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Press / The Artist and the Kibbutz

BEING AN ARTIST ON A KIBBUTZ  IS NOT AND HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN COMPATIBLE WITH THE KIBBUTZ WAY OF LIFE.

THE KIBBUTZ, FROM IT’S EARLIEST DAYS, WAS BUILT ON A FEW PRIME VALUES.  ONE OF COURSE WAS SOCIALISM WITH ITS CREDO OF EACH  ACCORDING  TO  HIS NEEDS  AND  EACH  ACCORDING  TO  HIS ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE.   A SECOND PRIMARY VALUE WAS WORK, WORK  THAT  PRODUCED  INCOME  AND  PROVIDED  A NEEDED SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY.

TODAY,  SOME  OF  THE  “DOGMA” OF SOCIALISM HAS BEEN SOFTENED, BUT THE ATTITUDE TOWARDS WORK HAS NOT SOFTENED AS MUCH, AND IN SOME  WAYS  HAS BEEN HARDENED.

ON  THE  KIBBUTZ,  EVEN  TODAY.  ALL MEANS OF PRODUCTION ARE OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY THE COMMUNITY.  WHILE MOST PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO WORK WHERE THEY WANT, ALL INCOME GENERATED FROM THIS WORK GOES TO THE KIBBUTZ.  I WANT TO SAY THIS  AGAIN.   ALL  SALARIES,  ALL  PROFITS  GO  INTO  THE COMMUNAL TREASURY.

TODAY,  A  NOT SMALL NUMBER OF MEMBERS WORK FOR COMPANIES AND CONCERNS NOT OWNED BY THE KIBBUTZ,  THEIR SALARIES ARE GIVEN  DIRECTLY  TO  THE KIBBUTZ.   NOW  WE  BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND, PEOPLE WORK AT MANY DIFFERENT OCCUPATIONS, IN MANY DIFFERENT PLACES, AND ALL THEIR INCOME  IS  GIVEN TO  THE  KIBBUTZ.   NOW COMES THE MORE DIFFICULT PROBLEM: HOW AND ON WHAT, TO SPEND THIS COMMUNAL MONEY ?

IT SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT THE LARGEST AMOUNTS  OF  MONEY  ARE  SPENT  ON MAINTAINING  OUR STANDARD OF LIVING.   THIS MEANS SPENDING ON FOOD AND SERVICES FOR THE COMMUNAL DINING ROOM,  BUILDING  AND  MAINTAINING APARTMENTS  FOR  ALL  MEMBERS, PROVIDING EDUCATION, AND NUMEROUS OTHER THINGS, TOO MANY TO MENTION.

EACH FAMILY RECEIVES BACK FROM THE KIBBUTZ A CERTAIN AMOUNT  OF  MONEY TO USE AS EACH FAMILY SO WISHES.   EACH FAMILY RECEIVES THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT, WITH SMALL DIFFERENCES FOR THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN.  THIS MONEY CAN BE SPENT AS EACH FAMILY WISHES WITH ALMOST NO RESTRICTIONS.

NOW,  ONE CAN SEE THAT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY EACH FAMILY RECEIVES HAS NO CONNECTION TO THE AMOUNT OF COMMUNAL INCOME IT BRINGS IN. ALL  ONE’S  INCOME  GOES  TO  THE  KIBBUTZ  AND  YOU  RECEIVE  EXACTLY THE SAME AS EVERY ONE  ELSE. HOW DOES THE ARTIST FIT INTO THIS TYPE OF SOCIETY.  IN MANY WAYS IT IS GOOD TO THEM.   A PERSON WHO WANTS TO  TRY  AND  DEVELOP  HIS  OR  HER
ARTISTIC  SKILLS IS USUALLY GIVEN ENCOURAGEMENT.   THEY ARE ALLOWED TO
STUDY, WITH THE KIBBUTZ PAYING THE  BILLS.   THEY  ARE  USUALLY  AIDEE FINANCIALLY  IN  BUYING EQUIPMENT,
FINDING A PLACE TO WORK AND USUALLY GIVEN TIME TO WORK.

THERE IS AN INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE  THAT  JUDGES  YOUR  WORK  AND  YOUR PROGRESS  AND  THEN  DECIDES  HOW MANY WORK DAYS YOU ARE ALLOWED.  OF COURSE, ON THE OTHER DAYS YOU MUST WORK,  NOT  ON  YOUR  ART,  BUT  AT SOMETHING ELSE.
I,  FOR EXAMPLE, WORKED A NUMBER OF YEARS IN THE KIBBUTZ PLANT NURSERY 3 DAYS A WEEK INSTEAD OF ON MY ART.  THE KIBBUTZ IS USUALLY SUPPORTIVE OF PEOPLE DEVELOPING CREATIVE ABILITY AND  EVEN  HELPING  THEM  BECOME ARTISTS.   IF HE OR SHE DOESN’T SELL THEIR WORK. THEN A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF RESENTMENT BUILDS UP.   THIS ARTIST IS ONLY WORKING HALF A WEEK AND ”PLAYING”  AT  ART THE OTHER HALF.   IF HE OR SHE DOES SELL THEIR WORK THEN THERE IS A DIFFERNT KIND OF FEELING.   BECAUSE SALES OF ART IS OFTEN NOT THROUGH REGULAR KIBBUTZ CHANNELS PEOPLE ARE SUSPICIOUS.  TOO OFTEN IN ORDER TO SELL ONE’S WORK, THE ARTIST MUST TRAVEL AROUND THE COUNRY AND EVEN AROUND THE WORLD.

 

 

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