Javier Milei – six months of aggression, chaos and resistance

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By CLAUDIO KATZ*

The result of the fight against Milei will be the true determinant of one outcome or another. After six months, the currency is still in the air, with no definitive victories for either camp

In the first half of that year, government aggression against the people multiplied. But state mismanagement, political weakness, economic regression and popular resistance undermine this volley. Javier Milei tries to compensate for these inconsistencies with greater protagonism abroad, while taking advantage of the support of the conventional right and the confusion of Peronism.

Misfortunes with those responsible

All records for the destruction of popular income have already been broken. There has never been such a massive demolition in such a short period of time. The standard of living fell to a level very close to the huge crisis of 2001. Registered wages fell by 21%, the minimum wage lost 30% and pensions were reduced by 33%.

Malnutrition wreaks havoc among the destitute and more than four million people have entered the underworld of poverty. The middle class juggles to maintain spending on education, health and transport, liquidating savings, taking on debt and consuming worse brands.

The suffering is much greater for the 95.000 laid off from the private sector and the 25.000 laid off from public administration. Javier Milei is proud of this bloodletting and promises to fire another 50.000 state employees, leaving 30% of those hired on the street. He has already established the principle of this surgery and celebrates the misfortune of unemployment.

The occupant of the Casa Rosada introduced an unusual sadism into economic policy. Instead of promoting investments, promoting employment and encouraging consumption, he glorifies the suffering of the people. He praises current cruelty and suffering as if they were an inevitable ingredient of future prosperity. He never says when that relief will come. He merely praises the adjustment as an anticipation of the mythical market dominance that will facilitate general well-being.

Javier Milei does not exemplify his fantasies with any country model that has followed this path. He simply repeats the vague claims of extreme neoliberalism, currently rejected by most of the world. His incoherent verbiage hides the fact that the misfortunes of the majority continue to enrich a handful of rich people.

The promise to pay the adjustment penalizing the caste has already been shelved. The privileged were protected from the tourniquet that suffocates the impoverished. Javier Milei now blames the helpless themselves for the misfortunes they face.

Every day he insults families who are unable to eat their daily meals. It assumes that they will “do something” to not die of hunger, as if the responsibility for this sustenance depended on the behavior of each individual.

Javier Milei presents poverty as an effect of “living beyond our means”, disqualifying the improvements achieved by the people. Because he abhors social justice, he considers any hint of minor inequality unacceptable. He rebels against “spending more than you earn”, repeating a false identity between the family and the State. This comparison ignores the gulf that separates economic policy from personal budget management. He also attacks the “populist past”, silencing the disastrous consequences of neoliberal governments.

The libertarian talks about the past to cover up the present. He crushes the heritage and promotes himself as the savior of an explosive scenario that he defused with his presidency. With this invention, he justified the devaluation and escalation of prices that pulverized popular income. Now he improvises other pretexts to explain the worsening of the economic and social disaster.

Deliberate chaos

The calamities that the government has inflicted on the bulk of society are unprecedented. The emblem of these affronts is the food stored to empty community restaurants. This immense volume of food was withheld to weaken the social organizations that protect popular nutrition.

The evil of Javier Milei and his minister Petrovello causes outrage. They seek to destroy groups that alleviate hunger in a country that exports food to every corner of the planet. Instead of penalizing the capitalists responsible for this shocking anomaly, they bless the millionaires and attack the activists.

The food scandal was so shocking that judges close to the government demanded the distribution of food. After delaying compliance with this requirement, Petrovello allowed its distribution through a private foundation (Conin), which agribusiness companies use to obtain tax benefits. This crude management of poverty included the priority distribution of basic food baskets to the leaders of friendly provinces, with the authoritarian mediation of the army. Distribution was combined with suspicious resales through social media and involved a much higher cost than the usual management of community restaurants.

Throughout this episode, corruption emerged in a ministry that purchases products from companies that are exempt from control. This fraud also revealed the existence of a vast network of libertarian gnocchi employees who are paid without working. The exotic officials appointed by Javier Milei reveal a greater propensity for embezzling funds than the rejected caste of conventional politicians.

