Right-wing populism! What the German right can learn from Javier Milei

_ Yuri Kofner, economist, MIWI Institute. Munich – Graz, 15. April 2024. Republished from the original publication with the Austrian journal FREILICH.

Javier Milei is a right-wing populist, but he is not a conservative. Nevertheless, the German right can learn a lot from him.


The extravagant figure of Javier Milei embodies a new kind of revolution in many ways. More precisely, it is a populist revolution, a counterrevolution (!), that he is carrying out in Argentina. As the first anarcho-capitalist president, he establishes himself as a pioneer of a new political paradigm.

It is indeed an irony of history that the ultracapitalist Milei is somewhat forced to take similar steps as the socialist Stalin. While the latter forsook the concept of Leninist-Trotskyist world revolution to enforce the “construction of socialism in a single country,” the former finds himself compelled to establish an agorist society within a state, even resorting to state means. This could potentially show that libertarianism is viable not only beyond the state.

Facing the concentrated leftist dominance from the collective state apparatus, unions, and media, the envisaged free market shock therapy had to be postponed for the time being. Its aim would have been to bring about a liberating breakthrough from the suffocating grip of the state in terms of tax burdens, redistribution, and administration. Milei aimed to enforce unprecedented deregulation of enormous significance through emergency decrees and omnibus laws, despite his minority in parliament: the abolition of nearly 400 laws and regulations, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the drastic loosening of rental and labor laws. Unfortunately, this groundbreaking decree was initially overturned by the Constitutional Court.

Nevertheless, Milei was able to achieve remarkable successes in the first 100 days of his tenure in the “Red House,” the Argentine presidential residence: He managed to halve the monthly inflation rate. At the same time, he streamlined the bloated state apparatus from 19 to 8 ministries, among other things eliminating the tendentious “Ministry of Women, Gender, and Diversity.” He also cut state subsidies for fuel. Argentina recorded a budget surplus for the first time in over a decade, and the return of foreign investors to the bond market indicates restored confidence in the economy. He drastically devalued the peso and loosened price controls, knowing that a free and stable currency market is the “constitutive principle” for all further free market reforms. This principle was emphasized by the ordoliberal pioneers Walter Eucken and Ludwig Erhard when they outlined the basic conditions for the German economic miracle in the 1950s.

The crowning achievement of Milei’s economic policy thrust is the planned abolition of the central bank and the official dollarization of the economy. This step must be understood as legalizing the unofficial but practically ubiquitous status quo. Furthermore, it aims to prevent future Argentine governments from abusing the monetary printing press. Certainly, this will bring Buenos Aires into dependence of the Federal Reserve and the American fiat currency system, but I hope that this is only a step towards Hayek’s vision of a free competition of (crypto) currencies, as assured by economists close to Milei.


Now, let’s get to the core question of this article: Is Javier Milei a right-winger in the sense of being a conservative? Many representatives of the German conservative and identarian right view him and certain aspects of his politics with scepticism: His uncompromising anti-collectivism and pro-capitalist stance, his seemingly naive commitments to the “value West” represented by Israel, Ukraine, and the USA, his unconventional lifestyle (“Wasn’t he once a sex coach? And wasn’t he even at Davos?”), and even his success (“Can someone be so successful without secretly colluding with the global financial elite?”). The committed individualist has not entered into the institution of marriage, has no children, but has four dogs. This is certainly not the typical image of a conservative.

It is true that Milei participated as an economist at the WEF a decade ago. But even then, his statements by no means corresponded to the ideas of a Klaus Schwab. And in his second, much more famous, recent speech in Davos, the new Argentine president completely rejected the WEF notions on stakeholder corporatism, expanding the welfare state, and the propagated “equality” and “diversity”. In short, he rhetorically dismantled the foundations of postmodern socialism – wokism and the “you will own nothing” narrative.[1]

Furthermore, Milei advocates for a ban on abortions, finds the one-sided favoritism of sexual and ethnic minorities offensive, and seeks a tough stance against criminals. He stages himself with chainsaws, calls established politicians “zurdos de mierda” (left-wing bastards), and although he has no wife, a prominent actress adorns his side as First Lady. So is he a right-wing gigachad after all?

Not really. The anarcho-capitalist Milei corresponds to the American, but not the European understanding of “right-wing”. His fight against the (cultural) Marxists, social democrats, and left-wing progressives is not based on conservative values such as family, religion, or nation, but on the classical liberal beliefs in natural rights to liberty, life, and property.

While Milei’s demands may lean towards a right-wing conservative direction, their motivation springs from libertarian reasons. Thus, he seeks to ban abortions not because he sees them as an attack on the sustainable demography of the autochthonous population, but rather as an infringement on the individual right to life. Likewise, he intends to end state funding for LGBTQ propaganda, but has no objections to same-sex marriage, as from a liberal perspective, all people should be treated equally, and love life is considered a private matter.


