Cementing the Revolution

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After a round of bad-faith negotiations with the Mexican company Cemex, the government of Venezuela has decided it's high time that foreign cement factories are expropriated to benefit the proletariat (and by "proletariat" they mean the crooked oligarchs of Caracas). President Chavez sent the National Guard to seize the company's assets after negotiations broke down when Cemex representatives pointed out that their operations were being "significantly undervalued." Two other foreign-owned cement companies—one Swiss, the other French—caved to Chavista pressure, selling majority shares of their local factories to the Bolivarian highwaymen. As one analyst told Marketwatch, Venezuela can forget about attracting foreign investors:

"There's growing concern that this [nationalization] trend will only intensify," said Paul Biszko, senior emerging markets analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

"The government's aim is to run a socialist model where companies aren't focused on making a profit, but on satisfying the needs of the people," he said. "This obviously is troubling for investors."

[…]

"Among our clients, we have no real money investors interested in holding any Venezuelan paper," Biszko said. "I'd assume that a lot of the guys that do still hold the bonds are there only on a short-term basis."


The Financial Times makes the obvious point: "Steel, oil joint ventures, telecommunications, electricity, the third biggest bank and, on Monday, cement: the growing number of industries falling into the hands of the Venezuelan government is making President Hugo Chávez's so-called 21st-century socialism look more and more like the plain old 20th-century version."

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  1. Have most of the trendy Chavez supporters given up on him yet?

  2. Wonder how long before someone burns down their assests rather than let Chavez have them.

  3. It worked out well for Cuba, didn’t it?

  4. Naga, I was just thinking about Ellis Wyatt and the oil refineries. That’d be such an awesome move.

    I’m sure we’ll get some *ahem* unnamed poster or two defending this move soon.

  5. Remember, A.O. Chavez is democratically elected, blah, blah, blah…

  6. Citizen Nothing, that’s good proof that democracy is not a sufficient force to make government good.

  7. The Angry Optimist,

    I was just thinking if some foreign dignitary who owned one of companies just snapped and beat down Chavez on live TV.

  8. Naga: agreed. Why don’t these companies bury explosives throughout their factories and mines as a kind of poison pill? When the government thugs show up to take possession, clear everyone out and blow the place to hell. Basically, “If I can’t have it, you can’t either.” If nothing else, it would be an incentive for governments not to engage in this kind of blatant robbery.

  9. Nigel Watt | August 21, 2008, 2:14pm | #
    Citizen Nothing, that’s good proof that democracy is not a sufficient force to make government good.

    QFT. Most of you have yet to grok this.

  10. Cue Juanita to enter and tell us that an elected official was de facto monarch over his people.

  11. Everything always goes back to gangsterism and the Godfather with these kinds of people. All this is is Michael Corleone muscling out Moe Green after making him an offer he can’t refuse. This is not even about politics. It is about Chavez and his chronies looting the country. Sad. Just sad.

  12. This is not even about politics. It is about Chavez and his chronies looting the country.

    Of course it’s about politics. This is what politics is! To quote the great Albert Jay Nock,

    There are two general means whereby human beings can satisfy their needs and desires. One is by work — i.e., by applying labor and capital to natural resources for the production of wealth, or to facilitating the exchange of labor-products. This is called the economic means. The other is by robbery — i.e., the appropriation of the labor-products of others without compensation. This is called the political means.

  13. Squarooticus,

    Probably because if some company thought it was necessary then there would be no reason to locate a factory there to begin with. As for the poison pill, rumor has it that we did that to Iran with those F-14’s we sold em’ back in the 70’s. Soon as they turned, bam! Entire fleet of em’ was grounded.

  14. Damn … I’d burn my shit to the ground … after receiving payment. Or maybe just hire Blackwater to defend it.

  15. There’s a lot of shit you can do to fuck up your facility before turning it over that isn’t obvious.

  16. “As for the poison pill, rumor has it that we did that to Iran with those F-14’s we sold em’ back in the 70’s. Soon as they turned, bam! Entire fleet of em’ was grounded.”

