Re[2]: DSM: kibbutzim schools and SVM

From: David Rovner, B. Arch. (rovners@netvision.net.il)
Date: Thu Jun 14 2001 - 04:42:12 EDT


Ardeshir Mehta, N. D. and Martin Wilke,
See bellow the difference between a collectivist approach,
and an individual rights approach.
***********************

>I am reminded in this regard of a story Moshe Dayan re-
>counts in his autobiography. He says that when he was just
>a kid, he and his parents and relatives used to go once in a
>while to visit an aged relative of theirs (I forget if it was his
>grandmother, or grand-aunt, or what.) She always used to
>ask after the little children, but never asked *what* they
>were doing: she would only ask whether, whatever it was
>that they were doing, they were doing it with *all their
>heart*.

>Now *that's* the right attitude! And even when I was in Is-
>rael, that attitude had not altogether disappeared from the
>kibbutzniks.

There is a Hebrew saying:
"The way to hell is paved with good intentions."

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment, because
It makes a difference whether one thinks that one is dealing with
human errors of knowledge or with human evil.

***********************
>Mind you, I am not saying that there is not another sort of
>imbalance of power on kibbutzim: namely, the imbalance
>that arises because some people have a flair for politics,
>while others don't. But I have yet to come up with a solu-
>tion to *this* imbalance. In fact I have yet to see *anyone*
>come up with a solution to this imbalance.

There is another Hebrew saying:
"Thou not block the ox's mouth when he is grinding the wheat";
Talent is talent -- and talent is worth of reward. Otherwise, you
praise and prize clumsiness and inability.

***********************
>However, when wealth gets to be privately owned, those
>who own a lot more wealth are able to impose their will on
>others. That is one reason why private ownership of wealth
>was considered by the founders of kibbutzim to be incom-
>patible with fundamental principles of social justice.

And there is a third Hebrew saying:
"The owner of one-hundred (in money) is the owner of the decision"
I think you will agree that if wealth is earned honestly,
you should have the right to make the final decision
of what to do with the money. Don't you think so?

********************
>Indeed. The point here is to ask oneself whether it is ra-
>tional or not for the kibbutzniks to ban private ownership
>of wealth. I think it is eminently rational. It is based on the
>fact that a gross imbalance in the amount of wealth people
>are allowed to own privately is not compatible with the
>principles of fundamental justice, because power -- and
>thence, the ability to impose one's will on others, some-
>times subtly and at other times not so subtly -- inevitably
>accrues to the possessor(s) of wealth.

The amount of wealth people are allowed to own privately is
compatible with the principles of fundamental justice, since
they earned it honestly and because they are talented.

But, INTERVENTION of government itself produces the imbalance
of power: On one side, government grants tax rebates, subsidies, etc,
etc, to industries, enterprises, and others. On the other side it grants
allowances, gratuities, awards, scholarships, relief, social assistance,
etc, etc, to the needy.

If people make money because of the intervention of government,
that's what produces social injustice.

The role of individual rights is preventing from happening the
forced imposition of one's will on others, subtly or not subtly.
Every deal should be done as a win-win transaction. Both
parts must benefit from it.

******************************

>I also do not think it is just or equitable that a person who
>has a talent for accumulating wealth is able to amass huge
>quantities of it, while others, who are not talented in that
>line, are not able to amass even enough to sustain their very
>needs of life.

>Now the question that arises is, is it just, equitable and fair
>that some people are able to make a lot more money than
>others, simply because they have a talent for that sort of
>thing? It is to be remembered that the possession of money
>and wealth is also accompanied by a lot of power. This is
>not the case with the possession of a green thumb or a
>gourmet palate. Not even with a penchant for theoretical
>physics.

>It seems, at least to me, that it is NOT just, equitable or
>fair. (Does it seem so to you?)

When people makes money because they are talented, it's all right,
as far as I am concerned.

But, INTERVENTION of government itself produces the imbalance
of power: On one side, government grants tax rebates, subsidies, etc,
etc, to industries, enterprises, and others. On the other side it grants
allowances, gratuities, awards, scholarships, relief, social assistance,
etc, etc, to the needy.

If people make money because of the intervention of government,
that's what produces social injustice.

******************

>The point here is to ask oneself whether it is ra-
>tional or not for the kibbutzniks to ban private ownership
>of wealth.

