Crazy money: So what if Javier Milei is barking mad in private, as long as he talks sense in public?

Is Argentina’s new economically and socially libertarian President, Javier Milei, mad? That is the impression most left-leaning mainstream Western media would love their readers to gain, to judge by the tenor of most of the sceptical reports about him they have carried ever since his surprise (at least to them) election late last year.

To be fair, however, there is something to this dismissive mainstream media theory. I myself have just written a (necessarily) long article detailing some of Milei’s more extreme alleged eccentricities as part of my regular “Strange Statesmen” column for the popular British magazine Fortean Times. Here are five of the weirdest:

  • He had his favourite pet dog, Conan, cloned following its death, and regularly speaks to its spirit, whom he claims now acts as God’s personal right-hand guard-dog up in Heaven.
  • He has appointed Conan’s clones to act as a private canine cabinet, the animals now providing him with regular political and economic advice. He thinks one dog is psychic and has thus given it the specific awesome responsibility of seeing into the future, to determine the likely result of his policy decisions.
  • He thinks Conan was the reincarnation of a lion from the old Roman-era Colosseum, and that he himself is a reincarnation of a gladiator from this same time-period, the two therefore being very old friends indeed (happily, they never actually fought one another, back in the days of the Caesars).
  • He believes that the welfare state is a literal creation of Hell and that his fellow Argentine, Pope Francis, who supports welfare benefits hand-outs to the poor, is therefore an agent of Satan – or a “Communist turd”, as he prefers to put it.
  • He claims to possess the ability to conjure up the ghosts of famous dead economists and libertarian social thinkers like Ayn Rand in order to run his ideas past them.

So, yes, to be fair, Javier Milei may well indeed be mentally ill. To me, however, the true question is not whether or not El Loco (‘The Loony’, as he is nicknamed at home) really does think he gets his policies from psychic dogs and the ghost of Ayn Rand. It is whether or not these policies, unlike the deranged mind they emanate from, are sane or not that is the true important matter.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

Many of Javier Milei’s public policy goals seem perfectly sane to me, particularly those he gave voice to in a much-discussed speech to the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held over in Davos, Switzerland, on January 17 (full text here).

The WEF, of course, is the home of various rather mad ideas itself: the ruinous race towards Net Zero and the Great Reset, the increasing abolition of physical cash in favour of easily-abused electronic currencies, the facilitation of a borderless world, the blind worship of transgenderism, BLM, LGBTQWERTY nonsense, and the entire stifling corporatist DEI agenda – not forgetting, of course, their bizarre alleged desire to push everyone into eating insects, and the sinister slogan of neo-serfdom promoted by the WEF’s head, Klaus Schwab, that “You will own nothing and be happy”.

Most such WEF ideas are far loopier, dangerous and more unworkable than Milei’s own economic and political (if not dog-related) ones have ever been, something Mr Milei was “insane” enough to stand up in Davos and declare to the attendees’ faces. Perhaps surprisingly, rather than immediately just throwing him out, they gave him a round of rapturous applause. Maybe here, at last, was a case of a little boy being rewarded for standing up in front of Emperor Schwab and telling him that he and his globalist acolytes had no clothes?

One of the key globalist organisations whose representatives were present to clap along that day was the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It strongly approves of El Loco’s plans to reinvigorate the Argentinian economy.

At first, this seems odd. As Milei is notoriously anti-globalist, why would the equally notoriously pro-globalist IMF be giving him its endorsement? Maybe, having doled out billions in loans to Argentina and its dismal, perpetually failing economy without ever being properly repaid in recent decades, they just wanted their money back? With Argentina’s annual hyperinflation rate running at 140 percent, and 40 percent of the population living in poverty, there seemed little hope of that under the rule of the previous few left-wing administrations.

As free-market-friendly Milei hopes to administer a dose of Thatcherite-style “shock therapy” to the nation by slashing government spending and (initially) raising taxes to pay Argentina’s debtors off, thereby hopefully cutting inflation and boosting growth in the long-term, the IMF appear to view Milei’s prescription as the best chance Argentina now has to edge back towards solvency.

In Milei’s analysis, under the disastrous, decades-long rule of the ideological descendants of the nation’s former dictator Juan Perón, known as Justicialistas (i.e., dispensers of social justice), the centralised state grew far too powerful, creating a gigantic client-electorate out of the ordinary citizenry, by doling them out an endless stream of over-generous welfare-benefits. This process of continual voter-bribery only ended up bankrupting the country, he said, thus making the poor ever more reliant upon government welfare cheques to survive – a vicious economic circle which, pre-Milei, was continuing ad infinitum, making everyone poorer with each passing year.

