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A Quick Note on Venezuela

2017 August 5

The common cry in right-wing circles to anyone who suggests anything resembling socialism is: “It failed in Venezuela.”

What failed in Venezuela was being a petro-economy, not diversifying the economy. Chavez spread money around, but was never able to get off oil.

When you combine that with US hostility, which included sanctions and robust support for opposition groups, along with the world system’s basic set up at this time (which is meant to make it impossible for countries to be able to meet their own needs), you have Venezuela’s downfall.

None of this is hard to predict. Back in 2004 or so, on the late BOP news, I wrote an article criticizing how Chavez was running the economy, very specifically on these exact points.

Socialism works when it is done correctly, just as capitalism does. Back in the 30s, if you were a capitalist, every time you tried to argue in it’s favor, I’m sure someone would say, “What about the Great Depression?”

It is also, again, hard to run a socialist economy in this world economy, because the world’s super power and most of the great powers will be hostile. If socialism is seen to work, after all, it could threaten the wealth and power of those who run capitalist countries.

I favor a mixed economy, with some role for the free market. But Venezuela’s problems prove nothing except that resource economies are vulnerable and that the world system and its super powers are hostile to socialists.

(See also: 7 Rules For Running A Left Wing Government.)

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57 Responses
  1. August 5, 2017

    I would take socialism’s track record over capitalism’s any day of the week. To my mind, capitalism does not work and never has worked. Only in a modified form, with heavy government intervention, can capitalism survive. America had that intervention from the Great Depression until the Clinton administration, and big surprise: as soon as those protections were removed, the economy crashed.

    Not to mention the fact that the people at the top of capitalist societies don’t believe in it for a second. The instant their fortunes are imperiled, they run to the government for a handout. That’s not capitalism! If they really believed, they would gladly sink and make room for a new, better business. But no, they aren’t about to put their money where their mouth is.

  2. V. Arnold permalink
    August 5, 2017

    About half way in; a great report on the very successful elections by one who was a monitor.
    As usual, the U.S. propaganda machines (also known as MSM) got it dead wrong.

  3. Mallam permalink
    August 6, 2017

    Yeah I’m sure sputnik is a very reputable source on authoritarian governments. Maduro with his 20% approval rating, cancelling elections, and manipulating votes didn’t do any of those things, and just wants what is best for his people. It’s all fake news. And imperialism. This must be what it was like in the 1930’s with Stalinists still writing at The Nation.

    Although Ian is correct that “socialism” per se is not the problem here — Venezuela wasn’t really even socialist. No transformation of the economy ever happened. They just subsidized money for the poor (a good thing taken in a vacuum) with oil money. What plagues the country now is authoritiarianism, corruption, oil prices, and terrible economic management leading to black markets. And rather than defending this government, any socialist or leftist worth a damn should be standing with the people — which includes multitudes of Chavistas — against Maduro. But nope, still useful idiots for Maduro and his cops; because cops on the left are good.

  4. Tomonthebeach permalink
    August 6, 2017

    What is so often NOT commented upon vis a vie Venezuela (BTW, they make excellent rum), is continuous US meddling in their government, their economy, and their elections. The irony of course is Russiagate in the US. How dare the Russians try to meddle in US elections – attack the sacred system of democracy? While Venezuela would have eventually melted down under its own mismanagement, the US had to pay them back for not embracing democracy, not to mention playing footsie with Commie Castro – a huge embarrassment to the US government over many decades.

    Do the people of Venezuela deserve the chaos of today because of past political sins? Are they not a participative democracy which elected the beleaguered presidente who is clearly in way over his head? Is not the US backing the same creepy oligarchs and kleptocrats that most Americans despise in their own government?

  5. V. Arnold permalink
    August 6, 2017

    S. Brennan is correct; Mallam is a fucking troll.

  6. different clue permalink
    August 6, 2017

    Ian Welsh has been mostly right in his analysis and predictions. But he labors under Cassadra’s curse . . . to be right and to be ignored and unheard. Ignored and unheard? Well . . . only by people in positions of great personal and political power. People in positions of great personal and political weakness . . . at the individual level . . . read his blog and other blogs and pay attention.

    Case in point: Mr. Chavez and his personnel could have benefited by reading, learning and applying some of Ian Welsh’s advice. But they never heard of Ian Welsh or any other blogger. Why would they care what a blogger thinks? They are the Great and Powerful Governators of a Nation! Why would they even be bothered to even know that bloggers even exist?

