22/01/2024 strategic-culture.su  11 min 🇬🇧 #241328

La 54e édition du World Economic Forum s'est ouverte à Davos

Milei in Davos: A Contentious Divorce From Reality

Hugo Dionísio

Milei forgets the basics: there is no fascist constitution, whether by Franco, Salazar, Mussolini or Pinochet that doesn't mention freedom, the fundamental structure of the regime.

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No wonder Elon Musk likes it and the neo-fascist right is euphoric. After all, Milei has attacked all of his illusory, contradictory and paradoxical enemies. A look on the main search engines is not misleading: the corporate press has rejoiced at the imminent anti-socialism manifesto that Mr. Milei says is coming. A West with increasingly savage capitalism is waiting for socialism tomorrow! It defies all dialectics!

Of course, there's no point in trying to explain that his speech is ontologically impossible. To accuse the "Davos elites" of pushing the West towards "socialism"... Elites that group together the richest people in the world, with the most accumulated capital... defies all understanding... If any socialism is coming, it must be some kind of "inverted socialism".

Understanding is a real exercise in sanity. Milei begins by saying that "the West is in danger". Within Milei's logic, we'll never know if he thinks it's the world that's going to be left without a "West", or if it's his ideal of a "liberal West", the same one that feeds the vulture funds that destroyed Argentina's economy, that he's referring to.

Milei says that "those who are supposed to defend Western values" are co-opted by a worldview that leads to "socialism" and therefore to poverty. It's not even worth mentioning that "socialism" in China has lifted more than a billion human beings out of misery and poverty, but the fact is that, when we look at policies in the West, we have to ask ourselves: is it privatization on the cheap, dollarization or financialization and the concentration of wealth, in fewer and fewer hands, that we should find the key to the "socialism" Milei is talking about?

According to Milei, the West is still moving towards what he calls "collectivism". Well, when in the "West", collectivist parties (communists, socialists...) have fewer and fewer votes, the "collectivist" trade unions, i.e. those that base their action on the dialectical class struggle, work with increasing difficulty; the "collectivist" labor laws are regressing, giving way to precariousness, the destruction of collective bargaining and the deregulation of working hours; the "collective" sports clubs, i.e. associations and recreational clubs, are seeing their main income - soccer - bought up by individual investors; states privatize and bet on Public Private Partnerships, which pay individual entrepreneurs handsomely; teleworking, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, threaten to break up society and drive people apart, individualizing them; mobility, migration, which causes people to become socially uprooted from their community, making us individuals among strangers... After all, dear Milei... Where is all this "collectivism"? There are almost no cooperatives, associations have no power, the state has less and less power and property... So where is collective property?

We are therefore left without knowing which "collectivist experiments" he is referring to. It can't be identitarian idealism, itself a form of individualism, which seeks difference rather than mutual identification and equality. Nor does it refer to the environmental agenda, insofar as it bets precisely on solutions that are based only and solely on technologies and methodologies that the West has to sell. In other words, the Western green agenda creates new cycles of accumulation rather than destroying existing ones. In the end, just like the digital or energy agenda, it only contributes to more concentration of wealth, in fewer and fewer hands. And none of them are states. The only "collective" form I can find are the big Western capitalist corporations, but those are the ones who support Milei and are in Davos.

But Milei's speech is tremendously rich. In it we find the alpha and omega of ignorance, imbecility and pamphleteering hypocrisy, masquerading as visionary discourse. Next to Milei, the European fascists of the 1930s and the Latin Americans of the 1970s and 1980s were intellectualized visionaries. What a step backwards!

He says that his fellow Argentinians are the first to witness this paradoxical reality. It's also paradoxical that everyone is in the street.... against him. Therefore, we also don't know which Argentinians he is referring to, because if we look at the size and violence of the demonstrations, many of those who voted for him will have already opened their eyes and woken up from the "imaginary anti-socialist" spell.

Milei's anti-socialism, his anti-collectivism, are so strong, so vehement and absorbing that they affect his sensory function, enclosing him in a kind of schizophrenic bubble, comparable only to that of someone who has been in solitary confinement for too long. He begins to see what doesn't and can't exist.

Mr. Milei says that in 1860 "a model of freedom" was adopted and that later, in the 20th century, Argentina embraced the "collectivist" model. Now,  according to the 2018 census, 96% of Argentine land was private and not collective, public or social. Only 3% is public. With Milei, that 3% will surely be - or already has been - sold off, at a bargain price, to a few privileged "collectivists". State-owned companies, around 100 in 2016, accounted for little more than 1% of total employment. Slightly more than "socialist" Germany, less than the also "collectivized" Netherlands, Israel, Greece, New Zealand, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, France, and Norway, with almost 10% of employment guaranteed by state-owned companies, should be considered, according to Milei's calculations, an "ultra-collectivist and radical communist" power.

Milei points out that it was "collectivism" or "socialism" that took Argentina from being one of the richest countries at the beginning of the 20th century to one of the poorest - which is not even the case - in the 21st century. According to him, everything that exists in any civilized country, such as subsidies for the most needy, pensions from a public social security system, civil servants and public services, and which have existed in the liberal West for almost 100 years, make Argentina a "socialist" country, even though it has a private property structure on a par with the rest. And all this "socialism", which Milei wants to end, paradoxically coexisted with what he points to as the golden age of his free-enterprise capitalism (between 1950 and 2023) and which he refers to as a success story. Let's get this straight! And to think that 30 years ago, both Europe and the U.S. had more public ownership and higher quality public services than today.