As one popular definition of madness is repeatedly performing the same action and expecting somehow to gain a different result, then by this logic, the policies of Argentina’s politically mainstream rulers were actually the mad ones, and Milei’s supposedly insane free-market break with fiscal tradition – whilst undoubtedly risky – was the sanest action left in the government policy chest.  

Poverty of ambition, or an ambition for poverty?

What did Milei’s Davos speech actually have to say? He warned that: “Today I’m here to tell you that the Western world is in danger” because “those who are supposed to … defend the values of the West are co-opted by a vision of the world that inexorably leads to socialism and thereby to poverty.” International businessmen and politicians like those in the audience at Davos were meant to promote actual capitalism, but instead had been morally brainwashed into supporting a sort of backwards pseudo-capitalism instead, of a sort often termed “stakeholder capitalism” by WEF-men like Schwab – which, in Milei’s terms, was little more than socialism rebranded.

To say the West today was Communist seemed initially paranoid and “ridiculous”, Milei admitted, “but it’s only ridiculous if you limit yourself to the traditional economic definition of socialism, which says that it’s an economic system where the state owns the means of production” via the enforced nationalisation of all industries. Instead, a far more effective invisible Communist coup of society as a whole had today been engineered by leftists, who had successfully replaced the traditional class struggle with a new, woke, identitarian social struggle mislabelled as “social justice” instead – what is often termed “Cultural Marxism”.

This sought primarily to redistribute social capital instead of economic capital – i.e., restructuring Western society away from its most powerful traditional overlords of white, straight males. By claiming that to restructure society away from such individuals and towards others was the “moral” thing to do, leftists had successfully managed to capture politics, academia and the media, and thereby mentally reprogram even the assembled corporate minds of Davos to go against their own clear and legitimate business interests and tie themselves up in endless DEI nonsense which, in the long run, did nobody any actual good, and actually made their profits go down, as with the current state-enforced Long March towards Net Zero.

The main example Milei cited was that of “the ridiculous and unnatural fight between man and woman” falsely engineered by the left: “All that the radical feminism agenda has led to is greater state intervention to hinder [the] economic process, giving jobs to bureaucrats who have not contributed anything to society.”

He had particularly in mind here “Ministries of Women”, the Argentinian version of which Milei has promised to abolish as an unnecessary producer of wealth-strangling red-tape. Businesses which wasted time and cash on piously trying to do things like “eliminate the gender pay-gap” were neglecting their core duty of earning more profit. After all, maybe a more profitable firm would be able to pay all their employees more, men and women alike?



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Miscalculating the value of pie

This is what, under the influence of ideologically captured globalist outlets like the WEF, capitalism had now been allowed to become: Communism in disguise.

Yet capitalism was objectively far better. According to Milei, if you took 1800 as the approximate year free-market capitalism proper truly began, then from the year zero until then, “world per capita GDP practically remained constant”, whereas, from about 1800 onwards, it began to boom exponentially, lifting billions out of poverty. According to Milei’s figures, before 1800 about 95 percent of the world’s population lived in poverty. By 2020, this had dropped to only 5 percent: and all because of free-market capitalism.

If Milei’s data is correct, then this means that “the empirical evidence is unquestionable” – capitalism works! Therefore, anti-capitalists on the left have had to adopt a new rhetorical tactic in attacking capitalism instead: no longer do they say it doesn’t work, instead, they say that it is unjust. Such critics say that, under capitalism, whilst there is indeed much more wealth in the world to go around, precisely how it is spread around is more unequal than ever.

A disingenuous left-wing narrative has therefore developed, argues Milei, which says “capitalism is evil because it’s individualistic”, as it allows some people to grow much richer than others. Instead, “collectivism [i.e., the redistribution of wealth via things like the welfare state] is good because it is altruistic”, albeit only with, as Milei says, “the money of others”. Left-wingers like to relabel the redistribution of wealth as “social justice”, just like Juan Perón’s old Justicialistas, but this is a very odd kind of “justice” to a sceptic like Milei.

Supposedly, wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor leads to greater financial equality. But to Milei, the only “equality” such policies really produce in practice is equality of poverty. Instead of raising standards for all but allowing some lucky (or talented and even heroic, as Milei would prefer) wealth-creators to grow unequally rich, redistributive welfarist policies like those of the Justicialistas lower standards for all instead, pulling the king down to the level of the peasant, not the other way around.

Delusionally, the left-wingers then begin calling this complete disaster a success. Why?