    Nah, those things just take an incredible amount of maintenence. It is pretty difficult to fly and F14 when you can’t buy replacement parts and the baboons running the country shoot or imprison all of the mechanics in the name of religous purity. Allah don’t fix the planes.

  17. Naga: agreed. Why don’t these companies bury explosives throughout their factories and mines as a kind of poison pill? When the government thugs show up to take possession, clear everyone out and blow the place to hell.

    Why would you need to, except for some kind of emotional satisfaction? The government taking over these facilities is the economic equivalent of such actions. I would find it far more satisfying to hand over a successful venture and watch it fail, along with the government, support for Chavez and his country’s general economic stability. If you blow it up, then it’s your fault it failed. Where if you leave it intact, it’s the fault of the Chavez government.

    You know, like our embargo on Cuba. We’re handing a gift-wrapped reason to Castro as to why his country sucks: It’s our fault.

  18. It’s funny. I am just rereading Atlas Shrugged (warning: despite being sympathetic to it’s arguments, I think it’s got more strawmen than a wizard of oz convention), and I was thinking that it would be great to see some foreign company pretend to invest alot to piss of the government when they realized they nationalized something of no value.

  19. Allah don’t fix the planes

    Allah should hire some Cubans. They’re doing pretty well with those ’56 Buicks.

  20. Why would you need to, except for some kind of emotional satisfaction?

    Answered your own question, didn’t you?

    If you blow it up, then it’s your fault it failed. Where if you leave it intact, it’s the fault of the Chavez government.

    The operation won’t necessarily fail; Chavez will have enough of his thugs force people to work there to produce some valuable output. The point in blowing it up is to show that it’s not acceptable to take things that aren’t yours.

    Added bonus: TV footage and international news. The strike of the businessman and all that noise.

  21. I’ve heard that argument but the ENTIRE fleet? Within days of the pullout? Come on.

  22. So Chavez is becoming increasingly unpopular in Venezuela. He probably couldn’t win a third election.

    If the opposition wins, how hard is this to undo? What would that look like?

    (It’ll look a lot better happening under a democratic process, a point which eludes a lot of short-sighted people).

  23. Er, his party probably couldn’t win a third election.

    He, of course, failed to get the term limits repealed.

  24. Ah, crap. Back to reality.

  25. “He probably couldn’t win a third election.”

    If you own the army and most of the property in the country, winning an election is not a big issue. It is not like he couldn’t get Jimmy Carter to dotter down and certify any election no matter how crooked. It is not like Carter ever saw a leftist strong man he didn’t love.

  26. Anybody know of a factory nationalized in a socialist democracy being returned to the original owners after the party in power was voted out of office?

  27. If you own the army and most of the property in the country, winning an election is not a big issue.

    Which really has nothing to do with the situation in Venezuela right now. The army is a powerful, independent institution which seems to be working as a check on Chavez’s ambitions.

  28. SugarFree, I’m having trouble coming up with examples of the first part – an industry-nationalizing socialist democracy that has been voted out of power. So far, they seem to have all turned into dictatorships or been overthrown in coups.

    Maybe India?

  29. So Chavez is becoming increasingly unpopular in Venezuela. He probably couldn’t win a third election.

    Which is why it is increasingly unlikely there will be one until he is sure he will win it. Or at least win the counting of the “votes”, wink wink. Any postponement will be due to the “emergency”, of course. All caused by the interference of the US, doncha know.

    He, of course, failed to get the term limits repealed.

    Also suspended for the duration of the emergency, as necessary.

    Isn’t this the guy who just instituted by executive diktat most of the stuff that got voted down in the referendum last year, anyway?

    If the opposition wins, how hard is this to undo? What would that look like?

    Not hard on paper. Politically, it would involve writing a very large check to a foreign company, either to buy the place or for damages. That ain’t gonna happen.

