The Second Generation: Continuity and Change in the Kibbutz

The Second Generation: Continuity and Change in the Kibbutz

The Second Generation: Continuity and Change in the Kibbutz

The Second Generation: Continuity and Change in the Kibbutz


Can a well planned democratic socialist egalitarian community thrive economically, govern itself effectively, and pass on its value system to the successive generations? Presenting the extensive research of a study conducted between 1969 and 1976, The Second Generation answers this critical question. It addresses itself primarily to continuity; a comparison of values and goals between 1st and 2nd generation kibbutz members; and sheds light on many other issues. The extensive data and rich theoretical discussions are a valuable resource for social and political scientists and moral philosophers.


The kibbutz was conceived as an egalitarian community, established in order to realize a system of values which included an emphasis on equality and participatory democracy in its economic as well as political institutions. This egalitarian ideal combined with a stress on fellowship and a cooperative, communal relationship among its members have given the kibbutz its distinctive character. Embodied in the economic, egalitarian values of the kibbutz are several major conceptions: democratic control of the workplace, allowance for the specific and diverse needs of various individual members (a particularized form of egalitarianism which is responsive to individual differences) and the separation of one's social and economic contribution to the community from the economic rewards one receives. This separation is meant to express the commitment to the equal valuing of all members of the community and to inhibit the development of individual distinctions among members.

Although the democratic-socialist form of egalitarianism embodied in the kibbutz has been espoused by many, it has rarely been practiced. the term "socialism" has been so often misappropriated and misapplies to the autocratic, nonegalitarian systems of the Soviet Union, the nations in Eastern Europe, and China that "socialism" has earned a bad reputation. As is evident from the research of Menachem Rosner and his colleagues, the kibbutzim have to a large extent put into practice their ideal of creating democratic, egalitarian, socialist communities. in 1979, there were 254 kibbutz communities with almost 120,000 members.

The kibbutzim provide a laboratory in which one can seek answers to basic questions about egalitarianism. One of the most basic questions is: Can egalitarian communities survive? Will egalitarianism lead to economic failure, political paralysis, the breakdown of idealism, or value conflicts between the founders and their succeeding generations? Or can well-planned democratic-socialist, egalitarian communities thrive economically, govern themselves effectively, and succeed in passing on their egalitarian value system to successive generations?

This fine book by Menachem Rosner and his colleagues, which is based upon extensive and systematic research, addresses itself primarily to the question of continuity and change in values and goals between the kibbutz founders and the next generation of kibbutz members. However, it sheds light on many other issues as well. Its extensive data and its rich theoretical discussions should be of great value . . .

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