The Venezuela socialism death spiral thread


Any society that can’t save itself from itself is probably not in a good position to do the same job for others. Which is why I suggested any hypothetical fix-it force should be composed only of people who have demonstrated expertise in getting results, not just some random crowd from some “developed” country (ie., Team America). Top-notch teachers, for example. I suppose that was the ideal behind the various UN agencies (FAO, WHO, etc), but somehow it all turned to crap.

No way of knowing what would have happened. IMO the Iraq war was inevitable because weak states do tend to get stomped on by stronger ones (the question of moral high ground doesn’t even enter the equation). Whether Iraq is or was fixable: I don’t see any logical impediment, unless you assume that Arabs are innately hopeless. My aunt’s husband is Egyptian and goes off on frequent rants about how bloody useless and corrupt Arabs are. I assume he knows what he’s talking about. OTOH he speaks like that out of frustration, ie., he thinks they’re capable of better but just refuse to get their act together.

Most of Europe was an utter shithole well into the 18th century. The US was hopelessly corrupt, racist, and backward during the 19th and early 20th century. And yet they got better. Slightly. In fits and starts. I enjoy reading about possible reasons for the improvements (or backsliding) in various societies. The reasons are often complex and hard to anticipate or control.

True enough.


I can’t imagine many top notch teachers being willing to go to Venezuela.

Send our crap teachers there. That way both the teachers and the students will get what they deserve.

And who knows… maybe they’ll shape up after they’ve scraped the bottom long enough. Works for substance abusers… sometimes.


You asked for it.

I think it’s a stretch to say there was no foreign involvement in the early phases of/before those conflicts. (Ask Belgium to explain Rwanda, for instance… :whistle:)

And while we’re at it, did any of them get solved by mass land seizures?

I notice, by the way, that you have not attempted to deny the existence of the large criminal element that I’m banging on about. Icon confirmed that they are there and that they’re highly influential. You appear to be suggesting they should be left to get on with it until … well, until what? They run out of victims? Everyone dies of famine and plague?

Of course dangerous criminals should be separated from the general population. Where’s your evidence that 20% of the population are in this category? (Btw that works out to about 6.3 million people in Venezuela. Shh – don’t tell Godwin!)

In a war zone, everyone is a criminal by one standard or another. The only cure for that is to stop the war, preferably before it starts.

First you need some kind of authority, like the UN (however problematic that is). If you’re a bunch of random Europeans with a plan for mass land seizures, how do you expect to get an invitation? You would need to align yourself with one side or another, and you would need to play by their rules. Your noble intentions would pave something, but your backers would choose the route to follow.

One moment it sounds like wilderness survival training and rebooting civilization. The next moment it sounds like the biggest social housing and urban planning project in history. Would you please make up your mind? :confused:

And if people can build houses, they’re more than capable of clearing paths through the jungle. Humanity got by without asphalt for most of history and still does in many places, even in developed countries.

Any export controls on small refrigerated containers? :eek:

Some might offer pro bono services. Most wouldn’t. I’m not actually suggesting the State should forbid free medical care, merely that they need not provide a surfeit of free doctors so that rat-faced boys can harass them for recreational drugs.

I wouldn’t suggest a surfeit of doctors or harassment by “rat-faced boys” either. And why are they being harassed if you have such a huge and fabulous police force?

As for contraception, it wouldn’t matter if it was free or not. Because God.


With that attitude, why bother with “free know-how”? And who’s in charge of this gulag, Comrade Finsky or Archbishop Finsky?

You have more faith than all the priests in the Philippines combined if you think God’s will will be obeyed without an army of preachers and (free) Sunday school teachers to promote it. Free roads, but no free churches?


One never knows how to argue with you. Poor doesn’t mean poor, army doesn’t mean army, education doesn’t mean education

Who says education needs to be 19th century Prussian style or present day Chinese style? I’ve brought this up before.

Don’t be daft. My middle initial stands for Yes-I-believe-in-the-rule-of-law. Ask anyone who’s been deleted from the Legal forum for advocating cheating on taxes or working illegally.

Arresting 20% of the population, however, is the kind of “social engineering” people talk about when they discuss regimes like the Khmer Rouge. The countries with the highest incarceration rates in the world, the Seychelles and the US, don’t even come close to 1%. (They’re 0.799% and 0.666% respectively.)

