The storytelling war: How a libertarian narrative seduces fans in Argentina?

Adriferreiro
8 min readAug 23, 2023

Congressman Javier Milei’s story “Dynamites” 80 years of Peronist power: from collectivism to Individuation.

New Libertarian leader Javier Milei

In the political war for power, the battle is in the narrative. When a political speech is transgressive and credible, it wins followers and votes. The message is installed in society as a “truth” -first in a community- then for a majority. Because a coherent narrative from an authentic and polemic leader -and consistent over time- achieves social consensus and “penetrates” the collective unconscious mind. The leader reaches power and uses it. And that’s when the narrative is tested.

This is happening today in Argentina. Whoever wins in October, presidential candidate Javier Milei is winning over followers, sweeping the pre-election Storytelling War. He achieved a collective consensus that can be seen in numbers: his fans, likes, and followers in social media and campaign events. Politicians -the powerful ones- fear him, and everyone imitates him. Everyone now “preaches” freedom. Whether you like it or not, Milei has power before he comes to power.

No one can deny it. The social response is impressive: Milei moves the masses. But why does Milei seduce fans in Argentina? My perspective is not political, nor is it economic. It is not because he is “right-wing” — a term that, in my opinion, no longer applies -nor because he is liberal or a staunch defender of capitalism. Nor is it because he vindicates family values or life — against abortion. Milei’s discourse is sweeping because it is -philosophically- Libertarian.

It concerns a profound and evolutionary change we are undergoing as a society and human beings. During the pandemic -and its atrocious lockdown- we were subjected to extreme and narcissistic abuse of the power of institutions and collective organizations. Not only by governments -the Argentine case was recognized for its rigidity and authoritarianism- but also by public and private organizations: by NGOs, by companies in the health market, by shipping companies, by technology corps such as Amazon, Google, Facebook or Netflix. In short, all those who took profit from the personal tragedy of each one of us. Those who laughed at our micro world, those who attacked our -until then- impenetrable privacy.

THE POST-TRAUMATIC SYNDROME

My theory is that “common people,” the non-directors who do not administer, manage or distribute power, suffer from a Post Traumatic Syndrome that drives us to seek autonomy and freedom desperately, that is, INDIVIDUATION. This is the “logical” response to narcissistic abuse. We have been locked up and abused, and we need — more than ever — to emancipate ourselves from the control of those who have power: governments, institutions, and public or private corps. As individuals, we need to feel autonomy and authority to protect ourselves from future collective narcissistic abuse.

But what is Individuation? It is the moment when the adolescent begins to perceive himself as an independent person who creates his own identity independently of his parents or caregivers. In my opinion, as human beings, we need to reach this “milestone.” It is a profound and evolutionary change. Because we were used and abused under the excuse of protecting us. And what does Individuation have to do with libertarian philosophy? EVERYTHING. The libertarian movement prioritizes the individual before the collective, the person before the group, and the citizen before society. And Milei is the leading representative of this movement in Argentina — the Libertarian party was founded two years before the pandemic in 2018. Very, very timely.

Milei brought the libertarian movement to the public agenda. He managed to dynamite the — worn-out — debate of the last century: left vs. right, progressives vs. conservatives, capitalists vs. communists. He installed a new discussion, “in context” with contemporaneity: collective right vs. personal right, “collectivism” vs. “Individuation.” Although part of his story is to defend capitalism, what is new and transgressive is the criticism of the state and “collectivist” politicians for imposing the needs of the collective before the rights of the individual.

CONTEMPORARY INDIVIDUATION

I hypothesize that libertarian ideas — as philosophy — can break the dialectical spell of 20th-century ideologies. The narrative of ideologies, religions, or political parties enters your body like a demon: they possess your mind, soul, and subjectivity. You do not choose the ideology; the ideology chooses you. You become a fan, a follower, a number. You lose consciousness, and you lose your individuality (existentialist mantra). Being conscious is an existentialist maxim, and belonging to a group is, by definition, an unconscious state.

Libertarian philosophy is opposed to ideology, to imposed dogma, to indoctrination. The individual is above the collective. It is also a functional idea in the contemporary context, where it tends to move towards decentralized systems — such as the DAO — Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. Individuation is as modern as revolutionary ideas were functional in the 20th century. Social media communication -in principle- enables Individuation: to seek individual responsibility instead of belonging to a group, to a clan that takes care of you on the excluding condition of not thinking differently.

In my opinion, Individuation is not -only- an option; it is a requirement of contemporaneity. Many world leaders have become sick narcissists, borderlines full of greed, sick of power. Individuation is the only way to stop acting as an unconscious collective to defend an individual right: free will.

THE UNCONSCIOUS COLLECTIVE

The propaganda minister of the Third Reich, Joseph Goebbels, once said: “A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.” This was true at that time, in that context. Nothing is more contemporary to mass communication than propaganda and its malicious collective manipulation. But today, contemporaneity allows you to verify the sources of information. It is no longer so easy to deceive a user on the Internet. But it is easy to fool the collective.

