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Why the Right worships Javier Milei MAGA conservatives are getting a bit cringe

(Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images)


March 15, 2024   6 mins

Javier Milei, Argentina’s self-styled “anarcho-capitalist” president, enjoys an almost Christ-like status among heterodox conservatives and MAGA-style Right-wingers, almost on a par with Trump himself. Like lovestruck teenagers, a certain type of conservative drools over Milei’s over-the-top mannerisms and “based” speeches against “libtards” and “communists”.

There is, however, a problem: aside from his questionable hairstyle and swamp-draining rhetoric, Milei actually has very little in common with Trump. For all his faults, Trump stood on a platform that rejected the neoliberal orthodoxy that had defined the Republican Party ever since the Reagan era. Trump’s agenda, by contrast, was markedly anti-libertarian: he advocated economic nationalism and protectionism, lambasted globalisation, promised to protect social welfare programmes, vowed to support local industries, and even courted the labour movement.

Though he didn’t deliver on all those fronts, Trumpism, like analogue national-conservative movements in Europe, encapsulated an intuitive understanding that the values cherished by conservatives — family, community, religion, solidarity — can only flourish in a context where the state intervenes to restrain the socially destructive effects of unfettered capitalism. Trump’s former US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer captured the new conservative zeitgeist when he said that libertarianism is “a philosophy for stupid people”.

In this regard, as Sohrab Ahmari has noted, Milei represents a rejection of “nearly everything ‘MAGA’ populists… claim to stand for”. Milei is a self-described ultra-libertarian and pro-market extremist who has vowed to “liberalise and privatise everything” (including organ transplants), slash welfare programmes, gut workers’ rights and permanently shackle the Argentine economy to the Federal Reserve by abolishing the Central Bank of Argentina and adopting the US dollar as the national currency. “The state is not the solution. The state is the problem itself,” Milei said at the latest WEF summit, echoing Reagan’s famous inaugural address.

And yet, his agenda doesn’t so much resemble the Western neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher as the much more extreme neoliberal regimes implemented in the Seventies and Eighties by the US-backed military juntas that ruled much of Latin America at the time. Even Milei’s rhetoric seems to be plucked straight out of the Eighties playbook: he claims to be on a holy crusade against “communism”, which he accuses of being the root of all Argentina’s, and indeed the West’s, ills.

Of those ills, none is of greater concern to ordinary Argentines than inflation — or rather, hyperinflation. The country has been suffering from soaring prices for years. By the time of last year’s presidential election, the rate of inflation had reached a staggering 150%. No wonder Milei’s anti-elite rhetoric and promises to take a sledgehammer to the economy resonated with so many Argentines. Unfortunately, however, Milei’s slash-and-burn policies will only make a bad situation worse.

While Milei has only been in power for a few months, the consequences of his scorched-earth economic approach are already being felt. His first decision was to devalue the Argentine peso by 50% — part of an “economic shock therapy” that he claimed was necessary to fix the country’s problems. Yet, as was to be expected, the drastic devaluation of the peso has only caused inflation to skyrocket even further, almost doubling to 250% since Milei took office in December. Since then, the price of gas has doubled, while food prices and healthcare costs have risen by roughly 50%, according to official government data. Meanwhile, salaries and pensions have failed to keep up, leading to the largest contraction in workers’ purchasing power in decades.

To make matters worse, Milei has stayed true to his promise of taking a metaphorical “chainsaw” to public spending, slashing subsidies in a wide range of sectors, from transport to utilities — on top of shutting down half of the country’s ministries. For ordinary citizens, the effects have been devastating. According to a recent study by the Catholic University of Argentina, poverty levels have risen to 57% — the highest level in 20 years, and an almost 10% increase since the end of last year, when Milei took over.

“Milei has stayed true to his promise of taking a metaphorical “chainsaw” to public spending.”

Milei says this is a necessary pain the country must endure before things get better. But there’s no evidence for this. If anything, the worst is likely yet to come, considering that Milei’s drastic fiscal austerity will probably lead to a further economic contraction amid already-floundering growth. No wonder the IMF has already slashed Argentina’s GDP forecast for 2024.

So why, Milei’s defenders might weigh in, does a recent poll show that a majority of Argentines continue to support him? Because, as the Argentine journalist Lautaro Grinspan explains, Milei “has placed responsibility for households’ mounting economic difficulties on his ‘inheritance’ from Peronist predecessors, and the blame game seems to be working”. But for how long? After all, resistance is already mounting, with workers going on strike in several sectors and anti-Milei mobilisations filling the streets. If his policies don’t start to deliver results soon, Milei could find himself with a full-blown social uprising on his hands, similar to the one that shook the country in 2001.

Faced with such disorder, Milei has already started to crack down on the right to protest — including proposals to identify protestors and then bill them for the cost of mobilising security forces and even remove them from welfare support lists. Some fear even harsher forms of repression. According to one lawmaker in Milei’s coalition, protestors should be dealt with with either “prison or bullets”.

More than anything, the threat served as a telling reminder that while neoliberals like Milei often claim to be libertarian and anti-statist, in practice neoliberalism requires powerful, even authoritarian, state apparatuses to impose its logic on society — and stifle any challenge to the dominant order. It’s no coincidence that the extreme free-market experiments pursued in Latin America in the late 20th century relied on extensive state terror. Nor is it surprising that Milei has repeatedly sought to downplay the crimes of the military junta that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983, and which was responsible for the death and “disappearance” of an estimated 30,000 people — though it certainly calls into question the president’s commitment to “freedom”.

Moreover, contrary to Milei’s claims, many of the economic problems faced by Argentina can be traced back to the legacy of those policies — not to “communism” or statism. Even after the end of the military rule, several Argentine governments experimented with “pro-market” neoliberal policies. Under Carlos Menem, who ruled from 1989 to 1999, Argentina “flexibilised” the labour market, deregulated virtually every sector of the economy, privatised several state-owned companies, liberalised international trade, pegged the peso to the dollar, and took on large amounts of dollar-denominated debt. Those policies dealt a serious blow to the country’s competitiveness, eventually resulting in a deep recession that the government was unable to overcome. The experiment ended catastrophically with the financial collapse of 2001.

This was followed by a decade-long economic recovery and boom, buoyed by strongly redistributive policies. The subsequent slowdown led the conservative Mauricio Macri to attempt to rekindle the economy by once again embracing market-oriented reforms — and taking on more dollar-denominated debt. When the country’s foreign-debt obligations ballooned to unsustainable levels and the peso collapsed against the US dollar in 2018, Macri made the questionable decision to take another $50 billion loan from the IMF — its largest-ever credit package.

To make matters more precarious, in recent years, the economic impact of the pandemic, the rise in commodity prices and then the Federal Reserve’s post-pandemic interest rate hikes have all contributed to the massive inflationary surge. Thus we can see that Argentina’s problems aren’t rooted solely in “excessive government spending” and “money printing” — in fact, Argentina’s fiscal balance was actually in line with the regional average throughout the decade to 2022, and last year was smaller than the US’s — but more specifically in the country’s over-reliance on dollar-denominated debt and an outward-oriented development model. It goes without saying that further tying the Argentine economy to the American one by going for full-blown dollarisation would only make things worse. It would mean fully submitting Argentina to American monetary governance — though it would, of course, once again make the country “safe” for global capital.

But if this is true, why are so many MAGA-conservatives attracted to Milei? It’s partly down to the growing importance of culture-war issues in the formation of people’s political outlook: Milei’s non-conformist stance on issues such as vaccines and climate change automatically makes him “based” regardless of what his economic policies may be.

In more strictly political-economic terms, however, it shows that conservatives, particularly in the US, still very much live in the shadow of Reaganism: they adhere to a cartoonish form of libertarianism, where the state is the source of all evil and oppression, while the self-regulating market — or “true capitalism” — is framed as a promised land capable of delivering freedom and prosperity.

This is tragically naïve. For all the problems of government overreach that we face today, and its threat to human freedom and autonomy, conservatives would do well to reflect on the fact that the alternative — subordinating social life to the logic of the market — leads to equally toxic outcomes: it breaks down social and communitarian bonds, weakens forms of collective identity, and breeds atomised and alienated individuals. In this sense, it’s not an alternative at all; it’s the world we already live in, one in which authoritarian states coexist with equally authoritarian, socially destructive market-based logics. By contrast, as Karl Polanyi observed, the true “conservative” alternative consists in “embedding” the economy in society, in subordinating it to its citizens’ material needs, beliefs, values, customs and traditions — in other words, the opposite of Milei’s authoritarian libertarianism.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
2 months ago

At the start of the twentieth century Argentina was one of the largest economies in the world – wealthier on a per capita basis than France. Today its people face western prices on third world incomes. Over a century of relative economic decline cannot be reversed in six months. Reversing failed policies inevitably creates economic pain and dislocation, but Argentina cannot go on the way it has been going. And it’s rather rich for a commentator who has consistently downplayed the crimes of the current Chinese and Russian regimes to criticise Milei’s for doing likewise about the 1976-83 junta.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

You just have to walk around Buenos Aires for a day to see how rich Argentina was 120 years ago. The architecture is amazing (although mostly now crumbling).

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

The same is true of London, imo.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

While separated by about 50 years, both nations made the decision to be as communist as they could stand, Argentina more than the UK — but such atrocities as the NHS are quite well established still.
“The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” ― Frederic Bastiat
That is all the NHS is.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

They even had the ONLY overseas branch of Harrods.

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
2 months ago

Which had its own stock-market listing! The building is still there, albeit looking very sad, but still possible to imagine it in its hey-day!

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Ditto with Socialist Hugo Chavez and Venezuela.
I was in Venezuela during Chavez’s early years and stayed close to the situation since then. I spoke with the poorest (and generally very kind) people in various barrios. They helped me obtain insight into the mechanisms of applied socialism.
In those early years, the general theme was the poor were not happy with ‘rich capitalists becoming wealthy in Caracas’ while the poor went without.
To paraphrase:
“I support Hugo Chavez because I can’t imagine how things could possibly get any worse for me and my family than they are right now, with the rich and corrupt capitalists in charge of everything….”
When he came to power and over the subsequent years, Chavez raided the country’s wealth.
He’d take over an industry and install his cronies (and his cronies would install their own cronies down the line). Practically none of the new higher-ups were specialized in the industry they were given. But their allegiance to Chavez had to be rewarded. They collected the same, or even larger, paychecks than the capitalist executives they displaced.
Because these cronies couldn’t run the businesses well, they’d rack up losses on their Profit & Loss statement, so they felt pressure to raid the company’s Balance Sheet (i.e. accumulated assets) to rig a ‘profit’ that didn’t really exist. And they also couldn’t help but take some funds for themselves.
This is obviously a shell game – stealing a company’s or country’s assets/wealth that could have been used to pursue future opportunities and innovation just to cover up the crony inefficiencies of the present – that can only be played until that specific company is destitute of all viable accumulated assets.
As one industry would become less ‘profitable’ and collapse (i.e. the accumulated assets were utterly spent), Hugo Chavez would go after another Industry.
Industry after industry. Rinse and repeat. Incompetent cronies gobbling up Venezuela’s wealth – and, with it, future opportunities. Brain drain then set in, as people who wanted a future and had the means left Venezuela.
With the application of socialist policies to their capitalist markets, Venezuela went from being the richest country in South America to being the poorest. Crime ticked up (as predictable as night following day).
I often wonder what happened to those very nice people without any wealth that I met in Venezuela. Are they still alive? Have their sons or grandsons been conscripted into gangs? Are their daughters or granddaughters now forced into prostitution?
One thing is crystal clear: These poor people discovered to their utter dismay that things do get far worse under socialism than they ever were under Venezuela’s capitalist phase.

nadnadnerb
nadnadnerb
2 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Smart middle class Venezuelans were leaving long before the oil price collapse.
Venezuela’s loss, our gain.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 months ago
Reply to  nadnadnerb

Not to the same level that Venezuelans were leaving when industries were being handed over to Hugo Chavez’s cronies.
Much of the capitalist business class were branded the equivalent of ‘Deplorables’ by Chavez and his cronies, so these hard-working people departed for greener pastures for them and their families. I know some of them and have heard their stories.
Hitler played the same game with the Jewish people before the start of WWII. And the United States and the UK benefitted tremendously as these hard-working people came to participate in our societies.
Progressives also play the same game with conservatives in the United States. If you don’t show Right-Think, you’re persona non grata in the economy. These people are then second-class ‘deplorable’ citizens, and some of them are de-banked and branded ‘terrorists’ when they haven’t committed a crime. Sadly, the law becomes subservient to the political whims of a subset of people who are caught up in their own group-think echo chamber. As this continues, we’ll continue to see conservative minds move to States where their rights as citizens are respected and their contributions to society are appreciated. Places like Texas and Florida will continue to grow at the expense of California and New York who ‘don’t want those kind of people.’
This is not rocket science, but progressives still don’t get it.
When you tell people they can’t play the game of life because they’re not ‘the right kind of people’, they’ll take their brilliance and play elsewhere.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 months ago
Reply to  nadnadnerb

I’ll share one last perspective to address the collapse in the oil price.
The collapse merely provided transparency – but was not the cause – of Venezuela’s long-term financial difficulties under socialism. A lot of economists get this wrong.
The collapse was a lot like the outgoing ocean tide that Warren Buffet was referring to in the following quote:
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
Economic shocks are an opportunity for businesses in the affected industry to weather the event – thereby securing first-mover advantage when things rebound – and also to innovate since such massive change can cause previously-unknown arbitrage opportunities.
But this is only possible if a country (a) has enough accumulated assets across their businesses and markets to weather the storm and (b) has cultivated and employed innovative and specialized minds within these businesses so they are ready to find an arbitrage should one arise.
Venezuela’s socialist leaders were secretly spending significant wealth (i.e. accumulated assets) as they tried to cover up their crony inefficiencies. And they were driving bright minds out of their country – those who care about meritocracy.
With these actions, the socialist leaders rendered themselves powerless with the collapse in the oil price while other countries – with greater wealth and engaged brainpower – took advantage. Venezuela was caught “swimming naked.”

Gaby N
Gaby N
2 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Thank you very much for sharing, Cantab Man! This was very concise and informative. God have mercy on the souls you spoke with during your time in Venezuela. It’s a truly sad state of affairs.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

The Obama-Biden schemes are having the same effect in the US.

Danny D
Danny D
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The article claims that all of Argentina’s woes come from free market policies and that the booms were triggered by redistributive policies. This goes against most economists’ narrative on Argentina’s situation. I’m not saying the author is wrong, but these claims certainly need more backing. I’d be interested in other, informed voices on this.

Jon Morrow
Jon Morrow
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

I’m saying the author is wrong. Like almost all economists he doesn’t understand what inflation is. Only free market economics will solve Argentina’s problems, let’s hope we don’t descend as far as they had to before electing someone that will allow us to solve ours.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon Morrow

He also doesn’t understand politics, or sociology. Perhaps he should get a job as a lab tech., or a jazz kazoo player

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

We are indebted to anthropologists and sociologists for promoting the belief that no society or culture is better than the rest. DEI is where the rubber meets the road in bureaucratic think.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago

Well….. What do you mean by that? He has a different perspective (which I often don’t agree with). Values issues the Christian thinks a confucian is wrong. Etc etc..

Some people on this forms also seem to be very confused about whether they are ultra liberals or conservatives, which are by no means the same thing.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon Morrow

I’m convinced the current inflationary trends are partially driven by demographics and partially a result of the bills of globalization coming due. My theory is that for several decades, most world governments, including the US’s were able to sustain both high levels of government spending and low interest rates by essentially just printing more money. That would normally result in inflation except for the fact that at the same time, cost of production for most things were falling at an even greater magnitude. Money was being saved on labor costs by deindustrializing the west and paying Chinese and other workers pennies a day. This was clearly not going to work forever. One can only reduce costs through labor exploitation so much before hitting a wall. Now, the demographics of places like China are changing. The population level is plateauing and will begin to decline. The cost of labor is going to start going up and in many cases already has.
There’s literally nothing anybody can do about inflation. Costly energy policies like NetZero make things worse. The only thing that would bring inflation down at this point is a massive technological breakthrough that made it possible to produce much more stuff at a much lower cost, but the main drivers of cost are labor and energy. It’s very possible that AI will indeed lower the cost of labor by orders of magnitude, but it will do so by eliminating jobs, thereby driving inequality. There’s no technology on the horizon that will drastically lower energy cost, and whether due to increasing scarcity or climate alarmism or both, the price of energy is very likely to increase.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Please ask UnHerd to give you an article on this. So much better than the actual article we’re commenting on here.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I’m no economist. But it’s hard for me to see how the Ukraine war and the Covid pandemic were enough to cause such a sea change. It might be, of course, that they caused pent-up tensions to be released.

Terry M
Terry M
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Very good except for one item:
There’s literally nothing anybody can do about inflation. 
Inflation is largely the result of government deficit spending. When the government borrows money it drives up interest rates for the entire economy. Cut government deficit spending and you cut inflation.
Some inflation is, of course, inherent in a modern society. For example, in order to supply copper, as the rich veins of copper are depleted, more dilute sources of copper are mined. Thus, the cost of the copper rises.
Vive Milei!!

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

The author is wrong,
Argentina was – 100 years ago – a rich country and absolutely still should be. It’s got everything needed – great farmland, huge resources (including enough oil), plenty of space, a good climate, OK education. Everything except competent management and leadership. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be just as wealthy (if not more so) than Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
It started going seriously wrong with all the state control of businesses under Peron. New Zealand also steered in the same direction (though with less commitment) until they reversed course in the 1980s.
I visited once in 1998 when Carlos Menem’s government had the peso linked to the US dollar (fixed 1:1 exchange rate). The country was doing pretty well then (a period of more free market policies). It certainly wasn’t cheap by UK standards. The exchange rate is now 850 peso to the dollar. That’s an 850x rate change in 25 years.
Great country. Deserves better leadership.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

‘We’ used to call it the Sixth Dominion as it had the largest British population outside the Empire.

‘We’ put in the railways and the frozen meat business (Fray Bentos/ the Vesteys) and so much else.

Sadly Mr Peron and his Cohorts wrecked it.

(*They even have a set of British Regimental Colours in the Dominican Friary Church of Santo Domingo in BA, taken during the abortive attack of 1806!)

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

They’ve got lots of old British stuff – old steam locos, dockside iron castings from South Wales, still a small Welsh speaking area in Trelew, i Buenos Aires area football club called “Arsenal” and “Newell’s Old Boys” in Rosario. And, as you say, the Harrods. And the schoolchildren wear traditional British style uniforms (as they did in Hogn Kong). As someone once said, Italians who speak Spanish and aspired to be British.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Not to mention their prowess at Polo, which came as a bit a shock to our Raj veterans.
Also an excellent collection of former Jesuit Missions, particularly around Cordoba.
Then there’s that great Railway Station complex in BA, which is pure ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’, and looks like it was built in England and then dropped from outer space!

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Like Danny D, I don’t know a great deal of the history here. But Fazi is recounting the history from the end of the junta onwards and you seem to be saying that the Peronists screwed it all up.
What you are saying doesn’t actually contradict what Fazi is saying. It is totally possible that the Peronists screwed everything up, and that subsequent neo-liberal attempts to sort the situation out via market reforms and big dollar demoninated loans under Menem and Macri both resulted in crises, whilst a period of slightly leftier policy in betweeen those crises achieved significant social and economic progress.
Is that what you are saying? Or something else.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Fazi is wildly confused. Practically every paragraph has some non-sequitor or conflation.
For example: he decries previous “market” reforms and huge dollar-denominated loans as harming the economy. But if those governments had been truly “market oriented”, what were they doing running up huge deficits in the first place? Milei’s slashing of the state has wound up slashing the deficit.
And yes, in South America, reducing the size of the state has been associated with hard-Right governments, but the latter is hardly a necessary condition for laissez-faire economics; after all, most of the West had much more laissez-faire economies than they do at present, without poor human rights. In fact you could argue that human rights such as free speech have declined in the West as the State has expanded.
wrt “dollar denominated” loans generally – who in their right mind would lend money to the Argentine government in pesos?

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

No, not what I’m saying.
Menem introduced the “major surgery without anaesthetic” (as he called it) policies. These, of course, hurt. And had to hurt. Just as we had to go through some really hard times in the early 1980s. It really is no pain, no gain in such situations.
My view is that the Argentinians bottled it when it got too difficult. They took at least half the pain and quit before they were able to consolidate and bank the gains.
The left did not achieve “significant social and economic progress”. They merely spent money from the future to kick the can further down the road.
Isn’t it curious how the wasters take charge of countries and start their campaigns to “achieve significant social and economic progress” after the initial wealth has been created and the actual need for such things is diminished ? But then you have to have other people’s money to spend.
Fazi is completely out of his depth here. Not the first time I’ve said that. And it almost certainly won’t be the last.

