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Javier Milei’s Libertarian Populism

While some have described Argentinian presidential front-runner Javier Milei as “right-wing,” “far-right,” or “populist,” others contend that he is a principled libertarian who is firmly committed to individual liberty. In fact, he is both, and the combination is nothing new.

SAN DIEGO – Javier Milei is not only a former rock star, the owner of five cloned dogs, and a self-described “anarcho-capitalist.” He is also the front-runner in Argentina’s presidential election on October 22, leaving many Western pundits wondering what his candidacy represents.

Some commentators have described Milei as a “right-wing,” “far-right,” or “populist” candidate, and not without good reason. He has loudly supported populist politicians like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, and during a recent interview with the far-right broadcaster Tucker Carlson, he dismissed Black Lives Matter, LGBT ideology, feminism, and climate change as part of a global “socialist agenda.”

Others have argued that Milei is best understood as a principled libertarian, and they, too, have evidence to support their view. After all, he is a trained economist whose approach is grounded in the Austrian School methodology popularized by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek. He developed his ideas under the mentorship of Alberto Benegas Lynch, whose Center for Liberty Studies helped to create and maintain Argentina’s tradition of classical liberal thought in the hostile environment of Peronism.