Each week we encounter mouthwatering policies implemented by the newly elected libertarian president of Argentina Javier Milei. He has the libertarian community in awe.
His arrival to politics with an openly antisystem discourse shook not only the local scene in Argentina but also the rest of the world.
But how? The respective libertarian parties in each country barely get enough votes to even appear on the main grid on election night!
There are numerous reasons as to why this may be. We libertarians know ourselves well and no one with a minimum of self-criticism is surprised that our current situation in party politics is such. While political culture differs by country, our internal ideological discussions as libertarians are the same.
While there’s no formula for liberty, one may find Milei’s Rothbardian pattern interesting. In a world sunk in destructionist trends, many voices of reason emerge. Are any of them following these same steps?
Let’s now look at some factors that led Javier Milei to the presidency.
Understanding of the Market
Economics has been the main problem in Argentina for almost its entire history. Crisis after crisis has kept the country stagnant, and the application of different recipes, even with new parties in power, didn’t seem to produce any results. That is why the public interest has gradually turned to economists for answers.
Javier Milei understood that need. He published successful books, articles, and even had his own comedic theatrical play on economic affairs.
His repeated appearances on television since 2015 were because he knew how to have channels make money. Whenever he popped up at a talk show, there was a peak in ratings. Everybody wanted him! Despite his eccentric appearance, yelling, and proliferated insults, he exuded a magnetism that filled the viewer with curiosity. Although other valuable libertarian economists were gaining prominence, no one equaled him.
Without understanding everything he said, the public still perceived he wasn’t talking nonsense—his speech and arguments were logical and made sense. For instance, on his explanation on the illegitimacy of taxes, he immortalized the phrase, “Are you in favor of stealing?” And he proceeded to explain how taxes were forcibly extracted, just like in a robbery. He’d even conclude by referring to Lysander Spooner’s analogy: “At least the robber has more honor than the politician; he shows his face and risks his life!”
As Murray Rothbard says in the last chapter of For a New Liberty,
A prime and necessary condition for libertarian victory . . . is education: the persuasion and conversion of large numbers of people to the cause.
Libertarians must, therefore, engage in hard thinking and scholarship, put forth theoretical and systematic books, articles, and journals, and engage in conferences and seminars. On the other hand, a mere elaboration of the theory will get nowhere if no one has ever heard of the books and articles; hence the need for publicity, slogans, student activism, lectures, radio, and TV spots, etc.
Milei’s simplicity in explaining the libertarian philosophy and economic principles from an Austrian perspective made people learn. Watching the night talk show with Milei’s presence wasn’t just another moment of mind-numbing TV garbage: it became an eye-opening experience.
Moreover, he used to always carry a book with him. Whether it was one of his own or Economics in One Lesson or The Fatal Conceit. At times he’s been seen with Chaos Theory or Defending the Undefendable. In each of his appearances one could write down several authors or book titles, which he’d also often share in social media. The mention of names such as Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, or Friedrich Hayek on prime time was not in vain.
Young people composed his main harvest of followers. Accustomed to growing up seeing the same people in power, and a not-so-different opposition, they found in Milei’s speech a flame of hope which illuminated a possible future with features similar to wealthy countries.
Followers began to mention Milei in conversations with their peers, behaving like someone newly converted to a religion and wanting everyone to know.
Countless users began to create content on libertarianism, from quotes, infographics, and videos spreading the ideas, which soon became very popular.
That is how the demonization of the ideas of liberty and capitalism was lifted.
These mentioned followers became key, especially during the elections. Their exceptional communication and research skills served to unmask, expose, and humiliate politicians and supporters 24/7. The tireless work was impressive. It took the form of memes, slogans, or trending topics. X’s importance as a free-speech platform was extraordinary, unlike during Milei’s 2021 campaign for Congress where his main supporters were banned on Twitter and came back each time with a new account.
The political class had fallen behind. It had no chance in the virtual world, which had been taken over years ago by libertarians while they neglected the people.
Despite Milei’s opposition using public funds to plaster the streets with their faces and paying for highly invasive and disturbing ads against him on social media, his organic and decentralized activists communicated his message unceasingly, resisted endless attacks, and discredited operations.
The then-current government, whose banners were “the people” and the working class, in practice dedicated itself to multiplying poverty. They themselves lived like kings in total dissonance with the needs of the common people. Their main followers are composed of themselves and people who benefit from the state’s parasitism machinery: union leaders, government employees, corporate media, “artists” and “intellectuals.”
The working people, increasingly distanced from those who claim to represent them, resonated with Milei’s ideas. Why? Because they carry civilization and progress upon their shoulders.
The political class was losing credibility, and with it the elections, for not seeing this change replicating all over the world.
Today the political class at a global level is using different motives to drive the structure of systematic stealing. Race, immigration, climate change, digital currency—you name it. These ideas have been implanted by the elites through prominent figures and the media, financed by public funds. The more radical their attempts, the more they demonstrate their desperation.
We have the opportunity for what seems to be a new beginning in the world with a subtle comeback of the ideas upon which civilization rests. If Mises called the twentieth century the century of socialism, may we be able to call the twenty-first century the century of libertarianism.
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