Even if your criminals are concentrated in specific areas, e.g. public services like the police, you’re still getting into dangerous territory if you lose sight of the practical limitations. When Hong Kong had its great corruption revelations in the 70’s, the solution ended up being to lock up the big potatoes (or some of them anyway) and give an amnesty to the ordinary cops who were just playing along to make a living. Result: massive drop in corruption in a very short time. If they had locked everyone up, the Maoists would have had a field day.

Speaking of anarchism and HK, they say pre-demolition 九龍城寨 was functional. Iraq “under administration” seems to be the epitome of dysfunction. I think I know which one I would rather live in. How about you?

As I said, why would they invite a bunch of random foreigners that no-one’s ever heard of (except by national, corporate or institutional affiliation) to seize their land?

Not at all, though you seem to think that way of schools…

Yeah, racism is so démodé. All the cool kids are into classism now. :sunglasses:

Due process in a failed state. What makes you think you won’t have this clan ganging up to testify against that clan? What makes you think a bunch of foreigners would understand local conditions and historical grievances?

I don’t know where to start with that one. I’ll let someone else try.

Wait, what? Where are your hardened criminals who urgently need to be rounded up? Or will you persuade them to go willingly by assuring them they’ll still own the land while incarcerated? (Good luck with that one!)

Wow, does that mean there will come a day when even a third world :poop:hole like the UK will be able to have free education (whether Prussian style or not)?

Dream big, Comrades. :rainbow:


No UN please. We do not want cholera and massive prostitution. We have enough of those!


Fair point there (although wasn’t it the French?). A lot of conflicts have their roots in foreign skulduggery. Venezuela is no exception. However what I’m suggesting here is an interaction between non-state actors: the population of Venezuela collectively firing their own government and hiring a temporary one to take out the trash. It’s been done before (sort of):

How often do we have to do this one? Nobody’s seizing anything. The entire country gets surveyed with proper GIS systems, everyone gets a legally-enforceable lease where they didn’t have one before, and in some corner which causes the least inconvenience for all concerned, you build some new towns to accommodate people who refuse to play nicely with others. 50 years hence, given some TLC, those places might be indistinguishable from any other town. The land remains 100% Venezuelan.

Yes. It’s a lot of people. If it wasn’t, then Venezuela wouldn’t be a complete shithole. I have no idea if it’s 20% or 5% or 50%. It’s beside the point really. Even if it’s only 1%, they’re clearly causing a lot of mayhem.

And please don’t equate convicts with Jews. It really hurts your argument.

Which is why you need policemen and judges.

Why do you? What you need is credibility, not authority. As Icon said, all the UN has ever managed to do is create, erm, new economic opportunities by sending in “peacekeepers” sourced from the worst shitholes on the planet.

I already pointed out that they would not be “random”. It’s a government-for-hire. Every single person would have to have an extremely impressive CV. I assume it could be done simply by forming a corporation, which by definition would involve full disclosure of its activities, but they’d also need a team of marketing types to explain and sell their services.

Again, why would you? You’re basically suggesting aligning with the most powerful (=most violent) minority, who would then manipulate the newcomers to create yet another cycle of oppression and failure. I’m suggesting it would only work given a near-unanimous invitation from the general population - say, the 80% of Venezuelans who aren’t crooks. The newcomers would have to make absolutely clear what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it, so that everyone understands what the deal is from the get-go.

Just because it’s minimalistic doesn’t mean it wouldn’t need meticulous planning. Look, if you plonk down 6 million people in the jungle, you have to start from the assumption that they’re not going to stay that way. It is a bootstrap operation, but it has to be done by purposeful mobilization of all that manpower. Otherwise you’ll end up with the world’s vilest favela.

Yeah, not in rainforests, and not if you’ve got 6 million fractious people to get settled. I’ve done this sort of thing before (although not with 6 million people, obviously). You need machines and you need roads. It doesn’t have to be asphalted but it has to be a proper pavement with proper surfacing and drainage. When you’ve done that, everything else can fall into place.

Er … not as such, why? You lost me there. If you’re suggesting people might set up coca refineries, I’d suggest they’re likely to have more pressing problems to focus on.

I was being sarcastic. You can’t modify what people believe, at least not within any short timescale.

That’s actually not a bad idea. Indoctrination. [Mr Burns voice] Excellent.

My basic problem here is that doublespeak is a thing already. Wikipedia describes what education ideally should be. Back in the real world, it means something entirely different. To clarify: I mean no free schools. Does that help?

Absolutely. But here’s the thing: when you make education efficient, it becomes a lot more affordable. Especially if the people doing the paying are already economically productive.

Why is it? If 0.5% of the population are criminals, you apparently have no problem arresting them and putting them in jail. If it’s 5%, suddenly that’s “social engineering”.

