Milei: with the manual of the extreme right in the world of the policrisis

Claudia Cinatti (La Izquierda Diario) 31 December 2023

Judging by the first week in office, Javier Milei's government seems like a museum of Menemist novelties: an orthodox combo of adjustment, "stagflation" and a promise of repression at the internal level. Automatic alignment with the United States in foreign policy (a kind of return to “carnal relations”) mainly against China and Russia and the informal bloc of the so-called “Global South.” Added to this is an unconditional alliance with the State of Israel, including the promise to move the Argentine embassy to Jerusalem, a policy taken from the extreme right handbook of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.

The North American government received Milei's arrival with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, she celebrates that the third country in Latin America – behind Mexico and Brazil – has entered the orbit of Washington's unconditional servants within the framework of its competition with China. This takes on additional value taking into account the notorious loss of hegemony of the United States and the emergence of alternative blocs such as the BRICS, to which Argentina was invited to join as of January 2024. But on the other hand, President Biden, who is At his lowest point of political support, he fears that Milei's far-right government (for whom Biden would be a kind of "collectivist") is a beachhead for Trump's return to the White House in the 2024 elections, after having lost Bolsonaro.

This change in the political scenario will have regional consequences, and will probably herald tensions in Latin America. Let us not forget that the Macri government supported the coup d'état in Bolivia against Evo Morales in 2019, promoted by the local right and the Trump government.

During the campaign, Milei overreacted his exclusive alignment with Washington to the point of questioning relations with indispensable commercial partners for the State and the Argentine bourgeoisie such as Brazil and China, although later as president he retreated from this extreme fundamentalism, and in a “pragmatic” turn he asked to Chinese President XI Jinping – the communist tyrant – the renewal of the currency swap to meet payments to the IMF. And beyond his terrible relationship with Lula, he has until now had an “openness” line, although within the framework of maintaining Mercosur.

But beyond speculation about the future, the deeply reactionary foreign policy of the libertarian government has already had its first concrete expression. On December 12, and for the second time in less than two months, the United Nations General Assembly approved by a majority of 153 countries out of 193 the call for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Compared to the previous vote on October 27, 30 countries joined the demand for a ceasefire, including strategic allies of the United States such as Japan, Canada, South Korea and Australia. But the Argentine government decided to change the vote in the opposite direction and abstained. Only 23 countries abstained (in Latin America: Argentina, Uruguay and Panama). And only 10 voted against, obviously the United States and the State of Israel (Guatemala and Paraguay in Latin America).

The scale of the massacre that Netanyahu is perpetrating is taking on horrifying dimensions. As a recent investigation shows , based on interviews with members of Israeli intelligence, this is a “planned massacre of civilians” and not “collateral damage: 18,800 civilians killed (including 8,000 children and 6,200 women), 51,000 seriously injured does not have access to adequate medical care, 1.8 million displaced (80% of the population), in addition to the destruction of civil infrastructure and the drinking water network. A humanitarian catastrophe reminiscent of the “Nakba” of 1948.

These United Nations resolutions have no practical result in stopping Israel's genocide against the Palestinian people, although their symbolic effect is to expose international alignments, and above all, the extent of the hegemony of North American imperialism. What has been exposed is the growing isolation of the United States-Israel in its justification of the genocide in Gaza, which leaves uncovered the enormous hypocrisy of Western governments in the face of the emergence of a massive movement against the war and in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The alliance between the extreme right and the State of Israel
Although it may seem like an oxymoron, the alliance of far-right parties – many of them confessed anti-Semites – with the State of Israel and Netanyahu's government has an iron political logic. According to an editorial in the newspaper Haaretz , Netanyahu made a “Faustian pact” with the parties of the European extreme right that would consist broadly of condoning anti-Semitism and turning a blind eye to Holocaust deniers in exchange for gaining support for the politics of colonial expansion and the apartheid regime and promote the transfer of European embassies to Jerusalem . This alliance is also based on a shared Islamophobic agenda , which aligns very well with the anti-immigrant policies of far-right groups in the European Union.

