Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gained large support during the 2016 presidential election. The self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist campaigned heavily on big government programs like free college and universal health care.
When Horowitz asked Americans, “What's wrong with socialism?” many of them responded with “nothing.”
Image Credit: Giphy/Ami Horowitz
One man laid the blame on capitalist countries and said:
“Capitalist countries have always been messing with this ideology and trying to delegitimize it.”
So, the filmmaker traveled to Caracas, Venezuela, to see how “great” socialism is in real life.
Horowitz told Independent Journal Review that he expected hunger and violence, but what he experienced was something he wasn't prepared for. He said:
“The depth of poverty and hunger and extreme violence was shocking to me. I have travelled to dangerous places before, Pakistan, Gaza, Jenin, yet this was something different.”
Horowitz walked the street alongside a man holding a club of some sort who was looking for a dog, pigeon, or cat to kill for food. He repeatedly said, “I'm really hungry.”
Every person he spoke to reiterated the widespread hunger and the immense food shortage among the common people. One thin woman told Horowitz:
“I am starving. Sometimes my body starts shaking because I'm sleepy, or I'm hungry.”
When it comes to basic food items like sugar and milk, they aren't to be found. In order to get food, people wait in long lines so they have a chance at getting the bare minimum.
A pregnant woman described an experience she had in the line:
“I was there since yesterday early in the morning, standing in line since 2 a.m. All I was able to get was a can of milk.”
Another woman whose turn to stand in line comes on Tuesday described what she has to endure to try to get food:
“I have to be there Mondays by 12 a.m. to sleep there overnight. I just wait to see if anything arrives and then see if I'm able to buy something.”
Aside from food shortages, socialist Venezuela has incredibly high crime rates and immense income inequality. The video shows someone being shot right in front of Horowitz's team.
However, what the video left out was a horrifying scene that seemed to shake the experienced documentarian to his core. Horowitz described the experience to IJR:
“What you do not see is that we were robbed at gunpoint and our equipment was stolen. Tragically our fixer, the person who arranged safe passage for us in the barrios, was murdered the day after we left. It was a bone chilling experience, one that I am not eager to do over. That is a lot coming from me.”
While the government is “fine” and has “mansions, food, and new cars,” the people suffer.
When asked if socialism works, one man responded: “No, because if it really worked we wouldn't be in chaos and hunger.”
Image Credit: Giphy/Ami Horowitz
Another man called it a “lie,” and the pregnant woman urged people not to “commit to that madness.”
A woman invited anyone in America who wants socialism to come for a visit. She told Horowitz:
“They would have to live what we are living so they can see for themselves that nothing is good. So they see this is only a nightmare for us, a terror.”
Based on what Horowitz knows of socialist countries and what he experienced in Venezuela, he believes the biggest misconception Americans have is that socialism can work on any level. He told IJR:
“Even the light version that we see today across Europe has failed on almost every level — culturally, militarily, economically. Is it really so unfathomable that without the European bailout you could have seen a very similar situation to Venezuela having occurred in Greece?”
The filmmaker admitted the left has a “weird fascination” with socialism despite these huge failures, and hethinks it comes from their “obsession with equality.”
As the film ends, an American woman shares her view of socialism:
“They're one of the most productive, their people are the happiest, they have the least amount of crime and violence. There's nothing wrong with it in my eyes.”
Similarly to the impact his other films have had, Horowitz has “no doubt” that this first-hand account of life in Venezuela will change some people's minds about how “great” socialism is.