Free Minds & Free Markets

Stossel: Socialism Leads To Violence

Socialist regimes use government brutality to enforce bad laws.

Socialism is now cool in some circles. Newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praises "Democratic Socialism" and told comedian Stephen Colbert, "in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live."

Colbert ate it up. "Seems pretty simple!" he replied, to cheers from his audience.

But socialism shouldn't be cool, Gloria Alvarez reported recently, noting that it wrecks economies. In this video she points out that it also leads to government using force against its own citizens.

Regimes that call themselves socialist have killed millions of people. Tens of millions were killed in the USSR. Same in China. Millions also died in Cambodia and North Korea, which claimed to follow socialist ideals.

Today's socialists say that those countries didn't practice "real" socialism. They promise that their experiment will be different, and better. "Democratic socialists" like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez certainly promise to avoid anything like the horrors of previous self-described socialist governments.

But Alvarez says that socialism, whatever the variant, tends to turn out the same way. Right now, people die in Latin American countries that fell for socialism's promises.

In Cuba, because government restricts private property and trade, Cubans trade on the black market to survive. Sometimes the government violently cracks down on them.

Alvarez interviews Ibis Valdes, who says: "my father was a political prisoner [in Cuba] for almost a decade ... because in his 20s he sold soaps and perfumes and did not want to relinquish all of his profits to the government."

Michel Ibarra, who escaped Cuba, says: "Socialism is the perfect excuse for someone who wants to rule an authoritarian regime."

Political violence in the name of socialism also occurred in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Alvarez interviews Ramón Muchacho, a former mayor of a section of Venezuela's capital city, Caracas. He tell Alvarez that he was pressured by socialist leaders to use his police force to brutally suppress protests against the regime. Because he refused, he was threatened with jail. He fled to America.

"It seems to me we are not able to learn," Ramón Muchacho tells Alvarez. "[Politicians] will always be dreaming about the future and never delivering. People keep falling in love with that kind of crap."

Alvarez hopes that some will learn. Gustavo Tefel, who fled violence in Nicaragua tells her that he did.

"I don't think [people] realize how deep socialism is involved in all [the violence]...America is a great country. People really don't appreciate it much...they should travel a little more to poor countries to really get a feeling for what they have here in the United States. Just look around, you know, and really get some knowledge."

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Socialists are either liars or willfully blind. There is no other explanation.

  • Brandybuck||

    Or maybe they're just stupid. Willfully stupid.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    At the upper puppet-string pulling level and the upper mid-levels, the goal of the socialists is to institute a modern version of feudalism at a global level.

    At the lower down levels, they're pretty much at all just uneducated, illiterate, useless idiots.

  • mtrueman||

    "they're pretty much at all just uneducated, illiterate, useless idiots"

    At least they are sincere. They truly believe in empty slogans like make america great again, lock her up or drain the swamp.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Don't forget: Free College for All! Healthcare is a Right! Intolerance Won't Be Tolerated! Gender is a Social Construct! And of course the ever popular: White People are Racists!

  • mtrueman||

    Too abstract. These slogans will never fly with the illiterate. Something concrete like a big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for will motivate the morans.

  • Rock Lobster||

    "These slogans will never fly with the illiterate."

    But they seem to work just fine with the innumerate.

    And dude, don't demonize concrete. Antifa needs that to smash store windows in protest of political violence.

  • mtrueman||

    "But they seem to work just fine with the innumerate."

    That's the great thing about slogans and language in general. It works fine regardless of your grasp of math.

    "Antifa needs that to smash store windows in protest of political violence."

    You misunderstand. Antifa is predominantly anarchist. They don't march or demonstrate or protest. They attack and occupy. That's what makes them militants.

  • Rock Lobster||

    "You misunderstand. Antifa is predominantly anarchist..."

    Oh, I think I understand Antifa just fine. And "predominantly" is such an interesting word. It leaves lots of room for interpretation. Such as: Is Antifa leftist? Nosiree! Not Antifa. They are merely and distinctly anarchists. Not leftists. No way, man. Right?

    "That's what makes them militants."

    Maybe so. But their leftism is what makes them idiots.

  • mtrueman||

    No, you're the idiot. How can they be against fascism and leftists at the same time. It's absurd. And I agree that predominantly is a wonderful word. That's why I used it instead of mostly. But that's a wonderful word, too. Antifa is mostly anarchist in membership and philosophy.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Because leftists and fascists have gone so far off the rails that they've come full circle and met in the dark midnight of authoritarianism. Same as it ever was.