However, there is more right-wing thought hidden in Milei’s politics than initially suspected – just in a different form. In this context, there is much that the German right can learn from him:

Firstly, Javier Milei initially resorts to quite authoritarian measures such as emergency decrees, “omnibus laws,” and demonstrative exercises of police power to enforce the principles of “life, liberty, and property” in his reforms against the resistance of both the “deep state” and the street protests heated up by left-wing unions. This recalls Carl Schmitt’s considerations on the sovereign and the primacy of the political. It also corresponds ideally with Dmitrios Kisoudis’ call for a lean but robust “constitutional state” (“Ordnungsstaat”), whose apparatus must be slim but powerful to ensure and secure a market-oriented and free society within its borders.[2] Furthermore, it harmonizes perfectly with Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s conviction that freedom stands above democracy.[3] The latter can, as we repeatedly see, be manipulated by the ruling political elite to undermine actual freedom of opinion and choice.

Secondly, it becomes clear that Milei with his extravagant appearance and relentless rhetorical attacks operates perfectly along the guidelines of “right-wing populism”, as outlined in a handbook in 1992 by one of the leading figures of modern libertarianism, Murray Rothbard.[4]

The communication strategy essence of “Right-Wing Populism” manifests as follows: In a world where the “left march through the institutions” is already complete and progressive social democrats – from the well-known fake conservatives to extreme climate leftists – constitute the ruling elite, controlling the mainstream media and doing everything to maintain the prevailing status quo, i.e., their own monopoly on power, at all costs, in short, in a world where the socialist revolution has become reality, libertarian or right-wing ideas cannot succeed through conventional channels such as business associations, universities, or newspaper articles. Instead, the libertarian right-wing agenda must be shaped as a counterrevolutionary movement; it must be carried bottom up from the peoples against the ruling elite. It must be populist, cool, and loud to be heard and spread despite the media cordon sanitaire. Only with peaceful, democratic means, of course. In this regard, Rothbard was visionary when he anticipated the new frontline outlined by David Goodhart between the “Somewheres” vs. the “Anywheres”[5] in 1992 and outlined the success factors for the new right-wing populists like Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban, and Milei.

Content-wise, every German right-winger should be able to agree with the eight central demands of Rothbard’s libertarian right-wing populism. They are presented below slightly adapted to the current German reality:

  1. Slash taxes.
  2. Stop redistribution.
  3. Abolish privileges for minorities.
  4. Take back the streets: Eradicate crime.
  5. Take back the streets: Eliminate antisocial behavor.
  6. Abolition of the ECB, attack on the “banksters.”
  7. Germany first!
  8. Defend of family values.

Thirdly, Milei’s electoral success illustrates two more strategic milestones that can and should increasingly be applied under German circumstances: Under the difficult economic conditions of hyperinflation and social decline, phenomena that are increasingly apparent not only in Argentina but also in Germany due to the “green transformation,” Milei’s voters appreciated his brutal honesty during his election campaign: He did not conceal that his free market shock therapy to return to the path of growing prosperity would initially be painful but emphasized that there was no other way. Additionally, the anarcho-capitalist Milei received slightly more votes from the “working class” segment than his left-wing, allegedly “worker-friendly” presidential rival. This illustrates that under the right circumstances, welfare state narratives are not necessarily required to win elections. Here again, right-wing populism proved to be the decisive factor, not a rhetoric of redistribution.

Fourthly, the success of Milei’s right-wing populism illustrates that the German conservative and identarian right, especially those who identify as so-called “social patriots”, should not hesitate to study the great thinkers of the libertarian and ordoliberal schools: Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Roepke, and others. If they were to do so, they would realize that these thinkers are by no means apologists for the ideology of progress, atomic individualism, or “cold-blooded market radicalism.” Rather, they consistently attacked monopolistic corporatism and state capture by big business and emphasize the fundamental value of culture, traditions, and naturally grown social ties.

Lastly, a retrospective into (economic) history illustrates that a free market and a conservative pathos are by no means contradictory but rather together have allways ensured an era of prosperity and glory. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, trade liberalization, a stable currency in the form of the gold standard, a lean but still strong constitutional state, and the leading role of customs, Christianity, and the traditional family equally contributed to making both Argentina and the German Empire what we look back at with astonishment: among the wealthiest states in the world at the time with a rapid economic boom and established personalities, crowned by distinctive beards. Based!


[1] WEF (2024). Davos 2024: Special address by Javier Milei, President of Argentina. URL: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2024/01/special-address-by-javier-milei-president-of-argentina/

[2] Kisoudis D. (2017). Was nun?: Vom Sozialstaat zum Ordnungsstaat. Manuscriptum. URL: https://www.manuscriptum.de/was-nun.html

[3] Hoppe H.H. (2001). Democracy – The God That Failed. New Brunswick.

[4] Rothbard M. (1992). Right- Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement. URL: https://www.rothbard.it/articles/right-wing-populism.pdf

[5] Goodhart D. (2017). The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. London.

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