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“Why is Venezuela on the brink” asks Sky News

Dominic Waghorn has written an article for Sky titled ‘Oil rich but sliding into anarchy: Why is Venezuela on the brink?

Economic mismanagement and kleptocratic rule have led to tumbling living standards but the regime still has a grip on power […] Like the government of Hugo Chavez that it followed, the Maduro government claims to be on the side of the masses. But its kleptocratic rule has been disastrous for every level of society. The poor just have less to lose. […] But the Maduro government’s mismanagement of the economy has been breathtakingly irresponsible. […] Nationalisation, price controls and rampant corruption have added to the witches’ brew poisoning the economy.

Nowhere in the entire article does the word ‘socialism’ or ‘socialist’ appear. I wonder why? The mainstream media are a joke.

Trying to argue with a socialist about Venezuela

41 comments to “Why is Venezuela on the brink” asks Sky News

  • Paul Marks

    Correct Perry – it is nothing to do with “mismanagement” it is the very idea that the government can “manage” the economy (decide on prices and so on) that is wrong.

    As for “kleptocracy” – for once I must spring to the DEFENCE of the left, there is no real evidence that the problem in Venezuela is the ex bus driver who is President stealing lots of money and living a life of luxury. Even if he is leading a life of luxury (bathing in vintage wine every night and so on) that would not undermine a nation of millions of people.

    The mainstream electronic media (such as Sky News) in this country is rotten to the core – and by law. For example, if even a moderately conservative station such as Fox News (and anyone thinks that FNC is any way “extreme” has never watched it) would not be legally possible in this country – the government forbids even mildly conservative television and radio stations.

    So we get rubbish such as blaming the collapse of Venezuela on “mismanagement” and “kleptocracy”.

  • Chip

    “Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.” – Jeremy Corbyn

    Corbyn would win an election held today.

  • Paul Marks

    However, one should not just blame the mix of Keynesianism and socialism that is the governing doctrine of Venezuela (the one virtue of Karl Marx as an economist was that he mocked the Monetary Cranks who later generations were to come to call “Keynesians” although the demented doctrines spread by J.M. Keynes existed long before Keynes was born), but post World War II Marxists (such as P. Straffa) started to mix Keynesianism and Marxism – both doctrines are false, but their falseness does not cancel out – it compounds) – there is much older stuff at work.

    The idea that government should decide “fair” prices and wages is very widespread – and it goes back to the late Roman Empire and beyond. There has always been a faction of the Roman Catholic Church (not all of it – but a very important faction) that has fallen for this nonsense – for example the priests who advised Charlemagne believed in this stuff, so he brought back the price controls of the late Roman Empire (helping to PREVENT economic revival).

    I recently reread (reread because I found I had forgotten what they actually say) some the Encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII (perhaps the most well known Pope in regard to his political writings). The 1888 one on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion I did not understand – it was as unclear as the sort of philosophy that is now popular in universities (I sometimes think that one reason that philosophers such as Thomas Reid and Harold Prichard are no longer popular in universities is because they spoke and wrote plainly – rather than in the academic language that seems to be designed to OBSCURE the opinions of the writers who use it), I am certainly not saying that Pope Leo XIII was trying to obscure anything (the fault may well be mine – my semi senile brain), but I have to report that after reading the Encylical I have no idea whether Pope Leo XIII supported Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion or not – I just do not know.

    However, I could understand his famous 1891 Encyclical – and it fell apart in the first paragraph. The talk of capitalism “impoverishing” the population – in 1891 when living standards had never been higher, and the talk of capitalism leading to moral degeneracy. Again in 1891? How was it more morally degenerate than say 1791? or 1691? or 1591? or 1491?

    I am sometimes accused of not being the most tolerant of people, although all I ask is that someone speaks plainly and is prepared to stand to-the-death for the truth of what they say. And really that is not all that much to ask, us humans being mortal anyway, we are not elves or fairy folk – if we are not killed we just fell apart in the process of ageing. But I do not raise this matter to have a temper tantrum about a document published in 1891 – such writings are still important today.

    It must remembered that in Venezuela and many other countries around the world the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are the basic ALTERNATIVE to Marxism (although Marxist influence in the Church has grown, especially from the 1960s, it is NOT true to say that the Roman Catholic Church is controlled by Marxists – the truth is a lot more complicated than that). So when the teachings of even Pope Leo XIII are filled with libels (not too strong a word) against capitalism the well is poisoned – the well of the alternative to Marxism in so many countries.

