Kibbutz: what are they, characteristics and history of these communities?
What are the kibbutz? Let's know the characteristics and functioning of these Jewish communities.
The communities known as kibbutz have been part of Israel's history for more than a century.
Let's dive into the history of these collective organizations to discover when they arose, for what reason and what are the peculiarities that make them a practically unique phenomenon today in society.
What are the kibbutz and what was their origin.
The kibbutz are communal organizations of agricultural character that are located in Israel.. They arose in the year 1909, being Degania the first kibbutz located in the current territory of this country, that at that time belonged to the Syria of the Ottoman Empire. Actually, following the criteria that characterize a kibbutz, Degania would be more in line with the description of a kvutza, a similar community but of smaller dimensions.
This first community was created by twelve Jews of Russian origin, who fled the revolution that was beginning in that country. This is how these ten men and two women founded Degania, the first of many kibbutz. The idea behind this type of organization was that of socialist Zionism developed by the Ukrainian thinker Dov Ber Borokhov.
In addition to Borokhov's ideas, the great promoter of Labor Zionism, which eventually crystallized in the kibbutz, was Aaron David Gordon. This ideologue drew his school of thought mainly from Leo Tolstoy. The main idea is that the freedom of a people is conditional on its ability to provide for its own sustenance. Implicit in this guideline is the control of agriculture.
Therefore, the basis of every kibbutz is the work of the land belonging to the communal farm, the basis of every kibbutz is the work of the land belonging to the communal farm, something that Jews could not do in Europe, since in most countries agricultural activities were forbidden.In most countries, agricultural activities were forbidden for Jews in Europe. A.D. Gordon concluded that the creation of a Jewish state of their own required the control of the land. This is how the kibbutz was the beginning of the creation of the state of Israel.
There was also the situation that most Jews were engaged in service sector activities, some worked in industry and very few had jobs related to primary activities such as agriculture. Borokhov knew that this trend would have to be reversed in order to gain control of the land and make the socialist revolution succeed. That is why agriculture aroused so much interest in these authors.
Main characteristics of the kibbutz and its communities
After having made a brief historical tour of the origin of the kibbutz, we will now focus on getting to know a little better the main postulates that were established to generate these collective farms.
The first characteristic that a kibbutz must have is the concept of collectivity. Everything that remains within this community belongs to all the members of the community.. From the land itself to the material possessions to the work itself and the fruits obtained through it.
At the beginning it was tried to be strict with this precept, but some conflicts made that the norm was slightly relaxed to allow that the members of the commune could individually possess some objects and also to count on a part of the salary for private use, apart from the needs of the kibbutz.
2. Importance of working the land
In the previous section we had already seen the absolute importance that the founders of the kibbutz attached to the work of the land itself. They were so strict with this precept that even some members of some communities were expelled that some members of some communities were even expelled because they were unwilling to work the land.. Over time, a certain laxity with respect to the rule has also been favored.
In fact, the kibbutz that have reached our days have been mostly those that, when the time came, focused on industrial development and thus achieved an economic success that guaranteed the viability of the farm.
Another of the central ideas of kibbutz operation is that the labor force should come from the members of the community itself. In other words, members own the means of production and at the same time represent the workers of the means of production.. When the state of Israel was founded, there were certain conflicts that had to do with following this rule.
This problem was generated by the idea that the workers had to be only the members of the communal farm, with no possibility of access to anyone from outside. The Israeli government saw this as an added difficulty for the nation's new citizens to find a job that would allow them to prosper, since access was limited to members of the kibbutz.
As with the previous rules, over time it has been modified and today it is permitted and in fact it is common for outside workers to perform tasks within the kibbutz in exchange for a salary.
4. Equal pay
Following the standards established for the activities carried out in the kibbutz, it was concluded that it was necessary to establish a policy of equal pay for all members of the kibbutz, it was concluded that it was necessary to establish a policy of equal pay for all members of the kibbutz, regardless of the work they were doing and the difficulty inherent in it.The policy should be equal pay for all members, regardless of the work they were doing and the difficulty inherent in it.
This does not mean that the salary is exactly the same for all, but that each member of the kibbutz receives an economic compensation according to his or her needs, especially in the case of having dependent children. Logically, this policy applies to workers belonging to the kibbutz but not to those coming from abroad.
5. Rotation of activities
Not only must the salary be equal, but the different tasks of the commune must be performed by all residents on a rotating basis. Therefore, each individual will not be permanently assigned a job, but everyone will gradually change activities, so that all kibbutz members are responsible for all jobs and there are no fixed positions.
An advantage of this system is that all individuals will acquire the knowledge and skills required for any given job, so that they will be easily replaceable in case of indisposition or any other eventuality.
6. Internal democracy
The list of kibbutz rules continues with an important point: there must be internal democracy in the community. This implies that any decision that affects the kibbutz, whether slightly or profoundly, must be decided by consensus among all those involved, must be decided by consensus among all those members of the group who wish to participate in the assembly convened for this purpose..
Therefore, it shall not be mandatory to participate in all decision-making, but it shall be a right to do so whenever the kibbutz member so decides.
The last of the rules that were proposed for the proper functioning of these communities is that the kibbutz should be governed by the Judaism of the Kibbutz. should be governed by cultural Judaism but without having religion as a central axis, which entails a process of secularization.which entails a process of secularization. This means that Jewish traditions and festivities in these communal farms were more focused on community life and agricultural activities than on religion itself.
The birth of the first children on the kibbutz brought with it a new situation that raised questions.. On the one hand, there was the question of equality of activities, so that women did not go to a level in which their main activity was the raising of children and on the contrary, they could continue to perform all the tasks of the farm, like the rest of the members.
To this end raising the children became a shared event for the whole kibbutz.. In this way, the generation of a child's own identity, beyond the impositions of their parents, was also encouraged. In fact, it was decided to create communal houses within the kibbutz where the children could live together, have recreational time and receive their education. They even slept there.
In charge of the children were people trained in nursing and also in education. Dependence on parental care was thus eliminated and the children became a shared responsibility of the entire community, including financially, as their maintenance was managed through the shared expenses of the kibbutz.
The studies showed that even with this methodology, the attachment the children felt to their mothers could not be replaced by that of a caregiver. They also discovered innate selfish behaviors, such as wanting to appropriate toys rather than share them, which led them to conclude that certain behaviors had innate origins.
Today, parenting norms parenting norms have also been changing, and so it is not uncommon for children to and therefore it is common for children to spend much more time with their parents compared to the dynamics that took place in the kibbutz a few decades ago.
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- Rábíń, A.Í. (2013). Growing up in the kibbutz. Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.
- Spiro, M.E. (2017). Gender and culture: Kibbutz women revisited. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group.
- Tiger, L., Shepher, J. (1975). Women in the kibbutz. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.