The Israeli kibbutz: From utopia to dystopia - Uri Zilbersheid

Despite their racism the kibbutzim did transform daily life. As Uri Zilbersheid says: private property and exploitation were apparently abolished; organizational aspects analogous to the state were also abolished; and labor was partially turned into non-instrumental activity. But, in the mid-1990s the kibbutzim began to dismantle their utopian society and to adopt a partially capitalist way of life. This article describes what happened.

Submitted by tolern on June 2, 2011

[Abstract: The Israeli Kibbutz has undoubtedly been one of the greatest utopian experiments in modern times. It should also be seen as part of the utopian tradition in Zionism. Utopia is in the first place a scheme for building a socially, economically and politically good society, in accordance with the supreme moral 'good'. Utopian visions, contrary to eschatological visions that seek to set aright the whole universe, including human society, do not transcend the possibilities of human nature. As such, they can become the content of social experiments. The Israeli kibbutzim constituted a radical transformation of human nature into a new, better nature: private property and exploitation were abolished; organizational aspects analogous to the state were also abolished; and labor was partially turned into non-instrumental activity. The Israeli welfare state created a supportive framework for the utopian experiment in the kibbutzim by reducing to power of the free market. In the mid-1990s the kibbutzim began, by their own free choice, to dismantle their utopian society and to adopt a partially capitalist way of life, thus changing their nature for the second time in a matter of 70-80 years. The destruction of the welfare state in Israel since the early 1980s has brought about - by encouraging non-utopian decisions - deep changes in kibbutz way of life: labor has become instrumental again; the 'state' has been introduced in the form of a professional management and a small community council that have replaced the traditional democratic bodies (the general assembly, etc.). The economic means, legally still common property, are controlled and abused by a small group that has encouraged the introduction of a differential wage system characterized by large gaps, which is all but exploitation. A relatively small stream in the kibbutz movement still adheres to the old, utopian way of life. Its fate depends to a large extent on the outcome of the struggle, led by this stream itself, to rebuild the country as a welfare state.]

The Israeli kibbutz has long been regarded as a utopian experiment that has been successful, i.e. as an attempt to build a form of life-that can be characterized as utopian-that has turned into reality most of the envisaged utopian features and gained viable durability. The first kibbutz (Degania) that was established in 1910 soon became the birthplace of a unique utopian movement, which belonged to the larger stream of Socialist Zionism; the latter itself was part of the broader - socioeconomically very diverse - Zionist movement. The kibbutz movement grew steadily within successive state frameworks: the Ottoman Empire until its fall in 1918, the English rule from 1918 to 1948 (most of the time as the English Mandate of Palestine) and the State of Israel since 1948. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), at the end of 2004, 116,300 people lived in 266 kibbutzim (and in addition four new 'urban kibbutzim', i.e. kibbutzim that have beenestablished in recent years within towns).1 The kibbutz movement maintained its utopian character almost entirely for some 80 years. An internal revolution that began in the mid-1990s, and may be defined as 'non-utopian' or even as 'dystopian', has largely changed the socioeconomic and political landscape in the kibbutzim: utopianism has ceased to characterize the kibbutz movement as a whole. Thirty-two per cent of kibbutzim still adhere to the original, utopian way of life.2 These grouped themselves, at the end of 2006, as the Communal Staff, a submovement within the kibbutz movement; an inner circle of this submovement, or 28 kibbutzim, is additionally organized as the more ideological Communal Stream (or Egalitarian Stream). However, a large majority of the kibbutzim have adopted a new way of life that has been officially defined as the New Kibbutz, and unofficially as the 'differential kibbutz'. The New Kibbutz is characterized by an uneven distribution of wealth, often to a large degree, which is all but a mode of exploitation (as will be later explained in more detail), and the use of legal arrangements, above all the old form of common property, as a means for securing the existence of the new, exploitative system. The New Kibbutz, undoubtedly a misleading term, is the social phenomenon that will be analyzed in this article.

The rise of the New Kibbutz is connected, to a certain degree, with the socioeconomic and political processes that have taken place in Israel since the 1980s, namely the rise of neoliberalism, the partial destruction of the welfare state, and the decline of the labor movement and its political parties. However, social and political processes are not natural, evolutionary processes; their direction is determined by normative decisions and political struggles, and individuals and groups can either join their dominant direction or try to oppose or change it at different levels - local, national or international. Sometimes the ability to oppose such 'processes' is very limited, as the forces furthering them are very powerful, both economically and politically. However, the existence of the Egalitarian Stream within the kibbutz movement suggests that the rise of the New Kibbutz has mainly been a free choice, and not a decision that has been imposed upon the kibbutzim by superior economic and political forces or by as-if-natural social and political circumstances; that is, this rise has rather stemmed from a decision that essentially could have been avoided. The study of the New Kibbutz is therefore a study of a normative choice to build a society that is not utopian any more; as will be shown, in many aspects it is a conscious choice to build a bad society.

As a utopian way of life, the Israeli kibbutzim have been part of the general utopian tradition, but also part of the Zionist utopian tradition. The last tradition, not large in its scope, culminated in the development of the kibbutzim, who transformed a mainly intellectual trend in Zionism into a practical one. Not typical of utopian experiments, the kibbutzim played, as a matter of political choice, a central role in the Socialist Zionist Movement, which became the leading force in Zionism in the 1930s and maintained that position in the first three decades of the existence of the state of Israel (established in 1948).

We will first discuss the term 'utopianism' in order to understand better the Israeli kibbutz and its place in the general and Zionist utopian tradition. Secondly, we will present and analyze the different utopian dimensions of the kibbutz as they existed in the 'golden age' of the kibbutz. Thirdly, we will discuss the different non-utopian, or even dystopian, aspects of the New Kibbutz, comparing them with the utopian aspects of the traditional kibbutz. The grounds for the rise of the 'differential kibbutz' will be discussed in due place - not as a natural process and its results, but rather as 'circumstances' that have 'encouraged' a certain choice, not determined an unavoidable direction of action.

Some Aspects of the Concept of Utopia and the Place of the Kibbutz in the General and Zionist Utopian Tradition

Utopian Thinking in General

When we take upon ourselves the task of defining utopianism, we should use Thomas More's Utopia as the point of departure. This unique work, published in 1516, has laid in modern times the foundations for a new literary genre that is different in scope and content from other genres whose subject is the ideal society. Socialist experiments, such as the Israeli kibbutzim, were defined as utopian, because their visions, and their way of life, seemed to show similarity to the visions presented by works belonging to this genre.

