Monday, May 14, 2007

Another Socialist Experiment Gone Wrong

If we lived in an anarcho-capitalist world, socialists would be free to take their ideas to some (preferably remote) location, buy a piece of land and start building their personal utopia. Their rules would only apply to those who have willingly moved to their utopia and they would not be able to demand anything (like subsidies) from outsiders.
However, such a micro society would not last. While it'd be a bit easier to control a small economy than a big economy and to therefore avoid major calculation problems this would not remove the underlying economic and social problems, including that in a relatively free environment (meaning in this case the opportunity to leave, the relative absence of total brainwashing and the absence of a Stalinist dictatorship that kills you if you don't do what the state tells you to do) people are not really that anxious to work for the benefit of others, especially when that means giving up your individuality for some childish hippie dream.
Economical and societal realities were behind the downfall and abandonment of socialist experiments in Israel. Kibbutzim were semi-socialist communities in Israel. However, they have been more or less dependent on aid and subsidies from outside. Self-sufficiency was among the first things to be abandoned. Now Time reports that these communities are moving even further away from their socialist principles:
"When Israel's oldest kibbutz, Degania, announced that it was giving up its socialist ideals and going private--members could own homes and earn salaries based on how hard they worked--few other than the kibbutzniks themselves were happy. For many Israelis, Degania was a symbol of rosier days, a Zionist idyll of honest work and camaraderie. But for those who called it home, the kibbutz had become an anachronism as rusty as the battered farm tools on display for tourists. Today, the younger generation of kibbutzniks pines for individualism."

"The kibbutz was a socialist dream. But Degania's manager, Tzali Koperstein, says, "From the start, it was never equal. It was a fake equality." Some toiled hard in Degania's diamond-cutting tool factory and in the fields; others slacked off. And as Israeli society began to value creativity and free enterprise over socialism, Degania lagged behind."

"Elders learned a lesson in capitalism that any kid with a lemonade stand could have taught them: the individual works harder for himself than for the collective."

"Kibbutz life is peaceful and rich," says Koperstein. "But it came at a high price. You gave up individual needs. The idea of having someone telling you what to think, what to study, what work to do--it's like having four walls closing you in."
Left-wing equality means that both men and women do what the collective tells them to do - not that both men and women are able to do whatever they want with their lives:
"Eventually the men of the kibbutz gave in and allowed, even expected, women to perform the same roles as men, including guard duty. The desire to liberate women from traditional maternal duties was another ideological underpinning of the Children's Society system. Interestingly, women born on kibbutzim were much less reluctant to perform traditional female roles. It was the generation of women born on kibbutzim who eventually ended the Societies of Children. Also, although there was a "masculinization of women", there was no corresponding feminization of men. Women may have worked the fields, but men did not work childcare."
If you thought that conservative Christians who force their kids to go to church every Sunday are not that good child rearers, the socialist way is much, much worse. The socialist way is about brainwashing and destroying individuality (not that worshipping a god is any better in that respect):
Some children who went through Children's Societies said they loved the experience, others are ambivalent, but a vocal group says that growing up without one's parents was very difficult. Years later, a kibbutz member described her childhood in a Children's Society:
"Allowed to suckle every four hours, left to cry and develop our lungs, we grew up without the basic security needed for survival. Sitting on the potty at regular intervals next to other children doing the same, we were educated to be the same; but we were, for all that, different…. At night the grownups leave and turn off all the lights. You know you will wet the bed because it is too frightening to go to the lavatory" (-Gavron, Daniel. The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000, p. 168.)
And then there's of course the "socialism is against human nature" argument:
For most kibbutzim, the arrival of children was a sobering experience. "When we saw our first children in the playpen, hitting one another, or grabbing toys just for themselves, we were overcome with anxiety. What did it mean that even an education in communal life couldn't uproot these egotistical tendencies? The utopia of our initial social conception was slowly, slowly destroyed."
Btw, many European and Americans also formed these communities. See Tillsammans for an example of one.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares about socialism anymore? Our biggest enemy is MIXED ECONOMY and its advocates, not socialism. Socialism, just like radical veganism, is irrelevant in the 21th century.

May 15, 2007 2:18 AM  

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