According to Milei, “Those who promote social justice start with the [false] idea that the whole economy is a pie [of a fixed size] that can be shared equally.” Free-marketeers like himself, however, perceived instead that a far better policy in practical terms would be simply to unchain the statist DEI-type shackles placed by leftists upon the entrepreneurial wealth-creators with their endless taxes, diversity-enforcement measures, rules and regulations, and allow them to get on with massively growing the size of the pie instead.

Argentina’s sad decline proved this was so. Once one of the richest nations on the planet, decades of excessively generous Justicialista-style welfare-redistribution policies had only caused poverty to proliferate there, not to disappear. As Javier explained to the Davos crowd:

“The case of Argentina is an empirical demonstration that no matter how rich you may be, how much you may have in terms of natural resources, how skilled your population may be, how educated, or how many bars of gold you may have in the central bank – if measures are adopted that hinder the free functioning of markets, competition, price systems, trade and ownership of private property, the only possible fate is poverty.”

The true nutters, therefore, were not men like Milei, but the “social justice”-obsessed ones like Juan Perón and Pope Francis who saw the evidence of all this piling up daily before their own eyes and yet still managed to delude themselves that precisely the opposite state of affairs was true instead, whilst laughably calling their wrong-headed immiseration of the poor “charity”.

The elephant in the room

There are aspects of Javier Milei’s thought I find disputable. He feels that no such thing as a market failure is even possible, and that monopolies are good and natural things, rather than open to potential consumer abuse. His economic libertarianism shades into his social libertarianism to such an extent that he and his cabinet colleagues have publicly argued that, if it takes place behind closed doors, citizens should be perfectly legally free to have sex with dogs or elephants, “just so long as the elephant consents”.

Allegedly, Milei is even open not only to people selling their own internal organs for profit on the open market, but even their own babies! Surely these proposals alone demonstrate that the laws of the free market do not and should not apply everywhere, as Milei himself might be expected to argue.

In short, as with late-era Margaret Thatcher, Javier Milei is preaching a broad truth which, ultimately, is in danger through excessive zeal of hardening into an inflexible ideology – a mirror-image of the excessively left-wing, statist ideologies of the globalist WEF crowd he denigrated in his excellent speech. Perhaps the best outcome for Argentina (and the world) would be for some more contrarian freethinkers like him to gain power.

In the meantime, however, many of Milei’s policy proposals sound perfectly rational and reasonable. His plans may yet be thwarted by domestic opponents, by internal contradictions, or by scepticism on the international markets, but surely, given Argentina is already a complete and total economic “social justice” shambles anyway, they’re at least worth a go?

Overall, then, I think the majority of hyper-sceptical and alarmist mainstream Western liberal media coverage of Milei is rather histrionic and overexaggerated in its nature. And as for the reaction in the non-mainstream, Far-Left, Western Press, well …

According to one typical such report on Milei’s WEF speech, appearing on the World Socialist Web Site on January 19, his was “an outright fascist rant”, the Davos-based applause for which apparently indicated a hyper-capitalist, neo-Nazi call for a programme of “all-out war against working class opposition to their [the WEF’s] policies of war, genocide, recolonisation and mass inequality.” Sounds clinically paranoid to me.

According to the Far-Left online outlet Jacobin, meanwhile, in its hyperbolically-titled piece “Javier Milei Wants to Ignite a Far-Right Cultural Revolution”: “During his speech, [Milei] made it clear that any opposition to his free-market utopia would be crushed by authoritarian means”, even though, if you look through the transcript, he says no such thing anywhere in it at all. Hearing voices are we, now?

Remind me, leftists: who’s the real lunatic here supposed to be again?  

Steven Tucker is a UK-based writer with over ten books to his name. His next, Hitler’s & Stalin’s Misuse of Science, comparing the woke pseudoscience of today to the totalitarian pseudoscience of the past, will be published in summer 2023.

Image credit: pixlr AI. Javier Milei as a gladiator.  


Showing 8 reactions

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  • mrscracker
    This is the first I’ve heard about his dog.
    That’s pretty interesting.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-01-30 15:09:30 +1100
    I know they defaulted. And I know the hardship it caused.

    But here’s the thing. Whatever happens they’re in for a rough time. There are no good options left. But default again they will come what may. So they may as well get it over with and send a message to the taxpayers of countries who are being perpetually called upon to bail out their unscrupulous bankers.

    Also, the world has changed since 2001. If they play their cards right I’m pretty sure they could attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in the form of equity, Certainly from Chinese companies and probably from US companies as well.