    (It’ll look a lot better happening under a democratic process, a point which eludes a lot of short-sighted people).

    There is little prospect of a democratic process in Venezuela undoing any of this, a point which eludes a lot of naive people.

  30. It never ceases to amaze me how confident you are, RC, in making predictions after years of being wrong.

    Yup, no way Chavez is going to lose an election. How naive would you have to be to think that? There was an excuse for you to be in your own world about this a year ago, but now you just look delusional.

    Yup, I’m exactly as naive as I was the last time you assured me elections were history in Venezuela because Chavez owned the government. Shall I link for you?

  31. joe,

    I honestly can’t think of one. Maybe some of the wartime nationalized industries in Europe? And “industry-nationalizing socialist democracy” was a bit redundant on my part. A industry-nationalized democracy is socialist by definition.

    And not starting a slap fight, but…

    “I’m having trouble coming up with examples of the first part – an industry-nationalizing socialist democracy that has been voted out of power.”

    What gives you any inkling that Venezuela will be any different? Not that I want a military coup or anything…

  32. So Chavez is becoming increasingly unpopular in Venezuela. He probably couldn’t win a third election.

    If the opposition wins, how hard is this to undo? What would that look like?

    So, joe, if nationalization is popular in Venezuela and Chavez does win a third term, is the act of nationalization suddenly a just one (in your eyes)?

  33. “I honestly can’t think of one. Maybe some of the wartime nationalized industries in Europe? And “industry-nationalizing socialist democracy” was a bit redundant on my part. A industry-nationalized democracy is socialist by definition.”

    War socialism in world War I Germany.

  34. Maybe some of the wartime nationalized industries in Europe?

    Maybe some of the Warsaw Pact countries that had more peaceful transitions?

    Still, we’re talking about nationalizations that took place during major crises or abandonments of democracy, not a pro-nationalization administration being succeeded by a pro-privatization administration, as if the issue was transit spending or postal increases.

    What gives you any inkling that Venezuela will be any different? The fact that there has been a continuity of the democratic process throughout, including an electoral rebuke to the so-called dictator on the expansion of his term and powers.

    Maybe Nicaragua?

  35. Allah don’t surf.

  36. TAO,

    What Chavez is doing here is both unwise and unjust.

    If he was nationalizing the industries by buying them at some fair market value, it would just be unwise.

    And neither of those judgements have anything to do with the question of democratic legitimacy. All that majority support, and even an electoral mandate, would do is make the actions democratically legitimate, which is a different question entirely than wisdom or justice.

    You see how I’ve talking about Chavez’s administration ending, and what happens thereafter, and how the continuity of the democratic process makes those things more likely to happen, and happen with less pain?

    That, and not issues of the wisdom or even justice of the Venezuelan government’s actions, are why I focus so much on the legitimacy and continuity of the democratic process in Venezuela.

    I think this point has eluded a lot of people.

  37. John,

    War socialism in world War I Germany. But once again, we’re talking about 1) nationalizations that happened when there wasn’t a real democracy, and 2) a transition to an opposition party which took place as a result of a major war.

    Venezuela’s situation is unique, in that the nationalization of industry has occured on the watch of a democraticall elected government which was democratically accountable throughout, and which looks increasingly likely to be voted out of office like any other government in a democratic republic.

    I can’t think of another example of nationalization being a partisan electoral issue in a functional democracy, like tax rates or some ‘ordinary’ issue.

  38. Maybe Nicaragua?

    Way, way to many outside forces at play in that regime change.

    Yes, war socialism is not really what I wondering about. More like: Chavez takes rana’s cement factory, nationalizes it and doesn’t compensate except by failing to to put a bullet through his head. Chavez is voted out of office and actually leaves and doesn’t become a Putin-like puppetmaster. The next freely-elected opposition administration says to rana, “Hey, you got fucked over. Here’s your plant back. Sorry about that other guy, he was an asshole.”

    Has this ever happened?

    (rana, congratulations! You own an imaginary cement factory!)

