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Venezuela just defaulted, moving deeper into crisis (cnn.com)
101 points by Shivetya 5 days ago | hide | past | web | 146 comments | favorite





> Since Venezuela doesn't have the money to pay all its bondholders right now, investors would then be entitled to seize the country's assets -- primarily barrels of oil -- outside its borders.

Is there any historical precedent for a scenario like this?


Yep - an Argentine tall ship was seized this way in Ghana: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/10/22/163384810/why-...

...and returned shortly thereafter.

It appears they did pay $20 million though, which is pennies on the dollar, but still (probably) worth it.

The ship was released after an ICJ ruling: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/20/argentina-sail...

There was a change in policy after Macri was elected, and the bondholders ended up getting paid $6.5 billion, but that was just a change in policy, not a response to any kind of threat.


The funds involved made far more than $20M.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/business/dealbook/how-arg...


Yeh the hedge funds buying old Argentine debt second-hand for pennies on the dollar and then holding out for 100% was pretty ... yuck.

How much should Argentina be able to cheat their lenders out of before it stops being yucky? Or would it be better to prohibit trading bonds on the secondary market, driving up borrowing costs for everyone?

Framing Argentina as some scheming, cheating bad guy and the bond-holders as some courageous crusaders trying to make the world a better place somehow by driving down borrowing costs is a real stretch.

That’s typically what bad debt buyers do. The discount is on the chance of the debtor paying, not a new amount they are supposed to pay.

I should've been clearer, I'm all over the place today and didn't finish my thought. I was referring to the "vulture funds", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_debt_restructuring#B... who went a little further than that. Here's something from the linked article:

" Upon default, Argentina's bondholders sued to be repaid 100% of their bonds' face value.[6][20][21] Among the bondholders were vulture funds, who had speculatively acquired US$1.3 billion of the bonds' total value on the secondary market for cents on the dollar after the 2001 default.[5][22] Vulture funds also owned a large quantity of credit default swaps (CDS) against Argentine bonds. This created a further incentive to not only trigger a default against Argentina; but also to undermine the value of the bonds themselves, as the CDS would pay out at a higher rate if the defaulted bonds decline to extremely low values.[22] "


Actually the whole Argentina situation has helped evolve how sovereign debt is issued. Argentina's bonds lacked what is called a collective action clause which allows the bonds of all bond holders to be restructured if a predetermined percentage of the bondholders vote for a voluntary restructuring. It was further complicated by the fact that the swapped bonds had a clause that said that granted them most favored nation status if there was any further restructuring.

That entry is extremely opinionated and does not necessarily reflect reality in all cases. The part on CDS "incentives" highly depends on what CDS and bonds owned (a lot of CDS in this case used as a hedge) and a lot of people lost a lot of money on bad trades involving both.

Could you edit the entry to be less opinionated?

You can call the vulture founds, but the facts of the matter is that the original owners would rather recover some of their money, for sure, than lose all of them, and that they have somebody to sell to means ultimately lower borrowing prices for everybody.

Military powers and economic interests rarely have compunction. Haiti payed reparations to France for freeing itself from colonization (and most of its people from slavery).[1]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/External_debt_of_Haiti#Indepen...


I'm no anarchist nor know about all the technicalities involved, but at what point does Venezuela become vulnerable to invasions from countries which they share a border with (E.g. Brazil, Colombia)? I'm assuming if you don't have enough money to run a country, you certainly don't have enough to protect the border and power the military.

It's way more likely that something like that would happen at the time Venezuela closed their borders and prohibited foreigners from leaving than now that they simply didn't pay some debit. It didn't then (got solved by diplomacy), it won't now.

Besides, Venezuela's military is large enough to be a threat to Brazil and Colombia. All on wars haven't happened on South America for a long time, it is very unlikely that one will simply happen between not-too-asymmetrical powers.

At least here in Brazil, the government would fall if it decided to send people to die there.


I won't pretend to know the details of Venezuela but this doesn't necessarily follow.

What they've done is default on a bond payment. That doesn't mean that they have no money. The article has a graphic that says they have $9bn in reserves (though no details).

What it does mean is that, of the money they do have, they chose not to meet a financial obligation. There will likely be repercussions of this move but defaulting and being broke are different things.

Now, of all the people you probably want to make sure are paid are your military. Not so much to stop invasions but because the words "military" and "coup" have gone together often enough in history.


The thing is nobody wants to inherit this mess.

You’re mixing up debts in foreign currencies and ones in national currency. The former is the issue. As long as the national currency is accepted and traded by the population (which they can effectively enforce upon them through taxation) then the state can simply sign a contract, flip some bits in the national accounting table and proceed that way. The problem here is that Venezuela has a very disfunctional market economy (it is bad enough under the champagne socialists, and the US being involved in geo-economic/imperialist opportunism there isnt helping them) and a large black market which is mostly denominated in US currency and to which the population is increasingly dependent upon. If the economy worsens, that could further undermine the national currency and weaken the central government. The US of course wants that to happen so they can install a puppet government and secure natural resources in the south american hemisphere. It’s really a mixture of corrupt centralized government making all the wrong policy decisions and nefarious outside influences.

Real concerns start to rise up about that on multiple levels, including some non-traditional military conquest type scenarios.

For example, how long does the rest of the world watch as Venezuela possibly descends into genocide and starvation? They're pretty close to starvation / famine now. Then if outside nations act, the ruling regime uses that as a tool to increase domestic patriotism to increase the power of said regime (if only temporarily). When Trump made the mistake of opening his mouth about Venezuela and the mess there, Maduro immediately utilized it for nationalistic purposes to give himself a small prop-up (Trump has lowered the volume since, on advice no doubt).

If Venezuela were to allow foreign nations in to help stabilize the country, what are the risks that those invited guests then plunder or annex (whether directly in a traditional sense, or by occupation & refusing to leave). From a very long historical perspective, that has to be taken seriously given the extraordinary energy resources of Venezuela. They've put themselves in a very precarious situation.


Judging from Zimbabwe's example, the rest of the world will watch it descend all the way down.

No private company wants to send in resources and investment just to see it nationalized. No government wants to buy oil with blood when they could get it more cheaply for cash on the open market. The most that would likely happen is covert support of rebels via third-party cutouts. For instance, the CIA (the US) might funnel resources through the existing US relationship with the Colombian national military, ostensibly to manage the FARC/ELN conflict and combat drug smuggling, but secretly also to smuggle supplies and dollars into Venezuela to support reformists.