    But non-powerful plain-old citizens or subjects or inhabitants of countries may know that bloggers exist, and may well follow the good ones; and even look to the accurate repeat-predictors of events for advice and analysis on how to think productively and what to consider thinking about and doing about that thinking.

    One hopes that Mr. Welsh feels it is worthwhile now and again to raise the questions of how mass-quantities of progressive-blog readers may survive the coming hard times without gratuitously harming eachother or others in the process. One hopes he feels it worthwhile to sometimes invite readers to share opinions on sources of survival subsistence knowledge and tools and techniques and information-sources for the difficult future while such sources still exist. And if he doesn’t, I am sure he has the best of reasons.

    ( By the way, I have made a few good predictions too, now and again. For instance, just after the Trump election, I predicted that Riverdaughter would eliminate Ian Welsh, Naked Capitalism and Sic Semper Tyrannis from her blog roll. And I was 2/3rds right. She still still links to Ian Welsh on the left side of her blog. But she did indeed purge Naked Capitalism and Sic Semper Tyrannis . . . by the deviously clever underhanded subterfuge of eliminating her blogroll altogether. The multiple layers of truth which Naked Capitalism and sometimes Sic Semper Tyrannis revealed about Clintonism were just too threatening to her psychostructure. So she erased the whole blogroll in order to avoid being seen dis-fellowshipping certain blogs which I predicted she would dis-fellowship).

  7. Ian Welsh permalink*
    August 6, 2017

    I’ve written about such in the past, though only search gods are likely to find the articles. Still, they definitely exist.


    make a lot of social ties, be on good terms with the local violent authorities, downscale before you are forced to, learn to grow your own food and be viable “off grid”, have backups.

    Not all of this is viable for everyone. In fact, I am not in a position to follow most of it myself, you do need some spare capacity or capacity which can be reallocated and some good health.

    Maybe I’ll write it again with an easily searchable title so I can find it again in the future.

  8. Blissex permalink
    August 6, 2017

    «But Venezuela’s problems prove nothing except that resource economies are vulnerable and that the world system and super power are hostile to socialists.»

    It proves another thing: that a society’s “cultural package” matters a great deal, including the famous “social capital”/”trust”.
    Venezuela or Peru or Argentina or Colombia, some of which are commodity economies and some not, have the same “cultural package” problems, where governments and parties, left wing or right wing, manage the economy and politics in an ineffective and corrupt way, no differently from say Greece or Kenya. Today’s “bolivarian socialist” crisis in Venezuela is not that different from the one they had in around 1990 in Argentina when it had a right-wing neoliberal government.
    The other obvious example is Saudi Arabia: it also has a deep economic crisis, with very high unemployment, foreign serf workers not paid for months, lots of bankruptcies, widespread support of terrorists, quite low wages for those people lucky to have a job, but there is no left-wing campaign to use it as an example of the damages of unrestricted crony capitalism and right-wing authoritarian mismanagement of the economy.

    A swedish political economist (G Myrvhold) in the 1960s wrote a trilogy of books about development, and the main argument is that he was very concerned about the prospect of perduring poverty in countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, ravaged by wars and rapacious colonialism, while he thought that countries like Kenya, Tanganyka, Gold Coast, etc. would rapidly become rich as they had favourable resource endowments, had been spared war damaged, had enjoyed relatively benevolent colonial administrations that had created a good infrastructure. 🙂

  9. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    August 6, 2017

    Perhaps Chavez should have invested Venezuela’s Oil Rents in building a Nuclear Arsenal. Even Kim Jong-Un is intelligent enough to know this is the only means of State Survival in the American Imperium.

    Do you hear that, Tonga? Let it be a lesson to you and start developing a Nuclear Capacity now before it’s too late.

  10. Duder permalink
    August 6, 2017

    You are correct in your assessment, but I am afraid that the implications of the failures of Chavismo in Venezuela are farther reaching.

    The failure of the left to engage in productive self-criticism (as you have just done) concerning Chavismo is precipitating a moral failure that will haunt future politics of the Latin American left, and international, for decades. Many formerly respected public figures and intellectuals on the left are simply not credible following their reflexive uncritical defense of Maduro’s government. Criticism of Maduro has been portrayed as equivalent to or complicit with US imperialism or fascist reactionaries. I am not sure if you are literate in Spanish and aware of the vitriol currently circulating in the Spanish language leftist sphere.