  39. NutraSweet, congratulations! You called rana a “him”, when she is a “her”.

  40. Way, way to many outside forces at play in that regime change.

    I don’t know. Remember, the Contras didn’t accomplish squat militarily. The Sandinistas were still in power when the civil war ended, and only then lost an election.

    Yeah, they came to power overthrowing a dictatorship rather than by being voted in, but then they implemented legitimate elections, and eventually lost under them.

    Did the Chomorro administration return any nationalized property?

  41. does Russia have term limits?

  42. Yes, adrian, that’s why Putin isn’t president anymore. “Just” Prime Minister.

  43. “I can’t think of another example of nationalization being a partisan electoral issue in a functional democracy, like tax rates or some ‘ordinary’ issue.”

    Post war England nationalized a bunch of industries. When Thatcher came into power she sold them off. I would also imagine that if you looked into the history of Latin America, industries have been nationalized, denationalized and renationalized over the years.

  44. “Isn’t this the guy who just instituted by executive diktat most of the stuff that got voted down in the referendum last year, anyway?”

    Yup.
    He had the power to decree all these new laws before calling a referendum. Chavez was (is) just so arrogant that he believed that he would win the referendum thereby further legitimizing his “Revolucion” and, of course, taking that opportunity to repeal Presidential term limits- which is what he was really seeking a along and the one thing he “couldn’t do without a referendum.
    In fact, after he lost the referendum in December, he said “por ahora” (for now). And he was true to his word.
    He still has 5 more years in office to wreck havoc on Venezuela.

  45. joe,

    It is the general gloomy history of South American politics and the general belief that any one who can nationalize an entire industry (even with the fig leaf of democratic legitimacy) in a non-emergency situation that makes us pessimistic. Combine that with the fact that Chavez is sitting on a lot of oil, enough to silence or pay-off protestations, enough oil to prop up the inherently unstable economics of communism and it’s not impossible that Chavez will leave office (and really leave), but nothing in the history of similar situations give us even a microgram of confidence that he actually will.

    Neither of us hold untenable positions, but history is still on our side, despite the state of democracy in Venezuela.

  46. Sorry, rana. I don’t think I was ever in a thread where your gender came up.

    At least Epi’s outed himself as a hermaphrodite on numerous occasions. Oh, I’m sorry… the PC term is intersexed, I believe.

  47. Mencken was right. Democracy is certainly entertaining.

  48. I think what you were looking for was a Gethen-style androgyne, NutraSweet.

  49. SugarFree,

    Shouldn’t Venezuelan democracy be dead by now, according to your history?

    Frankly, you don’t have history on your side, because your historical narrative is imaginary. None of the communist dictatorships of the 20th century got that way by travelling the “Road to Serfdom” – electing a leftist government, then adopting left-wing economic polices, and THEN seeing their democracy disappear. They were all revolutionary regimes that either overthrew the existing government, or took power after someone else toppled that government, THEN destroyed democracy and THEN implemented radical economic policies.

  50. “NutraSweet, congratulations! You called rana a “him”, when she is a “her”.”

    That’s OK. Do I still get my own cement factory… huh? what you say? it was nationalized?

  51. I bet when Le Guin falls down dead with a pen in her hand the fucking scribble will win a Nebula.

  52. joe,

    If you have no evidence of it ever happening before you are just operating on faith. Stop busting our ass for not believing in your religion.

  53. John,

    If I recall my history correctly, the British government bought, rather than stole, the industries they nationalized – which probably made it easier for Thatcher to resell them, since the buyers knew they were investing somewhere where their asset wouldn’t just be taken from them.

    Let’s say the next government decides all this nationalization was a bad idea and tries to resell the assets – who’s buying? Do they just sell them for less than their true worth?

  54. If he was nationalizing the industries by buying them at some fair market value, it would just be unwise.

    your version of justice is that the government can “appropriate” property at “fair market value”? Is there any justice in failing to consider what the actual property owner wants to do? You’d consider it “just” if your property was paid for, for a price you did not agree to?

