Though I have been curious about the concept of a kibbutz, until this morning, I never fully understood the idea and its implementation, nor have I ever taken the time and expended the energy to try. This morning, though, I explored kibbutzim (the plural of kibbutz, I gather), by reading about about the concept on the Jewish Agency for Israel website.

In a nutshell, here is an explanation of kibbutzim, as published on the Agency website:

The main characteristics of Kibbutz life were established in adherence to collectivism in property alongside a cooperative character in the spheres of education, culture and social life. With this came the understanding that the Kibbutz member is part of a unit that is larger than just his own family.

The Kibbutz operates under the premise that all income generated by the Kibbutz and its members goes into a common pool. This income is used to run the Kibbutz, make investments, and guarantee mutual and reciprocal aid and responsibility between members. Kibbutz members receive the same budget (according to family size), regardless of their job or position.

The idea of collectivism has appealed to me for as long as I can remember. If I had not allowed fear to intervene, I might have pursued a lifestyle involving collectivism during or immediately after college. But fear that I might be unable (or, more likely, unwilling) to fully engage in an environment in which economic equality takes precedence over economic gain, among various other concerns, derailed that possibility. Despite the many stumbling blocks that would have gotten in my way—had I been truly serious about pursuing collectivism—my interest in the idea has remained strong.

This morning, when I read that most kibbutzim are secular (I assumed most would be religiously-based), it occurred to me that religion would not be an obstacle…provided, of course, all other members of the kibbutz agreed and would commit to a secular basis. Before I get too far afield, I want to clarify that I have never had an interest in going to Israel and joining a kibbutz. My wish, long ago, involved the idea of establishing a secluded collective community in this country. Over time, that idea changed; the idea morphed into the concept of establishing a secluded community in a truly democratic society. The society in which I live today pretends to be democratic; perhaps my aim would be to establish a collective in a place in which democratic socialism is openly practiced.

My interests in a collective has, over time, waxed and waned. Today, I like the idea of a secluded community with access to the amenities of a robust democratic society. Obviously, my philosophies are not hard and solid; I want readily available cake that I can enjoy eating…but I want the same for everyone. Yeah. A bit of altruistic greed, it seems. Maybe I would be perfectly satisfied if all members of society were generous, caring, compassionate, hard-working…all that, and more. My late wife liked expressing her sense of what I wanted by modifying a common saying: “If wishes were horses we’d all have wings.” You don’t have to understand it; I do, and she did. I think that major modification was first uttered by mistake, but it caught on and it spoke loudly to my fantasies.


We were invited to have drinks and hors d’ouevres with some former neighbors last night. After a couple of hours, we returned home, where I promptly got in bed (around 8) in an effort to get rid of a headache. I woke several times during the night, but stayed in bed in the hope my headache would disappear until I arose at 4:45 this morning to a yowling cat. My headache is better, but it still lingers. I loathe headaches. They interfere with my writing, although I conquered this one for a while this morning; enough to write about my interest in collectives. Perhaps the headache will disappear in time for me to enjoy church, where this morning’s speaker (who was a former assistant secretary of state under Colin Powell and who spent several years in the CIA) talks about the clash between Israel and Hamas. This morning’s church service is an “insight,” which differs radically from a “worship” service. I have been quite happy with most insight presentations over the past year or two…or longer. I hope I can bring myself to go.


I showered late yesterday, so I might not shower again this morning. A little deodorant, clean clothes, brushed teeth, and washed face (and various other body parts) should make me presentable and tolerable. If I decide to go. Ach. I hate headaches with a passion.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Passion

  1. Barbara says:

    Did you go to the Insight service? If so, how was it? It surprised me to learn of your interest in collective societies. That usually requires a genuine desire to be a part of a dedicated, cohesive group and less of a desire for individuality and ambition. It also requires a huge amount of trust in your fellow persons and commitment to the common goal. I remember you as being a very ambitious individual, a bit of a loner and someone who would hesitate before trusting too much. However, that was the young John. Yesterday, I was researching a few cults and today I researched the differences between a cult and a kibbutz and that made for some interesting reading.

    I hope you are feeling better. There are some really nasty viruses going around. Remember, I am an x-ray tech in an urgent care and primary care setting and we are seeing many non COVID and non Influenza illnesses. May I be bold enough to inquire about your recent CAT Scan? I may not come on your blog very often, but you always offer me something to think about. Have a very good and headache free evening.

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