    Venezuela, at the vanguard of Latin America, is the only region of the world in the past decade to have engaged in a serious leftist project, and propose an alternative to neoliberal globalization. Having the first serious socialist project of the 21st century effectively collapse under its own weight is a serious blow to the future of socialism in this century. The “new left” of southern Europe, in Greece and Spain, were inspired and direct progeny of the “pink tide” in South America. They similarly appear to be moribund projects.

    Moral failures are typically more serious than economic failures because they preclude our ability to imagine and inspire the future.

  11. carlos permalink
    August 6, 2017

    “I would take socialism’s track record over capitalism’s any day of the week”
    Lets see:
    45M killed under Mao
    10M killed under Stalin
    1 to 3 M by Pol Pot

    Yes do please check your moral compas

  12. August 6, 2017

    The problem with the “we have to stop doing what we’re doing it’s not working” crowd, and I am one of them, is we’ve never had seven billion people on a planet that can barely sustain one. One could wax endlessly of the ties twixt capitalism and chrisitianity and beyond or the horror stories of late soviet era emptied shelves WalMarts to no avail. These political philosophies date to when the population was a quarter, or a tenth, of today. I can’t see we can’t look to the past for some guidance in the future, but the past isn’t necessarily applicable. This is a new row to hoe, a road as yet untraveled.

    Better figure it out pretty soon, it’s starting to look like a nuclear might be preferable to suffocating in our own flatulence. Nobody is going to rescue any of us.

  13. S Brennan permalink
    August 6, 2017

    Agree with DC on Ian playing a straight game…

    To my reckoning, Ian is the only long standing blogger who has manged to maintain his personal/professional integrity. Ian strength in character is commendable, each and every blogger I have followed have ruled their blog the procrustean credo of “agree with me or be forced to leave”. Ian tolerates discussion that is outside the narrow confines of the Democrats neoliberal/neocolonialist roach-motel.

    But DC, I disgree with you on NC, since Lambert showed up at Naked Capitalism he has banned all the commenters at NC that he previously chased off his now derelict blog. Though are both cut from the same authoritarian cloth, Gen McMaster could learn a thing or two from Lambert.

  14. August 6, 2017

    I have empathy for Chavez and the situation he came into and faced throughout his reign, which very possibly ended due to the U.S. government’s slow assassination of him. I consider him a great man and a great leader. He fought powerful forces to do better for his people … threw his life on the line … and it doesn’t appear he chose to reap the level of personal wealth and benefit that most folks in power seize for themselves, especially when you consider that there wasn’t a whole lot of internal checks to his power. Mistakes? Sure, I’m sure he made some, but in some ways one can’t blame him in trying to hunker down and use the one great resource they had to drive their economy away from the U.S.’s “influence”. I guess he could have poured more money more into agriculture and software development, but again he was opposed by strong forces led by the U.S. to bring his goods into the international market. He tried to build a union with … and distribution channels in … Cuba, Latin America, and South America, but wasn’t as successful in that Herculean task as I’d imagine he would have liked to have been. Also, in his struggles to remain in power … remember the U.S. under Bush basically created a coup and physically removed him from power at one point … he didn’t create a stable government that could survive once he left.


  15. August 6, 2017

    Lambert Strether was very much an Clinton apologist (as was Brennan at one point) before it became “convenient” for him to drop his intellectually insulting defenses of Clinton once he started working at Naked Capitalism. Yves sets the Clinton record straight.

    In regards to Yves, I don’t always agree with her, but she’s one of the people that I most respect on the internet. Great mind, strong sense of fairness and justice, and an excellent writer. You know someone is a great writer when you barely notice their writing, and that’s the way her writing reads to me – it just flows (Digby, by the way, despite her ideological faults, is another outstanding writer). Too bad that Yves doesn’t write very much anymore. If it is due to her health, I certain hopes she gets better.


  16. August 6, 2017

    Is there glass in that window?

  17. different clue permalink
    August 6, 2017

    @S Brennan and @Z,

    Funny thing you should mention all that about Lambert. I have just lately found myself mysteriously stealth-blocked at Naked Capitalism myself . . . with no warning or anything. I will do a bit more trying just-to-see, and also emailing Naked Capitalism’s new assistant moderator Outis Philalithopoulos to see if he has anything further to tell me after having said he will “see what is going on”.

  18. different clue permalink
    August 6, 2017

    Oh, and . . . I emailed Lambert his own self about it and heard nothing back. Now I begin to suspect why.