Utopia is in the first place a scheme - created by an imaginative mind, but firmly anchored in real dimensions of life-for building a good society, in accordance with the conventional meaning of the concept 'good', i.e. its meaning as fully respecting the fellow human being as such, namely regarding and treating him or her as a subject, as a being acting consciously (consciously shaping its activity), and not as an object, not as an entity whose subjectivity is just a secondary, unsubstantial attribute, which does not determine its activity. Utopian visions are characterized by giving the purely moral demand, which I may call the 'Kantian demand', a social,economic and political form-thus transforming a purely moral demand for a good society into an ideal socioeconomic and political scheme for such a society. A good society, a society in which pure morality has been given a socioeconomic and political form, is a society without any form of economic exploitation and political suppression, i.e. a society that has abolished the relationship of domination in all its forms, that is, the relationship which reduces, to a small or large extent, the subjectivity (the attribute of being a subject, an entity consciously determining its mode of activity) of the majority of human beings. Utopian visions often outline ways of life, or forms of activities, the essence of which is the liberation of human beings from their submission under anonymous, as-if-natural socioeconomic forces, such as the rigid division of labor or the market. The liberation from those forces enables human beings to realize the human essence to the full. Utopia, a socioeconomically and politically good society, which abolishes all forms of economic and political domination, direct and indirect, is therefore essentially an ideal socialist scheme.

Second, utopia is a scheme for a better society that looks unrealistic from the standpoint of current social thinking. This characteristic distinguishes it from other socialist schemes that do not demand, for example, the abolition of the state and all forms of governmental hierarchy. However, considering the possibilities of human nature, there is nothing that prevents in principle the realization of that scheme. The impossibility here is not objective but solely subjective.

Human nature is essentially historical. Humans, contrary to animals, permanently change their needs, capabilities and social relations. Humans have no constant nature, nor do they have a nature that is changed by the evolutionary processes only, without their knowing participation in bringing about the changes. If there is no historical conception of human nature, then there is no utopia. The great adversaries of authentic utopian thinking argue that humans have constant nature. Thus, all humans are characterized by primary, unchangeable egoism, and human society is therefore necessarily organized as different forms of exploitation and economic competition. All social formations, from slavery to capitalism, are all but manifestations of the same, unchangeable human nature. In conceiving of human nature as historical, utopian thinking does not stand alone. Non-utopian socialist thinking shares the same historical world view. With no belief in the historicity of human nature, there is no socialism! The difference between the two forms of socialist thinking is a matter of degree: utopian thinking is more radical regarding the possibilities of human nature. Thus, utopian visions may go so far as to envisage the abolition of the division of labor, the full or partial transformation of productive activity into non-instrumental, artistic activity, and the complete abolition of all forms of exploitation and domination.

Utopia does not transcend - by uncritical imaginative thinking - the possibilities of human historical nature, i.e. it is not a biological or psychological fantasy. A scheme for building a society based on common ownership of the means of production and the democratic regulation of production at all levels and on the abolition of the state does not contradict the possibilities of human-historical-nature. Nor does a scheme for the abolition of the division of labor and for turning productive activity into non-instrumental, creative activity contradict the potentials of our historical nature. On the other hand, visions that portray a human society, in which death and all kinds of illness and all kinds of sorrow and mental sufferings have ceased to exist, contradict the very possibilities of human nature. Such human eschatological visions are often integral part of cosmic eschatological visions that seek to put the Creation aright - to transform a defective universe, as it was originally created by God, and make a perfect one. With respect to human nature, such visions go beyond the biologically and mentally possible. As such they do not belong to utopian thought. Martin Buber writes in his Paths in Utopia that the utopian vision confines itself to putting aright human society by humans themselves, whereas the eschatological vision views the act of putting the humankind aright as an integral part of a cosmic (namely divine) action that will put aright the whole universe. In the action of putting aright the Creation, 'the crucial act is done from above'.3

It should be emphasized that utopian visions and schemes presume that the ordinary, or average, human being is capable of achieving the highest degree of human perfection and do not consider such an achievement the privilege of a small minority.4

Utopian visions have often been put into practice, i.e. people believing in them have tried to realize them. Utopian experiments, such as the many communes that have been built, and often dismantled, in America from the 18th century to the present and the kibbutzim in Israel, can take place, seemingly contrary to all odds, as they do not contradict in principle the possibilities of human nature.

We can distinguish between two attitudes regarding the realization of the utopian vision. The first attitude suggests that the realization of the utopian vision should begin here and now, without any interim stage that is supposed to create the preconditions for transforming the utopian vision into reality. It presumes that such preconditions are unnecessary, and that the radical change in human nature can take place immediately by means of free decision of those human beings that are voluntarily involved in the radical social transformation. The second attitude suggests that an interim stage, often a long one, should precede the radical transformation. To the first attitude belong the first utopian visionaries, such as Thomas More, Francis Bacon and Thomas Campanella, and such thinkers as Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Robert Owen, Peter Kropotkin, Gustav Landauer, and the Zionist philosopher Aaron David Gordon. To this utopian school we can also add the Israeli kibbutzim as they existed from the second decade of the 20th century until the mid-1990s, when they began, by their own free choice, to dismantle their utopian society and to adopt a partially capitalist way of life (thus changing their nature for the second time in a matter of 70 to 80 years), and many communes that existed in the past, or exist in the present, in different parts of the world. However, the kibbutzim also belong in a certain way to the second attitude.

The most conspicuous representative of the second attitude is Karl Marx. His picture of communism is undoubtedly utopian. Its main pillars are the 'abolition of labor' (also defined as the 'abolition of industry'), namely the transformation of production into non-instrumental activity, the abolition of the division of labor, the abolition of private property, and the abolition of the state. Actually, the centrality of the abolition of labor, with which the other abolitions are intrinsically connected, makes Marx's communist vision much more utopian than the visions of such utopists as Proudhon or Robert Owen, and even more utopian than the schemes of the first utopists who created and developed the literary genre of utopianism. However, Marx believed that the radical change in human nature he envisaged cannot happen at once, and that an interim stage should precede the utopian stage. This gradualist approach is the basis of his theory of revolution. Thus, the interim stage should include such measures as partial state ownership of economic means (land, financial capital, and the means of transportation would be nationalized, while industrial and commercial capital and small businesses of all kinds, including peasantry, would not be nationalized), elements of democratically planned economy, and universal social services, e.g. free education in public schools. The establishment of this stage would be the creation of the preconditions for the utopian, communist society. Within this stage that today would be classified as a form of the welfare state there would gradually emerge new human beings for whom the communist way of life would be a prime need.

The kibbutzim supported the establishment of a welfare state not so much as an interim stage out of which a new, utopian society will emerge in Israel, but much more as a good arrangement for the Israeli society as whole that will also be supportive of the utopian experiment in the kibbutzim themselves.

