Wenger’s Kibbutz

Wenger regarded his childhood as "like being brought up in a kibbutz". He now must realize that the kibbutzim disappeared because they did not adapt to their surroundings



A kibbutz (“gathering, clustering”; plural kibbutzim) is a collective community in Israel. Kibbutzim began as Utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism.

The kibbutzim’s main drive was to create an equal society, based on collective spirit and communal work. People in the Kibbutz had to work and get paid as much as their colleagues – no matter what. The dairy farmer made exactly the same as the teacher and the Kibbutz “CEO” made just as much as the gardener.

Education was very important in the Kibbutz – because each community had to grow, on their own, ideological members, who would keep the Kibbutz together. As a result some of the most brilliant Israeli thinkers, writers and entrepreneurs are former “Kibbutznikim”.

There were also some really fucked up stuff in the Kibbutzim: The Kibbutz members took the “it takes a village” idiom too far and abandoned their job as parents. The children slept in children’s houses and visited their parents only a few hours a day. It had some really bad social/psychological effects on their adulthood.

Today the Kibbutz is archaic institution. Some are successful but most lose money, lose population and some have disappeared completely. Politics made kibbutz leadership suppress innovators and critical thinkers. On top of that, the adoption of non-cooperative beliefs in all of the Israeli society, affected the moral and structural support of kibbutzim.

Basically, the kibbutzim were not capable of dealing with the increase in the standard of living in order to keep the communal values relevant, which eventually led to the changes in patterns of life of many members. That harmed the relevancy of the communal framework which was not adapted to this.

I think that the kibbutzim could have survived. But they did not hold firmly to their ideologies (there was an extensive privatization process of the kibbutz services), they did not adapt to changes and didn’t upgrade their education systems well enough. Also, politics got in the way and destroyed the kibbutzim from the inside. Good people left to make money elsewhere, the education system was eroded and the eventually capitalistic tsunami washed them all.

It’s not as if the Kibbutzim didn’t have money – they had money, lots of it – but they didn’t use it the right way. The kibbutzim that survived were these that changed their financial model – and rewarded good workers better and gave them more economic freedom.

Now for  football.

Arsène Wenger confessed Arsenal had “a more socialist” model than other Premier League teams. “We don’t have a big gap ­between what our players earn at Arsenal,” said Wenger. “We are more a socialist model and vulnerable because of that.”

Arsenal are “vulnerable” despite having the fourth highest wages spend in the Premier League (£155million a year – behind only the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea). They are vulnerable because their best men left them for better places for them – although it was entirely possible to keep them with a more efficient pay structure (say not paying Marouane Chamakh, Abou Diaby, Sebastien Squillaci, Andre Santos and Johan Djourou about £60,000 per week each).

Arsenal suffered from a classic case of human capital flight.

Wenger regarded his childhood as “like being brought up in a kibbutz” but he now must realize that the kibbutzim failed. Their best men and women left for a better life style and these Utopian socialist societies perished.

He now must change Arsenal’s fate – starting with a new financial attitude: Equal payment to the squad is a nice idea but there must be a right hierarchy – that will help emphasize who are the leaders – the main “brains” of the team  This will keep them at the club. He also most embrace and not suppress innovators and critical thinkers.

If Alex Ferguson, a natural-born socialist, understands that – Wenger should also figure it out after 8 years of failure.


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