The Venezuelan authorities depend on the military to keep themselves in power. So they will continue to fund the military even as the rest of the country disintegrates.

That's why the Cubans are there, to protect the Revolution. And make sure that money keeps flowing the Havana

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/05/ma...

https://panampost.com/orlando-avendano/2017/07/20/cuba-has-o...


> at what point does Venezuela become vulnerable to invasions from countries which they share a border with (E.g. Brazil, Colombia)?

Why would Brazil or Colombia want to be bogged down in Venezuela? If it becomes a failed state and a haven for attacks on neighbors, raids against the forces using as a haven are likely, but no one (except maybe the US, because that's kind of our M.O.) is likely try to invade and occupy, even to establish a new regime and then hopefully leave.


Why would any other south american country invade Venezuela at all due to defaults?

Oil. Venezuela has an ocean of the stuff.

So much so they decided to base their entire planned economy on it, which didn’t exactly work out.

Almost like an economy that can adapt on its own might be a better idea, but I digress.


So does Brazil, the largest power in SA. We don't have this invasion surge thingy here, at least not since a while ago.

>Almost like an economy that can adapt on its own might be a better idea, but I digress.

Works just fine in the US. Not like people are dying on the streets due to lack of healthcare or anything


Lived here my whole life, never seen anyone die in the street. Anyway a few people needing healthcare vs everyone literally starving, I know what I would take.

I'm sure some opportunistic corrupt SA politician can see some use cases for what was once Venezuela.

Politically and economically speaking? Hell yeah, just about the same if it were in any other continent, but not invading it for whatever reason. I honestly doubt any SA power would even send peace corps if the UN for some bizarre reason requested it.

they only have to seized a few oil fields they are owed and do that via corporations and private security, no invasion pe se.

The days of invasions are long gone, instead what you have is annexation actions like what Russia did with Crimea. Lots of people in Crimea are ethnically Russian, and they were tired of Ukrainian rule, so they sat by and let the Russians take over.

Militaries don't really prevent invasions. Border security is about more than just securing from outside belligerence. It also does things like keeping fishermen from fishing in your waters, drug cartels from operating freely, and the like.


They have an alleged drug trafficker running negotiations, so this might not end well: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/drug-king...

I wonder how you get here while exporting $20B of oil annually.

Where did all the money go?


As a Venezuelan, living in Venezuela but having lived in the US and China, I can tell you that people here enjoy some very ridiculous subsidies and have to suffer some very draconian laws, which aside from corruption, mismanagement, etc. represent the main factor of how we got here.

College is free, hospitals and medicine at those hospitals is free (quality in those places has gone down the drain over the decades, so if they can afford it, people prefer the private ones), a 37,000 liter gas truck is actually cheaper than buying a box of eggs. Govt tried to replace the gasoline subsidy with a switch to natural gas in vehicles, and the NGV was being provided for free.

On the economic laws front, since 2013, they have imposed strict currency controls, meaning that you can only buy dollars legally through a government sanctioned auction that is next to impossible to make it work, unless you are a relative of somebody there. That in turn has created a massive chaos on the supply chain, from car parts to medicine and basic goods in general. And as always with these restrictions, flourishing black market with skyrocketing prices that led to the current hyperinflation.

Oh and the vast majority of the population pay very little, if any, in taxes. They just have to "declare". Most tax revenue comes from private companies profits and the state oil company of course.

So people want to have the same socialist services as people enjoy in France without the tax rate, while at the same time you have a govt making it hard for business to operate and massive oil income to support the whole craziness. Recipe for success in the wrong way.


> College is free, hospitals and medicine at those hospitals is free

This labeling of public or subsidized services as "free" always bothered me. They aren't free. The citizens are just paying for it indirectly.

> So people want to have the same socialist services as people enjoy in France without the tax rate

Venezuela was experiencing food shortages and other issues well before oil prices crashed. Even when they still had plenty of money to bandaid these issues the cracks in the system were already very apparent.

The problems were largely a result of the fundamental flaws of a centrally controlled economy and the corruption that system opens the door to, not necessarily their ability to pay for it all.

For example, Venezuela wanted to make food much cheaper so the poor can afford it easier, so they created price controls. But historically price controls have repeatedly resulted in the opposite happening with more expensive food and shortages. Venezuela was no different.

There are plenty of reasons why, one big one is that no country produces all of their own food domestically, they have to import it, and no country is going to sell to Venezuela when they can go to Brazil or Colombia and make more money. So the government has to operate as a middleman and pay the cost difference to keep imports coming in. But this is easier said than done, as it involves plenty of guesswork and projections and micromanagement that wouldn't otherwise be there in a normal market.

It also highly disincentives local businesses from operating efficiently as their margins were gutted and they can no longer compete by winning over customers with better quality products or variety. So Venezuela started to nationalize these businesses and reduced the variety of food available to make managing it centrally easier. People were flooding across the border to Colombia to buy the products they can no longer find in Venezuela.

The same issues happened in plenty of other industries they got involved with, after Chavez announced capitalism was a dead old ideology.

Wikipedia has a good overview: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Economy_of_Venezuela


Agreed and nice overview btw of the food situation. The main woes started because of the draconian laws I mentioned and plain ugly politics. Since the majority of the private sector was against Chavez policies, they were deemed "the enemy" and that is when the whole import lots of food movement started. That food was sold with subsidies in newly created govt stores as a way to bypass the "big bad" expensive private sector. It must be noted that the private sector also ended up trying to boycott the food supply by hoarding products to make prices go up, which is part of what lead to the whole movement.

But long story short, it is the typical situation of two sides fighting instead of reaching an agreement and compromise. The major blow to the industry came in the nationalization of an agricultural products supplier called Agroisleña, which ended up affecting farmers because the new structure that replaced it, was as effective as the Virginia DMV :).

In summary, trying to impose socialism in the economy will always be a big fail.


> College is free

As in most EU countries, even poor ones.

> hospitals and medicine at those hospitals is free

See above.

The other subsidies do seem ridiculous, but unlikely to be the main problem.


But in the EU you pay for those with your taxes, so it is self-sustaining.

It's that plus the corrupt totalitarian government. A free market country with a moderately corrupt govt can work, a mostly socialist country with a good govt can work, but when you put the management of the entire country exclusively into the hands of crooks, this happens.

Socialism mainly fails because it requires a totalitarian government to pull off in its fullest form (everything managed by the state).


I don't think that's entirely it - Socialism fails because we're not post-scarcity.

