Tuesday 21 November 2023

"Viva la libertad, carajo" => The thievery of politics is over in Argentina [updated]

Here's a decent agenda for NZ's incoming government, announced by Austrian-school economist and former rockstar Javier Milei who has just been elected President of Argentina:

"In terms of political logic, I am a mistake, because what I have come to do is in fact stamp out the privileges of politicians," Milei told Reuters last year.

"Socialism is crap," he says. 
When it was implemented in its pure form, it was an economic failure, it was a social failure, it was a cultural failure, and it also cost the lives of 150 million human beings. So, whatever some socialist, communist, or piece-of-shit leftist says, I just shove it up my arse.

Reasonable. As Reason magazine explains: 

So is he "right-wing," as you'll be hearing --- or even (as he'll be smeared) "far right"? No, of course not, he's a self-proclaimed libertarian, whom socialists/leftists hate because, he explains
we libertarians are the only ones who are able to confront the politicians and tell them that they are not the solution, that they are the problem.
They are.
Argentina has experienced 80 years of Peronism, with intervals of murderous military thugs as dictators [reminds Nikos Sotirakopoulos]. It has been the Greece of Latin America.
    It ranks no. 144 in the Economic Freedom Index; it's been a statist basket case.  That it elects someone who shouts freedom slogans from the rooftops is a political miracle. At the same time it makes sense: [the] country has been in urgent need of change. 
    My two concerns: 
1) Milei's anti-abortion stance, and the possibility to end up a conservative culture warrior edgelord; 
2) The balance of power in the legislative branch, which Milei still doesn’t control, and how it might halt meaningful reforms.
So, fingers crossed for Argentina then.  Let's hope he succeeds. 

This will be fun -- and instructive -- to watch.

Viva la libertad, carajo!*

* Long live freedom, dammit!



Paul G. Buchanan said...

The vote for Milei was a pure protest vote against the entire Argentine political class as well as the incumbent Peronist government. You might think of it as a "throwing out the bathwater" moment, but the question is "did the democratic baby go with it?"

At 76%, voter turnout was a bit lower than the historical average (which favours the Right), and the 18-30 year old voter demographic was decisive in swinging things Milei's way. But the opposition, while divided, holds a significant majority in Congress, so it is very possible that Milei will not be able to have his policy proposals passed into law. That raises the possibility of him returning to the infamous Argentine presidential practice of using Executive Decree Laws (Decretos Ley) to push through his agenda. Since that involves frontal assaults on the federal bureaucracy and labor legislation that protects the public workforce (since he proposes to eliminate entire ministries as well as the Central Bank), and the public service sector is the largest employer in the nation, any such move will set the stage for major confrontations with the union movement, civil society organisations and other parties (i.e., the people and groups that he calls "s**t"). Add to that his intention to repeal abortion rights and loosen gun ownership laws, and you have the makings of a very hot mix. Where the military stands in all of this is going to be, sadly again, decisive in the event that things spill into the streets.

Since former right-centre president Mauricio Macri and his Defense Minister Patricia Bulrich threw their support to Milei, the assumption is that they will exercise enough influence on Milei to moderate his proposals in the face of stiff opposition. As with Trump, the idea is that they will be the adults in the room as well as the powers behind the throne, acting as guardrails against his more impulsive instincts. We know how that went with Trump, and both in terms of policy agenda and personality Milei is more impulse-driven that the former POTUS. So that expectation is more a case of wishful rather than practical thinking.

As a result, the stage is set for a major period of social and political instability to go on top of the economic chaos now rampant in the country. It may or may not be an interregnum. But if nothing else and whatever the eventual outcome of this hard turn to the Right, it proves the truth in Antonio Gramsci's remark that times of "organic crisis" are those where "(a)t a certain point in their historical lives, social groups become detached from their traditional parties. In other words, the traditional parties in their particular organizational form, with the particular men who constitute, represent and lead them, are no longer recognized by their class (or fraction of a class) as its expression. When such crisis occur, the immediate situation becomes delicate and dangerous, because the field is open for violent solutions, for the activities of unknown forces, represented by “charismatic men of destiny.”" This may well be the moment that Argentina is about to experience.

The context for that remark was that Gramsci was witnessing the period leading up to Mussolini's rise to power. One can only hope that in this case the man with a surname starting in "M" will not have Il Duce's dictatorial ambitions.

Andrew B said...

"At 76%, voter turnout was a bit lower than the historical average"
And yet, it's said he got more votes than any other candidate in history.

Perhaps my next point can resolve this - a bigger base matters.

The points made in that tweet about half the dollars in existence in 2021 being printed by Trump, and his expansion of the debt, ought to be considered in relation to what the figures were when he came to power, and that normalised figure ought to be considered in relation to normalised figures for those presidents that came before him. A president that expands the monetary supply (which? M1, M2, M3??) by 50% in 4 years up to 2020, commits no worse economic mismanagement than one which expands the monetary supply by 100% a century (or even a decade) earlier. It's the rate of change that matters, not the virtually meaningless quantum.

Gloria Alvarez as excellent in the Reason video, though I disagree with her points about the cultural war. Yes, dictators used such terms in the past, as do today's collectivists. But the point here is that they're aware they're at war with Western Englightenment culture; they just don't say the quiet bit out loud so often. We ought to be aware that the Marxists' and Fabians' long march through the culture (through the universities, the MS media and other big corporations, through sports institutions, through the arts) is their secular (or arguably mystical - of the muscle, not the mind) jihad against reason and freedom. And like with Russia, Iran, China & North Korea, we ought to be aware of what we're dealing with - a war on our ideas, our values, our freedom, our achievements, our institutions, and all that we stand for.

Peter Cresswell said...

@Paul: "The vote for Milei was a pure protest vote against the entire Argentine political class" -- and there is a hell of a lot to protest!

When things are as bad as they are, it's not guardrails he needs but turbo power to effect necessary changes without delay.

Because things will undoubtedly get worse before they get better. Reform and then recovery take time (as the massive number of people on the government payroll are let go, people's plans all change to the better suit. the new economic environment, and the whole economic structure re-sets) and all the while opponents will be barking -- most of whom have a vested interest in the deteriorating status quo.

I doubt he himself has any illusions of how hard it will be. (Or how often, has you have just done, this libertarian moment will be described as a "turn to the right" -- or he will be described by means of those who hang to his coattails, rather than by what he says, and does.)

Your fears however are somewhat similar to those articulated by Nikos, above. Except that he sees no danger of Milei, at least, having any dictatorial ambitions (and it's hard to expect them from a man who names his dog after Murray Rothbard). But further chaos, from whatever cause, can lead there, in someone else.

Let's hope that things do get better before that happens.

MarkT said...

I've come to learn that things have to get really bad before most people are motivated to make a change for the better. Things are really bad in Argentina. So I don't see it as just a protest vote at the current bad state that decreases the chance of real change. Instead I see the current bad state as a necessary ingredient for real change, increasing the chances of it happening. In a similar way (to a lesser degree) how the NZ economy had to get really bad under Muldoon before the free market reforms of the 80's and 90's were possible.

Reading up on Milei, I was pleasantly surprised with how consistent he was, with the only exception being abortion and euthanasia. I suspect that's a hangover from his Catholic upbringing, but even then he didn't defend his anti-aborton position on overtly religious grounds, and didn't strike me as a "conservative culture warrior" in his other positions and attitudes. For instance he apparently said he wouldn't outlaw a man having sex with an elephant provided it was consensual. I was also pleased to read that it's the youth that seem to be his main supporters. It's the youth rather than the old vanguard that will determine that country's future. So I'm cautiously optimistic.