The Utopian Tradition in Zionism

Strictly seen, Zionism has not produced many utopias. Rachel Elboim-Dror classifies, in her panoramic book Yesterday's Tomorrow,5 as Zionist utopias different messianic visions that were composed by 19th-century ultra-orthodox religious Zionist heralds, who envisaged Zionism as the revival of Jewish religious law. She also defines as utopias futuristic visions that describe the Land of Israel, at that time - namely in the 19th century - thinly populated and economically backward, as a modern, cultivated, populous and economically prosperous country, the result of a hundred years or more of Zionist enterprise. I would suggest that she sometimes applies the term 'utopianism' indiscriminately, blurring the boundary between utopian and other kinds of future visions. Even when some socioeconomic arrangements that should be seen as components of a 'welfare state', such as free education and free health care and state ownership of economic means, are included in such messianic and futuristic visions, this does not turn these visions into utopias. Thus, for example, Looking Ahead: Twentieth Century Happenings, written by the American orthodox rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes (published in 1899), envisages a religious revival of humankind - preceded by an apocalyptic war between Christianity, or the forces of Good, and Islam, or the forces of Evil - that culminates in a Jewish religious revival of the Land of Israel. This revival, characterized by the universal belief in God and the supreme political rule of the priests, maintains the capitalist order and inequality between men and women, while mitigating them by some 'welfare state' and charity arrangements, such as state ownership of means of transport (railways and other 'transit lines') and means of communication (telegraph, telephone, post), supply of water and electricity by the state, compulsory, general and religious, education, and state pensions, and 'benefit societies' for the poor.6 This and other such visions, which include apocalyptic dimensions, cannot be regarded as utopian, not even partially; as they don't entertain, within the imaginary apocalyptic framework, a radical change in human nature characterized by the abolition of all forms of exploitation and domination, the authors of which are humans themselves.

Moses Hess's Rome and Jerusalem: The Last National Question (written in German and published in 1862) is the first utopia in the strict sense in the history of Zionism. Hess envisions Zionism as the establishment of socialist associations (Gesellschaften) in all economic fields, i.e. agriculture, industry and commerce (distribution).7 This socialist revival of the Jewish people in its old land would be an integral part of the socialist revival of humankind that would bring about the abolition of all forms of exploitation and domination and establish material and cultural equality between all nations and races. In other works, which are usually not included in his Zionist writings, other dimensions of Hess's utopianism find expression. Thus, he speaks of communism, the highest stage of the socialist revival of humanity, as a social formation characterized by 'free human activities that cease to be "labor" and are completely identical with "pleasure" (Genu)'.8 This transformation of production into non-instrumental activity, also defined as the 'disappearance' of the 'antithesis between labor and pleasure',9 is the culmination of the reconciliation between humankind and nature (the exploitation of nature, inherent in instrumental production, has always been connected with the exploitation of one's fellow human being).

Elchanan Lev Levinski's A Journey to the Land of Israel in the Year 2040 (written in Hebrew and published in 1892) can be seen as the second classical utopia in the history of Zionism. His vision is sometimes vague and self-contradictory, and the changes in human nature he envisages often lack the radicalism so typical of utopianism. Nevertheless, several classical utopian features are discernable in his work. Although all members of the new Jewish society established in the Land of Israel own private property, large property is not allowed to be accumulated, and each individual owns economic means, mostly in the form of a small farm. Thus, exploitation is substantially reduced: 'the most terrible war, the war between labor and capital', would come to an end, and 'peace and tranquility [would dominate the relations] between them'.10 In the new - largely modern - agrarian society, education at all levels and health care are free. The government owns the means of transport (railways and trains, steamships and zeppelins), as well as communication (telegraph and telephone) and the raw material industry. Levinski suggests that the new society should foster as political and economic leaders persons who are paragons of virtue, i.e. who have no will to power and easily return to their smallholdings - each to 'his field and plough' - after having served the public in governmental roles.

A third Zionist utopia is that of Nachman Syrkin, one of the founders of Socialist Zionism. In his book The Jewish Question and the Jews' Socialist State (published in German in 1898 under the pseudonym Ben Elieser) he first defines as utopia 'any social scheme of some individual, which either contradicts the general trend of the [social] aspirations of human beings [in a certain period] or lacks adequate motives for being realized within society'.11 Obviously this definition was intended to prevent the impression that his work was a utopia. However, his vision is utopian by its very nature. Thus, he envisages the rejuvenation of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel (or in some other territory) as the establishment of a commonwealth of socialist associations, which are shaped as co-operatives based on non-differential collective ownership of the economic means (i.e. the ownership is not divided into definite shares that are allocated to the members). The democratic and minimal management of this commonwealth regulates only its economic affairs. As a result, 'the state becomes redundant [Der Staat wird berflssig]; it is replaced by an association of free producers'.12 Syrkin also envisages the abolition of the distinction between town and country. Economically and culturally, this abolition would take the form of convergence of agriculture and industry, described by him as building culturally and scientifically highly developed large industrial villages.13

Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, is the fourth classical utopist in the history of Zionism. His utopia, published in the utopian novel Old-New Land in 1902, preceded in several years the birth of the kibbutzim. His utopia undoubtedly belongs to the second attitude, or school, regarding the realization of the utopian vision. Like Marx, he divides the process of the social renewal into two stages: the first stage, which can be characterized as a welfare state, and the second stage, which is utopian in its very nature. The first stage finds expression in The Jews' State and the Diaries; and the second stage is mainly presented in the novel Old-New Land. There is considerable similarity between the first stage in Herzl's vision and that stage in Marx's theory of revolution. According to Herzl the first stage should include such measures as the nationalization of financial means (banks and the stock exchange), insurance companies, major means of transport (railroads, trains, water canals, ships, etc.), along with the raw-materials industry, and introducing free education at all levels. The utopian stage includes the establishment of a nationwide federation of co-operatives, with different degrees of common ownership, the abolition of the economic competition, the abolition of the state, and the creation of a new, artistic mode of productive activity. With regard to the abolition of the state, we read in Old-New Land: 'We are not a state [Wir sind kein Staat], but a large cooperative society ...'.14 That Herzl, the 'father of the [Jewish] state', had a dream of abolishing the state is mostly ignored in the Zionist historiography.

The rise of the Israeli kibbutzim since the establishment of the first kibbutz in 1909 was a major development in Zionist utopianism. The kibbutzim were a unique utopian phenomenon characterized by the interwoven development of praxis and theory. Different utopian aspects that find expression in European and American utopian visions and in Zionist utopias were integrated into the kibbutz life: common ownership of the means of production; the abolition of the wage system; shaping productive activity, at least partially, as non-instrumental activity; the partial abolition of the division of labor; the democratic regulation of production; and the - internal - abolition of the state, i.e. of institutions analogous to the state.

