DEGANYA ALEF, Israel (AFP) - Much has changed since Riva Kippins, 84, was a young child in Israel's oldest kibbutz, where the socialist utopia is long gone. She says it is still paradise — but tainted by money.
The socialist ideals that once ruled every aspect of life in Deganya Alef, founded in Ottoman Palestine in 1910 by a group of young and idealistic east European Jews, are today deeply imbued with capitalist concepts.
"My childhood was an elated paradise. Today this is still paradise, but less so," says Kippins, one of the first children born in what was a unique social experiment.
"Today things have changed. The second you introduce money it ruins life," she grumbles, food tray in hand by the common dining room's cash register.
Until 15 years ago, the meals prepared in the communal kitchen were free. But today kibbutz members have to pay 15 shekels (four dollars) for the food.
In the past, kibbutz members would not earn salaries and the kibbutz provided for their every need. Today Deganya members working in the kibbutz or outside earn salaries like anyone else in Israel.
For one thing, all kibbutz property — including homes, communal buildings, its dairy farm and its successful stone-cutting blades factory — are owned by the community.
And many expenditure and policy decisions are still made at meetings attended by the entire community.
While the "Deganya model" is being adopted by several other kibbutzim across the country, some still stick to more traditional ways.
Out of 256 kibbutzim, the 74 that still have an entirely communal system and no individual salaries are also the wealthiest, Getz says.
"Kibbutzim are still trying to maintain a small part of their basic ideals. They are still unique in certain ways that can't make them a normal village — mainly the principle of solidarity and communal property," he says.
According to a poll conducted by his centre, 80 percent of kibbutz members still hold extremely socialist views.
But although kibbutzim today are turning a profit, their members have lost the influence they once had on Israeli society.
"Kibbutzniks" who used to be disproportionately represented in Israel's military and political leadership in the first three decades of the Jewish state's existence have now been pushed to the sidelines of public life.
The popularity of the kibbutz plummeted after the nationalist Likud party was elected in 1977 following nearly 40 years of hegemony by the socialist Mapai, which was reluctant to reform financially ailing kibbutzim, Getz says.
RLCC Comment: The fascist Likudniks killed the spirit. It was at the same time that Thatcher and Reagan came along ruining the direction. We're all paying for it now with global warming and a global recession that is really a depression where food is concerned.
Out of 256 kibbutzim, the 74 that still have an entirely communal system and no individual salaries are also the wealthiest.
Jesus was and is a small-c Communist. It's the right way. It's the unselfish way. The selfish spirit brings death and destruction. Watch.
, obtained via: , April 18, 2008, 9:18am