Silvio Gesell

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= Argentinian advocate of Monetary Reform

Bio

Silvio Gesell (17.3.1862 - 11.3.1930)

His main work on economic matters is entitled ‘Die Natürliche Wirtschaftsordnung’ [1] (Rudolf Zitzmann Verlag, ISBN 3-87937-090-7) available for DM 29,-- from "Der Dritte Weg", Feldstrasse 46, D-20357 Hamburg. This work - The Natural Economic Order - is also available in English translations on the web [2]. The book is also available in Spanish language [3].

John Maynard Keynes adopted some of the ideas of Gesell, saying at one point: "I believe that the future will learn more from the spirit of Gesell than it will learn from that of Marx".

And here a very apt quote from Harper’s Magazine: (which I found in German and re-translated into English)

"If Karl Marx can be called the prophet of socialism, Silvio Gesell can be seen as the prophet of a free private economy. But oddly enough, few businessmen have ever heard of Gesell; he has been consistently neglected by orthodox economic theorists and not one nation has put his teachings into practice. Of course there are reasons for this; but nevertheless the day may come when we realise this to have been one of the greatest ironies of world history.

Most people believe in freedom in theory and many have given their lives for it. But in practice, most people seem to seek freedom only for themselves, for their group or class, but still desiring power and control over others, even to the extent of accepting the danger of social unrest, revolution or war. Silvio Gesell wanted freedom for all and like others in the past whose call was directed to mankind as a whole, he found devoted followers in all countries, but no party that fought for his ideas. It is time such a party was founded."

Discussion

Remarks by Keynes

From the General Theory, ch. 23, http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/ch23.htm

"It is convenient to mention at this point the strange, unduly neglected prophet Silvio Gesell (1862-1930), whose work contains flashes of deep insight and who only just failed to reach down to the essence of the matter. In the post-war years his devotees bombarded me with copies of his works; yet, owing to certain palpable defects in the argument, I entirely failed to discover their merit. As is often the case with imperfectly analysed intuitions, their significance only became apparent after I had reached my own conclusions in my own way. Meanwhile, like other academic economists, I treated his profoundly original strivings as being no better than those of a crank. Since few of the readers of this book are likely to be well acquainted with the significance of Gesell, I will give to him what would be otherwise a disproportionate space....


In spite of the prophetic trappings with which his devotees have decorated him, Gesell's main book is written in cool, scientific language; though it is suffused throughout by a more passionate, a more emotional devotion to social justice than some think decent in a scientist. The part which derives from Henry George,[27] though doubtless an important source of the movement's strength, is of altogether secondary interest. The purpose of the book as a whole may be described as the establishment of an anti-Marxian socialism, a reaction against laissez-faire built on theoretical foundations totally unlike those of Marx in being based on a repudiation instead of on an acceptance of the classical hypotheses, and on an unfettering of competition instead of its abolition. I believe that the future will learn more from the spirit of Gesell than from that of Marx. The preface to The Natural Economic Order will indicate to the reader, if he will refer to it, the moral quality of Gesell. The answer to Marxism is, I think, to be found along the lines of this preface." (http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/ch23.htm)


More Information

  1. Profile of Monetary Reformer Silvio Gesell
  2. Introduction to Silvio Gesell
  3. His book: The Natural Economic Order

Important concepts:

  1. Demurrage (i.e. a Circulation Charge againstMonetary Scarcity
  2. Free Money or Booster Currency: see for examples: 1) Economic Circle Cooperative - Switzerland ; Worgl Shillings
  3. Non-capitalist Markets ; Markets without Capitalism

See also:

  1. Georgism
  2. Freicoin A digital demurrage currency based on Bitcoin and inspired by the work of Silvio Gesell.