  19. nihil obstet permalink
    August 6, 2017

    I don’t think it’s fair to call Lambert a Clinton apologist. I speak as one who commented heavily at Corrente for years, from back before he took over. MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) struck him like the light on the road to Damascus. It was the key to all the mythologies! And the litmus test for whether you were even honest. I eventually felt driven to say that I found the critics that he had banned as dishonest argued in more honest and effective ways than the contrary, and we mutually agreed that Corrente was no longer a good place for me. So I’m not speaking as an uncritical supporter.

    Lambert supported Clinton over Obama in 2008, because the Clinton economy of the 90s had delivered benefits to most people, and what Obama actually said beyond the platitudes was worrisome. He stopped supporting Clinton as many people did when the structural changes that Clinton supported in the 90s proved to be long term disastrous and Clinton’s record as senator and secretary of state proved so troublesome to the left. I think that’s genuine evolution in thinking rather than a switch for convenience.

    That said, I will repeat what I said upon exiting Corrente that the banning of some good, logical commenters is troubling.

  20. August 6, 2017

    I have read Lamert sporadically since the atriot days, and quite frankly have found him to be not all that special, not someone whose blog I’d look in on everyday. Or month, or… hell, it’s been so long I didn’t know Corrente was defunct. That was a bit of Internet history.

  21. Tom W Harris permalink
    August 6, 2017

    May candidate for he worst of all the “formerly left” sites is Hillary is 44. During the 2008 primaries, this site did a bang-up job of gutting Obama. But when 2016 rolled around, they went all-in for Trump. Now it’s a grotesque blend of horror and unintentional comedy.

  22. S Brennan permalink
    August 6, 2017


    I have never worked at NC, or any other blog, electronic media et al, you are simply full of shit. I thought quite a bit before replying to your bullshit because, it seems the work of somebody who was interested in doing a bit of “unmasking”.

    For the record, I have been asked to ghostwrite on several occasions and REFUSED ALL OFFERS.

    Finally Z; it’s one thing to support Hillary over Obama after John Edwards bit the dust in 2008, prior to Libya, prior to Syria and prior to Ukraine. Hillary’s choices for cabinet appeared substantially to the left of Obama on economic issues. To infer, through omission, otherwise is quite duplicitous and diminishes you greatly, but not as much as your opening lie.

    A retraction on the false allegation would be your legal obligation at this point.

  23. August 7, 2017

    Nihil wrote:

    Lambert supported Clinton over Obama in 2008, because the Clinton economy of the 90s had delivered benefits to most people, and what Obama actually said beyond the platitudes was worrisome. He stopped supporting Clinton as many people did when the structural changes that Clinton supported in the 90s proved to be long term disastrous and Clinton’s record as senator and secretary of state proved so troublesome to the left.

    The damage from the Clinton economy was strewn all about us far before 2008. Hillary’s record as a senator was enough in my opinion – the lack of character and the poor judgment was apparent.

    I voted for neither Obama or Clinton, supported neither of them. It is very possible … probable … that Clinton would have been a better president than Obama. She doesn’t have the teflon coating that her husband, the big corporate lap dawg, and Obama come with. She would have been more reactive to the public’s wishes.

    I’m not going to address your misunderstandings, it would only lead to further misunderstandings.

    A retraction on the false allegation would be your legal obligation at this point.

    I look forward to hearing from your legal team …


  24. different clue permalink
    August 7, 2017


    When you mention a G Myrvhold, did you mean . . . Gunnar Myrdal? ( Who was a Swedish political economist who wrote some books).

  25. different clue permalink
    August 7, 2017

    Question for Hugh . . .

    Hugh, I am just wondering . . . when Naked Capitalism banned you, did they give you warnings first? To change your views or behavior or something or else they would ban you? Did they even announce it on their own site? as in . . . ” Hugh says this about that, and that about this, and we will not tolerate Hugh’s views, and therefor Hugh is henceforth and forever BANNED from the pages of Naked Capitalism” ?

    Or did they just silently block you in secret, the way Digby and Atkins began stealth-banning people at their blog?

  26. realitychecker permalink
    August 7, 2017

    @ DC

    That’s the way Firedoglake used o do it. And disappear all your history, like you never existed.

    The Gold Standard lol?