Because the collective is -by definition- unconscious, but the user, the person, YOU, may not be. Contemporaneity invites you to an individual responsibility that forces you to question all collective representation. Because what used to be “the truth”, today perhaps, is a lie. It is time to review the stories’ context and stop trusting the narratives you are told. Or do you think that democracy -in practice- is the people’s government? Is it not, precisely, the opposite? Is it, not the NON-PEOPLE that governs you? Is it, not the elite -the caste, according to Milei- that proposes and disposes of power multiple times to perpetuate itself in it?

Far from writing an anarcho-capitalist pamphlet, I am interested in proposing an existentialist philosophical reflection. All systems of collective representation need to be thoroughly revised until we find a more “contemporary” solution to order us as a society. How is one thing that transforms into another possible to remain the same? Enough of consuming stories out of context! We are addicted to storytelling and have a naive tendency to believe in stories — without verification — as if they were “the truth.”

THE SELFISH MEME

In 1976, long before the Internet explosion, the biologist Richard Dawkins created the “Meme.” In his book “The Selfish Gene,” he imagined the analogy between cultural evolution and genetic transmission. As a unit of imitation, the Meme is a cultural replicator — like the gene — that spreads from brain to brain. The Meme is much more than the idea of a grotesque and comical image. It is an idea, a story, a tale, a thought, an ideology that is replicated and goes viral. In our genetic load, we tend to imitate, to reproduce others’ ideas.

That’s why it’s so easy to fool ourselves. What we see today as a funny image reproducing like a cancer cell on the Internet, but is much more than that. It can be an ideology, a religion, an idea, a lie that — as the first Nazi propaganda minister said — repeated a thousand times, becomes a reality. The Meme has existed for centuries and is not an invention of the Internet. Be careful with the ideas that come to your head, and you never stop to think about them. They are in your brain totally unconsciously; they are not your ideas. They are repeated by someone who belongs to a collective and has a clear objective: that you preach their ideas without questioning or thinking. It is in your genetic code. It is “The Selfish Meme.”

THE DISCURSIVE CRACK OF COLLECTIVISM

Two years ago, I wrote The Storytelling War: there is no possible consensus in the Culture of Cancellation, worried about the lack of agreements in contemporary dialectics. Because of the abyss between opposing discourses: Left vs. Right, capitalism vs. communism, and sexism vs. feminism. I see a stagnant debate that needs to evolve. A discursive and also social crack. A dialectic that has lost its noblest sense: the evolution of ideas with overcoming opposites. There is no longer any possible consensus in the Culture of Cancellation.

The ideas that used to work like a pendulum -from left to right, from right to left- that maintained the illusion of equilibrium, which at times was real, now create chaos, friction, and infinite conflict. They are no longer functional to contemporaneity. Social media exhibits dysfunctional behaviors exacerbated by radical and polarized ideas. A collective madness that blinds the most sensible. Why is this happening to us? It happens to you, it happens to me, it happens to all of us. It is the “Hooligans” syndrome. Because the way of thinking in a group is programmed in our genetic code: we think by imitation, making us unconscious in “the collective.” It is The Selfish Meme that blocks reflection.

NARRATIVE KILLS REALITY

Earlier, I said that when the story is transgressive and credible, the political character comes to power and exercises it. And that is where the narrative is put to the test. But what happens when the speech is NOT discussed? What happens when a leader DECLARES his truth? What happens when he misrepresents data, falsifies information, or lies about facts and is unimpeachable? What happens when the narrative pretends to BE reality? What happens when the narrative kills reality?

When a narrative is shown as absolute truth, at that moment, it becomes ideology: indoctrination. And that is when the story “kills” reality. This happens when a leader is installed in power with a “contract of permanence”; when -with greed and lust- he creates a stagnant status quo that inhibits any change. When comfortable in his privileges, he denies social wear and tear to psychopathic levels, generates political clientelism, and recruits militants. At that moment, he becomes a dangerous leader. Because any data or actual fact that questions him -inflation, poverty, or even a war becomes invisible in the eyes of his fans. So, narrative kills reality.

MOVING INTO A PHILOSOPHICAL MORALITY

The war of the narrative -in the world- is on fire. Everything indicates that, in Argentina, Kirchnerism will lose the elections in October, and its main rival is a libertarian candidate. A libertarian who came to “dynamite politics from within.” Who came to deconstruct ideologies, re-signify beliefs, and demystify narratives that “killed reality.” Who is left, and who is right? Who is revolutionary, and who is conservative? Who represents The People, and who is The Corporation? Who is the tyrant, and who is the savior?

Whatever happens in October, the cultural battle is won. The road is not the easiest; on the contrary. It is the unknown, the most controversial, the scary one. Every victim of abuse tends to fear Individuation. Many will continue to choose not to choose—some out of convenience, others out of weakness. I am not a Kirchnerist, a Macrist, or a Mileirist either. I have no ideology, I am philosophically libertarian. Because I feel a philosophical morality that self-limits and liberates me from the inside out. It requires discipline and courage, but no one will tell me how I have to think or feel. It is the price and the reward of Individuation.

Do you choose?

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Adriferreiro

Copywriter. Passionate about political strategy and concerned about the profile of our leaders; I share controversial ideas that question political power.