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It seems that in Argentina we are playing hide-and-seek and that some people are trying to deceive others. It is hard to understand how nowadays, after all the mess that has been going on since the fateful military coup in 1943, we still look the other way and do not attribute sufficient responsibility to Peronismo for the Argentinian debacle.
Of course, this is never the responsibility of a single man, as Alexis de Tocqueville rightly pointed out, when there is immense moral and material progress, people often take those for granted. Facing a fatal moment afterward, because in our case nationalists, socialists, Cepalinos, Keynesians and Marxists have occupied spaces and when there is a debate, it turns out that the supposed defenders of freedom have no arguments to refute and statism wreaked havoc
Before Perón came to power and since the creation of the liberal Constitution of 1853 and until the Fascist revolution of 1930 (in which Perón actively participated), the wages and income of rural laborers and those of the workers in the incipient industry were higher than those of Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The Argentinian population doubled every ten years and had exports on a par with those of Canada and cultural and economic indicators like those of the United States.
I have written before about the significance of the advent of Peronism, but because now it is back on stage it is necessary to reiterate some concepts.
It is extremely curious but, at this stage of the 21st century, it is hard to believe that there are still people with some knowledge who call themselves Peronists. The astronomical corruption of that regime has been proven a thousand times (Américo Ghioldi, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada); its fascism (Joseph Page, Eduardo Augusto García); its support to the Nazis (Uki Goñi, Silvano Santander); its censorship of the press (Robert Potash, Silvia Mercado); its lies and systematic indoctrination in schools (Juan José Sebreli, Fernando Iglesias); the co-optation of justice and the unconstitutional reform of the Constitution (Juan A. González Calderón, Nicolás Márquez); its destruction of the economy (Carlos García Martínez, Roberto Aizcorbe); its attacks on students (Rómulo Zemborain, Roberto Almaraz); its tortures and deaths (Hugo Gambini, Gerardo Ancarola), the imposition of the union and Unicato (Félix Luna, Damonte Taborda) and the large scale moral and material destruction (Ignacio Montes de Oca, María Zaldívar). What else could be asked to disqualify a regime?
To this appalling résumé, we can add just as a sample four of Perón’s thoughts, enough to illustrate his moral character. In correspondence with his lieutenant John William Cooke: “Those who take an oligarch’s house and arrest or execute the owners will keep it. Those who take a ranch under the same conditions will keep everything, same for those who occupy establishments of the gorillas and enemies of the People. The NCOs who kill their chiefs and officers and take charge of the units will take command of them and will be the chiefs of the future. The same will apply to simple soldiers who perform a military action” (Correspondencia Perón-Cooke, Buenos Aires, Editorial Cultural Argentina, 1956/1972, Vol. I, p. 190).
To which we should add Perón’s shamefully laudatory letter to Mao on July 15, 1965, in the midst of the horrendous and repeated massacres of that nefarious regime. This letter was transcribed at the time by Claudia Peiró in this same media, which begins with “My dear president and friend.”
He also proclaimed “No Justice for the Enemy” (Perón’s letter in his own handwriting addressed to the Secretary of Political Affairs Román Alfredo Subiza). On another occasion, he announced that “We will erect gallows all over the country to hang the opponents” (Perón’s speech on the official radio broadcasting network on September 18, 1947). Finally, to illustrate the characteristics of Peronism, Perón stated that “If the Soviet Union had been in a position to support us in 1955, I could have become the first Fidel Castro of the continent” (Marcha, Montevideo, February 27, 1970).
Some apologists have claimed that “the third Perón” was different without considering the alarming corruption of his government, mainly through his Minister of Economy José Ber Gelbard, who also provoked a serious inflationary process (which he called “zero inflation”) and returned to the maximum prices of the first two Peronist governments (where in the end there was not even white bread in the market), the promotion of his other minister (who curiously worked for the so called “social welfare”) from corporal to general commissary, and establishing from there the criminal organization of the Triple A. In this context, Perón, after encouraging terrorists in their killings and congratulating them for their assassinations, realized that these movements were aiming at taking over his power, and so he decided to fight them.
In our opinion, the reason for the prolongation of the Peronist myth is based on the attempt to cover up the above with a fallacious interpretation of what has come to be called “the social question” in the context of the imposition of a trade union system copied from Mussolini, rent and eviction laws that ruined the patrimony of so many immigrant families, a galloping inflation that was pretended to be concealed with price controls to “attack speculation,” with a colossal closure of foreign trade administered by the corrupt IAPI, the abrupt increase of poverty and a degradation at all levels of government.
In this “social sense,” I transcribe a letter from the Minister Counselor of the German Embassy in Buenos Aires Otto Meynen to his “party colleague” in Berlin, Captain Dietrich Niebuhr O.K.M., dated in Buenos Aires, June 12, 1943, in which we read that “Miss Duarte showed me a letter from her lover in which the following general guidelines for the future work of the revolutionary government are fixed: ‘The Argentine workers were born herd animals and as such they will die. To govern them it is enough to give them food, work and herd laws that will keep them in the herd'” (a copy of the typewritten correspondence is reproduced by Silvano Santander in Técnica de una traición. Juan D. Perón y Eva Duarte, agentes del nazismo en la Argentina, Buenos Aires, Edición Argentina, 1955, p.56). The quote from Perón is also used by Santander as the epigraph of his book.
However, in our media the tragicomic expression “republican Peronism” is used, a flagrant contradiction in terms that would be equivalent to the nonsense of a serial thief saying that he is respectful of private property. In reality a tragicomic joke. Of course, what has been said is not limited to Peronism, there are plenty of examples in the world of similar authoritarianism that operate under the label of populism to make people think that those kinds of governments are in accordance with “the wishes of the people,” when in all cases they have naturally destroyed the possibilities of moral and material progress of the governed, especially of the neediest. In addition, that is generally supported, as it has been said, by union structures based on fascist figures such as the trade union membership and “withholding agents” that obligatorily take control of the money of other people’s labor so that holders do not dispose of their salaries having to accept that thugs who play the role of “protectors of the poor” control their wealth.
Wired economies, galloping inflation, asphyxiating regulations, colossal public indebtedness, astronomical state apparatus expenses, unbearable taxes and other paraphernalia are the unfailing recipes of the always statist and corrupt populisms.
As we have also pointed out on other occasions, the standard of living is not improved through voluntarism and decrees, but with capitalization rates (contrary to “fighting capital”), which, in turn, can only be achieved in the context of civilized institutional frameworks where the rights of all the people are respected. Tortuous state interventionism causes unemployment, especially among the people who most need to work, by imposing nominal and equivalent salaries that are not commensurate with the level of internal and external savings captured in productive investments. That is why in all populisms the standard of living gets contracted, which is aggravated by the establishment of compulsive and bankrupt pension systems due to a nefarious procedure that any actuarial analysis denounces.
Income redistributions caused by the state apparatus necessarily goes on the contrary to the allocations made by consumers according to their priorities and requirements.
Egalitarianism always conspires against people who earn good incomes, since it takes away the fruit of the labor of the most efficient ones that are precisely those that allow others to ascend through the social pyramid. That situation is blocked and sabotaged by taxes that do not allow social mobility according to the capacity of each one to serve their fellow men.
This situation ends up favoring pseudo-entrepreneurs who ally themselves with the political power to enjoy privileges that allow them to miserably exploit their fellow men. It is not necessary to show that Peronism derives from Perón, so that stigma is present throughout all its supporters from any side of the political spectrum, which does not allow us to allege ignorance of the meaning of the absurdities that have occurred in our history. It is not possible to ignore at this point policies that have been applied and continue to be putting in place. We cannot play at being distracted because that would result in a macabre entertainment.
In what matters in regard with this note, it would be good for Argentines, as a first step, to realize the importance of respecting elementary republican principles and, in this line of argument, to know how to properly read our own history so as not to repeat the mistakes that have been caused so far by Peronists and imitators of Peronists.
It is interesting to note that the net balance of the Menemato’s case in the context of repeated apologies to the Rosista tyranny resulted in increases in public spending, deficit and debt amidst great corruption such as, arms smuggling and the explosion of Río Tercero resorting to political status to avoid jail time. The fixed exchange rate and passive monetary policy model proposed by the then Minister of Economy along with other measures with meritorious intent finally exploded into the air along with the shortcomings of transfers of state monopolies into the hands of private ones in which the incentives operate in a stronger direction to plunder one’s fellow man.
For his part, Winston Churchill on Thursday, October 6, 1955 -five months after leaving office as Prime Minister- spoke before the international press this same policy we are commenting on in this journalistic note as follows: “Perón is the only soldier who has burned his flag and the only Catholic who has burned his churches.” We are too old for some people to try to fool us with that “republican Peronism” which is equivalent to the squared circle. If there are Peronists who have realized their mistake, welcome, but let them say it openly without resorting to subterfuge.
To end this note, I would like to point out that Peronist apologists -since they are not very good at it- only think of answering with absurd qualifications such as “gorilla” to those who oppose authoritarianism, but they are not even original in this. It was Aldo Cammarota who, in March 1955, in the midst of the conspiratorial effervescence, parodied in his radio program “La revista dislocada” the movie production Mogambo filmed in Africa with Clark Gable and Eva Gardner, in which a frightened guy in front of every noise in the jungle exclaimed “it must be the gorillas, it must be”. In our case a blatant nonsense to hide the lack of arguments.
Alberto Benegas Lynch Jr. is president of the Economy Section of the National Academy of Sciences of Buenos Aires. // Alberto Benegas Lynch (h) es presidente de la Sección Ciencias Económicas de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Buenos Aires.