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Kibbutz (wikipedia.org)
68 points by captain_price7 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments

Interesting to find this on the front page.

I lived on a kibbutz for nearly three years, and left a few years ago. Like most insular communities, there's a lot to like when looking at it from the outside. People live in comfortable homes and have plenty to eat, with plenty of modern accoutrements like Internet access and the like. The community is quiet, with houses linked by footpaths instead of roads. The sense of community is strong.

The flip side is that internal community politics was horrible. People fought over the width of door frames in newly renovated housing because otherwise their houses weren't equal. People who turned their external salaries over to the kibbutz were often exploited, earning salaries that were a fraction of market rate, because they wouldn't see any of the extra. There were mentally ill people in positions of power who could not be removed because it was "their" position and their membership could not be revoked.

It's easy to look at kibbutzim and think that the grass is greener on the other side. But it comes at a deep price to your soul.

Yep. There’s a reason they have not become the dominant mode for living. Moshavim were already an exit strategy for many. I’ve seen similar internal conflicts and power issues in anarchist communities and worker co-ops in Europe too.

Still, I do appreciate that in the early days kibbutzim were a pragmatic and necessary strategy for group cohesion and cooperation under stressful conditions.

I think they haven't become the dominant mode because they only work at the small scale, and are far from the densities of cities, which are often a necessity.

And they're also harder to build, socially. Cities are just easier.

I don't know about kibbutzim, however it seems to me that in many (most?) tribal zones such ordeals had at least a solution: some (many? most?) members were able to depart.

Confronted with some inept behavior, rule or chief... they will simply defect to another tribe (often to join other people, either defectors or individuals who departed to marry).

This was a king of regulator, as worsening internal politics progressively disbanded a tribe.

In our nations, today, that there are cases of such ordeals, and cutting chains may be more difficult or even impossible, especially for the non-affluent.

I never lived on them but some of my parents’ friends were kibbutznikim, I distinctly remember a dinner with one talking about how much he hated growing up there, being forced to leave your parents young and live in a communal “kids’ house” specifically, I got the impression it wasnt all bad, but not something he’s repeated with his own children.

//People who turned their external salaries over to the kibbutz were often exploited, earning salaries that were a fraction of market rate, because they wouldn't see any of the extra.

Sure, that doesn't seem fair, but how do you price a free house, and an option for one for your children, in a country where most people live in apartments and only something like the top 10% live in houses?

And how do you price the job security a kibbutz gets you? In a country with a tough job market?

You misunderstand, I guess because I kept my post brief. This person was a software engineer working for a non-kibbutz company, so the non-kibbutz company was paying that person's salary to a kibbutz bank account rather than to the person. The salary was about $30,000/year for an end-of-career senior developer, who was easily worth triple that or more. From her perspective, she didn't see a point in trying to move jobs or ask for market-rate, because either way, whatever salary she earned went straight to the kibbutz. The kibbutz didn't complain about the exploitation salary because it was "enough" and the non-engineers running the kibbutz didn't know what people are supposed to be paid.

So everybody loses. The kibbutz loses because it gets way less hard cash than it would otherwise be able to get. She lost, leave the economics out of it for the sake of argument, because the reality of exploitation is that you suffer in your work relationships as a result.

A kibbutz doesn't give you job security. If you are supposed to be earning from outside the kibbutz, and stop working, then you face social ostracism and shame within the insular community. That's not security.

That's interesting.

I'm not sure that software engineer lost. If she only cost her employer a third of a salary, that quite a big bargain chip. She could have used it to get more flexibility, better job security, maybe a more interesting role, etc.

But of course it still depends how people treated her and how she felt her status was. But that could go either way.

> If she only cost her employer a third of a salary, that quite a big bargain chip.

Maybe this would be the case if engineers were replaceable cogs in the machine. If every cog is the same, then the cheapest cogs make you the most money, right?

Except that engineering doesn't work like this. Engineers aren't directly replaceable, and replacement costs still need to be paid for anybody who would replace them. If you do not value the engineers that you have, then quite simply, you do not value them.

I know of a software engineer that worked in a manufacturing plant.

The salary was significantly lower, but the the work was easier and the rate was slow. Heck he even replaced his manager once the manager retired.

Not everything is about money, as long as you don't need the money.

> She could have used it to get more flexibility, better job security, maybe a more interesting role, etc

She could have had a 3 x higher salary and done all those things (or so I think, based on GP's description).

When you understand your own worth (workplace wise), the others respect you more, and it's simpler to change things the way you want.

I always wanted to go on a kibbutz but have never even managed to visit Israel. One day, perhaps.