    Let us imagine things going well in Venezuela and the opposition winning – that would be no good if the opposition carried on the wild “Social Justice” spending of the government, and the “fair prices” and “just wages” nonsense.

    There have actually been many Roman Catholic clerics with good political and economic ideas, it is just a shame (a dreadful shame) that they never seem to be in charge of “social teaching”. But that is true of so many institutions in this world, it is certainly NOT an anti Catholic point as what institutions are in the hands of members who actually know stuff that is true? The skills a person needs to get to the top of an organisation are not the same as the skills a person needs to be much good in a position of leadership when they get it – indeed the two skill sets may not be compatible, I did say “may” not (I hope they are compatible – just not often found in the same person).

  • Laird

    What a stupid article. “The only hope is shrewd and sustained intervention from outside the country.” Really? From whom? And how? The fact is that there is no “hope”, but sooner or later there will be a resolution of the crisis. That probably won’t occur until Maduro is assassinated and the entire failed state collapses, which will lead to much bloodshed and destruction, but it will be a resolution. The best everyone else can do is keep our distance.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Chip – Mr Corbyn (and Mr McDonnell) would likely win, and do the same to Britain as his associates have done to Venezuela.

    And why not? After all British schools and universities teach the same doctrines of “Social Justice” that schools and universities in Venezuela teach.

    The same is true of the United States – and every place I know of.

    Not a good situation.

    Can you see Mrs May or Mr Hammond explaining that “Social Justice” is nonsense? How about explaining that a “fair price” or a “just wage” is nonsense? No neither can I. The doctrines that they AGREE are wonderful are the doctrines of Mr Corbyn – and they lead to Venezuela.

    “You are being disloyal Paul” – no I am not, I will obey my orders whatever the cost to myself.

    Loyalty is about obeying lawful and honourable orders – even if they lead to certain death. It is NOT about having any respect for the people giving the orders.

    Loyalty does not have to be earned – it goes with the position. Respect does have to be earned. These people, the leaders of the West (not just the United Kingdom – most of the West), have my loyalty but not my respect – and they would not want my respect anyway (me being nothing to them).

  • Paul Marks

    Laird – I think there is a point of agreement between us, on the past if not the present or the future.

    If the Bush Administration had “kept its distance” and not SAVED the socialist regime by acting AGAINST a military coup in Venezuela some years ago (the left, who control the education system and mass media of the West, have rather put this action by the Bush Administration down the “Memory Hole”) Venezuela might well be better off today.

    Ditto the Western action to PREVENT a military coup in Turkey – when there was still time to prevent the Islamification of the institutions (including the military now).

    The problem is that after a military coup – then what?

    Even if the military have good ideas (and why should they?) military rule is not a sustainable long term option.

    Even Pinochet resigned – and it hard to say what else he could have done other than eventually resign.

    Sulla, back in the dying days of the Roman Republic, is supposed to have got rid of the Corn Dole (it was more than bread – it was a system by which the Roman state supported the city population in various ways, at the expense of the provinces), but even if Sulla did this (and that is contested) the system soon came back after he died.

  • Paul Marks

    I should have said that military rule is not a sustainable long term option for people who have any respect for basic freedoms.

    I remember reading the late R.G. Collingwood’s “The Idea of History” – a fascinating mixture of profound scholarship and lack of common sense.

    On Tacitus – Collingwood notices something odd about his tone, “what was the matter with the man?” Collingwood asks. That Tacitus was writing under a military dictatorship where a person could be executed for having the wrong opinions or just because the Emperor disliked them (even some “good Emperors” did that), does not seem to have occurred to the late R.G. Collingwood.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Sorry to break in, Paul, but we can also see this as the curse of the one-item economy. Venal-zuela, if I may so rebrand it, relied too much on one commodity, oil. Since prices have not gone up, the government lost credability. This could happen to any type of society, so let’s try to not just rely on one item in our economies.

  • Bruce

    Greetings from the Penal Colonies:

    “The mainstream media are a joke”.

    Odd sort of joke, what with them being “in on the game”, and all.

    MOST “fouth-estatists” are merely “professional” school-yard tattle-tales, pathologically and probably congenitally incapable of acknowledging the validity of ANYTHING other than their own toxic tunnel-vision. And those are their FINER points.

    Why my less-than-charitable estimation?

    When you grow up seeing actual reality and, subsequently, the “opinion-shapers” portrayal of it, you begin to become a little uneasy about the self-aggrandizement of such folk and the incessant demonization of, (apologies in advance for my crap French); “les autre du jour”.

