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A Hoppean Dissection of Javier Milei

In his book, Democracy: The God That Failed, Hans-Hermann Hoppe talks about the neoconservative movement in the U.S. emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the left became increasingly involved with Black Power, affirmative action, pro-Arabism, and the counterculture of those times. In opposition to all this,

many traditional left-wing (frequently former Trotskyite) intellectuals and cold war “liberals,” led by Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, broke ranks with their old allies, frequently crossing over from the long-time haven of left-wing politics, the Democratic party, to the Republicans. Since then the neoconservatives… have gained unrivaled influence in American politics, promoting typically a “moderate” welfare state (“democratic capitalism”), “cultural conservatism” and “family values,” and an interventionist (“activist”) and in particular Zionist (“pro-Israel”) foreign policy.

The current president of Argentina, Javier Milei, is a world-wide phenomenon known as a libertarian hero. Even as president, he has said that the State is a criminal organization and that taxation is theft. As a libertarian defends his ideals as just and worthy for all the peoples of the world, one would think that such a man would radically confront the statist status quo not only at the national level, but also at the international one. Certainly, Milei may be better than most presidents we are used to, but he is not as good or libertarian as many people think.

Milei, the Right, and Abortion

Though so-called neocons are not truly concerned about cultural matters, they recognize the need of playing the cultural-conservatism card in order to win power. The majority of Milei’s support in Argentina comes from the anti-leftists (which generally include libertarians) and the pro-life conservatives (generally very religious). Milei is not exactly the kind of cultural conservative that one could expect, given his ferocious supporters outside the libertarian sphere. This unmarried man with no kids that finds the social institution of marriage “aberrant” has gained support due to his remarkable anti-left, anti-socialist and anti-statist rhetoric and his stance on abortion in a country infested by statism and tax-funded cultural-leftism. Apart from this, the help of famous intellectuals on the Argentine right as Agustín Laje has favored Milei with an important amount of support to further secure his dominant place on the right. Nevertheless, the problem with the right in general—which frequently holds many libertarian and free market ideas either in Argentina or abroad—is the fact that their main desire is the replacement of any left-progressive elite in charge of the State by another elite that better represents the interests of the right. This is often seen very clearly with the problem of culture wars. We might ask, at what point will all these people finally realize that these obnoxious culture wars will find no ending without ending the State. At any rate, they will always remain a huge problem, unless we manage to get the State out of the picture as much as possible—for instance, getting the State completely out of education.

Unfortunately, much of the current rightists are not truly interested in protection from State power, but rather in putting a maximum of power in the hands of their leaders—for them, it is more about controlling the power than it is about its reduction. According to Robert Nisbet, it had been a conservative conviction since Auguste Comte that the surest way of weakening the family is for the government to assume the family’s historic functions. However, Milei’s continuation and expansion of welfare programs assume precisely families’ functions and are anything but favorable to cultural conservatism—let alone libertarianism. Apart from this, in regard to abortion, from the traditional conservative’s point of view, Nisbet said that “it is fatuous to use the family—as evangelical crusaders regularly do—as the justification for their tireless crusades to ban abortion categorically.” The pro-life crusade of Milei involves political centralization rather than decentralization. And although the increased abortion of our times should be seen as an increased moral degeneration, from that it does not follow that we should give the State and political centralization the power to intervene in any private matter. As Hoppe would say on this:

Rather than regarding intra-family or household matters (including subjects such as abortion, for instance) as no one else’s business to be judged and arbitrated within the family by the head of the household or family members, once a judicial monopoly has been established, its agents—the government—also become and will naturally strive to expand their role as judge and arbitrator of last resort in all family matters.

Milei and his Presidency so far

At the national level, Milei’s presidency has been a mix of good and bad deeds. Let us look at both.

The good: He cut spending in some subsidies, closed some government agencies, and ceased to finance public construction to a great extent. He deregulated the economy to some degree, and plans to deregulate it much further, including privatizations of so-called public property and more. The removal of various price controls has had some positive results in some markets, but the overall benefits of such measures (as well as the cutback of some subsidies) are still limited in a highly cartelized economy full of regulations imposed by the State. He reduced a few tariffs and lowered taxes on car dealerships. Furthermore, he keeps giving speeches on libertarian ideas and sound economic science in general, and has opposed the cultural left in mostly good and correct terms.

The bad: Instead of repudiating State debt, he went to the IMF and decided to let the long-suffering Argentinians pay for foreigners and foreign investment funds that had been stupid enough to buy debt obligations issued by previous administrations of the Argentine government. Instead of slashing taxes all-around as promised and allowing the economy to recover on its own, he has increased various taxes (like on fuels and foreign currency purchases) and even plans to restore a category of income tax. Instead of abolishing the central bank and allowing a free choice in money as promised, he tries to keep the peso alive—that otherwise would be quickly outcompeted and replaced by the US-dollar (and possibly, later-on, by other still better, more sound currencies)—by means of special short-time bonds, manipulation of interest rates, and artificially fixed exchange rates. Instead of slashing welfare programs, he has expanded the welfare state—including the multiplied pesos for especially pernicious programs for the social fabric of a good society, like transfers to pregnant women and families for each dependent child. Instead of ending the war on drugs, he has intensified this abomination and even mocked critics on this. Instead of balancing the budget by spending less only, he balances it with more taxation rather than with more spending cuts—favoring the accounts of the State over those of the productive people of Argentina. And instead of promoting and allowing secession and radical political decentralization, he has strengthened the power of the central government.

Milei’s Foreign Policy, War and the Libertarian Perspective

On the other hand, as if his presidency at the national level were not already significantly marked by errors for a supposed libertarian, at the international level, namely, when it comes to foreign policy, Milei is anything but a libertarian. He supports vehemently Washington’s imperialist narrative (pro-NATO, pro-Ukraine, and pro-Israel), that is, he is not a consistent anti-globalist nor a non-interventionist in the slightest. In fact, his foreign policy as previously announced and carried out since assuming the presidency are more characteristics of a neocon rather than a libertarian.

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