About 1850, Argentina was at the end of a 40-year period of chaos. The prosperous Spanish colony at the southern tip of the South American continent tried to organize following the model of the United States in 1816. There was a feeble attempt to copy the American Constitution of 1778 —without the checks and balances, mind you— but the experiment never actually worked beyond the signing of a document and a few discourses. The country sank into a period of anarchy during which strong men ruled large swaths of land by force. At that time, the former Spanish colony lost about half of its original territory to other emerging countries like Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and its Portuguese neighbor to the East, Brazil. Argentines fought each other while the world ate their lunch.
Eventually a new Constitution was passed in 1853. Major world powers helped the strongest among the strongmen to begin organizing the country. This last line I wrote will generate a number of responses among Argentine readers (spare me, please) who were told a different (false) story at school. In any case, the country got organized under the new Constitution and within the first few years of civil order, a form of semi-republican oligarchic government developed. The rulers of that age had a gigantic task at hand. Half the country was in the hands of savages that raided the frontier regularly; the other half was mostly in the hands of “caudillos” who had to be forced to accept the new order. The country needed to be organized, educated, pacified, and provided with the normal institutions of modernity. That was accomplished in record time. By 1877, Argentine income per capita was the highest in the western world. Argentina enjoyed a period of nearly unstoppable growth and prosperity that lasted half a century. The centenary of the Revolution of 1810 found the country among the top ten economies of the world, with a strong currency, and a reasonably well educated population.
In 1916 the Radical Party — a member of the family of International Socialist political parties — managed to win the Presidential elections. It was to govern the country uninterrupted until the first military coup in 1930. A series of dubious elections kept the country off the Radical’s hands and under the control of a pseudo-Conservative/military governments until 1945. The decline had begun but the country was so prosperous that few noticed. The period between the two world wars was a time of cultural development and reasonable prosperity. The old oligarchs were gone, replaced by a “progressive” ruling class that did not have the skills and principles necessary to keep the good times rolling. In time, a form of Fascist rule coalesced in 1946 under Gen. Juan Peron who won the first free elections in a long time.
Juan Peron was a master politician and could play the Argentines like a fiddle but he was a lousy administrator. He managed to institute a form of worker’s union system that copied mostly Mussolini’s model with touches of FDR’s. The country gradually moved towards a dictatorship as the old money reserves dwindled and Peron found himself unable to generate decent growth in a post-war period filled with opportunities. He was ousted in 1955 and I am sure he was glad to leave. Two decades of uncertainty and incredibly incompetent governments continued the decline into the sixties until the return of Peron in 1974. He was elected President and died within a year of his election. The country fell into chaos and a new military coup restored a bloody kind of order in 1976 that lasted until the war with Britain of 1982.
The “saviors of the nation” of 1916 initiated a process of decline that transformed a resourceful and naturally capitalistic population into a mass of delusional quasi-Socialists that have been trying to make the square wheel work for slightly over a century. Argentines who bragged in 1910 of being able to feed the whole world are now barely able to feed themselves. Half the country is poor by even the most lenient international standards. There is no hope. A diabolical troika of politicians, unions, and businessmen keep the country closed to international commerce, mired in a maze of taxes of all kinds, heavily indebted, and in constant social turmoil. Anything goes except production, commerce, and prosperity. Argentina is perhaps the only country that taxes its own exports. A gigantic state apparatus multiplies work for lawyers, politicians, and troublemakers at the expense of the general population. That same population inexplicably keeps dreaming of the three or four sweet years they enjoyed in 1946-1950 while Peron went through the treasury like a red-hot knife through butter. Today, a celery stalk with a sign reading “Peron” can be elected to any government post. And if my proverbial celery stalk could be elected, he would surely be a corrupt vegetable able to siphon enough money to make his own family rich for generations to come. The cancer of Populist Socialism is now about to completely devour a nation that was one of the most free and affluent only 100 years ago.
In 1946, as American businessmen were launching the newly invented transistor, Argentines were chanting “we want shoes, not books” to a satisfied Juan Peron benevolently watching them from the balcony of the presidential palace. Even to this day, many of my fellow countrymen would gladly gather to insult anyone for writing articles like this. They are convinced that some sort of “social equality” will get them out of this mess. One can hear them everywhere talking about all kinds of social schemes that will “solve the crisis” — the poor chaps won’t know how miserably they’re living until they shake those ideas out of their minds. And out of their minds they are: in the news today, the mother of a young man, shot and killed by a physician during a violent robbery, demands that the victim of that assault be put in jail. The physician was tried and exonerated for killing her baby who was only trying to steal a car at gunpoint — and would have surely killed the car’s owner to eliminate the only witness. That kind of crime is seen almost daily all across the nation.
The financial newspapers and media around the world are describing a country at the edge of a brutal financial crisis tonight. The pusillanimous administration in charge cannot find a direction. While it is true that they received a country ransacked by a corrupt horde, the government of Mr. Macri has done very little to unleash the productive forces and the fabulous natural riches of the country. He is considered a Milton Friedman type by the local ignoramuses, when in reality he is more like some sort of emasculated Jimmy Carter.
Look in this crystal ball country, USA. Young Americans, now infatuated with Socialism, have no idea the kind of fox they are inviting into their chicken coop. There is no rewinding of the history machine. Argentina took a century to decline. It took Venezuela a mere two decades. If the United States continues in the “progressive” path, the country will experience misery never seen in the history of mankind. What is worse, they can drag the whole world into a dark age that will last decades if not centuries.
Return to common sense or die an uncommon death.
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