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cover the natural economic order




Il WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) è un sistema di scambio non monetario con cui volontari operano presso aziende agricole ricevendo in cambio vitto e ospitalità. Lo scopo di WWOOF è di creare conoscenza e interesse verso uno stile di vita biologico e biodinamico. Oltre a ciò WWOOF offre la possibilità di viaggiare in tutto il mondo in modo economico ed allo stesso tempo di dare un aiuto dove è richiesto e dove se ne presenta la necessità. L'associazione WWOOF é iniziata nel Regno unito circa 30 anni fa. L'idea é partita da Sue Coppard (che all'epoca viveva a Londra), che voleva organizzare durante un week-end un soggiorno in fattorie biologiche in cambio del suo lavoro. Gradualmente sempre più persone sono state coinvolte grazie alla possibilità di avere una pausa in campagna; contemporaneamente un numero sempre maggiore fattorie hanno offerto un alloggio e il cibo in cambio di aiuto e di entusiasmo. Da allora WWOOF é cresciuta moltissimo ed ora esiste in molti altri Paesi del mondo. 



Currency Reform as Bridge to the Social State. (Buenos Aires. 45 pages).

Contains most of Gesell's ideas in outline, including his proposal for non-hoardable money.

1891. Nervus Rerum (Buenos Aires. 84 pages).

Motto on the title-page: "With our present form of money, the slightest alarm causes the withdrawal of money from circulation. At any moment, consequently, the exchange of commodities may be arrested; at any moment the most important of all means of intercourse organised by the State may refuse its services."

1892. The Nationalisation of Money. (Buenos Aires. 105 pages).

Motto on the title-page: "The currency should be, like railways, simply a public organisation for mediating the exchange of commodities; those who use it should be obliged to pay freight." In an economic parable Gesell describes an island settlement which adopts an acorn currency. At first the commodities are exchanged by weighing the acorns (non-hoardable currency, as the acorns shrink). Later, payments are made by counting the acorns (hoardable currency, leading to interest).

1897. The Adaptation of Money to the Needs of Modem Commerce. (Buenos Aires).
1898. The Argentine Currency Question. (Buenos Aires. 36 pages).

On the disastrous consequences of deflation.

1901. The Monopoly of the Swiss National Bank. (Bern. 30 pages).

A warning about the danger of inflation latent in the proposed charter of the Bank.

1902-4. A monthly periodical for currency- and land-reform. (Bern).

Advocating individualism and laissez-faire in contrast to State-control, "the religion of slaves." The economic parable, praised by J. M. Keynes, with which Gesell introduces his analysis of interest (p. 365) is reprinted from this periodical.

1906. The Natural Economic Order. (See back of short title).
1907. Active Currency Policy. (Leipzig. 80 pages).

In collaboration with Emst Frankfurth - a currency policy under the gold standard with price-stabilisation as aim, including central-bank discount policy and open market operations.

1916. Gold and Peace? (Bern. 20 pages).
1917. Free-Land, the Essential Condition of Peace. (Zürich. 23 pages).

Two lectures on peace, reprinted in the German and French editions of The Natural Economic Order.

1920. A German Currency Office: Economic, Political and Financial preliminaries for its establishment. (Berlin. 30 pages).

A memorandum addressed to the National Assembly at Weimar.

1920. On stabilisation of the exchanges. See p. 359.
1922. Memorandum for the German Trade Unions for use in action concerning Currency, Foreign Exchanges, Reparations. (Erfurt. 96 pages).
1927. Dismantling the State. (Berlin. 94 pages).

German title: Der abgebaute Staat. A plea for elimimtion of bureaucracy in every sphere of life, and a forecast of the resulting society.

For the German titles of Gesell's works see the German edition of The Natural Econondc Order (Zitzmann Verlag, Lauf bei Nümberg, Germany). A biography of Gesell by Werner Schmid was published at Bern (in German) in 1953.

Six of the above works have been translated into English.


(Translator, 1958). There are many methods of applying the principle of Free-Money, the most important being: Tabular Free-Money, Stamped Free-Money, Serial Free-Money, and Supplementary Free-Money.

