José Manuel Naredo: "In Spain, the Constitution is untouchable unless suggested by corporate tyranny"

José Manuel Naredo, a pioneer of ecological economics, has titled his latest book 'Exhausted Criticism: Keys to a Change in Civilization' (XXI Century of Spain, from the Akal publishing group). But, at 80 years old, the least he shows are symptoms of fatigue. On the contrary, he continues to propose alternatives to change the world, despite regretting that, in recent decades, both his personal history and that of social movements in general invoke the frustration of Sisyphus, who was sentenced to push a heavy rock up a mountain up for, reached the top, start again. And again.

The economist and statistician warns of the need to go from conceiving an economic system to speak of a systems economy, and to stop measuring ourselves according to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to achieve a taxonomy of profit. "And break the absolute metaphor of production, which works like a disaster drawer to justify the monetary value without seeing what's behind it," he explains.

It does not conform, and even fights against the concepts that the left has lately accommodated, such as sustainable development or degrowth. He even questions the construction of the adversary: ​​"Neoliberalism is used as a throwing weapon to criticize by the left, without more. But it turns out that nobody considers themselves neoliberal. What it covers is that what we are really in is a corporate tyranny."

In return, it offers an eco-integrative approach, which avoids divorce between economy and ecology, between the human species and nature, and between the individual and society. And on which to raise transformations following the example of feminism. "Without big power grabs or political parties, the mentality, the institutions, the legislation have been changing," she observes.

The formulas are known, although they must be applied: basic incomepopular initiatives, referendums, changes in the Constitution... Reality still prevents it: "In Spain, a referendum? Instead of promoting them, they are punished. And changing the Constitution? It is untouchable, unless suggested by corporate tyranny , Sure".

The cover and the prologue of the book are dedicated to the myth of Sisyphus, why?

It is like an intuition about what the book is about, and about the experiences of waves of social mobilization that have passed and have not achieved their objectives, even after winning elections, and after the presumed seizure of power... Then it turns out that so much effort and sacrifice of the militants deflates, and the pressure ceases. And everything is worse than it was.

It is the frustration. Because at the beginning of the 1970s, especially, it seemed that social change was plausible: there was a strong ecological consciousness, with a whole series of major events that put the dominant economic ideology on the ropes... With the fall of the boss gold, for example, there were I don't know how many proposals for a new international monetary system. But all that was deflating.

The book focuses in its first part on that ideological impasse that cannot be dismantled. We are still there, dizzying the partridge. And then the final part is more purposeful.

That first part can be received as a pessimistic speech...

I think I am not pessimistic. I'm realist. And vitally I am optimistic. But of course, if you're on a plane and see out the window that an engine is burning... Well, it seems things aren't looking too good. Being aware is the first step.

With this objective of raising awareness, he criticizes the concept of sustainable development.

In sustainable development the two terms are taken from the arsenal of economics. For ordinary economists it is great that it holds up; and it's a nod to environmentalists. Make everyone happy. It's the key. But based on what? To empty it of content.

It also deals with the idea of ​​degrowth.

Degrowth is a non-concept. It is a verb without subject or predicate. It arose to catch off guard against the dominant economic ideology, that of economic growth. But it is not to be taken seriously. In addition, the system gives it to you at close range. For example, the real estate bubble bursts, and that is a decrease that the system gives you. That cannot attract people, it makes no sense for those who have lost their jobs, rights, their salary has been reduced...

That puts him in front of many social movements.

That is precisely why I use the myth of Sisyphus. Because they embrace non-concepts, and then social movements go astray and never reach port. What must be pursued is the reconversion of the system.

Does the concept of neoliberalism fulfill the same function of confusing?

It is another non-concept. It is used as a throwing weapon to criticize by the left, without further ado. But it turns out that no one considers themselves neoliberal. What it covers up is that what we are really in is corporate tyranny. And then we do not criticize what is there.

Among all the characters who have made certain policies there is a sample that goes from Pinochet, through Thatcher, to Felipe González... Until there is nothing homogeneous. So, it favors the dominant interests. The institutional ideological hard core is still there, and it is in good health. There are terms that have fallen into disuse but were more accurate, such as imperialism itself.

Should we also question what we understand by a rich country and a poor country?

The main developed country, the United States, attracts capital, population and resources from the rest of the world. And it simply issues a few pieces of paper, or not even, because they are accounting notes, and sucks up global savings. Although this debt is not payable. On the other hand, there is talk of the debt of poor countries because it is the ones that are required.

However, it is impressive how much the United States debt has increased, especially since the 2008 crisis, because losses have been socialized with totally unorthodox practices for what would be the economic approach. Not even liberal, of course. The liberal approach would be at the opposite end of the spectrum. For example, the main owner of US debt is its central bank, the Federal Reserve. And that is super contraindicated. But they continue to point to neoliberalism, and I think we will have to call things by their name and go see what really happens.


All the piecemeal knowledge that there is provokes the global unreason. Against this, what I propose is an ecointegrating paradigm. It is about integrating knowledge, avoiding divorces as notorious as that of economy and ecology. Or between the human species and nature. Or between the individual and society. Because, in the latter case, if the individual considers himself an antisocial individual, and each one wants to cover himself and set himself up as a despot, things are not going well.

Is there an example?

Now marks the 10th anniversary of the Webber Law, which limited second homes in Switzerland and was based on a popular initiative. Then a referendum was held, and then the Constitution was changed and statistics were prepared to control the mechanism.

In Spain, a referendum? Instead of promoting them, they are punished. And change the Constitution? It is untouchable, unless suggested by corporate tyranny, of course. It is necessary to see not only that another world is possible, but that there are other worlds that exist and in which we should pay attention. What happens is that in the brick country it is silenced. Another law in Switzerland, the Kohler, limits the purchase of real estate by foreigners... Here it seems impossible, because everything was tied and well tied.

Is there a current project or initiative that excites you?

There have been interesting waves of mobilization like the 15-M. Or, for example, in Barcelona, ​​the candidacy of Ada Colau. Because in Madrid, what happened with Carmena was a bit like Sisyphus. Proposals have to come up that are attractive, that are inclusive... The opposite of what Vox is doing, which is trying to catch the pissed off of the hunt, of the bulls...

Regarding the ecological, it would have to be a horizontal proposal. Everyone should participate in maintaining the best possible environment. The same in the social sphere, creating forms of protection, such as the universal basic income. The feminist movement, without major seizures of power or political parties, has been changing the mentality, the institutions, the legislation. And everything has gone down that integrating path, and that is where we should go.

How did you experience the pandemic? As a great crisis, do you also consider it an opportunity to change priorities?

I think so. In the sense that in the first place what were basic needs was seen and they tried to cover: food, the health system, unemployment... Suddenly, what was important was prioritized, when all that had been abandoned. Another issue is to what extent it can be maintained and can prosper towards basic income or other social network measures.

Use the notary's rule or curve to address labor issues. According to this theory by Antonio Valero: the more physical effort, the less monetary value. The harder the job, the less paid it is. And the notary, the one who only signs in the last instance of a complex process, is the one who charges the most. How is this curve corrected?

That can be corrected with Minimum salary, with better working conditionsearly retirement... There is the example of the miners' unions.

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