If we were post-scarcity (in the sense it's commonly meant) it would still fail, because no two desires are the same (either in actual shape/scale or desired implementation). What you want, versus what I want, will never be the same and in most cases it won't be even remotely close to the same. That's true about life ambitions and it's true about basic material desires.

You'd have to reach a state in which all people can have all/any things at all/any times. It's an impossible condition. Humanity's desire for things is unlimited (as witnessed by the last 5,000 years of development).

Conceptually if Joe's neighbor has seven boats, Joe is going to want 10 boats. That's human nature and it can't be smashed out of humanity with force and or mental conditioning. Then what? It requires infinite materialism. And that's to say nothing of the basic human desire to be different (frequently via material objects), to want to stand-out, to be unique, to own unique things, to have a unique expression, that by itself destroys the post-scarcity premise (ie there are many other factors that confound systems like Communism beyond base materialist scarcity questions). That aspect is as old as humanity, is represented even in most primitive tribal systems and it perpetually clashes with Communism's collectivist ethos (which you routinely would see in the rebellions against Communist rule in the 20th century).

The sole means for it to work, is to convert humanity into something else.


State socialism - the precursor to communism according to Marx/Lenin/Engels - does not just 'need' a totalitarian government, it also needs automatons instead of evolved primates to be implemented successfully. While 'by each according to their means, to each according to their needs' may sound fine it only works in the confines of the circle of personal acquaintances - from family to small-scale collective. Large (state) scale socialism inevitably fails because it has its feedback loops twisted: it rewards slacking and punishes those who go the extra mile. As long as the providers have social control over the consumers this can be worked around but this fails on a larger scale.

Douglas Murray wrote an article on the subject of the mysterious glamour which socialism and communism manage to retain, even though these doctrines have been at the base of several of the largest-scale massacres in the history of the world. Venezuela is mentioned a few times but he focuses on the apparent resurge of openly socialist and communist politicians in 'the west':

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453223/russian-revolut...


Corruption [1], I guess. It appears to me that if a country has access to oil or minerals and still has bad infrastructure or a suffering population, it sits high on the corruption index.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_Venezuela


You can't embezzle $20B without massive international cover up operation. These kind of money stick up.

So we should be actually be asking, who's got it? Should not we make them reimburse money towards Venezuela's lenders?


María Gabriela Chávez is worth around $4 billion. Not sure how you’ll ask her to give it back though.

Don't see why you won't put those money towards repaying Venezuela's debts.

You don't go asking of course. International corruption is well past politely asking stage.


And Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former Angolan dictator J. E. dos Santos, has a net worth of 3bn US dollar.

Planet Money has good episode on this exact topic called "How Venezuela Imploded": https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/10/21/498867764/epis...

tldr: They didn't invest the oil revenues wisely and became reliant on high oil prices


Miami.

More specifically, Doral. A little, sleepy bedroom suburb where real estate prices simply defy logic.


You should read "The Prize" and "The Game" by Daniel Yergin. It explains quite clearly (and I agree with the analysis) that Venezeula's big mistake was nationalizing its oil industry while subsidizing its local market.

Squandered of course, in an extreme vote/allegiance buying escapade that was never sustainable by a middle-tier economy. They would have had a lot more time had oil remained at $100 of course. Chavez didn't plan for that oil price plunge just as the Soviets didn't in the 1980s.

Part of Venezuela's problem is erosion of infrastructure. They continually robbed from the necessary reinvestment into their energy production, while managing the state firms in a wildly incompetent manner typical of similar regimes.

We've seen plenty of other authoritarian countries manage their production drastically better, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, so it's not all down to just that factor, it was a special combination of authoritarianism + Chavez incompetence.

You end up with exports that look like this:

https://oilprice.com/images/tinymce/James%207/AE3023.png

While over time your own domestic needs climb some, against falling production that looks like this:

http://peakoilbarrel.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Venezuel...

Once you erode the whole system down far enough, you slip below a level of recovery, where you can no longer afford to actually fix anything even if you theoretically could or wanted to. You start becoming dependent on outside funding, in this case from China and Russia; but even in the case of China, they start to lose their patience if they think they're going to see a hundred billion dollars vaporize entirely with little to no benefit.


The "resource curse" theory would suggest that because it was so easy to get that $20 Billion dollars of oil, there was no need for investment in other parts of the economy. This therefore leads to a crappy country to live in for most of its inhabitants.

[flagged]


Would you please say something substantive instead, like the guidelines ask?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> Where did all the money go?

TL;DR: Socialism.

NTL;WR: Capital flight caused by the arbitrary seizure of private property.

Longer still: They allowed the state to control the oil revenues entirely, and because they wanted to enrich themselves, they promised unsustainable entitlements to the public which eventually fell through when the oil price dropped slightly. Because they didn't give a damn, the private sector was not involved to invest any portion of the revenues, and the government couldn't possibly care less to invest them. Now lacking the revenue they took for granted, the entitlements they promised the public have bankrupted the state, and all good-natured attempts to liberalize the economy (which could save it literally at any point, but with increasing transitional pain) have seemingly been met with threats against life.

Added: Hey cowards, if you dislike this post so much, why don't you make a reply and tell us all why it's wrong? There is probably a civil war on the horizon and you can't help but QB the ideology of the establishment which has turned Venezuela from a forward and developed country with a bright future into a prison hellscape of rape, murder, and mugging.


Complaining about voting like this just injects inflammation and deflects the conversation further off topic. And then users downvote or flag you more because it's against the guidelines. So please just leave it out and comment civilly, substantively, and on-topic instead.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Downvoting for the sake of disagreement alone is also frowned-upon, if not against the guidelines. From what I understand, a downvote or flag should be reserved for content that doesn't add to the discussion or is obviously inappropriate. These comments are being downvoted for no good reason or explanation, and the discussion deserves to exist here, so the downvotes - in this case - should be called out for what they are: cowardly responses to viewpoints that someone just happens to disagree with but can't engage with reason or civil debate.

Pretty much the same thing happened in the 80s when there was a precipitous drop in the price of oil. The anger fomented by that is exactly what got Chavez and his socialist platform elected.

Now, of course, it's "all socialism's fault", just as last time it was "all capitalism's fault". People have short memories.

So no, it wasn't socialism that's causing Venezuela to fall apart any more than it's going to be socialism that will Saudi Arabia to tear itself apart in the next few years (they've have more cash on hand right now but they are hurtling towards exactly the same place).

