We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The world is a slightly better place tonight

Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez kicks the bucket. At times like this I almost wish I believed in an afterlife and the whole eternal damnation shtick.

46 comments to The world is a slightly better place tonight

  • Laird

    One of the few people whose death is worth celebrating.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Aside from his name (does anyone else think Chavez must be the spanish for Chav?), there was nothing wrong with the guy! Sure, he wanted to be a President-for-life, but it seems as though every Latino-American man wants to be that! I doubt very much that his successor will be a free-enterprise lover!
    The real trouble started with the style of Spanish rule. That set the pattern for top-heavy paternalistic government. Even when they rebelled against Spain, it wasn’t for democracy, just to get away from Spain!

  • veryretired

    He was a symptom of a very strong and troubling resurgence of marxist thinking and subversion in Latin America. He made bull-like noises as if he was leading somethig, but in fact he was merely the audacious front man for some very dangerous people who have formed relationships with various anti-American and anti-western groups from around the world.

    I hope his last year or so was as miserable and painful as his lunatic rule was for many people in Venezuela, and other latin countries, esp. the long suffering Cubans, whose tottering regime he propped up with money and oil.

    I doubt there’s any actual heaven or hell, but I do believe in a form of cosmic justice, and having a bunch of Cuban doctors digging around in your innards every once in a while until you finally die seems to even up the scales of justice just fine.

  • Nick, if you ever run out of exclamation marks, I have some to spare.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Thank! you! Alisa!! I! have! too! many! right! here!! They! keep! multiplying!!! Perhaps! I! could! give! some! to! you!, as! you! never! seem! to! use! any!!!

  • Bob, Henchman at Large

    Exclamation points are kipple.

  • RAB

    Cuban Medicare… Best in the world you know. 😉

  • Schrodinger's Dog


    I think Nick (nice-guy) Gray is simply a follower of the Hello! school of journalism, where the exclamation mark replaces the full-stop.

  • Tedd

    I doubt there’s any actual heaven or hell, but I do believe in a form of cosmic justice, and having a bunch of Cuban doctors digging around in your innards every once in a while until you finally die seems to even up the scales of justice just fine.

    A wonderful quote, even by the high standard that veryretired sets.

    At times like this I almost wish I believed in an afterlife and the whole eternal damnation shtick.

    Do you suppose it’s within the grasp of science to create such a thing?

  • I’m surprised someone hasn’t posted this yet;

    He’s not pining! He’s passed on! This looter is no more! He has ceased to be! He’s expired and gone to meet his maker! He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If he hadn’t been nailed to the hospital bed he’d be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He’s off the twig! He’s kicked the bucket, He’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bloody choir infernal!! THIS IS AN EX-Looter!!

  • Sam Duncan

    I’ve often thought the ugliest aspect of the modern Left is their open desire for the deaths of their opponents and their gloating when one such demise occurs. Indeed, I think I’ve said here that I have no such wish for them, merely that they leave us alone and go and live happy and fruitful lives minding their own damned business.

    But I certainly won’t be shedding any tears.

    So… what now?

  • So… what now?

    We continue to live.

  • j.arimathea

    ABC = Australian Broadcasting Corporation [think BBC]. Faine has a morning radio session in Melbourne.

    Quote: ABC host Jon Faine today announced “very sad news”: Hugo Chavez is dead.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Sam Duncan,

    Agreed. One should maintain a decorous silence for a day or two even for quite bad people, most democratic politicians for instance. However when, for example, crime bosses die, there is no obligation that their obituaries should not say what they were.

    So, how bad was the late Mr Chavez? Well, to be fair to him, I never heard that he had the personal sadism of the Kray twins. But I have little doubt that he had some of his opponents murdered and no doubt whatsoever that he had many of them beaten, harassed and persecuted. So I’d put him as about equivalent to that gangster whose name I forget who would have his rivals beaten bloody and then give them a clean shirt to go home in.

  • Simon Jester

    @RAB: But is it the envy of the world? 😉

    @Natalie Solent: That sounds a bit like “taking a shirt from Charlie [Richardson]”, but if anything the Richardsons sounded worse than the Krays:


  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I stand corrected, Mr Jester. I did not want to google the “shirt” gangster out of reluctance to see the pages of sickening adulation that such criminals receive.