Anyway, the 20% figure is just hand-waving. I have no clue what the number is. For all I know, it actually is just 1%. I’m not setting some sort of incarceration target here. The courts would decide who’s a criminal and who’s not, and the statistics would be compiled later.

I completely agree. It may well be the case that just removing the worst of the worst will do the job. The whole conversation started with my assertion that criminality breeds more criminality, ie., some people who would not normally behave like criminals only do so because their environs makes such behaviour more advantageous than honest social interaction.

Anthropologists frame this as a trust problem: I’d like to trust you, but I can’t, because I know that most people around here are untrustworthy. So I’ll treat you with suspicion and rip you off before you rip me off. Also known as the Hobbesian dilemma.

I’m not saying it would be easy. Those things would undoubtedly happen. However the solution is very simple: people who continue to maintain family feuds, whether with overt violence, harassment, or otherwise, are breaking the law. They either stop doing it, or they are … removed. My experience is that it’s actually very easy to tell who is the aggressor and who is simply responding in kind, given a bit of careful observation, so injustices would be fairly unlikely.

Alternatively, given enough time and adult supervision, people might actually forget what they were arguing about in the first place.

The ‘careful observation’ bit is the reason for a very large police presence. You can’t do this with fairness and impartiality with just a scattering of disinterested plods. You’re absolutely right that they have to have some sensitivity to ‘local conditions’.

I’m talking about two completely different issues here.

Above, we were discussing the criminal justice system (ie., actually having one). Whether the criminals own land has no bearing on whether they are convicted of their crimes. I can’t really understand why you think it should.

Here, I’m talking about the fact that most third-world land is untitled, or informally titled, or improperly bounded, or is the subject of ownership disputes, or is in the hands of feudal overlords. Land is incredibly valuable, and in failed states 95% of it is doing nothing useful. It needs to be surveyed. The entire country gets “bought back” from whoever thinks they own bits of it, and rights to use those bits can then be sold to whoever thinks they can use them productively.

If the people “using it productively” are the ones already living on it, all well and good. They’ll have been compensated for having their land being “repossessed” by the State, which means they’ll have money in hand to lease it back. People who don’t want to move acquire security of tenure; people who hate being “farmers” have the financial means to move; and the government gets a vast income stream from new lease payments. This is absolutely nothing to do with arresting criminals. It’s a pure bureaucratic task to get the economy moving.

Only when they’ve read the Wikipedia page on the meaning of Education.


God, I love the British. They really know how to cheer people up!

Land claims in the Americas are not straightforward. I don’t know the details for Venezuela, but you typically have treaties in multiple languages going back centuries. Are those grievances settled?

Then you have corruption and so on. Is the water not murky?

Chavez presumably seized real estate when he seized the assets of foreign businesses. Do they have no further claims?

You want a tabula rasa, but you would need a much bigger disaster than mere famine and civil war, just to get to that point, and then you don’t know how many people would go along with your scheme.

The land remains 100% Venezuelan.

Who among these people, these oh-they’re-poor-so-they-must-be-retarded people as you say, will believe you when you tell them that?

Wow, maybe you and the Occupy movement agree on something! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

And please don’t equate convicts with Jews. It really hurts your argument.

Let’s not be ridiculous. The point is that they’re not convicts, so it’s “necessary for you to invent them”.

All the despicable regimes in history had a legal system of one sort or another, even the KR, even the IS. You need millions of convicts for your little utopia, you insist you’ll only take the bad ones, but it will be like nothing the world has ever seen?

Authority, credibility, stature, call it what you like. You need some.

Who’s going to hire you and pay you?

You want to invest the money yourselves? Fine. Who’s going to let you in?

When a country gets to the point of anarchy and fails to produce a new regime on its own, there are always other countries and organizations waiting in line to fill the vacuum. You can’t just go door to door, village to village, saying hi we’re a government for hire, here are our CV’s, and here are some foreign references you can check, now can you please organize a nationwide referendum to vote us into power?

Here’s a glossy brochure explaining that we’re good people you can trust, and if you haven’t committed any crimes and won’t fail an IQ test then you have nothing to worry about because you must be in the good 80% of the population who won’t go to the super gulag. If you have any questions, here’s the email address you can’t reach because you don’t have internet access. :slight_smile:

With people who were involuntarily taken and massively outnumbered you, and with no support from the regime?

I was imagining more nefarious things. :speak_no_evil:

I thought you said that was the point of the operation! :doh:

Which is another reason why people aren’t going to believe you when you say you come in peace!

