Argentina: “So-Called Neoliberalism and Its False Critics”


Argentine Anarchists on the Election of Javier Milei


On December 10, the self-described “anarcho”-capitalist Javier Milei took office as president of Argentina, having campaigned on a promise to eliminate the Central Bank of Argentina and overturn the political establishment. What happens when an “anarcho”-capitalist takes power?

As we have long emphasized, there is no such thing as “anarcho”-capitalism. The idea that the hierarchies that capitalism creates could be compatible with the anarchist aspiration to abolish imposed power disparities is just as contradictory as the idea that an anarchist could become the head of a government. There are capitalists and there are presidents—and practically all presidents are both—but no anarchist would stoop so low as to be a president or a supporter of capitalism.

Since the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, far-right politicians have won a series of electoral victories by falsely portraying themselves as rebels against the ruling elite, taking advantage of simmering discontent and the ways that liberals and leftists have associated themselves with the prevailing institutions. It would be impossible for far-right politicians to portray themselves as rebels if not for the fact that the right and the left have colluded to crush anarchists and other social movements that would otherwise provide an example of what real rebellion looks like. The electoral victory of an “anarcho”-capitalist is the latest chapter in this story.

Not surprisingly, in practice, “anarcho”-capitalism involves no anarchism, but plenty of capitalism. Rather than abolishing the Central Bank, Milei’s first act was to make the former president of the Central Bank his minister of the economy. In Milei’s first days in office, he did announce some cutbacks within the government: he will halt new infrastructure projects, fire state employees, cut energy and transportation subsidies to consumers, abolish half of the federal ministries, and devalue the Argentine peso—intensifying inflation and almost certainly producing a recession. Under the new government exchange rate, the average Argentine annual income will be just $6300.

But this is not a matter of getting rid of government—just doing away with any aspects of it that could ease the ways that capitalism impacts ordinary people. Milei’s government will not be reducing the repressive apparatus of the state. His security minister, Patricia Bullrich, another longtime member of the political elite, has pledged to mobilize the police to crack down on protesters. Bullrich has announced her intention to charge organizers and individual protesters for the cost of policing demonstrations. As the authorities will be the ones deciding how much policing each demonstration requires, this policy will enable police to shake down ordinary people in precisely the way that “anarcho”-capitalists accuse socialists of doing. She also intends to introduce new forms of repression, weaponizing migration authorities and child protection services against those who participate in protests.

For more perspective on how real anarchists see the situation in Argentina, we interviewed comrades from La Oveja Negra and Cuadernos de Negación, two projects associated with the Alberto Ghiraldo Library and Archive in the city of Rosario. Here, they discuss the decades of social struggle and economic restructuring that created the conditions in which Javier Milei came to power. For more background, you can read “Back to the Future,” the first article we published about Milei’s victory, or this interview with the anarchist publishing project Expandiendo la Revuelta.

“Neither dictatorship nor democracy. Long live anarchy!” A banner at a demonstration in 2008.

How is Milei a continuation of old extreme-right tendencies—and how is he different? Why did he win the elections?

We recently published a book titled “Against Liberalism and Its False Critics.” We started working on it a little over a year ago and by the time we finished it, Milei was already about to win the presidential elections. It was all very fast—he became president with only two years of campaigning and rhetoric about “burning the central bank” or “ending gender ideology.”

Our intention in the book was to address the emergence of the liberal-libertarian phenomenon in Argentina as well as other expressions of the “alternative right” (alt-right), and we in the end, we published it in the middle of the election campaign. We have traveled and presented it in some cities in Argentina, as well as in Santiago de Chile. It is a current issue and a priority for us and for the people we met, so we had many discussions going into detail. Evidently, something is changing, not only in the old “workers’ movement” and with respect to the forms of struggle, but in how social discontent is expressed and in the exhaustion of a certain progressivism as a guarantor of capitalist reproduction in this region.

We do not see Milei as a continuation of the Argentine ultra-right, but as an ultra-capitalist. We began to pay attention to him years ago, mainly for that reason, because of his defense of capitalism as a liberal economist, and then because of his criticisms of reactionary progressivism, which make him quite similar to other “alternative right” people around the world. In general, we believe that it is not particularly useful to compare with the past when trying to understand something new.

In contrast to protectionists like Donald Trump, Javier Milei is a proponent of international trade.

Although there are old right-wingers in the ranks of this new phenomenon, that is not the ideological trait that constitutes it. An important element in this regard is Vice President Victoria Villaruel, a lawyer who has not only defended the military of the last dictatorship, but also comes from a military family and used to organize prison visits to imprisoned participants in genocide, such as murderers of the stature of [Argentina military officer Jorge Rafael] Videla. She still denies the figure of 30,000 disappeared, which is a significant gesture.

It is not that these people did not exist before the “Milei phenomenon,” but this is the first time that people like these have reached the government through democratic channels. As we write this, they have not yet assumed their governmental functions and a distance between them is already noticeable. Instead of giving the ministries of security and defense to this pro-military sector of his government, as was supposedly agreed, Milei ended up appointing the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of Juntos por el Cambio to these ministries. They are, respectively, Patricia Bullrich and Luis Petri. The former was already in that position in 2017, during the presidency of Mauricio Macri, when the National Gendarmerie murdered the anarchist comrade Santiago Maldonado.

A mural in honor of Santiago Maldonado, who was disappeared by the police when the Argentine National Gendarmerie attacked a demonstration against the Benetton Group. His drowned body was found many weeks later.

For his part, Milei is an economist by profession and the national deputy for the City of Buenos Aires since 2021. He worked as a financial advisor, which is to say that his career is in business—he does not come from a military or necessarily right-wing sector. He became known in TV shows about politics back in 2015, showing off a provocative style and expressing a liberal ideology with a conservative tone (paleo-libertarianism). In economic matters, he identifies with the “Austrian school.” He was offered more and more appearances in the media because they received high ratings, and youtubers and influencers connected to liberalism and openly anti-feminist and reactionary ideas began to replicate his rhetoric.

He began gaining momentum as a political figure back in 2018-9. Reinforced by his sustained media appearances, his resounding rhetoric in the National Congress opposing official policies and the “political caste” (a characterization that Milei himself popularized in Argentina in reference to officials and career politicians) made him a political reference point and potential presidential candidate, directing towards the parliament much of the outrage against politicians and the painful social situation we are going through involving poverty, hunger, and misery.

So how did he manage to win the elections? By channeling that social malaise, since both he and his opponent, Sergio Massa, each received votes largely as a consequence of voters’ contempt for the other—a manifestation of rejection rather than hope in one government or the other. His campaign was conducted mainly through “social networks” and media appearances, rather than through the traditional channels of political propaganda. Few posters of Milei were seen on the streets compared to the number of videos circulating on the internet.

In Argentina, there seems to be an implicit democratic pact to the effect that “You get out of this by voting,” so that anger manifests itself at the ballot box. The Milei phenomenon derives from a contempt for traditional politics that is not itself recognized as politics, and from a high degree of conformism and confidence in representation and in the capitalist code of “every man for himself.”

All “progressive” politics in this country has focused on erasing the possibility of rupture as an alternative. This left (for lack of a better word) has become more and more nationalist, statist, and managerialist; it is no longer even reformist, if we understand reformism as a supposed strategy on the road to revolution.

As the year ends in Argentina, we are facing a brutal worsening of living conditions, with inflation projected at around 200% per year and half of the population living in poverty. There are those who wonder why it is the right that is channeling this malaise. We wonder, too, but that does not mean that we think that the rebellion should “go back to the left” as some have said.

The democratic order works by placing the responsibility for the social situation on the different governments that alternate in power according to the context. This makes it difficult to formulate an overall vision and a critique that goes beyond the errors of this or that president.

At the same time that progressivism is frightened by the aberrations pronounced by its adversaries, it exaggerates them with the intention of differentiating itself and holding onto power. Beyond the discursive differences, in practice, the difference does not seem to be so great when those who express a rejection of progressivism have come to power. At least, thus far, this is what the events in different countries suggest, where there has only been an alternation in power, without a profound change in state policies or a structural reform of the state and its link with the market. We can observe this, for example, in what has occurred in Bolivia, the United States, Argentina, and Brazil—with Morales-Áñez-Arce, Obama-Trump-Biden, Fernández de Kirchner-Macri-Fernández-Milei, and Da Silva-Rousseff-Temer-Bolsonaro-Da Silva, respectively. Latin American progressivism, while pointing to the right-wing threat, has only brought moderation—while the new or old rightists, despite their aggressiveness, have become more “progressive” upon coming to power.

For our part, we want to contribute to an anti-capitalist perspective by addressing the problems of this region such as poverty, job insecurity, inflation, the exploitation of natural resources, repression, and this democratic alternation that guarantees misery and a weak economic functioning.

In spite of the electoral triumph of [Milei’s party] La Libertad Avanza in the presidential elections, we do not seek to promote any kind of electoral common front against them, nor to be the street support for such political frentism.

“No name is forgotten, no face is forgotten.” A mural at a demonstration observing the anniversary of the military dictatorship, March 24, 2021.

What does Milei’s victory show about the continuities and discontinuities between dictatorship and democracy in Argentina?

It is difficult to offer an overview of the situation in Argentina over the past 50 years, but we can try. We will draw on the book we mentioned and an interview we did some years ago.

The late 1960s and early 1970s was an outstanding period of proletarian struggles in the region and in the world. Since the 1930s, Argentine politics has been characterized by the alternation between dictatorial and parliamentary governments. In this case, we are referring to the dictatorship of the self-styled “Argentine Revolution” (1966-1973), led by General Juan Carlos Onganía. Of course, to speak of military dictatorship is incomplete, and any Latin American knows that, since all these dictatorships are civil-military, but we believe that we can be understood. The chief days of action during that time were the “azos”: the tucumanazo of November 1970, the rosariazos of May and September 1969, and, most importantly, the cordobazo of May 1969. These were protests that escalated into a situation of urban insurrection, with barricades, control of buildings, and confrontations in the streets, not to mention the organization and coordination that all this required.

A barricade during the Cordobazo in May 1969.

As occurred in many other regions, that level of organization and fighting capacity of the class gradually gave way to its main weaknesses: the politicking and armed struggle that would characterize the region from 1973 onwards, the year of the return of democracy and of [former President Juan] Perón. In this context, armed struggle escalated as well as the state response, reaching a breaking point on March 24, 1976 when the armed forces took control of the state once again in what became known as the National Reorganization Process. We assume that it is common knowledge that this military dictatorship was characterized not only by brutal tortures and murders but also by the forced disappearances of thousands of people, mostly militants, and, in many cases, by the kidnapping of their children. At the same time, many people had to go into exile.

After the end of the dictatorship in 1983, the “return to democracy” with the government of Raúl Alfonsín continued a series of economic and social policies that had been rendering living conditions more difficult since the years before the military government. In 1989, in a context of hyperinflation, people looted the supermarkets in the main cities of the country and confronted the police. The 1990s began with Carlos Menem as president; another round of hyperinflation took place during his first year in power, which brought a new brutal attack on the proletariat and, at the same time, contributed to convincing a large part of the population of a need for “sacrifices” and “deep changes.”

In this context, there was a profound restructuring of capitalism in Argentina, involving far-reaching privatizations of public enterprises. This resulted in thousands of layoffs and an intensification of exploitation, while the labor market was modified, producing a growing precarity and making the labor force more and more heterogeneous in terms of its reproduction and living conditions.

During the 1990s, the level of conflict in different sectors of the workforce grew in the face of the adjustment and layoffs. While in the first half of that decade, struggles had maintained the same union strategy as in previous decades, in the second half of the decade the figure of the “unemployed” began to gain strength, in a situation with a high level of unemployment.

The unemployed have no work space or means of production to seize or sabotage, so they take to the streets and highways to disrupt the circulation of goods (including the commodity of labor power). The first pickets were organized outside of parties and unions; those were disruptive and stood firmly against the state. Later, the piquetero [picketer] groups, like the social movements as a whole, began a process of increasing institutionalization, channeling their entire perspective into make demands of the state. Their organizations could be compared to trade unions, which also negotiate with the state, control popular anger, and put a price on life, creating a dynamic of leaders and led. Today, all this is represented by a sector of Peronism headed by Juan Grabois, called “popular economy.”

It was not until 2001 that the crisis expanded from impacting the unemployed to affect the proletariat as a whole. Many proletarians who considered themselves middle class were also forced into the streets by the harsh situation. The government of Fernando de la Rúa, which had replaced [Carlos] Menem in power, could not present an intelligent bourgeois response to the pressures of the international organizations, the Peronist opposition, and this new and weak alliance between the unemployed, workers in struggle, and these self-proclaimed middle-class sectors. Throughout 2001, the government carried out a series of “shielding” measures, asking for massive loans to assure the continuity of banking activity. But this was not enough; at the beginning of December 2001, a new law was passed, the famous “corralito,” which placed severe restrictions on the withdrawal of money from banks and various limitations on the conversion of pesos to dollars and vice versa. This meant that many people lost their savings. The peso-dollar parity ended; today, one dollar is equivalent to more than one thousand Argentine pesos.

All of these conditions exploded in mid-December 2001. On December 19, in response to the generalized looting of supermarkets, the government finally decreed a state of siege, militarizing the whole country and prohibiting people from gathering in the streets. It is important to note that all of the protests took place in total defiance of this government decree. The police were able to arrest a few people, but not thousands. Towards the end of December 20, the president resigned; despite the repression and the murders of 39 people throughout the country, the people did not leave the streets.

The response was massive: pots and pans were banged at all hours, neighborhood assemblies were organized in the main cities of the country, banks and state institutions were attacked, and the unemployed movements saw an incredible growth in their organizations and strength, blocking roads and streets all over the country. It was at this moment when the slogan “they must all go” began to become generalized, in total repudiation of politicians of all stripes. The slogan “que se vayan todos” that Milei’s voters are now chanting was chanted throughout the region in those days, but in a climate of struggle and solidarity. When journalists or members of leftist parties, challenging the demonstrators, asked what would happen when they were all gone, the answer was resounding: “Let them keep going.”

Much of the current social anger has taken this strange channel. In 2001, anger against politicians was characterized by a diffuse and irrational perspective, but with a basic rejection of capitalism on a basis of solidarity, pickets, and assemblies; a good part of the current malaise against the “political caste” is expressed in completely capitalist terms. Despite their absurdity and impracticality, expressions such as “dynamiting the central bank” are more convenient for the maintenance of order than the “good riddance” of the social struggle.

In 2002, after the upheaval, the bourgeoisie tried to organize a response, albeit slowly and haphazardly, dismissing president after president until Eduardo Duhalde, a favorite son of the Peronist ranks popularly suspected of being a drug trafficker and murderer, took over. Nestor Kirchner’s government from 2003 to 2007 can be characterized as a masterpiece of Peronist and Latin American populism. Supported in an extremely favorable context by international commodity prices, and with wages completely destroyed, the government achieved economic stabilization. On the other hand, it took on the task of compelling all social organizations to position themselves in favor of or against its political project.

