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.
Still, I do appreciate that in the early days kibbutzim were a pragmatic and necessary strategy for group cohesion and cooperation under stressful conditions.
And they're also harder to build, socially. Cities are just easier.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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
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 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.
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:
I guess someone that has never heard of a Kibbutz might find it interesting
Most of us readers haven't been to a kibbutz.
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 mean, between consenting adults, anything.
The thing is the hate israel gets today (especially from the left) prevents them from ever using this argument.
The most consistent quality they shared was a tendency to be violently attacked.
"early days of the Soviet Union."
In all likelihood had it not been brutally suppressed it probably would have ended up being somewhat like norway.
Or the feminist stuff maybe?
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.