The complement to this corruption is inefficiency. People who landed in public administration compete in ignorance and improvisation. Javier Milei has already forced the resignation of around thirty senior public servants, breaking all records for dismissals. He fired a bureaucrat every five days in office.

This widespread ineptitude is in keeping with a president who deliberately sponsors disorder. Javier Milei validates inaction in the face of the most urgent problems. The list of this passivity includes the lack of help for the tornado that devastated Bahía Blanca, the indifference towards the floods in Concordia, the apathy towards the storm that affected 68 neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, the refusal to deliver oncological medicines, the paralysis in the face of the accident of trains in Palermo and the lack of attention regarding the lack of gas. The culmination of this immobility was the lack of vaccines, reagents or advertising campaigns in the face of the worst dengue outbreak in history.

This indolence confirms the anarcho-capitalist ideology of a president who promotes the “destruction of the State from within”. He sees himself as a Terminator embarked on this objective and experiences with millions of Argentines the absurdities of his American inspirer (Rothbard). This godfather conceived all the madness enunciated during the electoral campaign (such as the right of parents to abandon their children to include them in the market sphere).

The delirium of commanding the administration of a country to demolish it is no longer the fun libertarian essay of a town in New Hampshire. There, the government was dissolved and the city was destroyed by an invasion of animals. Javier Milei provides the same state chaos, but in a medium-sized country that is part of the G20 and visits the G7.

Throughout the semester, the ruling class tolerated the disorganization of state functioning. The powerful, their media, judges, politicians and economists forgive all of Javier Milei's imaginable shame. The president spends fortunes from the budget on proselytizing trips, remodels the Government House to house his dogs, blesses the nepotism of his entourage and uses coarse language, which is proof of serious emotional disorders.

Those in power never allowed a representative the slightest of these exuberances. They accept them now because they have a marginal in Casa Rosada determined to destroy the unions, sweep away social movements and destroy democratic organizations. The ruling classes admit the erosion of their own State to achieve this defeat of the working class. They accept the deterioration of the administration they need to increase their fortunes, in the hope of changing the social relations of force that prevail in the country in their favor.

But premeditated chaos creates unbearable situations at all levels. The very inexperience in public management – ​​which was considered an asset of officialdom in the face of the vices of the traditional caste – begins to weigh on it as a serious adversity. The non-working employee rule doesn't just generate rejection among those affected. The unease of the president's patrons also increases.

Repression and brutalization

The repressive scale is Javier Milei's main instrument to destroy the popular movement. It is the Fujimori component of the plan inaugurated by Patricia Bullrich with her anti-picketing protocol. The mobilization of gendarmes and provocations against protesters have been the norm over the past six months. But in the last demonstration against the Basic Law, officialdom doubled down, with premeditated arrests to intimidate the militants.

Patricia Bullrich resumed the same hunts for passersby and the same provocations of infiltrators that she implemented during the Macri era. The copy had few variations. Cars set on fire with the complicity of the police, rubber bullets, tear gas, random arrests and beatings of the deputies present. The Basic Law was supported by a gas bath. Cases were opened against those detained and preventive detention was imposed for the new crime of protesting.

Officialism encourages fear to dissuade people from participating in demonstrations. He devised a plan to put the leaders of the most combative organizations in prison. The protesters' identification with terrorism and the denunciation of an absurd coup d'état was not just another verbal incontinence by Javier Milei. It is part of the script prepared at Casa Rosada with spies from the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI). The president is willing to continue his escalation of insults with the criminal code in hand.

But the quick reaction of activists and human rights organizations – which led to the release of the majority of those detained – anticipates the resistance that the repressive plan will face. The democratic reserves built up over many years will emerge with strength to stop the government.

Javier Milei's immediate priority is to criminalize social organizations. The gang of employees who retain, deteriorate and sell food from restaurants claim the right to accuse those who guarantee the people's food. In this topsy-turvy world, raids have already been carried out at the headquarters of left-wing organizations.

This fury against social movements contrasts with passivity in the face of drug trafficking, which has transformed some cities, such as Rosário, into a permanent shooting range. As Javier Milei considers the State a criminal organization, he places the confrontation against drug traffickers in a field of equivalent gangs. He seeks to emulate the steps of his colleague Bukele who, in the state's mafia competition with the maras, managed to establish an authoritarian regime. The cost of this adventure is quantified in the list of innocent deaths, which Argentina is beginning to suffer, repeating what happened in El Salvador and Ecuador.

