Their society was built on complete egalitarianism where father’s role was eliminated to weed out patriarchy from the society. Couples there didn’t marry and could just walk into a room if they wanted to stay together. The children had the identity of the state and were the responsibility of the state. Women there were completely equal to men except the fact they could give birth to children. There was NO traditional gender role. Everyone had to do every work and all were paid exactly the same. Only couples with children were paid little more.
Yet, women of this society rejected equality and went back to traditional gender roles only after ‘enjoying’ equality for two generations. The society that was built completely based on egalitarian principles, failed to sustain equality and had to go back to traditional gender roles.
Kidbutz (also known as kibbutz) society was set up in Israel in 1909. This society was completely gender-neutral from the beginning and shunned patriarchy in all forms. In fact, to kill patriarchy, they killed the role of fathers, discarded the Hebrew word ‘bah-al’ for the husband because it meant ‘master’. But after approximately two generation (or 50 years), they not only discarded egalitarianism but also went back to traditional roles and started getting married and calling husbands ‘bah-al’ (master). Women either didn’t work any more or concentrated in the services sector.
Equality in Kidbutz
The concepts of equality were taken very seriously in Kidbutz society. You can say that it was ideal socialism established there. Kibbutzniks (member of the community) didn’t own any tools or even clothing. Even all gifts and income received from outside went to a common treasury. All members ate together in community halls.
The Kidbutz philosophy was so egalitarian in nature, that they even wanted to free children from the ‘clutches’ of patriarchal concept of ‘parents’. They observed that parents think of children as their personal property and dominate them. So, they thought parental control over children was oppressive and was deterrent to full growth of children. Hence, they created a social system where children were kept in communal children’s homes almost from very beginning of their life. Parents were allowed to meet their children only for 3-4 hours every day in the evening. This communal child rearing responsibility was created to take away children’s dependency on their fathers and thus to eliminate father’s control over the child and end patriarchy.
These homes were furnished properly by the community to accommodate children of all ages. Their individuality, creativity and basic trust factors were improved. In reality, it created more of uniformity rather than individuality and killed traditions.
But in-spite of all these, the children fought among themselves for toys and to possess more toys for them. This was against the values of egalitarianism based on which the society was built and slowly the utopian social concept started falling apart.
In the children’s houses, trained nurses and educators were teaching them and that was thought of lessening the duties of parents as sole disciplinarians. In this aspect Kidbutzim (plural of Kidbutz in the Hebrew language) wanted their children to be completely trained in community values. But their hopes were shattered when they saw the same children fighting for toys among themselves.
Why Kidbutzim Had to Close Children’s Homes
Soon Kibbutzim were forced to close their children’s homes as it was a nightmare for the children to stay in those homes with other children and without any adult around. Almost every night the children started having nightmares and started complaining to their mothers about their nightmares. Many wanted to go to their parents’ houses at night only to be caught by the night guards. This made parents nervous about their well-being in those homes.
Soon, parents wanted to keep their children with them. Also since these children were nurtured by different caregivers on different days, they never developed any bonding with those caregivers and felt more attached towards their parents as they met their parents every day. Children and parents felt safer in parents’ home at night rather than in children’s homes. Hence, all the parents started pulling their children out of these homes, and soon all Kibbutzim were forced to close these homes.
Closure of Children’s Houses – End of Kidbutzim (Kibbuzim)
The Kidbutz concept was built on the concept of equality where everyone did everything and there was no gender-specific role. To liberate women from child-rearing responsibilities, Kidbutzniks (the members) had created children’s homes. However, when those homes were closed and children went back to their parents then the concept of egalitarianism fell apart as there needed someone to take care of children at home.
Alongside this, there were other problems as well. Newer generation Kibbutz kids, when went to meet their friends from normal society, saw individuals owning huge property and luxury items. Since Kidbutz society was built on socialist concepts, no one owned anything there. Even personal dresses were shared. Everything was accounted for, a manager and a door keeper received same salaries and there was no one wealthier than the other. This created another problem of social ‘parasites’, who didn’t work hard or contribute to the community but were too eager for their share of benefits (rights). Since food and shelter were provided free of cost, these ‘parasites’ started wasting a lot of food and damage public property. Even though those Kidbutzniks used to get chastised but this didn’t change the situation. Some Kidbutzniks soon started overdrinking in their free pubs at night and started being absent from community work next day, which led to productivity crises in Kidbutzim.
In the 1980’s when Israel’s economic crisis started, these Kidbutzim went into deeper financial crises and the govt refused to bail them out of that. Hence, they could not sustain the philanthropic egalitarian model and ended up in privatizing a lot of Kidbutzim.
Development of Traditionalism
With their share of ‘parasites’, many Kidbutzniks felt to live separately and owning private properties as the way forward. It was seen that the ‘gender equality’ that was the prime focus of 1909 Kidbutzniks, reverted to traditional gender roles. Women not only stopped working in fields and in industries but they endorsed traditional gender roles of women; like cooking, nurturing children, cleaning etc. Not only that, they started endorsing marriage and calling their husbands – ‘bah-al’ (a word in Hebrew that means ‘master’ and that was abandoned in 1909 when Kidbutzim was established). The grandmothers of these women reportedly didn’t like this.
Some statistics shows that in 1948 Kidbutz society went back to traditional gender roles so much that there was no equality in any sphere. Neither women participated in work equally, nor did they participate in politics. In 1948, it was found that out of 8 Kidbutzim in Ihud, 78.3% women worked in services sector as compared to 16.7% men. The same year, 15.2% women and 58.2% men worked in production environment. Similar situation was found in politics as well. In 1979, these figures of women working dropped further and only 12% were found to be working in productive sector compared to 50% in 1920.