    You are what you claim to hate, mtrueman.

  • CE||

    they admit to being leftists, but not radical leftists, or the alt left.

  • mtrueman||

    I wouldn't have thought they concerned themselves too much what they call themselves. They leave that to others.

  • MJBinAL||

    You are full of shit. Antifa ARE fascists. They WANT big government control, they just want to be the ones to control it.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    This is a petty, stupid absolutist dollop of horseshit.

  • Cry more||

    Cry more, faggot.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    You're right, he forgot evil. Usually they can't be bothered to choose just one so it's lairs, blind and evil all rolled into one.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Watch out. It's fundraising time.

    REASON is whipping out a can of Stossel.

  • Mithrandir||

    Their best contributor.

  • MJBinAL||

    Damn near the only worthwhile contributor.

    And yes, it seems like the stress Stossel to raise money and Shitma once they have it.

  • MJBinAL||


    it seems like they stress Stossel to raise money and Shitma once they have it.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||


  • Dillinger||

    totes. make her say moose and squirrel first too

  • Juice||

    ...remove that eye liner immediately.

  • Rock Lobster||

    No! Pile it on! And she needs a cigarette in a long holder to perfectly accessorize my monocle and top hat and also to blow smoke in the faces of my orphans.

  • sarcasmic||

    Equality is the lowest common denominator.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Hey now! Government is the one thing we all belong to!

  • CE||

    It's not slavery if we enslave ourselves.

  • MJBinAL||

    Next you are going to tell us that "government is just a name for the things we do together".

  • DajjaI||

    True but part of the problem is that people who escape socialism in their home countries need to return to them to bestow the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity that they learned here. Instead they actually demand more 'military aid' which serves only to destabilize their home countries. Nothing will change in the immigration crisis until they take some responsibility. We lay it out for them on a silver platter but instead lefties just gripe about the CIA as if that explains everything.

  • Rock Lobster||

    "True but part of the problem is that people who escape socialism in their home countries need to return to them to bestow the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity that they learned here."

    It never seems to work like that. In Texas, we can't even get all the Californians to go back home.

    Maybe we should go back to hanging rustlers, horse thieves, and carjackers--I'll bet that'd make 'em haul ass.

  • MJBinAL||

    ....haul ass or become fertilizer.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Simple is a good word to associate with Ocasio-Cortez.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I prefer just plain fucking stupid; as the lap dog said, "sounds simple to me."

  • Eddy||

    "The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason."

    Well, don't leave us in suspense, what *does* Reason think about socialism?

  • Longtobefree||

    They think it generates clicks; which is enough.

  • Rock Lobster||

    They think it just hasn't been implemented by the right people yet.

    You know--Libertarians.

  • CE||

    To be sure, the goals espoused by socialists are laudable, but their historical record has been less than stellar.

  • MJBinAL||

    Based on the number of progressives they have writing here ..... they must like it.

  • Shirley Knott||

    It doesn't "lead to," it begins with using force against its own citizens.
    There is no 'nice part' of socialism which then transforms into a monster.
    Socialism is monstrous, inherently and unavoidably.

  • Trainer||

    The Glorious Revolution is not some wonderful time when everyone agrees to share and be nice. It's not what happens after the initial violence. The Revolution is the violence and it only gets worse from there.

  • MJBinAL||

    Well said.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    The real government violence we Americans need to worry about is what's being unleashed by Orange Hitler's regime against peaceful migrants trying to cross our southern border. Democratic socialists like Ocasio-Cortez are on the same side as us Koch / Reason libertarians because they want to #AbolishICE. We must not let the progressive / libertarian alliance be torn apart by minor disagreements over issues like the minimum wage. That's exactly what the white nationalists want — to keep the opposition to Drumpf divided.


  • Last of the Shitlords||

    But won't the wall be needed to keep to keep dissidents from escaping the glorious revolution?

  • CE||

    Yes, but it'll be inward facing, not outward facing.

  • Demosthenes of Athens||

    8/10. Solid.

  • MJBinAL||

    Wow, if I wanted to explain just what a progressive extremist you are, I could not have conceived of a better example that this post.

    And it displays clearly what is going on with Reason. The progressive / libertarian alliance .... excuse me, I feel nausea.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "In the context of the theory of Leninist revolutionary struggle, vanguardism is a strategy whereby the most class-conscious and politically advanced sections of the proletariat or working class, described as the revolutionary vanguard, form organizations in order to draw larger sections of the working class towards revolutionary politics and serve as manifestations of proletarian political power against its class enemies."