  • Wordness to the turdness

    That’s some first class memeing there

  • TomJ

    Kristian Niemietz, who has been hanging on about the Left’s attempt to disown the Venezuelan crisis, has come up with a jolly good thread on twitter:


  • Jacob

    “I should have said that military rule is not a sustainable long term option for people who have any respect for basic freedoms.”

    In some countries (say Egypt or Iran) “respect for basic freedoms” (a.k.a. democracy) brings Islamist rule (The Muslim Brotherhood or Khomeinist theocracy).
    So, the choice is not military rule vs. “basic freedoms” but military rule vs. deep oppression, or some mild military oppression and corruption vs. total religious oppression.

    You need to distinguish between a dictator and a totalitarian regime. Take Putin for example. He is a dictator, still he is a great improvement over his communist totalitarian predecessors.

    And… Maduro and Chaves before him were elected in democratic elections. A military coup to prevent the current regime would have been infinitely more beneficial to the Venezuelan people.

  • TimR

    If Maduro were assassinated tomorrow there are plenty of others like Diosdado Cabello to take his place. The only glimmer of hope used to be that the military would step in; however, they also are totally corrupt and part of the narco regime currently in charge. They have to stay as they have nowhere else to go.

  • Mr Ed

    I’ve read that there are 50,000 Cubans working in various positions in the Venezuelan state apparatus, some of who are military ‘advisers’. I also read that there are around 2,000 Generals (i.e. officers of starred rank) in the Bolivarian Armed Forces. How on Earth do you stage a coup in an Army that is so top-heavy and riddled with Cubans?

  • PeterT

    totally off topic

    Perry, did you see that you got a mention in the latest posting on eureferendum.com, as part of a cabal of some kind to impose the most damaging hard brexit on the country as possible. I have to say that posting comes across as bit tinfoilhatty.

  • How utterly delightful 😀

    But if I am not really ‘independent’, then whoever is supposed to be sending me a bung to shill for Brexit is well and truly behind on payments!

  • Mr Ed

    The picture one gets of Legatum, therefore, is of an exceptionally well-endowed think-tank

    So someone is pleased.

  • But if I am not really ‘independent’, then whoever is supposed to be sending me a bung to shill for Brexit is well and truly behind on payments!

    Didn’t you get the BitCoin I sent you via FedEx?

  • PeterT

    “So someone is pleased.”

    I thought exactly the same thing and chuckled a bit at my desk. Gosh, I can’t believe I’m almost forty.

  • Sam Duncan

    I noticed this myself. There were actually two reports on Venezuela on the Sky News website on Saturday. The word “socialist” did actually appear in the other one. Once. In a photo caption.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that it wasn’t always thus. Venezuela’s “Socialism for the 21st Century” used to be loud and proud. Further to Chip’s comment, here’s what the Absolute Boy™ had to say about it before he deleted the piece from his website (I can’t imagine why):

    [T]he Bolivarian revolution is in full swing and is providing inspiration across a whole continent.


    The success in Venezuela has inspired others so that there is a tangible shift across the whole continent, with the election of Left Governments in Uruguay, Bolivia and now Peru looking likely to follow.


    Venezuela is seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting the Neo Liberal policies of the world’s financial institutions.


    Success for radical policies in Venezuela is being achieved by providing for the poorest, liberating resources, but above all by popular education and involvement.


    As with Cuba the threat to the USA by Venezuela is not military or economic. It is far more insidious, a threat by example of what social justice can achieve.

    Well, he was right about that. It does provide an excellent demonstration of the threat posed by “social justice”.

    Surely what the “state capitalism” crowd have to ask themselves is why that’s how it always turns out. Every single time. Even, despite what Jezza, Red Ken, et al. were confidently predicting at the turn of the century, this one.

  • Well done Perry de Havilland (London, July 31, 2017 at 11:59 am): you know you’ve arrived when the PCers include you by name in their list of sinister manipulators who combine evil political victories with ruthless capitalist exploitation of same. And you’ve doubly arrived when they add sneering qualifications like “supposedly independent”.

    However AFAIK you’re still not officially an “enemy of the people” – the people’s republic of north korea that is – unlike Natalie Solent (go here and search “King Akwa’s mistake” on the page to see the post that won her the honour).

    I’m sorry to hear that your monthly stipend from Merchants of Death Inc. is so far in arrears. However this seems to be normal with such people. I believe Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts and Andrew Montford have all complained that the “Big Oil” money asserted to be available to all who question anthropomorphic global warming just never seems to reach them. I’m sure the pink blob in the OP animation would say it just proves how greedy these capitalists are.