The kibbutzim basically belong to the first school regarding the realization of the utopian vision. However, in a certain way they also belong to the second school, whose main exponent was Karl Marx. Thus, on the one hand, they began realizing the utopian vision immediately, here and now, without going through a - short or long - interim stage. Every new kibbutz that was built before and after the establishment of the state of Israel usually immediately adopted the major utopian features that characterized all the kibbutzim until the mid-1980s. People who established a kibbutz began at once to live according to a new, utopian mode of life. By choosing to live in a kibbutz they consciously opted for changing their nature, both individually and as a community. On the other hand, the kibbutzim, playing a leading role in the Israeli labor movement, which was the major political force in Israel until the late 1970s, were also very active in establishing and furthering the system of the welfare state in Israel, thus creating a supportive socioeconomic environment that helped them exist and flourish. The welfare state did not function in this regard as an interim stage in which new humans would develop, as Marx and Herzl envisaged, but rather as a system that substantially reduced the pressure of capitalism, thus helping the people in the kibbutzim, a small minority in Israeli society, to live as new human beings. The partially planned economy, which included subsidies for agriculture, enabled the kibbutzim to be viable and - mostly - successful economic units, thus making the choice to live in a kibbutz, i.e. in an existing utopia, an easier matter. The partial destruction of the Israeli welfare state that has taken place since the 1980s has created a much less favorable environment for the kibbutzim. But the existence of the Egalitarian Stream suggests that this pressure has not been the reason, even if it has been a catalyst, for the emergence of the New Kibbutz.

Utopian Aspects in the Kibbutz

The Abolition of Private Property and Wage System

A major feature of the kibbutzim was, from the very beginning, the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and the introduction of common ownership of economic means, which I may define as communal, or collective, ownership. Even major objects of consumption, most notably apartments and cars, ceased to be private property and became part of the communal property; as such they were individually used, or consumed, but not individually owned. Water and electricity, as another example, were consumed by the families individually but were purchased and supplied by the kibbutz as a whole. No wage system existed, and there was no direct connection between work and remuneration. That is, the economic role or office of the kibbutz member and the amount of work they performed were not connected with any payment (high or low salary) reflecting a certain rank or performance. Work was essentially collective activity, i.e. it was not perceived as a social combination of the activities of unrelated individuals pursuing different interests, as work is organized in a capitalist enterprise, but rather as common activity expressing a common will. Work itself was only partially perceived and shaped as a means to an end - the final product or the profit to be gained from its sale. As will be explained later, work was perceived and shaped, at least partially, as creative activity that is an end in itself. Consumption should have satisfied two kinds of needs: general human needs, i.e. needs shared by all members (housing, food, clothing, education), and particular intellectual needs, such as the needs, in materials, space and time, of an artist (painter, sculptor, professional photographer, and musician), an author, a scientist, an athlete, etc. The standard of living and the degree of satisfying particular intellectual needs were determined by the degree of productivity, and rose permanently. The classical socialist proverb - 'from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her needs' - was only partially true, as work was not perceived as a pure means to an end, i.e. as necessary activity, in the execution of which each member should participate according to their intellectual and physical professional skills. When activity is creative in its nature, obligatory labor expressing different capabilities, or skills, becomes irrelevant. In this regard, the kibbutzim even transcended utopian socialist visions that still perceive work as a sheer means to an end but sever the connection between work and remuneration.

The form of ownership that developed in the kibbutzim was not typical of that of co-operative societies. We are familiar with different kinds of producers' co-operatives. We should mention that there are co-operatives in which the ownership of the means of production and of the means of distribution is entirely common, with the members holding no shares representing portions of the common property, and each member receiving a wage that is divided into two parts: an equal basic wage, which expresses the individual's status as an equal co-owner and co-producer, and an additional wage, essentially differential, which expresses their personal contribution to production according to their role as a manager or a simple worker or their personal performance (output). Another structure of co-operative societies is based on the conception of a complex common ownership, in which the portion of ownership of each member is recognizable and translated into a share or shares. The portions of ownership are not necessarily equal, although the differences cannot be large. I will define this system as differential common ownership. Accordingly, a portion of the revenues is recognized as profit to be distributed between the members according to the exact share of each member in the ownership, either in the form of profit-sharing beyond the wage payment or as part of the wage.

As we will see later, by legally maintaining the old form of communal (collective) ownership and rejecting the idea of co-operative ownership in one of its two major forms, the differential kibbutzim have created a system that enables, legally and practically, the development of large inequality, or exploitation.

Non-instrumental Production

The idea of a new form of production that would radically differ from the hitherto mode of production has been a major feature of many utopian visions. We find the idea in a vague form in Thomas More's Utopia. Charles Fourier envisaged the transformation of production into a new form of activity that would be a kind of play. Moses Hess, as we have seen, suggested that in communism production would cease to be labor in the usual sense and become pleasant activity that would not be essentially different from activities outside the realm of production, such as play and artistic activity. Similarly, at the core of the highest phase of communist society, i.e. the utopian social phase, as it appears in Marx's writings, is the abolition of labor, i.e. the transformation of production into a new form of activity that would be artistic in its very essence. The more famous abolition of private property, the well-known abolition of the state and the lesser-known abolition of the division of labor, are all predicated upon the abolition of labor, as will be later explained in relation to the abolition of exploitation.

The utopian vision of new productive activity that would constitute a radical change of the nature of human production is based on the distinction between two kinds of human activity: instrumental and non-instrumental activity. Any activity of the first kind is a means to an end, i.e. an activity that serves as a tool, as an instrument, for achieving a certain purpose outside itself. Such activity is a necessary mediator between the subject and its purpose. Activity of this kind is subject to efficiency criteria; that is, its purpose should be achieved in the shortest way possible with the least investment of resources and energy. Such activity may be foregone, if the purpose can be achieved without it. Following Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, we refer in modern philosophy to such activity as 'instrumental activity'.

Activity of the second kind is that which is desired and performed for its own sake, that is, the activity itself is the doer's purpose. Such activity is not a means to an end, i.e. it is not perceived as a tool, as an instrument, for achieving another aim outside itself. Being the aim itself of the subject doing it, such activity is not subject to efficiency criteria and may be performed at will. Marx terms such activity 'self-purpose' (Selbstzweck). We may term such activity 'non-instrumental activity'. For many utopists, the model of such activity is artistic activity. When I play the violin, draw a picture or sculpt a statue, my activity is done for its own sake, not as a means to an end.

