Antonio Escohotado Espinosa (5 July 1941 – 21 November 2021) was a Spanish philosopher and essayist. His work, primarily focused on law, philosophy and sociology, covered a wide range of fields. Escohotado gained public renown for his research on drugs as well as for his well-known anti-prohibitionist positions. His major work, The General History of Drugs, is widely respected.
Antonio Escohotado Espinosa
5 July 1941
|Died||21 November 2021 (aged 80)|
|Liberalism, metaphysics, culture, history of communism, sociology, drugs, politics|
From Brazil to SpainEdit
Escohotado's father Román Escohotado was a falangist journalist and writer who used the pseudonym Ariel. Román Escohotado, who served both as director for broadcasting and programming of Radio Nacional de España during the Francoist dictatorship and as editor of Falanges, Revista mensual de Italia y España, considered an "extraordinary case of Italian-Spanish Fascist collaboration", was eventually stationed as a press attaché in the Spanish embassy in Brazil.
When the family returned to Spain from Brazil, his son Antonio experienced an abrupt contrast between the tropical paradise of his early childhood and Franco's grey and severe society. He spent two summers in militia service, where he was often confined to a cell because “his tent had become a venue for seminars on Marxism and disobedience.” Later, he made arrangements to join the Viet Cong armed forces in its war against the United States but chronic hepatitis shortened his period of service.
He began publishing with José Ortega Spottorno. Escohotado's article “Hallucinogens and the Everyday World”  was his first incursion in this field, and contained the experiences described by Michaux and Huxley.
His PhD thesis, The Moral Philosophy of Young Hegel, was presented in 1970. When it was published as The Unhappy Consciousness, an essay on Hegel's philosophy of religion (Revista de Occidente, 1972), it provoked an academic stir. Although it won the Nueva Crítica Award, it was included in the Vatican's list of heretical books known as Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
In 1970, Ibiza offered traditional country houses (casas payesas) designed following ancestral techniques, without electricity or running water, but very cheap. They were converted into quasi-monasteries, devoted to collective life and to orgiastic traditions. Although only a minority had vehicles, walking or hitchhiking was sufficient for getting around and this sustained an intense social life. Experiences with visionary substances such as LSD, led to his own metaphysical treatise. Examining ancient philosophical texts in From Physis to Polis, the evolution of Greek thought from Thales to Socrates, he organises the fragments of each Pre-Socratic philosopher thematically.
In 1976, he transformed a large old country house into the “tribe's” meeting place outfitted with musical instruments. This house became Amnesia, one of the most well-known discothèques in the world.
Whores and SpousesEdit
Family Stories, four myths about sex and duty was his first anthropological essay. This work reviews the marital model illustrated by Mary and Joseph, in the light of the comparison with the relationships between Gilgamesh and Ishtar, Zeus and Hera, and Hercules and Deianira. In Escohotado's estimation, these timeless figures suggest a primordial tension in the archetypal family. The book was reworked and issued as Whores and Spouses.
Troubles with the local police started with the foundation of Amnesia, and culminated in 1983 with prosecution for cocaine trafficking, being accused of leading the so-called “hippie mafia”, using his status of writer and professor as a front. Escohotado had returned to the National University of Distance Education in Spain (UNED) as a part-time assistant professor in 1980. The journal Diario 16 commented: “The professor of ethics is a hard drug dealer”. The scandal heated up when, two days later, El País newspaper published an opinion page written by Escohotado in which he claimed to have been a victim of an entrapment in a drug trading operation where both buyers and sellers were policemen.
The trial stage of the criminal proceedings took place five years later, when he was convicted of a “attempted drug trafficking”  («tráfico de drogas en grado de tentativa imposible»). This Criminal Code concept would later be replaced by the case law doctrine of "provoked crime" (delito provocado) or "entrapment." Instead of appealing the judgment, he opted for a one-year “humble but nevertheless paid holiday”  in Cuenca's penitentiary, where he stayed in solitary confinement. This allowed him to work with no interruptions, only receiving mail and food through a portal in the door.
Teaching and researchEdit
The five years that passed between his prosecution and his imprisonment were the most creative and fertile in Escohotado's biography. He published one book a year while writing monthly opinion pages for El País. A TV confrontation with the chief narcotics commissioner at the time garnered much attention. Escohotado organised two courses about pharmacology and civil disobedience with speakers such as Albert Hofmann, Thomas Szasz and Alexander Shulgin, which broke summer university attendance records. This unleashed a slew of TV debates on drug prohibition.
