Mises Wire

No, Milei Is Not a Fascist

lady justice and Argentina flag

The electoral victory of Javier Milei in Argentina was a pleasant surprise to libertarians internationally. For the first time ever, an open anarchocapitalist was elected president of a sovereign nation. Milei’s fame isn’t limited to libertarian circles, though. Right-wingers all over the world have praised him for his battle against corruption and economic ruin. He was even given a spot headlining for former president Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2024, one of the biggest conservative events in the United States. Currently, he is one of the most popular heads of state in the world. Quite a lot of impressive feats for someone of a heterodox philosophy.

Milei is an Austrian economist. He taught economics for over twenty years and became quite the celebrity while doing it. Argentine TV stations would bring him on to debate leftists, and these station audiences grew very fond of his intellect and crass insults toward his opponents. His debate style is a reminder of Murray Rothbard’s hilarious quote: “I’ve always been in favor of refuting the doctrine and then attacking the person; that’s not an ad hominem fallacy.”

Milei’s competence as an economist has been very apparent in his presidency. Under his guidance, Argentina has seen “two consecutive months of financial surplus for the first time since early 2011,” quite an impressive feat. Its month-over-month inflation rate went from 25.5 percent in December to 20.6 percent in January, 13.2 percent in February, and 11 percent in March. Argentina is healing. Slowly, but surely.

The Attacks on Milei

Although Argentina is seeing improvements and Milei is doing an impressive job, he is the target of near-constant attacks from leftists all over the world. Some of the most common weapons being used are accusations of “far-right” politics and “fascism.” A writer at Foreign Policy called him a “wannabe dictator,” while the World Socialist Web Site said his speech at Davos, during which he condemned fascism, was a “fascist rant.” One viral post on Elon Musk’s X read:

Javier Milei continues his fascist rampage in Argentina.

He has authorised the Privatising of all remaining State owned industries (thats his donors cashing in).

He has also authorised the sale of all Social Housing and removed all rent controls

It is going exactly as expected

It is almost a rite of passage for an Austrian economist to be labeled Far Right, fascist, a Nazi, racist, or homophobic. God knows Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe have been called those things thousands of times over. Leftists have even gone so far as to call Ludwig von Mises, a Jew who fled the Nazis, a supporter of fascism. Quite absurd. If any of these critics bothered to read into what actual fascists believed, they’d realize that these Austrian economists are the opposites of fascists in almost every way.

Milei versus Mussolini

The dictator Benito Mussolini and his close comrade Giovanni Gentile were indisputably fascists. They invented fascism, wrote fascist literature, and called themselves fascists. So it stands to reason that if you want to see if Javier Milei is a fascist, you’d compare him to these fascists. The critics never make these sorts of comparisons because they’re aware it would expose their ridiculous accusations for what they are: ahistorical and ignorant.

Mussolini viewed the state as almost something to be worshipped, with his works riddled with references to its greatness and importance. He summarized his view with the mantra, “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” In stark contrast, Milei’s speeches, debates, and rants are filled with insults and criticisms directed at the state. One of his most famous quotes, “wipe my ass with the state,” encapsulates this disdain. Milei does not hold the state on a pedestal like Mussolini did.

Mussolini believed that capitalism was deeply flawed and needed to be abolished. In “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” he states that the state was “the force which alone can provide a solution to the dramatic contradictions of capitalism” and that fascism would replace capitalism with “a system of syndicalism.” On the other hand, Milei holds a contrasting view. He frequently praises capitalism as morally and economically superior. In his World Economic Forum speech—dubbed a ‘fascist rant’ by socialists—he declared that people should resist the state, asserting, “The state is not the solution. The state is the problem itself.”

Milei’s policies are certainly not fascist either. Mussolini’s dictatorship supported the socialization of industry, not privatization. His dictatorship mandated union membership, harshly regulated industries, and socialized over eighty firms. In 1934, he bragged that “three quarters of the Italian industrial and agricultural economy” were controlled by the state. Mussolini poured investments into social housing. In Rome alone, ninety-seven thousand apartments were built from 1924 to 1930. The fascist government built 147 brand-new towns from 1922 to 1944. In April 1934, he declared a 12 percent reduction in rents and implemented rent control that wasn’t repealed until 1978. The X post by one of Milei’s critics demonstrates that Milei’s policies are exactly the opposite of this.

The Defeat of Fascism

Milei is no fascist; if anything, he defeated fascists. Milei’s opponent in the previous election was an open Peronist. The Peronists follow the ideas of Juan Peron, who is commonly identified as a fascist or very close to one. Peron praised Mussolini and credited him for some of his philosophy as well as helped Nazi war criminals escape Europe, and his economic policies were much closer to Mussolini’s than Milei’s. Milei’s victory marks a new beginning for Argentina, a beginning where fascism is no longer the dominating ideology.

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