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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, April 19, 2024

Neoliberalism won’t save us from the far right

The neoliberal economic system promoted by Joe Biden gives rise to fascists — we must resist both.


On Sept. 11, 1973, the U.S. overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Chile. In its place, fascist military officers led by Augusto Pinochet took power, crushing opposition and infamously throwing political dissidents out of helicopters. The regime also brought in a group of American economists, known as the Chicago Boys, who immediately privatized much of Chile’s economy and created one of the first neoliberal economies in the world. Soon, neoliberal policies were implemented in much of the Western world, most prominently in the U.S. and Britain. Though these policies proved disastrous wherever they were applied, under the austere gaze of former President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s former prime minister, neoliberal globalization soon spread across the world. 

Neoliberalism still rules the world today, manifested in more personable yet equally exploitative politicians like U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. Yet perhaps the most dangerous element of neoliberalism is not its unfettered submission to international trade organizations, nor its savage reliance on union busting and corporate power, but its dialectic relationship with far-right policies. Nowhere is this dynamic more pronounced than in Argentina, where neoliberalism’s failures have led to the election of far-right president Javier Milei.

Neoliberalism in Argentina can trace its roots back to the 1976 U.S.-backed coup that overthrew former Argentina President Isabel Perón and installed a fascist military regime. The U.S.-backed dictatorship was led by former Argentina President Jorge Videla, nicknamed “The Hitler of the Pampa.” In what became known as the Dirty War, the Argentinian government ruthlessly persecuted communists and political dissidents, killing an estimated 30,000 people. Videla’s government reserved a special hatred toward Jews, torturing many to the sound of Adolf Hitler’s speeches in concentration camps adorned with swastikas. All the while, the far-right dictatorship ushered in neoliberal economic policies, privatizing industries and buddying up with multinational loan organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. All of this was done in close cooperation with the Reagan administration.

Though Argentina's military dictatorship collapsed in 1983, neoliberalism only continued to intensify. Argentina’s government took out massive IMF loans and privatized its Social Security program. These neoliberal policies caused massive economic crises and inflation. Under the barrel of debt-trap diplomacy, wielded by the IMF and the World Bank, Argentina was never able to stabilize its economy, leading to public dissatisfaction with the liberal state of affairs. This dissatisfaction is what propelled Argentina President Javier Milei into office this past month.

Javier Milei’s policies are, of course, completely insane. Milei wants to take a “chainsaw” to public spending and social services. Milei has defended Argentina’s previous Nazi dictatorship, appointed a so-called former Neo-Nazi as head of the top legal officer in Argentina, publicly supported Israel as it commits genocide and claims to take advice from a cloned dog. Milei has even assumed the alter-ego of “General AnCap,” referencing the ridiculous and contradictory ideology of anarcho-capitalism.

In order to defeat the far right, we must do more than vote for the neoliberal politicians that give rise to fascists. We must organize against the capitalist, settler-colonial systems that dominate our world. Be that joining an affinity group, a revolutionary party or taking direct action against the state that enforces capitalism, grassroots movements are the only way to stop the far right, not liberal politicians like Biden.