Not really.

Walk or cycle on dirt roads? Oh no, people need pavement! Otherwise they will shrivel up and die!

Sit in classrooms from time to time? Oh no, people need to sit on the dirt when receiving instruction! Otherwise their souls will perish!

I hope you get the most efficient dirt, then.

It’s social engineering whether anyone wants it to be or not.

You’ve never heard of the effects of the Sixties Scoop (Canada) or the Stolen Generations (Australia), have you? If you displace a few people, a few people and their relatives are upset. If you displace people on a massive scale, the effects scale up massively. You give massive numbers of kids PTSD that will stay with them for life.

And when you have “trials” to conduct on a massive scale, you don’t have time to give the whole process the kind of precision it needs if you want to avoid (A) making lots of mistakes and (B) making people think you’ve made even more mistakes.

When Finleytopia collapses X years later, the “court records” will be taken to a museum just like the records of the KR, IS, and so on.

Did you catch @hansioux’s game theory game about that?

You remind me of a high ranking Japanese official in the 1930’s lecturing on the subject of East & Southeast Asian relations.

Thanks for clarifying. But I’m trying to see this from the perspective of the villagers who are supposed to invite you in with a referendum (which no-one in the world will trust if it doesn’t have some kind of UN or similar supervision).

“These guys say they’re going to do two things: 1) land reform to make everything fair and 2) sending criminals to a super gulag wilderness survival paved road outdoor school training camp. Should we trust them?” :ponder:

*Wiktionary. If you want to cite Oxford, Webster etc., then…


This thread is on topic, but at the same time hopelessly lost in the underbrush.

Bottom line: Nobody knows how to fix Venezuela, although we all know how it got broken. Its only relevance now is as a warning to others.


Oh, I thought you were referring to the genocide itself. Rumour has it that the French fanned the flames.

Of course they’re not settled. You just dismiss the whole sorry mess as unfixable:

“Here’s some money. Do you want to stay here or not? If so, the lease is $x. If you don’t, we’ll lease the land to somebody else and you can take your money and rent somewhere that you find more attractive.”

Same thing. Want to stay and run your oil refinery? Lovely. The land now belongs to the State. The oil refinery is yours because you built it. Here’s compensation for your official title, which was never worth the paper it’s written on because the original incompetent surveyors located this plot 400 meters eastwards from its actual position on the globe, but we’re going to pay you off regardless.

The chances of it happening are slim indeed. It would have to be sold rather than imposed. If that position could not be reached, then it wouldn’t work. Would Venezuela go for it? Who knows? As several people have said: could things get any worse? So they just might. As I said, it happened in Britain in 1689 (with good results) and things were probably not quite as bad then as they are in Venezuela today.

That’s up to them. It depends how desperate they are to get back to a normal life, doesn’t it?

Good grief. We’re not going to do this again are we? If you’re arrested and convicted of a crime, then you’re a convict. I mean an actual crime that any normal person recognizes as such: murder, theft, GBH, corruption, treason. That sort of thing. Not “being an intellectual” or “being Jewish”.

Despite your support of law and order, you seem to have a very jaundiced view of the police. Their primary mission in life is not to terrorize the lawless (or those suspected of lawlessness) but to protect the innocent. Sometimes that just means standing around doing that Meet The Fockers “I’ve got my eye on you” thing.

You honestly think these things are interchangeable?

Oracle Corp has credibility and stature. It has no authority [to impose its will on others].
The UN has authority and stature. It has no credibility.
The US IRS has authority and credibility. It has no stature.
The President of Somalia has stature. He has no authority or credibility.

And so on.

Governments, pretty much by definition, pay themselves. As I said, the simplest method would be to print currency secured on the economic value of the country’s land.

That would indeed be a problem. Is the Monroe doctrine still accepted? The only possible workaround is to frame the whole thing as a corporate rescue package. Hence an absolute minimum of violence, and absolutely NO soldiers. As soon as any country perceives it as a politically-driven invasion, there would be hell to pay.

The marketing mechanics would be pretty boring. All I’ll say here is that any corporation capable of doing what they advertise would also be capable of getting the message across, even in the absence of websites and email.

I meant I have some experience with the sheer bloody uphill struggle of building stuff with machetes, wheelbarrows, and sweat. Trust me, you don’t want to do it that way. I’m not here to propose another Panama Canal, with people dropping dead from malaria and overwork.

It would happen in time. Two generations maybe. But from the outset, there would be little point in imposing one’s views on contraception, not least because you can’t impose incentives or punishments for non-compliance.

