Honors: Argentina’s “anarcho-capitalist” honored in Hamburg

Honors: Argentina’s “anarcho-capitalist” honored in Hamburg
Honors: Argentina’s “anarcho-capitalist” honored in Hamburg

During the election campaign, the ultra-liberal head of state appeared with a chainsaw running. At the start of his visit to Germany, he was rather reserved in Hamburg. He will meet the Chancellor on Sunday.

The eccentric keeps a low profile: At the start of his visit to Germany, Argentina’s ultra-liberal President Javier Milei was awarded a medal by the Friedrich August von Hayek Society in Hamburg. Milei, known for his spontaneous and polemical statements, refrained from making any reference to Germany in his speech and primarily described his understanding of politics.

His approximately 200 listeners in Hamburg – including AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch and the chairman of the right-wing conservative Values ​​Union, Hans-Georg Maaßen – cheered Milei. They repeatedly chanted “Libertad” (freedom). On Sunday, the Argentine president, who describes himself as an “anarcho-capitalist”, will be received by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the Berlin Chancellery.

With the award, the Hayek Society honored Milei’s program, which aims to reform Argentina in the spirit of Hayek, the Austrian pioneer of neoliberalism. “You are bringing capitalism out of the defensive,” said the society’s chairman, Stefan Kooths, in his laudation. He compared Milei’s policies to chemotherapy. “The side effects are severe,” said the Kiel economist. But without such a therapy, Argentina would be finished.

Critics accuse the Hayek Society of not clearly distancing itself from right-wing populist movements. For example, in 2023 the association awarded its network prize to the Swiss web radio Kontrafunk and in 2022 to the blog “Achse des Guten” – both media are located in the spectrum of the political right. The Friedrich August von Hayek Foundation, founded in 1999 on the initiative of the then Federal President Roman Herzog, operates independently of the Hayek Society and expressly distanced itself from the Hayek Society on Friday.

“No to Milei in Hamburg”

Several hundred people demonstrated in front of the venue under the slogan “No to Milei in Hamburg”. The call for the demonstration stated that Milei’s government was privatizing public companies such as the oil company YPF and the airline Aerolíneas Argentinas. He was cutting spending on education, making it easier to lay off workers and restricting freedom of demonstration. There were many Latin Americans among the demonstrators.

South America’s second-largest economy is in recession and is suffering from a bloated state apparatus, low industrial productivity and a large shadow economy that deprives the state of a lot of tax revenue. The ultra-liberal president wants to get the country back on track with a radical austerity program.

In his speech, Milei referred to initial successes. For the first time in a long time, the Argentine state budget is balanced and inflation is falling significantly. The figures are impressive, but the development has its price for the people in his country, said the president. “But we have always told people that if we do it (the reform), there will be good results.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects economic output to decline by 2.8 percent this year. According to the Catholic University of Argentina, almost 56 percent of people in Argentina live below the poverty line and around 18 percent live in extreme poverty.

“I was the only gladiator”

In his speech, the President described his intellectual development as a follower of the so-called Austrian School, which includes Hayek (1899-1992) and Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973). Through the teachings of the US economist Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) he became an “anarcho-capitalist”. He explained his rise to successful politics by his courage in being the only person to represent liberal economic ideas in the media and on television talk shows. “I was the only gladiator.” Milei was elected in the second round of voting in November last year with more than 55 percent of the vote.

During the Corona pandemic, when the measures hit the population of his country particularly hard, young people in particular began to engage with his ideas, said Milei. He presented books in videos and tried to make the contributions as attractive as a Rolling Stones concert. He twice praised his younger sister Karina Milei, who is his secretary general and accompanied him. She is considered the real puppet master of the government in Buenos Aires – Milei calls her “El Jefe” (boss).

Source: Stern

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