Rick Frazier
Rick Frazier
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

“Fazi is completely out of his depth here.” I thought the same. I found myself wanting to respond after reading two or three sentences at a time. It would have produced a comment longer than the article however.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Kicking the can down the road is not by any means exclusive to Argentina or left wing governments. ‘Conservative’ governments in the US, EU and UK have had this down to a fine art for the last 15 years at least.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Yes, they’re all at it.
You can argue that right-wing governments tend to free up business so that the economy can grow more, thus making the debt a little more sustainable, but unless they’re actively pursuing real austerity – ie, paying debt back – they’re just kicking the can down the road too.
It’s easy to blame the politicians for this, but in democracies, the blame ultimately rests with the voters, the majority of whom are happying to load up the costs of consumption spending onto the shoulders of their kids and grand-kids. Not exactly ethical.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Argentina also has massive reserves of natural gas.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

‘It started going seriously wrong with all the state control of businesses under Peron.” <– It started before that.

Richard Russell
Richard Russell
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

OK, I’ll say the author is wrong…

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

“I’m not saying the author is wrong,” <– I am. The author is an idiot.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Please make some counter argument instead of just throwing insults around. Twitter (sorry, X) is available for that.

P Branagan
P Branagan
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Reply to S Walsh

Every year the respected international polling organisation IPSOS polls the top 30 countries by GDP to establish ratings for the population’s individual life satisfaction and satisfaction with government policies. The polling is rigorously carried out in the strictest privacy to ensure that there is no possibility of governmental pressure influencing the individual personal responses.

One country topped the ratings every year for the past 10 yrs. Which country could it be ?
Finland? No.
Switzerland? No
Singapore? No

The country that scored the highest life satisfaction rating was ……wait for it………the People’s Republic of China with a score of 91 – way ahead of the runner up.
Funny how this is never mentioned in the MSM.

I know commenters of Unherd will find this an inconvenient truth.

But hey! facts can be a real bummer!

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  P Branagan

I see, you believe the statistics that China reports then do you ? That’s what Sir Humphrey might term “brave”.

G M
G M
2 months ago
Reply to  P Branagan

China is not a democracy and does not have free speech.
People would not give their real answer to the question because they might ‘disappear’ if they critized the Chinese government/Chinese Communist party.

Terry M
Terry M
2 months ago
Reply to  P Branagan

And what happens to people who say they are unsatisfied with the CCP?
Yeah, that.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The use of the word “worship” by the author from the get go shows their absolute lack of objectivity. I give anyone who read past the title a -1,000,000 for voluntarily reading propaganda.

Arthur King
Arthur King
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Well said. Socialism in all its forms is antihuman poison.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

What a disgusting Title. ”Worships!” What a demonic picture and title – no one worships him or anyone. Most American Right are Christians and worship God.

But then the American Left – their ideological Base and Postmodernist atheists, you could say they ”Worship Abortion” with even more legitimacy – there Farzi – your next story header, as that is the biggest tool in the Democrat’s election campaign – and there the word fits as it is a demonic religion to them, abortion and sexual mutilation and all forms of depravity, especially for the children.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago

P.S. I think my subscription expires today – if so, goodby to all you sheep, till the next time.

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago

In summary, the Globalist Left needs total control of every government. Anyone that deviates from the Statist Agenda is an “Existential Threat” and must have their credibility destroyed.

How is Lula doing, Fazi? I haven’t seen any articles about his “transformational government.”

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

From what I’ve read the Brazilian economy has done very well since his appointment. His personal ratings are a different matter however

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Go on and detail the Miracle of Command Economics in Brazil, Mr. Downvoter.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Last year it grew 3% and jumped two places to become the 9th largest economy. Doesn’t sound like a bad result to me

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Well, it does have the 7th largest population.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Indeed it does, but it’s not doing badly.
Mine was more a response to somebody seemingly so caught up in the culture wars that they feel the need to promote a leader who is overseeing 250% inflation over one who has overseen steady growth, simply because of which side of the political spectrum they sit. Anything left of centre is automatically bad and evil to some on here irrespective of the facts of the situation

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

There it is again the “Culture War Mystification.” The “divisive culture war” that you (The Left) started to justify more State control over the means of production. Now the gig is up and you’re playing the Crybully game of pretending to be the victim when you’re in fact the perpetrator.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I’ve never classed myself of the left, most of my views are fairly conservative but thanks for proving my point. If somebody disagrees with you then they’re automatically the enemy and a load of buzzwords follow as an insult. Too many are no better than the woke they claim to despise, just the other side of the same depressing coin

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That’s interesting. So Brazil is better off under Lula than the “Authoritarian” Bolsonaro huh? Did they sign a trade agreement with countries like Russia and China. Interesting play for a party fighting for “Democracy” isn’t it?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I don’t know, I don’t follow Brazilian politics too closely to be honest. However it wasn’t Bolsonaro that he was being compared to, it was the lunatic in Argentina

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

The globalists and Davos absolutely hated the recent Peronist governments and basically had the country in a chokehold over the last 20 years due to their government not cooperating with globalism’s ultimate goal of dissolving every country’s borders and flooding every western country with cheap disposable imports.
The Peronists were spending way too much and were corrupt and dysfunctional, but when Macri was elected in 2015, the Economist said that it was the “end of populism” for the country, as Macri was neo-liberal globalist who slashed tariffs and ran up a lot of debt to the IMF. His term was a disaster and he lost big to the Peronists. I expect a repeat with this guy.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

Trump might not have embraced libertarianism as a general political philosophy, but he is in favour of it from a strictly personal perspective (inasmuch as he thinks that he himself should be able to do whatever he wants, whatever the law may say about it).

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Great (parenthetical) twist!

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

So, not libertarianism, then.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

The challenges facing Trump and the US are nothing compared to those facing Milei, who must transform a dysfunctional economy with 75 years of incompetent leadership. I have no idea if his policies will solve the problems, but the status quo is clearly not the answer. I do think it’s disingenuous for Fazi to mention runaway inflation, which started before Milei entered office, without noting that the rate has dropped for two consecutive months. This might be temporary, but it should have been noted.

Tom K
Tom K
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Never let the facts get in the way of a good leftist rant.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

Or a bad one, as Thomas Fazi always provides.

Skink
Skink
2 months ago

Why are we being fed this crap? First, we worship Orban, now Milei. Y’all are a bunch of liars unable to come up with anything reasonable anymore, Looney Lefties.
I am suspicious of Milei. I think he is a clown and will betray the people. But I am willing to keep my mind open, and his move to block the massive raise of the salaries of the ruling junta in Argentina is something I would like to see more of. I wish him luck.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
2 months ago
Reply to  Skink

We’re “being fed this crap” because – apparently – we keep subscribing and paying for it. What we say in the comments is immaterial. It’s really quite funny. What Unherd has discovered is that they can provide decent – or at least some kind of steady income – for a collection of mostly moderate-left and some pretty far left “journalists” who are read by a collection of almost exclusively to the right readers (judging from the balance in the comments).
I’ve noticed this on some other platforms as well. Quillette comes to mind immediately. Same situation. Many times I lose interest in these essays because the general drift and limitations of the writer become evident very quickly. So I jump to the comments. There is almost always way more interesting angles on a topic emerging in the comments than in the essays themselves. There’s only a few regular writers that I usually read closely all the way through (Mary Harrington comes to mind, Kathleen Stock another. And Aris Roussinos).
Here’s an idea: maybe we’re engaging in a weird form of masochism. Reading articles almost guaranteed to irritate us so we can complain and spout off about them.

Skink
Skink
2 months ago

Aha! I came here because there is a lefty I follow and he complained that UnHerd is “right” money funding way too much crossover into the Right. I was hoping to find a congenial mix (of left and right perspectives), which would be pretty special. And at first, it seemed that way. Musta been the holiday spirit. Since then, it’s been a downward spiral, most stuff well nigh unreadable. I’ll give it another month or two. Thanks for the heads up.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Skink

BTL comments are what you are paying for

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

I came here to escape tiring left vs right labelling and ideology peddling of any kind. I hope the majority here has similar intentions. Any thinking mind needs to be challenged by divergent views in order to avoid getting stuck in a bubble. Be articulate, respect other opinions, avoid ad hominem attacks, stay on topic, and your readers can profit.

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 months ago

Trump and Milei, despite their distinct contexts, share a common battlefront: fighting against what they depict as a corrupt establishment. Their rise reflects a universal narrative of challenging entrenched power structures, with each tapping into deep-seated frustrations to mobilize support for their anti-establishment crusades.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
2 months ago
Reply to  Alan Groff

The “right” does not act but reacts. The horrors of the French Revolution caused Burke to react. To be on the right is to be more “against” than “for.” It is to cross one’s arms or to stomp one’s feet. For the “right” knows that the “left,” which stands for the proposition that everything is permitted, will lead to calls for the iron fist, the one world state, gripping totalitarianism forever. Decadence is not politically viable. Yet, to be “against” is not enough. Is there a better and worse way to live a human life? Everyone instinctively answers “yes,” but struggles to put meat on the bones. And so far as that is true, we all cling in some way to the right. It’s that or the abyss.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago

I love this. The left, always simultaneously grasping for total power whilst proposing that all is permitted,
And the one thing standing between civilisation and the abyss is the reflexively reactive conservative or Conservative. Cincinnatus dragged form his farm.
More of this epic fanfic please.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Your description is propaganda. The Right have proven again and again that they will not tolerate the corporate ownership of its representatives. It’s why we have effective, successful governors like Ron DeSantis. It’s why Donald Trump was elected in 2016, would have been again in 2020, and will be in 2024 if he isn’t assassinated. It’s why our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms remains. It’s why parents are taking back control of their children’s education by starting their own schools.

The Right are for the freedoms enumerated in our Bill of Rights. We stand to protect them, not stamp our feet and, like Professor Wagstaff, sing “Whatever it is, I’m against it”.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

How is it that a philosophy of individual liberty and local choice can sponsor such free use of the collective We?
It’s groundless to claim that corporations haven’t influenced and even co-opted a huge percentage of Republican office holders over several decades. Democratic pols are surely culpable in this regard and sold-out in some way about as often too, but for the last century and to this day they are at least likelier to side with workers and low-income citizens (and yes, non-citizens, which has a noble side and a downside).
Or is the True Right for you some curated subset of what is agreed to be right of center, exemplified by Mickey Mouse warrior Ron DeSantis of the smug mug and doomed national aspirations?