  55. rana,

    Do I still get my own cement factory… huh?

    Yes, but now the imaginary factory is pink.

  56. “It is the general gloomy history of South American politics and the general belief that any one who can nationalize an entire industry (even with the fig leaf of democratic legitimacy) in a non-emergency situation that makes us pessimistic. Combine that with the fact that Chavez is sitting on a lot of oil, enough to silence or pay-off protestations, enough oil to prop up the inherently unstable economics of communism and it’s not impossible that Chavez will leave office (and really leave), but nothing in the history of similar situations give us even a microgram of confidence that he actually will.”

    Best commentary I’ve heard on Venezuela’s current political state.

    Kudos, Sugarfree.

  57. SugarFree,

    If you have no evidence of it ever happening before you are just operating on faith.

    Actually, I’ve seen governments that came into office through the electoral process leave office through the electoral process hundreds, if not thousands, of times during my lifetime, even in countries that do things widely described (here anyway) as socialist. My “religion” consists of thinking this pattern is likely to hold in Venezuela. It is the opposite belief – that a democratic government elected through the democratic process will destroy democracy if it adopts socialist economic policies – that lacks for historical examples.

    But I’m not going to be rude enough to call it a religion.

  58. Yes, TAO, I think there is a meaningful difference between having your property seized without compensation and having it taken eminent domain style, whether we’re talking about the difference between being able to buy another house vs. not, or between having $200 million or not. I suspect that the people who have lost their entire life savings vs. not understand the difference, too.

    No, I’m not interested in discussing whether eminent domain is just like Hitler.

  59. The veneer of freedom or democracy isn’t the state of freedom or democracy. Or maybe it is–I grow confus-ed.

  60. joe,

    Yes, because what is happening in Venezuela is just democracy in action, not a fairly run of the mill South American strongman.

    It is the opposite belief – that a democratic government elected through the democratic process will destroy democracy if it adopts socialist economic policies – that lacks for historical examples.

    I’ve never said mob-rule wasn’t sustainable. We’ve managed it just fine since the New Deal. I’m commenting on Chavez, and Chavez alone. There are dozens of him in history.

    You want him to succeed so that socialism is more attractive to Americans, we want him to fail so it won’t be. The lines are clearly drawn. We’ll just wait.

  61. Kudos, Sugarfree.

    Your imaginary cement factory just became much more profitable. And you have a prime parking spot right out front.

  62. SugarFree,

    Yes, because what is happening in Venezuela is just democracy in action, not a fairly run of the mill South American strongman.

    It’s neither. It’s far more democratic and liberal and clean than your run-of-the-mill South American strongman (Brazil the 70s and Argentina in the 40s come to mind), but more stongmannish than anything we’d see in a mature democracy.

    The question is, how does it rate historically against Latin American democracies? Is Chavez dramatically worse than the government of Mexico in the 70s?

    I’ve never said mob-rule wasn’t sustainable. We’ve managed it just fine since the New Deal. Good for you. You still see some people clinging to the “Road to Serfdom” narrative.

    I’m commenting on Chavez, and Chavez alone. I think it’s a mistake to think that Chavez, and Chavez alone, is the sole meaningful force in Venezuelan democracy, comparable to Pinochet, Stalin, or Samoza. The continuity (or even existence) of the democratic process, the existence and fortunes of the opposition, and of independent power centers like the army, all make the situation down there considerably different from what happened under fairlly run of the mill South American strongmen.

    You want him to succeed so that socialism is more attractive to Americans, LoLs, yeah, that must be why I’ve spent years talking about his policies making him unpopular and leading to his electoral defeat and the triumph of the opposition.

    …we want him to fail so it won’t be. The lines are clearly drawn. Presuming your political opponents’ motives to be the mirror opposite of your own is juvenile thinking. Just ask that great Segregationist, Barry Goldwater.

    We’ll just wait. Why, is a second example of the opposition being able to oppose and defeat the Chavez machine at the polls going to change your mind any more than the earlier one?

  63. joe,

    On a completely different subject…

    What is your preferred title and definition of joe’z law? I want to submit it to Rules of Thumb. Also think it should go up on the wikipedia site: List of eponymous laws

  64. Sorry rana, but your cement factory is now owned by Dalia Contreras Rivero. Or do you not become a national hero by obtaining the bronze medal? How’s Hugo playing it?

  65. I’m not saying I’m certain, SugarFree. I don’t harbor any illusions about what Chavez would be like unchecked, and he’s got a habit of trying to accumulate power for himself.

    But there still seem to be democratic and institutional checks on him, which puts Venezuela in a fairly unique historical position.

  66. I’m flattered, SugarFree.

    joez Law of the teh Internetz:

    When insulting someone’s intelligence in an online dispute, you will make a spelling error which makes you look like an idiot.

    E.g., “Get a brain, morans!”

  67. joe,

    You really think there’s not majority tyranny in America? Really? That the rights of minorities, whether political, racial, or religious are respected? Really?

    That’s mob-rule, buddy.

    Once, again. When Chavez is gone, really gone, and not pulling the strings behind the scenes… that’s when you’ll be right about him. Not a minute before.

    As for being a socialist… you stop acting like one and we’ll stop calling you one. ;-P

    (Christ, I’ve been reduced to emoticons.)

  68. SugarFree,

    Once upon a time, the argument was about whether Chavez’s rule would lead to the destruction of democracy. Now, the question is whether it demonstrates an over-abundance of democracy?

    My head hurts!

  69. joe,

    Excellent. I was pretty close on the form, but I wanted to get it straight from the creator.

    Do you want me to attribute it to your real name or “Reason Hit & Run frequent commenter joe”?

  70. “What is your preferred title and definition of joe’z law?”
    “I’m flattered, SugarFree.”

    Stop toying with him, SF. It isn’t seemly.

  71. “The continuity (or even existence) of the democratic process, the existence and fortunes of the opposition, and of independent power centers like the army…”

    Well, a veil of the democratic process exists, for whatever that is worth.
    The fortunes you speak of now belong to the new rich “Boligarchy”. Those with fortunes before Chavez came to power, have succumbed to Chavez in way or another.
    And there are no truly independent powers, at least not anymore. The army, National Assembly, even members of the Supreme Court have been known to chant “Patria, Socialismo o Muerte”. It is quite sad, and anyone living here would lose faith in the fairness and partiality of the so-called independent powers.

  72. the argument was about whether Chavez’s rule would lead to the destruction of democracy

    That was never my argument. Any democracy that would elect him in the first place is pretty broken in my opinion. Voting for someone who says his intention is to basically loot the country and redistribute wealth by any means necessary is either an act of stupidity or insanity. People can vote that up is down and down is up, but it’s not going to help you when you stumble.

    My argument is that democracy is just a fig-leaf for a run-of-the-mill caudillo and that when push comes to shove, he won’t let a little thing like a fig-leaf stand in his way.

    That’s why time will tell.

  73. Fair enough, rana, and I wouldn’t want to overstate the point.

    And yet, the opposition won the referendum vote, and according to reports (repeated on this ver site, I think by you) it was the military high command that compelled Chavez to respect those results.

    I know Chavez hasn’t shown a decent level of respect for the outcome of that election, and has done things plainly againsts the will of the people as expressed through that election, even if his actions in doing so were within the letter of the law. We’ve got a situation here in the states which is comparable in type, though not in degree. I still say those problems are more about bad rule than a collapse of democracy, and tend to be fairly skeptical of those who assert so confidently that the lousy president is going to dismantle the democratic system.

  74. Well… There are numerous examples of nationalizing countries getting the nationalizers voted out of power and then going through a period of privatization through the 80’s and 90’s. UK was mentioned but also happened in Brazil, Argentina, El Peru and others.

