Agustí Chalaux de Subirà.
(San Genís dels Agudells, 1911 - Barcelona, 2006).
I was born at San Genís dels Agudells, a
little village of 15 inhabitants near Barcelona on 19th
My father was a French industrialist who had a
factory of wool dyes in Carrer dels Almogàvers, in
Barcelona. My mother came from the Subirà family, a traditionally
Carlist Catalan lineage.
When I was four I was taken to the Montessori school,
one of the first to be opened in Europe.
My friends were the factory workers. Our living
quarters were just above the factory, so it was easy for me to go
down and play there.
As a child I heard often my father mentioning Joan
Bardina, a friend of his. My father helped him often to meet his
debts caused by his school experiments, such as that of the Teachers'
School. However, I never met Joan Bardina.
When I was nine years old, my parents sent me to
France to study, and I stayed at Toulon until I finished the grammar
I was 14 I met Horace Finaly, the banker. While walking in
town I saw announced a talk on The role of the bank in society
at large. I went in. The hall was full of gentlemen with great
beards. After Mr. Finaly finished his talk, he asked the public
to participate. I asked to speak but, since I couldn't be seen I
had to climb on a chair. Mr. Finaly said he would talk to me personally
at the end of the meeting. This casual fact was the beginning of
a friendship which lasted about 14 years. I regularly met Mr. Finaly,
and he explained to me his experiences, facts, his knowledge, information...
on his life and on his profession, the unknown inner world of bankers.
He used to tell me: I am not concerned on when you will understand
and know what to do with all the information I am transmitting to
you; I will have been dead for a long time then...
Three years after that first meeting something
of capital importance happened in one of my regular visits. The
meeting was at 8.30 p.m. in Mr. Finaly's office. When I arrived
the butler told me kindly that Mr. Finaly was very sorry he could
not be with me at once, because he had an important meeting going
on, and he asked me to wait in the library.
At first I just spent my time going through his
books. Then I sat at his desk and in a mechanical way I found that
some of the drawers were open. The remonstrances from my conscience
did not stop me from browsing through the papers. Everything was
perfectly in order in duly labelled files, some being more interesting
than others. My teenager cunning made me cautious so as to keep
the files in the same order I had found them. At the bottom of the
last drawer I found a file labelled as Confidential. I read
its contents without understanding much, as it was quite new for
me. It was the report of an important meeting which had been held
in Paris in 1919. I remember that the only people taking part in
the meeting were J.P. Morgan, sir Henry Deterding and Finaly himself
as host. In the meeting they were alone, but now and then they called
different experts, whose names I don't remember, and asked some
explanation from them. What interested me the most was a summary
which was at the end.
This summary had two items:
First. According to the experts, but also
following the general opinion of the great economists before and
during the First World War, the gold reserves only allowed to cover
the war expenditure during three months. To overcome this difficulty,
international bankers had suggested to the governments to renounce
the convertibility of their banknotes to gold, at least inside each
Second. If the banknotes, cut off from gold,
which had been publicised and introduced during the war, were now
rationalized, this would mean for the international bankers
and the representatives of the powerful classes -according to the
experts - to earn more money than if they kept the disinformative
and anonymous currency, in force at the time and up to now.
Conclusion. The decision taken at the meeting
was that they were not interested in rationalizing the scriptural,
irrational banknotes in force, in the first place because they already
had enough money, and second because the present irrational banknotes
allowed them to carry on the foul play of the world plutocracy.
While I was passionately reading this report I
received a great blow which sent me to the floor. For some time
I didn't know what had happened, then Mr. Finaly, changing his attitude,
helped me kindly to get up and apologized. He showed me that I had
been indiscreet in face of the trust he had shown leaving me alone
in his library with the drawers open. He told me that not even a
servant would have dared to do what I had done (which I doubt, but
probably he had more spies in other peoples' homes than there were
in his own).
After this accident we had dinner. Nobody knew
of Finaly's sharp rebuke. During the meal he asked me to explain
what I had understood of the report.
I told him that very little:
- The word which had impressed me most was plutocracy.
- Little by little I'll explain it to you, he said.
That day he did not explain anything. Further on
he took the habit of expatiating with me on these absorbing matters.
He took pleasure in opening his most secret mind to a thirsty teenager
who, in his dark intuition, had guessed the importance of the knowledge
which was kept hidden by the higher caste of the great bankers.
Finaly opened my head with an axe, so to speak.
Together with the banking information, Finaly transmitted
to me elements of the non written tradition of Plato's. He was a
man of a great culture and very powerful. He was of jewish ascent,
had been born in Budapest in 1871 and died in New York in 1945.
