The country rejected its failing Peronist status quo and elected right-wing libertarian Javier Milei as its next president this week.
With the victory, Milei, who shares little in common with former President Donald Trump regardless of what the legacy media say, becomes the only libertarian head of state in the world. Milei has a chance to show the world whether or not libertarianism works, particularly in countries facing rough economic conditions.
Argentina faces a 12.4% monthly inflation rate, meaning its annual inflation rate exceeds 100%. It also has a 40.1% poverty rate — up nearly 4 points from 2022. Big government spending from left-of-center parties has been disastrous for the country.
Milei is a free-market proponent who admires Milton Friedman and Murray Rothbard. He supports Austrian economics, austerity, and anarcho-capitalism. He wants to downsize his country’s federal government by eliminating most of its departments.
His approach is far different than what the country has previously supported. However, if backing freer trade, less government spending, and dollarization proves to be an effective way to reduce widespread poverty and hyperinflation in a developing country, Milei could show the world that libertarianism is not an unrealistic political ideology. Instead, he could prove it is an effective way to reduce government corruption and human suffering in countries where the status quo has failed miserably.
The world has seen what communism looks like, and it is ugly. Countries banned religion, imprisoned and murdered tens of millions of political dissidents, and spent money on building propaganda nuclear bunkers and Potemkin villages instead of food for their people. It has also seen fascism, another ugly totalitarian ideology, devastate Europe. Fascism has led to wars, oppressed minorities, and genocide of innocent people.
Yet, while countries have given authoritarian ideologies a chance, they have been averse to trying liberty. Some may point to Hong Kong until a few years ago as an example of a successful libertarian country, while others may point to Somalia from 1991 to 2006, when it lacked a centralized government. While Hong Kong deserved credit for embracing a market economy before mainland China tightened its grip on the region, crony capitalism was still widespread. Meanwhile, Somalia was a failed state ruled by regional warlords, hardly a libertarian paradise.
Maybe one day, people will use Argentina as an example of a successful libertarian country. However, for that to happen, Milei must stay true to his principles and move the country in a positive direction.
Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a political reporter for the New Boston Post in Massachusetts.