  75. That was never my argument.

    Gott in Himmel! I’fe been drawn into anozer two front varr!

  76. “So Chavez is becoming increasingly unpopular in Venezuela. He probably couldn’t win a third election”

    Sure he could. He could just cheat like he did in the first two.
    That you can still believe Chavez was legitimately elected shows, once again, that you are the dumbest fuck to ever post on these message boards joe.

  77. Citizen Nothing,

    joe’s just the loyal opposition. We make everything way too personal. (And this is coming from a guy that likes to call people “cuntrags.”)

    joe’z law is a valid observation on human behavior. It’s not any less valid because it comes from a gadfly (in the complementary Socratic sense.)

    By the way, is anyone else having problems with the newest Firefox update? The spellcheck on mine is wonky.)

  78. “Now, the question is whether it demonstrates an over-abundance of democracy?

    My head hurts!”

    Joe, surely you jest.

  79. Of course he cheated, B. The international monitors who actually, unlike you, know what the fuck they’re talking about are all corrupt, so we don’t have to pay attention to them when they say the electoral results were legitimate.

    How do we know they were corrupt? Why, they said the electoral results were legitimate.

    It must be nice to be able to know things just by figuring out how convenient they are politically. We liberals spend so much time worrying about facts and evidence and – get this – actively trying not to let the political convenience of a statement influence our judgement about it. I know, crazy, huh?

  80. I do jest, rana. My head doesn’t really hurt.

    Nonetheless, it is a simple fact that I am being besieged by people arguing that Chavez’s rule represents the collapse of democracy, and also people arguing that it represents democracy run amok.

    Just read upthread.

  81. No no, seriously, B, Chavez steals elections all the time. He’s always stolen elections. Except when he loses. Which also, in its own way, shows that his electoral victories were stolen.

    How? Shut up, commie, that’s how.

  82. “I do jest, rana. My head doesn’t really hurt.”

    I really got to preview my posts and learn when to cutoff a quote…
    Fair enough, but I think you know what I was refering to.

    The one, and perhaps only, thing that is NOT happening here is democracy running amok.
    Mob-rule and/or thug-whims is not democracy- I think we can all agree on this point.

  83. Don’t get me wrong, SF.
    I usually appreciate joe’s contributions.
    But there’s a fine line between gadfliery and trollishness (said while tipping hat to joe’s ability to walk it).

  84. I don’t think we can agree, rana. I don’t think SugarFree, Citizen Nothing, or Nigel Watt would agree with you at all – I think they consider “mob rule” and “democracy” to be synonyms.

    For my part, I think the relationship between democracy and mob rule is complicated. I think you can end up with tyranny as a result both of too much or too little. The former, in my opinion, has certainly not been the problem in Latin America.

  85. joe,

    I can’t think of another example of nationalization being a partisan electoral issue in a functional democracy, like tax rates or some ‘ordinary’ issue.

    I believe this is the best proof that Venezuela is no longer a functional democracy. Functional democracies dont do shit like this.

  86. Actually, joe, I wish I had more time this afternoon to engage you in the “too much/too little democracy” discussion.
    You might have pegged me with democracy = mob rule. But I’m heartened by the fact that you apparently believe that there can, indeed, be “too much” democracy. Or did I misread you?

  87. When the government thugs show up to take possession, clear everyone out and blow the place to hell.

    Wasn’t that what Saddam did to the Kuwaiti oil fields? like that ended well!

  88. SugarFree, I’m having trouble coming up with examples of the first part – an industry-nationalizing socialist democracy that has been voted out of power. So far, they seem to have all turned into dictatorships or been overthrown in coups.

    Mexico and no they never did give back Exxon’s stuff.

  89. robc,

    Functional democracies dont do shit like this.

    Well, they’ve tended not to. But I can equally accurately say that dictatorships don’t hold elections that the ruling party loses, and maintain the continuity of the democratic process, like this.