Milei and Villaroel complement their repressive crusade with a cultural battle for memorylessness that praises the dictatorship. Together with their media allies, they question the emblem of the 30.000 disappeared, with the repeated objection to the number of victims caused by military tyranny. But they dare not conceive of extending this repair to other genocide figures, such as the 1,5 million Armenians massacred by Turkey or the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. None of these numbers assume statistical accuracy. They are important as symbols of dramatic events.

Javier Milei's denialism encourages the emptying of all Memory, Truth and Justice activities. From Casa Rosada, attempts are also being made to resurrect the theory of the two demons, in order to test the pardon of military personnel serving sentences. This rehabilitation is being promoted to recreate the intervention of the armed forces in Homeland Security.

The repressive escalation complements the attack on all of the country's cultural achievements, which Javier Milei associates with the left, progressivism and public education. He foments resentment against this tradition, in close connection with evangelicals and conservative sectors of the Church. You vouchers subsidy for private education reinforce this campaign and complement the elimination of 14 million books previously provided to the most needy students. To recreate obscurantism, a law is promoted that will punish “indoctrination in schools”, that is, the simple knowledge of theories opposed to the liberal primitivism professed by the president.

Javier Milei's daily jabs at culture included the delusional appointment of an ignorant flat-earther (Lemoine) as head of the Science Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. The attack on feminism was complemented by the aberrant presentation of homosexuality as a self-destructive disease.

Milei is engaged in a cultural carnage to sell Tecnópolis, liquidate Public Television, auction the Gaumont cinema, empty the Kirchner Cultural Center and pulverize the Bicentenary Museum, while destroying the Cinema Institute and the National Fund for the Arts. As she was unable to close Conicet, she will try to prevent him from carrying out any activity of greater relevance than the cloning of his dogs.

To escape the rejection caused by this remnant of the Inquisition, the anarcho-capitalist replaced the enunciation of his nonsense at the Book Fair with an act of his own. But none of those who applauded his gestures and appreciated his shouts were able to decipher the incoherent content of his speech at Luna Park.

Breathers without their own base

With the approval of the Basic Law in the Senate, the government achieved its first parliamentary success in six months. This triumph allowed him to overcome unprecedented legislative orphanhood. He obtained a saving victory, at a time when all analysts predicted implosion if Javier Milei failed again in Congress.

The bill won a small majority in the Upper House, which required a tiebreaker for the vice president. It did not emerge together with the publicized May Pact, which officialdom intended to sign with the governors. Of the 664 articles in the original bill, less than half remained, and the agonizing approval involved only the general treatment of the text. In the private assessment, the government lost two votes (profits and personal assets), which it will try to overcome in the deputies' review. These discards did not change the meaning of the law, but they portrayed the adversities faced by officialdom.

Javier Milei's relief was surrounded by several scandals. The deputy who sold her vote in exchange for an embassy in Paris was the most bizarre case of the prebends at play. The government doled out favors and the caste was rewarded with just enough to get their trophy.

The majority of radicalism and a minority of Peronism came to the aid of Javier Milei, giving him the quorum and votes he needed to survive. They did this with the typical duplicity of proclaiming in public the opposite of what they negotiated in Congress. They calculated exactly what officialdom needed to get away with it, corroborating the fact that they share the government's objective of ending the popular movement.

This convergence was very evident in the agenda of aggression against the labor movement. In contrast to what happened on the economic issue, the president's rescuers supported the labor reform without major objections. They agreed to support an initiative that tramples on rights, eliminates compensation, facilitates dismissal and encourages informality. The governors, who harshly negotiated each subsidy, validated the attack on wage earners without hesitation. The volley against the workers was disguised with a pale preservation of the single social tax.

But the relief achieved by Javier Milei does not resolve other legislative adversities. The Chamber of Deputies has already approved a new retirement mobility formula, which the government threatens to veto, despite the paltry recovery it proposes for what was lost. The consensus reached to approve the Bases law does not alleviate the back-and-forth of the conventional right and the endless disputes within the libertarian bloc. The ambition for power among the adventurers in this group is unstoppable.