It's Dutch Disease and the resource curse.

>Longer still: They allowed the state to control the oil revenues entirely, and because they wanted to enrich themselves, they promised unsustainable entitlements to the public which eventually fell through when the oil price dropped slightly. Because they didn't give a damn, the private sector was not involved to invest any portion of the revenues, and the government couldn't possibly care less to invest them.

Yes, their real mistake was building some houses and hospitals with the oil revenue instead of letting it get siphoned off into swiss bank accounts as was happening before /s

The "private sector" (powerful Venezuelan business interests) essentially plotted its own demise when it launched the 2003 coup. That was unfortunate, as was Chavez's response to crush them, but it was to a large extent, self inflicted.


> building some houses with the oil revenue

Do you mean "in Miami" here? Because in this thread that's where the money supposedly go.

A lot of countries live with Dutch disease without crumbling.


I haven't downvotes your answer, but you ask why people voted you down… so here goes.

It is because you try to pin everything on Socialism, when the real problem is actually Cronyism and Despotism. I.e. it was their political system, not their financial system, that did them in.

There are plenty of countries with various degrees of socialism that are not bankrupt. Australia, for example, had a socialist, very left leaning, government that gave many of the same things out. But these countries generally have well established democratic institutions. And it is these institutions that allow a country to change direction if it makes a mistake.

Venezuela on the other hand does not have a strong democratic institution, and so has no real way to escape the mess that it created. Its leaders are invested in the solution that they chose, and dug ever deeper in to show how right they were.


They do it so wrong and it seems like countries like Norway ,Sweden etc seem to get the balance right.

Norway and Sweden are capitalist states with significant social programs. The government does not own the means of production and doesn't completely manage the economy - they just tax it; in fact they don't even tax corporations all that heavily.

Norway's doing something very similar to Venezuela as far as nationalized oil going to the public purse, and it's working out great for them.

When social-democratic countries screw up due to authoritarianism and corruption, it's 'because socialism'. When capitalist countries screw up the same way, and there have been a lot of them, it's because of the corruption.


I would think most people say socialism in this case because it was put up by many influential people as a proud of example of socialism back when times were good. It's the same thing when socialists point to failing capitalistic systems and say "capitalism".

It's the problem of people not wanting to properly discuss things and always fall back on blaming people based on labels.


>Norway's doing something very similar to Venezuela as far as nationalized oil going to the public purse, and it's working out great for them.

They did it in a completely different way, though, and the funds were managed and executed differently. Norway helped establish a company and essentially behave as shareholders, with their share revenues going into a fund that reinvests it in stock internationally. They deliberately do not depend on it to subsidize social programs entirely and only withdraw 3% per year.

Venezuela's leadership actively controlled the fund and used it to support wide-reaching social policies that could only be sustained with new revenues, pushing more oil production and making it a larger percentage of their economy which ultimately caused massive failure when the oil prices went down, they were producing at high capacity already and they couldn't get rid of the social programs.


So the difference is that Norway uses it carefully, while Venezuela uses it recklessly. It's not the idea that's the problem, it's the way it's applied.

Sure, the idea that the State can get revenues from investments in the economy and put it in a sovereign fund is not the underlying problem.

It's also important to note that the definition of Socialism as being merely state ownership of most or all production and "complete management of the economy" is a vulgar definition, sometimes even expounded by Socialists themselves. On its own, this would simply be an economy with all the features of capitalism, including but not limited to:

* wage labour being the dominant mode of sustenance

* a class structure still visible (in fact, is seems as though such a "Socialist" mode of production would have even more well defined classes than our current mode)

* private property, but rather than being owned by capitalists it is owned by the state

So "workers owning" means of production is not adequate for Socialism. Rather, there must be some kind of shift in terms of how society functions in general. There should be no trade, as trade is a side-effect of the operation of the law of value and exchange value, a dialectical contradiction only found in capitalism. There should be no state, as the state is what exists to defend private property and prop up class interests. Production should be entirely for useful qualities. All productive power of society should be owned by workers (this is your "owning the means of production") either by representation of a government (which is not a state, the distinction is important) or via some other apparatus.

For these reasons I am extremely skeptical when people describe countries such as Venezuela, which operate as capitalists, owners of property, on a global scale as "Socialist". If it is Socialism then it is certainly no Marxian Socialism.


>> * private property, but rather than being owned by capitalists it is owned by the state

Wha? How is state-owned property considered private property?

Also, I would have said Venezuela was socialist because the socialists in my country said it was. And I'm fairly certain members of their ruling class described their country's government as socialist.


Private property is not determined by its owner, but rather its function. Ordinary people can own private property, such as land which is taxed or rented out, means of production upon which people are employed etc. It is a fact that the Venezuelan state owns private property, and also that they employ people in exchange for wages. This is no different at all to what Apple or GM does in the United States.

It is also possible for society in general to act as a capitalist. The way Marx and other Socialists use the term "private property" is perhaps different to its modern meaning. Proudhon writes,

>There are different kinds of property: 1. Property pure and simple, the dominant and seigniorial power over a thing; or, as they term it, naked property. 2. Possession. “Possession,” says Duranton, “is a matter of fact, not of right.” Toullier: “Property is a right, a legal power; possession is a fact.” The tenant, the farmer, the commandité, the usufructuary, are possessors; the owner who lets and lends for use, the heir who is to come into possession on the death of a usufructuary, are proprietors. If I may venture the comparison: a lover is a possessor, a husband is a proprietor.


Most people would describe government owned property as public because all citizens are allowed to have a say in the management of the property, not just some of them. This doesn't mean day to day management, but its ultimate distribution. In your proprietor/possessor dichotomy, the citizenry is the proprietor - the government, the possessor.

Not a good comparison. Manager and Owner would be a better example than lover and husband.


> Most people would describe government owned property as public

Yes, because they are using a public/private dichotomy which makes a lot of sense distinguishing kinds of ownership within capitalism, but has nothing to do with the socialist use of the term, where “private property” is a central feature of capitalism, and it's alternative (when it concerns the means of production) is not something which exists in “pure” capitalism.

> because all citizens are allowed to have a say in the management of the property, not just some of them

And this is exactly why many schools of socialist thought see centralized state control, even in a democratic state, as generally private property; the particular workers whose labor is applied to the means of production have their control so diluted by other parties that the control is almost as completely alienated from them as in the case where they have no ownership.


