In the past, it was Brazilians who used to remake successful plots from Argentina, as we saw with the double success of the soap opera “Chiquititas” in the 1990s and 2010s (my children watched this thing in infinite loop and, if yours didn’t, raise your hands to the sky). It may be that now the order of factors is reversed, and that the Platinum Republic makes a “remake” of our soap opera “Elect a crazy person who uses a curse word every sentence for president”.
The intemperate in question, Javier Milei, claims to be “anarcho-capitalist”. The utopian horizon of people who follow this ideology is the total abolition of the State and its replacement by a highly deregulated market economy, in which education, health, security, Justice and whatever else you can imagine will function based on private agreements between individuals.
Inspired by Milei’s “sincerity”, I must say that the guy who really believes this 1) is the type who eats poop from a spoon and thinks it’s chocolate or 2) completely ignores how human nature works (or any other animal social) and how our societies have evolved since Homo sapiens emerged.
As this is still a science column, let’s talk about reason 2. In recent decades, many studies have unraveled quite well how peaceful cooperation between unrelated individuals can emerge in social species like ours. The main mechanisms seem to be reciprocity (the famous “one hand washes the other”: if I bring you a leg of the capybara I hunted, you give me the basket you wove) and reputation (whoever acquires a reputation as a fine person wins an initial “bonus of confidence” in interactions, increasing his chances of winning the goodwill of those who don’t know him yet, but have heard of him).
These basic principles seem to support the anarcho-capitalists (or ancaps, as they are also called). But note that they only work in contexts where there is direct or indirect close contact between individuals. If you’ve never had a chance to reciprocate with the other guy, nor have you had a chance to hear about his reputation, how do things work out?
Well, they don’t fit. The ancap ideal could even be imagined in small groups with a few hundred hunter-gatherers (although they have nothing of capitalists), but it crumbles in the face of large populations. And not just because it becomes very difficult to cooperate, but because it becomes impossible to prevent uncooperative groups, coming from outside, to make society cat and shoe.
This is, of course, what the delusional Ancaps, who rejoice in imagining a free, light and free arms trade for all, with private militias replacing the Armed Forces and the police, conveniently ignore. Without a superior authority having the last word and a monopoly on the use of force, there is absolutely nothing to stop a well-armed group from taking control of another by force.
By the way, the paradox here is precisely this: this is how the States emerged. Chaotic Greece after the end of the Bronze Age, fragmented Western Europe after the end of the Roman Empire, and so many other places were but variants of primeval “Ancapiston.” The more organized militias simply imposed and/or negotiated their dominance.
The big question is that, by leaps and bounds, counterintuitively and often unintentionally, the states that grew out of primordial Ancapistan imposed the necessary order for the majority of today’s human beings to live in the proportionally less violent and more prosperous world of all times.
Denying this achievement just because of not wanting to pay taxes is as big a sign of ignorance or bad faith as denying the climate crisis — something that, unsurprisingly, Milei also does. May God have mercy on the Argentine nation.
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