Javier Milei was unable to unite his improvised troops and his contempt for the “fiscal degenerates” who legislate in Congress corrodes the government. The president was also unable to compensate for his parliamentary loneliness with any support on the streets. It's true that polls give him a respectable approval percentage, but that number has always followed the first half of every president's term. It is passive support that is not enough to sustain the drastic remodeling of Argentina that the libertarian is sponsoring.

Unlike Trump, Bolsonaro, Meloni or Le Pen, the Argentine libertarian is not based in parties, churches, institutions or religions. Its anarcho-capitalist version is alien to the Creole liberal betrayal and professes an extreme right-wing aspect very far from the old reactionary nationalism. To date, he has not compensated for these original deficiencies with the emergence of a movement identified with his figure.

Attendance at its recent events in Buenos Aires and Córdoba was below what was necessary to form this grouping. With the approval of the Basic Law, speculation about Javier Milei's dark fate will diminish, but the powerful are keeping in progress the alternative Plan B that they are plotting with Villaroel and Macri.

Economic failures and disputes

Javier Milei is leading an ultra-right experiment to deal with a major economic crisis. That's why he's being watched so closely by his peers elsewhere. His initial plan was to make a quick adjustment to balance public finances and gain the trust of creditors. With this resource, he hoped to obtain the credit necessary to stabilize the currency and reduce inflation, with the help of a brief recession.

With that outcome in mind, he envisioned a sequence of handover laws and a rainstorm of investment sufficient to win the midterm elections. The surgery that Menem began with convertibility after two turbulent years, Javier Milei hoped to begin with dollarization at the end of the first semester. However, after this deadline, he is far from achieving his goals.

The only completed part of his program is the monumental adjustment of popular income. The impoverishment he perpetrated can be seen in the furious decline in the consumption of bread, milk and meat. The acquisition of these basic foods has never been so reduced. In other items of his plan, fiction and failure reign.

The tax system is an invention. Caputo displays money by postponing payments and using accounting juggling to hide continued imbalances. He exchanged one type of public bonds (Leliqs) for another (passes, Bopreal), transferred the deficit from the Central Bank to the Treasury, postponed the cancellation of imports and forced the refinancing of large energy debts with State suppliers.

As the recession continues to shrink tax revenues, the savings that Javier Milei achieves by reducing spending are diluted by the drop in revenue. It's the same sequence that affected other programs that bite their own tail, in a vicious circle of useless cuts. Like his predecessors, he is countering the fiscal deficit with more debt.

The drop in inflation that the government celebrates so much is another mirage, as it keeps the average cost of living above the previous government. What is being alleviated is the superinflation that Javier Milei generated when he arrived at Casa Rosada. But the inflation floor remains at the same levels as in recent years, and the delay in raising tariffs portends a traumatic continuation.

The libertarian also faces an unexpected contradiction with the exchange rate. As the strong inflation of the first half of the year was not accompanied by equivalent devaluations, the Argentine economy has become expensive in dollars and pressure for another currency devaluation is the order of the day. The red circle economists who promote this increase (Cavallo, Broda, Melconian) are at odds with the Gurkhas of officialism (Stuzzeneger, De Pablo), who propose to correct the bump with more recession. This divergence is being processed in a scenario of sudden tensions in financial indicators (blue dollar, country risk, liquidation of agribusiness exports).

As reserves are already falling, Javier Milei is looking for salvation in obtaining dollars by any means. He managed to introduce more unrestricted capital laundering in the Basic Law and promoted improvised privatizations to obtain this currency.

But the effective supply of dollars depends on the IMF, which in the first half of the year denied loans granted to Macri. The Fund's precautions are due to the insolvency of Argentina, which is the organization's main debtor and faces maturities in 2025 that it will not be able to meet. Furthermore, the country is being hampered by commitments to private creditors and the demands of New York courts.

The IMF is observing Javier Milei without issuing verdicts. He is very pleased with the brutal adjustment and is beginning to consider granting a bailout, so that the libertarian can continue serving the financiers. By weighing interest payments against a pullback in other spending, he induced China to renew a heavy swap, the payment of which would lead to the collapse of reserves.

