from kibbutz to
March 12, 2004 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Private kibbutzim? The kibbutz, unique and successful socialist experiments in communal living, helped build a country. Has their time passed? Different wages for different jobs, deeding property to individual members, and privatization of production are being instituted at 100 of them, out of an estimated 270 total. In a world where selfishness and capitalism seem to rule, is there hope for communal living?
posted by amberglow (7 comments total)
 
...apparently not much, judging by the action on this thread...

"communal" sounds - and indeed is - a bit too all-or-nothing for most people - more hopeful is the attempt to strike a balance between private and shared space/property/responsibility. The cohousing movement is an example of this.
posted by dinsdale at 6:29 AM on March 13, 2004


In a world where selfishness and capitalism seem to rule...

As well they should.

Communal living is fine for those who want to engage in it, but it is hardly an ideal state for most people.
posted by davidmsc at 6:48 AM on March 13, 2004


Well, I was in a cooperative in Austin, TX that quite successfully ran its own housing and food service operations for fifty students, but nobody in his right mind would confuse the college years for wider reality.
posted by alumshubby at 7:00 AM on March 13, 2004


Communal living is fine for those who want to engage in it, but it is hardly an ideal state for most people.
I don't know about that--for eons people lived in communal arrangements (native americans, for just one example, didn't have private ownership or property rights, afaik)
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on March 13, 2004


I worked as a volunteer on a kibbutz twenty-odd years ago and even then the young people were leaving in droves. The problem was less the lack of career opportunities than the lack of social opportunities. After spending a few years in the army with contemporaries from all over the country, it was hard for many to go back to a community of a few hundred and know that would be their social circle for the rest of their lives.
posted by liam at 10:12 AM on March 13, 2004


It seems that the kibbutzim are suffering from small-town syndrome: how will you keep them on the farm after they've seen Pa-ree? I think there are difficulties in keeping communities stable, autonomous, and ideologically pure in the face of mass media and the siren song of global capitalism. We humans like shiny things, and it's hard to get around that. Mainstream Christianity has been facing declining church attendance for years as well - the social churn of the postmodern age.

It's funny, though - the kibbutzim had been steadily gaining in population until sometime in the 1990s. What changed? A general shift to the right in Israeli politics and/or culture? Also, how does one square a workforce of only 38% kibbutz members with socialism? Doesn't that automatically create class division between owner-workers and non-owner workers?

nobody in his right mind would confuse the college years for wider reality.

On the contrary, I think it would be easier for older people, with a little more practice in keeping schedules and taking responsibility for household upkeep, to maintain a decent standard of living. Parents would also have an added incentive in multiple-family life: it's easier to find babysitters and keep living costs down that way.
posted by skoosh at 12:53 PM on March 13, 2004


The cohousing movement is an example of this.

I love this idea. I looked at it briefly years ago, but decided it wasn't right for me back when I was single.

Now that I'm married and have a son, I may look into some of them again. I've lived in communes. More than one. (Parents were hippies, doncha know.) I've lived in coop housing in college, and had any number of houses and apartments where the number of tenants was more of a brownian equation than a fixed factor.

I couldn't go back to a full commune...I admit that I'm too attached to some of my "stuff"...but I could absolutely see my family in a co-op, tribal-village kind of thing. I think I'd be much happier there than I am trapped in this white picket peyton place we've found ourselves. I'm just saying, when you find yourself in a room with 15 other women...and you're the only one with your original tits, eyes and thighs....you've entered the trophy wife zone...and memories of communes in Austin start to look *real* good. ;)
posted by dejah420 at 7:08 PM on March 14, 2004


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