History has shown that countries in crisis, under certain conditions, are particularly attractive to the emergence of apparent salvage proposals that, by magic, make it possible to overcome deep imbalances.
In the country, the return of democracy in 1983 was the beginning of a short period of hope, which quickly faded into recurring crises. At that time the prodigious thought was represented in the phrase “With democracy you eat, you educate and you heal.”
The exercise of weak democracy made possible mediocre and pendulous governments where citizens always opted for the “lesser evil.” The electoral proposals, always empty of lasting content, lacked programs that could transform authoritarian Argentina into an open thought society, where the free exercise of freedom and creativity allowed takeoff.
The repeated failures of such mediocre administrations never allowed true institutional consolidation and therefore justified all kinds of violations of property and freedom. These governments allowed Argentina to govern itself with a “Material Constitution”which is made up of the set of arbitrary and emergency rules, which are effectively applied, remote and conflicting, in most cases, from the “formal constitution” that JB Alberdi wrote. This formal Constitution was the one that in distant times sent the signs of progress that Argentine society needed to take off and today, it is practically not in force, hence we do not generate any attraction for long-term local and foreign investment.
The failure of the current policy, exercised by democratic governments, but with very severe violations of freedom, carries with it a grave danger. The oppression of citizens, whether through the regulatory, financial, tax, or exchange system or through signs that distance us from the principle of equality before the law, could awaken the demons of intolerance, allowing magical thinking to replace the use of reason. .
The exaltation of extreme nationalist ideas, intolerance towards minorities and contempt for due process without offering sufficient guarantees to all those who are justiciable, with phrases such as “jail or bullet” are bringing us closer to fundamentalist authoritarianism and to such unfortunate extremes. .
We have suffered this in the past, and its consequences were devastating for the democratic spirit. The intransigent nationalisms of intellectuals such as Meinvielle, Castellani, Di Sandro or Hugo Wast, were one of the many seeds that made the political violence of Argentina sprout from the near past.
Behind the presumed liberal ideas loudly vociferated by Javier Milei, in his electoral campaign, hide the ghosts of authoritarianism, typical of a society that moves on a pendular basis, lacking leaders with rational positions. His alliance with reactionary sectors linked to nationalism is evident in the formation of his parliamentary bloc.
Electoral alliances with offspring of the authoritarian past such as Bussi in Tucumán, the appearance of political opportunists, close to his environment, lacking in training, and his sympathies with groups of the Spanish and Italian ultra-right, distance him from the liberal ideology, turning him into a kind of delusional peripheral fascism. Mileísmo is very reminiscent of Fellini’s film Amarcord for its cartoonish voices and characters.
If society had understood Milei’s misplaced message, this would just be a variety character on a TV show. However, she has become a virus that spreads and spreads, exacerbating the magical thinking of the cult of personality. In this illness, everyone sees what they want to see and omits what they don’t want to see, in a typical act of denial. These are typical characteristics of totalitarian mass movements.
Javier Milei is nothing more than a symptom of our disease as a society. Libertarians see him as a comic book superhero. A large part of the Catholic and intransigent nationalists see in their sideburns the return to an archaic Argentina where sexual minorities remain hidden and morality is unique. Entrepreneurs see in their eyes the possibility of infinite progress that arises instantly, after messianic solutions, illuminated by providence.
If a non-existent, improvised, inconsistent and irresponsible government program is carried out, practiced by inoperatives and careerists, the Argentine crisis will be even more unfathomable. We cannot discount chaos and its inherent violence.
If Argentina ever finds a way out of its eternal cone of shadows, it will be through the use of reason and strong institutions that allow us to look beyond the navel of a society that revolves around itself. Meanwhile failure will be our constant.
*By Mariano Fernández, economist, full-time professor at CEMA University; and Adolfo Paz Quesada, lawyer, professor of Constitutional Law UBA.
by Mariano Fernández and Adolfo Paz Quesada*