Interestingly, Washington encouraged a friendly attitude from its Beijing rival towards Buenos Aires, to avoid the catastrophe that this demand for payment implied. It remains to be seen whether the IMF's support was a cyclical episode, or whether strategic support for the libertarian plan to eliminate exchange controls (“block”).

In the immediate term, the IMF is watching the exchange rate outcome, favoring the devaluation bloc, which is also sponsoring a certain shift towards regulatory pragmatism. This aspect confronts those who advocate maintaining the current course with more blenders and more chainsaws. This last course presupposes a huge economic downturn, which would support some attenuated version of dollarization (basket of currencies).

Three pillars and a regression

Javier Milei has the fervent local support of financiers, unicorns and extractivists. The first group has largely benefited from the privileges granted to creditors, the pedaling of public bonds and the celebration of shares and bonds denominated in dollars.

Within this spectrum of beneficiaries, the government supports the segments that sponsor financial deregulation, to redistribute the credit pie and current money management. The government promotes the ascendant Mercado Pago group with licenses that other countries deny. It allows him to operate in violation of the rules that regulate the activity of traditional institutions.

This support illustrates the financial remodeling that the government is promoting. When Javier Milei proclaims his intention to burn down the Central Bank, he is, in effect, sponsoring a regime without deposit controls or guarantees, with the consequent risk for savers. He intends to turn Argentina into a guinea pig for international deregulation, creating an unrestricted financial paradise.

This adventure is shared by technological unicorns who exalt the libertarian. They bring together a transnationalized segment of IT service providers, who act as an influential elite on social networks.

The Casa Rosada traveler uses this support to promote the fantasies he creates while touring California. In his interviews with Musk, Pichai, Altman and Zuckerberg, he imagines himself as the creator of a Silicon Milei, which would use Artificial Intelligence to remodel the State. Netanyahu already applies these inventions to perfect the massacre of Palestinians and his Argentine admirer hopes to employ the same technologies to sustain the adjustment. He assumes he will be able to manage state employees as if they were pieces in a computer game.

He also believes it will attract investment to install technology giants' data plants in Argentina. But, for now, he is not negotiating this landing. He is only working on a modest contract with Google, so that he can experience the absurdity of managing the State with the finger of Artificial Intelligence.

The libertarian's third support is extractive companies involved in the plunder of energy and mining resources. Techint managed to put itself in command of this platoon. It has contributed its main staff to the management of several ministries, is promoting alliances with its Western partners against China and is tending to remodel its industrial activity to support the fuel business.

Javier Milei is in favor of this reconversion that would transform Argentina into an enclave for large oil, gas and mining companies. The Large Investment Incentive Regime (RIGI), approved by the Senate, supports this objective. With this law, companies obtained much more than they imagined. They will pay less taxes, enjoy tax stability for 30 years, be able to waive public hearings and be exempt from lawsuits for environmental destruction.

RIGI introduces a tax regime that does not exist in the rest of the world, which will exempt companies from paying withholding taxes and certain items of gross revenue. They will be allowed to prevent currency obtained from their exports from entering the country, will have access to the official dollar and will be able to import inputs at any cost.

This incredible legislation will give concession companies benefits far superior to those of established competitors. Your petitions will be approved in record time and without reviewing the notices. They will develop export islands disconnected from production and sourcing from local suppliers. The free availability of foreign currency that they will have in their favor will divide the economy in two and will affect an indebted State, which will lose the management of the foreign currency necessary to refinance its liabilities.

Agribusiness tends to fall in the middle of the great official division of winners and losers. He is highly favored by the liberalization of the economy, but it remains to be seen whether exchange rate management will not end up affecting his profitability, as happened during convertibility.

The damage to the manufacturing sector is obvious. It will suffer another escalation of the same regressive remodeling it faced under Videla, Menem and Macri. The complaints of large industrialists, such as Madanes, illustrate this adversity, which can be seen in the effects of the recession. Argentina will be the only country in the region to suffer a large drop in activity levels (3,5%) due to the tourniquet applied by Javier Milei.