    Both of those statements are true, in the sense that what’s going on in Venezuela doesn’t look like what we’re used to seeing democracies do, and it doesn’t look like what we’re used to seeing caudillos do.

    Once upon a time, we hadn’t seen any countries like modern China – a communist dictatorship that adopts market reforms sufficient to become a significant global competitor with capitalist democracies while maintaining communist-levels of political repression.

  90. CN,

    You didn’t misread me. I’m an ACLU liberal, remember? Big supporter of the VT, MA, and CA gay marriage rulings. Of course I believe that the majority can oppress the minority in a democracy.

  91. I usually appreciate joe’s contributions.

    Yeah cuz arguments around the edges that are put together worse then a moronic 8 year old could is valuable.

    His argument is that Chavez is unpopular therefore socialism (joe calls democracy socialism for some fucked up reason) works. Joe is truly an idiot of epic proportions.

  92. I attract the dumbest detractors in the universe.

    B, joshua corning, Guy Montag, Other Matt – every day, it’s like the driver of the short bus is trying to run me over.

  93. Yes, joe, those of us that the detractors nominally agree with find it very painful.

  94. Yes, TAO, I think there is a meaningful difference between having your property seized without compensation and having it taken eminent domain style,

    Did I say there was no difference? I asked you if it was just to disregard the wishes of the owner to sell.

    Again, joe, for clarification…is that justice?

  95. Sometimes. And I’m not interested in discussing the question any deeper than that on this particular thread.

  96. Chavez is democratically elected, blah, blah, blah…

    Just like Mayor Daley, back in the day, eh?

    -jcr

  97. Why don’t these companies bury explosives throughout their factories and mines as a kind of poison pill?

    Probably because of the hazard of accidental detonation, and the ensuing liability.

    Not to mention, if they blow them up, it’s rather hard to reclaim the property if the thugs are overthrown.

    -jcr

  98. Why don’t these companies bury explosives throughout their factories and mines as a kind of poison pill?

    Probably because of the hazard of accidental detonation, and the ensuing liability.

    Or maybe, and I’m just speculating wildly here, they don’t want to kill anyone. Jesus, people.

  99. Let’s say the next government decides all this nationalization was a bad idea and tries to resell the assets – who’s buying? Do they just sell them for less than their true worth?

    The “true worth” will be determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. That’s the only way “true worth” is ever determined, ultimately. Naturally, it’s not surprising if the events that hypothetically lead to this hypothetical outcome have a suppressing effect on the price.

  100. “The government’s aim is to run a socialist model where companies aren’t focused on making a profit, but on satisfying the needs of the people,” he said. “This obviously is troubling for investors.”

    Anyone else absolutely hate the phrasing here? It’s bloody meat for critics of capitalism.

  101. I’m really surprised some company hasn’t assassinated him by now. Don’t they have a duty to shareholders to protect their assets?

    How much can a hit on a two-bit dictator actually cost?

  102. I’m wondering what joe thinks about all this.

  103. Stupid cops! is there a sudden shortage of donuts and REAL CRIME in the area? Apparently so. Gosh I HATE cops!

    RD
    http://www.Fireme.To/udi

  104. SxCx,,

    Anyone else absolutely hate the phrasing here? It’s bloody meat for critics of capitalism.

    Chavez has played the American left like a fine, imported fiddle. Has done so from day one.

  105. But there still seem to be democratic and institutional checks on him,

    Eroding all the time. His diktat implementing most of the rejected referendum, remember?

    Nonetheless, it is a simple fact that I am being besieged by people arguing that Chavez’s rule represents the collapse of democracy, and also people arguing that it represents democracy run amok.

    It can be both at once, joe – Chavez uses what democratic legitimacy he has as cover for dictatorial overreach, and when he can’t get democratic cover, he does the dictatorial overreach anyway.

  106. joe:

    Popular elections don’t equal democracy. Popular elections are a key ingredient to democracy, but democracy requires a whole bunch of other things, such a free and independent press, separation of powers, etc.

    Venezuela is a popular dictatorship.

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