>And this is exactly why many schools of socialist thought see centralized state control, even in a democratic state, as generally private property; the particular workers whose labor is applied to the means of production have their control so diluted by other parties that the control is almost as completely alienated from them as in the case where they have no ownership.

That's interesting to me, because a situation where the workers whose labor was applied to the means of production retain complete control seems like private property to me.

A situation where the control of property is held by an agent of the commons doesn't seem private precisely because the commons includes people that have no ownership from applied utility. Essentially, it's as if no-one's labor has been applied at all and in those cases the resources belong to the public.


> That's interesting to me, because a situation where the workers whose labor was applied to the means of production retain complete control seems like private property to me.

How? Within the socialist personal/social/private typology, not the capitalist public/private typology? The two are completely unrelated systems of categorization, which unfortunately share a name (but not the meaning denoted by the name.)


A democratically run company is still an owner of private property, the fact that citizens have a say is irrelevant to the idea that property is privately owned. This is evident in the case in which the State is an actor on the global stage and defends its private property from other nations; whether that be land or means of production.

>A democratically run company is still an owner of private property, the fact that citizens have a say is irrelevant to the idea that property is privately owned.

Yes, I agree - however, the fact that ALL citizens have a say is not irrelevant.

The case you're talking about is one where the State acts in its capacity as an agent of the citizenry, similar to how a manager can hire, fire or sign contracts within the bounds set by the owner or owners. It doesn't mean the manager owns any property, simply that he as an agent of ownership is currently in possession of it.


> A democratically run company is still an owner of private property,

In the capitalist public/private sense, yes; in the socialist personal/private/social sense, this is social not private property (specifically, cooperative social property.)

The sense of “private property” opposed by socialism is not at all the sense which is opposed to “public property”.


When I say "company" I mean such an organisation as which employs wage labour to further the accumulation of capital; such an organisation could not exist under a Socialist mode of production, at least in my understanding. This is because it is firstly not wholly the "property" of the workers in general, because accumulation of capital requires exploitation and value added through M-C-M'; a cooperative still sells produce, so in my view this makes it inadequate for Socialism. Perhaps something like mutualism would better describe such an arrangement at the scale of a society.

It is entirely possible for people to create a super-capitalist, an image reflecting bourgeois nature, within a cooperative establishment.


> How is state-owned property considered private property?

In Marxist theory, “private property” has a particular meaning: the means of production alienated from the particular workers whose labor is applied to them. In Marx’s specific theory, in the socialist stage of the Communist project, ownership by a state controlled by the proletariat makes such property no longer private not because it is owned by the state, but because the productive resources are controlled by the workers. But in the broader Marx-inspired movement and socialist using the same terminology (outside of Leninism and it's descendants, which not only accepts this but replaces democratic control with the direction of the vanguard), there is some controversy on this point, and many view state control as to removed from the immediate workers to eliminate the privation which is why socialists characterize such property as “private”.


So, yes, let's redefine the term to name something that has never existed and has no chance of ever existing. This way nobody can complain that "Socialism" is a failure. Great idea.

Just don't come pushing for socialist policies that try to enforce government's ownership of everything.


I am not redefining the term. The common understanding of "Socialism" is far divorced from what Marx and Engels were talking about, or even their predecessors such as Owen or Ricardo. The confusion over the term is evident, especially in the United States, in which several people, even in this thread, claim that capitalism with a social democratic model is "Socialism". It is in my opinion very important to maintain purity in terminology for risk of losing something greater by society deciding that certain ideas are "too Utopian" without speaking it.

I also encourage you to use the original definition of the term.


Marx in special outlined a pretty well defined procedure to create what he called "socialism". Russia followed it to the letter, and the Soviet Union was the consequence.

It is dishonest to keep claiming "socialism" is something different than what you get when you follow the procedures to get there. Yes, Marx promised something very different, but well, if you read his books you'll see he was way more of a politician than a scientist.


> Marx in special outlined a pretty well defined procedure to create what he called "socialism". Russia followed it to the letter

No, it didn't. I mean, the whole point of Leninism is “How do we skip past the requirement identified for Marx to have well-estsablished capitalism with proletarian class consciousness before proceeding to the socialist stage on the route to Communism?” Leninism abandons the essential context for which the Marxist program is designed. (And even then, the program wasn't particularly specific, unless you mean Marx and Engels program for the specific capitalist states of Europe in the mid-19th Century, which Russia was even more distant from then the generalized capitalist states of Marx’s theory.)

> It is dishonest to keep claiming "socialism" is something different than what you get when you follow the procedures to get there.

Marx is not the first or definitive socialist; socialism existed before and is broader than Marxist theories, so even if Russia and other Leninist states were an example of direct application of Marxist process, this would still be an example of mistaking a particular subset for the whole.

Judging Marxism by Leninist examples is like judging Christianity by Protestant Fundamentalism; judging socialism on the same basis is like judging Abrahamic monotheism by the Protestant Fundamentalism.


> well-estsablished capitalism with proletarian class consciousness

We have skipped this one too if you didn't notice. In most of the world, proletariat (manual laborers) are a niche.


Rubbish. The status of being a proletarian has nothing to do with in what form the labour is expended. Neither Marx nor pre-Marxist Socialists make any specific mention of manual labour. But if you really want to go this way, a growing number of the student population in Europe are turning to manual labour (Uber and Deliveroo).

Proletarians are and since their emergence the vast majority of the working population.


The proletariat is wage-laborers (those who rent labor to capitalist, rather than applying their labor to their own capital—as the petite bourgeoisie do—or renting others labor to apply to their capital—as the haut borgeoisie do), not exclusively manual laborers.

Norway and Sweden (and several other European countries) are trying to balance the good parts of capitalism and socialism, while avoiding the bad parts of both, and providing more freedom than the worst manifestations of both.

They're hybrid economies, with significant private and public sectors.

The US is also a mixed economy with significant private and public sectors. The State is still capitalist because of the way it engages with the market, which is why I described Sweden and Norway that way.

It's a definitely a thing of degrees rather than binary. Nevertheless, the level of state intervention or control of the economy in Scandinavia is such that describing them as partially capitalist and partially socialist is accurate.

Sweden is extremely far from being a Socialist nation. Nearly all of their economy is private. They have a prosperous, highly functional market based economy, that has traditional protections for property rights and classic asset ownership.

Sweden has vast private wealth, including a very large number of millionaires. Or just take a look at the list of their billionaires.