Drawing this distinction between two kinds of human activity, utopianism follows Aristotle. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses the relationship between activities and their ends. After describing the end as the good at which every activity aims, he says: 'But a certain difference is found among ends; some are activities; others are products apart from the activities that produce them. Where there are ends apart from the actions, it is the nature of the results to be more valuable than the activities.'15 Activity that is done for its own sake and is desirable in itself is the supreme good and the fulfillment of happiness. Aristotle had a hard time clarifying this distinction. For him, it seems, if an activity has a tangible result, i.e. it creates a material product, or a certain state or condition, such as health, wealth or welfare, it is a means to an end, namely instrumental activity. It follows that every material activity, either productive or artistic (both subsumed by him under the term 'poiesis,' which is often translated into English as 'production' in a broad sense), is instrumental. Aristotle therefore concludes in the Nichomachean Ethics that only philosophical activity is not instrumental, 'for nothing arises from it apart from contemplation, while from practical activities we gain much or little apart from the action.'16

Utopian thinking has overcome Aristotle's difficulties, and could characterize certain material activities, especially those that are artistic in their nature, as non-instrumental, by shifting the emphasis from the result to the activity itself, namely to the relationship between the subject and its activity. Thus, when I draw a picture, my activity is not a means, since I don't subject it to efficiency criteria, but rather a path toward an end that is itself an end. Applying the distinction between two kinds of human activity to human production, utopianism differentiates between two kinds of the latter: productive activity that is a means to an end, namely instrumental production, and productive activity that bears an artistic character (i.e. it is an end in itself) - non-instrumental production. In the utopian society the latter would be the dominant or sole mode of production.

Non-instrumental production had always been integral to kibbutz life. The idea was conceptualized as the 'self-value of work', that is, work as an end in itself, and was realized, inter alia, by maintaining productive branches, in which the members found satisfaction at the mode of their activity, often contrary to pure economic considerations. Aaron David Gordon (1856-1922), a philosopher who lived in the nascent kibbutz movement, gave expression in his writings to the new mode of activity that became an important aspect of production in the kibbutzim at an early sage of their history. Distinguishing between 'creation' and 'action', he wrote, contrasting the kibbutzim with other practical forms of the Zionist movement, namely other modes of economic organization and activity, that were also established at that time in the Land of Israel by Jewish emigrants:

The difference between us and our rivals does not lie therein, as some suppose, that we are laborers while they are employers, but rather in our views on the work in the Yishuv [the Zionist Jewish community in the Land of Israel]. We regard this work as creation and they regard it as action. This small difference is the root of all great differences and sharp contrasts between us and them in our life as whole and in all our deeds. Even the basic difference between them and us-namely that we work and they do not work-stems from this prime difference. We are not laborers in a social sense, but rather workers in a national sense. We have come to work [in the Land of Israel] solely because we view the work that would bring about a [Jewish] national revival as creative work, and not because we have some socioeconomic conception.17

Adhering to the new, non-instrumental mode of production and practicing it as a way of life was also defined in the kibbutzim as the 'religion of work'. The term, which originally described the concept of work in the teaching of A.D. Gordon, also gives expression, in another way, to the idea that work should not be shaped and performed just as a means to an end but rather, as much as possible, as an end in itself. For the religious person the practice of the religious way of life is an end in itself, and-as such-self-fulfillment. Thus, work should be practiced as a way of self-fulfillment, not as an indispensable economic means.

The kibbutzim did practically abolish exploitation, but this success, I would suggest, was not only due to the abolition of private property. Common property has indeed been an important aspect of non-exploitative relations in small communities all over the world. However, common property is not an arrangement that brings about non-exploitative relations as its natural result. Common property is basically a legal arrangement, which helps humans to create and maintain social relations free from economic exploitation; but it does not create such relations. The normative decision to abolish exploitation can be realized by a complex of organizational arrangements and activities. Shaping production as non-instrumental activity is a major component of this complex. Thus, non-instrumental activity, while having a high value in itself, fosters and helps maintain non-exploitative relations.

Instrumental activity, as Marx and A.D. Gordon suggested, tends to bring about, or at least to strengthen, exploitation. Instrumental activity is not only a self-relationship - i.e. activity in which the subject uses their own self, their body and soul, as a means to an end-but a relationship with the outside world as well. In such activity the environment, or nature, is perceived and treated as a complex of means, in a form of tools and material, for achieving the final goal - the requested products. Nature is not perceived as something to be enjoyed in the process of production - for example, as diversified objects that may be experienced esthetically in an artistic mode of production. However, other human beings are part of the environment, part of nature, so they are viewed and treated as a means to an end, mainly as live tools. In this way, exploitation can develop as social reality. Exploitation is in its essence the use of the fellow human being as a means to an end, and this use ensues from instrumental production, or is enhanced by it. Marx, who believed, very radically, that all forms of exploitation ensue from instrumental production, said in this regard:

The whole of human servitude is involved in the relation of the worker to production, and all relations of servitude [slavery, feudalism, capitalism] are but modifications and consequences of this relation.18 By shaping their production as non-instrumental activity, humans substantially reduce the inner drive to exploit their fellow humans - a drive that is largely inherent in instrumental activity. It should be emphasized: what largely ensues from instrumental activity is the drive to exploit other human beings, not exploitation itself. Exploitation itself is a result of a normative decision. Anyway, by shaping work, at least partially, as non-instrumental activity, the kibbutzim not only turned work into a kind of self-fulfillment, but substantially reduced the inclination toward exploitation within their society.

The main criterion of instrumental production, as of every instrumental activity, is efficiency. This means that as many as possible products should be produced, or attained, in the shortest way possible and with the smallest investment of energy and resources. Modern production is subject to the criterion of efficiency, which, it is believed, guaranties high productivity. The kibbutzim, which deliberately gave up persistent application of this criterion, were nonetheless very productive. Labor productivity of the kibbutz industry was, over the 15 years from 1976 to 1990, on average, 17 per cent higher than labor productivity of the Israeli industry.19

Another aspect of the-partial-abolition of instrumental production in the kibbutzim was a partial abolition of the division of labor. This abolition should not be understood as the abolition of the economic branches, but rather as shaping the economy as a multifaceted whole enabling diverse creative activity. This abolition can also be understood as the possibility, in principle, to be active in different branches at different times and the inner ability, usually intrinsically connected with creativity, to change branches as a way of increasing satisfaction from work and enhancing the feeling of self-fulfillment in the economic domain. The multifarious economy built in the kibbutzim, in which branches were often maintained contrary to purely economic considerations, was traditionally one of the enigmatic aspects of the kibbutz economic way of life. Being termed 'mixed economy', it was often perceived in studies of kibbutz economics as a method of securing self-sufficiency or as a system ensuring the kibbutz economy against difficult times or crises, of national or international magnitude, in certain branches. While the first explanation cannot be accepted, as the kibbutzim never sought to be an economic autarky, the second explanation is undoubtedly of some truth. Thus, mainly in the 1960s and 1970s, but to a small degree even prior to that, the kibbutzim branched out from agriculture into manufacturing. This late industrialization undoubtedly increased the economic viability of the kibbutzim; nevertheless, the 'mixed economy' had never been a purely economic system, and even in times - as in the years of industrialization - when economic considerations gained more weight, branches continued to be maintained because of the satisfaction they offered to the kibbutz members. This aspect has become much more apparent since the rise of the 'differential kibbutz', the development of which has been connected with scarping out 'non-economic' branches.