He suceeded his father Hugo (1844 - 1914) at the head of the Banque
de Paris et des Pays-Bas, and converted it into one of the first
business banks in France.
J.P. Morgan (junior), one of the persons who were
with Finaly in the confidential meeting, had been born at Irvington,
New York, in 1867 and died at Boca Grande, Florida, in 1943. In
1913 he had inherited the management of his father's company (S.P.
Morgan & Co.). During the First World War he contributed generously
to sustain the financial effort of the allies. The Morgan Bank gave
a valuable help to the French government during the financial crisis
Sir Henry Deterding, the third person present,
was an important Dutch businessman. Since 1901 he was general manager
of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, of the Netherlands, which
in 1907 merged with The Shell Transport & Trading Company, Ltd.,
of London, and formed the well-known Royal Dutch/Shell, in competition
with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, in the U.S.A. Deterding,
who had been born in Amsterdam in 1866, died at St. Mortiz in 1939.
Stirred by all these discoveries, I started studying
Economics in Paris. Finaly used to make fun of the problems caused
to me by my study, as he considered the economic knowledge granted
by the university to be far from scientific.
Following Finaly's suggestion and my father's wishes
I enrolled at the School of Chemistry at Mulhouse. In this school
they spoiled for me all my rhetoric and the idealistic thoughts
I had. They told me: Phenomena are to be studied with an exact
method, irrespective of ethical beliefs, of transcendent ideals,
of the principles and the feelings you may have. A phenomenon is
always a phenomenon, something objective which can be studied and
documented. When you start to study a phenomenon you must do just
that, logic is useful to study phenomena, for nothing else. Logic
is a discipline, you get in and out at will, unlike religion. When
you get out of logic you can do whatever you like, it has no use
in ordinary life. This basic instruction has been very useful
The discovery of this scientific method,
exact and rigorous, applied to the physical and chemical phenomena,
allowed me to start to approach the study of social and economic
phenomena with a similar exactness and rigour.
Trying to apply this method to political
phenomena has caused several conflicts. Every time I have
gone to a political party and have asked: «What do
you want to do?» they have answered: «We
want justice, freedom, equality... we want to defend
this and that...». I used to ask: «Which
phenomena do you want to study, which solutions do
you actually suggest?» but I only got verbiage and
more verbiage for an answer... As a result I am now over 80
and I have spent my life in solitude, a person who seeks,
through the study of human phenomena, proposals to try out.
Every time I came to Barcelona I met the workers
of the factory and those of the textile trade unions of the Clot
area. I met Ferriol and a group of very intelligent people. I found
again the libertarian atmosphere I had grown in as a child at the
factory. I was shocked by the opposition between the strong ideals
of the time and the manipulation of that idealism by a lot of opportunists
who benefited by them. A worker, nicknamed the Jesus Christ of
the Ramblas, told me: «Try and find a way of transforming
ideals into realities, because living on an ideal is very nice,
but it doesn't take you anywhere. You must try to set us completely
One day, at Palestra1,
after a meeting, myself and Llopis the bad guy declared ourselves
rebels against Batista i Roca because we considered that Palestra
was trying to imitate too closely the Czechoslovakian youths, which
were in fashion at the time. We then created a small association
called Via Fora. At that time Catalanism (Lliga Regionalista,
Acció Catalana, etc.) was controlled by the middle-class,
and nobody gave a dime for the common people. This people, so full
of libertarian aspirations, did not know how to put them into shape.
My weapons were Finaly's intuition and the scientific
method of Mulhouse. The facts of 1936 showed quite crudely that
the libertarian aspiration was not enough to make a revolution.
The first thing I learnt was that general strikes
failed when people had to go out to buy food. It was necessary to
prepare the strike with enough food at home to resist one month.The
second thing was that you cannot go out on a revolution without
having ready the instruments to carry it out.
Two conversations held in the first months of the
war showed to me this need for a properly prepared revolution.
The spark came to me the day Abad de Santillán
told me, with reference to the currency and the bank, in september
1936, exactly the same conclusion I had reached through my long
conversations with the banker Finaly: «We have lost the
war and the revolution because we have not been able, from the very
beginning, to control the currency and the bank as instruments in
the service of the people. We thought, like teenagers, that weapons
and violence were everything».
This affirmation by Abad de Santillán confirmed
the words of another CNT leader, Mariano Vázquez: «For
twenty years we have been getting ready to put «the moon in a bucket»,
and now that we have it, we don't know what to do with it. We have
studied and practiced all the paths of revolution, but we have not
thought what we should do with the unlimited control that revolution
has given us».
