The essayist and philosopher who has just died in Ibiza published in 2016 the third volume of his work ‘The enemies of commerce’, in which he dismantled the idea that impurity is concentrated in money
Antonio Escohotado (Madrid, 1941- Ibiza, 2021) had just got up when he came to this interview. It was five in the afternoon and he was riding like a motorcycle after consuming a euphoric cocktail that would keep him full of energy for two days and more than ready for a marathon of sex. “I continue to consume increasingly”, he bragged as he lit a cigarette and asked in a cafeteria in the center of Madrid for a beer that a little later would accompany a wine and some chorizo taquitos. The most quarrelsome thinker, essayist and university professor in Spain just passed away at age 80 and had completed at that time and after 17 years of work the work with which questioned a communism in which he continued to militate morally to raise a spear in favor of a neoliberalism that makes human beings more responsible for their decisions. ‘The enemies of commerce’ (Espasa) dismantles over 3,000 documents and three volumes the idea that impurity is concentrated in money.
A book that raises blisters everywhere. Escohotado cared little, founder of the Amnesia nightclub in Ibiza, these criticisms. They are not new, when he decided to write about drugs and proclaim himself a consumer, he received a boycott from the academic world in response. “I have been imprisoned five times, I have not been allowed to be emeritus when I am the only professor in Spain with six six-term research, I applied to professorships and they suspended me because of my curriculum,” says one of our most controversial thinkers, father of eight children , that only breaks when remembering the death of one of them, Roman. This is the reproduction of Escohotado’s words after publishing ‘The enemies of commerce’.
-The third volume of The Enemies of Commerce has just finished. A moral history of the property after seventeen years of working thirteen hours a day. Why have you thrown yourself in this way, at your age, in this monumental task?
-I needed to clarify myself, to know why I had been so red and then I had become so critical of that posture.
-Have you managed to clear yourself?
-Perfectly. I have realized that what they told us was a skewed story, a movie that is not. I have seen that the attitude of the enemies of trade does not have any positivity. For them everything is no.
-Who are those enemies that worry you so much today?
-They are those enemies of commerce who prefer that a few decide what to produce and what to consume instead of fostering a society that organizes itself in a constructive and prosperous way.
– Those who suffer in their flesh the effects of neoliberalism will find it difficult to understand the arguments of your book.
-That is nonsense, a cliché, to say that there are people who suffer in their flesh the effects of neoliberalism. We all suffer the consequences of economic crises, but I assure you that the excluded are the last who want to put themselves in the place of the first. They are the ones who invented the Sermon on the Mount to end by saying that self-employment is prohibited and that we all have to be state employees.
-Will it cost those enemies to digest your work?
-It shouldn’t cost you anything but you can get very little out of it when you read a work in bad faith. There are people who live clinging to a fixed idea and others who are observing reality.
-During the 2008 crisis, inequality has grown in developed countries and phenomena such as populism, xenophobia, Tsipras, Brexit and Trump have made their appearance. Where are we going?
-All that is false. Inequality has not grown and these phenomena respond to the Cainite part of the human being that prefers discord to harmony. Pablo Iglesias once said: “Let’s keep the class rancor”, and added: “Unfortunately I come from bourgeois parents but I have a grandmother who washed dishes.” What a particular guy! We could all still be washing dishes like your grandmother.
– Isn’t your work missing a critique of the less edifying aspects of commerce?
-Tell me what those aspects are. I have written more than 3,000 pages in this work so I think I have studied the subject a little more than those who talk about the less edifying effects of trade.
-Why does the dominant critique of the origins of capitalism seem so fallacious to you?
-Because she is misinformed. Few know that William Bardford, the first governor of Massachusetts, was a communist. They also ignore that the founding pantheon of capitalism is made up of voluntary communist sects. With ignorance you go nowhere.
-Keep in mind that Jesus Christ expelled the merchants from the temple.
-They are two decisive acts at the beginning and at the end of his public life. When he expelled them for the first time, he valued it because he was alone. On the second occasion he was supported by a mass of peasants who intimidated the merchants. It is in both cases an act as violent as reaching Mecca and forbidding to go around the Black Stone.
-Pope Francis considers communists Christians and describes the money as devil’s dung. What do you think?
-The one that the impurity is concentrated in the money is the axis of the communist movement.
-Do we then have a communist pope?
-Totally. He has been trained within Liberation Theology, which is the softer communist branch of the end of the 20th century, but there is much earlier antecedents.
-It was at the Council of Trent, with the dispute between Protestants and Catholics, when the Church had to decide whether it was still the standard-bearer of the excluded or if, on the contrary, the honest Christian should be reasonably prosperous. Luther and Calvin saw that in this life one can be far-sighted and that this is not blaspheming against God.
Why was Donald Trump, a liberal, determined to maintain or even increase the protectionist barriers that Obama was trying to lower between the US, Europe and Asia?
-Trump is blamed for things he has not done yet. All the thoughtful press, rating agencies, and polls are hurling at him. It is necessary to flee from the bluffs of the polls. We’ll see what Trump does. Obama said that one thing is what is said in the campaign and another is what is done. You have to wait, but for the red conscience as for the unhappy Christian, waiting and watching is the same as committing suicide.
-What does globalization bring us: should we continue with it or should we try to avoid the current funnel law so that we can all compete on equal terms?
We all compete on an equal footing since 1782 when the American Constitution was promulgated. The peoples have been adopting this measure of humility that means self-government and respect for the laws. We are on a very good path. The way is always the middle one: avoid extremism, study instead of pontificating, knowing instead of repeating like parrots. A little bit of self-love and dignity.
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