Sweden's economic boom coincided with large reductions in the size of the state, including both regulation and taxation policies, not increases. They have a 22% corporate income tax rate along with a favorable operating environment that encourages entrepreneurship, which entails ownership of private property.

If you look across Sweden's economic engine, it's overwhelmingly private in nature, not state owned and operated. Their growth mostly didn't come from state enterprises, it came from domestic business formation and expansion. Land and housing is commonly privately owned, as in most market economies. Sweden overtly violates almost every tenet of Socialism.

There are very few things about Sweden that are in fact Socialistic at all (healthcare is a big one, which is heavily socialized for most of the planet). At this point they may be more Capitalist than America is, their economy has fewer economic regulations per dollar of GDP for example.


Yeah, I don't see the point of contention against your post. Sweden is largely a free economy with rather high personal taxes. Their energy sector (linked directly with Norway) is (as of recent) considerably freer than you can expect in most of the world. They have many great arms and aerospace manufacturers which operate more independently of the government than the defense industries in most places (which I guess is for historic reasons, owing to Sweden's long history of immense military action [including being willing to invade Russia with the intent of taking Moscow]).

Aside: I really take umbrage with Bernie describing Denmark as a socialist success story, when their success seems to be linked directly to liberalization.


The contention of course derives from Scandinavia broadly being the sole positive argument that modern Socialists have to rest upon as an example. If you take that bogus example out from under them by pointing out that Sweden is nowhere near being a Socialist nation (quite the opposite in fact, they're a booming private market economy with vast private wealth), their world-view implodes.

Here's the thing, though. In the US, things like universal healthcare, maternity leave, decent disability and unemployment benefits, consumer protection, all sorts of regulation, and many, many other good ideas, often get attacked with cries of "Socialism!". These are things that all of Europe has, and they work.

So either they are socialism and socialism works, or they're not socialism and socialism cannot be used as a reason to deny these to the US. You don't get to dismiss these as socialism and then claim Sweden is not socialist.

But this is the problem with labels like socialism and capitalism. They can be used with varying definitions to prop up bad arguments.


It depends on what you call socialism. If it means the government owning everything, then Sweden isn't socialist, but if it means that people get what they need, then Sweden is pretty socialist. There's little poverty, very generous maternity leave, unemployment and disability payment, etc.

Socialism is a big tent with many different branches[0]. They share the goal that they want more economic equality and less inequality, but disagree on how to get there. Marx was a big proponent of State Socialism with the state owning everything, but he had a number of very vocal opponents like Bakunin, who claimed Marx's ideas would lead to tyranny.

Social democracy is a more moderate form of socialism that tries to mix socialism, democracy and capitalism. Libertarian socialism or anarchism considers the state to be the source of inequality, and wants to accomplish equality without a state or with a very different kind of state.

[0] mixed metaphor alert!


> Or just take a look at the list of their billionaires.

I laughed at that. Most of them live in in England, Switzerland and New York.


That's because Norway and Sweden respect private property to some extent, even with Norway's wealth tax (and additional taxes on oil extraction). The oil companies are ultimately private in Norway.

There's no doing it right if your end game is basically communism; but if you have a clear purpose for some prejudicial taxes, and ultimately respect some form of property rights, then it can sometimes work out for many decades, as it has in Norway (though I would argue that Norway's system, as it is today, is unsustainable as well, but not in a Venezuela kind of way).


I wouldn't consider oil dropping from ~$100/barrel to ~$40/barrel a slight drop.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Texas_Intermediate#/media...


It's not such a big deal if you haven't built everything on extracting 100% of the net revenue of the oil industry. If your take were lower, it would not be as big a hit, and you could raise the take and split the difference. If your take is 100%, there's nowhere to go.

You stated in your original comment that is was a, "slight drop."

I actually agree with much of what you wrote, but let the argument stand on its own, please don't use non-factual content to (note: the Iranian oil coming back into the "open" market might have been related) overstate things.

We can't normalize "truthful hyperbole."


Its even worse for Venezuela. Their oil is plentiful but not a very high grade which requires significantly more money to refine than say Saudi Arabia, Texas, or North Dakota. This means that in a low price environment they aren't taking a cut, they literally cannot make any profit. Further complicating the situation is their mismanagement and lack of technology purchases or even basic maintenance in the oil industry.

Venezuela also respects private property, just to a somewhat lesser extent than other countries. It's important to note that the state's protection of such property is to be expected in this case, in which it is the government which acts as a capitalist itself on the global scale and on the internal scale (such as by employing wage labour).

There are numerous examples of people and businesses which own private property and employ people in exchange for wages in Venezuela. The fact that such activity is highly taxed or limited is irrelevant to the point about private property being defended and respected. For it is private property which can ensure the cycle of M-C-M' which we see respected and the functioning of money as the general equivalent form of Value.


"Venezuela also respects private property, just to a somewhat lesser extent than other countries. "

Your flat out wrong. Easy example: The government nationalized a GM vehicle factory within the country and then a few weeks later GM officially withdrew.

Does that sound like Venezuela respects private property to you? A nationalization like that would never happen in Western Europe


Naming an example of a seizure of private property does little to show against the idea that the State respects and protects private property. I do not deny that is has seized private property, however private property in many cases continues unimpeded and protected by the police and the State in general (and yes, it is possible for the State to own private property too).

It is possible to name examples of other countries seizing property or stealing from innocent people. Neither of these examples disprove the idea that these states respect and defend private property, or that they respect and defend personal property. The US has seized the personal property of many people. Does this mean that the US police do not act to punish people who steal?


Sorry, but any example of a government seizing private property is not a government that respects and protects private property. That is a fiction often pushed by the government to convince the people they have private property rights. If your government can seize your property without due process and/or just compensation, then you do not have private property rights.

In the US the police routinely steal private property for their own purposes with little or no due process. Just because they arrest thieves who happen to not be police doesn't mean they respect and protect your property rights. One could say they are protecting their own ability to seize your private property.

I am firmly in the belief that the American people have not had strong property rights for a very long time.


You are correct. For this reason, if the bar for "Socialism" is "seizing property" then the US also qualifies for "Socialism". Few would call the US "Socialist". For this reason, I do not think that the main point being argued (that Venezuela is Socialist because it does not "respect private property) holds in this case.

I would agree, but I would say Venezuela was considered socialist because everyone I know of that I trust to know such things said it was a good example of socialism in action. Not because of seizing property, but because they said they were. Now we're getting the usual "it wasn't REAL socialism" as always. Granted, the socialism was being used to hide corruption (as happens with any system) but it was socialist none-the-less.