    (Now FDL has disappeared. None dare call it karma. 🙂 )

  27. Jib Halyard permalink
    August 7, 2017

    Just how many times must the experiment be repeated, and how much misery and broken lives left it its wake, before you people finally admit socialism has been a complete failure? This blog is every bit as horrifying as a Trump rally…

  28. Blissex permalink
    August 7, 2017

    «mention a G Myrvhold, did you mean . . . Gunnar Myrdal? ( Who was a Swedish political economist who wrote some books).»

    Ah yes Myrdal.
    “Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations”

  29. Blissex permalink
    August 7, 2017

    «when Naked Capitalism banned you … stealth-banning people at their blog?»

    Lots of blogs/sites do just “stealth-banning” (it happened to me at NC too).
    It is their absolute privilege. When you see comments on many blogs/sites always ask yourself “Which comments and commenters are not visible?”.
    It is up to the publisher of the blog to select which comments they allow to be published. Just like “letters to the editor” on a newspaper.

  30. Peter permalink
    August 7, 2017


    I managed to dodge the banning that occurred at FDL for a couple years while others took the flamer’s bait and over-responded, they finally just made up lies to try and justify my banning. I do miss the reach that FDL had with many good commenters driving the threads beyond their Clintonite groupthink.

    D-Day is back to producing more mouth-breathing rhetoric at the Intercept trying to blame Trump for dead junkies and making a, hopefully final, attempt to stir up the foreclosure zombies and pin a lying rap on Mnuchin.

  31. different clue permalink
    August 7, 2017


    The thing is, there are honorable and dishonorable ways to ban someone who had/has been a commenter for a while before the banning. ( And banning a commenter is different than not running certain submitted comments).

    Colonel Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis sets the gold standard for honorable banning. If he decides someone is worth banning, he quotes the offending piece of commentary, describes why it is offending, and finishes with ” and you are banned from Sic Semper Tyrannis.” Open, honest, and in front of everybody.

    Digby and Atkins did it the exact opposite way. They tried to sneak/stealth ban people in secret, like thieves in the night, hoping to unpersonize them. So apparently do some other Left Wing Blogs mentioned here. And after several years of commenting at NaCap, that appears to be what someone at NaCap has done to me. That is why I asked Hugh ( who certainly does not owe me a reply) whether he was banned with honor in public, or sneak-banned in secret the Digby way.

    Well . . . I will keep reading NaCap regardless. But I will be bitter.

  32. realitychecker permalink
    August 7, 2017

    @ Peter
    Not gonna take the bait re the mortgage thingy lol, but I’m dying to know your handle from FDL. 🙂

  33. realitychecker permalink
    August 7, 2017

    The website may be the property of the owners, but when a site like FDL encourages everyone to think of themselves as part of a very special, very cohesive community, and then arbitrarily and without explanation bans them and disappears years of their history (comments as well as posts) from the archives, that certainly will tend to leave a very bitter taste in the mouths of the banned as well as their many acquaintances from the site.

  34. EmilianoZ permalink
    August 7, 2017

    What do you guys mean by “stealth banning”?

    What happened to me at Naked Capitalism about a year ago was that my comments were systematically put in moderation. I had been commenting there since 2009 and it had almost never occurred before. This systematic moderation happened overnight, without any warning and has lasted to this day. This has discouraged me from commenting there but I have not been banned. My comments always end up appearing, sometimes a few hours after I posted them, sometimes a day later.

    I think there was an unofficial policy, never announced clearly, to hold back old frequent commenters to give new commenters a chance to have their voice heard. But, clearly, it was selective, since some old frequent commenters dont seem affected by that.

    I suspect one of the objectives of that policy was to clamp down on the casual banter that usually took place between old commenters. It was low info but always fun. There was even some mock flirting between old commenters. All this seems to have disappeared from the blog. It feels kinda lifeless now.

    Naked Capitalism has changed a lot. When I started commenting there, it was a bit similar to this blog (Ian Welsh). Yves wrote almost all to content herself. So, there were frequent days without new postings (excluding the links). Now most of the content seems to have been outsourced and there’s new stuff every single day, often of questionable quality.

  35. realitychecker permalink
    August 7, 2017

    @ Emiliano

    It’s always been a source of amazement/amusement to me how quickly the authoritarian behavior comes out at lefty blogs as soon as they get to feeling “established.”

    (Don’t know about righty blogs, never read them, but I always felt the left would/should be very tolerant of all speech. El Wrongo, and bless Ian for not fitting the mold in that regard.)

  36. Hugh permalink
    August 7, 2017

    I often agree with Ian, as on Venezuela and other petro-states, and I have great respect for his tolerance of other views.

