Javier Milei – fuss and sameness

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By JOSÉ LUÍS FIORI & ANDRÉ FERRARI HAINES*

Milei represents something less disruptive and innovative than it might seem at first glance, when just looking at the oddities of this television animator

The significant electoral victory of the far-right candidate, in the Argentine presidential elections on November 19, 2023, should interrupt or abort – once again – the project to create an international power bloc in the Southern Cone of America. As it was first conceived, during the Vargas and Peron governments, in the first half of the 1950s.

And it is very likely that it will suspend Argentina's entry into the BRICS group, leaving a question mark regarding the Mercosur expansion process that is in full swing. And it must certainly lead to a reorganization of the Argentine party system that has operated over the last forty years, after the end of that country's terrible military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1983.

It represents, however, something less disruptive and innovative than it might seem at first glance, when looking only at the oddities of this television entertainer who became president of the Republic of his country just two years after starting his political career.

Reproducing a little, in this sense, the case of the current president of Chile, who was also elected president of the Republic without ever having participated in any other election or executive position, as also happened with the American president Donald Trump.

The new president's caricatured character and histrionics reproduce a phenomenon that has been repeating itself and multiplying within the Western far right, with the choice of comical and falsely disruptive figures as a way of galvanizing young people and people's radical disenchantment.

The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was perhaps, in fact, the first in this series of comedians, clowns and television program entertainers who reached the government of their countries through a combination of their interpretations and the extremely efficient use of social networks . After Silvio Berlusconi, this was also the case with another Italian, Giuseppe Grillo, the comedian who created the 5 Star Movement and transformed itself overnight into the third largest party in Italy.

From President Donald Trump himself, who also jumped directly from television, golf courses and real estate speculation to the presidency of the greatest power in the world. And how can we not remember Volodymyr Zelensky, a clown by profession, who also jumped from circuses and television directly to the presidency of Ukraine.

The new president of Argentina has always been a television show entertainer, much more than an economics professor, something he knows very little about despite appearances.

And it was in these television programs, where he was always an “almost comedian”, that he developed his rhetoric against everything and everyone, sometimes jumping, sometimes singing, sometimes dressing up and making statements that scandalized Argentine society, but which were winning over the support of a young, displaced and unemployed mass of the population increasingly discouraged by the narrowing of their “opportunities” outside the regulated labor market in Argentina.

The campaign of the new Argentine president directly and explicitly assumed, as its ideal, the “utopian-retroactive” project of returning to 1860 and resuming the path of Argentina between 1860 and 1930, without the slightest consideration for the fact that humanity, capitalism and his own country have changed radically during the last 150 years.

Keeping the due proportions, it would be the same if England wanted to return to its “Victorian Era”, and reconquer its XNUMXth century colonial empire, a retroactive utopia, in fact, which occupied a central place in the collective imagination of the English who approved the Brexit which is at the origin of the deep crisis and current decadence of England itself.

What is certain, however, and the most important thing for thinking about Argentina's future, is that the new far-right president, with his oddities and aberrations, only managed to be elected in the second round, thanks to the full support of the traditional right led by Mauricio Macri, and who voted for Patricia Bulrich, in the first round.

The new president was elected with the support of Mauricio Macri and Patricia Bullrich, and this support only happened after an agreement involving the division of functions and positions within the new government.

And the most likely thing is that whoever ultimately governs Argentina will once again be Mauricio Macri together with his group of economists and professionals, indispensable for an isolated neophyte, without a party, and without the support – at this moment – ​​of any of Argentina's 23 provincial governors. , and with only 35 deputies and 8 senators, in a National Congress of 257 deputies and 72 senators.

From this point of view, discounting the campaign outbursts (such as closing the Central Bank and dollarization), it is to be expected that the new president's policy will repeat the same economic and social policy as the government of Mauricio Macri between 2015-19, with a violent cut public spending on education, health and infrastructure, increased taxation on the poorest and middle classes, and a new opening and privatization of the economy – with an eye on the golden mine of natural resources to be explored in the Vaca Muerta reserves.

A policy that ultimately aims to imitate Argentina's economic policy between 1860 and 1930, when the country only had four or five million inhabitants, and did not have a Central Bank, which was only created in 1935. In fact, neither the The United States had a Central Bank, which was only created in 1913.

What the new government proposes is – ultimately – handing over control of the country's currency directly and “anarchically”, into the hands of the agro-export class, a direct descendant of the old Pampean oligarchy that governed the country until the 1930s. Before, therefore, the emergence of the Argentine “social welfare state” – which is exactly what the new president proposes to completely dismantle.

This will most likely cause, as in other places and occasions, the bankruptcy of dozens of small and medium-sized companies, strengthening the dominance of financial enrichment through the protection of austerity programs and the continuous and growing indebtedness at the IMF.

With the inevitable increase in poverty for the majority of the population, they will have to survive without current government subsidies for public transport, health and education.

In short, anti-state liberalism, anarcho-commodification of everything, including human organs, radical individualism including in the issue of health and old-age insurance, and definitive privatization of what was re-nationalized by Alberto Fernandez's government.

Almost exactly the same policy as Minister Martinez de Hoz, during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983; by Domingo Cavallo, during the Peronist government of Carlos Menem, between 1989 and 1999; and right-wing businessman Maurício Macri, between 2015 and 2019. In this sense, there is nothing new under the sun.

A sameness that has already cost Argentines themselves dearly and that has always had a very high social cost, in all the countries in which it has been applied, without bringing sustained economic growth, even in the Anglo-Saxon countries and in the great European economic powers that never joined, in fact , themselves, to radical ultraliberalism.

In fact, if the new president fully implements his economic program, it is most likely that he will not finish his term, as has happened with other presidents who were forced to resign before the end of their terms, hit by hyperinflation.

From a geopolitical and foreign policy point of view, what should be expected from the new Argentine president is an immediate demonstration of admiration and faith in the United States and Israel, along with a conventional pilgrimage to Kiev, with criticism of China and Russia. , gestures of provocation towards the Brazilian government and also their invariable Nazi apes made especially to provoke people on the left.

But the business community and the traditional Argentine right will certainly not allow the new president to go much further than his campaign fanfares, breaking relations with China or Brazil, nor is it likely that Argentines will withdraw from Mercosur.

In this sense, the truly important question, to calculate Argentina's longer-term future, is to know what will happen to its population after this new attempt at ultra-liberal capitalism to which Argentina is indulging.

* Jose Luis Fiori He is professor emeritus at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Global power and the new geopolitics of nations (Boitempo). [https://amzn.to/3RgUPN3]

*André Ferrari Haines He is a professor at the Department of Economics and International Relations at UFRGS.

Originally published on Bulletin of the XNUMXst century international observatory.


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