Nationalization did happen in France around 1981.

Nationalisation also happened in Netherland in 2008: https://www.government.nl/topics/state-owned-enterprises/nat...

Although in this case it's financial institutions on the verge on bankruptcy, and they were nationalised to save them, with the goal of eventually privatising them again.

Nationalisation versus privatisation is a complex subject, and I think there are things that absolutely should be nationalised. Essential infrastructure where no real competition is possible, for example. Like railroads or mail. I suppose it can make sense for the countries oil reserves. But the important part is that whichever way you move on that scale, you do it in a responsible way and ensure that a fair price is paid for them.


It is a complex subject and I agree that in case of monopoly (natural or not) and in case of strategic sector we should make an honest evaluation of what serve best the Nation and the People. Also, if you nationalize it shouldn't mean that you don't compensate fairly the private owner.

The US also had limited price controls under Nixon. It too was extremely damaging and foolish when the US or France took such intervention measures, which you can see from the broader context / economic climate results: US economic disaster in the 1970s and French economic stagnation for decades.

>The fact that such activity is highly taxed or limited is irrelevant to the point about private property being defended and respected.

I don't think that's what people are thinking of when they say something like Venezuela doesn't respect private property. They are thinking of the seizure of ranches and companies so they can be redistributed.


> The fact that such activity is highly taxed or limited is irrelevant to the point about private property being defended and respected.

I'd agree with that, but with the exception of wealth (and possibly property) taxes. I might accept that real property must be rented from the state to accomplish certain goals, but I'm not so sure other property can be. In reality, if the rates are low enough, even a wealth tax is not a mortal threat to property, but it is still questionable (which is why it seems some Norwegian parties are looking to ditch it). Last time I said this, I was dragged into a bickering match, but: wealth taxes have many of the properties of rents, which sets them far apart from income, consumption, and excise taxes.

Transactional taxes (income, consumption, excise, even inheritance [though I oppose this one for double taxation reasons]) pose no threat to property rights, they just ultimately change the true price of goods and services. Property and wealth taxes pose a threat to property rights, since they threaten the property directly.

But that's not what people are talking about here anyway, they're talking about literal seizures of private property.


Population matters (31M vs 5M-9M). Besides Nordics have much freer markets and they do not confiscate private property like this.

Though for what it's worth, Venezuela has access to considerably more oil.

Theoretically. The actuality of it is very different though. Their oil is difficult for them to acquire and its processing costs are much higher than competitors such as Iraq or Saudi Arabia (or US shale). Their Orinoco Belt oil sands - which holds most of their reserve - would be challenging for the US or Canada to maximize the value of; they basically stand no chance at utilizing it without much higher levels of domestic development/capability (or without fully outsourcing its development).

The Orinoco Belt is composed of extra heavy crude or heavy crude, not oil sands, which is where shale comes from. While not having the same profitability as light crude, it is still better than shale.

One of the big impact of the cost of Venezuelan crude is its high content of sulfur, which makes refining more expensive, but to this day, Venezuela is one of the few countries where even with a low barrel price, the activity is profitable, or at least it should be.

But when you have a state company that has quadrupled its payroll, paying for all kinds of social services in the country, corruption, all while also diverting funds from investment, you make the operation run at a loss.


The oil sands in Canada is having a problem keeping investors with the low price and high cost of refinement. Venezuela is in a similar position where refining is concerned.

Sweden has never had significant oil production. In fact, it hasn't produced any oil for 20 years. So I don't think its really a valid comparison with Venezuela (although Norway is).

Sadly your first TLDR offended bunch of folks still believing in socialism and you've got downvoted.

Meanwhile - all (and I mean ALL) countries which adopted socialism - all of them plunged into poverty, corruption and in some cases civil war and dissolution.

One can think it should teach a lesson... but some people just want to believe.


Every socialist revolution back to the Paris commune has been met with violence from the capitalist powers of the world. You can visit wikipedia and count how many countries participated in the Russian civil war on the side of the whites. Try to count how many times the United States tried to assassinate Castro while you're at it.

Since all socialist revolutions are met with the full ferocity of the capitalist states, it's not clear how they can win militarily without becoming a dictatorship. A military is perhaps the social organization least amenable to democracy and most amenable to dictatorship. It's no surprise that socialist revolutions which succeed via military dictatorship and never demobilize (because they can't, because they are constantly under threats real and perceived) begin to reflect military dictatorship in their social structure.

No socialist revolution has succeeded in an industrialized nation. They have all taken place in the periphery, either in colonies of imperial powers or extremely weak states like tsarist Russia. None of those successful revolutions managed to industrialize without devolving into centralized, dictatorial rule. Socialist thinkers back to Marx thought that socialism is enabled by industrialization; not something that can be implemented beforehand. This sounds entirely consistent with history. Note that the State had a crucial role to play in the development of capitalism. You can't pretend that capitalism isn't born of and sustained by violence when it has been instrumental in every development that led to capitalism's ascent, from forcible enclosure of the commons, to imperialist plundering of non-industrialized nations, to strikes broken by national militaries, and so forth.

If it doesn't seem so violent now, maybe it's because resistance to it has been thoroughly purged from your milieu and the violence that remains has been pushed slightly out of your perspective. Nothing to see. There's no possible way capitalist nations were responsible for, say, the world's largest ever cholera outbreak in Yemen.

Socialism is the democratic control of the means of production. All attempted socialist revolutions devolved into a system of bureaucratic control by a centralized government. It sounds like socialism hasn't ever been achieved.

> One can think it should teach a lesson... but some people just want to believe.

Most socialists think that an alternative system is necessary because capitalism with all its contradictions are untenable. Treating socialists as shallow thinkers just makes you look shallow. But it is quite a fashionable look these days.


> All attempted socialist revolutions devolved into a system of bureaucratic control by a centralized government.

To be fair, most so-called “socialist” revolutions of them have been Leninist, in which centralized elite direction replacing mass democracy (vanguardism) is a core part of the theory.

But then, there's a reason why for many decades non-Leninist socialists have called Leninism and it's descendants “state capitalism”.

All the real advances toward socialism have been evolutionary steps in democratic “capitalist” (arguably mostly a misnomer since the mid-20th Century) states; this shouldn't be surprising, while many feudal or monarchic regimes were overthrown by political revolutions, the replacement of feudalism by capitalism as the dominant economic system of the West also was more one of evolution than revolution. (It was “revolutionary” in the degree of fundamental change over a fairly brief time period on a grand historical scale, but not in the coordinated overthrow of the established order by a group with a well-defined agenda; most of the theory supporting capitalism was developed well into or even after the transition, some of it after the 19th Century critiques in which the system was named.)


