue, if it does arise, but it is not for him, from the standpoint of capitalist society, to tell them what to do.