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I agree. Some of these characterisatons of “the right” look like their peddlers have never heard of the expression “straw man”.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
2 months ago

Your comment about Burke reminds me of something I read once about conservatives being kind of like inadequate boat-anchors. They are always attempting to drag against a progressive motive force which they almost never succeed in doing more than slowing down. The key observation in what I read is that it is the progressive elements that provide the direction they are both traveling in.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
2 months ago

Yes. I might say it this way: The “right” is just that, that is, not wrong. But being right is not enough to gain traction. Or better, the truth is no match the for wishful thinking. We are all standing on extremest limit of the land hoping to get a still better seaward peep.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 months ago

Won’t it be interesting if Milei succeeds?

Mark V
Mark V
2 months ago

If the state is spending more than it can afford and you cut that spending, it follows that you improved the situation.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago

Of course.
But part of the reason it will be so interesting is because it is so unlikely.
People who bet on long shots are much more interesting than people who take the safe option. But not everyone wants to be governed by someone who bets the fortunes of an entire country on an outside chance.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

The safe option, it seems to me, has grossly failed Argentina.
I think it’s badly failed the UK but this is arguable

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

Unsafe options will almost certainly fail worse. There’s still a lot of freedom and comfort–to potentially flick away–in the Anglosphere, digitally-enhanced doomsayers notwithstanding.

j watson
j watson
2 months ago

Not the biggest fan of Fazi but I’m with him on this one. The Right has a huge conflict between traditional conservatism and neoliberalism. It explains so many of the problems the Right has had the last decade. More often it ducks the contradictions and seeks scapegoats to ‘smokescreen’ its ineptitude. Not that the Left has all the answers mind but the Right remains largely infantilised to outdated theories.

Here’s the question to ponder- why despite all the problems have the v Rich got richer? It’s a rigged game isn’t it. Sometimes one needs to also ponder – given Unherd’s ownership structure is that explanation for paucity of commentary on this trend?

Danny D
Danny D
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The ones with money and power have always had more opportunity to get richer. But that happens under left-wing and right-wing regimes equally, even though under left-wing regimes, the middle and lower classes also tend to get poorer, so I don’t know how that’s an argument in favor of either.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

So we can live in a world where the rich have the power or the powerful have the riches.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

Those are a couple of very sweeping and very odd claims. The rich enrich themselve “equally” under governments of left and right? And the middle and lower classes get poorer under left regimes.
Here’s another way to look at it. Forget the party labels, look at the policies.
After the war both Labour and Conservative Governments pursued social democratic policies miles to the left of anything on offer today. Massive rates of taxation, tight control of finance, widespread public ownership, massive municipal housing programmes and the extension of education to all on the basis of ability. That political settlement ran out of steam and collapsed towards the end of the seventies. Since then, both Labour and Conservative governments have pursued policies to the right of anything that would have been acceptable under the postwar settlement – far lower rates of taxation on income, the scrapping of financial controls and deregualtion of finance generally, as well as the hobbling of union power, the end of any meaningful industrial strategy and diminution of state investment. Not a party point, a political philosophy point.
Now let’s look at outcomes
Under the former settlement, the standard of living and security for the lower and middle classes rose immensely, whilst income and wealth inequality fell dramatically. This was achieved despite the collapse of the British Empire, which had previously been so central to the nation’s prestige and wealth.
Under the latter settlement, growth initially continued but income and wealth inequality increased – as all the gains went to the top. Meanwhile economic insecurity and homelessness increased. Moreover, the economy as a whole becaume dependendent upon migration even whilst much of the North of the country struggled with un- and under-employment. Not only that but the overall state of the public finances deteriorated despite the sale of vast numbers of national assets (public utilities and infrastructure, Council housing) and the discovery of vast reserves of oil and gas in the North Sea.

Skink
Skink
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

It’s neither left nor right. It’s kleptocracy. 🙁

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  Skink

Not sure whether you agree with me or not.
What I am saying is that parties of both left and right pursued generally left wing policies in the postwar period up to the end of the seventies leading to both growth and equality.
Subsequently parties of both left and right pursued generally right wing policies, leading first to increased inequality, and, recently to stagnation (plus demographic collapse, mass migration and worsening public finances).
In my view, the latter might well be kleptocracy, but the former is not.
So you might reasonably say of both Labour and Tories “they’re al the same” because they both pursue the Thatcherite consensus – which has had deleterios results. What makes no sense is to treat Left and Right as the same because, at least in the context of Britain’s non-repressive political culture the track records of social democracty on the one hand and monetarist Thatcherism are very different.
And, from that, we can form a view about what sort of Government we might want to replace the current mess with. Millei-ism? Whatever Reform is? Or something else?

Skink
Skink
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

What I was trying to say is that it no longer matters which party is in power. They are there to loot. And no, it did not use to be that way, not quite, as you say. But it is that way now.
I think we should replace the current system with one run by honest, upstanding people. I don’t care what their ideology might be…

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

A refreshing perspective. Thank you for injecting more balance and fact-based argument into an oft-abstract and heavily tilted discussion.

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

GV’s analysis is not fact based at all. The standard of living of the lower and middle classes has improved dramatically since 1979. There is no evidence whatsoever to say that the proceeds all went to those at the top between 1979 and 2008. After 2008 we had money printing which caused asset price inflation thereby increasing wealth inequality whilst income inequality remained largely flat. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, money printing is not a free market policy.
The notion that either of the two parties in this country are pursuing the Thatcherite consensus is absurd. We have Tories socialising people’s energy bills, Tories making life harder for landlords and Tories taxing us until the pips squeak.
It’s a fact-free argument.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

I admit I don’t have enough first hand knowledge of Britain’s politics or economics to dispute, or endorse the details of your claims.
But I can observe that you are using an absolute tone: “There is no evidence whatsoever to say that the proceeds all went to those at the top between 1979 and 2008″. Nor do I see that GV claimed it all did. Do you dispute the increase in inequality? Because I see plenty of factual basis for “increased inequality” (his exact wording) from across the Atlantic, and it certainly holds true here in the States.
The commenter seems to have made a sweeping generalization of his own about Thatcherite policies, and he is clearly not neutral. Nevertheless, the non-exclusive-but-prevailing bias here at UnHerd is to the Right, and there is growing tendency to mock and shout down dissent from the near-fixed consensus, both here and elsewhere, and from all sociopolitical points of view.
I think George Venning draws upon facts and makes reasonable claims overall. He also concludes by attempting to open up the discussion. I’m not saying you took it this far, but statements about the age-old, intrinsic evil of the Big Bad Left–or Big Bad Right–don’t lead to real discussion or constructive change. And they are not steeped in the complicated reality of our world.
I see the exact reverse bias at the NYT times comments section and I’m sick of ALL of this simplistic division.

P N
P N
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Your analysis is flawed and you clearly don’t have a clue as to how bad it was in the 1970s. The standard of living of the lower and middle classes has risen massively since the 1970s. Absolute poverty reached a record low in 2019. Income inequality has been largely flat and wealth inequality has only risen since 2008, when the money printing presses were fired up, which I’m sure you’re aware is not a neoliberal policy. Blair borrowed during the good times, again not a neoliberal policy, which started the long decline in our public finances via the GFC and Covid.
Just because we have had immigration, it does not mean we our economy is dependent on immigration.
I bet you think the GCF was caused by the free economy and nothing to do with the US Government forcing banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend to subprime borrowers.
We got rich in the 19th Century not because of the state or high taxes or seizing people’s wealth to hand to others, but through individual enterprise and the free economy.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

Of course the absolute standard of living has risen for the bottom quartile over the past 45 years of right wing economics. As it did over the 35 years prior to that. What I’m saying is that things got better for more peoplefaster in the postwar period than they did subsequently.
There was bad housing in the late 70s but it was nothing compared to the slums of the 40s. And things got better because of a concerted process of slum clearance and the construction of newer and better homes. The NHS was created – along with the rest of the welfare state. Working class people got grants so that they could access higher education for the first time and universities and polys were created and expanded to facilitate that. The Government was able to do all of that (and much more besides) whilst paying down the massive war debt.
I’m not pretending it didn’t run into the buffers but what Thatcher and her successors achieved subsequently is trivial by comparison. Remember she sold off the “family silver”, and she had the revenue form the North Sea behind her. And yet, forty years on, the state now does less for people than it did when she took over. It does not control the housing market, it does not invest in new technology, University is now cripplingly expensive, and the public finances are in a worse mess than ever – despite that having been the whole justification for the rollback of collective ambition.
Economic inequality is greater, regional equality is worse than between former east and west germany. and the continuity between Thatcher’s policies, New Labour’s and the currently lot is total. Low income tax, flexible labour market, privatise everything, and invest in nothing.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  P N

“We got rich in the 19th Century not because of the state or high taxes or seizing people’s wealth to hand to others, but through individual enterprise and the free economy.”
Right, tell that to the half of the globe that was coloured pink. FFS

j watson
j watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny D

Agree. It’s an argument to look more closely at what’s going on. I’m not suggesting some secret plot to allow it to happen, but one has to follow the money – for example the £800B deployed to support Covid overwhelmingly enriched the Richest because they benefitted and then deployed it to buy even more assets. What was deemed something to help those most in need created yet more inequality…unless we recognise that and tax such wealth much more systematically

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

For once I agree with you wholeheartedly. The tensions are evident to all.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

There certainly is a schism forming on the right, similar to the one that has been bubbling away on the left. On the left you have the old leftists of nationalisation and unionism clashing with the new left of grievances and identity politics. On the right you now have the old Thatcher/Reagan disciples of market always knows best clashing with the new populist (for want of a better word) right who favour protectionism and look upon globalisation with disdain.
The left have just about held it together because while they have different priorities those ideas don’t directly clash, whereas those economic policies that now seperate the right are a total contradiction

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Incorrect. The only difference between the Populist Right and Free Market Right are the Populists know you have to compromise to win elections. Once a government starts handing out benefits like they’re prescription drugs, it can’t just be turned off. There has to be a weaning off dependence and back to self-sufficiency. So that means you don’t propose necessary cuts to major programs that are causing inflation and dependence. You leave the major programs and cut the obvious waste without blaming all the people that currently rely on a government check to offset the inflationary price hikes caused by big government.

All of the Right believes in self-sufficiency and don’t want their lives controlled by “Experts” steering the economy.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Too sweeping of a generalization. Some on the self-declared Right are very fond of their farm subsidies. I know this from common attitudes in my home province of Alberta, which tilts strongly to the right of the Canadian norm. (Jim Veenbas can attest). Many right-identified folk are also dependent on Social Security, Obamacare, and even welfare, even if they “believe” in self-sufficiency or make a scruple of being ashamed of that dependence.
I’m surprised you don’t acknowledge a growing rift between the traditional and populist Right. Perhaps it’s less starkly visible in Britain.
“You leave the major programs and cut the obvious waste without blaming all the people that currently rely on a government check to offset the inflationary price hikes caused by big government”.
A good, moderate approach, and well-stated. We’ll have disagreements about what’s obviously wasteful, but we can surely afford to cut down on blame and all or nothing non-starters.

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I absolutely acknowledge there is a disagreement between the Supply-Side Right and the Populist Right as can be seen in the difference of Economic philosophies of say Ben Shapiro vs Tucker Carlson.  Ben argues for significantly less Government intervention in markets (which I support) and Tucker is OK with intervention so long as it benefits American workers.

Conservatives are at a massive disadvantage in the discussion because either they speak truth and do the dirty work of drastically cutting government benefits OR they violate the principle of self-sufficiency.  Progressives have no such problem because they GENERALLY don’t care about debts or deficits.  They have total flexibility.

Everyone knows it’s the job of Conservatives to check government spending.  But they gave up on it. Why? Because they saw what happened to Romney and his 47% commentary.  Romney was correct in principle but you simply can’t win elections on a platform of cutting excess benefits.  So in 2016, Republicans just decided they would join the game of kicking the can down the road. 

In the minds of Free Market Conservatives, we’re left with a Binary Choice of two types of interventionism.  The Democrat method of heavy regulation, debt waivers, price controls, cheap immigrant labor and expanded social benefits or the New Republican method of trade protectionism, strict immigration controls and isolation from foreign intervention without cuts to sacred entitlement programs. For most supply-siders, its just not a hard decision when left with that binary choice. The Democrats plan is more inflationary for working people not receiving benefits or getting debt waivers.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Ok that’s seems mostly accurate to me. The Left is GENERALLY less concerned about money, except from the standpoint of perceived fairness.
Democrats tend to run up more debt, but Republicans of recent vintage haven proven very willing to let the deficits grow when THEY are in charge. And their policies tend not reflect a long term view, nor a real concern for Posterity when it comes to things like infrastructure or the air, water, and soil.
These are broad generalizations still somewhat tethered to the reality on the ground–as I perceive it, but not in some uncommon way.
It’s sometimes (a little) difficult to engage with you because: While I sense that you are very willing to undertake a fairminded discussion of most particular issues, intermittently, or at the same time, you seem to be fighting a zero-sum culture war in which the Right must win, and already has won on the field of ideas and virtues. I don’t consider you an extremist or hothead at all (I’m a bit of the latter!) but you seem heavily invested in defending Your Side even when that doesn’t fit with the specific, balanced, and more nuanced views you express concerning economics, politics, and culture.
I’m close to the center on most things, and tend to reject or at least resist policies from either far end of the spectrum. And no one can win a non-disastrous total, much less permanent victory on such a scale: Left vs. Right. Right?

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Covid and the political response to it convinced me that there are two easily definable but wildly conflicting worldviews in the West and straddling the middle just isn’t feasible.  I’ve been wrong many times in the past.  I supported Bush throughout his Presidency in spite of what now looks like clear evidence that his policies were bad for the country.  Realizing that you were profoundly wrong humbles you.

The moment that solidified my view that I was correctly perceiving the present moment was when thousands of “Scientific Experts” speaking under the banner of “Public Health” wrote a letter appealing to municipalities to exclude “Racial Justice protesters” from Covid restrictions. They claimed the danger of not protesting “Systemic Racism” outweighed the harms of viral transmission.  Look up “Protesting Racism vs Risking Covid 19.”

These were Scientists advocating for the restriction of movement but then using an obscure Critical Race Philosophy to exempt a certain type of political protest. I was very familiar with CRT already.  I knew it wasn’t Science it was Social Science. But these were the people telling everyone what to do.

Not long after that came Defund the Police movement.  I watched statues get toppled and laws being broken with impunity.  Prosecutors allowed dangerous criminals immediately back on to the street. Laws were changed to outlaw police chases.  Stores were looted. Theft was effectively legalized. Then those stores turned around and embraced the “protest.” CNN among others wrote headlines of a “Fiery but Peaceful Protest.” That doesn’t seem “Nonpartisan to me.”

I watched the DEI movement explode in corporations with hiring policies adjusted to hit racial quotas.  The protest movements not only went mostly unpunished.  The political pressure campaign was rewarded.  This has all been effectively memory holed.  But its not something I will ever forget. I’m familiar with 1789, 1848, 1917 and 1968.  To me, it was the exact same thing in a different place different time.  A rapid destabilization to “reimagine society.”  The fact that many places are just now walking back University Admissions Standards, Public Camping and Shoplifting laws is too little too late.  These policies were pure Cobra Effect.

So you’re right, I certainly have a bias against a certain type of political movement just like you are ferociously Anti-Trump.  We all have our lines and once they’re crossed, we rarely reverse course.  My thing is that I do not trust the Public Experts because they vocally advocated policies that destroyed our cities. I also think they resort to outrageous speech suppression under the guise of “Democracy” “Science” and “Misinformation/ Disinformation” and it comes off as pure projection.

I would actually prefer to be Apolitical. I don’t much like Politics in all honesty.  But when every commercial, late night tv show and sporting event is tatooed in socio-political commentary leaning one direction, I can’t move myself to turn away and back into my relatively Apolitical old self.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Well I do strongly dislike and distrust Trump, that’s for sure. I have since he was just a smug but more sane-sounding real estate loudmouth in the 1980s. But now I have more cause to dislike him, and he’s taken up excessive air and space in this nation just about daily for about the last 9 years.
Many people were radicalized, red-pilled, “woke”, etc. by Covid, so you’re part of a major trend there, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Many others are just sadder and angrier than they were in the Before Times.
‘Not long after that came Defund the Police movement. I watched statues get toppled and laws being broken with impunity. Prosecutors allowed dangerous criminals immediately back on to the street. Laws were changed to outlaw police chases. Stores were looted. Theft was effectively legalized. Then those stores turned around and embraced the “protest.” CNN among others wrote headlines of a “Fiery but Peaceful Protest.” That doesn’t seem “Nonpartisan” to me’.
I agree with that whole paragraph. I would only add that the scale of the violence and the nature of the (non)response was heavily influenced by the effect of both Covid lockdowns and Covid deaths. Surely the disease was mishandled–by both Trump and Biden, for example– both here and over there, but there was legitimate fear and caution, at least in the initial few months–as I remember it, from my point of view.
I think there are a number of agreeable, sane, mostly non-political people who feel thrust into our binary culture wars. That seems like a big problem and a real shame to me. I don’t claim full exemption from it all either. I try to maintain some semblance of an independent, non-coopted cast of mind and I think you do too. Too many people, in warring “camps”, are joined in amplifying our divisions, unnecessarily raising the stakes and the threat of large-scale “IRL” violence on either side of the Atlantic
As you may have seen me mention, I’d like to see a viable party here in the States. Pipe dream for now, I guess.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Whatever one’s politics; it must be extremely difficult at not go along with the wishes of the bureaucracy, especially when it comes pandemics and the like. When situations like this arise, they should have a conference of ALL the experts (not just the govt. officials) and have them hammer out different approaches for the country..

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

I’m in strong agreement with you there–so anything is possible! Nah, it’s not the very first time.
Good point that it is rather easy, from the sidelines, to criticize the actions of those who are under a spotlight, with life-and-death authority and their reputations on the line, where there is NO course of action whereby hundreds of thousands don’t die.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“The left have just about held it together because while they have different priorities those ideas don’t directly clash”.
I don’t agree with this clause of your concluding sentence at all. There is a major, growing rift between Liberals and Progressives, or (to indulge in a different binary that reveals my own preference) the liberal and illiberal Left. Also, haven’t you heard the semi-true saying, “the Left eats its own”?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

What I meant was that it’s possible for the left to have one side indulge in identity politics while the other focuses on financial issues, the two issues aren’t diametrically opposed to each other in the same way as the rights Thatcherite globalist free marketeers and Trumps onshoring and protectionism.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I appreciate the clarification. I’m pretty fiercely opposed to identity peddlers on the left or right though my views tilt to the left more often than the right. I’d say that that Unite the Right attempt popularized by that march in 2017 has not been a complete dud. Nor do I see unity on the left, because many Bernie fans stayed home in 2016, helping to elect Trump. And many that regard Biden as too old (he is, but so is Trump) or insufficiently woke (Biden ain’t woke, he’s a moderate, pro-labor, teetotaling churchgoer with a few Progressive talking points) may stay home and invite the same result this year.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Inequality is a side effect of increasing wealth and prosperity. Only a very, very poor country can have “fair” and “equal” wealth distribution. Inequality is the price we pay for freedom and success. It’s surprising this is a difficult concept for so many people. Some people work harder than others. Some have more talent. Some have more confidence. Some are just luckier. It’s just how it is.
As with my comment on Boris Johnson (almost typed Boorish Johnson there which wouldn’t necessarily be wrong) and Covid parties yesterday, you appear to be looking for perfection in an imperfect world rather than the best that can be practically achieved. You’re waiting in vain.
Slightly concerned about your judgement on this one JW if this article got through your BS filter.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