    The potential of the country under good management is huge but they need to wipe the slate clean. Default is the least worst option. Not a good one. Just much better than the alternatives.
  • James Dougall
    Hi Steven, Argentina defaulted on its external debt in 2001 and never entirely recovered from the poverty and misery that resulted. Bear in mind that their industry and even their farming, the backbone of their economy, rely on imported supplies for which they need access to international debt markets. Defaulting is not the way to go.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-01-30 12:36:04 +1100
    Hi James Dougall, maybe underneath the rhetoric is a sane, competent manager. We shall see what we shall see.

    However my guess is he will try to repay Argentina’s creditors by taking it out of the hides of Argentina’s poor and soon-to-be poor. He will fail but only after inflicting incredible suffering on most Argentinians.

    The only sane course is default.

    And, really, do Argentina’s creditors deserve repayment?

    Why would any sane banker lend Argentina a penny?
  • James Dougall
    Agree with you Steven re messiah type political leaders. However, the likes of Chavez, Meloni et al did not have to confront the crisis situation faced by Milei: 200% plus annual inflation, a bankrupt country and a bloated public sector leeching the country dry. Only an outsider like him, owing nothing to vested interests, stands some chance of tackling the crisis. And he is turning out to be surprisingly sane and politically adept so far. Good luck to him!
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-01-29 11:21:19 +1100
    I cannot resist adding more.

    When Hugo Chavez came to power left wing ideologues leaped to the defence of this obvious lunatic. This was their hero, who was going to change Venezuela and the world.

    And when Milei, another obvious lunatic, comes to power I see right wing ideologues like Steven Tucker defending him.

    When will you guys learn that the “strong man” or “strong woman” who promises to cut through the confusion and change everything for the better is almost always a bad bet.

    I remember reading paeons of praise for Giorgia Meloni on these pages. “I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian!” she said to cheers from the Christian right. The results so far have been underwhelming.

    Similar comments to Victor Orban’s promise to “fix” Hungary’s demographic woes.

    In the real world, the world away from ideologies and religious beliefs, complex problems cannot be fixed overnight. It requires patient hard work and a leader who is prepared to say it requires patient hard work.

    There are rarely quick fixes.
  • Steven Meyer
    commented 2024-01-29 11:01:23 +1100
    A few comments:

    It wasn’t “leftists”, drag queens or the WEF that dragged Argentina down from being one of the most prosperous countries in the world in 1900 to perpetual basket case. It was mostly an assortment of quasi-democratic governments and dictators who were arguably either “left” or “right” but were all incompetent or brutal or, usually, both.

    The WEF is, and always has been, a forum in which the rich and powerful assemble to signal their virtues and make commitments they have no intention of keeping. It certainly does not have the power to enforce any agenda. As bogeymen go, it’s a dud but that won’t stop right and left wingers pretending it poses some sort of existential threat.

    “Dollarisation,” one of Milei’s proposed remedies, has been tried before. It has never worked for the same reason that the Euro is such a catastrophe for Europe. Countries need the flexibility of floating exchange rates. They’re a sort of shock absorber.

    Of course the IMF supports Milei. He’s their last best hope of averting (another) Argentinian default with consequent losses to western financial institutions. It’ll be taken out of the hides of poor Argentinians.

    My forecast:

    Milei will turn out to be just one more of the “strong men” who promise simple solutions to fix up a mess and end up making a bad situation worse. Other examples from South America include Argentina’s own Juan Peron and Jorge Rafael Videla and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. (No Venezuela was not some sort of paradise before Chavez. It was a corrupt society with a sinking economy)

    Now here’s what an Argentinian president should do as his first act:

    Issue the following statement.

    Anyone lending money to my country is either mad, bad or terminally stupid. We cannot pay our debts – again – so we’re not even going to try.

    All repayment of interest and capital ceases immediately. If that causes you to go bankrupt, you deserve it. If the collapse of your bank causes hardship for citizens in your country they deserve it for being stupid enough to let you get away with your madness.

    At any rate my citizens are not going to pay for the stupidity of your bankers who made deals with my corrupt predecessors.

    Having wiped the slate clean we’re starting again.
  • John Fannon
    commented 2024-01-29 01:57:54 +1100
    I agree that Milei’s policies are sensible, but I wonder how he is going to change the economic culture in Argentine, where most rely on the state to free functioning markets and prices etc. He threatens to cut the bloated civil service in half. But what are these people to do if just thrown out on the streets? A careful road map is necessary and I fear that Milei will not be able to achieve his goals during the period of his presidency.