At the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, officials eagerly awaited the next news. Will they be included in the 50,000 public employees who, according to President Javier Milei, will be fired in the next phase of the adjustment? “It’s going to touch us for sure; and it will be difficult to avoid it because many of us have a temporary contract,” said the cloakroom manager.

The museum, which has an unrivaled collection of Renaissance, Baroque and modern art, was very popular during the Easter holidays. But not by tourists – these prefer the Evita Perón pantheon in the cemetery in front – but by Buenos Aires residents, many of them young people and groups of schoolchildren.

That surely has to do with the free entry. “The museum is a national heritage site, it is financed with contributions from the Ministry of Culture,” said Diego Jata, museum spokesperson. “But there is no longer a Ministry but a secretariat.”

Milei repeats the mantra that “there is no money.” But, with the new ultra-conservative movement behind the attack on the culture budget, it is difficult to know if the real target of the chainsaw is spending or content: paintings like the magnificent Marie l ‘acrobate of Léger, the luminous cubism of the Argentine Emilio Pettorari, the proletarian realism of Antoni Berni, the anti-military satires of the exiled Antonio Seguí.

They are masterpieces for the museum directors but for Milei’s right, they are vehicles of so-called “cultural Marxism”, a danger for the susceptible general public. “Before, neoliberal cuts were designed with technical criteria. Now there is an ideology behind it,” said sociologist Ezequiel Ipa.

Milei’s ideological project – as happened with Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – has two objectives. On the one hand, divert the fed-up of the electorate against a supposed progressive cultural “caste” accused of having enriched itself through corruption. On the other, reinvent the past.

According to the gurus of the new Argentine extreme right – young ultra-conservative philosophers such as Agustín Laje, or Álvaro Zicarelli – progressivism has been taking over the cultural world from the film industry, museums, contemporary art galleries, libraries, universities , schools, all cultural and educational institutions.

The left “no longer intends to expropriate the means of production but rather the worldview of man,” Laje summarizes in a YouTube video that denounces an alleged process of insidious indoctrination against the traditional values ​​of the heterosexual family and the Catholic Church. Curiously, the soundtrack is by Radiohead. Ultimately, the mileist movement wants to be part of a subculture of youth rebellion. This despite the fact that there is an attempt to wage a “cultural battle” in the name of the “Christian social order”, with the family as a fundamental pillar.

In his book ‘The Cultural Battle’, Laje is nostalgic for the solid order of the divine king and the unappealable God of the pre-Enlightenment. ”Even art and humanist and Renaissance thought concern him,” says Ezequiel.

During the book fair this week in Buenos Aires, Laje presented the new hagiography about Milei co-written by the homophobic Nicolás Márquez, titled Milei, the revolution they saw coming.

“The cultural battle is an active, conscious, deliberate confrontation. “, She said. “Javier Milei’s electoral victory is inseparable from these efforts.”

Milei, on the other hand, chose the Luna Park stadium to present his own book on the 22nd of this month, a frontal attack not only against socialism but also against economic neoclassicism, which, to date, has been the preferred school of liberals and neoliberals. Boycotting the fair was the coup to justify the withdrawal of public funding from the important fair for the first time in history.

Unlike philosophers like Laje, the economist Milei hides the ideological agenda behind a curtain of economic sciences. A good example: the new super ministry called Human Capital, which engulfs culture and education under the direction of Sandra Pettrovello, a journalist who did her doctorate in family policies at the International University of Catalonia, of Opus Dei. Pettrovello has a strange background for the person responsible for Argentina’s cultural future.

In reality, converting culture into human capital is Milei’s nod to the theories of neoliberal economics gurus such as Gary Becke and Robert Lucas of the Chicago school. These won Nobel Prizes for trying to quantify all human creativity as a product and creator of human capital.

But Milei, despite naming one of his five mastiffs after Lucas, is not a reductionist like the Chicago economists. The constant references in presidential speeches to the far-fetched hypotheses of these economists serve to hide the true objective: to purge the hated progressive elite from cultural institutions. “The Argentine problem is not political or economic; It is moral,” Milei tweeted in February.

The charge began in March with the decision to drastically cut spending and dismiss the entire staff – 231 people – of the National Film Institute (INCAA).

“The state is needed to protect us from the cruelty of the market; -not only in culture but in health and education- but this Government believes that the state is not necessary,” said Leandro Spaglione in comments to La Vanguardia.

But Milei’s cultural agenda goes beyond austerity and privatization. The battle is being waged against “a type of films that tends to satisfy certain (…) ideological preferences,” clarified the newspaper La Nación. That is to say, the underlying problem is not the cost but rather an alleged progressive bias part of the plan of cultural Marxism.

The attack is in tune with the rage of some long-suffering citizen. “It’s from a madhouse! “I have heard on the radio that there are movies that have cost 170 million pesos and three people watch them!” said a taxi driver in Buenos Aires.

The second front of the cultural war has been the Mariano Moreno National Library, a historic institution, founded in 1810 that includes among its former directors José Luis Borges, who headed the institution between 1955 and 1973. The Government has announced the freezing of the budget and hundreds of layoffs.

Attacking an institution run in times past by a conservative icon like Borges seems like a risky step even for Milei. But the library – housed in an emblematic modern building by Clorindo Testa – already has documentation centers dedicated to indigenous peoples, Afro culture, and human rights. That is, another vehicle of cultural Marxism that must be fought culturally.

“What is at risk, among other things, is memory -our memory-,” protest a dozen intellectuals in a letter sent to Milei and Pettovello.

But it is precisely memory that the new right seeks to remake. Libraries, like films with great international projection such as Argentina 1985, or political paintings from the seventies and eighties, are obstacles to the revisionist project led by Vice President Victoria Villarruel. Its objective: to whitewash the crimes of the military and establish an equivalence between the victims of the dictatorship and those of the guerrilla. In the cultural battle against a non-existent Marxist plot, the first thing to change is the past.