    Again, much like Chavez.

  • But I have little doubt that he had some of his opponents murdered and no doubt whatsoever that he had many of them beaten, harassed and persecuted.

    Actually, I was looking for suitable linking evidence earlier today, and didn’t find any – but admittedly, I have not spent too much time on it either. If anyone has any though, it could be useful.


  • Paul Marks

    Colonel Chevez (the son of two school teachers – an important point as he was fond of making up phony stories about his poverty stricken childhood) led a failed military coup in 1992 – and got 30 years in prison, sadly a stupid social democrat President let Chevez out of prison.

    Chevez took advantage of massive banking crises (sound familar?) to be elected President – and proceeded to vastly increase government spending (also sound familar?) and to take over private companies cheating the debt holders (come on you must know by now).

    Anyway the death of the Venezulian Obama is not something to shed many tears about. He also went FURTHER than Obama by establishing universal price controls (and so on).

    Almost needless to say the “libertarian” left loved Chevez – at least they believed he was better than “American puppets” and “corporate stooges” – which is how the “libertarian” left describe the social democrat opposition to Chevez and his socialist Comrades at home and his friends Castro, Gadaffi, Assad…. overseas.

  • Aha! #3 on my dead pool list for 2013… now for #1 and #2… Bob and Fidel.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “One of the few people whose death is worth celebrating.”

    And here’s another:

    Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the death of Iosip Vissarionovich Djugashvili, better known as Stalin.

    Sometime celebrations are definitely in order.

  • What about Kim, RobC, chopped liver?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    You can only say better once you know what will replace him.

    Mussolini would have seemed awful until you met Hitler.

  • Paul Marks

    As should be (but, sadly, is not) needless to say…..

    Comrade Chavez bankrupted the oil rich country of Venezuela – leaving it with a vast budget deficit (in spite of huge oil sales).

    A friend of mine e.mailed me just after the death “watch for who mourns”.

    True – those who mourn (such as the Putin regime in Russia, or the Iranian regime) say a lot about themselves.

  • llamas

    Charlie Richardson went well beyond bloody beatings – one of his favoured methods of retribution was to nail his victim to the floor by his hands and feet, a fate which was memorably hat-tipped in the seminal movie about the London gangsters, “The Long Good Friday”.



  • Randolph

    Poor Sean Penn, he lost a friend…

  • Nick makes a good point, but why should the Spanish get all the blame ? Long before Columbus there were two large totalitarian empires in Latin America, the Aztecs and the Incas. The Spanish merely took a bad situation and made it worse.

    No wonder they have to blame the Anglo Saxons.

  • Steven

    The Miami Herald, left-leaning tendencies aside, is one of the best newspapers in the US for getting news concerning Latin America. Makes sense considering how many in Miami were from those places originally. What I thought was interesting was the reporting of South Floridians, many of whom are Venzualan ex-pats, reactions to Comrade Chavez taking a dirt nap. The intelligencia and political types are all kinds of sad about their beloved fellow traveller, but the common people are jubilent.


  • Runcie Balspune

    I never forget the irony of the “democratic” Chavez joking about Bush’s exit after two terms, having been the main beneficiary of the two term limit just recently abolished in his own country.

  • In honour of the passing of Hugo Chavez, I have had his initials inscribed onto my bathroom taps.

  • George

    What was it about lifting millions out of poverty and giving them access to education and healthcare for the first time in their lives that you people find so objectionable?

  • Really George? But then I have heard the same said of Hitler and Stalin for much the same reasons.

  • George

    Ok, so you’re not disagreeing that Chavez lifted millions from poverty but you are arguing that doing this makes a person as evil as Hitler or Stalin?

  • Actually I do not accept that at all, because the ‘lifting up’ done by the socialists I mentioned was also an illusion. By trashing the Venezuelan economy, Chavez has actually just guaranteed an even worse outcome in the not-so-long run. He replaced the previous corrupt regime with something that has done even worse social and economic damage.

  • George

    Why is the ‘lifting up’ by Chavez an illusion, it’s not built on debt as in Britain or USA.

    He has diverted the profits from selling the country’s oil to the people rather than letting them be taken by foreign private companies. You are in agreement with Barrack Obama and Hilary Clinton in thinking this a bad thing.