    Surely the pink blob is on record as saying Venezuela is real socialism as recently as 2013 or 2014. After all, Jeremy Corbyn is, Diane Abbot is, Owen Jones is, etc., etc. – so the pink blob would have been expelled for rightist deviation if it had refused to agree.


  • bobby b

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    July 31, 2017 at 11:59 am

    How utterly delightful 😀”

    I note that they call you the “supposedly independent editor of the Samizdata blog.” I also note that, on the Cobden Centre site, you’re the only director listed without a picture.

    You’re really the third Koch Brother, aren’t you? God, I feel so used.

  • I’m actually amazed that anything is being reported from Venezuela at all.
    I was at my mother’s house on Saturday and there was a report on the BBC about the situation. “Crazy” my mother said. “it’s been going on for a long time” I replied.
    “first I’ve ever heard of it!”

    The media has been completely silent on Venezuela since the money started to run out… What it bodes that suddenly it is news I do not know.

  • Snag

    If free trade doesn’t enrich, how can sanctions on Venezuela be blamed for poverty?

  • I can’t parse this sentence:

    The links with the Cobden Centre bring us to Perry de Haviland, supposedly independent editor of the Samizdata blog, Matthew Elliott, who just happens to be a senior fellow of the Legatum Institute.

    From Perry’s link above.

  • Venezuela can never be a viable oil socialist country until the price of oil goes way up


    From my post on the state of the natural gas wars.


  • staghounds

    “Kleptocratic” = Socialist after the savings run out.

  • EdMJ

    You’re really the third Koch Brother, aren’t you? God, I feel so used.

    “The Institute itself is part of the Legatum Group, set up in 2006 by the multi-billionaire Christopher Chandler, formerly president of Sovereign Asset Management.”

    Worse than that, the Kiwi equivalent – the Chandler brothers!

    “If you’re not familiar with the Chandler Brothers you’re likely not alone. These two Kiwi gentlemen are my heroes. Extremely secretive, contrarian, driven, principled investors who invest their own capital and don’t care for the limelight or what others think. They are at heart value investors often focusing on turnaround opportunities.

    Over a span of some 20 years the Chandler brothers took a $10 million sum of capital and have parleyed that into over $5 billion.” Not bad for a couple of antipodeans…


    Perry is in good company then.

  • llamas

    The situation in Venezuela was reported last night on NPR, and in much the same tones – what on earth can have happened? The world’s largest proven reserves of oil? How can this be? We is Bemused.

    A passing reference was made to fact that the latest elections might not be a simon-pure exercise in participatory democracy, but this was couched in terms of minor procedural irregularities – ballot boxes the wrong color, in signs on the out door, that sort of thing. Much more airtime was given to soundbites of El Presidente Maduro blaming it all on ‘Emperor’ Trump and insinuating that it’s all a plot by the evil Americans to get their hands on Venezuela’s oil. Not much doubt about which way the editors of that story were leaning.

    In the same newscast was the report of oil prices heading back down after a brief flirtation with $50/bbl. The disconnect between the two stories was quite stark.

    I just feel sorry for the Venezuelans, and they don’t even have Johnny Depp to entertain them while they starve. Seems like all Chavez/Maduro’s Hollywood friends have gone quiet all of a sudden. Quelle fromage.

    If our esteemed host were named Bloggs, or Meinertzhagen, misspelling his name might be understandable. But his name is not without historical context, so misspelling it betokens either ignorance, or carelessness, or both. Whatever the case, it diminishes the thrust of the story – even more.



  • ns

    Jacob – “In some countries (say Egypt or Iran) “respect for basic freedoms” (a.k.a. democracy)”
    I would not equate democracy with respect for basic freedoms. They often are opposed to each other, with a democratic vote to end rights. And yet the world fetishizes “Democracy!” as the opposite of tyranny and oppression. It isn’t. Democracy without a respect for basic freedoms (e.g. a bill of rights) will become tyranny.

  • ns

    Of course, on this site, that’s preaching to the choir.
    I think it was also this site where I saw the observation that free-market capitalism is so powerful, it delivers riches even when it’s not pure or it’s loaded down with regulations whereas socialism is so lame that it has never worked no matter how it’s been tried.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    After Mencken on ‘democracy’ and Heinlein on ‘bad luck’, what else need be said?

  • NickM

    Red Ken has apparently blamed the usual suspects for Venezuela. Can’t he just give it up to spendmoretime with his newts? He really is a whiney sanctimonious well-chiselled twatter of the first water. The ought to feed him to Diane Abbott. She’d have eaten Corbyn but there’s no meat on that bearded string of piss.