In an irrational, immoral system you cannot ask the individual
to act rationally.
It is very difficult to lead a rational life in an irrational society.
Still it doesn't justify this conduct.

As an ideal, it is not just, and not equitable and fair that some people
are making a lot more money than others, but it all depends how
come this happens.

Wealth accumulation sometimes depends only on the talent
of a person -- but many times it is a consequence of the intervention
of government by the bestowing, on one side, grants to industries,
tax rebates, subsidies, etc, etc, and on the other side allowances, gratuities,
awards, scholarships, relief and social assistance for the poor.
This means collecting tax money and then redistributing it.

Balance of power is an Utopia. You don't see a balance of power
in nature. There is an imbalance of power between a lion and a
gazelle. Man's pretentiousness makes us think that we can change
that in human race -- still, we don't give up . . .

But, INTERVENTION of government itself produces the imbalance
of power: On one side, grants to industries, tax rebates, subsidies, etc,
etc, on the other side allowances, gratuities, awards, scholarships,
relief, social assistance for the poor, etc, etc,.

So, let's control government . . . easy task ! !

That's why individual rights were invented for. But nobody
honors 100% individual rights: most nations still have compulsory draft (after
Vietnam's War the U.S.A. acted rationally and abolished the draft),
compulsory education, compulsory taxes etc, etc,.

Democracy is utopia. Also socialism and capitalism are such.
No nation is today or has ever been a pure democracy, a pure
socialist country or pure capitalism; the political regime
of all of them is a mixed economy/welfare statism in various
degrees. All of them corrupted their ideology, for instance,
Communism was corrupted by Stalin. Socialism by Bismark
and Atlee. Capitalism in some extent by all American
presidents.
  
Social justice is also directly related with the political view
of a nation and the individuals. The way of reaching social
justice and the concept of social justice is not the same in
each one of the different regimes.

A PURE socialist regime is based in the redistribution of
wealth and negation of private property rights.
A PURE capitalist regime is based in the recognition of
human rights, including property rights, and all property is
privately owned.

The goal should be "Live and let Live."

>one of the tenets of social justice is
>that one should not be able to impose one's will on others.

But governments allow themselves to be immoral:
they do impose their own will on others (on the citizens).
So, we must apply morality not just in the personal realm but
also in the public realm -- and that includes the nations'
political philosophy.

If you happen to leave the kibbutz after living there almost
your entire life, you take with you very little property.
Would you say that's social justice?

If socialism was founded on the notion of social justice,
that doesn't mean it succeeded in establishing a just society.
*******************************

As for the exams issue, I agree with Daniel Greenberg that
Standard Tests Destroy the Educational System.

David Rovner rovners@netvision.net.il

BTW, "sympatico" in Spanish should be written:
"simpatico" with an accent on the "a".

Yes, I do speak Spanish, I was born in Mexico City.

---------- Original Message ----------

>From: "Ardeshir Mehta, N.D." <ardeshir@sympatico.ca>
>To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
>Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 19:23:23 -0400
>Subject: Re: DSM: kibbutzim schools and SVM

>Hi David:

>You wrote:

>> Ardeshir,
>> I think you should visit Israel again.

>I'd love to -- but there are financial and other constraints! :-(

>> > Perhaps most people on the
>> > list aren't really interested in this subject.
>>
>> That's a cognitive distortion -- it's called "overgeneralization".
>> You feel the way you think (see: Feeling Good -
>> The New Mood Therapy by David Burns).

>Oh no: I personally AM interested. But it would not be too
>good to inflict my own interest on others, would it?

>> I'd rather say people either don't feel the SUBJECT
>> is relevant to their lives -- that I believe is a mistake --
>> or they aren't well versed on it . . . they might also not
>> be in the mood to comment ! !

>It's possible, yes. I do agree with this.

>> I think there is a direct relation between:
>> 1. the country's regime and its educational system, and
>> 2. the political view of a person and its readiness to
>> support a democratic school or any other school.

>Yes, indeed.

>But remember that kibbutzim account for less than 3% of
>Israel's population -- and at no time has the percentage been
>higher than about four. This means we are not talking about
>mainstream Israel here.

>> >Since the kibbutzim are all founded on principles of
>> >participatory democracy, it would seem to be logical that
>> >those who raise their children with the hope that they,
>> >too, will opt for the kibbutz lifestyle when they become
>> >adults would like to raise these children in a manner
>> >which would make them as familiar as possible with the
>> >principles of participatory democracy. Therefore I would
>> >have thought that the philosophy of the Sudbury schools
>> >would be both welcome and familiar to such people.
>>
>> The fact is they are not.
>>
>> What is a "real" democracy?:
>> 1. just a participatory democracy?
>> 2. just a democracy protecting the rights of individuals?
>> 3. BOTH options plus universal suffrage?