Escohotado became a tenured professor in charge of the Philosophy and Methodology of Social Science subject at UNED (National University of Distance Education in Spain), where he would remain until his retirement. Following the publication of General History of Drugs, he gained “an army of followers and legions of detractors”.
Majesties, Crimes and Victims is an essay on legal sociology that provides an overview of a seemingly disparate group of crimes – illegal propaganda, homosexuality, apostasy, euthanasia, blasphemy, prostitution, magical practices, pharmacological idiosyncrasy, pornography, and contraception – whose common denominator is “to remove the borders between morality and law, with inevitable corrupting effects for both spheres”. After analysing various manifestations of each, Escohotado concluded that condemning voluntarily requested services between adults, or publicly manifested prohibited thoughts actually create crimes against a victim who is merely alleged, where the grievance is not received by a specific flesh-and-blood person but by an authority of religious origin that declares itself the offended party even without having participated in the incident. All these crimes derive from “the archaic unjustness par excellence which is the crime of lèse-majesté or injured majesty, a challenge to the prince's powers that secular societies shift towards the new majestic powers, sometimes camouflaged by scientific pretexts such as the “Pharmacracy” described by Thomas Szasz.
Escohotado claimed that freedom is incompatible with any crime of mere challenge and “any prosecution of lèse-majesté is finally a crime against humanity...” This analysis aroused the interest of criminologists, public prosecutors and judges. In April 1989, two years after the appearance of the essay, the jurisprudence issued the first judgment of acquittal due to provoked crime (delito provocado). Since then, the Spanish judiciary has been reluctant to conflate morality and law, and nearly all crimes of lèse-majesté – starting with blasphemy – lost validity. Escohotado has continued to draw the attention to the legal status of euthanasia (contempt of Divine Providence), and even more so about the crime of suicide assistance (contempt of the medical authority).
General History of DrugsEdit
Escohotado produced a book that thoroughly documents the pharmacological enlightenment.
“(…) Replacing conjectures and future possibilities – what would happen if this or that drug changed its status – by a comprehensive list of examples about what happened and when. This is because, practically, there is no psychoactive drug that has ever stopped being considered both a panacea and an infernal potion, depending on collateral factors in each case. Among those factors are xenophobia and political, economic, and theological interests.” 
He lists a host of examples: wine terrified the Greco-Roman civilization, resulting in several bans on its consumption; drinking coffee was punished with mutilation and gallows in Russia and Egypt, similar to tobacco in Persia; Paraguayan maté was rejected by the Vatican as a satanic vehicle.
Among the first reviews was that of Fernando Savater in El País’ literary supplement: “A new phenomenology of consciousness … A unique book in the world bibliography, not only because of its wideness and complexity but also due to its purpose and depth.” Since then, this work has become a major reference. An abbreviated version was translated into many languages. Esochotado completed it in 1992 with an appendix dedicated to personal experimentation, Learning from Drugs: uses and abuses, prejudices and challenges, which involved experimentation with about a hundred compounds such as alcohol, heroin, hemp, ether, benzodiazepines, cocaine, LSD, coffee, ketamine and MDMA. Following its publication, he gained “an army of followers and a legion of detractors”.
The book analyzes drugs as a way towards self-discovery, maturity and dialogue or even simple entertainment:
“Drugs prompt chemical modifications which can also induce solitude, silence, abstinence, pain, fear. Chemically, there is no way to distinguish a person who is under the effects of drugs from one under the effects of yoga. Chemically, we are nothing but a set of reactions. The problem is that society tells you that, even if you are chemically the same, that one came in the good way and the other through the back door.”
Instead of classifying drugs as legal or illegal, hard or soft, or according to their respective chemical bases, the author arranges them in groups by function. They are evaluated on the extent to which they meet the expected or promised level of satisfaction, and the needs are defined as “peace, verve and travel”. The author examines each substance by variables such as minimum active dose, median lethal dose, tolerance factor, subjective and objective effects, synergies, antagonisms, and withdrawal symptoms. In addition, it includes sections dedicated to the cultural framework (“main uses”), as well as the mythology linked to each of them. The epilogue begins by saying: “The same rope used by the alpinist to climb, is also used by the suicidal man to hang himself, and by the sailor so the wind can fill the sails.” Hence the proposal stated in the last paragraph:
“The illustration notes that certain compounds, when used reasonably, may provide moments of peace, energy and mental tripping. Its goal is to make their use less and less toxic, and those who use them more aware of their inalienable freedom. This is the oldest human aspiration: to go deeper into responsibility and knowledge.”