Of course I have. Again, though, these people were convicted of nothing more than being in possession of brown skin.

It’s true enough that the families of criminals (and I’d better make it clear, again, that I’m talking about housebreakers, killers, and the like) get upset when their fathers or brothers are carted off. If you have a better proposal, let’s hear it. Care In The Community tends not to work.

Instead of comparing with some hypothetical wonderland, in which everyone gets anything they want for free from a benevolent government with unlimited funds, try comparing with what they have now, ie., nothing. It’s broken. FUBAR. Communities are routinely terrorized by self-appointed barons or petty criminals. They can’t do anything at all without fear of having their stuff stolen or being killed, raped, or kidnapped. So I don’t think you actually are putting yourself in their shoes.


We’re starting to go in circles, Finno.

  • A big no to soldiers, but private security contractors are kosher? :rainbow: Sounds like the new trend in the Middle East.

  • People are not convicts (that means already convicted), but you will convict them of the crimes you’re certain they’ve committed at rates unheard of in the rest of the world, and there will be no such thing as leniency for people who were just trying to survive (in a war zone, as I said).

  • Wikiland defines authority as (1) power, (2) titular command, (3) credibility, and (4) a specific organ of government.

  • No I’m not anti-popo, but I am suspicious of foreigners bearing gifts, and I suspect most Latin Americans are even more so. (What do you think, @Icon?)

  • People were not officially convicted of having dark skin. They were officially convicted of being hopeless. The children were being “rescued” and given “a better future” because their parents were “incorrigible”. And this was in relatively sophisticated countries with courts and everything.

  • Northern Europe is not a wonderland where everything is free, and I have never said it is. Yet it is real, no matter how deeply it offends your worldview. (Not just directed at Comrade Finsky.)


The devil is always in the details, which is why I keep drawing subtle distinctions.

Policemen. That’s all. They might carry different passports, but they’re just policemen. No guns except in the hands of properly-trained firearms officers called in to those occasions which demand it (eg., drug lords operating private armies).

Why do you find it so hard to accept that a failed state is likely to have a lot more recidivist criminals than a safe and happy one?

Prosecuting someone costs money. So as in most jurisdictions the general procedure would first involve a formal caution, eg., stop breaking into your neighbour’s farm and stealing his chickens or you’ll find yourself in court, sunshine. I’m not attempting to completely reinvent the wheel here.

What “gifts”? They’d be selling a service. The buyer either likes what he sees, or he doesn’t. Just because the service is a slightly unusual one doesn’t really alter the dynamics of a commercial transaction.

AFAIK these were essentially extra-judicial abductions by social services. Nobody even pretended that there was criminal behaviour involved.

The complicating factor here is that, when floods of Europeans arrived to settle in Australia, the native population sort of lost the will to live. The situation persists today. There is/was a huge problem among the “assimilated” Aboriginal population in terms of alcoholism, disease, child neglect, and suchlike. No doubt that was the driver. I’m not excusing it, especially since the problem was created by the very people who were trying to solve it. I’m just saying that it was more complicated than it appears in hindsight.


There was a very prominent case in Australia, just a few years ago, which was sold to the public as the majority of men in this community are pedophiles or something to that effect. You may remember the international headlines it caused. That their land was valuable was juuuuust a funny coincidence… :whistle:

Why do you find it so hard to accept that a failed state is likely to have a lot more recidivist criminals than a safe and happy one?

I don’t. But in a war zone, you do what you need to do to survive, so the usual standards of criminality don’t work unless you want the masses sent to a gulag… oh, which you do. Okay then. :wall:

One more thought:

Yes, it’s :poop:-y over there. But if the majority of the population is still alive and not bedridden, that means people are managing to survive, somehow. There’s the devil you know and the devil you don’t. If you go in there, your armed escort (call it what you like) had better know what it’s doing.


External authority? Invasion like Panama? No thanks. They literally bombed 10 thousand people out. Erased the poorest districts. They sprung up because poverty is endemic where there is no justice, no open participation. So like culling stray dogs, it only serves temporarily.

I would also like to point out that last time someone tried to save a lost generation in Latin America, it was by dumping the parents on the ocean and giving the children away to be raised by proper families. To this day, the grandmothers are waiting…

And those were light skin, educated parents.


The Lucifer Principle has a theory about this sort of thing.

There are far worse things than assimilation. Societies and cultures are expendable. Just move on.

I know it’s not easy. But you do what it takes, or you die a slow death.