I ended up spending a decade living in a warehouse community, wherein ours had 20+ people downstairs, 15+ people upstairs and a number of similarly-sized units as neighbours.

The model is different, of course, but the insularity of community, pettiness and sociopathic/nutter-members you hint at in your post was very much in evidence. Gets tiresome and clogs development.

I now live in a normal house, and am much happier for it.

Good times though!

- ed - minor addition

Would you mind contacting my email address? So many questions...

Are there any kibbutzes that make all or some decisions using a blockchain DAO? You could even have a fully remote kibbutz that way.

A kibbutz can be a nice place to get ones mind in order I think.

My brother was depressed at some point and didn't feel motivated anymore with his software engineering job. At some point he got so annoyed with his life and job that he decided to spend some time in a Kibbutz. A half year.

He got some food and lodging and a small amount of money which he would spend in the weekends. While at the Kibbutz he did some gardening, worked in the kitchen, etc... He enjoyed his time there.

And now he's back into a software engineering job :)

There was a great episode of EconTalk on this history and economics of Kibbutzim. Really interesting from the perspective of someone in the west: https://www.econtalk.org/ran-abramitzky-on-the-mystery-of-th...

I have no idea why this is posted on HN.

There was an another story here a few days ago about some economics professor turned hardcore free-market objectivist, becase he lived in a kibbutz in his youth.

Look, it isn't for everyone, but why not let people live how they want. Some prefer giving up some personal liberty for the collective communal experience.

My guess is that increasingly people are forced to live in cultural Kibbutzim, and the Kibbutz is a famous example of a communal model that has failed for many.

The very top comment of this submission reminds me of the good and bad sides of open source projects.

Another interesting model that sees uptake in the US is the Dan Wei, a corporation that controls the entire life and thoughts of its employees:


The professor you're talking about doesn't disagree with what you're saying, he's happy for people to self-organize and live in a Kibbutz (even though he thinks it won't work), as long as it's opt-in and the state isn't trying to coerce all members of society into it.

People occasionally post random stuff that might seem interesting to others. Sometimes they hit the mark sometimes less so.

I guess someone that has never heard of a Kibbutz might find it interesting

Is this being posted now in response to Sheikh Jarrah?

Oooof, that is a pretty one sided wikipedia page there.

Please add a few hints on how it could be made more balanced, what is missing, etc.

Most of us readers haven't been to a kibbutz.

How early ateist settlers used religion like symbols in their everyday life https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5530042/

Israeli kibbutzim are unsustainable model.

They only lasted for the following reasons:

1. exploiting external workers (new immigrants, Arabs, foreign Thai workers)

2. huge subsidies and debt write-offs were provided by the left-wing governments (until the right-wing redirected them to building in Judea & Samaria)

3. Stealing public resources: converting the free agricultural lands to real estate, privatizing public waterfronts for use in their B&B businesses, etc.

Similarly like Crypto is parasitizing on the global financial system, Kibbutzim were parasitizing on the Israeli state and its taxpayers.

I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of kibbutz. It's a patch of peaceful communist living which you can walk into, and, most importantly, walk out of. A great demo of the upsides and the downsides of it.

I mean, between consenting adults, anything.

i always find it surprising how in every conversation i had with friend from the far left, they always forget to mention that there was actually one successful attempt at living in the "communism" mindset, without turning into a totalitarian regime.

The thing is the hate israel gets today (especially from the left) prevents them from ever using this argument.

There are at least a few others - e.g. the paris commune and anarchist spain, not to mention the early days of the Soviet Union.

The most consistent quality they shared was a tendency to be violently attacked.

  "early days of the Soviet Union."
The early days of the Nazi regime weren't that bad, either.

  "Paris commune"
The Paris commune only lasted for a few months. If history is any guide, it would've turned into an authoritarian hellhole eventually.

They did have some kooky policies like the abolition of child labor. Some people today are still against this even today on the basis that it's pro freedom and really it's better for the children in the long run:


In all likelihood had it not been brutally suppressed it probably would have ended up being somewhat like norway.

I'm more than happy to adopt the small handful of things that they got right, while rejecting all the other stuff that inevitably leads to misery, poverty, and mass death.

Like what other stuff? Separation of church and state? Rent remission? Postponement of commercial debt obligations? Pensions?

Or the feminist stuff maybe?

> Like what other stuff?

Total suppression of the free-press and banning debt and interest, for example.

It only lasted for a few months so it's hard to say how far it would've descended into nightmare, but we have a long, long history of miserable socialist states with lofty initial ideals that survived beyond their honeymoon period for the purposes of that analysis.

This is true, but the difference is obvious. People join kibbutzim because they want to. Voluntary communism might work; imposed communism never has.

What’s the context here? Why is this on HN?

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