This decline is not due to any trend in the economic cycle. It is exclusively a consequence of the contractionary policy introduced by the libertarian by paralyzing more than 6.000 public works. In their imagination of mercantile plenitude, the productive recession that destroys employment is as irrelevant as any popular suffering.

A menemism out of time

Javier Milei tries to accumulate power abroad to counterbalance his internal inconsistencies. With a frantic succession of tours, he aspires to become a global figure of the ultra-right, to increase his authority in Argentina. He celebrates his face on the cover of Team, which presents him as the most exotic president on the planet.

But he did not place himself on this podium on his own merit, but out of simple servility to the United States. Javier Milei shows much greater loyalty to Washington than to the country's ruling classes and has become a pillar of the counteroffensive that is leading American power to regain primacy in the global chess game.

No previous government demonstrated such humiliating submission to Yankee imperialism. The heads of the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department disembark time and time again in Buenos Aires, to ensure the arrival of Marines to the Paraná waterway, the Triple Border and the next military base in Tierra del Fuego. By chance, they sold the country a consignment of old warplanes that Denmark stored as scrap.

Washington's priority is to limit China's economic presence, blocking projects already signed with Argentina (hydroelectric plants in Santa Cruz, a nuclear plant, the port of Rio Grande). It also intends to prevent the supply of 5G digital networks, investments in lithium and the arrival of more agri-food companies on the coast.

The Yankee ambassador is promoting a campaign to present the scientific astronomy observatories that Beijing manages in Neuquén as dangerous military bases. The improvised foreign minister, Mondino, validated this provocation with verbal nonsense, to which China responded with serious warnings. Argentina owes a large debt to the Asian power and the libertarian's diplomatic mistakes have serious consequences.

Enmity with Russia, which encourages the State Department, also has adverse effects. Scientists from Moscow, who explore the Antarctic subsoil in search of hydrocarbons, have discovered an immense reserve in territories disputed by Argentina, Chile and Great Britain. This discovery was not communicated to the country, in a gesture of rejection of Javier Milei's blind alignment with his American leader.

Tension with Russia is also likely to increase due to fanatical support for Ukraine. Javier Milei not only subscribes to all of Zelensky's initiatives, but even suggested sending military aid to Kiev if the military confrontation does not subside.

These ads are not braggadocio. The government wants to restore the army's protagonism, to restore the arms trafficking that flourished during Menemismo and declined after the attacks on the embassy and AMIA. The judiciary supports this revitalization of the armed forces with a renewed campaign to present Iran as the main culprit in the explosions. It does not present evidence of this culpability and covers up the obvious involvement of Argentine military personnel and spies in these crimes.

Javier Milei also demonstrates sustained support for Israel's genocide in Gaza. He formed a close alliance with Orthodox rabbis, who justified this massacre with mystical arguments, and internalized this delusion with his own conversion to Judaism. That is why Argentina was the only Latin American country that voted against the Palestinian request for membership in the United Nations and the Tel Aviv ambassador participates as a guest in cabinet meetings. This favoritism allowed the Mekorot water company to inspect the country's water resources and become a privileged partner in future extractive ventures.        

To comply with Washington's demands, Javier Milei frequently postpones his inauguration and insults leaders who displease the State Department. Provocations against Venezuela include the theft of a plane and the closure of Telesur. The volley against Cuba involves the suspension of the Buenos Aires-Havana air route, and the attacks against Petro and López Obrador have shaken diplomatic relations with Colombia and Mexico like never before.

If it is confirmed that Javier Milei will grant political asylum to the group of Bolsonarists accused of participating in the attempted coup d'état, tensions with Brazil will continue to increase. Lula has already suggested a possible veto on the supply of gas that Argentina needs in the event of a shortage.

The traveling president does not act as another subordinate of American power. He is a pawn in Trump's project and is part of the network of lackeys managed by the ambitious Republican tycoon. Javier Milei clowns with other supporters of the Yankee presidential candidate to make an impact on social media. He doesn't hide his fascination with the way Elon Musk combines virulence against unions with the promise of reaching Mars.