Comprehensive Democracy or the Internal Abolition of the State

The kibbutzim developed a comprehensive democratic way of life that was a clear utopian feature of their society. We can define this democratic way of life, which encompassed both economic and social aspects of their life, as direct participatory democracy. This democracy found expression in certain institutions and activities. The first and most important institution was the General Assembly, i.e. the assembly of all kibbutz members, which usually convened once a week, and in which all the important decisions were made after a general debate. The assembly also functioned as a source of information for the members in all important matters. No important aspect of kibbutz life was hidden from the members.

The various committees that were active in all fields of life-culture (in general), feasts and festivities, education, higher education, economic matters, labor (in general), personal matters, sports, etc. - were another important institution, which enabled the members to participate in shaping their life in its various dimensions. In all branches of the kibbutz economy, decisions concerning the daily running of the branch were made by the members working in the branch. Sessions, both official and unofficial, of the branch workers were routine. Managerial rotation was a rigid principle. The various kibbutz committees and the branch sessions were a decentralized democratic process that was an important component of a large direct participatory democracy. Most of the members, if not all of them, could continuously participate in shaping different aspects of their society. If we define the state as a central body managing the public affairs, usually by means of a professional administration, without any continuous involvement of the people subject to this management, so the kibbutzim succeeded in abolishing the 'state', namely the bodies and modes of action analogous to the state.

The Abolition of Utopia

The Socioeconomic and Political Background

As we have said, the rise of the New Kibbutz has been connected, to a certain degree, with the socioeconomic and political processes that have taken place in Israel since the 1980s. Some of these processes are part of international processes. We may count here the rise of economic neoliberalism as a partially universal phenomenon, the decline of the welfare state, also a partially universal process that has been very intense in Israel, and the decline of the Israeli labor movement. That movement has ceased to be the major political force, or the leading power, in Israel since the end of 1970s. The decline of the Labor Party has not been just an electoral matter, namely the loss of political power it has sustained, but also an ideological decline. Thus, the Labor Party has adopted a neoliberal stance in national economic matters. But we cannot speak of general processes only. Some decisions that were made by the Israeli governments that consisted of both the conservative Likud and the Labor Party have directly affected the kibbutzim and other productive segments of the Israeli economy. Thus in the mid-1980s Israel was in a very dire economic situation that was caused by the neoliberal policy of the Likud-led government. A very high rate of inflation (more than 400 per cent), an economic stagnation, and a very high unemployment rate were the main aspects of that crisis. A government of national unity, in which the Labor Party was an equal partner, adopted a program for overcoming the crisis - a program that was the statist side of neoliberalism, i.e. it consisted of monetarist interventionism (and was actually a deliberate transfer of resources from the productive sector to the financial sector).20 The program focused on controlling inflation by freezing prices, wages and interest rates. As a result, the real interest rate for short-term credit rose in 1985 to a level of 100 per cent; in 1985 this rate was almost 30 per cent. The kibbutzim, who at that time borrowed money more than usual in order to ensure continuous production and full employment, became deeply indebted to the banks and were practically bankrupt. As a result of that debt crisis, which severely hurt the kibbutzim, those groups within the kibbutzim that advocated a deep change in the kibbutz way of life, namely giving up the traditional communal way of life and integrating capitalist elements in the kibbutz economy, increased and became considerably emboldened. The demand to abolish non-instrumental production and reduce democracy soon followed. As a matter of fact, those groups who advocated these changes did not support the efforts of the kibbutzim to gain - by a political decision at the national level, to be taken either by the government or by the Knesset (the parliament) - a substantial reduction of the debt owed by the them. A decade later, the banks and the government agreed to forgive two-thirds of the debt, acknowledging that it had been caused by the excessive interest rates levied on the kibbutzim. However, the debt forgiveness has not fully solved the problem, and the kibbutzim continue to serve an unfair debt. The kibbutzim have never fully recovered from the debt crisis of the 1980s and 1990s; moreover, while being weakened from that crisis, they have had to manage in a neoliberal environment. Nevertheless, as was said above, the dystopian changes in the kibbutzim have not been a result of a decision that was imposed on the kibbutzim by superior political and economic forces; nor have they been a result of a deterministic process that does not leave room for a free choice.

The changes have usually been advocated and introduced under the pretext of a dire economic situation that would be overcome by integrating capitalist elements into the kibbutz economy, and actually into kibbutz society as a whole.

The Introduction of a Differential Wage System and the Misuse of Communal Property

The introduction of a differential wage system has been a major change in the kibbutz way of life. The new course began in the mid-1990s and has since then been introduced in many kibbutzim, mostly in the 21st century. The introduction of the new system is defined as the establishment of a direct connection between labor, or economic contribution, and remuneration. Typically enough, the place of the kibbutz member in the economic hierarchy, that is, the office held by him, has become the main, and practically the sole, factor determining the salary level. There have developed two major systems of differential wage: in the first, which is much more prevalent, and was adopted by the end of 2005 by 59 per cent of the kibbutzim,21 remuneration is a full 'private' salary and all consumption is paid by the salary. This system is defined as the 'safety-net model', as in most of the kibbutzim that have adopted this system, by no means in all of them, there exists an arrangement, usually a special fund financed by an internal tax, that guarantees a minimum income for the disabled and unemployed. This income is $770 on average. In the second system, called the 'combined model', each member receives an amount of means for their consumption that consists of three components: a normative egalitarian component (that is, all the members get the same personal budget or the same sum of money); a slightly unequal component based on seniority, namely length of 'service' in the kibbutz; and a third, differential salary based on their individual contribution to the kibbutz economy, as measured by the office they hold. This model has been adopted by the end of 2005 by nine per cent of the kibbutzim.22 This model is often an interim stage on the way toward a full differential wage system.

Over the last decade, large social gaps have emerged in most of the differential kibbutzim. Thus, managers may earn $5,000-8,000 a month, or even more, whereas unskilled workers earn $800-1,000 a month (close to the legal minimum wage). The internal tax system, which is only partially progressive, reduces the gaps, but not to a large extent (contrary to the arguments of several researchers). According to a survey by Rosner, Palgi and Goldenberg, the average internal tax paid by a single member is $183. The highest total tax paid in any of the differential kibbutzim is about $372.23 I would suggest-contrary to the calculations of Rosner and his fellow researchers, who are inclined to underestimate the total sum earned by the top-salaried members-that the net income of the top-salaried members, usually managers, is five or six times that of the ordinary member, usually an unskilled laborer. Such vast differences are all but plunder of the common property by the top-salaried members-that is, they reflect exploitation. This exploitation can be substantially reduced by adopting the model of a producers' co-operative, in which the members would hold equal shares of the ownership of the means of production, thus receiving a substantial part of their income as a component reflecting their equal share in the ownership of the economic means. Only the second part of their income would be paid as a differential salary. Adherence to the legally common (communal, collective) property actually enables much larger exploitation than any legally less socialistic form of ownership. Thus, co-operative ownership, which is seemingly less socialistic, would be much fairer and less subject to exploitation.

