How Kibbutzim Are Teaching Their Residents the Value of Free Markets

Over the course of several decades, kibbutzim have introduced limited private property, unequal wages, and other reforms of their once strictly socialist systems. According to a recent study, these changes have increased individual kibbutzniks’ appreciation for economic freedom. Ilya Somin comments:

The results of the study are notable because kibbutz residents are mostly either people who were raised on the institution’s socialist values or moved there out of ideological commitment. Thus, they are far likelier to be hostile to markets and property rights than the average Israeli, or for that matter the average person in almost any liberal democratic society. And social-science research shows that most people are highly averse to evidence that cuts against their preexisting political views. Nonetheless, the superiority of market institutions over socialism is so striking that people who have direct first-hand experience of both tend to prefer the former, even in a case like this one, where they started off as strongly committed socialists. . . .

[M]ost of these kibbutzniks did not become thoroughgoing enthusiasts for laissez-faire, and they continue to support welfare-state redistribution, sometimes even more than before. But the shift in their attitudes is nonetheless striking. It is notable not just because kibbutzniks are predisposed to be hostile to market institutions, but also because the kibbutz setting was an unusually favorable one for socialism.

By contrast, moshavim, Israeli agricultural settlements that reserve a much greater role for markets and private property rights, have proved far more durable and successful, even though, as one moshavnik lamented when I visited her community in 2016, “the kibbutz has better PR” than moshavim do. The kibbutz has become famous around the world. But few people outside of Israel know what a moshav is, other than a few experts on property rights.

Read more at Volokh Conspiracy

More about: Free market, Israeli economy, Kibbutz movement

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship