West in danger from ‘socialist’ views, Milei tells Davos

Argentina's president vociferously defended capitalism while excoriating taxation and state redistribution of wealth in his international debut

Javier Milei's special address to the World Economic Forum at Davos, January 2024. Image: President's Press Office

Making his first official appearance on the international stage, Javier Milei gave a speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos on Wednesday defending capitalism and claiming that the West is “in danger” due to the advance of “socialism.” He also accused feminism of hindering economic progress and called entrepreneurs “heroes.”

“Don’t let anyone tell you that your ambition is immoral […] You are the true protagonists of this story, and know that from this day forward, you have an unwavering ally in Argentina,” the president told business leaders in his closing remarks. 

In his strenuous defense of capitalism, Milei repeated the controversial claim made several times over the last few months that after Argentina adopted a “model of freedom” in 1860, it became a world power in 35 years. He went on to say that ever since the country adopted what he called a “collectivist model,” it began a process of “chronic impoverishment.”

“The conclusion is obvious: far from being the cause of our problems, free market capitalism is the only tool we have to end hunger, poverty, and destitution everywhere,” Milei said, adding that the proposed remedy of “social justice” does not lead to better outcomes.

“On the contrary, it is an intrinsically unjust idea because it is violent. It is unjust because the state is financed through taxes, and taxes are forcibly collected. This means the state is financed through coercive means. The higher the taxation, the more coercion there is.”

In line with this, Miei stated the outlines of what he is proposing for Argentina. “A model based on the fundamental principles of libertarianism: the defense of life, freedom, and property.”

The president devoted the harshest segments of his speech to socialism, calling it an “impoverishing phenomenon that has failed in every country” that has tried to implement it. “It has been an economic, social, and cultural failure. And it also cost the lives of 150 million people,” he stated. 

He also accused “socialists” of promoting “ridiculous” conflicts between men and women — which he said hinder communities and social growth — and pushing agendas like feminism and climate change.

“They say that humans damage the planet and that it should be protected at all costs […] The cruelest part of the environmental agenda is that rich countries, which became rich by legally exploiting their natural resources, now wish to expiate their sins by punishing poor countries and impeding them from developing their economies due to an alleged crime they did not commit.”

In what was arguably the most daring part of his speech, Milei stated that the vast majority of governments in the West include some variant of “collectivism,” adding that they all defend a model contrary to the one he contends took humanity to accomplish the “greatest progress in its history.”

“We have come here today to invite all Western countries to take up the path of prosperity once again.”


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