Antonio Escohotado, apostle of free thought, dies

Antonio Escohotado, at his home in Madrid. / Elvira Megías

Author of the monumental ‘General History of Drugs’, defended the legalization of their consumption from the maximum information

Miguel Lorenzi

“The prohibition of drugs will die little by little.” This was a conviction for Antonio Escohotado (Madrid, 1941) the thinker, professor, essayist, and apostle of free and libertine thought who died this Sunday at the age of 80, in Ibiza, island and refuge to which he wanted to return when he knew that the end was next. Because of his philosophical and vital daring, Escohotado believed that he was the first to be repudiated for being politically incorrect when the politically incorrect did not yet exist.

The monumental ‘General History of Drugs’ is undoubtedly the best-known work of Escohotado, a multi-stakeholder thinker, lawyer, economist, and astrophysicist, father of eight children, disenchanted with the left and a freethinker above all else. It is a true encyclopedia, a classic published for the first time in 1989 in three volumes with numerous editions and translations that he expanded in successive editions with the intention of “breaking the structure of ignorance without making value judgments.”

One of the great passions of this professor of Philosophy of Law, Metaphysics and Sociology was to acquire knowledge to spread it so that “society does not manipulate us.” A recognized herald of the legal consumption of drugs – “substances inherent to the Earth” – he was convinced that prohibition will die, as happened with alcohol after Prohibition in the United States. He said that in his exhaustive work on these substances “there is not a single statement that is not based on the footnote.”

First-batch hippie in Ibiza, since his return to the island he took refuge in a modest cabin to face his end with stoicism and irony. “If life says goodbye, I say goodbye sooner,” he wrote, “Do you kick in the face of the inevitable? Not me », he assured in one of the conversations held for months for the book ‘The penultimate days of Escohotado’.

Antonio Escohotado: «The only activities worthy of human beings are fornicating and studying»

He was always trying to “reap the benefits” of consciousness-altering substances. “There are no better or worse, but judicious ways and foolish ways of consuming them,” he said. That is why he remarked that “we want drugs without side effects”, a statement that led him to remember that the Caucasian race “has enzymes capable of assimilating them much better than Africans or Asians” Responsible freedom Sustaining a culture of “responsible freedom”, defender of abortion and free sex, Escohotado faced Tyrians and Trojans. “It is not necessary to prohibit drugs or abortion, what must be done is to educate people with the maximum knowledge so that they can exercise their full freedom,” repeated this chain smoker, founder of the Amnesia nightclub in Ibiza and defender of outrage of freedom as the way to develop a life in fullness.

With more than 1,500 pages, 300 images and exhaustive information on all the drugs discovered, both legal and illegal, Escohotado wrote his’ General History of Drugs in the 1980s, when he was imprisoned for a year in the Cuenca prison, condemned for drug trafficking. It contains an impressive amount of documentation, with chapters as curious as the “literary descriptions” of classical authors under the influence of narcotics and endless historical anecdotes.

When he published his famous ‘Book of Poisons’ in Anagrama – of which he barely sold 500 copies – he made his position clear. “Some drugs are used to pit children against parents, and parents against children, I offer information for the self-government of adults.” According to the editor Jorge Herralde, who invited him to change the title to call it ‘Learning from drugs’ and sell 100,000 copies, Escohotado’s work “avoids falling into the topic dialogue of deaf people between supporters and detractors of legal drug use”, and seeks “to offer the reader a set of materials to form their own judgment.”

Escohotado knew that “we are surrounded by constant winks that incite us to consume, to compete, to accumulate, to create servitudes and false needs”, when, according to him, what should be done is just the opposite. “It is not a question of thinking to find out what is missing, but we have to think to find out what is left over.”

Once a militant on the extreme left, he was a communist “until what was happening in the Soviet Union leaked out” and he was “disappointed” with Cuba. “I realized that it didn’t work, that it never really worked,” he confessed. In 1991 he received the Anagrama Essay Award for ‘The spirit of comedy’, a particular vision of power where politicians are identified with buffoons. Translator of Hobbes, Newton, Marcuse, Hegel and Jefferson, he was also the author of ‘Reality and substance’ (1986), ‘Philosophy and methodology of the sciences’ (1987),’ The spirit of comedy ‘(1991),’ Harlots and wives’ (1993), ‘Portrait of the libertine’ (1998), ‘Sixty weeks in the tropics’ (2003),’ In front of fear ‘(2015),’ My private Ibiza ‘(2019) or’ Milestones of sense ‘ (2020). Another fundamental title in his bibliography is the trilogy is ‘The enemies of trade’ (2008-2017), where he delves into the roots of capitalism through the germ of trade and describes its ups and downs from the Greeks and Romans to the present.


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