  • Why is the ‘lifting up’ by Chavez an illusion, it’s not built on debt as in Britain or USA.

    By consuming the capital assets that are appropriated by running businesses according to political objectives rather than for several profit, Chavez simply shrinks the economy. He does not just ‘divert’ profits from A to B, he actually reduces economic activity. And then there is the moral issue of naked theft but I suspect I am wasting pixels there so lets stick to the utilitarian issues.

    However I see a glimmer of enlightenment regarding the undesirability the many kinds of debt and counterfeiting based state driven Ponzi schemes in the USA and Britain (and pretty much the entire ‘social democratic’ western world).

    But I am curious: how did Chavez’s Venezuela borrow money, do you think? Or did El Gordo just magically multiply bread and fish like Jesus, doling it out to the needy? Or was it by paying over the odds for other foreign people’s money even compared to other ’emerging market’ by any chance? And could hypothecating more and more of Venezuela’s oil income to servicing that debt be what is (sort of) propping up the economy? Well, to the extent that anywhere with inflation and unemployment like that can be said to be ‘propped up’.

    Still, not hard to see why some people in The City and in Shanghai (hell, even some on Wall Street) loved Chavez and his profligate ways, given that 600% or so growth in bonds backed by oil. I mean why not? It is not like the people lending that money were the ones who assets were appropriated (and I am pretty sure no one doing any of that lending has assets inside Venezuela that could be appropriated). And as Chavez was always going to need another fix of dosh as surely as a junky seeking more heroin, those lenders knew their ever increasing slice of Venezuela’s oil money was going to be a safe bet as defaulting on the principle of not paying out The People’s Oil Wealth to greedy foreigners was not all that likely to find favour, hehe.

  • George

    Perry, I don’t think you are wasting pixels talking about naked theft. This is the fundamental issue. How do claims to ownership of a country’s natural resources originate. Ultimately all claims to ownership rest on the ability to employ violence enforcing those claims.

    Venuzela’s natural resources were originally claimed by an elite of armed colonists and then sold to foreign companies. So the claim of those companies to ownership of Venuzela’s resources is itself built on violence and theft.

    Do you see any credibility in the work of John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hitman), who argues that the foreign policy of the west, has been to assassinate or overthrow presidents of resource rich countries, that would not allow favoured companies to exploit those resources.


  • The problem with the notion that ‘corporations control the government’ is that the problem is not corporations but rather government. By allowing powerful intrusive government, someone is going to use those intrusive powers to do things.

    And it can be ‘corporations’ or it can be organised mobs of people living in shitty shanties in Venezuela who want to vote themselves someone else’s wealth or it can be associations of eco-friendly Guardian reading windfarm hosting first world farmers who use the power of the state to hugely increase the price that everyone pays for food, even though there is a vast glut of whatever it is they make, by way of regulations or by excluding third world producers from First World markets wherever possible.

    And this is where thugs like Chavez or his rather less overtly thuggish First World equivalents, really flourish. Chavez saw a system in which if you had the favour of the state, you could do what you pleased as title to land was often tenuous. But rather than demanding that several property rights be the intrinsic rights of all who managed to accumulate something rather than the favoured who could have one rule for you and another for me… no, he did the opposite… he made them even less secure by expanding the notion The Venezuelan state was actually the ‘owner’ of everything in reality. Once again it was favour of the state which decides who can own what, only now it is just a different set of thugs who benefit.

    So no, I do not care if foreign oil companies with the capital and expertise pump the Devil’s Excrement from the ground, just so long as they acquired the property (or at least the right to use it) from someone with some plausible title, rather than just the favour of the state. If that was not true before, it is no different now if the people doing the pumping are the new local power elite.

    And of course if some Venezuelan with a plot of land has the capital to stick a ‘nodding donkey’ on it, well that should not make that oil the property of ‘Venezuela’. And equally obviously, if some poor schmuck has oil on their land and the security of their title from appropriation from *anyone* is present, the capital will surely follow (read De Soto on that notion).

    My problem is not so much that some statist fucks from the USA and elsewhere had their stuff taken, but that Chavez has made an order based on severalty even less at the core of Venezuelan society. On pretty much every level this is not an improvement.

