PopeWatch: Peronism

PopeWatch has long believed that Argentina is the key to understanding Pope Francis.  Father Ray Blake takes a look at Peronism:


I had a lesson in Peronism from an Argentinian waiter recently, in Argentina he was a PPE graduate.
Peronism, he said, was the most corrupt form of politics, because you could be a Communist, or a Facist, or a Capitalist, the only thing that mattered was support for Peron, post Peron any other head of State. It is a remnant of 1920/30s Facism, where the will of the Fuhrer or Il Duce was all that mattered. Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, Custom or Tradition, Law or Morality or anything else pale into insignificance and have no validity compared to the Will of the Leader.

Therefore the ideal is to be as close as possible to the Leader, failing direct proximity the next best thing is to be close either to those who are close to the Leader or those know, or claim to know, the mind of the Leader. Under such a system moral automony is reduced to slavery because is no mral compass, such abstracts as Right and Wrong are of no importance. All that does matter is Dux Vult. If the leader is somewhat erratic that doesn’t really matter, it just means his followers have to be closer and listen even more intently and it could be that what was the Leader’s will last year or even this morning, might not be so now, or his will expressed to A might be the complete opposite of what was expressed to B.

To the Peronist the old elite, who based their authority on intellectual expertise or their understanding, or knowledge, even their fidelity to the law must be supplanted, nothing other than the leaders will matters. They represent an alternative authority, and therefore a possible alternative source of power, and certainly a source of evaluation and criticism. Peronism hates intellectuals, they are always totally arbitary and concerned with what is expedient, what adds to or deepens the leaders power.

Nowaday’s everyone identifies the rule of Francis as in some sense Peronist, it is popular conclusion, I identified it at the beginning of his reign, if somewhat positively, as appealing to the ordinary man and trying to make the Papacy ‘popular’, that was a bit naive of me, it is actually Peron’s Peronism, essentially about making the leader powerful.

The trouble with Peronism as my waiter friend explained is that far from being a cure for corruption it becomes a source of it  The corruption  in the Vatican is based on nepotism and patronage, it is the old Italian thing as dominant in Rome as it is in Palermo; X has done me a favour, therefore I will do a favour for Y who, will do you a favour, in return for you helping Z, who will then be indedted to me. Peronism thrives on this because relations with the leader, rather than integrity, honour or honesty, are all that matters. It does indeed reduce everyone to slavery because personal integrity is always subject to whatever the leader wants. North Korea is perhaps the Peronist ideal or at least the reductio ad absurdum.

What is hated are upright men of integrity, those who are approved of are the servile and weak and those who are either stupid, indebted in some sense or lack integrity, who are therefore always and corruptable, one could list a huge number of Papal courtiers who fit into this category.


Go here to read the rest. Peron left Argentina a wreck.  Francis will leave the Church in a similar condition.



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  1. Peronism was not and is not a fascist movement. It was a hybrid of demagogic populism, patron-client politics, abuse of power, and charismatic authority (especially that of Evita Peron). It was a wretched, wretched detour for Argentina. The thing is, each of these pathologies can be readily located in other settings.

    It should also be noted that the political order in Argentina prior to Peron was not a healthy one either.

  2. DJH…..maybe Warsaw or Krakow…..not Africa.
    About Peron……a demagogue if there ever was…I am taking out from the library this week to re-read Unvanquished, the story of Josef Pilsudski. Pilsudski could not be more different from Peron. Pilsudski did govern as some sort of despot late in his life,which would be the only thing he would have in common with Peron.

  3. Pilsudski retained Poland’s electoral institutions and worked with them for a half-dozen years or so. Pilsudski was reacting contra parliamentary corruption and ineptitude. He was to Peron what Eisenhower was to Huey Long.

    The double act of the military and the Peronists had left Argentina a wreck by 1976. The ineptitude of Argentina’s political class extends well beyond the Peronist movement (which now informs a bevy of political parties and is largely domesticated). By way of example, there are 4 countries in the western hemisphere with inflation rates exceeding 10%. One is Venezuela, where the currency now is about as valuable as used toilet paper and measured inflation is in excess of 700% per year for those commodities which you can still find on the shelf. No other country is anywhere near there. However, the worst of the rest is Argentina. In 2015, they elected for the first time in nearly 80 years years a President not out of the Peronist movement or the Radical Civic Union, but he’s proved to be a disappointment. If you cannot get your program through the legislature, you can at least pull levers in the central bank (unless there are some curious institutional arrangements). When Mr. Macri took office, the GDP deflator had been increasing at a rate of 24% per year. Since he took office, it’s been increasing at a rate of 26% per year. Contrast with what was accomplished in this country during 1981 and 1982.

  4. I have my doubts that the Vatican (or the HQ of the Roman Catholic Church) could be in Europe. Demographic decline and all that; Islamic invasion/Islam taking control. But Africa also has demographic problems (population decline/low birthrates). I suggest Africa because from what I’ve heard, Catholicism (at least of a more traditional/orthodox type) has taken root there and is doing well. Or at least better than in Europe and the New World.

  5. Art, Pilsudski on his worst day was far better than Peron on his best. DJH, Poland has begun programs at growing the birthrate and early signs are promising. Poland has begun programs allowing people of Polish descent whose ancestors were exiled all over the USSR by Stalin to emigrate to Poland. Hungary wants to do much the same thing. Not surprisingly, the EU verbal attacks on Poland have led to increased Mass attendance in Poland. Argentina is cursed to be populated by Argentines. Give Argentine land to Vietnamese or Taiwanese or Poles or Hungarians and they would make that land a world power.

  6. “it is the old Italian thing as dominant in Rome as it is in Palermo; X has done me a favour, therefore I will do a favour for Y who, will do you a favour, in return for you helping Z, who will then be indedted to me.”

    Pope Leo X hated making appointments. “Whenever I do so,” he lamented, “I create nine malcontents and an ingrate.”

  7. It occurred to me that one of the Pope’s favorite phrases appears to be “to draw near.” And he does give the appearance of saying A to one group, but B to another.

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