Growing up, I thought a kibbutz was a person who stood around and watched at the pinochle table, but later on I learned that they were socialist collectives in Israel that held out the tantalizing possibilty that communal living could succeed (albeit under strongly nationalistic conditions). No one in kibbutzs had private property, necessary services were paid for by the group as a whole, and even the nuclear family was dissolved in a spirit of encouraging a greater fidelty to the entire community. But yesterday’s Journal featured an article chroncling their demise in the face of commercialization; kibbutzs are starting to privatize their resources and open the value of things to the market, inviting competition over the distribution of goods. They are adopting the depressing priorities of money management and marketing “niche services” like spa treatments. I suppose that kibbutzim are “growing up,” and “getting real,” to apply a commonplace American ideological spin.
Part of why this is happening, the billl suggests, is the government resources once devoted to aiding the kibbutzs have been diverted to fighting Israel’s frontier wars — no surprise that a right-wing program of intolerance and pre-emption and war would rend the fabric of communal life, but is it a just a happy by-product for them that a policy of perpetual war also forces a people to adopt the inherently bellicose economic system of ceaseless market competition?