NATIONALIZATION, in broad economic terms, the governmental appropriation of
property other than land, transferring it from the domain of private property to national
control. More specifically, the term designates the assumption by a nation of the
ownership of privately owned industry, distributive enterprises, or other businesses or
services. When applied as part of socialist or Communist programs for abolition of
private property, nationalization is sometimes known as socialization. Following a severe
change in government, such as a revolution, nationalization may be effected by
expropriation without compensation to the owners of the property, as in Soviet ...view middle of the document...
Periodically, reform movements in the U.S. have advocated specific nationalization. In
the late 19th century, the People's party proposed to break the monopolistic control of
freight rates by the railroads through "national ownership of . . . transportation."
The first government to initiate a complete nationalization of industry was that of the
Soviet Union under Lenin. With respect to other governments, nationalization was used
by formerly colonial and semicolonial countries to secure their natural resources against
exploitation by foreign capitalist interests; a typical example was the nationalization by
the Mexican government in the 1920s and '30s of the country's various mines and, to
safeguard Mexico's vast oil deposits, of the subsoil.
More recent examples of nationalization can be found in the Middle East and in Latin
America. One was the expropriation of the Suez Canal by Egypt in 1956. During the
early 1970s many of the foreign-owned oil interests in the Middle East were either partly
or totally nationalized in a concerted move by the Arab states to gain control over their
leading, and sometimes only, international commodity. In Latin America utilities and oil