A version of this article, ‘What Europe can learn from Argentina’s liberty movement,’ was originally published in July 2023 on Speak Freely, the European Students For Liberty blog.
In 2015, Argentina embarked on a political transformation as it veered towards a far-left path. The people sought change and voted for the coalition known as “Cambiemos” or “Let’s Change.” This coalition appeared to bring about the necessary economic and political reforms that Argentina desperately needed. However, it is important to note that the coalition also included the left-wing movement of “Union Civica Radical,” a historical social democrat party in Argentina.
Within the movement, there were those who foresaw the failure of the coalition. They believed that a small change was insufficient and that a more significant transformation was required. Regrettably, the anticipated reforms were not fully implemented. It is essential to understand that in Latin American politics, our changes tend to be regional in nature.
When Argentina votes for a right-wing movement, countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay often follow suit. This cyclical pattern occurs approximately every decade, resulting in a shift between hard-left and hard-right ideologies. The “hard right” often comprises corrupt politicians or individuals who were part of the previous government that contributed to the country’s deterioration.
My personal journey within the liberty movement began in 2018 when I joined Students for Liberty. By that time, Argentina was already grappling with a severe economic crisis, characterized by staggering inflation rates and an IMF bailout. The bailout, intended to “save” Argentina, granted us the largest financial assistance package ever received, but it has proven impossible to repay.
The youth in Latin America grew weary of this never-ending cycle of politics. Up until that point, the left-wing ideologies had a firm grip on the youth’s mindset. I, too, found myself dangerously close to aligning with a left-wing party, until a key figure entered the scene and changed the course of my story.
Javier Milei emerged as a vocal advocate for liberty in the media. His unique perspective captured the attention of the youth who, for the first time, were introduced to names like Von Mises, Ayn Rand, and Hayek. These were fresh ideas that we had never encountered during our time in higher education or even in high school. Milei began to explain how the failure of Mauricio Macri’s government and his coalition was, in fact, a consequence of the left-wing faction within his government rather than capitalism itself.
Milei’s ability to articulate complex economic theories in a relatable manner resonated deeply with the disillusioned youth. He brought a breath of fresh air to the stagnant political discourse, challenging the conventional narratives and presenting alternative solutions. His emphasis on personal liberty, free markets, and limited government intervention struck a chord with many of us who had grown tired of the status quo.
In a society where the youth had been predominantly exposed to leftist ideologies, Milei’s message was a wake-up call. He provided a new perspective, one that empowered individuals and championed the principles of personal responsibility and economic freedom. His influence sparked a wave of curiosity and ignited a desire for change within the youth, propelling us to question the prevailing narrative and seek out alternative viewpoints.
To learn more about the history of Marxism across Latin America, check out this video:
Milei’s impact extended beyond the youth; his ideas resonated with people from all walks of life. He challenged the prevailing notion that change had to come from the extremes of the political spectrum. Instead, he advocated for a nuanced approach that transcended traditional boundaries. This appeal to reason and the rejection of partisan politics attracted a broad range of supporters, eager to break free from the cycle of disappointment and corruption that had plagued Argentine politics for years.
It is worth noting that the success of Argentina’s liberty movement was not achieved overnight. It was a result of dedicated individuals, investments in leadership, and an incredible team of people. Building such a movement takes time and requires individuals to set aside their egos, recognizing that success is not solely based on prestigious degrees or family connections.
The movement primarily comprises young people from the middle and lower classes, individuals like myself. Our events have shifted from luxurious hotel settings with suited attendees to public squares, where we stand with a megaphone, passionately advocating for liberty.
At present, Javier Milei has just made history by becoming Argentina’s — and the world’s — first self-described libertarian elected president. However, there is still much work to be done within the movement. We understand that true change requires constant evolution and adaptation. In a world increasingly dominated by woke culture, cancellations, and rampant misinformation, it is essential for the liberty movement to remain steadfast in its principles and continue to educate and inspire.
One of the key strengths of the liberty movement in Argentina is its ability to connect with everyday citizens. It speaks to the concerns and aspirations of the middle and lower classes, who have long felt neglected by the political elite. The movement recognizes the importance of addressing the issues that impact these individuals directly, such as economic opportunity, social mobility, and access to quality education and healthcare.
The liberty movement’s success in Argentina serves as an inspiration to similar movements worldwide. It showcases the power of grassroots organizing and the impact that passionate individuals can have when they come together around a common cause. By engaging with people at the local level, actively listening to their concerns, and offering practical solutions, the movement has been able to build a broad base of support.
In a world filled with divisive rhetoric and polarizing ideologies, the liberty movement in Argentina stands as a beacon of hope. It offers a pragmatic and inclusive vision for the future, one that seeks to unite people around common values rather than driving them apart.
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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.