The misuse of common property in the kibbutzim can be compared with the misuse of common property that took place in the countries of Soviet socialism. In those countries the means of production, which were owned commonly - legally in the form of state ownership, and not as equal shares held by all citizens - were practically managed by the high level of the Communist Party as its own property. Common property, if not legally defined and really managed as property equally owned and controlled by all community members, can easily become a means of exploitation, as was the case in Soviet socialism and as is the case in the differential kibbutzim. The deliberate misuse of communal property in the kibbutzim as a means for maintaining large wage gaps, which are all but exploitation, is what I define as a dystopian moment in the New Kibbutz-the deliberate building, by a leading group, of a bad society by a sophisticated distortion of the essence of common ownership.

Most of the members in the differential kibbutzim, being misled by the 'revolutionary' managerial elite, do not recognize the benefits, in terms of fairness and standard of living, of adopting a co-operative structure of ownership. Such ownership is defamed - and perceived - as a 'socialist' form that would restrict personal freedom, as seemingly did all forms of socialism, including the kibbutzim. In 1999 I was asked by several members of one of the kibbutzim to help them expose the real, exploitative nature of a reform that had been initiated by some leading members of their kibbutz, and work out a plan for a just change. I suggested that the kibbutz become a producers' co-operative. Most of the kibbutz members, however, would not hear of such a plan, and have opted for the reform suggested by their leaders, thereby practically losing their share in the common property, that is, letting themselves being exploited. The same phenomenon repeats itself in all the kibbutzim that have opted to reform their 'old-fashioned' way of life. The 'differential kibbutz', which combines large salary gaps with legally common property, is viewed as less socialistic than the producers' co-operative and should exist, as an interim stage, until some new form of just capitalist ownership emerges (that is, the members would receive more or less equal shares without forming a co-operative, with all its legal and moral obligations). However, privatization of the means of production has been dealt with slackly. Legal barriers are often cited as an unexpected obstacle that cannot be overcome in the near future. I would suggest that the top-salaried members who have been leading the 'differential revolution' are not interested in privatizing the means of production, as any just division of ownership would reduce the possibility of their having such high salaries at the cost of the ordinary members.

The Abolition of Non-instrumental Production

Non-instrumental production, which was a major utopian feature of the kibbutzim, was one of the first victims of the 'differential revolution'. As was said above, non-instrumental production had always been an integral feature of kibbutz life. Work in the kibbutzim was partially shaped as an end in itself. That aspect of production in the kibbutzim substantially reduced the inclination toward exploiting the fellow human being, making it easier to realize the normative decision to avoid exploitation. The introduction of the differential wage system has been accompanied by the rise of the ideology of efficiency. Productive activity has ceased to be perceived and shaped, at least partially, as a kind of self-fulfillment bearing a creative character. Efficiency is now demanded from every single member, and their individual contribution should be assessed (but not paid) according to this criterion only. Branches of the economy that were maintained because of the satisfaction they offered to the members working in them have been scrapped in all the differential kibbutzim, unless they could prove plausible profitability. The partial abolition of the division of labor has been scrapped as contradicting the principle of efficiency. Members are not supposed to change branches in order to increase their satisfaction from work and their feeling of self-fulfillment. Efficiency, and its concomitant concept of profitability, is the sole criterion dominating production in the differential kibbutzim.

Amazingly, and undoubtedly instructing, the rate of labor productivity of kibbutz industry as a whole has been deteriorating since the early 1990s and has permanently been below that of Israeli industry.24 Instrumental productive activity and its criterion, efficiency, are not a guarantee of higher productivity. Suppression of creativity may negatively affect productivity.

The abolition of non-instrumental production, or the rise of instrumental production, strengthens the inner drive to exploit the fellow human being. The normative decision to exploit other kibbutz members is more easily taken, when the dominant atmosphere is not of viewing and shaping production as a communal enterprise having creative dimensions, but rather as a combination of individual works aimed at gaining an individual wage. That exploitation has become so prevalent in the differential kibbutzim is largely due to the abolition of non-instrumental production.

The Abolition of Democracy

The abolition of internal democracy is undoubtedly a major change - and one of the most significant changes - in the differential kibbutzim. In a way, this change is dramatic: a highly democratic society has become much less democratic or non-democratic, and this transformation has been accepted by most of the members as unavoidable. It has been accepted as such for two major reasons: as a necessary way for achieving greater efficiency in the economy; and as an unavoidable surrender to the demands of the leaders of the 'differential revolution' who have often been viewed as irreplaceable leaders of an unavoidable social transformation. And these leaders have openly been demanding the reorganization of kibbutz society in a less democratic way. The deliberate abolition of internal democracy, or in other words the deliberate building of a non-democratic society, is another dystopian aspect dominating life in the New Kibbutz.

Thus, the General Assembly has been abolished in all the differential kibbutzim and has been replaced by the Kibbutz Council or Council of Representatives. This council, consisting of some 20 to 30 members, is periodically elected by all members and acts as the supreme authority in the kibbutz. Direct democracy has been replaced by a much less democratic representative apparatus.

The committees that shaped and managed the various domains of life in the kibbutzim have disappeared from the political, social and cultural landscape of the kibbutzim to a large extent, as the members are no longer involved in shaping their daily life in all its domains. Thus, for example, cultural activities and the national feasts and festivities have either ceased to be part of the communal life in the New Kibbutz: they have been individualized, or 'privatized'- i.e., become a matter for the families - or their organization as communal events is routinely outsourced. The community is managed, in all aspects of its life, by the Kibbutz Council and by the Community Management, which usually consists of two elected Community Managers. As we learn, the old Kibbutz Secretary/Secretaries have been replaced by a managerial team.

A great transformation has taken place in the economic branches. Their democratic running by the members working in them has been turned into a non-democratic, business-like management that is typical of private and state companies. Small branches are managed, or run, by appointed managers, not by the members themselves, who were organized in the past in each branch as a group headed by the so-called Branch Coordinator. Large branches, such as factories (usually defined in the kibbutzim as 'industry'), are managed by a Board of Directors, a term that prevails in the business world. Accordingly, the top office-holder in the factory (or 'industry') has become the General Manager or CEO (Chief Executive Officer), and the head of the Board of Directors, a totally new job in the kibbutz economy, is all but the Chair of the Board of Directors. The principle of managerial rotation has been abolished. As Uriel Leviathn shows, the differential kibbutzim simply imitate the economic organizational structure outside the kibbutz, namely the one dominating the business community in both Israel and the world.25 Generally speaking, the destruction of internal democracy in the kibbutzim is a dystopian development, whereby the ordinary members, deceived by the 'reformist' leaders, who are usually the economic and social leaders of the kibbutz community, accept this destruction of internal democracy as a necessary evil.


