Bader, Samar is a kibbutz that still runs the old fashioned way. That's the way it should be. I'd emphasize the fact that jobs be rotated and the cafeteria be communal, that would result in high socialization and some people not being better thant others. Yet there's a high degree of individual freedom.
'Samar is a throw-back to the days when kibbutzim really were communities guided by principles of true equality, not the heavily structured businesses many have become. Yet while the kibbutz movement as a whole is in the throes of economic and social decay, Samar is blossoming.
Situated about 30 kilometers north of Eilat, Samar is this year marking the 25th anniversary of its founding garin --the nucleus of youngsters who went through the army together and then set up the kibbutz in 1976. Apart from the groves, which produce four kinds of mostly organic dates, members work in a thriving dairy, and various individual economic enterprises. And despite the unorthodox manpower and budgeting arrangements, the kibbutz breaks even, says Shelly Ashkenazi, the secretary. This enables members to maintain a modest, but comfortable, way of life --families have personal computers, TVs and VCRs, and cellphones.
Of the 160 people on Samar, 70 are members and the rest are children, volunteers and candidates for membership. The numbers are kept down; there is little housing for new candidates. Ashkenazi, a sun-tanned woman in her 30s, who came to Israel from Chicago in 1983, says she has stopped keeping a waiting list.
The most striking example of Samar's unique way of life is the way members gel money --from a kupah p 'tuha, or "open cash box," instead of the "personal budget" system of other kibbutzim. In the early days, members would just help themselves to cash from a box in the dining room. This was changed when outsiders began helping themselves too, so today there's a kibbutz credit card --but members have free, unlimited access. "If someone wants to spend $ 10,000 on an addition to their house," says one member, "they do it. There's nothing to stop them." Nothing, that is, except responsibility toward the other members.
Over the years, only two members have been expelled for abusing the system; "They pretended not to know the difference between 350 shekels and 35,000 shekels," says Ashkenazi, outraged, comparing the offense to "a husband who rapes his wife and then claims he has every right to have sex with his spouse."
An anarchist kibbutz seems like a contradiction in terms: How can a socialist society function without strict rules? But the pure communism behind the kibbutz idea --from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs-- actually goes hand in hand with anarchism, which is based on people acting voluntarily out of a sense of responsibility towards the community.
This view is enthusiastically espoused by the umbrella Kibbutz Movement's head Avshalom (Abu) Vilan, a Meretz party Knesset member, and one of Samar's biggest fans. In 1977 Vilan, then head of the Young Adults Division of the now defunct Kibbutz Artzi Federation, i told the members of the young kibbutz that their anarchic system was doomed to failure. It couldn't work, he opined, because it required each member "to behave like he or she is the treasurer of the kibbutz, with all the responsibility of the kibbutz on his or her shoulders." Twenty years later, Vilan went back to Samar and admitted that he'd been wrong. (His own kibbutz, Negbah, meanwhile, is in deep financial and social trouble.)
According to Daniel Levy, 38, a nine-year Samarian who grew up in Detroit, "Samar has taken the collective idea and stood it on its head. With the traditional kibbutz collective, the individual is subservient to the needs of the community. The kibbutz gets to tell me where I go to work. I have to ask committees to do anything. Individual freedom is greatly limited. On Samar, the individual has total autonomy."
Levy, his wife Debbie and their four children - aged 8 years to 10 months - moved to a small Samar cottage after four years on another Aravah kibbutz, Grofit.
Ashkenazi says that the traditional kibbutz system "puts people to sleep and presses them down to mediocrity," whereas Samar "leaves you in control and forces active involvement". But there's nothing coercive about that involvement. Only 10 to 25 of the 70 members come to general meetings. "Not everyone wants to be involved in every aspect of the kibbutz," says Ashkenazi. "Not everyone wants to tell everyone else what to do. Some people are busy making themselves better people. If they wanted total control, they wouldn't have chosen this as their home."
The celebration of personal freedom is a constant theme at Samar. Says Gigi Strom, who runs the dairy: "It's the right attitude to let people do what they want to do --happier people are more productive." She only wonders why more kibbutzim don't see things this way.' http://www.anarchist...samarkibb.shtml