    Forget socialism. Communism is rearing its ugly head--right smack in the middle of entrepreneurial Silicon Valley. May I present Working Partnerships USA is an attempt at establishing a revolutionary vanguard.

    These are the guys--from within Google--who were behind that walk out at Google in response to ex-executives being given their contractual pay after they were dismissed under a cloud of sexual harassment claims. And they are getting clout in the media. Here's one example:

    "The returns to capital are significantly outpacing the returns to labor."

    They need to be exposed. Someone at Reason should do a full expose of this organization and their antics. I haven't seen any critical coverage of them anywhere. It's all fawning over the dirty communists.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Fuck Working Parternships USA and the horse they rode in on.

  • mtrueman||

    "I haven't seen any critical coverage of them anywhere."

    Reason is only allowed to cover Alexandria. Not even Libertarian Noam Chomsky's 90th birthday is to be covered by anyone here, much less a dim bulb like Stossel.

    "They need to be exposed. "

    By all means go on exposing communist ideas to the proles. It's exactly what they expect of useful idiots like yourself.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "...manifestations of proletarian political power against its class enemies."

    Translation: boot wearing ass kickers

  • Bubba Jones||

    How many unpaid interns does Colbert have? Ocasio-Cortez?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Working for Colbert is priceless... literally.

  • Aloysious||

    Look around. Just look around, you know? And really get some knowledge.


  • Here for the outrage||

    "Right now, people die in Latin American countries that fell for socialism's promises"

    But by all means, caravan them in by the thousands. Surely they've all been enlightened and would vote against it this time around. Definitely

    What could go wrong?

  • Longtobefree||

    What could go wrong?
    We could run out of ammo, that's what.

  • Rock Lobster||

    After the great Obama ammo hoarding crisis of 2012-13?

    Not a chance.

  • Paloma||

    What happened when the Cubans fleeing Castro came here by the thousands?

    Florida became a red state, that's what.

  • mtrueman||

    "Florida became a red state, that's what."

    It's the only state in the union where white people eat catfish.

  • CE||

    YOu've never been to Texas then. Or Louisiana.

  • MJBinAL||

    or Alabama

  • Ed Grinberg||

    Unlike Venezuelans, Cubans did not "fall for socialism's promises." Castro & Co. took over in a bloody revolution.

  • CE||

    And someday trendy American teens will be wearing black t-shirts with a silhouette of Ocasio-Cortez.

  • Jerryskids||

    Socialist regimes use government brutality to enforce bad laws.

    No they don't, they use government brutality to force good laws on bad people. If the people were good, they wouldn't have to have the laws forced upon them. But people are stupid and selfish and evil and won't voluntarily do what's for their own good so, regrettably, their moral and intellectual superiors are forced to hit them no matter how much it hurts them to have to hit the people they love. And do the people getting hit care one bit about how much they're hurting the people hitting them? No, no they do not, because they're stupid and selfish and evil. It's like trying to get a lion to become a vegetarian - that lion knows damn well vegetables are healthier than meat but he stubbornly will refuse to eat even the best vegetable dishes, even to the point where that stupid, selfish, evil bastard would rather starve to death than eat his vegetables.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Sounds like my cat. She likes, no, loves, chicken and there is absolutely nothing I can do to convince her otherwise.

    She innately knows that eating vegetables would kill her [a cats digestive system just isn't made for that]; so left to her natural proclivities and tendency to choose what is in her best interest, she goes for meat.

    There's a moral here...

  • CE||

    all regimes use government brutality to enforce bad laws

  • Nerþuz||

    "for their own good so..."

    Want to take a guess on how long it takes for that line of thinking to evolve into a Stalinist "the ends justify the means" battle cry?

  • MJBinAL||

    21 seconds ...... on a good day

  • mtrueman||

    "Millions also died in Cambodia and North Korea, which claimed to follow socialist ideals."

    Stossel is referring to Democratic Kampuchea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea. If their names mean anything, they are both claiming to follow Democratic ideals. Same is true for the popular new leader of the Democratic Socialists. Democracy, with its rigged elections and endless wars and foreign adventures is something we need to shun.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Hihn? Your psychiatrist is calling.

  • mtrueman||

    It's a call to all.