After that conversation with Abad de Santillán
I decided that I would study in depth the problem according to the
realistic technique I had been taught at the School of Chemistry:
all phenomena could be controlled through a reducing analysis and
a mathematical expression, on condition that a price be given to
it. I was willing to pay the price with all my life and the life
of the people who would feel in them the birth of the same calling
for the common good in full service to mankind.
In those years I wrote on the studies and research
I was carrying out. Most of the material was lost twice. In 1939,
the manager at the factory burnt all my papers in the boiler to
avoid unpleasant searchings.Years later, in France, I had been able
to prepare again new material, and I had to leave about twenty trunks
at a friend's place. I have never known what happened to them.
During the Spanish war I was able to be a critical
and active observer thanks to my French nationality. I cooperated
with the trade-unions and acted as manager of the factory, which
was never collectivized and worked at full capacity. At the beginning
of 1939, being the occupation of Barcelona an impending fact, I
preferred to go to Paris and wait for developments.
When the Second World War started I was in Paris
and was mobilized at the School of Artillery Officers. After the
German occupation I was immediately demobilized by the Government
of Petain, and I went back to my studies and reflections. A family
friend invited me to write my book at his place, and I stayed there
nine months. I kept thinking over and over again on the problem.
After this time an incident made me go away. It was a small village,
and somebody called me a parasite. In spite of my friend's
kindness, who insisted that I should stay, I went away and started
again to earn my living, working from 5 in the morning to 8 in the
evening, saturdays included, as a conscious and organized proletarian,
leaving aside the studies I had started.
Very soon, through an ad in the papers, I was hired
by somebody with money who wanted a secretary. I had an office,
paper, food, all for very little work. I took the opportunity to
study in depth the pending problem.
When I went back to Catalonia in 1945 I lost all
my books and papers again. But my head and memory were in good shape,
and I felt free not to be faithful to my books, which perhaps were
wrong, even if I had a great affection for them for all the work
they had implied.
In those years I was a regular reader of Semana
Internacional, which Joan Bardina published in Chile. Reading
it I felt inspired by many original ideas, many of them still valid
today for me.
Until 1956 I had believed in revolutionary violence.
After this date, with the occupation of Hungary, having analysed
the many historic failures, I discovered the hopelessness of violence.
With violence the State is practically indestructible, because it
has all the means to stay in place (army, police, money, armament...).
My option is for intelligent and active non-violence. This means
that non-violence has to call on the conscience, the action and
intelligence of the opponent, it is not enough to call on his conscience,
because usually it is very difficult to awaken it.
Within the present system it is still possible
to do politics, but it is necessary to be intelligent. Usually,
those who are within the system are unable to imagine a new one,
and are unable to do politics within the system.
I am a robber of ideas. My own ideas are few, because
I think that the world is so old that it is not worth while to break
my head trying to find a radically new idea.
Of my life in Barcelona I can only say that I have
become such a monomaniac of the revolutionary utopia of intelligent
and active non-violence and of the practical solutions I find, that
everybody runs away from me. But after I left my job as a chemist,
free now of the headaches of earning a living, I find friends all
the time with whom I can share my modest, ordinary utopia.
As for my life in Barcelona, when
I quitted my job as a chemist around that famous 1968, when
people wanted changes in a constricted country, when fresh air
was coming from our neigbouring France, a few priests, workers,
worried about the political and social
atmosphere, took advantage of such strong, influential, untouchable
institution as was the Church in order to conform small groups
called Christian Communities at the Bottom Line (Comunidades
Cristianas de Base). Each did as each could. Some were more
inclined towards socializing, others towards politics or were
more interested in purely religious matters. Each community
had a coordinator that served as link with the «top hierarchy»
and began to split into: solidarity, the Mass for everyone,
the carrer («street») University and others more inclined
to the extremes.
At the Universidad del carrer, which later was legalized, the
organisation, acting as an institute for lecturers and guests
who might or not have an academic title, shared their knowledge,
acquired or created, over most diverse themes, an opportunity
rare to find in other places during the times of Franco. I used
to go there and participated as a lecturer a couple times.
For several years these gatherings were held at
the Sala Claret, a good shelter in those days when meetings of more
than three persons were not allowed without permission from the
authorities - a permit, in fact, never requested. When the moment
for democracy's turn arrived and other forums were opened, such
as cultural and scientific associations of diverse tendencies and
interests, we considered we had completed a cycle and the most prominent
personalities, particularly Oriol Albo, canon of Camerun then living
in Barcelona, and Lluis M. Xirinacs, ex - senator for Barcelona
gave their support to my project and eventually became part of it.