    I wasn’t banned from Naked Capitalism. Yves simply emailed me and threatened to put all my comments into moderation if I continued to make fun of and criticize MMT stars like Randy Wray. I left, not liking to be censored. A few days later lambert did ban me from corrente. Naked Capitalism has done and continues to do good work in certain areas, but it also has enormous blindspots where MMT, Bernie Sanders, and Russia are involved. It has always been goofy about MMT. If some standard economist said that the rich and corporations should not be taxed, for example, they would be excoriated, but if Randy Wray says it, it’s OK. They don’t really understand MMT or how close MMT economists, looking past the MMT mantras, are to orthodox economists. Sanders has always talked like a progressive and acted like a card-carrying member of the Establishment. NC was a useful antidote to the Russia hysteria, but then proceeded too often to give Russia and Putin a pass, again not criticizing Russia for actions and policies which they would criticize if it was some other country.

  37. Peter permalink
    August 7, 2017

    The use of a nail-gun seems to have put the foreclosure zombies to rest so maybe they will remain quiet. I was commenting more on D-Day and how low he has stooped with his partisan rubbish. He used to produce some good reading if I recall correctly.

    I enjoyed the challenge of fencing with the censors/banners at FDL but my analysis and facts proving that John Kiriakou was a CIA conman and not a whistleblower was too much especially because they were raising money for him.


  38. realitychecker permalink
    August 7, 2017

    @ Peter

    I remember that handle. Having a bit of trouble remembering your work in specific. Or whether we had a relationship back then.

    I may be confused, but does your given name begin with an R?

  39. S Brennan permalink
    August 7, 2017


    Please demonstrate your claimed prescience in economic matters, show us all the links to where YOU demonstrate in 2003-6 that you saw 2008, not general stuff, specific knowledge to back-up this statement:

    “The damage from the Clinton economy was strewn all about us far before 2008”

    Because your braggadocio sounds a lot like 20/20 hindsight. But I may be wrong, link me up with the comment where, “far before 2008”, YOU said;

    “hey guys there’s gonna be a credit crisis in 2008, we are going to slip into the Great Recession. And Hey, the cause is not Bush’s fed holding interest rates down to near zero long after the 2001 recession which is fueling speculation in assets, it’s the Clintons”

    Surely you have links to back up your know-it-all hindsight?

    Good luck, I look forward to another of your tedious obfuscations.

  40. August 8, 2017


    I’m sorry you are the way you are.


  41. Peter permalink
    August 8, 2017


    I blame my forgetfulness on mad cow disease which seems to work. You have no opinion on Dayden’s recent sloppy work or my skewering of Kiriakou’s whistleblowing but seem to be starting on twenty questions.

    For the record my given name is Peter and my surname doesn’t start with R. You could respond by telling me your first name, I probably won’t use it but it would be a friendly exchange.

  42. S Brennan permalink
    August 8, 2017


    Like all bullshitters, you’re as predictable as a broken clock., but thanks for proving yourself a liar once again.

    Good luck, I look forward to another of your tedious obfuscations.

  43. realitychecker permalink
    August 8, 2017

    @ Peter

    No offense intended, I just find you to be an interesting package. I thought you were someone I connected with years ago thru FDL, and we had some very interesting telephone conversations. His name was Ralph.

    Dayen was great at FDL, but I only check him rarely nowadays. so no opinion of his recent work. Also no specific memories of your crusade against Kiriakou. I do remember that your handle at FDL got a lot of “he’s a troll” attacks, which I never approve of.

    I appreciate your obvious intelligence, despite thinking you are over the moon on certain ideological issues. But I have some close friends who are similar, and I still manage to love them. 🙂

    I was going to say something very cogent about memory loss, but I forgot what it was lol.

  44. realitychecker permalink
    August 8, 2017

    @ Peter

    BTW, RC, not DC. First name begins with T. Rumpelstiltskin’s name begins with R.

    A rose by any other name would still have thorns. 🙂

  45. different clue permalink
    August 8, 2017


    ” The gold standard lol?”

    No . . . the gold standard straight-up, and no lol about it.

    I am speaking very narrowly of the manner in which the banning is carried out. I am not speaking of the reasons for which Colonel Lang has banned people. Those can be understood and debated all kinds of ways.

    But the MANNER of his bannings is clean and pure. He will describe the bannee-to-be’s behavior or quote the “last straw” piece of writing which he considers banworthy, and then announce that so-and-so is banned from SST. He does this in open view, before all the readers.