For the Trumpist right in the United States, the support, above all, of the different evangelical churches, far exceeds the strategic alliance of North American imperialism with the State of Israel and the reasons of the pro-Zionist and neoconservative sectors of the Democratic and Republican establishment. This support is based on religious beliefs, interpretations of biblical prophecies, translated into geopolitical positions, and ideological-political affinity based on social conservatism. Organizations such as Christians United for Israel decisively influence the policies of the Republican Party, including the transfer of the North American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under the presidency of Donald Trump, who openly acknowledged that he had done it “ for evangelicals ,” taking into account realize that they are the main component of the Republican electoral base. In his current campaign to return to the White House in 2024, Trump once again used the Israeli card for electoral purposes, drawing a direct continuity between his candidacy and those who "love Israel" , be they Jews or evangelicals. Bolsonaro appears to have had electoral motivations similar to those of Trump, given the significant weight of the evangelical right in his electorate, although he never carried out his proposal to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem.

Milei not only unconditionally aligned himself with the Zionist state but allied himself with the Orthodox religious far-right, which led him to appoint his personal rabbi as ambassador to Israel. In addition to appealing to messianic invocations such as the assistance of the “forces of heaven” to pass the brutal adjustment that he is trying to impose.

A neoliberal at the wrong time
In his inauguration speech Milei compared the historical situation in which he came to power with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the situation could not be more different than that of 1989-91. The victory of the United States in the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and capitalist restoration gave rise to a decade of unipolar North American hegemony. Ultimately, neoliberalism was imposed with harsh defeats in the class struggle: the dictatorships in Latin America. Britain's victory in the Malvinas War. The defeat of the air traffic controllers' strike in the United States by the Reagan government, and of the British miners at the hands of Margaret Thatcher. But it became hegemonic during the 1990s, with the spread of “globalization” and “liberal democracy”; which according to Fukuyama's famous writing, announced the last stage of the evolution of capitalist societies. The neoliberal creed – free market, deregulation and privatization – was adopted without nuances by the conservative parties and the social democrats (or reformists) through the so-called “third way”, constituting what Tariq Ali defined at the time as the “extreme centre”. .

The capitalist crisis of 2008 highlighted the exhaustion of that globalized world directed from Washington. Not only did China emerge as a power and main competitor of the United States, but also a series of intermediate powers – such as Turkey, Brazil, India or Indonesia – that pursue their own national interests.

The persistent tendency towards organic crises within the framework of a deep political and social polarization divided the ruling classes and led to the development of Bonapartist and protectionist tendencies in the central countries, the maximum expression of which has been the Trump presidency, and the trade war with China that continues without major variations under the Biden presidency. In turn, this situation opened a new intense period of workers' struggles, popular revolts and new political phenomena both in the central countries and in the capitalist periphery.

First, the pandemic, and the Russia/Ukraine-NATO and Israel wars in Gaza, have deepened these trends, with the formation of an alliance between Russia and China that presents itself as a “multilateral” alternative to the North American order, and has opened the field to “multiple alignments” and fluid alliances.

Uncertainty prevails on the international stage. Although, without fear of being wrong, the increasing probability of a Trump victory in the 2024 elections will make the situation more convulsive. Even right-wing Trumpist intellectuals speak of the need for a kind of “ Caesarism ,” that is, an authoritarian-Bonapartist solution, raising alarm bells in the liberal media.

The other side of the strengthening of extreme right tendencies is the development of unprecedented phenomena of class struggle in recent years, such as the process of strikes and union organization in the United States . And the emergence of a massive movement against Israel's war in Gaza and in solidarity with the Palestinian people, fundamentally in the central countries, with an anti-imperialist imprint that had not been seen since the movement against the Vietnam war.

The American historian Adam Tooze dusted off the term “polycrisis” , originally formulated by Edgard Morin, to define the situation in the last 15 years. According to the author, it is a complex situation in which several crises – economic instability, climate crisis, rivalry and confrontation between powers – interact in a way that makes “the whole more dangerous than the sum of the parts” because the partial solution of one can aggravate some of the other dimensions. A liberal vision of what Marxists define as the updating of the conditions of a time of crisis, wars and revolutions .


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