This is not meant to refer directly to the article above.
Of course some inequality will exist. But the scale of that inequality–and the field on which it plays out–is still important. Some cannot understand this, or at least pretend they don’t. You cite luck as the last of three factors after hard work and talent (itself a form of luck). But I think luck or accidents of birth are a bigger factor than you appear to allow.
Someone who works full time in the U.S. should be able to afford their basic expenses. of course some people make bad decisions or don’t work hard enough. That doesn’t cover anywhere close to all of they people who must work overtime (if available, it rarely is), hold more than one job, or go into punishing debt to get by. There is just no reason for the System, or the invisible hand of the Market, to be so backhanded and harsh.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The ordering of the factors was random. There was no implication that any one was more important than any other.
I have some resentment about the unfairness of some people who appear to get an easy life because their parents were rich. It’s a natural human instinct. But is it actually *helpful*. Does it get us anywhere ? Is that the main reason I may have achieved less in life than I might imagine I deserved ? In my case at least, the answer is “no”. Most of the limitations on what I’ve been able to achieve are within my own head or things I inherited from the family and culture I grew up in. Those are changeable if you have the willpower to do so.
My other observation is that the price of trying to remove all this unfairness is simply too high, both in loss of personal freedom and destroying overall wealth of societies.
It’s better to work on the things you can control than demand everyone else changes to accomodate you.
I’m never sure what people mean by the “System”. There is no “System” in the true sense that there’s a coherent organisation that he been designed. There’s just something that’s evolved. No design. No conspiracy.
Yes, some people are clearly struggling and we should target help at those genuinely in need (which also means not wasting it on those who are not). And never forget that absolute poverty is at a historical low. Forget the “relative poverty” industry lobbying. I’ve seen real poverty in other countries.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I agree with some of what you say, with caveats. Would allow that there is no grand conspiratorial System as such (the capitalization and the concept itself are a shorthand, perhaps not a useful one) but there is certainly some design and intent behind it–and pockets of malevolent greed too. Don’t agree, or mostly don’t? Fine, but there’s plenty of evidence and arguments to support my perspective; most of which I’m sure you’ve heard, and rejected.
“Yes, some people are clearly struggling and we should target help at those genuinely in need (which also means not wasting it on those who are not)”
Finally, something I can wholeheartedly endorse, Mr. B.
However, I’d rather feed three people to help every one in genuine need if that’s how it shakes out. Would you rather cut waste by feeding none? I can end this part by concurring that the allocation of charitable resources is too often sloppy and wasteful–even corrupt and greedy in some notorious instances.
Inequality and unfairness won’t be eradicated from the world–I agree. But that inequality is a reality, not an intrinsic virtue, as I believe you’d acknowledge. The present pie can be sliced quite a bit more fairly nd generously before fundamental liberties or livelihoods are robbed from either hard workers or fortunate heirs.
A mea culpa: I was rude to you on another comment board and I apologize. I confused you with another commenter with a similar screenname but that’s no good excuse. (He didn’t deserve my sneering tone there either).
Have a good weekend.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“Here’s the question to ponder- why despite all the problems have the v Rich got richer?”

Because the global liberal establishment is in charge and the West is running a soft-left corporatist system, that’s why. It is quite absurd to imagine that the West is operating on any right-wing ideology. Where is the limited government? Where is the creative destruction – ie allowing failing entities to die instead of bailouts and regulatory advantage? What do you think Net Zero is – you surely don’t imagine it’s really about saving the planet, do you?

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

I’m not sure what the author means about the neoliberal experiment being pursued across South America. The only place I know where free market reforms where implemented was Chile. Where they were a success. The rest of this article is a careful threading through a cherry farm where are the author picks the cherries that support his case.

If you really want to play the game of how many people died implementing economic policies, you really shouldn’t do it from the point of view of the left. Do I really need to explain why?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

Perhaps you should examine, for yourself, why you want to keep playing this blood-guilt game. As if one needs to choose a superior extremism, their favorite tyranny.
To indulge in the competitive follies for a moment: How many would have perished if Hitl*r lived and ruled until 1965? In other words: What was his annual murder rate and how does it stack against the genuinely terrible all-time villains of the Left?
Down with tyrants and authoritarians, Left and Right. Let’s debate and negotiate the relatively-sane middle*. We can do that at least a little more effectively if we forbear to smear everything to the perceived “wrong side” of our own respective positions. And dare to call out villainy and incompetence from across the sociopolitical spectrum, instead of playing a zero-sum sociopolitical game. No one wins such a contest when you really crunch the numbers.
*the “middle” 80-90%–there is no genuine debate on the fringes

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Enough! Hitler was socialist

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Enough with that old Red herring. Labels, especially self-given ones, don’t tell you the whole story. Just look at the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.
He was much more of a committed fascist and ultra-right nationalist and I hope you know that. Still, the horseshoe keeps bending back toward itself at the ends. Down with ALL tyranny and authoritarianism. I don’t have to pick a “favorite” and neither do you–yet.

alan bennett
alan bennett
2 months ago

If Argentina was running an economy similar to the SA average why did the people feel so enraged that they voted for what this man is doing.
Msybe the author has missed something important and what he says is nonsense.
Argentina was heading for a Haiti outcome, anything that heads that off should be supported, especially as socialist grounded vicious thugs are usually the perpetrators of these coups.

alan bennett
alan bennett
2 months ago
Reply to  alan bennett

He has barely got his feet under the table and socialists are already trying to poke the voters in the eye.
It is what they do.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

OK, I’m going to stick my neck out here – I reckon Thomas Fazi’s never been to Argentina. Either way, he hasn’t got a clue what’s he’s writing about here.
And if the Argentinians chose to vote for someone with a “questionable hairstyle”, so what ? When you need to start your article with something like that, you can be sure the “facts” and opinion following on aren’t going to be that convincing.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Quite right. Right wing commentators would never ever dream of mentioning the eccentricities of left-wingers.
It’s only because I read the lefty gutter press rags that I have ever even heard anything about Michael Foot’s donkey jacket, Bob Crowe’s council house, Ed Milliband eating a bacon sandwich, Jeremy Corbyn’s allotment, communist hat and beard, George Galloway pretending to be a cat or any of that other nonsense.
Such tittle tattle is a dead giveaway that the writer is a slop-brained know-nothing who should be ignored by all sensible people.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

No one with an ounce of sense or decency could disagree with your iron-clad reasoning, sir. In fact it sometimes pains and baffles me that the most among the Enemy–say 40% of the global population–can’t even see how ignorant and evil they are. But that’s Leftists for ya! QED.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Do you have any substantive critique of the essay? I’ve spend 5 months in Argentina and am a Trump supporting populist and I think it’s a great piece. You sound like a Koch Brothers neo-liberal. I recommend reading the essay by the right-wing Catholic Sohrab Ahmari that he linked to if you couldn’t make it through this one.

Mark Royster
Mark Royster
2 months ago

Happy to see some substantial pushback. New to Unherd. Hope this article not representative.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Royster

Been around about a year. Sadly, it is. There are some good articles though. Better comments.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

Does the caption photograph remind anyone else of
CLOCKWORK ORANGE?

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago

Prophetic so long ago.

Mark V
Mark V
2 months ago

We aren’t suffering from the effects of “unfettered capitalism”, we’re suffering from the effects of central bank profligacy, failed Keynesian economic theory and the ever expanding state, feeding every excess of wokery and welfarism.

Tom K
Tom K
2 months ago

The only reason Fazi is asking this question is because he’s a tedious old lefty. And the attempt to smear the rest of us by association with ‘MAGA Conservatives’ – in his world, all dimwits in red hats who turn up in stadia to whoop for Tump – fails miserably. I guess Fazi is the grit in the oyster, like Nick Cohen over at the Spectator but really he’s not had an original thought in his head for decades. He’s not edgy, he’s simply boring.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

You think he’ll eventually start to produce pearls?

Mark 0
Mark 0
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

A stopped clock is right twice a day, Cohen has been excellent recently on the shocking rise of anti-Semitism. A left winger sticking up for Jews or Isreal? I would say that was pretty original in today’s climate

Tom K
Tom K
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark 0

The phenomenon of lefty Jewish writers having a brief moment of common sense over the Hamas attacks and their aftermath is an interesting one, and far from being original is actually pretty common at the moment. However I doubt many however will take any sort of bigger lesson from the experience. We can hope though that a broader epiphany will follow regarding the close association between so-called ‘progressive’ social ideologies, Leftist economic victim narratives, and Islamist terrorism.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
2 months ago

You state that “as was to be expected, the drastic devaluation of the peso has only caused inflation to skyrocket even further, almost doubling to 250% since Milei took office in December.” This is a remarkably dishonest representation, given that it is a matter of public record that inflation has fallen month on month since Milei took office, from 25.5% in the month of December to 13.2% in February. Of course the situation is febrile and could reverse quickly, but this suggests that Milei’s measures are having some positive effect.
It seems like you’ve decided on a narrative and doctoring the facts to fit the narrative.
On the overall question, the answer is quite simple. People across the world are angry that those who govern them (definitely govern, definitely not serve) are doing so in ever more extreme manners, and are becoming ever more draconian in suppressing dissent. Countries across the world have gone beyond maxing out the national credit card, they’ve been printing money like there’s no tomorrow, they’re incurring ever increasing levels of debt, often to banks controlled by countries like China who most definitely do not have our best interests at heart. National debt is at unprecedented levels, immigration is at unprecedented levels, illegal immigration is at unprecedented levels, yet anyone who speaks up against this is immediately labelled as racist and often driven out of their jobs or public life. Taxes are higher than they’ve been for generations. People were locked in their homes and civil liberties curtailed to a degree not even seen in wartime to deal with a pandemic, but exceptions were made for those who wished to gather in crowds to protest causes favoured by those in charge. Anyone else daring to go against this unprecedented assault on civil liberties was vilified and prosecuted. A prime minister lost his job as a result of this, but the leader of the opposition escaped any kind of censure for holding a campaign party in a crowd within a closed pub. Oh and who got richer during the pandemic? Yeah, you’ve guessed it – the super-rich got richer, the politicos got more powerful, and the politicos also got richer (weird that there are so many rich politicians given their moderate salary isn’t it?) Attempts are made to outlaw political parties that do not tow the line on narrative, attempts are being made to jail or remove from the ballot a US presidential candidate that has the support of nearly half the electorate. The mainstream media is in full lockstep with this, and mostly owned by an ever-smaller number of super-rich tycoons who care equally little for their readership. The working classes are the enemy, and those in charge see no issue in partnering with dangerous religious fanatics in order to ensure that those working classes are immiserated and effectively disenfranchised.
These are not the actions of measured, balanced, “centrist” politicians and civil servants, however much they and their cheerleaders like to claim otherwise. These are extreme and unprecedented positions, of which the public at large want no part. Sadly, these are also extreme and unprecedented positions from which the public has no escape. In the UK, you have a choice of the same set of policies under Keir Starmer, or the same set of policies under Rishi Sunak. In the US, you are seeing both Democrats and old school Republicans working together to ensure that Donald Trump is unable to effect any change.
The result of this is that people are at the point that they would support anyone who is willing to endure the inevitable **** that would be thrown at them, and actually take on the “establishment”. Whether they are a libertarian, free market fundamentalist, like Milei, whether they are an anti-immigrant, pro-agricultural leftist, like Wilders, or whether they’re pretty much a 1990s Democrat in favour of a bit of protectionism, like Trump – it doesn’t matter. This position is perfectly principled when the only principle is that the current establishment needs to be defeated – because is venal, corrupt, rotten and cares nothing for the interests of the people it claims to represent.
It may not work, it most probably wouldn’t, but we can have the conversations on how to make it all work once the establishment has been defeated. More power to their elbow.

