Javier Milei and Argentina
Mass electoral support for remaking society on the basis of liberty seems a big ask. But in formerly wealthy, but now destitute, Argentina Milei seems to be doing just that.
People ask me how can libertarian societies ever come into being, with ‘libertarian’ meaning having the highest possible degree of personal freedom.
The world is entirely divided into states run and supported by people who have strongly statist views. They accept without question the legal right of some well-placed individuals to rob, bully and murder on behalf of an abstraction called ‘The State’.
Many profit personally – or they think they do - from stolen resources and usurped privileges handed out by officials. They never seem to notice that everything the state touches is at best unsatisfactory and at worst destructive.
Clearly, there are many fewer committed libertarians than statists. The chance that societies organised around liberty, instead of coercion, would soon appear therefore seems remote.
But there are signs that the statist world view is failing. It faces challengers. Socialism, Communism, Collectivism and Statism are ideologies dedicated to controlling people and their resources by violence. They undermine productive effort and behaviour, but promote parasitism. If pushed far enough, political systems run out of other people’s money, as Mrs Thatcher famously explained. They then ‘unexpectedly’ implode, Berlin Wall style.
We may be reaching this point in the West. The chaos of the last three years has been caused by ‘elite’ attempts, so far unsuccessful, to bring in totalitarian control and censorship systems. These are justified by what are just fake narratives - Covid, Climate and Putin. Looming over everything is impending state insolvency. For all their money printing, central banks cannot suppress interest rates indefinitely, unless they are willing to destroy money.
The opposition or resistance around the world includes large numbers of conservatives who adhere to ‘traditional values’ – including family, responsibility, religion, tolerance, sound money and equality before the law. These are ways of being that have proven their effectiveness over the centuries by enabling people to navigate life with some chance of success. But, apart from wishing to be left alone, social conservatives are not ‘ideological’.
Mixed in with them however are people who are ‘ideological’ - sovereigntists and libertarians. Sovereigntists may well be closer to the statist side of the aisle in their outlook. But they don’t want their state or country to be subjugated by various groupings of states, and still less by the Collective West’s WEF style New World Order.
Russia’s so far successful effort to avoid chaos and break up (‘regime change’) is based on a primarily sovereigntist and conservative/Orthodox alliance, although Russia does have a surprisingly libertarian flat-rate income tax. Donald Trump’s MAGA and Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaigns were largely sovereigntist and conservative, but with pro-liberty undercurrents.
In Argentina, quite unexpectedly it would seem, the leading element in the resistance to statist hegemony is profoundly libertarian. And it may soon win a signal success.
Which is all by way of leading up to the link below to the recent Tucker Carlson interview on X/Twitter with Javier Milei, the front runner to become president of Argentina later this month (having won the first round in September with a third of the vote). He is also, clearly and unrepentantly, libertarian in his determination to cut the Argentinian state down.
He explains that Socialism has wrecked what was once one of the richest countries in the world. Socialism is based on the alluring doctrine of Social Justice that what people think of as their ‘needs’ can be turned into their ‘rights’. But this can only be done through theft and violence, and anyway, since perceived ‘needs’ are potentially infinite whilst resources are always limited, failure is built in from the start. Social Justice is therefore camouflage for the iron claw of the state and the relentless determination of statists to live off other people.
How come Milei has been able to make such progress? There are three principal reasons.
Firstly, Milei is a former footballer, a member of a rock band, a radio host, and an economist. As he says in the interview, the combination works well as a television product. He is entertaining as well political, which hugely expands his popular reach. His TV adverts show him maniacally tearing up the names of ministries he proposes to abolish. He aims to replace the nearly worthless peso with the US dollar (following in Ecuador’s footsteps). For good measure, he wishes to not just close down the Argentine central bank but to blow it up.
Secondly, in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America, in particular Brazil, there has been something of a pro-liberty culture war over the last couple of decades. (Post) Marxism has been such an indelible but also calamitous part of Latin American culture that it is the orthodoxy against which rebellion can be directed. The rebellion takes the form of insisting on identifying Socialism (aka statism) as a moral evil centred on violence and theft, rather than twittering on Anglo-Saxon style about ‘government policy’. The rebellion has further to go. Milei reminds us that statists never give up, because their ambition is to live as parasites on state revenues. Their funding must therefore be cut to make the culture war a fair fight.
Lastly, and powerfully reinforcing, the liberal/libertarian recovery, is the long-term failure of the Argentine state. Hyperinflation is back, with prices rising by over 100% at an annual rate. Unemployment is very high and living and nutrition standards are low and falling. The state is clearly just a mechanism for featherbedding state employees. Very little in the way of useful public services seems to be being provided. Instead wokery is running rampant. Apparently, you pay lower taxes if you identify as transgender.
And yet, as Tucker Carlson says, Argentina has ample resources to offer its people a very high level of prosperity. The system itself is at fault. Milei is supported by poorer Argentinians ready to rein in this system. Judging by the 350 million hits the interview has scored, many other people are taking note. I can’t recommend this 30-minute video too highly: