Emmanuel Rodríguez López reviewed José Luis Moreno Pestaña’s newly published book “Los pocos y los mejores” for Sin permiso magazine. The book, edited by Akal, has earned him the Premio Internacional de Pensamiento 2030 award. This the third edition of debates on democracy, on the deep meaning of politics, on forms of organisation of political parties as well as the social tensions deriving from collective emancipation.
Democratic degeneration. Poison and antidote
Emmanuel Rodríguez López
“Moreno Pestaña has just published a new book, a short but dense and smart essay whose title is “Los pocos y los mejores”. His work is relevant in the exchange of today’s politics conditions (this book is the third issue after the publication of «Estado, derecho y comunidad, política» [https://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/estado-derecho-comunidad-politica] and «Política y democracia» [https://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/politica-y-democracia]). It’s been ten years since the boom of the 15M movement, seven years since the emergence of Podemos and at least three years since democracy has sort of renovated its old oligarchic governmental forms. Indeed, this is what Moreno Pestaña discusses in his book, more specifically what we could call the “oligarchic degeneration” of democracy, as well as its remedy.
The conditions in which it was written and elaborated are worth considering. “Los pocos y los mejores” was written during the pandemic. These have been exceptional times, not only because of the tragedy of the lives that were lost, of a society that was confronted with an unexpected fragility which observes how their deteriorated political systems collapse while governments improvise solutions. During these months, and still nowadays, we have been tempted by the idea of having a government composed of experts, doctors, virologists, epidemiologists, but also of all those who did their bit to stem the pandemic: physicians, mathematicians, sociologists, psychologists, etc.
In “Los pocos y los mejores”, Moreno Pestaña criticises what he calls “political fetishism”. Marx’s well-known epigraph “The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret” is used as a method in this book: he talks about commodity and exchange, which is a relationship between goods instead of between people. The “fetishist character of commodity” hides and makes production relations impenetrable: in consumer society, factors such as how and where we work —with their countless environmental exploitation and destruction consequences— have been pushed into the background by commodity. Similarly, capital seems to be like a substance that reproduces itself and that creates wealth without the mediation of work.”
You can read the full discussion in Sin Permiso magazine.