Silvio Gesell: The Natural Economic Order


Dr. Ernst Hunkel, Deutsche Freiwirtschaft (April, 1919):

"Gesell is not an academic economist laboriously compiling foot-notes and bibliographies, and adding statistics to statistics in partial economic investigations. He has two advantages over the vast majority of experts hall-marked by the State; first, long experience as a merchant, importer, landowner and farmer; but above all the genius that penetrates and grasps economic principles. I have studied economics under such sterling investigators and teachers as Wagner, Schmoller, Sering and Neumann, and remain their grateful pupil, but I confess that in spite of this piled-up learning the real nature of economic and social problems remained for me a book with seven seals until I became acquainted with Gesell's ideas. When I understood them and made them my own, economic science became as clear as crystal."

Dr. Oscar Stillich, Lecturer, Berlin University: Das Freigeld, eine Kritik (Berlin, 1923):

"The Natural Economic Order is a great independent achievement such as few contemporary economists can claim; in contents and expression it is a constructive work which stands mountainhigh above the average products of modern economic literature. The literature on the currency question hitherto published in Germany was unintelligible to those without previous economic training, and for this reason it was never read by the masses. Then appeared Silvio Gesell and his school with a series of brilliant writings which threw new light on the currency problem and acted as a powerful stimulant. Gesell's works are models of clear and stimulating exposition; they contain a noble wine, excellent for the palate though perhaps for many somewhat heady. But these works include much that is fruitful and of scientific value, much that will not disappear from economic science. Gesell has destroyed the illusion of gold and given a theory of paper money that can claim to be considered final. The whole theory of metal covering for money is closely examined and completely rejected. Here where nominalists such as Knapp failed, Gesell has succeeded. To sum up, Gesell has produced the most fundamental analysis of the currency question that we possess."

Gustav Landauer, revolutionary socialist: Aufruf zum Sozialismus (Berlin, 1919):

"Of great value is Silvio Gesell's proposal to introduce a medium of exchange that does not, as at present, gain in value from year to year, but, on the contrary, loses value progressively, so that anyone who has obtained possession of the medium of exchange has no other interest than to exchange it again as soon as possible for the produce of others. Gesell is one of the very few who have recognised Proudhon's greatness, and while learning from him, have succeeded in developing his theories along independent lines."

John Maynard Keynes: General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936):

"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 purpose of the book 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 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 the moral quality of Gesell. The answer to Marxism is, I think, to be found along the lines of this preface." (p. 355).
"The idea behind Gesell's stamped money is sound." (p.357).

Professor Irving Fisher, Yale University:

Booms and Depressions (1933) p.142.

"If only buying could be started first, business borrowing would follow. For this purpose (of directly stimulating the buyers), a unique 'stamped dollar' plan has been devised - a sort of tax on hoarding. This plan did not come to my attention until after this book had been finished. The plan offers the most efficient method of controlling hoarding and probably the speediest way out of the depression."

Stable Money (1934) pp. 9, 11.

"One of the most interesting examples of monetary manipulation is to be found in the silver "Bracteates" of central Europe between 1150 and 1350 . . . Recoinage was periodical . . . A ruler would call in all outstanding coins twice or three times a year and exchange them for new ones after deducting a seignorage fee of about 25 % . . . It is said that trade, handicrafts and the arts received a stimulus from the eagerness of the people to get rid of their money . . ."
"This first example of something akin to velocity control is of particular interest in the history of stabilisation. After the bracteates had disappeared about 1350, this principle was forgotten until it reappeared definitely in the writing of Silvio Gesell. After his death velocity control was in some instances applied in the form of Stamp Scrip during 1931 - 33 in Germany, Austria and the United States."

Stamp Scrip (1933) p.67.

"There are some of us who believe Stamp Scrip to be more than a temporary auxiliary currency for the present emergency, believing that if its volume and stamp intervals were regulated according to various conditions, it would be the best regulator of monetary speed. which is the most baffling factor in stabilising the price level."

H. T. H. Gaitskell, later Chancellor of the Exchequer: What everybody wants to know about Money, by nine economists from Oxford. Edited by G. D. H. Cole (1933).

"Gesell has a great deal in common with John Bright . . . this remarkable suggestion presented by its author with such clarity and literary grace . . . Theory would anticipate and practice has shown that given certain conditions the adoption of Free-Money must improve a trade situation . . . good policy for depression in countries where notes are used freely . . . theoretically perfectly sound. It is one of the few attempts which have been made to deal with what is undoubtedly one of the intractable elements in industrial fluctuations. The prolongation of the depression in face of vigorous expansionist monetary policy can only be ascribed to a further fall in velocity. Any method for dealing with this must merit attention."

Subbas Chandra Bose (1897 - 1945) sometime Mayor of Calcutta, member and sometime President of the Indian National Congress:

"We have no use for the teachings of the former generation regarding land-tenure and money. New teachings on money-interest have come to the forefront, as those evolved by Silvio Gesell. Free India will not be a country of capitalists, big landowners and castes, but a true social and political democracy." (Undated quotation from Freedom and Plenty, Los Angeles).

Mahmout Abu Saud, economic adviser, Moroccan Government: economic expert, Arab League; external Professor of Law, Rabat University. (Formerly Prof. of economics, Kabul University, and economic adviser, State Bank of Pakistan).

"No great investigator of the social and economic structure has so long been denied recognition as Silvio Gesell. His masterpiece The Natural Economic Order, is a key to economic problems and a challenge both to capitalism and to Marxian socialism. Gesell's theory of interest is in harmony with the teaching of the Koran and should be welcomed in all Islamic countries. His plan for an interest-free economy is a solid basis for constructive attempts to liberate man from the slavery of his own illusions, from the tyranny of mistaken tradition, and from exploitation by his fellowman." (Mitteilungen der LS. Partei der Schweiz, Bern. February, 1958).

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