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Kibbutzim as a Climate for Learning

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: August 31, 2001
Latest Update: March 9, 2006

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Index of Topics on Site Merging Efforts for Child Rearing: Kibbutzim
Left perspective given in this piece.

  • Kibbutzim.
  • The Hebrew plural of the word Kibbutz. A Kibbutz is a collective form in Israel on which the members of the Kibbutz share communally the kitchen and dining areas, the recreation areas, and the child raising efforts. The children live in their own quarters and are raised by members of the Kibbutz assigned to that specific task. The adult members of the Kibbutz work collectively on the economic support for the group, farming, animal raising, etc.

    The Kibbutzim led to much discussion and consideration of collective child rearing.

Discussion Questions: Left Perspective

  • Eight Questions on Kibbituzim on ZNet. Answers from Noam Chomsky. Questions from Nikos Raptis.

    1. Where can one trace the roots of the kibbutz idea?

      Chomsky traces the roots to European, libertarian, socialist doctrine that fit the peculiarities of Jewish communities distorted by their exclusion from many traditional civil activities. thus he invokes the concept of no Jewish working class families. Note his emphasis on Israel as a project of colonization.

      Note also that Chomsky recognizes the role of art, in this case fiction, in capturing a new vision of the imaginary that breaks out of the traditional constraints of dominant discourse: "some of what I've read in current Hebrew fiction seems to me more like what I experienced than what I read in the social science-type literature."

    2. As an experiment is the kibbutz considered, by the number of members, a small scale one?

      Chomsky describes the movement as small, but reminds us of the structural context in which it existed: that of a social organization based on inclusion and collective participation and reward. In another answer he reminds us also of the hostility of the surrounding structural context. What does the climate of hostility offer as an advantage to the beleaguered group? Consider "out group" hostility as creating "in group" solidarity.

      "The inclusion, collective participation, and reward depended however on the Eurupean libertarian and anarchist roots, growing from pogroms and revolutions in which these same people had been legally, politically, and economically excluded from most life-worlds. That exclusion, and the group's turning inward to build a viable and livable community resulted in strong ties to this alternative "in-gorup" and would have strengthened "out-group" hostility in favor of "in-group" solidarity. Consider also the different cultural responses to individual achievement and to the acceptance of authority.

      If "out group" hostility helps create "in group" solidarity, what does the inner city gang situtation share with war/peace conflicts? Consider the many signifiers we use to tell people they are excluded: pejorative epithets, increased personal space, scowls, denying their existence by choosing neither to see nor hear them.

    3. What was the role (if any) of religion in the kibbutz?

      Chomsky describes the role of religion as minimal. How could this be so when so much of today's conflict pits Muslim against Christian/Jewish? Consider that as in group solidarity is enforced and supported, the group's orthodoxy tends to increase in the nation-state form, so that the adversarialism on all fronts will enforce the antagonisms between the "in group" and the "out group."

    4. Is the family and the raising of children in the kibbutz radically different than that in an industrialized western "democracy", say the US?

      Chomsky sees the most important difference as one of quality time allowed during the day for children to spend with parents and siblings when there are no other duties for either parents or children. Chomsky sees the setting aside of family time as crucial, but believes that things have changed very much since the time he was familiar with the kibbutzim.

      What are the kinds of duties that take us away from one another when we might have family time. Now, this is where you need to keep in mind what Abel said about the exploitation of workers in the case where employers provide gyms, lunches, whatever, but then expect those same workers to give "loyal" and long service. Consider the situation in Japan, where this structural context kept women at home. And then consider who benefits the most from this arrangement. What would you need to know to decide if these conditions were most beneficial to the worker or to the employer.

    5. Is there a great difference between the kibbutz of the '50s, that you knew, and the present one?

      Chomsky suggests that the kibbutzim have become richer, more like suburbs. Does the website of Kibbutz Ein Gedi substanatiate that conclusion? Explain.

    6. As an anarchist community, can one see the kibbutz as separate from the Israeli state?

      Chomsky's answer is very helpful in understanding the "unstated assumptions" that operated to keep the kibbutzim intimately bound up with the Jewish state. His answer here also helps explain the paradigm shift from subsistence farming groups on the frontiers of

    7. Now, in 1999, do you consider the kibbutz experiment as a successful one?

      "Hard to answer. There are too many dimensions on which one can measure "success." Shortest of all the answers. Illustrates Chomsky's recognition of and respect for the perspective of the Other. Chomsky voices that same respect in his answer to the 9th question. Can you quote it? That might be a good measure of learning for this reading.

    8. Are there any lessons that we have learned from the history of the kibbutz?

      How does Chomsky explain the colonialization/settlement of Israel theoretically? Does this give you a different perspective on Edward Said's position on colonization and settlement of Israel Teaching essay to go up shortly on this. Nag me if I forget. jeanne September 7, 2001.

Relevant References:

  • Ein Gal - Polyurethane Elastomer: Kibbutz Ein Gedi 86980, Israel. "Polyurethane Elastomer is a rubber-like material, but superior to rubber in many important aspects. . . . Ein Gal offers products and technical solutions in many industrial fields such as textile, paper, wood, plastics, metal, chemical, mining, mechanical engineering, automotive industries etc."

    Kibbutz Ein Gedi offers economic production that goes way beyond farming.

  • Kibbutz Ein Gede Link that is working. Chomsky's old link wasn't working for me on March 9, 2006. Will try to fix later. jeanne

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