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Out of Focus

Gate to a caring society? 1999:
Everything has become a bit blurred over the last twenty years, the red flag and what it stands for is no exception. It may come as a surprise to some that May Day is no longer celebrated in our kibbutz. Petty bourgeois attitudes have taken over and Labour, once written with a capital L, has lost its attractiveness (Not that it was ever great fun. Beavering away in the sun when it is 46º C in the shade is not The Easy Thing To Do.)

Most people associate red flags with the Evil Empire of the unregretted past. Stalin was called the Sun of the Peoples even by some of our members and his death was mourned. Khrushtchev's revelations came as a shock to many and made them doubt more than just the path the Soviet Union was taking to a better society.[1] It didn't make good press for the Cause.

Moreover, people have come to realise that caring societies cost money, quite a bit of it, really. The solution appealing to many is the much vaunted handing back of responsibility to the individual. Unfortunately, quite a few can't handle it and we see the results of these policies in the streets of any major western city.

In western societies the gushing sixties-attitude towards communality without much regard to economic reality has given way to the adoration of the Golden Calf. And the Golden Calf has entered the kibbutzim as well, not stealthily but in broad daylight through the main gate. The same group of administrators - it is surprising how small this group really is - who failed to provide good leadership[2] under the old system of equal partners working towards a common goal, are now attempting to change the rules in their favour by creating a stratified society with unequal remuneration.

They may well succeed.

2010: Of course they did succeed, and they are even proud of it. You'll need a microscope to discover anything looking even remotely like solidarity among kibbutzniks.


[1] I was lucky in this respect: Socialism was never a Divine Message to me. I grew up in the fifties and met refugees from Hungary - among them a boy paralysed by polio. And if there is one thing you can't make a nine year old understand it is why a child in a wheelchair has to flee from his homeland because of a "brighter future".

[2] And by not doing so created the very problems they now propose to solve by paying them more than others.


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