>This is a subject that is actually very germane, both to Sud-
>bury / Summerhill type schools as well as to kibbutzim.

>Democracy by itself is not the goal, at least not in my
>opinion. The goal is social justice. Democracy is a means to
>that goal. Indeed it is the only practical means, because
>human beings are imperfect.

>As I understand it, kibbutzim were founded on the notion
>of social justice. And one of the tenets of social justice is
>that one should not be able to impose one's will on others.

>Would you not agree?

>However, when wealth gets to be privately owned, those
>who own a lot more wealth are able to impose their will on
>others. That is one reason why private ownership of wealth
>was considered by the founders of kibbutzim to be incom-
>patible with fundamental principles of social justice.

>I happen to agree. Would you disagree with the reasoning
>above? If so, why?

>I also do not think it is just or equitable that a person who
>has a talent for accumulating wealth is able to amass huge
>quantities of it, while others, who are not talented in that
>line, are not able to amass even enough to sustain their very
>needs of life.

>Wealth accumulation is a talent, much like music, knowing
>many languages, or dancing. I for example am talented in
>pure theoretical physics and mathematics -- I can, for ex-
>ample, run rings around the Theory of Relativity, poking
>serious holes in the most celebrated physics work of the
>twentieth century. Not too many people in the entire world
>can do this.

>I am also talented in cooking, gardening and writing. Not
>everyone can do these things well, either.

>But I am NOT talented in accumulating wealth, and never
>have been, and perhaps never will be. I am comfortably off,
>financially, but not rich. During a fairly long life -- I am now
>almost 58 -- I have often lived below the poverty line. And
>I have never made much money from my talents.

>Other people, in contrast -- some of whom I count among
>my own friends and relatives -- are *very* good at making
>money. One of my friends lives in Beverley Hills, another
>in a classy suburb of New York. They make many times
>more money than I do. They can do it in their sleep, just as
>I can run rings around the Theory of Relativity in my sleep.
>(Well, almost.)

>Now the question that arises is, is it just, equitable and fair
>that some people are able to make a lot more money than
>others, simply because they have a talent for that sort of
>thing? It is to be remembered that the possession of money
>and wealth is also accompanied by a lot of power. This is
>not the case with the possession of a green thumb or a
>gourmet palate. Not even with a penchant for theoretical
>physics.

>It seems, at least to me, that it is NOT just, equitable or
>fair. (Does it seem so to you?)

>That, anyway, is also why the kibbutzim do not permit the
>liberty of owning private property -- or so I gather.

>This does not mean that individual rights are ignored: it
>means, however, that just as one does not have the right to
>impose one's will on others, one does not have the right to
>own so much more wealth than another that it creates a so-
>cial imbalance of power.

>Mind you, I am not saying that there is not another sort of
>imbalance of power on kibbutzim: namely, the imbalance
>that arises because some people have a flair for politics,
>while others don't. But I have yet to come up with a solu-
>tion to *this* imbalance. In fact I have yet to see *anyone*
>come up with a solution to this imbalance.

>> There are many kinds/styles of individualism.
>> I can think of at least two kinds/styles of individualism:
>> one rational and another one irrational.

>Indeed. The point here is to ask oneself whether it is ra-
>tional or not for the kibbutzniks to ban private ownership
>of wealth. I think it is eminently rational. It is based on the
>fact that a gross imbalance in the amount of wealth people
>are allowed to own privately is not compatible with the
>principles of fundamental justice, because power -- and
>thence, the ability to impose one's will on others, some-
>times subtly and at other times not so subtly -- inevitably
>accrues to the possessor(s) of wealth.

>> >In Israel, at least in the early years of the
>> >kibbutzim, kibbutz children would not even sit for the
>> >*bagrut* -- the official Israeli school leaving certificate
>> >examination.
>>
>> Today they all sit for the *bagrut* -- the official Israeli
>> school leaving certificate examination. That is, if they
>> want to enter College. By the way, they also sit for the
>> Israeli SAT (Psychometric exams in Israel) if they
>> wish to enter College -- that leads to huge problems:
>> in the domain of equal opportunities, freedom of
>> learning, justice, integrity, creation of elite groups, etc., etc.