    Digby, of course, banned people in the most exactly opposite way from that possible.

  46. different clue permalink
    August 8, 2017


    The most extreme, far reaching and total form of ghost-banning was done by Digby ( with her little tool David Atkins put up to take the blame). Sometime after Atkins was brought onto the DigBlog, certain peoples’ comments would be quietly erased a couple or several days after being posted. We realized this was happening when a forensic blogologist from another blog wrote about it happening and it got picked up by MyIQ2Xu at the Crawdad Hole and raised by some angry commenters in Digby’s own threads.

    At which point Digby-Atkins went a step further. They did something called “ghosting” which apparently is where the commenter’s comment is made to appear to the commenter as if it has shown up on the blogthread. But actually it is never posted the the blogthread itself, so not only does no one else see it; no one else EVer saw it, and it looks like it never appeared to begin with to everyone else except the ghosted commenter. This would allow Digby-Atkins to string commenters along for days with them never even knowing that their comments were never even appearing.

    Naked Capitalism appears to have stopped one step short of that with me. My comments do not appear at all. It is not as if they appear under the flag ” your comment is awaiting moderation”. They do not appear. So I am not being ghosted, merely blocked. But blocked in such a way that no other NaCap reader will ever know that I am sending comments which are getting blocked. That is certainly a secret stealth banning.

    Of course if this is happening because my favorite computer at work suddenly got sick and NaCap cannot recognize comments coming from it, then I a totally wrong. I will try commenting from a different computer just to see if that makes a difference.


    Pardon my misunderstanding. I thought you had been stealth-banned. I did not know that you had been privately warned to stop blaspheming the Holy MMT. Just a few days before getting blocked, I got put into moderation after writing a very nasty reply to someone who called me “neo-conservative”. I assumed I would be in permanent moderation after that. The stealth-blocking came as a surprise.

  47. different clue permalink
    August 8, 2017

    Back to Venezuela, finally . . .

    There seems to be a difference between socialism as a bag of tools from which the appropriate-to-a-situation tool may be taken and used, as against Socialism as a Religious Mission.

    Single-Payer for health coverage in Canada may be considered a use of a socialist tool in the right way in the right place. America’s Public Lands System may be considered an example of the same. Whereas Socialism as a Religious Mission is what we saw in the USSR from the Orthodox Church of Marx(Leninist) and in the Pol Potification of Cambodia. Perhaps we could call that Socialnism. Or Socialismism.

    President Chavez seemed to be something of a Socialnist or a Socialismist. How much of the land taken from large-scale ranchers to redistribute to small peasant growers was really idle as claimed, for instance? As against being rotationally grazed and not-grazed to allow for steady sustainable yield of cattle with minimal petrochemical or machinery input? If the first, it could be socialism. If the second, it would be Socialismism.

  48. realitychecker permalink
    August 8, 2017

    @ DC

    I was being sarcastic re the Gold Standard remark.

    I think we are pretty much on the same page re our views on website censorship.

  49. different clue permalink
    August 11, 2017


    Our views may be a bit different in that I recognize that any blog or website is the blogger’s or websiter’s very own personal toy, and that blogger or websiter may censor anyone or anything heeshee wants to censor, for any reason or for no reason at all.

    I would just like the blogger or websiter to be honest about it. If a blogger wishes to feel offended when I make bitter and totally heartfelt fun of bril-yunt innalekshuls who use fancy words like ‘intersectionality’ to show off how smart they are, I want to see that blogger step up and say so, in open view, before all the blogreaders and in open view. And go right ahead and ban me for it, in public, before all the commenters. That’s how Colonel Lang would do it. That’s the way of honor.

  50. realitychecker permalink
    August 11, 2017

    @ DC

    Rest assured we also agree about the website being the property of the blogger. But the spirit of free speech ought to be honored everywhere, IMO.

    Re FDL specifically, they went to extraordinary lengths to promote the idea that we were a community of activists working together to maximize our power and also to support each other in many ways. IMO, that raised the bar a bit as to how much arbitrary censorship and banning should have taken place there.

    I personally spent thousands of hours contributing to the site and relentlessly promoting it to others, then got banned for suggesting that less censorship would be appropriate if they were going to go to a paid membership model.

    After that, the downhill slide of the site’s fortunes accelerated dramatically, as they became more and more authoritarian in their handling of bothersome voices.

    (FWIW, I really enjoy most of your comments. You’re a good lampooner lol.)

