Equipo Nizkor
        Derechos | Equipo Nizkor


Javier Milei Is the World's Latest Wannabe Fascist

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox movement in Spain will be in Buenos Aires this weekend for the inauguration of the newly elected Argentine President Javier Milei. Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Dutch politician Geert Wilders also received invitations but apparently can't make it. While Wilders told Milei that he is busy trying to form the country's government--which will likely be the most extreme since World War II--Trump, who first told Milei that he was going to be there, is facing numerous court cases and might be impeded from leaving the United States.

In the country where populism first came to power in 1946 with Juan and Eva Perón, the elected president represents a new, 21st-century century form of populism, one that is closer to fascism than ever before. And as in Argentina and other parts of the world, a reconstituted fascism is a clear and present danger in the United States, but it appears under the guise of a new breed of politician whom I call the wannabe fascist.

Like the fascists and dictators of my youth, this new political archetype aspires to destroy democracy from within democratic institutions, yet has, so far, failed to succeed. Leaders such as Trump are still experimenting with how to effectively destroy democracy. Trump has been continually trying out a combination of populist and fascist strategies and then repeating those that seem to appeal most to his base supporters. His natural instinct is to increase the danger to democracy while affirming his power and his cult.

These basic tendencies make him a wannabe fascist. The same patterns apply to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro--and also to Milei.

After the global defeat of fascism at the end of World War II, the idea of coups and military dictatorships had become toxic to most societies. So former fascists and authoritarians tried to regain power through democratic means.

Politicians such as Juan Perón understood that elections provided a critical source of political legitimacy. Drawing on the charisma, celebrity, and political skills of his second wife, the actor Evita Perón, Col. Juan Perón won the 1946 presidential election, becoming the first populist leader in history to become a democratically elected head of state.

Populism borrowed elements of fascism. Like Italy's Benito Mussolini and Germany's Adolf Hitler, leaders such as Perón and Getúlio Vargas in Brazil transformed political arguments into all-or-nothing fights for a new moral order. They claimed to be the solution to an impending cataclysm. They denounced the ruling elites, thwarted independent journalism, and advanced a deep dislike for pluralism and political tolerance.

But because Perón and Vargas were popularly elected, they stood apart from the fascists with whom they are otherwise linked. Populism, especially after the defeat of fascism in 1945, moved beyond the four key elements of fascism: totalitarian lying, dictatorship, xenophobia, and the glorification of violence and the militarization of politics.

But today's wannabe fascists have reengaged these four key elements and have, to different degrees, turned populism toward the ways of fascism.

A TV personality, Milei won the election by a wide historical margin, and this victory against Peronism will reshape the Argentine--and the Latin American--landscape for years to come. His triumph is already sending a reassuring message to anti-democratic populist forces worldwide. Trump celebrated Milei's victory posting a video on his social media and stating, "I am very proud of you. You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!"

Milei's victory can be partially explained by his promises of swift solutions to the ongoing political and economic crisis in Argentina. These include an anarcho-capitalist proposal to eliminate the central bank, banning abortion, loosening regulations on guns, and his personal promise that in a few decades, Argentina will be once "again" the top world power. He also vowed to throw politicians out by "kicking them in the ass."

[Source: By Federico Finchelstein, Foreign Policy, Washington, 09Dec23]

Equipo Nizkor Radio Nizkor

DDHH en Argentina
small logoThis document has been published on 10Feb24 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.