>I am sorry to hear all this. Even when I myself was in Israel
>-- from 1968 to '76 -- the attitude on the kibbutzim toward
>education was very cavalier. (This was long after the fifties
>and before, when, I heard, things were *really* wild!) I at-
>tended the Faculty of Agriculture, and many of my class-
>mates were kibbutzniks. Most of them were older persons,
>in their thirties and even forties, who had been working at
>their jobs for years before they came to the university.
>They were already experts: they merely wanted to become
>even more expert at whatever it was they were expert in.
>But they never cared for the degree, only for the knowledge.
>The degree did not, in any case, mean anything to the kib-
>butz.

>My adoptive "father" on Kibbutz Tsor'ah, Arthur Abra-
>hams, had studied at the Faculty of Agriculture just like I
>did, only he did so a few years before me. He told me he
>never sat for the final exams. He said he was there only to
>acquire the knowledge, not to earn a degree. He also said
>there were plenty of other kibbutzniks like him.

>Even the professors were, to some extent, sympathetic to
>this attitude -- at least those who were themselves kib-
>butzniks. One of them, who taught animal husbandry, told
>us at the start of the semester that he didn't care whether
>we passed exams or not, he only wanted to be sure we
>learned something. I thought of testing him: on my last day
>in class I simply left my notebook on my chair and walked
>away, and did not sit for the exam. I never even told him I
>would not be sitting for the exam. He must have glanced
>through my notebook, though, because he gave me an 85%
>grade!

>I am exceedingly sorry to learn that all this has now gone by
>the wayside. It almost makes me feel like NOT returning to
>Israel.

>I am reminded in this regard of a story Moshe Dayan re-
>counts in his autobiography. He says that when he was just
>a kid, he and his parents and relatives used to go once in a
>while to visit an aged relative of theirs (I forget if it was his
>grandmother, or grand-aunt, or what.) She always used to
>ask after the little children, but never asked *what* they
>were doing: she would only ask whether, whatever it was
>that they were doing, they were doing it with *all their
>heart*.

>Now *that's* the right attitude! And even when I was in Is-
>rael, that attitude had not altogether disappeared from the
>kibbutzniks.

>> ... Israel is completely different today
>> than it was forty, thirty, twenty or even ten years ago, and
>> that includes kibbutzim. That's why I think you should visit
>> Israel again -- you are invited.

>You are most kind. But as I said, there are many obstacles
>in the way at present. But one day ... perhaps one day!

>> P.S. I'm including below copy of one more posting
>> other than mine on this subject.
>>
>> ---------- Original Message ----------
>>
>> David Rovner schrieb:
>> >
>> > Ardeshir Mehta wrote:
>> > >In Israel there are four main "movements" among
>> > >kibbutzim, all of which are founded on strict democratic
>> > >principles (for adults).
>> >
>> > Kibbutzim are not democratic -- as I understand
>> > democracy.
>> > Kibbutzim are based on Socialist Ideology, so they are lacking
>> > individual rights -- they just honor the majority decision
>> > aspect of democracy.
>> >
>> > David Rovner rovners@netvision.net.il
>>
>> I disagree. Socialism can be everything from libertarian to dictatorial,
>> as well as capitalism may or may not be democratic.
>> The right to property is not the only individual right. And each right
>> can only go as far as it doesn't infringe on other people's individual
>> rights or their possibilities to development.
>>
>> Martin Wilke

>Yes, indeed. And I quite agree with Martin. The rights of
>the individual should be balanced against the rights of soci-
>ety as a whole, otherwise there can be no justice.

>I repeat: IMHO, democracy is not the goal, but only the
>means to the goal. The goal has to be social justice.

>This goes for Sudbury schools, kibbutzim, or indeed any
>other institution, or even country.

>Ardeshir <http://homepage.mac.com/ardeshir/education.html

>************************************************************

===========

If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please send an email TO
majordomo@sudval.org with the following phrase in the BODY (not the
subject) of the message:

unsubscribe discuss-sudbury-model [the-subscribed-email]

If you are interested in the subject, but the volume of mail sent is too much,
you may wish to consider unsubscribing from this list and subscribing to
"dsm-digest"

This mailing list is archived at http://www.sudval.org/~sdg/archives



This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Mon Nov 05 2001 - 20:24:29 EST