The development of the kibbutzim as a unique utopia and the transformation of this utopia into a dystopia is part of the history of Zionism and of the state of Israel. They are also part of the general history of utopianism. They testify to the power of human free will to shape human nature; they also testify to the power of free choice to create both good and bad human nature.

The kibbutzim had not been previously forced to develop a utopian way of life, as no circumstances can force human beings into building a good society; nor have they been forced by 'bad' economic circumstances to transform their utopia into dystopia, although such circumstances have 'helped' to bring about this transformation. 'Bad' economic circumstances in Israel have never reached the point of being so powerful as to leave no room for a free will and a free choice. Such circumstances may exist in history, but they have not existed in the case of the rise of dystopia in the Israeli kibbutzim. It should be emphasized that all so-called circumstances are a product of human deeds. Those who have created them, as a direct or indirect result of their action, may recognize them as their own creation and will not view them, or will view them to a lesser degree, as 'circumstances'. For those who have not created them, they may appear as natural social circumstances.

Historically, the dystopian transformation of the kibbutzim is occurring in a period characterized, in both Israel and the world, by the rise of economic and political neoliberalism and the concomitant destruction of the welfare state. In Israel itself, the economic crisis caused by neoliberalism and 'cured' by the government along a neoliberal line, which directly affected the kibbutzim, exacerbated the economic situation, with which the kibbutzim had to cope in the mid-1980s and have had to deal with since. Those groups in the kibbutzim, mainly at managerial level, and the 'masses' misled by them who have supported the radical changes, have transformed two-thirds of the kibbutzim into a bad society. It has been their free choice to build such a society; and those who have been stirring this transformation have been well aware of their choice.

The Egalitarian Stream in the kibbutz movement is a proof, I would say a sociopolitical proof, that even under opposing 'bad' circumstances humans can build a good society-even so good as to be defined as utopian. The kibbutzim that belong to the Egalitarian Stream do not confine themselves to the building of their own good society. As a matter of fact, they are closely involved in the attempts made in Israel to restrict neoliberalism and rehabilitate the welfare state. The latter is understood by them as both the building of a moderately good society for the large public and the creation of a socioeconomically supportive framework for themselves. A new Israeli welfare state would help them secure their prosperity and enlargement. Their efforts in this direction could, if supported by other political groups, become the starting-point of the resurrection of Israeli society itself.

From Critique, Volume 35, December 2007


1. Avraham Pavin, The Kibbutz Movement: Facts and Figures 2006 (Ramat Efal: Yad Tabenkin-Research and Documentation Center of the Kibbutz Movement, 2006), p. 9 [Hebrew].

2. Avraham Pavin, The Kibbutz Movement: Facts and Figures 2006 (Ramat Efal: Yad Tabenkin-Research and Documentation Center of the Kibbutz Movement, 2006), p. 9 [Hebrew], p. 90.

3. Martin Buber, Ppfade in Utopia (Heidelberg: Verlag Lambert Schneider, 1950), p. 20.

4. See Shyli Karin-Frank, Utopia Reconsidered (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1986), pp. 33, 35-36 [Hebrew].

5. Rachel Elboim-Dror, Yesterday's Tomorrow (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Tzevi, 1993) [Hebrew].

6. Henry Pereira Mendes, Looking Ahead: Twentieth Century Happenings (London and New York: F. Tennison Neely 1899).

7. Moses Hess, Rom und Jerusalem: Die letzte Nationalittsfrage (Leipzig: M.W. Kaufmann, 1899 [1862]), pp. 97-98.

8. Moses Hess, 'Socialismus und Communismus', in August Cornu and Wolfgang Mnke (eds) Philosophische und sozialistische Schriften 1837-1850 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1961), pp. 206-207.

9. Moses Hess, 'Socialismus und Communismus', in August Cornu and Wolfgang Mnke (eds) Philosophische und sozialistische Schriften 1837-1850 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1961), p. 204.

10. Elchanan Lev Levinski, A Journey to the Land of Israel in the Year 2040 (Berlin: Klal, 1922 [1892]), p. 50 [Hebrew].

11. Nachman Syrkin (under the pseudonym Ben Elieser), Die Judenfrage und der socialistische Judenstaat (Bern: Verlag von Steiger, 1898), p. 47.

12. Nachman Syrkin (under the pseudonym Ben Elieser), Die Judenfrage und der socialistische Judenstaat (Bern: Verlag von Steiger, 1898), p. 63.

13. Nachman Syrkin (under the pseudonym Ben Elieser), Die Judenfrage und der socialistische Judenstaat (Bern: Verlag von Steiger, 1898), p. 67.

14. Theodor Herzl, Altneuland (Vienna: R. Lwit Verlag, 1919 [1902]), pp. 321, 316.

15. 'Ethica Nicomachea', transl. W. D. Ross, in Aristotle, The Works of Aristotle, Vol. IX (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 1094a. I have slightly changed the translation.

16. 'Ethica Nicomachea', transl. W. D. Ross, in Aristotle, The Works of Aristotle, Vol. IX (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 1094a. I have slightly changed the translation, p. 1177b.

17. Aaron David Gordon, 'Letter to Joseph Aaronovich', in S.H. Bergman and E. Sohat (eds) Writings, Vol. 3 (Tel Aviv: The Zionist Library, 1957), p. 64 [Hebrew].

18. Karl Marx, 'konomisch-philosophische Manuskripte', in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Werke, supplementary Vol. I (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1955), pp. 519-521.

19. See Uriel Leviathan, Is it the End of Utopia? The Israeli Kibbutz at the 21st Century (Haifa: University of Haifa, Institute for Study and Research of the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea, 2002), p. 11.

20. At that time the major banks were nationalized after going through bankruptcy two years earlier. However, they were held and managed by their managers as private banks and collaborated with the economically conservative government (led by both the conservative Likud Party and the economically conservative, or neoliberal, part of the Labor Party) in transferring resources from the kibbutzim and other sectors of the economy and society to the financial sector by implausibly high interest rates.

21. Pavin, The Kibbutz Movement, op. cit., p. 90.

22. Pavin, The Kibbutz Movement, op. cit., p. 90.

23. Menachem Rosner, Micahl Palgi and Haim Goldenberg, Methods of Differential Budgeting in the Kibbutzim and Their Characteristics (Haifa: University of Haifa, Institute for Study and Research of the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea, 2002), p. 15 [Hebrew].

24. Leviathan, op. cit., p. 20.

25. Leviathan, op. cit., pp. 15-16.



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