Popular schools, grassroots spaces in neighborhoods, and groups of young militants took the Kirchnerist line, encouraged by its supposed program of renewal, its promise of economic stimuli, and its image as the “government of human rights” after it resumed the court cases again the officers of the junta of 1976—another great operation on the field of public perception, since the repressive apparatus of the state remained intact. In Argentina, people were also disappeared under democracy, with thousands of people murdered in police stations or in cases of “gatillo fácil” [trigger-happy police] and thousands imprisoned and prosecuted for resistance. The government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner continued the policies of her husband. Some were surprised that her administration introduced the Anti-Terrorist Law while legalizing “egalitarian” marriage between people of the same sex, but these are not contradictory measures. Progressivism is the progress of capital, however much one would like it to be the progress of society against the capitalist offensive.

Police mass alongside a water cannon during a march in memory of Santiago Maldonado in 2017.

Let’s go back to so-called neoliberalism and capitalist restructuring in order to think about the continuities and discontinuities from dictatorship to democracy. The so-called neoliberal policies applied in Argentina and other Latin American countries were not just the consequence of the last civil-military dictatorships and the ferocious repression they carried out. Some of the features of what is mostly identified as neoliberalism—the intensification of precarity and the “flexibilization” of labor, the privatization of various industries and services, the growing financialization of the economy, the reduction of public spending—were a consequence of the previous phase of capitalism that many people long for today, which is represented by Peronism in Argentina and by the so-called welfare state elsewhere in the world. Here, we want to point out the continuities that are not military, but democratic and always capitalist, which we discuss in the book that we have just published.

Globalization and the relocation of production centers were among the other significant aspects of these worldwide transformations. The global restructuring process assumed different forms in different countries and took several decades to spread. Just like in Argentina, in many other countries, the unemployed population increased considerably as a result of the closure of various industries and sectors whose technologies were becoming obsolete in terms of productivity; precarity increased for huge portions of the population oriented mainly to the service sector, while the wages of a small number of workers employed in more technologically advanced and profitable sectors grew or remained stable.

The countries to which industries were relocated experienced something different, providing tremendous amounts of labor at a better price for the global bourgeoisie, as occurred in several Asian countries. The mass of goods at the global level has not stopped growing, although we cannot say the same for the aggregate of wages or employment levels if we look at the countries separately. In this way, the role of the state has been shifting; social assistance to the unemployed or precarious, who do not have access to a sufficient salary, has become widespread in much of the world. Today, in Argentina, there is no massive unemployment, but for thousands and thousands of people, a job is not enough to survive.

It is striking to see the acceptance of liberal economic discourse in Argentina; until less than a decade ago, it was a bad word for the majority of the population. The growth of the new liberal right must be understood in relation to the ways that progressives have failed to address social problems. The liberal right emphasizes these failures in its speeches, according to its own incantations: social inclusion, redistribution of wealth, expansion of rights. On the other hand, poverty, precarious work, inequality, and violence—repressive violence, criminal violence such as that linked to drug trafficking, and gender violence—are all increasing.

The measures commonly associated with neoliberalism were imposed worldwide during the capitalist restructuring initiated in the 1970s. In Argentina, global restructuring assumed a specific form, which was consolidated in the 1990s, with a reform of the state and of the local mode of accumulation. These occurred within the framework of an iron discipline of the market over workers, exercised mainly through “convertibility” [a fixed parity between the Argentine peso and the US dollar], trade liberalization, and privatization. This discipline was imposed, as we said, after two periods of hyperinflation in 1989 and 1991 that destroyed wages.

The mode of capitalist accumulation in Argentina is based on providing the world market with low-value-added commodities (including primary products such as soybeans and also their industrial derivatives, like oil, flour, and pellets). Although Argentina has historically been an agro-exporting country, during the 1990s, these sectors expanded and modernized significantly, increasing their productivity.

This process only consolidated in the following decade, after the 2001 crisis and the end of “convertibility.” The economic and political recovery during Kirchnerism derived from restructuring production, relaxing the market discipline that “convertibility” entailed, favorable conditions in the world market, and the fact that real wages were miserable at the beginning of the process; they grew progressively over the following years, though failing to reach the level of the previous economic cycle, then fell again a few years later to the current situation.

The Kirchner period differed from the previous one chiefly in terms of market discipline, which made it possible for the government to adapt to social demands and to the oscillation of international markets—intervening in the exchange rate and increasing tax collection and public spending through withholdings and the nationalization of the private segment of the retirement and pension system. One of the largest parts of this public spending was comprised of subsidies for fuel, energy, and transportation, which benefited both private users and companies. Milei has described the owners of these companies, who are dependent on the policies of state protection of the domestic market, as “prebendary [rent-seeking] businessmen,” “empresaurios” or “empresucios”.

From a revolutionary perspective, we criticize any industrialist vision or proposal linked to the development of the productive forces. But from the point of view of the national economy and the management of local capitalism, even on its own terms, it is clear that it is functioning poorly, considering the repeated recessions, adjustments, and crises. Kirchnerism was promoted as a supposed re-industrialization of the country, but in fact, the productive matrix did not undergo major changes and precarity persisted, growing considerably in the last decade. The situation has become unsustainable, and the managers of capital only speak of sacrifice, more or less gradual, but sacrifice in any case. This election year imposed an interruption of social conflict and critical reflection, but these changes demand that we rethink the underlying issues. It is time to insist on the necessity of a rupture.

Concretely, beyond the question of who won the elections, we are facing a deepening of the reduction of public spending in order to reduce the fiscal deficit, abrupt devaluations of the peso (as have already been taking place), changes in monetary policy, labor and social security reform, and other policies with an immediate impact on the proletariat. The last periods of change in the halls of government have also been moments of economic adjustment par excellence.

We will have to face it, whoever implements it—but the question to ask is what brought us here. We should not lose sight of the previous and ongoing adjustments, and not apply a selective memory that perpetuates the democratic logic of the “lesser evil.”

Armed motorcycle police during a march in memory of Santiago Maldonado in 2017.

How do you see Milei in relation to Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump?

If anything unites these three despicable characters, it is a populism that is not based on the traditional pillars of the left. But unlike Trump, Milei is not a protectionist: on the contrary, he proposes to “make Argentina great again” by opening the country to imports, while liberalizing the market and the exchange rate.

Milei’s ultra-liberalism is exceptional in relation to the new right-wingers around the world. If there is one thing that unites them, it is their reactionary anti-progressivism. In the Argentine case, economically liberal premises are combined with reactionary criticisms of current discussions, such as the issues of abortion access or sex education. Regarding the curious local economically liberal/socially reactionary amalgam, it is difficult to find a coherence beyond electoral opportunism, nourished by opposition to certain policies implemented after the social upheaval of 2001. After a short period of stabilization and growth, these polices have shown themselves to be useless—or worse—in the face of growing social problems. Everything that appears oppositional in some sense is used as a quantitative reinforcement: economic liberalism, constitutionalism, conspiracy theories, anti-communism, anti-corruption, anti-picketing, anti-feminism.

But beyond the ideology that Milei professes, it is important to think about why it has appeared at this moment and why it has become popular. What does its irruption represent, socially?

Those who vote for Milei don’t seem to care about what happened fifty years ago, nor do they seem to be real followers of the economists of the Austrian school. What they communicate in the streets or at work is that they are tired of everything. Another issue that these right-wing sectors instrumentalize very well is the demand for “security” in a Latin American context, where robberies and murders are common enough. This does not necessarily mean a demand for an iron fist; it expresses the malaise of a “war of the poor against the poor.” This desire can be translated into a demand for an iron fist, but it can also be interpreted as an instinct of self-preservation in the face of a grave situation and in the absence of other proposals.

If we are looking for the ways that these political figures intersect, we do so taking into account that they are simply the latest people who aspire to manage and administer the state, each in his own particular way.

It is important to point this out when forming a front “against the right,” “against fascism.” For those who are in a permanent electoral campaign, this “fascist threat” is just another talking point. This seems important to us in order not to serve movements that only aspire to govern and administer capital.

It may seem strange to all sorts of political flat-earthers to read about concepts that they have come to deny: class society, exploitation, the material conditions of existence, revolution… In this sense, some who are outraged about what they describe as the economically liberal right will find they have unpleasant things in common with what they reject. That is why we speak of the “false critics” of economic liberalism.

A photograph of anti-fascists outside the social and sporting club “La Cultura del Barrio” taken around 2018.

What are the likely negative consequences of Milei’s electoral victory? What exactly does it change?

Faced with the social situation of permanent adjustment that we are living through, with excessive inflation and devaluation, uncontrollable rent prices, plunging real wages, high unemployment, increasingly precarious jobs and growing poverty, new economic policies are presented as responsible and at the same time as possible saviors. [Milei’s political party] La Libertad Avanza has set the bar high, talking about a real adjustment, of abruptly reducing public spending. What is changing, then, is the way that the bourgeoisie is going to carry out the economic adjustment, which they were already going to carry out in any case—they were already doing it regardless of which government was in power.

“There is no money” is the warning and threat of Milei’s speech before his inauguration. Our main concern is on the economic level, since Milei takes office in a critical context and with a forceful discourse in favor of adjustment that seems to have enough legitimacy. At the same time, no adjustment can be made without repression, and all the political forces that make up the new government are fierce defenders of an iron fist and respect for the law. The forms of repression associated with the institutionalization of struggle may work to a certain extent, and a greater use of the state’s monopoly on violence seems to be opening the way—that is to say, baton, bullet, and jail.

As far as the “culture war” is concerned, there is a growth or emboldening of reactionary and conservative sectors, and some progressive policies on gender, human rights, environmental or Indigenous peoples’ issues, for example, will be curtailed. First of all, we note that, despite the belligerent discourse of the neo-right sectors, they are much more moderate when they come to power and in terms of concrete policies on these issues. We have found it striking, for example, to see the considerably higher number of annual deportations during the Obama administration compared to Trump. Second, these setbacks invite us to rethink the legalistic approach and the content of progressive policies on these issues. Not only do they fail to solve what they set out to address, but they limit the incipient ruptures that these struggles have proposed. “Citizenism” has penetrated deep into the social movements and instead of embracing statism, it is time to question it.

There is a fear in many people regarding the ways that the new government could embolden and give free rein to neo-Nazi groups, as well as evangelical and Catholic groups that have been present in the demonstrations against the legalization of abortion. In Argentina, we do not foresee this posing a considerable risk for the sectors in struggle, we do not anticipate a potential civil confrontation, although we do expect an increase in the state repression of protest.

Demonstrators face off with police during a march in memory of Santiago Maldonado in 2017.

What forces are prepared to oppose Milei? What are the prospects for anti-capitalist resistance?

The main political opposition is the outgoing government and its voters, so the challenge for anti-capitalists will be to oppose the new government without simply recruiting voters for the other faction of the state—without fostering false hopes that democratic political representation or economic measures could produce a “more humane” capitalism.

The ways that different sectors of society mobilize will depend on the concrete measures that are implemented and the organizations that lead them. That means the unemployed on the one hand, the state unions on the other, as well as the various parts of the private sector. The first obstacle in this sense is the division and leadership of the main organizations of all the sectors. We can bet on more massive mobilizations in the face of the ongoing inflationary adjustment, as well as increases in energy costs and services tariffs due to the removal of subsidies.

Mass protest could be triggered by several different things, from environmental issues, repression, gender oppression, or economic adjustment. The question is what the perspective of these struggles will be—whether a confrontation with the adjustments of the bourgeoisie, with the state and its measures, will be reduced to a conflict with a specific government.

We have already experienced enough examples of the ways that progressives redirect struggle that we know how they end. The example of Boric in Chile is instructive. This president, who brought together all the groups opposing the right wing (including many anarchists), is now imposing brutal measures in the economic, political, and legal spheres—giving more firepower to the carabineros [police], repressing student struggles, attacking Mapuche communities, approving the veto of the Law of Usurpations. And when all this happens, there is a sector of the social movement that remains silent and complicit because “It could be worse,” “the right could govern.” We believe that it does not matter how the oppressors and exploiters define themselves politically—what matters is the social role they play and what they do.