  • mtrueman||

    "He forgot the armed storm troopers in Canada, Sweden, Denmark and the rest."

    By the rest, you mean Nazi Germany? They called themselves National Socialites, or something equally communist sounding.

  • Longtobefree||

    National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP)

  • mtrueman||

    Yeah that's it! Commie bastards!

  • Trainer||

    Nazi's and commies are the same thing- violent, murderous thugs. Just a few economic details are different.

  • mtrueman||

    "Nazi's and commies are the same thing- violent, murderous thugs"

    Yes, but there's more to it than that. We all know who the Nazis murdered, but the Left were the overwhelming victims of the Bolsheviks. The purges were focused on party members and the peasants, victims of the famines, were often aligned with various socialist parties if not the Bolsheviks. Maybe if Hitler had taken a page from Stalin, he would have purged that clown, and notorious socialist, Hermann Goering. It might have made quite a difference.

  • MJBinAL||

    Well, since you have studied up on it, I guess you will be prepared when your chance to become The Fuhrer comes.

  • Zeb||

    OK, Alexandria, find me one example of someone who has died because they are too poor in the last 20 years in America.

    Millions died of starvation under socialism. She has no idea what "too poor to live" means.

  • Trainer||

    I spent the weekend going to memorials for Holodomor- the forced starvation of up to 10 million Ukrainians by Stalin. When the government owns everything including the people, they can do what they want with them including slowly starving them.

  • mtrueman||

    "Millions died of starvation under socialism. "

    Dying of starvation under socialism is so outre, so 20th century. Kids these days don't die because they're poor, they off themselves out of hopelessness. They can't see a future before them that's worth living, so they die. But not before stuffing themselves on various snack foods.

  • AndrewJJ||

    While I am not advocating for socialism nor even social democracy--it helps to at least understand the difference and stop with the preposterous comparisons.

    When people talk socialism in the US they are mostly meaning social democracy--like EU, not some Latin American hellhole of "real" socialism.

    So you then can frame the debate properly--debate them on the points and comparison they are actually making, instead of straw-manning that people want USSR/LatAM socialist state owning means of production. They think they want the rich to pay more and then give benefit/wealth transfers to lower class--like in EU. None of them (that I've talked to) are talking property ownership.

    Now you can easily debate this showing that no, in fact, its the middle class that ends up with a much higher tax burden, point out the growth and other arguments from "Cowboy Capitalism" (vs "comfy Capitalism").

    I know its work--but it would stop being so damn stupid. There may be less dramatic pauses and "but that's not what.." sections but hey--we need to up our game. The sweden isn't what you think it is--is a much much better argument and plan of attack. The 3rd world hellhole-- it is preposterous and you won't win hearts and minds.

    It makes "us" feel superior for sure--we can jerk off and virtue signal the fuck out of each other. Or we can communicate properly to actually win the debate.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "When people talk socialism in the US they are mostly meaning social democracy--like EU, not some Latin American hellhole of "real" socialism."

    Yes, yes. That's what they say. And when it goes all Soviet, or Chavez, or Red China, they will keep insisting this is true. Just like Bernie isn't proposing ANYTHING like Venezuelan style socialism after he proposes Venezuelan style socialism.

  • mtrueman||

    You do see some genuine debate here among Trumpists and Libertarians. But as for socialists, there are none here. The practice is for a commenter to feign socialism and present the arguments in a simplistic and unflattering light. Others will respond also ironically, expanding on the evil, craziness or stupidity or the original post.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    When people talk about socialism in the US they're talking about robbing their neighbors in order to live more comfortably themselves either as direct recipients or in their mental well being because they "did something good".

    Everything else is them lying to you and themselves in order to avoid thinking about the violence and evil that sits at the core of their ideology.

  • The Last American Hero||

    BS - Kashama Sawant proposed seizing the assets of Boeing and selling them off to pay for handouts to the poor.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I would love to see a debate between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Gloria Alvarez .

  • AlmightyJB||

    Naked oil wrestling

  • Nerþuz||

    No contest. Cortez would crumble like a house made of granola.

  • Trainer||

    The reason why socialism always gets violent isn't because people trade on the black market. It's because there is no recognition of rights. If people don't have a right to liberty, property or even life, then the state can take it as they want. Anyone who wants to stay in power has no moral argument for keeping things peaceful- just kill them or imprison them all.