A quote by Escohotado in his book Learning from drugs was celebrated with the song “From My Skin Inwards I'm in Charge” by the band Mil Dolores Pequeños (Soul Shack, 1994). This turned Escohotado into a media figure for a decade.
The Spirit of Comedy won the 1992 Anagrama Essay Award. Notwithstanding its title, it deals with the sociology of executive power. The book analyses the political class that emerged from the democratic transition, reflecting on the institutional horizons of parliamentary democracy and its alternative, direct democracy. He describes terrorism as a feedback loop or vicious circle, in which the interests of the terrorist and the antiterrorists always coincide. He also provides an alternative virtuous circle by analysing when a group is able to claim the right of self-determination. He examines the Swiss model as well as centralism, federalism and confederation.
The texts gathered in Portrait of a Libertine outline a contemporary theory of health, suggesting that our nature inevitably merges being and thinking. The first and most extensive essay concerns the Victorian anonymous text My Secret Life. Years before, Escohotado translated and prefaced  a two-volume abbreviated edition of the twelve-volume set published around 1888. According to poet and critic Jaime Gil de Biedma, it is “the most extensive and detailed report about a male human being's erotic experience ever to be written.” In fact, “besides offering a rich picture of the era – precisely the part omitted in Dickens, Hardy, and contemporary English authors – he describes in detail carnal relations with about two thousand women”. Escohotado discusses the many ways to experience carnal love, passions such as domination, lust or jealousy.
Notes about eugenics reviews the policy of denying terminal patients the use of euphoriant analgesics not only as palliatives but as remedies. In A Better Way to Die, he reflects on euthanasia, and on each individual's right to choose when and how to die his own death. The volume concludes with the similarities between Ernst Jünger and Albert Hofmann, who were elderly at that time, proposed examples of good living and good dying.
Chaos and Order criticises from a number of different perspectives “professional infallibility.” The work compares open and closed-order ways of thinking, some aware of the environment, such as the thermostat, and others isolated from it such as the clock. Dogmatic thinking works by reducing, abstracting or forgetting as necessary. But, according to Escohotado, doing so implies choosing a vicious circle to the detriment of a virtuous one – as Wiener says in his Cybernetics – “ignoring the environment's signals, as the clock which is sensitive only to its mainspring, in contrast with a thermostat which is permanently re-fed.” This Espasa Award-winning essay sold out five editions in one semester.
The Enemies of CommerceEdit
Escohotado  wrote a history of communism, The Enemies of Commerce, a moral history of property, with the theme of stating who “has held that private property is robbery and trade is its tool.”
The author goes back to the Essenian sect, which interpreted the sixth commandment as “Thou shalt not trade”, the Ebionite creed (“poor-ist”), and the Sermon on the Mount. It includes research on slave-owning societies’ origins. Escohotado reframes history with a thread provided by the idea of profit as vileness and impurity, combined with the impact of economic anthropology on the history of institutions. He shows to what extent the collapse of the Roman Empire is inseparable from its anti-trade spirit, as well as how the Dark Ages were in fact a golden age of evangelical criticisms of wealth. Capable of effectively abolishing the buying and selling of lands, banishing traders, and short-circuiting other market exchanges, it culminated in a society where the market for goods and services was replaced by that of captives.
In Escohotado's narrative, the trading society culminated in the Renaissance's peasant wars. In the meantime, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation abandoned idealizing the poor and proposed that good Christians should be foresighted and prosperous. Two centuries of accumulation followed, with Mandeville's Fable of the Bees as a summary. Finally came the French Revolution, a battlefield for liberals and authoritarians, followed by the Conspiracy of the Equals and its leader Babeuf, the first professional communist.
The first volume was published in 2008 and the second in 2013. They were well received on the Internet. The work links the history of terror to profit, adding each economic environment's details as well as the evolution of credit facilities, guilds and trade unions, the first very large-scale businesses, social welfare systems, the introduction of banknotes, and patent law. There is also an analysis of the political revolutions in North America, England, France, Spain, Germany and Russia. The second volume specifies the dilemma between the messianic and democratic models of socialism.