This is how the Centro de Estudios Joan Bardina started: a non-profitable
organisation founded on October 25, 1984 with the following founders:
Agustí Chalaux de Subirà, Xavier Espar Ticó,
Magda Grau Figueras, Lluís Maria Xirinacs, Laura Fusté
Dalmases, Joan Parés Grahit, Martí Olivella Solé,
Catherine Sallarés Gegu, Miquel Chicano Colodrero, Enric
Suárez González, Manuel García Sanz, Joan Verdura
Pons and Jordi Vila Llop. The name was given to honour Joan Bardina
i Castara (Sant Boi de Llobregat, 1887 - Valparaiso, 1950), teacher
and master among masters who completely changed pedagogy in Catalonia
at the beginning of the 20th century and suggested new social, economic
and political paths. This project was also supported by friends,
collaborators and, in general, by people intgerested in studying
the ideas proposed. Much of the work was done thanks to the financial
support of some of my friends and other persons.
The center opened at Almogavares 43, my family's old factory, which
eventually was expropriated for the benefit of Parc de l'Estació
During the three years before
the foundation of the Centre (1981-1984), the school AHIMSA
(on Carrer Mistral), conducted by Lluis M. Xirinacs invited me
to give a lesson per week, the first year on telematic currency,
the second on pre-history and history of economics, and the
third on the formulation of a possible, renewing Constitution.
Those days I used to gather with a group of youngsters at «l'ajuda
dels caputxins» de Sant Pere més baix. There's where
I met Magda Grau, a serious reader of my projects and who, for
this reason decided to study economics. She is the author of
the book Essay on Currency, Market, and Society, which
was published by our centre. In 1979, while visiting the UNESCO
Friends Club I met Joan Pares
Grahit, who immediately became not only my friend, but secretary
and collaborator to develop my courses at Ahimsa. He became
one of the founders of Centro Bardina, and also my homeopathic
For two years Lluis M. Xirinacs worked on his
A Third Economic Alternative into a book based on my writings, which
had been classified by Magdalena Grau and financed by Xavier Espar.
It has not been published yet. But is has been the basis for Designing
Civism and The Power of Money (already
published) by Marti Olivella i Solé, who was an active member of the
Centro de Estudios Joan Bardina (1983 - 1991) and is deeply familiarized
with my philosophy.
Lluis M. Xirinacs based the economic aspects of
his doctoral thesis, A Global Model Reality, on the economic formulae
and scientific pretensions I was so proud of.
The objective of our association is to develop studies and proposals
that will help design new models of solidarity and ways of living
Ongoing research, although proposed many years
ago focuse on the following:
- Application of «experimental phenomenological
empiricism» to the social, economic, and political phenomena,
susceptible of being logically analysed and technically experimented
with the purpose of finding new structures, favourable to concrete
- Devise of a univoca terminology -essencial in any «scientific»
treatment of the phenomena- by following the original meaning
of the words and their derivations (semantic-etimological-linguistic)
- Interdisciplinary study of the various stages
in natural history, particularly the history of the human race
as a frame of reference in order to understand the social and
mercantile conflicts of today.
- Study on the determining subject of utilitarism
in history: economics, invention, enterprise, capital, market,
work, currency, ecology...
- Study and proposal on the rationalization of
currency in order to convert it into a tool that may allot responsibility,
offer all and every kind of information, and be intraaccountant
concerning market and society affairs («invoice-cheque-telematics»)
- Study of the possible social consequences derived
from the telematic currency reformation: telematic archives of
personal data under the protection of an independent of the state
Justice, fiscal simplification, omniaccounting, exact mercometry,
experimental economic science...
- Preparation of proposals on:
- «Clear free market and transparent society». To avoid
transformation of «mercantile money» into «corrupt
and power money», and avoid the mercantilization of vocations
and liberal institutions.
- Dialectics between «archy and anarchy».
To indicate with precision the functions of the social commanding
organs at all levels in order to avoid their transformation into
power against individual, social, and national persons.
- «Dialectics between private and
public welfare». Formulation of the hypothesis of «mercantile
public welfare», subject to possible technical experimentation
with the «invoice-cheque-telematics».
Catalanist organization founded at Barcelona in 1930 by a group
of friends of Josep M. Batista i Roca. It had an educational and
patriotic flair, and organized history and literature courses, seminars
of dialectics, etc.