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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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The Way of All Cash

January 22, 1944, is a memorable date in the history of humbug. It marks the occasion on which Juan Perón met Evita in Luna Park in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.19

At the opening of the twentieth century, Argentine farmers enjoyed a land of milk and honey—with rising farm prices. Argentines were getting rich shipping agricultural products to Europe. They built palaces out on their farms, complete with opera houses and polo fields. And in the capital, they put up some of the most handsome buildings in the world. They came to Europe as tourists and stayed in the best hotels. Argentines were wealthy, and everyone knew it. Between the turn of the century and the beginning of the Great War, capital accumulated at the rate of 9 percent per year, while population grew at only half that rate.

At least at first, it also seemed that Argentina was spared the cultural decline of Europe. European civilization had come to be dominated by vulgar bunkum. A cheap rot encrusted everything—art, manners, architecture, and politics. Interventionists, meddlers, and world improvers—that is to say, accomplished liars—had taken over at the world's major popular assemblies and hijacked most of its leading central banks. But Argentina seemed to have escaped unscathed. Its armies never got into either world war. It never suffered a great depression in the 1930s. Life in Buenos Aires was safe and civilized even while Europe's cities were being blown up and its peoples being exterminated. ...

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