The rise of the capitalist kibbutz

From the Financial Times:

Once upon a time, the collectivist kibbutzim were declared to be utopias of socialism.

The link below is to an excellent post by Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker regarding the failure of the kibbutzim.

From Mr. Beckers post:

"Much has been written about the rejection of socialism by major powers like China and the former Soviet Union. But nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz."

"The kibbutz movement started in the early twentieth century in what was then Palestine by Zionist emigres from Europe who were idealistic and Utopian. Capitalism, industrialization, and the conventional family repelled these emigres. Kibbutzniks, as they were called, replace these fundamental aspects of modern societies with collective agriculture where all property was owned by the kibbutz, where adults were treated equally regardless of productivity, and they were rotated every few months among the various tasks that had to be performed on a farm, such as milking cows, planting crops, serving meals, and so forth. They considered the close-knit family to be a creation of capitalism, and substituted for that family structure communal dining, a fair amount of promiscuity, and separate communal living for all children, who were allowed only brief visits with their parents each day."

"The kibbutz movement was motivated in part by the Marxian dictum of "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs." By abolishing capitalistic organization, the founders expected members to live in contentment and harmony, and to work for the common good. However, from what I was told and could observe during my brief visit, there was not much harmony - jealousies abounded of those who were only a little better off...anger was also felt towards those who were considered slackers since they clearly lived off the labor of others."

From the Financial Times article:

"People wanted more control over their own lives and economics. They wanted to make their own decisions, and have their own car and their own telephone. It is very difficult to lives this strong communal life. It is very tiring."

"Israeli society had always looked to the kibbutzniks as an elite group. But now they were regarded as a mere interest group that depended on money from the state."

"People respond to incentives. We are happy to work hard for our own quality of life, we like our independence..It's all about human nature - and a socialist system like the kibbutz does not fit human nature."



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