A tribute to José Luis Serrano


We are in debt with those who have shaped our present and our future. In my case, I am indebted to a lot of people, but during my University years very few people were as influential to me as José Luis Serrano, who passed away yesterday at the age of 55, victim of pancreatic cancer.

José Luis Serrano was Professor of Legal Theory at the University of Granada and currently the president and spokesman of Podemos at the Parliament of Andalucía. But above all, he was a writer of immense talent, the author of many novels and thousands of beautiful pieces (“caoramas”) published in papers, journals and the internet. José Luis was a man of acute sensitivity, profoundly concerned with the role of society and the environment, a firm believer in Luhmann’s system’s theory, a fierce critic of Dworkin and Habermas who, nevertheless, called himself a kantian.

He was one of my professors in my first year at University and, fortunately for me, he taught me again in my last year in Law School. He was an inspiring professor with magnetic charisma and the ability to make a young teenage student like myself think outside the box. In Spanish University that is quite an achievement. In the context of Granada’s legal academic environment, José Luis was an outstanding talent well beyond the reach of most of his colleagues and students.

During his last years, José Luis became closely involved with Podemos and our views parted ways. He was optimistic about the forces of change, but I was not. He believed in societal change, while I remained skeptical. He believed, despite our differences, that the forces of good would prevail over the forces of evil. In his last public appearance, shortly before the Spanish general election, he was still convinced that the time of genuine change was right around the corner. I wish that I were wrong and that he was right, but his confidence in the forces of good was relentless.

Now that he is gone, his literature will remain. Miguel Pasquau, in a moving tribute to José Luis before the tragic end, spent many hours sharing among friends beautiful extracts of his literature. In one of those pieces, José Luis wrote about the cathartic power of crying:

Somos un relámpago de soledad, de amor y de tiempo y las tres cosas llevan lágrimas. Loado sea el amor de los que se ríen juntos. Bendito aquel que habla solo y se ríe, porque lleva en paz su soledad. Y alabado sea el amigo incansable que compone chistes para que nos riamos juntos de los estragos del tiempo. Sin embargo, hay algo en el llanto que no está entre las ventajas de la risa. Hay algo en el llanto que nos recuerda la dignidad enorme de quienes lloran con razón: porque están demasiado solos, porque el tiempo los devora, porque sienten el sabor amargo que se llama tristeza y que aparece siempre cuando el amor se va, o porque son relámpagos humanos de soledad, de amor y de tiempo“.

The dignity of those who cry for a reason, is the kind of dignity that José Luis bestowed upon those who cry and are in pain today for a loss that came too early.

Thank you, José Luis, for believing in the forces of good. I cry your loss with the dignity that you generously gave, through your actions and example, to me and to so many others.

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