In Search of the Absolute
This week I have consulted for the Kibbutz movement in Israel.
The kibbutzim believe in equality, fairness, equal opportunity for all, sharing, and mutual support, among other great ideas.
To fulfill this ideology every member in a kibbutz works with no salary. They get some allowance determined by the size of the family. That is all. Each member works in whatever they are qualified or asked to work. Some work outside the kibbutz, like doctors in a hospital, or managers of factories, and all of their income goes to the kibbutz. They get the equal allowance like anyone else.
Health is free. So is food and education.
This is how it started. Some still practice it but they are a minority.
Today the kibbutz is experiencing a lot of pressure to change.
Members want freedom to choose. The allowance was increased and now members chose what to eat for which they pay. Their allowance is also for buying clothes, which they chose from. Some kibbutzim discontinued the equal allowance and now give different amounts like a salary to every member depending on the task they perform.
In other words “equality” is not followed religiously anymore.
My insight is that whenever you have multiple incompatible factors in a dynamic situation, the absolute can not exist.
We are only equal when we are dead.
People ask for equality, for democracy, for love, for health, for happiness and now I realize they are all a passing experiences; one cannot hold one’s breath because these concepts are vulnerable. With time they might deteriorate. They cannot be absolute
What is going on is that whenever multiple subsystems are involved, whenever multiple incompatible factors are involved, there cannot be a steady optimum-a steady equality.
A workable equality, for instance, is that once you are above and once I am above. It is like a “trembling” equilibrium. Take a marriage for instance. There can be no absolute equality on everything all the time. In reality once you win and another time I win. That will be a working equality.
It is a non-working equality when one is above the other permanently or continuously.
To be totally equal continuously means that there is no change. Only in death we are totally and continuously equal.
Those, what I will call, absolute concepts are a vision: We want them but they are never achievable, or if achievable they are not steady. They need to be maintained to be sustainable.
One has to continuously drive to reach them and improve the situation so they are asymptotically reach-able.