The alignment with the neo-Francoist Vox adopts the same tone and includes the export to Spain of lawfare, which the Latin American right has perfected to overthrow presidents. Javier Milei participates in this conspiracy, spreading the typical accusations of corruption that fuel these plots. Its hyperactivity in Europe aims to take advantage of the ultra-right wave that is shaking the Old Continent.

The libertarian also offers Argentina as a space for experimenting with the Trumpist political model. Experiment with a new form of management with authoritarian mechanisms to test the despotism of executive power. In his first semester, he insinuated this modality with a government based on issuing decrees.

The tyranny projected by the president requires a climate of permanent confrontation, to direct political action with anger and fury. Changeable enemies are chosen to oppose the authority of the right-wing autocrat. Javier Milei takes this procedure to the extreme, to reinforce his figure among the new elite of the global far right.

But this desired leadership is greatly affected by the distance that separates his ultraliberal fanaticism from the growing statism of his colleagues. Not even Bolsonaro or Bukele in the region share their blind support of the market. The heavyweights of the brown wave are more forceful. They favor subsidies, defend protectionism, encourage state investment and approve increased public spending. The economic policies of Trump, Meloni or Le Pen are antipodes of Creole anarcho-capitalism.

Javier Milei is a menemist out of time. He staged a great tribute to his precursor, without realizing how distant the 1990s were, with globalization, odes to free trade and praise for privatizations. The battle that the United States is fighting to resolve primacy with China is based on a drastic reintroduction of state regulation.

This is why Javier Milei resembles solitary preachers when he declaims the nostalgic rescue of the extreme liberalism of the Austrians, against the moderation of conventional neoclassical economists. Not only does he bet alone when he praises Mises and Hayek against Samuelson. His diatribes against Keynes have little resonance among interventionists on the global far right.

Resistance on multiple flanks

The government's active rejection has been very significant throughout the semester and the outcome of the confrontation remains open. So far, Javier Milei has failed to subdue the popular movement.

It has to deal with the centrality of the working class, which tends to regain its protagonism since the resounding strike of January 24th. The second strike on May 9 was more significant and had a higher level of participation than the average of the last 20 years. The success of these two actions stimulated protests from other sectors and, in the case of Misiones, led to an unprecedented convergence of police and teachers.

Javier Milei adopted a stance of indifference to suggest that the protests did not change the situation, but he was unable to disguise the impact of discontent. Its media spokespeople railed against the cost of the strikes, presenting estimates of million-dollar losses, which they never calculate when it comes to measuring the amount expropriated from workers. The emphasis given to the monetary cost of the strikes confirmed, in passing, that wage earners are the true generators of the value created in economic activity.

The recent mobilization on June 12th against the Bases law once again had a great impact and had a large union presence. But the desertion of the CGT fat men reduced the massive nature of the concentration. The defection of the entire conservative sector of trade unionism was agreed with the justicialism legislators, to facilitate the approval of the law desired by Javier Milei. The bureaucracy defected in exchange for small concessions in the labor chapter of the project. But the relief they gave Milei does not cancel out the pre-eminent combative tendency.

The second milestone of resistance was the monumental march on April 23 in defense of public education. It was the largest mobilization in recent decades, with the presence of around 800.000 protesters. The same massive influx was seen in Mar del Plata, Tucumán, Misiones, Mendoza and the Cordoba stronghold of Liberdade Avança.

Javier Milei was disconcerted by this outburst. He first repeated his usual script against politicians, tried to ridicule the “tears of left-handers” and denounced corruption in universities, which he proposed to make transparent through audits.

But, a few days later, he softened the insults and negotiated with the UCR [União Cívica Radical] a de-escalation of the conflict. He blocked budget under-execution and increased resources allocated to the day-to-day functioning of universities. Realizing the danger of a major shift in the middle-class opposition, he opted for pragmatism, shelved the belligerent manual and reduced the adjustment. He repeated the previously introduced concession with a limit on increases in prepaid health plans.

Youthful ingenuity emerged strongly in the mobilization, with didactic, fun and ironic posters, which contrasted with Javier Milei's rudeness. The books were praised as a sign of protest and the defense of public education once again erupted like a great dam of containment on the right. Obtaining a university degree continues to be a goal for impoverished families, who see it as a way to recover their income. The old aspiration to climb the social ladder became a modest expectation of containing the collapse. This hope in public education extended to the new generation of popular origins arriving at universities in the city.

