Academic journal article World Review of Political Economy

Israeli Kibbutz: A Successful Example of Collective Economy

Academic journal article World Review of Political Economy

Israeli Kibbutz: A Successful Example of Collective Economy

Article excerpt

Kibbutz means collective settlement in Hebrew. In the past, it was translated as rural cooperative or collective farm, which is not definite. Kibbutz is a collectively owned social organization established on equal, publicly owned and voluntary basis (or referred to as Collective Commune), which is a socialist element in Israel, a semi-capitalist and semi-socialist country. Experiences acquired in the development of kibbutz in more than 100 years is worth the great attention of intellectual circles and learning by various countries around the world.

1. Principles of Management for Kibbutzim

First, the principle of voluntariness. Anyone may join or quit a kibbutz based on totally voluntary principle. Applicants should acknowledge and conform to rules and regulations of kibbutzim, besides which they should also understand and be willing to share the lifestyle in kibbutzim. Any applicant should submit his or her résumé and ID documents and be reviewed and interviewed, after which he or she has to go through a period of being a guest for half a year. After evaluation, he or she should also go through 2 years of internship. At the end of such internship, if more than two thirds of members vote for the applicant secretly, he or she can become a member of the kibbutz. Any member of a kibbutz can quit in a very liberal way; he or she may quit automatically or apply for quitting the kibbutz. After quitting, such a member becomes a free person and may also join another kibbutz or make a living in another way. Kibbutz is similar to farmer's cooperative in Denmark in this aspect, but the latter implements a principle of easy joining and restricted quitting as of membership management. However, if a member of a farmer's cooperative wants to quit on a voluntary basis, he or she will lose all his or her shares, and no money paid for shares will be refunded, and meanwhile such member also has to pay off his or her share of net debt. If the said farmer's cooperative has net asset, such member will not be paid with any share (Chen 2013).

Second, the principle of equality. All members of a kibbutz are equal in political, social, and economic status, and they enjoy equal voting right in various aspects such as guideline, policy, production, operation, and life in the kibbutz. Working is a social norm observed by all members of the kibbutz. The only difference among all members lies in the fact that they engage in different works based on division of labor, and all of them have the same living standard and enjoy the same benefits. Management committee and professional committee are public servants in the kibbutz, and members of such committees enjoy no privilege or additional remuneration and view their services as spare-time services as well as an additional giving and labor, which reflect other members' confidence in them and support for them. However, all leaders of the kibbutz still do their best at work for fear that they may let other members down. All members should have a shift in professional committee and undertake labor at a post. Kibbutzim had been opposing hiring any worker until recent years. However, they began to allow hiring workers because of turnover of members and shortage of labor in recent years.

Third, the principle of public ownership for means of production. Kibbutz is a collective and publicly owned organization, in which the state owns only land, and all other assets including means of production, fixed assets, and various products are jointly owned by all members. After the founding of Israel, all land is recovered and owned by the country, for which kibbutzim must lease land from the country. Term of such lease usually lasts 49 years. In some cases, term of lease may reach 99 years, which may be automatically extended after expiration. All means of production in a kibbutz are collectively owned, including culture, education, medical service, and houses, which form a complete social service system for production, operation, and sale. …

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