George Venning
George Venning
2 months ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

Agree with you on much of this.
But isn’t that the point of the article? People here and in the US are justifiably sick the back teeth of the consensus policy that is being presented by both parties. And because people are so sick of it, pretty much anything that bucks the consensus looks both appealing.
But, just as the awful political sludge that we are being fed is not one thing but a monstrous funhouse mirror version of right economics and left culture fused together, the alternatives are just as varied and need to be considered for what they actually are rather than cheered on as “anything but this”
Trumpism, Millei-ism, and, for that matter Corbynism, or any of the weird and wonderful things on offer in Italy are all reactions to the new orthodoxy – but they are not the same.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
2 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Hi George – I’m sure most of us would like to be able to consider the alternatives for what they actually are. To take James’s point below, I find it very difficult to get behind Reform UK as a policy package, but equally I’m appalled at the route that Con/Lab have taken us over the past 30 years, so what am I to do.
The problem is, the establishment – by which I guess I mean the main political parties, the mainstream media and civil servants – have proved utterly ruthless and sadly effective in brutally nobbling anybody that dares to challenge the orthodoxy. Johnson was ruthlessly driven from office because he annoyed the wrong people, then when he was replaced with someone else (Truss) who also disagreed with the orthodoxy, she was driven from office as well, and replaced by someone (Sunak) who was fined in exactly the same way for exactly the same event that Johnson was driven out of office for. But his views are acceptable, so he’s allowed to get away with that. Same with Starmer. Over the pond, they’re trying to simultaneously bankrupt and imprison Trump via a series of legal trials which have no precedent and mostly cover events that may or may not have happened decades ago. Even if you think Trump is the worst kind of scoundrel (and a lot do), this is still a prime example of the lengths the establishment will go to in order to fight off any challenge.
So, the problem is this – there’s no way that a sensible, measured, respectful politician would be able to challenge the status quo and win. He or she would be ruthlessly destroyed. Unfortunately, you’ve got to be a bit of a nutter (like Trump or Milei) to take this kind of stuff on and roll with the punches. And the more that the establishment succeeds in silencing its dissenters, the more it will move to silence dissenters in the future, and the more marginalised large portions of society will come. With this in mind, and while I am very uncomfortable with this logic and can see this going very wrong, logic dictates that those who have the cojones/bone-headed stupidity to take on the mighty establishment are going to carry a lot of support regardless of whether people actually agree with what they’re saying. What a mess.
While political views can naturally vary massively, if the establishment were offering a balanced budget, a moderate tax burden, a policing and legal system that treated all equally and sought to punish actions rather than words or thoughts and a balanced immigration system – then the likes of Trump and Milei would garner fringe support only. But the establishment has gone mad.
Totally agree with you and ADK that Corbyn forms part of this conversation.

Ken Bowman
Ken Bowman
2 months ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

“if the establishment were offering a balanced budget, a moderate tax burden,”
Any party which based its policy on the above would be immediately voted out of office when the associated necessary cuts in welfare were revealed to the populace. You imply that it is “the establishment” that is in control when it is the unrealisable expectancy of the people which is the problem.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken Bowman

Milei’s government will be the test case that proves your point (or not).
I suspect that if voters in Western countries were presented with hard choices based on the economic realities of the situation we are in, they would be prepared to make those tough decisions, as the Argentinians have done. Milei has never hidden the fact that to reverse decades of mismanagement his ‘economic shock therapy’ will cause deep short-term economic distress.
Instead, from our ‘leaders’ we get a bit of tinkering round the edges, lots of kicking the can down the road to avoid any short-term economic pain, and absolutely no long-term vision of how our economies are going to escape the debt death spiral created by years of MMP (Mindless Money Printing).

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

A Party Political Broadcast for the ReformUK Party. Perhaps you should offer to help? I’m with you.

A D Kent
A D Kent
2 months ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

I noticed that re Fazi’s assertion on inflation, but would say that throwing millions into poverty as Milei has is the ‘easy part’ when it comes to defeating inflation. He’s also managed this by delaying planned rises in energy costs for a couple of months in just the kind of can kicking that a true Libertarian, market fundamentalist would despise.

Your analysis of the West’s current malaise is broadly correct though – but I’d add Corbyn to your list of those crushed ‘populists’. The greatest threat to our elite’s isn’t on illegal immigration, taxation or even the culture war – it is the one that actually challenges their rights to act violently abroad that they really fear. Trump threatened that in 2016 and his NATO threats likewise are the problem now. If he climbed on board the MIC train – as he did after the bogus Douma Syria chlorine attack then all the rest gets forgotten, but he’ll grandstand again this time. The real tragedy of Trump is that he’s just a gutless chimp and he’ll never follow through. Milei can do what he likes to Argentina now – he’s back onside with the US in foreign policy terms – he’ll be cut no end of slack now.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Guy Haynes

Inflation 250% or 25%? On Tradingeconomics.com website I can see a plot of (I believe) annualized inflation, month by month. 254% in January, 276% in February. Seems Fazi is right about annualized inflation.

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Sigh. I’m not saying that Fazi’s stats are wrong, just that he’s using them dishonestly to support a conclusion that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Monthly inflation figures have fallen month by month since Milei took over, almost halved in fact between December-February. So basically, annual inflation is rising because of the catastrophic figures prior to Milei to taking – and therefore, to attempt to use the annual inflation figures as evidence that Milei is failing, is clearly dishonest.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Who the h*ll writes these headlines? The Right don’t “worship” politicians. We largely cannot stand them but recognize they are a cancerous inevitability we can’t seem to get rid of.
It is the Left who worship politicians, because politics is their religion.
Yet another pointless, reality-free screed from Fazi. I’m beginning to suspect he’s just a paid troll at this point.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

“Because it is their religion”. You’re on to something there, I admit. Not new, but forceful and concisely- expressed. Perhaps you’d admit that many on the Right now lack a better religion too, or succumb to competing forms of burn-it-all-down nihilism–a bad “creed”, wherever it seems to land on the left-center-right meter.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m for individual self-governance and self-determination combined with virtue and responsibility. This cannot be created in a vacuum which is why Christianity was instrumental in bringing about so much of what was good in the West. Unfortunately, once we removed Christianity as a foundation to our institutions, we started to distort individual freedom into the ‘right’ to indulge in every sexual depravity and mental disorder imaginable.
Moreover, religion isn’t a dry set of dusty old rules; it’s a source of civilizational energy, without which we fall into societal decay and intellectual moribundity.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m in substantial agreement with you. We are reaping the “rewards” of a cultural vacuum left after the dissolution of what was called Christendom.
But to me the key and most enduring benefits of the ancestral faith are in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and his exemplary life, a dauntingly courageous and singular example which has only some overlap with institutional Christianity.
[On a personal note I hope won’t be too boring: I’m currently re-reading Genesis in a trans-linear Vulgate edition with the Douay-Rheims version in the other column, partly to bone up on my smattering of Latin, but also because I respect the Bible, and selectively revere it. I’d be glad to read it in Greek and Hebrew when I grow up and become a true scholar, as I’ve dreamt I would do since age 19, over 30 years ago.
I take no strong position on any supernatural or otherworldly claims, but have a reverence for at least the following books: Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs. And I attach a sacred importance to all four Gospels–even John, whose concern with Christology over the life and teachings of Jesus resonates less strongly with me.
I actively dislike much of the dull nationalism in Kings and Chronicles, and find little (not nothing) of value in the fever dream of Revelations].
The medieval Church provided a measure of stability to European society, but at a high price. From my comfy modern chair: Prior to the Black Death, Europe had grown too focused on the world to come, and its Church too insular and corrupt. The printing press and resultant availability of new vernacular versions of the Bible (plus polemical pamphlets, etc.) unleashed waves of schism and violence, but it had to happen, in my view. In any case, there’s no going all the back to the “good old days” of 1345, 1450, or 1890, either for good or ill.
I realize none of the above (with the exception of my “overshare”) will be news, let alone a “revelation” to you, but I am trying to start a fresh dialogue with you, Mr. Farrows. I think we have likely overcorrected from the days of blind faith and a largely benighted general populace of serfs (circa 1345) or semi-literate country folk (circa 1890)*.
But I was surprised to hear someone of your evident intellect, learning, and sincerity call himself a Christian Nationalist. I know you would not simply swallow any dogma or point of view without chewing or digesting it. Would you be willing to define Christian Nationalism for me, from your own perspective?
*Not to take too cheap a shot. I come from mostly agrarian Celtic stock, and think that nearly all of my ancestors could at least read about 1890–not sure about 1790. And that’s not to say they weren’t decent, God-fearing, intelligent folks. (I regret the word “benighted”).

Davy Humerme
Davy Humerme
2 months ago

Thanks Thomas. Despite the complaints of the supercharged neo liberals on here you provide a coherent and nuanced left political economy of the Millai moment. In so doing you also show that you understand the Trump phenomenon better as well. Despite your excellent scepticism on lockdown and woke authoritarianism some won’t be happy till you have the full boxed set of right wing verities.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  Davy Humerme

I agree, the “readership” apparently either didn’t read the piece beyond being triggered by the headline, or they are all cheerleaders for neo-liberal economics. There’s essentially zero response to the fact that this weirdo’s policies are the antithesis’s of Trump’s policies he’s advocated for. I agree with Lighthizer that Libertarianism is for stupid people who don’t understand human nature. This guy will be another Macri, a one-term president (at best) with dumb ideas from Harvard who runs up even more global debt.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Wow. Talking about cringe…this author spreads nyperbolic cringe like a kid spreads peanut butter on a slice of bread. It is hilarious and dangerous that the establishment left keeps forgetting that they are now the reactionaries. This author exemplifies that.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 months ago

Meanwhile, up north in Venezuela and Colombia. At least Biden’s opened up the drug trade to benefit all. Fentanyl Joe, leader of the free world.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
2 months ago

‘Worships’ LOL. You mean mildly enthusiastic about a rare overseas politician who is willing to stand up to the Davos crowd inside and out. Did the left ‘worship’ Obama? Cheap shots against MAGA are….cheap shots.