The third volume was published in 2016. It delves into communism's economic context, the evolution of trade unions, large-scale enterprises, property defended by copyright, and insurance systems. It begins with Lenin and discusses populist movements emerged in the 20th century in Latin America, and their reflection in 21st century Europe through political parties such as Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain. Interviews about the book conducted by Federico Jiménez Losantos and Pablo Iglesias on the Internet have contributed to Escohotado's fame.
The History of Occidental ThoughtEdit
Genesis and Development of Scientific Analysis was previously called Philosophy and Methodology of Social Sciences, which was the name of the University subject he taught at UNED (National University of Distance Education in Spain). Revised and broadened in several occasions, this book – available on-line – constitutes a considerably large text, although lightened of notes. The author planned to publish it, possibly under the name: The History of Occidental Thought. The book seeks to overcome the division between the fields of Arts and Sciences.
- Marcuse, Utopia and Reason (Marcuse, utopía y razón, 1968, Alianza Editorial).
- The Unhappy Consciousness, an essay about Hegel's philosophy of religion La conciencia infeliz. (Ensayo sobre la filosofía de la religión de Hegel, 1971, Revista de Occidente).
- From Physis to Polis (De physis a polis, 1982, Anagrama).
- Reality and Substance (Realidad y substancia, 1986, Taurus).
- Philosophy and Methodology in the Sciences (Filosofía y metodología de las ciencias, 1987).
- Majesties, Crimes and Victims (Majestades, crímenes y víctimas, 1987, Anagrama).
- The General History of Drugs (Historia general de las drogas 3 volume set, 1989, Alianza). Translated partially or completely into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Bulgarian and Czech. Online access to parts of the book cited by the author.
- The Book of Poisons (El libro de los venenos, 1990, Alianza)
- The Spirit of Comedy (El espíritu de la comedia, 1991, Anagrama Essay Award - Premio Anagrama de Ensayo).
- Learning from drugs: uses and abuses, prejudices and challenges (Aprendiendo de las drogas: usos y abusos, prejuicios y desafíos, 1995, Anagrama). This volume was published earlier under the name: El libro de los venenos en 1990 and in 1992 as Para una fenomenología de las drogas.
- Whores and Wives: Four Myths about Sex and Duty (Rameras y esposas: cuatro mitos sobre el sexo y deber, 1993, Anagrama).
- Drugs: Yesterday and Today (Las drogas: de ayer a mañana, 1994, Talasa).
- Brief History of Drugs: From the Stone Age to the Stoned Age, 1999, Park Street Press (Historia elemental de las drogas, 1996, Anagrama).
- The Question of Cannabis (La cuestión del cáñamo: una propuesta constructiva sobre hachís y marihuana, 1997, Anagrama)
- Portrait of a Libertine (Retrato del libertino, 1997, Espasa-Calpe).
- The General History of Drugs (in English, Graffiti Militante Press, 2015) includes the appendix: "Phenomenology of drugs" 1999, Espasa-Calpe. Online at Google Books here.
- Chaos and Order (Caos y orden, 1999, Premio Espasa de Ensayo 1999).
- Sixty weeks in the Tropics (Sesenta semanas en el trópico, 2003, Anagrama).
- The Enemies of Commerce (Los enemigos del comercio, 2008, Espasa-Calpe). Online access to the Spanish book here.
- The Enemies of Commerce II (Los enemigos del comercio II, 2013 Espasa-Calpe). Online access to the Spanish book here.
- Facing Fear (Frente al miedo, 2015, Página Indómita).
- The Enemies of Commerce III (Los enemigos del comercio III, 2017 Espasa-Calpe).
- My Private Ibiza (Mi Ibiza privada, 2019 Espasa-Calpe).
- escohotado.org (Website on Antonio Escohotado, with a selection of articles).
- Wikimedia Commons has multimedia content on Antonio Escohotado.
- Wikiquote has Spanish language quotes by or about Antonio Escohotado.
- Antonio Escohotado's official Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Channel.
- Video of Escohotado in Spanish in Carta blanca in 8 parts.
- Antonio Escohotado's Biography in Spanish from Cannabis Magazine.
- Interview with Antonio Escohotado in Spanish in Cannabis Magazine.
- The Pharmacological Crusade: A Historical Crusade, English text.