> how many countries participated in the Russian civil war on the side of the whites.

All those countries were protecting assets sent to Russia and Czechs abused by Bolsheviks. If they were actually _participated_ in civil war, Bolsheviks will be crushed in a week or so.

> Since all socialist revolutions are met with the full ferocity of the capitalist states, it's not clear how they can win militarily without becoming a dictatorship.

Yes, sure. "I'm not guilty, they've made me do it" - looks like favourite mantra for wrongdoers all over the world.

> No socialist revolution has succeeded in an industrialized nation. They have all taken place in the periphery.

Correlation doesn't imply causation. Many "peripheral" countries didn't have socialist revolutions and there were few attempts in industrialized nations. For example, Poland and Finland, having even lower industrialized level than Russian Empire - they were spared from socialist revolutions. Not that Bolsheviks didn't tried to instigate them.

> It sounds like socialism hasn't ever been achieved.

Ok, why you're still calling USSR, Venezuela, Cuba etc socialist countries then?


> All those countries were protecting assets sent to Russia and Czechs abused by Bolsheviks. If they were actually _participated_ in civil war, Bolsheviks will be crushed in a week or so.

Just because they didn't fully mobilize to crush the revolution doesn't mean they didn't participate. You're splitting hairs over definitions. "Protecting assets" with military action is... military action.

> Yes, sure. "I'm not guilty, they've made me do it" - looks like favourite mantra for wrongdoers all over the world.

I never said they're not guilty. I think they all fucked up. You're arguing against a strawman of your own devising.

> Ok, why you're still calling USSR, Venezuela, Cuba etc socialist countries then?

You'll note that I never mentioned a socialist state, but a socialist revolution. A revolution is socialist if it aims to achieve socialism. A revolution succeeds if the forces that attempt it seize power. All successful socialist revolutions have failed to achieve socialism after they seize power. It's a very simple argument. I've given a hypothesis for why that's the case: All the successful ones were achieved by military means and never demobilized. Their structures after the revolution grew to reflect the autocracy that is intrinsic to all known forms of effective military organization.

Some tried more democratic military organization-- it failed spectacularly. Is it reasonable to conclude that socialism can't be achieved through violent confrontation? It's plausible.

Honestly, you're being so combative that you have to resort to pedantry and strawmen. Who are you trying to convince with such a hostile uncharitable attitude?


> extremely weak states like tsarist Russia

This is unwarranted, it has almost managed to win WW1 (which was unwinnable anyway, hence "almost" counts)


The hardships of the war were one of the factors that led to the revolution. As well as they could do militarily the war compromised the state's ability to govern more severely than anyone expected.

Social democracy is objectively a form of socialism and it has been implemented in practice in large parts of Northern Europe for around a century. You're free to have whatever opinions you wish but when your claims simply are wrong you are just being ignorant and unwilling to learn.

Northern Europe contains no "social democracies". They existed for a time, but were superseded by liberal democracies for practical reasons. There are remnants of attempts at socialism, but that is not the direction they are taking.

Please explain the difference and how they were superseded.

> TL;DR: Socialism.

You're being downvoted because of this.

The country isn't failing because of "socialism", but because of the country stupidly spending it's money and it's oligarchy stealing money from the country to line it's pockets among many other things.


So somehow it wasn't true socialism this time? They weren't doing socialism "the right way"?

Stop with the excuses - Venezuela is pretty much the text-book example of socialism and its inevitable consequences (see "the country stupidly spending it's money").


That seems a bit excessive. Surely we should give Socialism another 30 or 40 tries before finally declaring that rigid state command & control of the economy and most aspects of existence through the extreme and constant application of violence, doesn't work.

Just because after a century of repeated failed attempts there has yet to be a single successful Socialist outcome, that doesn't mean one day with enough death and destruction, that grand ambition of vast material production [1] won't be achieved.

[1] One of the much touted original claims of Socialist doctrine, was that it would lead to vast material abundance that would best Capitalism. At its core was materialism ideologically, espoused by all the thought-leaders that were responsible for creating Socialism.


State Socialism is not the only form of socialism. Libertarian Socialists predicted in the 19th century that state socialism would lead to tyranny.

Let me share my favourite political quote by Mikhail Bakunin:

"Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice; socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality"

I think the 20th century has proven him correct on both counts. We need both socialism and freedom in equal measure, which is exactly what North-European social democracies are trying to do. Imperfectly still, but it's already better than any alternative I've seen.


No, Venezuela is the text-book example of destructive policies and corruption. Those can exist in any kind of economic system.

Sure, you can point out that "it isn't the gunshot that kills you, it's the bleeding and organ failure" (as in microcolonel's comment), and there are plenty of other things that can cause bleeding and organ failure, but that doesn't change the fact that no matter how many times you try shooting yourself with the gun, historically it has always resulted in the same thing.

> The country isn't failing because of "socialism", but because of the country stupidly spending it's money and it's oligarchy stealing money from the country to line it's pockets among many other things.

Because it isn't the gunshot that kills you, it's the bleeding and organ failure!



[flagged]


> Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


If you look at the history of all the governments that call themselves Socialist, and you does it honestly, you are forced rather strongly into having to choose between A: yes, this is the dominant natural end result of a Socialist government or B: whatever you think "true" Socialism probably isn't possible and attempts to bring it about are vastly more likely to bring about Venezuela than real Socialism.

(Note I frame this in probabilities; citing one or two governments that you believe are socialist and are doing it "right" will still leave it a very risky move when considered against the whole of everyone who has tried it. And I'm not particularly convinced that you'd consider them "real Socialism" if it weren't momentarily convenient for this argument, because all the European countries you might want to cite still have poverty and social and wealth inequality, etc.)

Either way, the cost/benefit analysis of "trying to bring about Socialism" has some rather hard-to-ignore things in the "cost" column if you ask me, not to mention a certain lack in the realized benefits column, so don't be surprised when I react poorly to the idea that we should try it where I live.


There is no quintessential “socialist” country just as there is no quintessential “capitalist” country. In broad strokes we can say Venezuela is socialist, as they implemented a policy of government ownership of businesses including seizing existing entities. The result was abject failure.

No true Scotsman.

Socialism and dictatorships aren't mutually exclusive.



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