14 June 2009

Trialogue: beyond the Austrian bourgeois society of the early twentieth century

holding environment? courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorfiot/

"The kibbutnzik was originally adult oriented. Children came into the vision of the small, self-sufficient, egalitarian commune as something of an afterthought. Desirous of rigorous equality between members, it became evident that the birth of children presented a problem because they gave unequally to the work force. Instead of falling back upon models of child-rearing they had experienced, horrified as they were by the passivity of their own father's accommodations to the shtetl, the kibbutzniks started something new.
Children's houses were established and caretakers (metapalets) were assigned to them. The children are placed under the direct care of the metapalets from their first few weeks onward. They are always in each other's presence in the dormitories and play-yard. Their periods with parents are very carefully scheduled as to time and place. Only after graduating through the hierarchy of children's houses, each graded by age, do children have access to their parents as fellow adult kibbutzniks.
In reality the children of this dream are different from their parents' anticipation. They seem emotionally flatter, less vivid people than their parents. They tend to be materialistic and prosaic, not spiritual or poetic like their fathers. Although not suffering from inner conflict like their parents in which the heights of ecstatic creativity and the depths of paranoid despair were expectable mood swings, these children show, in many respects, those responses of the middle range. Group solidarity, dispassionate but enduring love for their farmland, guide their vocational choices.
While experiencing less volatility, these children may be happier than most children of the industrial age. Continually challenged to do, rather than to feel or to be self-conscious about feelings, and having before them the full range of adult technology available to them in the kibbutz, they fantasize less and are more directly satisfied.
And the father figure? It seems to have gone underground as a distinct introject; fathers form no clear cognitive presence for the internal dialogue of thinking and imagining. In the minds of their children, the figures of veneration and allegiance are the peers, the kibbutz as a whole or the parental pair, not the actual biological father.
The distinctive characteristics of the sabre kibbutznik are not finally drawn by the research literature. One reason for this may be precisely the wider range of options available to the sabre for identification. The young kibbutznik's primary loyalty to peers can lead to violent anti-authoritarianism; or to quiet communitarianism; or to bureaucratic preoccupation. Allegiance to the kibbutz itself can yield a return to kibbutz life as an adult, or it can lead to urbanised massenmench, bourgeois existence, or to militant nationalism in a perennially crisis-torn state. Close identification with the parenting pair can, in turn, evoke caretaking behavior, or romantic idealization of the childless partnering of liberated adults."
– Leighton McCutcheon The Father Figure in Psychology and Religion, 1972.

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