Much has been written in the international press, including within Argentina, about recently inaugurated Argentinian president Javier Milei, mostly about how he is an extreme right-winger (really wanting to taint him as a fascist among left-wing circles). Some independent journalists and observers have commented on how his announced plans could transform Argentina into a prosperous country by following classical liberal policies. One significant feature that has been neglected in the media to date is probably the deciding factor in his meteoric rise to political prominence and power: his conceptual clarity.
Milei says he is a theoretical anarchocapitalist, with practical political actions in the realm of minarchism. This is due to the enormous economic hardship that over 40 percent of Argentina’s population must endure, where even their survival could be questioned without the state assistance they receive at present, especially in light of the current horrendously onerous labor legislation that prevents new jobs creation.
Milei is a professional economist, brought up in the Argentinian educational system. In his words, he was educated to be either a Marxist Keynesian or a neo-Keynesian with extensive neoclassical training, especially in the areas of mathematical modeling and economic development.
In his acceptance speech after receiving an honorary doctorate from the Austrian-influenced postgraduate economics and business school ESEADE in Buenos Aires in December 2022, Milei spoke on a rendition of his essay in honor of Jesús Huerta de Soto by embarking on a tour de force of neoclassical mathematical economic growth modeling along with its limitations. He remarked on how he became a proponent of Austrian economics upon reading the stand-alone publication “Monopoly and Competition,” by Murray Rothbard, in 2013, concluding that all Milei knew about structural market theory was wrong. He narrated how he underwent a true epiphany after reading dozens of books by Austrian authors regarding all the topics that had bothered him up until then: economic growth, the role of the entrepreneur and the firm, market competition, market failures, distribution arising from production, and the perniciousness of all state intervention. With this knowledge, he did away with the ideas of equilibrium, externalities, and information asymmetry.
From Ludwig von Mises’s Socialism, he derived that only two economic systems are possible in society—capitalism and socialism—and that all intermediate systems will lead inexorably to socialism, so all neoclassical efforts end up being functional to the institution of socialism in society (what Milei terms the neoclassical trap).
As a result of the enormous influence of Milei’s ideas among the Argentinian public, the works of Mises, Rothbard, and F.A. Hayek are selling like hotcakes in a country previously dominated by Marxist, Keynesian, and statist views—some of them homegrown, such as Raúl Prebisch’s theories. If even one-tenth of the 14.5 million people who voted for Milei get to understand the ideas behind capitalism and free-market anarchism, it would mean a sea change for Argentina that would cement that country’s political future, should Milei be successful in implementing his political and economic program.
Javier Milei is a brutally honest individual with staunch convictions and a passionate and combative personality, all of which gave him the initial opening to appear in Argentinian television. In this way, a significant proportion of the Argentinian public got to know him personally and learn about his views. These views and his defense of them, from his diagnosis of the chaotic Argentinian economic and political crises to a reform program to solve them, stem from his ample knowledge of capitalism.
His governing program includes unheard-of political initiatives, such as reducing the fiscal budget deficit to zero at the start of his administration, closing the central bank, and instituting a free-currency circulation system.
He intends to liquidate the central bank’s assets in United States dollars and redeem all of the bank’s liabilities with the proceeds (his prominent dollarization program), whereupon the free-currency circulation system can be adopted, allowing Argentinians to choose freely whether they want to use a foreign exchange denomination, precious metals, or even crypto as means of exchange.
His monetary and fiscal measures would stem the current hyperinflation conditions brewing in the country. In addition to these measures, he has announced that his program would propose a thirty-five-year path for Argentina to become a developed nation and recover the status of advanced economy that it held at the beginning of the twentieth century, to be implemented by others after him.
Milei’s deep understanding of economics and the state propels him in all his political endeavors—having published ten books since his epiphany in 2013. His passionate and combative style is founded in this knowledge, combined with a deep hatred for state intervention in social life. He is truly an entrepreneur of politics, able to grasp the political opportunity to reach the pinnacle of power in Argentina—which no one thought possible—and to apply all his patriotic zeal toward his reconstruction program.
This stands in stark contrast to modern-day conservative and right-wing politicians, who have disappointed mightily in the past and who have no way of countering the intellectual positions of the statist left, as these politicians lack the knowledge of capitalism that would enable them to do so. They oftentimes accept statist arguments as the basis for the solution of society’s problems. This is their greatest weakness. However, this is not the case with Milei.
The means Milei has applied toward achieving his goal of political success are amazing, especially considering that he has spent very little money in them. These means can be classified in three main groups:
1.“Recitals”: where individuals interested in having him appear in their communities secure a venue and hold rallies where attendants actually pay an entrance ticket
2.: where, upon announcement in advance that he would be present in a particular quarter of Buenos Aires or a city in the provinces, thousands of people would join him in walking around their neighborhood
3.: where he would be invited to come on several politically oriented news shows on radio, television, and social media, and he would give extensive interviews, always explaining in detail his action plans to revert Argentina’s crisis
One amazing variation of his “recitals” involved Milei holding economics lectures in a public park, drawing several hundred attendants that would listen to him explaining the theoretical causes for Argentina’s plight and his program to reverse it.
He never bought publicity on the radio, television, or the internet nor display any street signs, all of which are the bread and butter of Latin American political campaigns, while his main rivals spent the equivalent of hundreds of millions of US dollars in these forms of publicity (observers estimate that the government’s candidate spent the equivalent of almost $10 billion in his campaign—about 2 percent of the Argentinian gross domestic product—in publicity and in direct payments and tax rebates to citizens, with these funds coming from state coffers).
Milei started his public career as a cultural counterrevolutionary in 2014—alongside other prominent Argentinian social commentators—but he decided to enter politics in 2021 in order to lead the changes that he was advocating, being elected to the lower house of Congress at the end of 2021. His clarity of mind has allowed him to formulate a coherent message that has impacted enough Argentinians to trust him with the reconstruction of their country. The current crisis in that country has driven a significant proportion of the Argentinian population—most especially the younger people—to trust in the ideas of liberty, capitalism, and the protection of the citizenry from the state, which have found their personification in the figure of Javier Milei.
Milei is undermining the very foundations of the modern state by eliminating the central bank and severely reducing the size of the Argentinian state. If he is successful in solving Argentina’s multiple crises and bringing back prosperity to that country, he will have demonstrated that the modern mainstream political structure is untenable. This will all be solely based on the power of ideas, delivered with utmost conviction and sufficient passion.