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"To realize fully the necessity for Nationalization we must understand the wonderful possibilities of national organization." - Sir Leo Chiozza Money
I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States take possession and assume control of each and every system of transportation within the boundaries of the continental United States

Nationalization, or nationalisation, is the process of transforming private assets into public assets by bringing them under the public ownership of a national government or state.

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  • Chile has nationalized copper, its basic resource, which accounts for over 70 percent of its exports. Little regard has been given however to the fact that the nationalization process, with all its implications and consequences, including the establishment and payment of indemnities, has been the clearest and most categorical expression of the will of its people, and has been carried out in full accord with a precise mandate of provisions established in the nation's Constitution. Little regard has been given the fact that the foreign companies which exploited the mines have drawn profits many times greater than the value of their investments. These companies which amassed huge fortunes at our expense, and assumed that they had the right to burden us indefinitely with their presence and their abuse, have stirred up forces of every kind—including those of their own state institutions, in their country and elsewhere—to attack and injure Chile and its economy.
    • Salvador Allende, April 13, 1972, as quoted in Historic Documents of 1972. Washington, DC: CQ Press.


  • So I must proceed with patience, by reforms, measures that will gradually lead to socialism—nationalizing when possible, refraining from it when necessary, respecting the foreign capital of which we have need. I must take my time, be a surgeon who doesn’t plunge his knife too deeply into the fabric of society. This is a very sick society, and if it’s not to die under the knife, you have to oper­ate with caution, waiting slowly for a wound to heal, for a reform to be consolidated. We’ve been asleep for so many centuries, we can’t violently wake ourselves up with an earthquake. Besides, even Lenin, in the beginning, stooped to compromises.
    • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, April 1972 interview to Oriana Fallaci, as quoted in Interviews with History and Conversations with Power (2011).


  • It is significant that the nationalization of thought has proceded everywhere pari passu with the nationalization of industry.
  • Following this preamble, these shall be the principles of social justice towards the realization of which we must strive:… 2. I believe that every citizen willing to work and capable of working shall receive a just, living, annual wage which will enable him both to maintain and educate his family according to the standards of American decency. 3. I believe in nationalizing those public resources which by their very nature are too important to be held in the control of private individuals… 5. I believe in upholding the right to private property but in controlling it for the public good.


  • I’m not for nationalization because of the rhetoric of nationalization, or because I see in nationalization the cure-all for every injustice. I’m for nationalization in cases where it’s necessary.




  • Government ownership would serve the interests of democracy by taking this vitally necessary industry out of the grip of a mass of holding companies and financial interests intent on profits and placing it in the hands of representatives of the 150,000,000 people in these United States.
    • Harry W. Laidler, Toward Nationalization of Industry, p.18 (1949)


  • To realize fully the necessity for Nationalization we must understand the wonderful possibilities of national organization.
    • Sir Leo George Chiozza Money, The Triumph of Nationalization, p.259 (1920)
  • There is no political or moral yardstick by which the court can measure its judgment in the case of nationalization of the oil industry in Iran [...] under no condition we will accept the jurisdiction of the court on the subject. We cannot put ourselves in the dangerous situation which might arise out of the court's decision.
    • Mohammad Mosaddegh, Refusing to allow the International Court in the Hague to rule on his nationalisation of oil interests
  • My sin - my greater sin [...] and even my greatest sin is that I nationalized Iran's oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world's great empire (The U.K.) [...] This at the cost to myself, my family; and at the risk of losing my life, my honor and my property."




  • The bureaucratization inherent in Communist regimes was also responsible for the economic failures that either contributed to their downfall or else compelled them to abandon Communism in all but name. The nationalization of productive assets led to the transfer of their management to officials who had neither the competence nor the motivation to operate them efficiently. The inevitable result was declining productivity. Furthermore, the rigidity inherent in centralized management made Communist economies unresponsive to technological innovation, which explains why the Soviet Union, despite its high level of science, missed out on some of the most important technological discoveries of recent times. As Friedrich Hayek has pointed out, only the free market has the ability to sense and respond to shifts in the economy. And only the prospect of enrichment motivates people to exert themselves beyond their immediate needs. Under Communism, effective incentives were lacking: indeed, diligence at work was punished, in that meeting one’s productivity quotas resulted in these quotas being raised.


  • It is far more likely that by the time nationalization has become the rule, and private enterprise the exception, Socialism (which is really rather a bad name for the business) will be spoken of, if at all, as a crazy religion held by a fanatical sect in that darkest of dark ages, the nineteenth century. Already, indeed, I am told that Socialism has had its day, and that the sooner we stop talking nonsense about it and set to work, like the practical people we are, to nationalize the coal mines and complete a national electrification scheme, the better.
    • George Bernard Shaw, The Intelligent Woman's Guide To Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism, And Fascism (1928).


  • I think they've made the biggest financial mess that any government's ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they're now trying to control everything by other means. They're progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.
  • We in Europe have watched with admiration the burgeoning of this mighty American economy. There is a new mood in the United States. A visitor feels it at once. The resurgence of your self-confidence and your national pride is almost tangible. Now the sun is rising in the West. For many years, our vitality in Britain was blunted by excessive reliance on the State. Our industries were nationalized, controlled, and subsidized in a way that yours never were. We are having to recover the spirit of enterprise which you never lost. Many of the policies you are following are the policies we are following. You have brought inflation down. So have we. You have declared war on regulations and controls. So have we. Our Civil Service is now smaller than at any time since the War and controls on pay, prices, dividends, foreign exchange, all are gone. You have encouraged small business -- so often the source of tomorrow's jobs. So have we. But above all, we are carrying out the largest program of denationalization in our history. Just a few years ago, in Britain, privatization was thought to be a pipe dream. Now it is a reality and a popular one. Our latest success was the sale of British Telecommunications. It was the largest share issue ever to be brought to the market on either side of the Atlantic -- some 2 million people bought shares. Members of Congress, that is what capitalism is -- a system which brings wealth to the many and not just to the few.


  • Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, under and by virtue of the powers vested in me by the foregoing resolutions and statute, and by viture of all other powers thereto me enabling, do hereby, through Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, take possession and assume control at 12 o'clock noon on the twenty-eight day of December, 1917, of each and every system of transportation and the appurtenances thereof located wholly or in part within the boundaries of the continental United States and consisting of railroads, and owned or controlled systems of coastwise and inland transportation, engaged in general transportation, whether operated by steam or by electric power, including also terminals, terminal companies and terminal associations, sleeping and parlor cars, private cars and private car lines, elevators, warehouses, telegraph and telephone lines and all other equipment and appurtenances commonly used upon or operated as a part of such rail or combined rail and water systems of transportation; - to the end that such systems of transportation be utilized for the transfer and transportation of troops, war material and equipment, to the exclusion so far as may be necessary of all other traffic thereon; and that so far as such exclusive use be not necessary or desirable, such systems of transportation be operated and utilized in the performance of such other services as the national interest may require and of the usual and ordinary business and duties of common carriers.
    • Woodrow Wilson upon the nationalization of railroads, Proclamation 1419—Government Assumption of Control of Transportation Systems, December 26th, 1917 [2]

See also