  51. Peter permalink
    August 12, 2017

    It seems that things started to unravel at FDL when the Primary Obama movement started to gain some support. Alan Grayson was a favorite but I commented that someone who just lost an election might be poor choice. Grayson responded directly to my snub and informed me that Lincoln lost an election and went on to greatness.

    I think all the finalist candidates contacted rejected the honor of leading the charge against Obama and the new party didn’t last long. Much later I may have gotten the only 24 hour banning directly from Jane before D Atkins was tasked with bringing down the raging bull.

  52. realitychecker permalink
    August 12, 2017

    @ Peter

    In truth, there were two camps at FDL, the dogged brain-dead principle-less dem-voting traditional liberals, and the group that realized by 2010 that honest progressives had to find another route.

    And the atmosphere between them became viciously vitriolic.

    The status quo insiders won that battle, but it was a pyrrhic victory-what was left was an extremely uninteresting place to exchange recipes and stories about their gardens. The triumph of the doily-arrangers lol.

  53. Peter permalink
    August 12, 2017


    It was great to experience and contribute to the unique platform that was the free and open FDL. It was an experience that won’t be repeated and much like the spirit of the ’60s, if it couldn’t be coopted it was crushed.

    What was their reason for banning you? I was charged with racism and Islamophobia over an unserious quip about BLM.

  54. realitychecker permalink
    August 12, 2017

    @ Peter

    As mentioned above, I got banned the first time for suggesting, while Jane was pushing their then-new “paid membership” model, that it would be appropriate to reign in their then-way-over-zealous insider moderators and allow more freedom of speech if folks were going to be asked to pay to be there. Jane commented that she was “disappointed” in me, and I got disappeared a day or two later.

    Years later, I tried to make up with the administration, and actually became a paid member, with a new handle. Then I got banned/disappeared, again w/o notice or explanation, when someone decided I was a “sock puppet,” for using a new name. (I had chosen that new handle when I initiated the paid membership, with the active assent of one of the administrators named Brian, to avoid old antagonisms and try to be a gentler voice overall.) Efforts to explain the obvious misunderstanding were ignored.

  55. realitychecker permalink
    August 12, 2017

    @ Peter

    Of course, I agree with you that FDL in the good times was a fabulous and unique place and opportunity for open exchanges with knowledgeable and thoughtful people. I was totally committed to it for many years, going back to the Hardin days.

    The community of commenters was amazing. Until they started leaving. It is startling to look at comment threads in the first decade compared to the later ones, and see who is missing later on.

    And very discouraging that Ian cannot summon the same kind of extended commenter community. His is the only voice I can find these days that really deserves to inherit that old FDL community. But there are so few outstanding voices here. Ian deserves to have a massive audience, with massive audience participation, IMO.

  56. Peter permalink
    August 12, 2017


    I recall a number of people making statement about the flaming and banning of the more radical voices at FDL but didn’t realize they were being quietly banned.

    I agree with you about this blog but it appears the era of high energy, high participation, less partisan and less groupthink forums is over. The technocrats who helped to destroy the free thought blogging and commenting seem to have moved on to exercise their control at places such as Google where their displeasure can destroy careers with blacklisting that affects much more than commenting.

  57. different clue permalink
    August 19, 2017


    I wonder if there are enough people who resent the degradation of search engines like google . . . that they could somehow band together and create another search engine? If any of their number are actual computer experts who could create search engines?

    They could call it Shinola Search . . . to imply that it is everything that google and those others are not. How would it be paid for ? ( Since freedom isn’t free). I don’t know. How could ad space be sold on it for ads which could be seen and read-in-detail by those who wish to, but not bias the search algorithms in favor of commercial adplacers who would seek to game any search system and pay bribes to be allowed to do so? I don’t know.

    One idea that occurred to me was to create a Social Media Space which was everything or at least many things that Facebook isn’t. A user-controlled protecter of every user’s privacy, a total non-seller of user data, a non-seller of ads or ad space. And how would THAT be paid for? By selling subscriptions to it. For every month that you cared to pay, you could post things to it or alter your page or whatever. If the rates were kept very affordable, and the service were made worthy of the name Shinola Social, then maybe it would gain enough subscribers to stay in modestly profitable bussiness. Pay Reading! Pay Posting! What a concept.

    And if it became HUUUGE-ly profitable, it could support and subsidise the ad-free bias-free censorship-free search engine to be know as Shinola Search.

    And maybe the combination could be called Shinola Search and Social.

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