Why Egalitarianism Was Needed initially in Kidbutz
To understand why egalitarianism was extremely important in initial years of Kidbutzim, we need to go back to their formation years and the reason. When people from Israel and many other west European countries wanted to set up settlements in Palestine, in an area which was harsh and difficult for human habitat, they had no option but to engage all members to work. Even though the forefathers of Kidbutz movement says it was a philosophical decision, you can understand that it was more of compulsion given the nature of harsh climatic conditions there. A community that was agriculture based had no option but to have all its members working in the field. Since there was no method of earning in initial years and they had to grow their own food; the social model needed to be on complete sharing basis. Since, none of the settlers had anything significant in initial years, it was a compulsion for them to follow the socialist model.
However, as time passed and the Kidbutzim started growing a surplus crop and setting up all amenities and life became better, the sense of individual property developed. This was aggravated when the kids had to mix with other kids from neighbouring areas. Those outside kids had a lot of property and personal belongings that created a sense of emotional detachment from the original philosophy.
Another problem of Kidbutzniks was that since they were raised together in children’s houses until a very adult age, children considered one another as siblings. So, those boys didn’t have any attraction to the girls from their Kidbutz and vice versa. Hence, they had to marry outside Kidbutz society and got attracted to capitalism and the accumulation of wealth and personal property. Subsequently, when Kidbutz had their share of ‘parasites’ and found that those ‘parasites’ were getting benefits from the produce of hard working Kidbutzniks, they started parting ways.
Feminists Vs Kidbutzniks
Kidbutzniks believed in egalitarianism and didn’t think only about women as feminists do today. If women committed any crime, they were equally punished; even though it is said that the crime rate was very less. Today, feminists are creating a huge disturbance in all parts of the world by having a ‘criminal women’ centric approach. Feminist controlled legal system of any country is jeopardizing the legal system so much that the system has lost its trustworthiness. This is happening in the name of bringing equality in the society when all it does is create a society of hatred.
Under feminist regime, while women are forced to work, children’s welfare is not looked after. The sense of individualism and privatized property is being fueled and extortion of husbands is justified to empower women. You will see that very often highly educated women and celebrities justify alimony and maintenance and also file cases to get that. The relationship of husband and wife has become more economic relationship than romantic one. Added to this, is the rotten value system propagated by feminists. For them, showing private parts in public, being abusive and promoting hatred are forms of equality. So, feminism from beginning is creating a demonic society in the name of equality.
Kibbutzim, however, was not like this. Even though they followed egalitarianism, they followed traditional moral standards; like honesty, hard-working, simple living etc. They didn’t want ‘right’ to go out nude or file false complaints as feminists do today. The lazy ‘parasites’ in kibbutz society were chastised rather than today’s women who like to be considered as victims.
So, we understand that the kibbutzim still had a good humane culture and philosophy, rather than today’s gynocentric feminist philosophy.
Egalitarianism – The Kibbutz Way
When we see the fact that Kibbutzim (plural of Kibbutz) could turn perched desert lands into lush green land with an abundant crop, that eventually led to industrial and other growth as well; we tend to think that egalitarianism or socialism is the best approach in life. Kibbutz system was cautious about not promoting parasitism and always promoted good virtues of life rather than filing false cases. However, we also see, when they got the much-needed comfortable life, women didn’t want to work in the field or in hard-working jobs.
From basic economic understanding, we will always have jobs that need special skills to be paid more. In this scenario, one needs to acquire that skill or upskill oneself to be in the job. If one doesn’t have much-needed qualities for that job, one will not be able to earn that much wages as a skilled person would do.
From the Kibbutz example, we also understand that as long as there is an individual run business (agriculture) kind of scenario, then everyone working would make sense. But if they need to work for others (say in the industry) then this model will not work because of simple economic principles.
When individuals work in industries, then with more women taking part in the labor force alongside men, makes ample availability of skilled labors and reduces the wages. Now for a working couple when both of them need to go out for earning, their children become lonely at home and hence become vulnerable to all sorts of abuse. So, Kibbutz chose the easy way of keeping women at home to take care of children, while men went out to work.
Egalitarianism – Vedic Way
Vedic India was completely male-dominated. That means, only men went out to work (if needed) and women remained indoors. While feminists say it was oppression for women, if we look closely at this system we will understand that it was the most natural choice for both genders and for families. While the need of taking care of the elderly, sick and children was to be addressed; at the same time, the goal of working outside was achieved by sending the males out. For the safety of children, sick and elderly people Vedic Society was based on large families that created a safety net for everyone.
There is always an opportunity cost involved in whatever life choices we make. In a modern feminist way, if we want our women to go to work equally, we need to embrace wage cut, more hard labor, more stressful life. Also, our children and sick members will not get any care or they will have to ‘BUY’ those services.
If we want only the men to go out and work then only they will be stressed extremely but then under different feminist agendas, feminists will justify extorting the man in various ways as they do today. If we live in a capitalist consumerist world, this debate will always continue and even for cooking and house cleaning women will demand half the salary of the husband (not everyone has a child). Many will then try to evaluate the mother’s love and care and eventually our relations will end.
We need to understand that a society built on individual ‘rights’ can never succeed. Be it traditional Vedic Society or Modern Kibbutz society, both were built on responsibilities. If we can build a society on responsibilities and human values only then we will succeed. Under feminism which is created on the lust of material enjoyment and sense gratification, we are only set to get destroyed.
[This article is part of Modern Feminism series under History category.
All articles of this series can be found – here]