What hasn't made any difference to Mr. Milei - perhaps we should ask him where he's been - are the successive loans his country has taken out from the IMF, the dependence on the dollar and the constant interference of the U.S. in Argentine affairs, the handing over of the country's reserves to vulture funds... Not a word about all this. The problem isn't even that Milei doesn't know the world's reality... It's that he doesn't know his own country.

According to him, free-enterprise capitalism is the only way to guarantee the end of poverty. So why hasn't it ended poverty in Africa, Asia, India and almost all of Latin America, including Argentina?

All the data Milei points to contradicts his assumption that the Western liberal capitalist model is the solution. Let's see, he says that under capitalism, world GDP doubled every 23 years. What he doesn't mention is the contribution of countries like China, the USSR, India, Russia, Iran, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil to this effort, particularly between 1950 and 2023. All countries of the global south and some socialist. For example, between 1917 and 1991, the USSR's GDP multiplied 11 times. 11 times in 74 years! Now compare this with Milei's data!

China, on the other hand,  went from a GDP of 150 million dollars in 1978 to a GDP of 8.227 trillion in 2012! Is it worth calculating, Mr. Milei? No, it's not! Even that of capitalist Russia, which he doesn't integrate into the West and will consider "socialist" too, between 1999 and 2013, its GDP per capita went from 1.4 thousand dollars, to over 15 thousand in 2013. These countries may have contributed a little something to all this success, no?

And considering that two of them, which are extremely populous and fall within Milei's enemy camp, have even contributed decisively to the rapid growth of the world's GDP, specifically in the best period pointed out by Milei... We have to ask: but who did Milei's math? Some UK tabloid?

Not only does Mr. Milei confuse world growth with the growth of capitalism as a whole, even when the contributions of "socialist" countries (in reality or only in Milei's imagination) are decisive, but he also confuses capitalism with the West, when, in the world, other capitalist countries, which Milei imagines - perhaps out of ignorance and imbecility - as socialist, have contributed decisively to the figures he so fallaciously presents.

If you do the math like that, one thing is certain. Argentina is going into the deepest hole it can dig. And he says the evidence is indisputable. And this gentleman works at the World Economic Forum.

Of course, we can't deny the decisive contribution that capitalism has made to raising the material base of humanity. After all, that's why it developed, why it won and why it replaced the previous mode of production. But what capitalism hasn't solved is poverty and the fair distribution of wealth. The real eradication of extreme poverty has only happened in socialist countries (de facto), or in capitalist countries that Milei considers "socialist", because the state owns public property and has an important function in redistributing wealth.

For Milei, the problem is therefore social justice. Social justice that he will confuse with "socialism" and "collectivization", in a confusion of concepts that denotes the very uneducated and uncultured character of the circles that surround him.

When you know that, for example, in Europe, which he says is disappearing as a model of "Western values", if the state didn't make social transfers, poverty would increase from 20 to over 40%, as it did in Argentina with his entry, the question remains: does social justice fight poverty or not, Mr. Milei? Let's see, we live in Western liberal states, which he says are moving towards "socialism", but are not there yet; states with freedom of enterprise, almost total domination of property by the private sector, individualism and open capital markets; and, in this almost ideal model, poverty would more than double if the state didn't practice some - little - social justice. How can we trust Milei?

And it's at this point in the speech that Milei tells us that he draws his physiocratic inspiration from Hayek and Kirzner, proposing the return of a jungle that we thought was gone. Hayek and Kirzner, themselves the result of a theoretical reaction to the proposals of philosophers like Marx or even Keynes, aimed to build a theory that would justify keeping wealth always in the hands of the richest, saying that the state was the one distorting the economy with its taxes and subsidies for the "lazy" workers.

It is this quasi-medieval thinking that Milei's proposal represents, precisely when all the countries of the global south ultimately want is to develop and improve their conditions of social justice. Of course, Milei, a radical Westerner, sees the enrichment of the countries of the global south as a danger. Since wealth isn't infinite - and he knows this - the more the BRICS, for example, get richer, the less the West will pillage. And from there we come to the only thing I agree with Milei on: the Western model is at stake!

Milei says that capitalism is "virtuous" because it "promotes peace". Well, what will the victims of World Wars I and II, the victims of the colonization of America, the black slaves who were victims of "blanquemento" (whitening) in Argentina, or the opium wars promoted by England say? All this in the period in which Milei places the development of free-enterprise capitalism.

It would be good for Milei to take a tour of the Middle East to see how peaceful the world is today. It would be good for him to spend a vacation in the trenches of the Donbass, to understand how his West plunders, oppresses and maneuvers. Perhaps, if you spent a forced vacation in some Libyan slave market and were thrown on a rubber dinghy across the Atlantic, you would change your mind about the peaceful character of Western imperialist capitalism.

Thinking that he has given the world a lesson in economics, what Milei has given us is a glimpse into her disturbed mind and his pathological inability to perceive reality as something alive and in motion. It would be enough to take away from the West, which he defends so much, all the plundering that it has perpetuated on the rest of the world since the Roman Empire, to perhaps realize that without the plundering, without the conditioning, without the appropriation of what belongs to others, this West could never achieve the wealth figures he talks about.

But the icing on the cake, among the most typical pictures of human dementia, is when, after giving a supposedly "anti-globalist" speech, Milei ends up addressing the globalist businessmen of Davos (there isn't one who isn't), telling them that they are heroes!

By ending with a "Viva la Libertad carajo", Milei forgot the basics: there is no fascist constitution, whether by Franco, Salazar, Mussolini or Pinochet (his real-life hero?) that doesn't mention freedom, the fundamental structure of the regime. Not one! The problem is, as with Milei, the divorce with reality itself!