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We want to celebrate the life and work of Antonio Escohotado, who passed away. This important Spanish figure has been one of the first (and probably with the widest reach) to confront the prohibition and fight for a science-based discussion of substances.
Last Sunday, with 80 years the Spanish philosopher and thinker Antonio Escohotado left this world.
From Psychedelics-integration we want to celebrate the life and work of this figure so important in the Spanish-speaking world as being one of the firsts (and probably with the widest reach) to confront the prohibition and fight for a science-based discussion of substances, their effects, and calling out on the horrible effects that the so-called “War on Drugs” was bringing to the people who were supposed to be helping.
An eternal rebel and accompanied with a marvelous memory, only surpassed by an insatiable intellectual curiosity, Antonio challenged and tried to understand several aspects of our culture and modernity, always trying to be true to his maxim of “knowing where things come from” as a way to understand the evolution and reality of things.
As a young student, he became a Marxist, confronting that time reigning Franquismo in Spain volunteering to fight with the Vietcong, to later slowly changing his mind and becoming a proponent of commerce and free human cooperation at the end of his life. With his direct style, he gathered as many followers as enemies but as Pablo Iglesias (left-wing politician and main figure in the movement Podemos) said in an interview with him, “either you agree or disagree with him, his way of analyzing things to the bottom is something to be cherished and celebrated”.
After years of living in Ibiza, having his part in the “sexual revolution” and surviving with academic translations of Hegel, Hobbes, etc, he got tricked by two police officers and condemned to 2 years of jail for drug trafficking (He connected two undercovered agents that wanted to buy and sell some cocaine at a party at his house, where today the famous club Amnesia stands).
He accepted what he later called a quiet but comfortable sabbatical, only asking to be placed in isolation and granted access to writing material, where he started writing what many consider his Magnum Opus, “Historia General de las Drogas” (General History of Drugs).
Within its two enormous volumes, he went on to the colossal task of finding information (passing from prehistoric archaeological reports, through the antiquity and classical times, dark ages, medieval, renaissance, etc all the way until the 20th-century prohibition) and describing how Humanity has handled and related with different substances and giving a clear anti-prohibition thesis that was not at all a popular opinion in the 80s.
Trying to bring historical and current facts to the discussion, he became a controversial figure in a time when fearmongering on the topic was the rule. He started being a common figure in panel discussions and bringing a different view on the topic that was all but welcomed by most of society on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.