Tom K
Tom K
2 months ago

It’s all Fazi has unfortunately. Same old same old.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago

You don’t know what you’re talking about. The Davos crowd loved President Macri, who advocated for a typical neo-liberal economy and removing tariffs, same as this dude. I am amazed people regularly read Unherd and don’t understand the following from this piece:
“Trump’s agenda, by contrast, was markedly anti-libertarian: he advocated economic nationalism and protectionism, lambasted globalisation, promised to protect social welfare programmes, vowed to support local industries, and even courted the labour movement.”
Populism is much closer to the previous Peronist government’s policies than this weirdo’s neo-liberalism.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
2 months ago

Unfortunately, the writer of this article is a socialist with no understanding of economics. Milei is doing exactly the right stuff.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

My, my; the heartburn plaguing poor Thomas must be frightful. A country’s voting majority decided that the old way was not working, made a change, and his response is to belittle those voters. It’s not ‘worship’ to notice leftist govt’s non-stop track record of failure. It doesn’t make a more conservative or libertarian approach a panacea, but that’s not the point and the author knows it. His MO for govt has been rejected. Resoundingly. In Argentina and elsewhere. Rather than reassess and reflect on why that is, he insults the people who noticed a problem.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
2 months ago

When Tom uses in the headline “Maga conservatives” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) as a pejorative and the word “cringe” as an adjective, you can bet the farm that what follows will be tepid millennial twaddle. I like Tom, I just think that instead of trying to write, he should be teaching journalism somewhere.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

He should be learning journalism – not teaching it ! Or even better, not touching journalism with a bargepole, since he’s demonstrated no noticable talent after many, many efforts.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago

It is obvious why Milei has attracted the instant admiration of many on the Right. He has acknowledged the collapse of the socio economic model and has taken disruptive counter revolutionary action to arrest the decline. Across Europe and still here we too are being suffocated by the catastrophic actions of an illberal self serving Consocialist Elite and a now coercive detached ruined and ruinous Blob State. Tet there is no one in British politics with the courage to wield a Milei style chainsaw and declare war on our stagnant status quo. No one. Not even a Macron style newcomer. The Tories are a cowardly adjunct of the Blairite/EU Progressive State. We need a new Thatcher with the courage to take on the seemingly untouchable and powerful interests – law politics state admin unis media – that are steering us into Argentine style crisis.

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago

This is completely upside down twaddle.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 months ago

Mr Fazi really does not know what he is writing about. He just makes low grade jokes about hairstyles. Can he be replaced by an intelligent writer, please?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
2 months ago

No one has ever been able to adequately answer me as to why conservatives seem to prefer their leaders to be idiots.
Trump, Johnson, this guy – all morons who dress like clowns and seem to think that ridiculous hair is an advantage.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 months ago

I’ve noticed that about the hair too, CS. I sometimes wonder if it works as some kind of mutual identifier similar to that of Masonic handshakes.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

You don’t understand the answers, that’s all. Or anything, evidently.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago

I think Fazi misunderstands what Libertarianism in America actually is. It’s important to separate the Libertarian party from libertarianism and the libertarian faction of the Republican party.
The Libertarian party itself is not really pro-Trump at all and actually considering choosing RFK Jr. as it’s candidate, viewing Trump as a performative populist and not radical enough in terms of reforming government. The Libertarian’s actual economic policies are truly radical. They would, among other things, dissolve the Federal Reserve, abolish corporations, eliminate the income tax and the IRS, and basically cut most government organizations. They aren’t a very pragmatic bunch. Trump is closer than Biden to what they want, but Milei would probably be better. I’m not entirely sure whether RFK Jr. joining them makes sense. It would help him get on the ballot but I’m not sure how closely his policies align with theirs.
Many people aren’t that radical or orthodox, or are pragmatic enough to limit themselves to what can actually be accomplished. Also, due to the nature of America’s two party system, third parties tend to be marginalized so the libertarian leaners who actually want to participate meaningfully in government tend to run as Republicans to get elected, and there are a lot of them now, particularly in the House. The Tea Party movement and the Freedom caucus are considered Libertarian movements within the party. Their faction has been gaining power at the expense of traditional Republicans. The de facto leader of the Libertarian faction is Rand Paul, the Kentucky Senator who recently declared himself a “Never Nikki” Republican, aping the “Never Trump” Republicans. Being broadly anti-government, anti-elite, and anti-global, they share more in common with Trump’s MAGA movement than the old guard. Those two groups are basically in a prolonged defenestration of the old guard neocons like Bush, Cheney, etc.
So, I can understand Fazi’s confusion here. Milei seems closer to a true libertarian himself. A lot of pure libertarians would embrace his chainsaw attitude towards the federal government because they share it, and they can be fairly loud about it. The conservative media in America is just as guilty as the liberal media of elevating the loudest, angriest, and shrillest viewpoints into the spotlight because it drives viewership/readership. The core of Trump’s supporters are more conventional Republicans with libertarian leanings who simply want the government to be less invasive and ideological and do what a government is supposed to do, that is work for the interests and betterment of the American people rather than try to rule the world. I doubt very many rank and file Republicans even know who Javier Milei is, but would probably like some of what he had to say but probably not the bits about unrestricted free trade.

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I think that Libertarianism is dangerous in Modern West and I can explain why.
Libertarianism works as long as religion works. As soon as the majority of people become atheists, libertarianism, and with it freedom, dies and is replaced by fascism/communism, because morality has died.
Morality presupposes external restrictions on the human personality; roughly speaking, it is unacceptable for our selfish desires. One might say that morality is irrational from an individual point of view.
But atheists will always find a rational explanation for your desires, they are always ready to convince you of your personal Raskolnikov’s rightness. The fact that your rightness results in millions of victims does not matter to atheists; atheists are always ready to pay by people for progress

G M
G M
2 months ago

Melei has only been in office a short time and elitists are already out for him.
The elitists do not want to lose their power and control.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  G M

He is the Koch brothers’ wet dream. Do you consider them populists?

Mechan Barclay
Mechan Barclay
2 months ago

Milei has been in power for basically two fiscal years, voted in by a record amount who understand the absolute corruption the pervious century was. So the gall to state that his plans are already backfiring and to claim his policies are creating more strife is absurd! A new more transparent , less corrupt way is going to take decades. The old way was really not working and it takes a bold move to rework your country. Give him time to see if this works before freaking out.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

When an article starts out with “why the right worships …” or “why the right drools …” over some politician, worthless dogmatic propaganda is sure to follow. This article does not disappoint. The left does not worship or drool over Obama, Clinton, Biden, et al because the left of course bases their preferences on rational thought and conclusions. Politics has become a partisan joke. In the per-Technological Society era such insurmountable divides would lead to civil war or revolution and history would progress. Now all will be just political theater to keep the lower classes fighting among themselves as the Orwellian ruling classes just manage society into whatever format they desire at any given time. Time for the individual to surrender to nihilism as the ultimate individual morality.

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I don’t understand at all why the editors publish Fazi’s articles for us. The only possible goal is to finally convince us that the left is poorly educated, insolent and boorish. But we, in general, strongly suspected this before

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 months ago

I’d say that the Milei and Trump approaches are different because Argentina is on its beam ends, while the US is merely quivering from NetZero stupidity.

David Giles
David Giles
2 months ago

It is extraordinarily desperate to try to blame today’s economic situation on a regime that hasn’t existed for 41 years.

Those who have practiced what Thomas Fazi preaches own this situation.

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago

Javier Milei, Argentina’s self-styled “anarcho-capitalist” president, enjoys an almost Christ-like status among heterodox conservatives and MAGA-style Right-wingers, almost on a par with Trump himself. Like lovestruck teenagers, a certain type of conservative drools over Milei’s over-the-top mannerisms and “based” speeches against “libtards” and “communists”.
—-
drools over was a joke, Thomas, wasn’t it?
Let me joke too: you are as..ole, haw-haw!

nadnadnerb
nadnadnerb
2 months ago

“Worship”? Right wingers dislike government almost by definition. Milei is just in the “least worst” category. Not exactly “ooh ah, Jeremy Corbyn” type worship.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  nadnadnerb

Read the essay again, for whatever reason a number of Trump-linked personalities are cheerleaders for this neo-liberal weirdo. I understand why the autists at Reason magazine love the guy, what I don’t get is why Unherd readers are so thirsty for him.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

Given time, Mileinomics has at least a shot at working. All other economic model on offer don’t appear to have a snowball chance in Hell.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

It was tried under Macri several years ago in a less extreme form and was an absolute disaster. Harvard MBA-style neoliberalism is the antithesis of populism, I am amazed so many readers here are cheerleaders for it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Your “proof” that Argentina’s hyperinflation is not related to money printing and excessive spending is that they spent less than the “regional average” and “less than the US”?! The less dirty shirt in the soiled basket is not clean! Why did Argentina went from rich to an economic basket case and devalued its currency FOUR times in 30 years? Same as everywhere in the world: social programs and cronyism, all funded by a central bank controlled by the regime. You have some nerve judging Milei’s results after 3 months in an economy ruined by 100 years of state manipulation. It’s like blaming the Rehab facility for the weaning of a lifelong drug addict! I would expect to read such biased poorly fact checked opinion piece in the NYTimes, not in UnHerd. Check your “progressive” bias.

Jay Chase
Jay Chase
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Do you consider Sohrab Ahmari and Trump’s trade rep Robert Lighthizer NY Times liberals? They agree with Fazi.
The extreme libertarianism this guy advocates for has more to do with the Koch Brothers, Mitt Romney and basically every MBA that graduated from Harvard and tried to “fix” a Latin American country than it does with Trumpism or any sort of populism. Ignorant comment and I don’t think you read or comprehended the piece.
Look up President Macri’s record if you want to see how Koch Brothers style economics worked out for the country a few years ago.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago

Economic shock therapy was an absolute disaster for Russia! I’m surprised not a single comment makes this point. It seems to be empirically true that far too many of the costs of such economic trend position fall upon ordinary people.

I disagree with Thomas Fazi on many issues but in highlighting the major differences between Trump and Millei he is quite correct. Ultra liberalism is not the same as conservatism.