Notes on Javier Milei's victory

Image: Lucía Montenegro
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By VALERIO ARCARY*

Javier Milei's apocalyptic “tango” is an Argentine version of what Bolsonarism was in Brazil, and the dangers are the same

“Desperate evil, heroic remedy \ Schism is worse than a disease”
(Popular Portuguese proverbs).

1.

The growth of the ultra-right is not a national phenomenon, it is global. They have peculiarities in each country, but the rise of neofascism is global. Javier Milei's apocalyptic “tango” is an Argentine version of what Bolsonarism was in Brazil, and the dangers are the same.

There are at least four structural factors:

(a) the extreme right gained influence because there is social desperation, and the ultra-radical shock program has a social base that, even when in the minority, manages to attract the majority; (b) society is fractured by economic stagnation that divides the bourgeoisie, increases poverty, interrupts social mobility, accelerates social inequality, radicalizes the middle classes, and demoralizes workers;

(c) “a strategy of neoliberalism” with discounts leads the left into the abyss, because the lives of the broad masses cannot change for the better, and patience has limits, opening the way to a historic defeat; (d) the pendulum of the ideological-cultural dispute tilted to the right due to the reactionary audience of exalted nationalist, atavistic sexist, xenophobic racist, retrograde homophobic ideas, etc.

2.

Sergio Massa's catastrophic performance suggests that Peronism made a fatal political strategy error by discarding Cristina Kirchner. Cristina Kirchner, representative of Kirchnerism, was the only candidacy that could excite and, perhaps, mobilize the popular social base, precisely because she differed from the path chosen by the presidency of Alberto Fernández, represented by Sergio Massa. Without the political “passion” that Cristina Kirchner could awaken, it was impossible to face the overwhelming wave of extremist radicalization.

They bet that Patricia Bullrich would be the main enemy. They made the mistake “rude”. They underestimated Javier Milei until, at PASO, it was confirmed that Patrícia Bullrich, with the support of Mauricio Macri, was not the favorite. The representation of the right was pulverized by the volcanic rise of the far-right candidacy, which won 30%. In the second round, Javier Milei attracted the vote of Together for Change when making arrangements with Mauricio Macri and Patricia Bullrich.

3.

Was it impossible to defeat Javier Milei? No, there are no fatalisms in the political struggle. Those who think otherwise embrace a “theorization” that results in demoralization. The conquest of power by a far-right leadership was just one of the hypotheses in the field of possibilities. In balance sheet matters, counterfactual calculations are inevitable. They are dangerous, but possible, when we lucidly consider the most important variables.

The Alberto Fernández government made serious choices and they had consequences. He accepted the usurping conditions imposed by the IMF in the negotiations of loans made during Mauricio Macri's administration. He could have not accepted, and followed another path. Another strategy would precipitate ruptures with the political center of the Argentine ruling class. It would be unavoidable to seek popular mobilization to guarantee support.

Breaking relations with the IMF, increasing the minimum wage, promoting an emergency public works plan, implementing taxes on large fortunes, freezing the prices of basic basic necessities, and other measures were possible. It would be a courageous response to a growing social fracture that was moving portions of the middle classes and popular masses to the right. He didn't. It was fatal.

4.

Javier Milei's victory represents, in itself, a dramatically unfavorable change in the political relationship of forces, and suggests that the social relationship of forces had already changed for the worse much earlier. The strength of social movements in Argentina should not be underestimated. But the defeat of Sergio Massa, including in urban regions with popular concentration, even more serious if we consider that the vote had a high turnout, and the vote of whites and nulls was marginal, seems to indicate a loss of political-social authority.

The influence of unions, or popular movements of unemployed workers, human rights, feminists, popular education, public health defense, resistance against privatization and denationalization are not intact. This means that there will certainly be a lot of fighting. But they will take place in much, much worse conditions than before. Blocking the shock adjustment that the Javier Milei government will declare as a merciless counter-revolutionary war will be a titanic challenge. The United Front tactic, which is only possible in unity in action with Peronism, will be, more than ever, the key to opening the path to victory, as was possible against Jair Bolsonaro.

5.

The majority of the Argentine socialist left is grouped in the FIT-U. They deserve the respect of all anti-capitalist forces on an international scale. The four FIT-U parties are among the largest revolutionary organizations in Latin America. The PTS and the Partido Obrero are among the ten largest in the world. They have a long and heroic history of struggles. Therefore, immense responsibilities. They will know much more than us about the conditions in which they had to position themselves. They know their country and its people better than any of us.

But that shouldn't stop us from saying that they seem to have underestimated the danger posed by Milei. Unfortunately, in this error they followed the path of the majority of the Brazilian left, even among the radical left, in the face of Jair Bolsonaro. Also in Brazil, still in 2018, the controversy necessary to warn that a neo-fascist was the favorite in the elections was impressive. Worse, some trends defended the null vote in the second round between Lula and Jair Bolsonaro in 2022.

The decision of neutrality in the “tragedy” moment of this November 19th, with the exception of Isquierda Socialista and the MST, was inexplicable. Declaring a vote did not mean political support. Voting for Sergio Massa against Javier Milei, explaining that it was a tactical gesture, only meant uniting the revolutionaries with the choice of the overwhelming majority of the people's best fighters. By voting for Sergio Massa, we did not follow Peronism, we just did not break with the workers and oppressed who used their vote against Javier Milei.

* Valerio Arcary is a retired professor of history at the IFSP. Author, among other books, of No one said it would be Easy (boitempo). [https://amzn.to/3OWSRAc]


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