Argentina has been in the news again. Since the World Cup, it had been lackluster: only an occasional inflation record or a Messi whim in the Caribbean, and the rest was left to the specialists or the direct victims. But these days the big world media got excited about the winner of their presidential primaries: a “Hard-right tantric sex instructor”, says an English newspaper, a “Far-right libertarian”, says an American one, “Le nouveau Trump sudaméricain ”, says a Frenchman, to define the lawyer Javier Gerardo Milei.
And then they recount their usual graces: that they go to an animal medium to ask their dead dog for advice –of which they have four clones that they call “my four-legged children”–, that they want to abolish the Central Bank and adopt the dollar as national currency, which would allow the sale of organs and the carrying of weapons, which sings in its rallies like geriatric karaoke, which intends to chastely end the “political caste”, which would abolish compulsory education and research centers and a good part of of public health, who says that “global warming is another lie of socialism”, who spouts Biblical quotes like any other lunatic on a street corner, who proclaims – he always proclaims – that “social justice is an aberration” and the State you don’t have to get into it. Not even the owners of the “market” that he defends so much trust his mercadist mess.
The man is useful: he is folkloric, he gives to be surprised and talk and complain about how bad the world is going; After all, that’s what we do. Despite the noise, it is very difficult for Mr. Milei to win the presidency. And if some boring god insisted on propelling him, what he could not do is govern: he would have Parliament against him, not a governor in favor, and the unions and social movements fighting in the street for the cuts that he preaches so much: the perfect recipe for another great short term disaster.
But his 7,116,352 voters are brimming with lessons. Above all: that a third of Argentines feel violently outside the “democratic system” that was installed in the country 40 years ago and are desperately looking for someone to restore their place. That this is the chosen one shows the depth of the crisis: his voters are not looking for a rational criticism, an attempt at amendment, a project; they want one who yells that everything is going to burst.
They are right – or their reasons. And they are part of this world trend with honors in which it seems that the only ones capable of capitalizing on the well-deserved discontent are these memes of Hitler and Mussolini, two gentlemen who, in similar circumstances, also obtained the support of crowds who felt displaced.
What is surprising is how, in such a short time, the left –so focused on the minutiae– seem to have lost the ability to express general dissatisfaction and propose changes that attract those who need them. (In America, the reasons seem clear: for 20 years, governments that called themselves leftist got lost in welfare, patronage policies, which ended in these chronic crises. It makes sense, then, that those who suffer from them think that only the “anti-Bolche right ”, the other par excellence, can rescue them.)
There are two months left for the presidential elections and, in Argentina, two months are two decades: so many things can happen in the meantime. But, in any case, the fight will most likely be resolved between a candidate from the right wing, Mrs. Bullrich, and one from the extreme right, the aforementioned Milei: between them they took almost two thirds of the votes on Sunday . They are united by his rejection of the false left that governs, his intention to apply a “strong hand” with criminals and protesters and, above all, his anti-statism. Therein lies the crux of the matter.
In recent decades the names have changed –a little– so that we don’t get bored: they could be called dogs or cats or camels or garden fish, but all the decisive politicians in Argentina did nothing more than represent the two opposing tendencies within the capitalist consensus: statism and antistatism. They are separated, in reality, by a question of dimensions. Anti-statists assume that the state should only be concerned with the purest power: internal and external security, some fairness, and the unfettered functioning of the market. The statists add some idea of social responsibility: that their subjects do not die of hunger or filth or diseases that are too preventable.
During a good part of the last century, the place of the State was decisive in Argentina: much more than any other country in the region, the public sector maintained schools, universities, hospitals, pensions, railways, planes, telephones, electricity, water, oil. That was, for decades, their radical difference.
Until the global liberal revolution of the nineties led to the “privatization” of these public companies. Politicians and propagandists managed to convince a good part of the population of a silly fallacy: that State to which they entrusted their government, their security, their justice, was not capable of managing a train line or the distribution of gas. This is how they sold everything – to pesoist Spain, more than anything – and took powerful underground commissions. Meanwhile, millions supported and joyfully flipped those pesos that were equivalent to one dollar.
But at the end of the decade, when the balloon burst and the banks kept the money, millions more took to the streets to demand that the politicians who had managed it “all go away”. There were four or five very perishable presidents and in the end a southern Menemist governor appeared, Mr. Kirchner, who, in the face of the liberal failure, understood that it was time to propose more State – although in his province, years before, he had privatized oil.
In 2003 he achieved national support with his statist proclamations. Except that the Argentine State was already very touched: Néstor Kirchner –and later his widow Fernández– used the money that was left to distribute all kinds of subsidies and handouts. His welfare policy created this Argentina where a good third of the people, without jobs or genuine income, subsist on this handout and must –or should– obey those who give it to them. These hopeless lives often end in indolence or violence.
So, quite logically, now many of them rebel against that State that reduced them to this situation. And they blame their leaders and again millions – not necessarily the same ones – want everyone to leave and everything to be privatized. In the circular logic of those pampas, now we have an anti-state cycle. Only, if in Menem’s time that State still had a lot to sell, now it has nothing: only debts.
The anti-state leader, Mr. Milei, can no longer propose the privatization of telephones or airplanes; All that remains is to privatize each one, his work, his rights, his body: that selling himself is an individual decision and that the State does not prevent it. That is what he imagines: expanding the private sphere so much that everyone has the “right” to sell their organs, for example – “because that is one more market, why is the State going to interfere in regulating what each What do you want to do with your body? If we are going to respect property, why am I not going to be able to dispose of my body, which is my first property?” he said in an interview.
And the State is so discredited for its political use for social control that the statist party that now runs it does not even dare to vindicate those times when Argentines knew how to read and write because there were public schools that not only served to feed them once a day. Or to explain that if infant mortality fell from 60 to 6 children per 1,000 in half a century it was because of public health. It cannot, because millions see it as a refuge for those defecting politicians who take advantage of it to buy wills in exchange for alms and fill their pockets or purses.
It is logical. The customer assistance system is, without a doubt, so unfair and harmful. But taking that livelihood from people who have no other without replacing it with an integration that would have to be built with time and a lot of effort, can be a catastrophe. That is why there is only one danger that Argentina does not run: the famous “bukelization”. That it needs, in order to function, that its leader achieve something concrete –even if it is with the worst means. And it is very, very unlikely that either of the two anti-statist leaders – Milei, Bullrich – will get anywhere.
Argentina is not a country known for its patience and tolerance. If any of these bosses try, as they say, to end the subsidies, the country has every chance of going up in flames: millions in the streets, the real chaos. Or if they do the same as Mauricio Macri and do not dare to remove them and keep the situation within the same parameters, anti-statism will last a few years and fail and the statist welfare discourse will return and go around the same carousel, carousel or carousel again and again. carousel.
Unless, for once and without precedent, something occurs to us.
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