This lasting loyalty to an educational ideal that shaped the country's history resisted the penetration of neoliberal ideology. Market individualism and the glorification of privatization have not prevailed in this domain. This is why the radicalized speeches that appeal to young people attracted by Javier Milei had great prominence in the mobilization.

The sum of all participants in the mobilizations of the first semester shows a very high number of participants in the resistance against the adjustment. The march on March 24 had more participation than previous ones, and the two demonstrations by the feminist movement were impressive. It is true that the government maintains the loyalty of its voters, but this loyalty is the norm in the debut of any administration. No government has ever perpetrated such a virulent attack, and none has ever faced such a forceful reaction in the streets. The result of this opposition will be known in the coming months.

Two immediate possibilities

In the battle against Javier Milei, the profile of Peronism will be defined, which has very contradictory edges. A first variant was co-opted by officialdom with positions of all types. Former presidential candidate Scioli went to the ministry offered to him by the libertarian and shamelessly praises his new boss. Another list of chameleons includes a senior official from the Ministry of Human Capital (Leila Gianni), who manages to manage Néstor and Cristina's tattoo from her arm without erasing it.

A second variant of justicialism facilitates libertarian administration from Congress, without formally entering the government. Most of them respond to governors who negotiate votes in exchange for budget allocations. Others arrived at the Senate in the clothes of Peronism and changed in exchange for gifts.

The third alignment that confronts Javier Milei and tends to forge an electoral alternative around Kicillof. The content of the strong disputes that corrode the Kirchnerist space is still very obscure and it is not defined whether Grabois will choose his own path.

But in its countless variants, this field persists as a reserve of progressivism, in tension with the aspect that seeks to recreate the old Justicialist McCarthyism (Guillermo Moreno). Contrary to what happened during the Macri era, the bulk of Peronism managed to maintain a certain cohesion, but without showing leadership, alternative projects or resistance plans. From the Vatican, Francis tries to alleviate this void, consolidating ties with the entire Justicialist spectrum.

The left remains a brave current of opposition on the streets and is therefore targeted by repressive forces. Javier Milei intends to make these organizations illegal and arrest their leaders. This resentment is due to the consequence of the struggle that characterizes this space. They act with the same conviction that the late Nora Cortiñas demonstrated throughout her life.

This great figure of Mothers knew how to overcome the disappearance of her son and dedicated her life to supporting the struggle of the oppressed. She was present in all resistance, without speculating about the convenience of this participation. She put her body at the service of ideas and became a symbol of all battles. His affinity with the left crowned the political maturity of a half-century-old militant practice.

Norita has always prioritized unity in the fight against the main enemy. This principle is very pertinent in the current context. The outcome of the ongoing confrontation will define the entire subsequent sequence. If the adjustment is imposed, a scenario completely opposite to that which would result from a defeat for Javier Milei will prevail.

For this reason, common actions between the left and Peronism are essential to block officialism. The correct criticisms of the union bureaucracy must be presented within the framework of this convergence. Within the FIT [Frente de Esquerda e dos Trabalhadores], there is no consensual position on this demand, and back-and-forth tends to prevail in each circumstance.

Javier Milei achieved a truce with the vote in the Senate, but there are two possible consequences of this relief. If what happened with Macri's 2017 pension legislation is repeated, the legislative success will be temporary relief from the subsequent deterioration. The law will not prevent government failure. If, on the contrary, what happened at the debut of Menemism is reproduced, the stormy success in Congress will be the harbinger of a more lasting stabilization. It remains to be seen which of the two contexts will prevail in the coming months. Javier Milei bets that a Trump victory in the US elections will open the second path.

The result of the fight will be the true determinant of one outcome or another. After six months, the coin is still in the air, with no definitive victories for either camp. But the fall of this metal is approaching, with the consequent primacy of one of the two sides. The popular movement is betting on success, in a struggle that will define the future of Argentina.

*Claudio Katz is professor of economics at Universidad Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Neoliberalism, neodevelopmentalism, socialism (Popular Expression) [https://amzn.to/3E1QoOD].


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