  • Moderation4ever||

    What is forgotten here that countries drift to socialism because capitalism has failed. When large numbers of people in a country are no longer sharing the countries wealth they are open to other economic models like socialism. They may move to that model by the ballet box or by revolution. So don't try to scare me by telling me about bad socialism. Instead support a strong middle class that has a stake in the county's wealth. Because right now, if you work for GM and are facing a layoff, then maybe socialism isn't that bad.

  • The Last American Hero||

    So the unemployed are susceptible to the Free Shit Brigade? In other news, water is wet.

    Yes, a bunch of people lost their jobs. They were working for a company that is so economically stable it needed a government bailout 10 years ago. A bailout that threw the laws of bankruptcy out the window and gave the unions ownership when they were last in line didn't see the writing on the wall. But instead of getting out when the getting was good, they continued to hang on for the next bail out.

    Also, rising interest rates and a shaky economy don't do well for car sales. Shocker. People that live in Detroit should be familiar with this cycle. It happens every 5-10 years.

  • MJBinAL||

    Not to mention that GM continued to keep too many car plants open making passenger cars that weren't selling well when times were good. Ford already cut passenger cars back, and announced they are going to cut them further. GM is closing the barn after the horse is gone ...... again.

    50 years ago pickup trucks were used in business and station wagons were the suburban dream. Today Pickup trucks are 30% of the market and most of the rest are SUV's that fill the role of the station wagon.

    GM is just late in adapting to the market ..... again.

    Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda are all having difficulty with passenger car sales even as Trucks and SUVs increase in market share.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The laid off will be much better off finding a new job than turning over the economy to leftest which will guarantee poverty for everyone but the vanguard.

  • Sevo||

    Moderation4ever|11.27.18 @ 5:10PM|#
    "...Because right now, if you work for GM and are facing a layoff, then maybe socialism isn't that bad."

    So whiny twits are the reason for socialism?

  • tinwhistler||

    Socialists are violent because socialism requires armed robbery for its funding. The second plank of the Communist Manifesto is the progressive income tax. It gives the government the power to seize your income with force. If you do not give the government your money, they will arrest you and imprison you. Communists have murdered over 100 million people in order to seize private property, transfer wealth, and enslave their citizens.

  • Sevo||

    "Colbert ate it up. "Seems pretty simple!" he replied, to cheers from his audience."

    1+1=3 is also "simple", and to a simpleton, there's no problem.

  • Rock Lobster||

    But to the committed leftist, the economy is pretty simple. Attend:

    1. Wish really hard, and everyone gets a free pony!

    2. If step 1 doesn't work, start killing people until it does.

  • AlmightyJB||


  • AlmightyJB||


  • Marcus Antonius||

    The end result of Socialism, is Slavery!

  • mtrueman||

    "The end result of Socialism"

    More like a middle step in the process. Half of the morans commenting here already self-identify as slaves, thanks to the horrors of income tax, which they lack the cunning and the spirit to avoid.

  • ace_m82||

    Yeah, some of us have to actually work for a living.

  • CE||

    Socialism doesn't lead to violence, it is violence, a system of violence.

  • prakashdagade07||

    nice post really i like it

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  • عيون الحدث||

    Really thanks

  • NotThatGuyAgain||

    I don't get it. They quote Ocasio-Cortez talking about democratic socialism and then fail to actually mention a single democratic socialist country, like any of the Scandinavian states. She and others like Bernie Sanders have made it clear those are the countries they want to follow, why fail to actually address their argument?

    Kind of makes this whole article and video pretty useless, at least for anyone who is interested in intellectual debate. Reason postures as if rigorous debate is what they truly want to promote. Why not produce a video exploring why places like Sweden, Singapore, or Japan can have socialist or redistributionist policies but none of the issues the Latin American countries mentioned in the article have?

    That would seem to me to be a much more productive contribution to the debate.

  • gormadoc||

    None of those countries are socialist. Scandinavian countries have broadly more free markets than our own. The only exception is in healthcare, where they cater to fewer people than most of our states, and pretending that our health care system is free market would be idiotic.

    Do you actually know anything about living in Singapore or Japan? Singapore restricts its citizens in petty ways and Japan only barely functions through its mono-ethnic citizenry not giving a shit. Both systematically disenfranchise parts of their populace on ethnic or political reasons.

    I'm excited to hear how the DPRK, PRC, or Loas, which are democratic socialist states, are awesome.

  • gormadoc||

    Oh, let's not forget that Scandinavian countries repeatedly asked Sanders not to refer to them as any form of socialist and that he rudely ignored them every time.

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