A fascism that reduces the state would be historically unprecedented; it remains to be seen. For the moment, Milei is not a fascist, he is liberal and democratic, like most, if not all, of those who govern the countries of this continent. A regime of exception, which we would call fascist, aims at restoring the state order and repressing the revolutionary emergency; that does not seem to be what we are seeing in Argentina yet.

Demonstrators face off with police during a march in memory of Santiago Maldonado in 2017.

What strategies are possible in this context? How can people from elsewhere support anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian resistance forces in the territory dominated by the Argentine state?

Starting from the existing struggles and the transformations of the last decades of capitalist dynamics on a global scale, we pay attention to their local manifestations and the possibilities that these imply. In the first place, the number of workers in conditions of absolute precarity, with high levels of unemployment and poverty. This is evidently a great difficulty for capital. For the time being, it manages to manage this through large networks of state assistance, undermining the autonomy that the unemployed movements had from the 1990s until the beginning of the 2000s.

Among the most impoverished part of the proletariat is the Indigenous population. A large part of this population lives in the suburban outreaches of the large cities. Of the Indigenous population that continues to live outside the cities, including the Mapuche in Patagonia and in the provinces of the northwest, important struggles have emerged for the recovery of land, the defense of their livelihoods, and against capitalist projects. While bearing in mind the particularities of these expressions of struggle and the cultural diversity of our class, at the moment of linking and analyzing them, we do not lose sight of the essential contradiction of the exploitation of wage labor and the imposition of private property.

Another fundamental aspect is the struggles of women and dissidents, paying attention to the changes in the sexual division in capitalism. Beyond policies focused on the recognition of identity, we point out that capitalism is unable to respond to many of the problems that have become evident, beginning with sexist violence.

From a reformist point of view, it is not possible to overcome the sexual division, which is necessary for the reproduction of the labor force. From a revolutionary perspective, it has become clear that it is not possible to abolish social classes without abolishing the gender division. We have been writing a series of issues of Cuadernos de Negación on these issues for some years now.

Finally, we are in solidarity with, participate in, and closely observe the so-called environmental struggles. The Argentine economy is strongly based on primary production, both agriculture and mining. The reproduction of a large part of the labor force through the state depends to a large extent on this. This type of production cannot be relocated when the population rejects it. This is what happened with several mining projects (as in the province of Chubut). Even today, there is resistance to the extraction of lithium in Jujuy. To stop this type of offensive is a strong blow to capitalist development in Argentina. We are committed to fostering the deep implications of these struggles, in opposition to some sort of “green” capitalism or citizen environmentalism.

In the city of Rosario, where we live, over the past few years, we have suffered the burning of wetlands a few kilometers away, intentionally carried out for the sake of animal agriculture. Towards the end of last year, we published a book titled Plomo y humo. El negocio del capital [Lead and Smoke: The Business of Capital*), in which we address this issue and the violence linked to drug trafficking, which has grown systematically over the last decade. Although there have been massive mobilizations against the fires, due to the destruction of wetlands and the associated health problems, the issue of violence linked to crime has been difficult for social movements to address. There is opposition to the iron fist and police participation in crime, but there have not been massive expressions of struggle in this regard that go beyond the request for “more security,” although there have been some specific cases.

In short, we refer to various planes of the current class struggle that go beyond the sphere of production and call capitalism itself into question. The possibility of a revolutionary rupture is latent in these struggles and offers a path we can take even if for the moment democratic pacification is strongly imposed.

We concluded this interview on December 10, 2023, the day Javier Milei assumed the presidency, expecting the announcement of economic adjustments tomorrow.

A demonstrator during a march in memory of Santiago Maldonado in 2017.

A photograph from the bakers’ strike of 1902 in Buenos Aires. Anarchism was prevalent in the bakers’ union.