- Interview in Spanish with Escohotado in Negro sobre Blanco (Entrevista a Escohotado en Negro sobre Blanco)
- Critical review of The Enemies of Commerce I in Spanish in video (Reseña crítica en vídeo a Los enemigos del comercio tomo 1).
- Morales, Manuel (21 November 2021). "Muere el filósofo Antonio Escohotado a los 80 años". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 November 2021.
- Iglesias, Miguel A. (2003). "El segundo P.E.N. Club madrileño, una sociedad de intelectuales de derechas en la crisis de los años treinta" (PDF). RILCE: Revista de filología hispánica. Universidad de Navarra. 19 (1): 97. ISSN 0213-2370.
- "España cumple 25 años de paz, suplemento nacional de la Prensa del Movimiento (1964). Entre la propaganda y la desafección". Revista internacional de Historia de la Comunicación (16): 429. 2021. doi:10.12795/RiCH.2021.i16.18. ISSN 2255-5129. S2CID 237826092.
- «Ayer falleció en San Lorenzo del Escorial el periodista don Román Escohotado». ABC.
- Llorens, Ramón F. "Legiones y falanges: una experiencia insólita". Relaciones culturales entre Italia y España. III Encuentro entre las universidades de Macerata y Alicante (Marzo, 1994).
- Pueo, Juan Carlos (2016). Como un motor de avión: Biografía literaria de Enrique Jardiel Poncela. Madrid: Editorial Verbum. ISBN 978-84-9074-375-1.
- M. Ors, "The Ex-communist Genealogy", Actualidad Económica, nº 2.748, October 2014.
- Juan Carlos Ruiz Franco (July 2010). «Antonio Escohotado: filósofo, escritor y psiconauta» (pdf) (71 y 72). Cannabis Magazine.
- Revista de Occidente, 49, abril de 1967, pp. 130-157.
- «Antonio Escohotado - ¿Por qué todas las cruzadas fallan? (La prohibición como ejemplo)». 5 May 2014.
- Escohotado recounts his most disturbing trip of LSD: in a certain moment, “the barrel of a gun announced that I was on the verge of losing my memory, and I heard myself say: I will find a system of thought that will enable us to live without memory, a kind of Faustian bargain which in practice equates to composing a philosophical treatise” Escohotado, in M. Ors, “The Ex-communist genealogy”, Actualidad Económica, nº 2.748, October 2014.
- Reality and Substance, 2nd ed., Taurus, Madrid, 1997, pp. 316-317.
- See: amnesia.es (http://www.amnesia.es/history/es).
- «La droga, la policía y la trampa». 31 March 1983.
- Quote from the sentenced pronounced by the Balears High Regional Court in February 1988. The failed attempt was noticeable because the buyer was a police informer and the seller was a French citizen unknown to Escohotado.
- General History of Drugs. Madrid: Espasa. 2008. p. 10.
- The first version of Reality and Substance” (1985), the manual Philosophy and Methododlogy of the Social Sciences” (1986), Majesties, Crimes and Victims (1987) and the three volumes set General History of Drugs (1989). A second version of Reality and Substance, deeply modified, appeared in 1992.
- La Clave programme broadcast in September 1982, could have influenced in the entrapment manoeuvre occurred five months later.
- A. Lucas, El Mundo, 20 August 2013.
- Majesties, crimes and víctims, Anagrama, Barcelona, 1987, p. 16.
- e.g. Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America, by Thomas Szasz, 2001
- http://www.escohotado.com/articulosdirectos/curriculum.htm Autoexposición académica
- Brief History of Drugs, Anagrama. Barcelona, 1994, translated into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Bulgarian and Czech.
- A. Lucas, El Mundo, 20 August 2013.
- «Entrevista a Antonio Escohotado». Consulted on the 27th of January 2010.
- For La Sonrisa Vertical (The Vertical Smile) by Tusquets Editores, a collection of erotic writings led by Luis García Berlanga of which the first four titles were also translated by Escohotado.
- As an inaugural conference for the multidisciplinary meeting celebrated in the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 18 October 1996.
- See first part of Pienso luego existo (I think therefore I am) (http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/pienso-luego-existo/pienso-luego-existo-antonio-escohotado/1231044/)
- The enemies of commerce, p.19
- Escohotado elaborates upon the subject in an interview with Alfonso Armada.
- Cf. Usó, J.C., Letter to the Director of (Carta al Director del) Ideal de Granada, 7 April 2010.