    The injection of some stolen money into dirt poor neighbourhoods might cause a warm fuzzy glow to readers of the New York Times and Guardian, much as the NSDAP was widely praised for reducing unemployment and social inequality in the 1930’s by assorted useful idiots in Britain, the USA and elsewhere, this is 180 degrees wrong and guaranteed to just make things worse in the not-so-long run.

  • Ed Snack

    For Llamas and others, the Charlie Richardson legend also lives on as “The Piranha Brothers”

    “So,he nailed your head to the coffee table…?…”

  • joel

    It is curious that some think, if there were to be an afterlife, Mr. Chavez would go to H*ll. What if God really harbors leftist sympathies? I wouldn’t put it past Her.

  • Paul Marks

    I love this idea that “natural resources” just exist like a pie for governement to “distribute”.

    So noone had to find this oil or develop it – it just does that all itself. No one had to risk their money looking for these oil fields or developing them.

    As for land ownership being based upon “violence” – perhaps it is (if you look back far enough – and are not living in Iceland) but past violence (by people long dead) does not justify present violence.

    That is like going to some farmer in Kent and saying “your forefathers stole this land from the Romanno-Britons – they invited them to a feast and then stabbed them to death” and using this as a justification for stealing his farm “it is not really yours – because your forefathers…..” And it would make no difference if it was a oil developer in Texas (or Venezuela) not a farmer in Kent.

    Leftists(including the “libertarian” left) are no good. And when they come up with “justifications” for their stealing they are double no good.

    As for Venezuela – various government there were taxing oil companies (i.e. claiming money for oil they did not find and did not develop) and wasting the money on “social justice” schemes long before Chevez – he just took the process to its ultimate extreme.

    And, yes, the state oil company predates Chevez also – he just ran it an even more corrupt and stupid way than the social democrats did.

    Chevez has doomed this oil rich country – the people have eaten the capital and will suffer greatly.

  • George

    You can call me a communist a nazi or just a thieving leftie but you haven’t convinced me that the people living in the ‘shitty shanties’ don’t have a claim to the country’s wealth as valid as the aristocrat oligarch or kleptocrat who claims to own it all and relies on the violence of the state to enforce his claim.

  • I have no idea if you are a thieving socialist of the functionally interchangeable national or international variety, but I think the issue is not how you have framed it, George.

    Of course people living in the shitty shanties have a claim to the ownership of whatever they accumulate, but to describe it as ‘the country’s wealth’ rings all sorts of alarm bells. Countries do not, or at least should not ‘have wealth’. People should. Not an institution such as a state, which is even more removed from several ownership than a corporation.

    Ideally the ‘country’, the nation state of Venezuela, should be nothing more (or less) that a ‘service provider’ standing behind the several ownership rights of everyone, and that means not just the ‘aristocrats’ (and certainly not the kleptocrats) but also the people in the ‘shitty shanties’. Anything else is not an improvement, it is just moving the misery around at the cost of reducing the whole.

    As I have said several times, the key to any functioning economy, not to mention a civil society worthy of the description, is that titles of ownership are not something that can be easily appropriated by whoever currently has political control of the means of collective coercion (be they aristocratic kleptocrats or populist kleptocrats). This was clearly tenuous at best in Venezuela before the ghastly Chavez, but rather than enforcing equality of law and the security of title, Chavez just made it as bad for everyone rather than just the people at the bottom. The system is no better, it is just fucking over different people (at least overtly) and destroying the economy to boot… which actually fucks over everyone, not just the ‘aristocrats’, regardless of the warm fuzzy glow some people might get from seeing ‘them’ get shafted for a change. That is why I described the largess of Chavez toward said ‘shitty shanties’ as really an illusion.

    He had to chance to replace a lousy political order with something better… and instead he replaced it with something even worse.

  • Paul Marks

    Chevez did not just take the oil money (most of which went to the government before he even became the ruler) – he also borrowed vast sums up top of that. And he did not just take over the oil business (and the state oil company already existed before he came to power) – he stole any business (in any field) that took his fancy.

    The idea that such policies will lead to a long term REDUCTION in poverty is absurd – they will, of couse, lead to bankruptcy and breakdown. And this, in the end, will lead to far WORSE poverty.