Tabular Free-Money was the earliest proposal. In Currency Reform as Bridge to the Social State (1891), Gesell suggests letting the face-value of the Free-Money notes ("rusting banknotes" as he then called them) decrease from 100 at the beginning to 95 at the end of the year, the current value of the note being shown in a table printed on it. This plan, which has advantages from the banker's standpoint, was retained in the first edition of the present work (1906).

Stamped Free-Money, suggested by George Nordmann, a Swiss merchant, was adopted by Gesell in the second (1916) and subsequent editions. The Free-Money notes, instead of losing 5% of their face-value in the course of the year, would be kept at their full face-value by weekly or monthly stamping at the holder's expense.

With weekly stamping, shown in schematic form on page 270 the number of stamps (52) on each note could be reduced to 13 by grouping the stamps in quarters (13 stamps to each quarter) and cutting off each fully-stamped quarter when the note was passing through a bank or public treasury, with the mention: "First (or Second, or Third) Quarter fully-stamped." Or the notes could be re-issued at 6-monthly or quarterly intervals, instead of annually. With monthly stamping and half-yearly note-issues, six stamps would be the maximum number attached to a note.

If the currency stamps were used only for stamping the notes (and not also as small change), they could be printed on cellophane rolls like the self-adhesive tape used for fastening parcels. Or, instead of adhesive stamps, machine stamping could be adopted, as at present with letters and parcels.

Stamped Free-Money has advantages in the market, outside the gathering places of money. In almost all the practical realisations of Free-Money (in Germany by Hans Timm in Gesell's lifetime, and by the mining entrepreneur Hebecker, using Timm's "Wära", at Schwanenkirchen in 1931, in Austria by the Mayor of Wörgl in 1932, and in the many later experiments throughout the United States) stamped Free-Money was the form adopted.

With Serial Free-Money each denomination of the currency notes is issued in four or more series distinguished, by a number and bold marking, for example 1 - 4 red bars across the note. At determined intervals one of the series, drawn by lot, ceases to be legal tender but is exchanged for a fresh series by the Currency Office - after deduction of the legal depreciation for all four series. With some modifications this plan could be applied to small-change coins. Serial Free-Money has the merit of reducing interference with the currency to one-quarter; three-quarters of the currency continues to circulate undisturbed.

With Supplementary Free-Money the legal depreciation is compensated in each transaction by a supplementary payment by the holder of the note, as at present in many countries with the purchase tax (sales tax).

Theoretically the principle of Free-Money could be applied by a continuous regular inflation of prices of 5% annually, with, to protect creditors, a corresponding modification of an long-term money contracts. (For 18 years the continuous irregular inflation, without modification of money contracts, practised by almost all countries, has realised one aim of Free-Money: the elimination of depressions and unemployment - but at the expense of creditors, and with many grave economic disturbances).

During the great American depression of the thirties, when the United States currency, in spite of liberal credit policy, failed to circulate, legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives (Bankhead - Pettengill Bill, 1933) directing the Federal Treasury to issue $1,000 million in $1 stamped notes. To each of these notes it was proposed to attach weekly a 2-cent stamp, a depreciation charge of 100% which would have made the whole issue self-liquidating within a year, through sale of the stamps.

In Switzerland a Plan for applying the principle of Gesell's Free-Money was proposed in 1948 in the Federal Parliament as an amendment (Bernoulli - Schmid) to the charter of the Swiss National Bank. To forestall depressions, this plan proposes to empower the Bank to counteract any statistically observed slackening of velocity of the currency circulation, by cancelling some or all the higher denominations of the notes, the cancelled notes to be immediately exchanged for fresh notes after a deduction not exceeding, in any one year, 6% of the value of the note.

Gesell rejected the plan of 5% compensated inflation and he also rejected proposals to raise the legal depreciation rate of the notes above what is needed to load money with the carrying costs to which, by their nature, the wares are subject - estimated at about 5% annually. But Gesell did not advocate exclusively any of the other proposals; he held that the technique of Free-Money, like all technique, must be determined in practice, by trial and modification.


  • 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).

  • Prof. 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).