Javier Milei on Socialism and Statism

Brownstone Institute
Published on February 1, 2024

The managers of the World Economic Forum (WEF) think they are pretty clever. Under fire and pilloried the world over for pushing a “great reset” that no normal people want, they imagined that they would do a limited hangout this year.

They made the main theme “pandemic planning” (I hope that by now you know what that really means) but invited a group of high-profile dissidents to join them in the fun and frolic. Maybe people will see the group as inclusive and diverse, and maybe the guests can be co-opted.

So among the invitees are Kevin Roberts of the Heritage Foundation and Javier Milei, the new president of Argentina who is working to dismantle the administrative state in his country. Roberts’ speech was fantastic and deserves a commentary of its own later on.

Milei, too, used his time on stage to drop some wonderful truth bombs on the crowd. His speech went viral the world over. It’s pretty hilarious to watch the ghoulish Klaus Schwab introducing him. You can also listen in English.

Milei’s main target was socialism and all those who want to use state power to override the decisions of people in the marketplace. He is an economist so naturally that was his main focus. The enemy of humanity, he declared, is socialism in all its forms. Echoing Ronald Reagan, he said repeatedly that the government is not the solution but the core problem. The answer is always and everywhere free-market capitalism.

The speech contents would have been welcome at any point in the 20th century. Many world leaders need to hear his detailed demographic demonstration of the prosperity that came with free markets and how they seriously improved the lot of everyone for two centuries at least. In his view, the idea of socialism is the enemy of a prosperous society and therefore must be rejected. He went further to say that all varieties of socialism threaten fundamental values of the West.

It was a very powerful speech in every way. It seemed in many ways to be directed at political enemies in Argentina, who even at this late date flirt with old-fashioned socialist ideas. The central one concerns collective ownership of the means of production. That idea stands completely discredited, simply because there is no such thing as collective ownership of the means of production. In practice, that means the state owns all things and has all power, which is invariably abused.

But there is something else you need to know about how it could have landed in Davos, Switzerland, to the gathered crowd. I’m sure there are old-fashioned socialists there and they were probably squirming throughout. But that does not constitute the main thinking here. What the WEF stands for now is not old-fashioned socialism. If you read the website and the books, you will find no argument with making money, with private enterprise, and with profits. On the contrary, they love all that stuff.

The official ideology of the WEF is different. The Great Reset is not about old-fashioned socialism. It is about techno-corporatism, a merger of business, state, and philanthropy to set the world on the course of a new form of central planning. They love it when big business makes money, but they are completely against the fair playing field of competitive markets. They believe they know what works—corporate cartels, techno-domination, central planning in resource use and the whole of life—and want to use the state to impose it.

They want to replace oil, ranching, property ownership, and free speech, with sunbeams, bug eating, renting, and controlled everything. Theirs is a special variety of central planning.

It’s crucial that we understand: this is not Marxism as it was understood a century ago. It has more in common with corporate fascism of a distinctly 21st-century sort. It’s a new form of totalitarian thinking that is not easily debunked by tracts against collective ownership. That’s what makes the WEF different from the old socialist international. They want private property and enterprise provided it serves the elites above all else.

Both the state (national and global) and large corporations have learned from experience that they need each other. Private profitability works better in cooperation with political power, and political power is more effective when it is outsourced to enterprise. This is why you have so many captured regulatory agencies and captured corporations. It’s hand in glove and which is the hand and which is the glove can be elusive. They are working together. That’s how you get situations in which companies like Pfizer and Moderna are so influential in destroying the world.

To be sure, there is a way to understand the term socialism in a method that is inclusive of techno-bio-fascism. After all, the Nazis were in fact national socialists. They hated the universalism of the old Leninist variety and instead wanted a more Prussian-style unity of business, state, church, and wealth in general. As Mussolini put it: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Add a major dollop of techno-enthusiasm and transhumanist utopianism and you have WEF ideology in a nutshell.

This is why I fear that Milei’s main message did not necessarily come across as a devastating rebuke to those who are present, contrary to what many are claiming. Many there believe that they like free enterprise. They just wanted it directed toward a particular purpose.

To be sure, he came close:

“I know, to many it may sound ridiculous to suggest that the West has turned to socialism, but it’s only ridiculous if you only 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. This definition in my view, should be updated in the light of current circumstances.

“Today, states don’t need to directly control the means of production to control every aspect of the lives of individuals. With tools such as printing money, debt, subsidies, controlling the interest rate, price controls, and regulations to correct so-called market failures, they can control the lives and fates of millions of individuals.

“This is how we come to the point where, by using different names or guises, a good deal of the generally accepted ideologies in most Western countries are collectivist variants, whether they proclaim to be openly communist, fascist, socialist, social democrats, national socialists, Christian Democrats, neo-Keynesians, progressives, populists, nationalists, or globalists. Ultimately, there are no major differences. They all say that the state should steer all aspects of the lives of individuals.”

For this reason, I personally would have liked Milei to elaborate more on the implications of the idea of freedom for issues like medical freedom, pandemic management, censorship, educational choice, energy production, the freedom of association, the right of self-defense, and the rights of the people against the administrative state. These are the main battles we in the United States—plus the commonwealth countries and all of Europe—face today. This is the main battle of our times.

There are two main threats to liberty classically understood, and they come from the “left” but also from the “right.” All countries today face both. This is why the term “statism” is probably a better description of the real problem. This is the belief that an elite with resources, power, and supposed intelligence should be the primary source of social and economic management. Statism has taken many forms: yes socialism but also fascism, theocracy, technocratic central planning, and primitivist millenarianism, and many more besides.

If you take a look back at Ludwig von Mises’s great treatise “Socialism” (1922), you will see that he hits far more than Marxian communism. He tackles corporatism, welfarism, health-care redistributionism, and all other forms of ruling-class privilege over the aspirations of regular people. His attack was in fact surprisingly broad and inclusive of all forms of statism. If you define socialism that way, Milei’s broadside was bang on but my worry is that these people can easily say to themselves: he didn’t mean me!

What’s more amusing to me is the WEF’s attempted “limited hangout” of inviting certain dissident statesmen and intellectuals to their party. The presumption there is that by including these people, they can avoid the criticism that they have created an elite bubble and then reward their biggest enemies with perks and privileges that will defang their opposition in the future. They want the opposition co-opted. This is how truly intelligent institutions operate.

Based on the text of Milei’s speech, and that of Kevin Roberts too, it doesn’t really seem to be working as planned but we shall see.

As satisfying as this speech is, it’s going to take far more than rhetoric to defeat the enemy at hand. It is going to require active measures to deconstruct the whole of the administrative state all over the world, especially the globalists who believe that they are riding high right now and have no intention of giving up their power. We are just at the beginning of this process, and getting to the end requires far more intellectual and political sophistication than it took to defeat Bolshevism and Nazism.

After all, people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Klaus Schwab, and Anthony Fauci are not communists. They are apostles of the global administrative state. That is a beast different from that built by Marx and Lenin. It’s a 21st-century goliath and it is more threatening to the West than anything we’ve yet faced.

 

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown

 

Related Items:

Jeffrey A.Tucker’s interview with David Leis on Leaders on the Frontier can be seen here.

His testimony at the National Citizens Inquiry (Winnipeg) may be viewed here.

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