  • Oh hell no, Nick! I love Ken Livingstone because he just says what all his confrères are thinking! Long may he keep shooting his mouth off!

  • Thailover

    I’m increasingly convinced that Leftism is a crypto-religion. No matter how many times one explains the fallacies on the Left, be it economic, political, social etc, nothing sticks. They act as if their beliefs aren’t completely falsified, which they are. It’s as if they’ve NEVER heard a refutation of the alleged adequacies of price controls, or the “wage gap” so-called injustice, or how the sexes are, yes, believe it, it’s a fact…wait for it….DIFFERENT, etc.

    And the reason sound refutations bounce off them like raindrops off a duck is because their beliefs are a matter of faith, not syllogisms, and you can’t reason someone out of a position they were never reasoned into.

    A very interesting lecture by Ayn Rand.

  • Thailover

    I just feel sorry for the Venezuelans, and they don’t even have Johnny Depp to entertain them while they starve.

    I love Johnny’s acting skills and presence, and he’s not on my list of actors not to watch, like Mel Gibson or dictator loving Glover. But I’m never-endingly amused at his forced, weird accent, i.e. Johnny pretending that he isn’t from Kentucky.

  • Thailover

    and the talk of capitalism leading to moral degeneracy. Again in 1891? How was it more morally degenerate than say 1791? or 1691? or 1591? or 1491?

    Paul, realize that when many religiophiles speak of morality, they’re not talking about compassion and empaty torwards ones fellow man. What they’re really talking about is people being forced to follow “shalts” and “shalt nots”. In the latter nineteenth century, people were largely free to participate in organized religion or choose not to…without public pressure or shame either way. No doubt to the then acting Pope, this would seem degenerate times. Realize also that capitalism isn’t merely an economic system, it’s a social system, that is, economic AND political, depending on the existence of private property rights and pride from earning and achieving. ‘Anethema to statist/organized religionists, (two sides of the same tribalist coin).

  • NickM

    “you can’t reason someone out of a position they were never reasoned into.”

    Bingo Thailover. That is about the best way of putting it I’ve read for some time. It is a self evident axiom to the True Believer in the same way Allah is to a Muslim and everything must be adjust to fit this. It is just true to the left in an absolute way in exactly the same way that the law of the excluded middle is true to a mathematician. Of course the latter is genuinely axiomatically true whereas as a higher order statement “socialism is right” is either true or false in a very different way and open to empirical tests – amongst other things.

    Anyway. Thailover for SQOTD?

  • “you can’t reason someone out of a position they were never reasoned into.”

    Actually, you can. Neo-Neocon in a long series of posts about how her politics changed after she saw the post-9/11 cover(up)erage by the media, and Tim Blair on how his leftist sun set, are two of many who were socialists at 20 and not when later in life. They used reason to get out of a position they had adopted at a less mature time of life. They applied their possibly-more-mature ability to reason to their much-more-mature experience.

    If pure reason, unalloyed with anything else, were the means by which someone adopted a position (but how common is that?) then in principle it should be easier to use the same method to get them out of it, but even that is debatable. If pure reason led to a wrong conclusion, is it not likely the wrong-thinker may just go on making the same mistake in their reasoning, or go on believing the same wrong fact(s) that it was based on?

    More experience is the cure. Better morals – less self-indulgent, self-regarding reasoning – helps.

  • Alisa

    To add to Niall’s point, it is mostly about practical incentives: all of us are wrong about this or that aspect of reality – either through ignorance, or willful denial, or both. From that it logically follows that for everyone there is a potential point beyond which continual ignorance or denial of certain aspects of reality will materially hurt us. This is where our survival instinct kicks in and tells us that we need to begin paying attention and probably review our current positions (if any) on certain issues. It is colloquially referred to as ‘a wakeup call’, and it plays directly towards our incentives to think and act in certain ways and not others. For many, many people in the West 9/11 served as just such a wakeup call, but there are numerous such instances that are not nearly as collectively shared as that (think of the proverbial leftist turning conservative as a result of having been mugged).

  • Eric

    As for “kleptocracy” – for once I must spring to the DEFENCE of the left, there is no real evidence that the problem in Venezuela is the ex bus driver who is President stealing lots of money and living a life of luxury.

    On the other hand, somehow Hugo Chavez’s daughter has four billion dollars squirreled away in offshore bank accounts. To me that sounds like a kleptocracy Maduro inherited after everything of value had been looted already.