Obelix and Co

   I was 17 years old when I read it for the first time. Then, I have re-read it many times and every time that I do so it not only makes me laugh a lot (unplayable Obelix with tacky bows and cape) but also amazes me the darker side of what I believe is the best book for understanding capitalism. Likewise, I am also amazed at the causes that have led us to this economic crisis. As you might have guessed already and if you have not yet read it I am talking about an adventure of Asterix (the Gaul). It is about:

   Julius Caesar, sick of the defeat of his legions at the hands of the implacable Gauls of the small village of Asterix; conceives a new plan: get them into a bad habit through the money and the vices that the Roman society of his time faced. For that reason, he sends Preposterus (a bright Roman) to the Gaulish Village. He meets up with Obelix who has a menhir on the back (a menhir is a huge stone absolutely useless and dispensable that Ancients placed vertically).

   They talk and Preposterus, after flatter Obelix, buys his menhir and pays it with a bag of sestertius. Obelix promises him that the next day he will give him two extra bags. Obelix does not know what to do with the money, but Preposterus tells him that a rich man is a powerful man and he believes him.

   Ideafix and Asterix are surprised that Obelix starts making the two menhirs and leave aside all his other funs: play with Ideafix, take for a walk with Asterix and hunt wild boars. The next day he delivers them to Preposterus which pays with four bags of sestertius, the double of the previous day, saying an economic theory: if demand rises, the price goes up. Then as demand has risen, Obelix must make four menhirs more tomorrow. He gets hungry because he is working.

   Obelix meets up with a neighbor who has hunted a wild boar, and then he repeats the theory of Preposterus buys the wild boar and tells him that he will be the second most important man of the village. The neighbor does not know either what to do with the money but stars to hunt wild boars for Obelix. The problem arises when Obelix goes to the market and the merchant of fabrics, which before settled for the barter, sells him all with car included because he pays with money. This causes the envy of all the women that reproaches their husbands that are ugly because Obelix has left them without fabrics and they are slackers while Obelix is a prosper businessman. Obelix changes his attire, puts a cape and tacky bows and presumes them in the village. Everybody sees the future of the Gaulish village in the «industry of the menhir.» Asterix and Panoramix do not think so and do not understand this new strategy of the Romans, but they give all the people the magic potion. Thus, a part of the village makes menhirs for Preposterus and the other part hunts wild boars for the people who make menhirs.

   With such production, Preposterus spends all the Roman treasure and Julius Caesar congratulates him because now the Gauls are occupied in making menhirs instead of hitting his legionaries, but now there is no more money. Thus, Preposterus, who only has a lot of menhirs, decides to make a new trading strategy: sells the menhirs to the Romans. For this, he conceives an advertising campaign: «If you do not have a menhir, you are not happy», «Put a menhir in your life.» In this way, he begins to sell the stock of Gauls menhirs in Rome. The other Roman provinces notice the business and want to sell their products:

   Egyptian obelisks, Greek columns, and so on. Demonstrations in defense of the national product happen: «say not to import menhir, use national menhir». There are strikes of slaves which are the workers from the Italian quarry. Julius Caesar, that thought he had solved a local crisis, is now facing an escalating economic crisis of the entire empire, and without any treasury. In the Gaul village the resentment revives among the neighbors due to the menhirs and the division between them occurs. Fortunately, the common sense of Asterix and Panoramix correct the situation and the peaceful Gauls back to the beginning: the barter and their daily tasks.

   It is real as life. I recommend you read it; I assure you that will have fun and reflect like me.

   Alejandro Perez Benedicto

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