In theory, anarchy could work


Excerpt from: Klaus Schmitt: Silvio Gesell - "Marx" the anarchists ?;
Karin Kramer Verlag; Berlin; 1989; ISBN 3-87956-165-6

Klaus Schmitt

On the topicality of the money, interest and soil theory of Silvio Gesell

Part I: Market economy without capitalism - an anarchist concept


1. Is there an anarchist economic theory?

"What is the circulation in the economy of
Society? - On the cash.
What is your moving principle? - the money.
What opens and closes the products
Door of the market? - the money."

P. J. Proudhon

I was maybe a dozen years young when I was - clueless and in spite of everything
good social democratic nursery - with an anarchist one
Economic theory was infected. It was due to a friendly gentleman
middle-aged whose name I forgot and the one in an old one
Farmer's cottage in Schleswig-Holstein guinea pigs and white mice
bred. While he was selling me offspring for my zoo,
he gave me the anarchic ideas of a certain Silvio Gesell, especially
especially with its "Schwundgeld" invention. This "money under
he assured me that a closed bar
care cycle and thereby cause that all people always
"Work". Trying to reach a verdict, I immediately reported mine
Mother of this strange job creation program. Instead of
however, to go into this "free money" theory, this marriage told me
former "falcon" activist enthusiastic about the socialist "workers
youth ". Can the old only talk about work, I thought, and
was fed up with "politics" at first. But despite my fru
stubborn work experience in drying dishes and pea
The fancy money, interest and circulation theory made me peel
this strange "acrat" and "physiocrat" never quite go away. Self
then not when I was told by the
fascinating theories and actions of Rudi Dutschke, Fritz Teufels,
Herbert Marcuses and Wilhelm Reichs had been moved and shaped.
Whenever the problem of exploitation and unemployment arises
appeared and when considering alternative economic concepts
When the interest rate, currency and land problems became relevant, turned up
also Gesell's free field free money theory from my bad memory
nis up again. For example, during the house fighting in Berlin in 1981
in connection with the need for information about the ecological
nomic backgrounds of the remediation and land speculations. Ge
sells interest theory inevitably draws us to the fact that the monetary,
Interest on capital and land - essentially a non-work income
for the lender and capital owner - 50 to 80% of the rental price
for apartments and commercial premises (see Figure 1).

Many Gesell supporters refer to his teaching as the "third way" to
Solution of the "social question", beyond private capitalism and state
socialism, which we can both call state capitalism. The
Old Gesellian Will Noebe borders Gesell along with the federalist
and interest opponent P J. Proudhon as "exchange socialists" from the central
lists and communists Marx and Engels as "production socialists"
on the one hand and by the state-affirming and pro-capitalist social
democrats and the bourgeois economist John Maynard Key-
nes as "intervention socialists" on the other hand. (1) In fact, one can
sells interest and circulation analysis and free land free money theory beyond
the capitalist-liberalist as well as beyond the Marxist-zen
tralist and social democratic state interventionist economic
classify mie, but also beyond democratic-collectivist
Concepts of planned economy, as they are partly in today's alternative
scene and by anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists
will kick. (2) Gesell only has opposition to the Marxists
against the "surplus value", the interest, with the Liberals only the · demands
economic freedom of movement, market economy, together.
We will speak of his position on Keynes later (including in Chapter 6)

Gesell, who was born in St. Vith in 1862 in the German-Belgian border area
and until 1930 in Germany, Argentina and Switzerland
lived as an entrepreneur, farmer and agitator of his apprenticeship, is in the trade
dition of individual and social anarchist ideas and attempts to
workers, peasants and petty bourgeoisie by breaking the money and
the monopoly and all production and trade restrictions of
Liberate poverty, exploitation and economic crises. Like the Proudho-
nest, he wanted the abolition of interest rates and the economic crises
by producing unhindered competition based on
autonomous initiative and through the production of exchange and
Credit justice in an undisturbed, worldwide trade.
Like her, he was against the concentration of capital and power, for the elimination
elimination of all customs barriers and for international freedom of movement
of the place of residence and work for all people on earth in all places
of our planet. And last but not least, he was in favor of overcoming the re
pressive sexual morality and upbringing and for the liberation of the mother
children and children of the material and social dependencies in the
triarchat. For this purpose he wanted to socialize the soil and
distribute the land rent to the mothers and children - one of the
cality in the anarchist as in all other social movements
probably a unique feminist demand (see Chapter 9). And he was like everyone else
Anarchists, sworn enemy of the state.

In 1881, in the first issue of Liberty, the U.S.
American anarchist Benjamin R. Tucker in the article 'Our Goals':
"The state has been called a 'necessary evil' by someone; he
must be made unnecessary. Because the struggle of this century is
the struggle with the state: the state that humiliates people; the
State that prostitutes women; the state that spoils children;
the state that constrains love; the state that
embroider; the state that monopolizes the land; the state providing the credit
limited; the state that restricts exchanges; the state, which must
according to capital gives the power of growth and through interest, rent
te, profit and taxes deprived labor of its products. "(3)
The "Akrat" Gesell also saw the state as the extended arm of the capital
valley and real estate, which with its help the liberation from
prevent exploitation and bondage, and he too wanted to actively
build ". Almost half a century after Tucker, in 1927, he wrote in advance
Word of his utopia 'The dismantled state': "The road to acraticism leads
of course over the corpse of capitalism, because capitalism
Mus is exploitation, and the apparatus of exploitation needs its
Protection of a centralized power, and this power is called the state. "(4)
As with Tucker, there is also a justification for Gesell's hostility towards the state
not only with the aim of abolishing domination and oppression, but
also change in it, through the liberation from the instrument of rule
State the power-political prerequisites for changing the economic
mix to create conditions.

The main economic causes of social injustices
Tucker saw - like Gesell - in the "three kinds of usury: money-
interest, land rent and rent and (in the monopoly; K. S.)
Exchange profit ". The analysis of these three means of exploitation (in the" rental
zins "are mainly money and land interest; see graph 1) answered
according to Tucker the question of who receives that surplus (Marx: "surplus value"),
which the workers produce but do not consume: the moneylenders,
the landowners and the trading monopoly. (5)

From Proudhon ...

In their argument in the fight against interest, pensions and monopoly
Winne called Tucker, William B. Greene, Lyssander Spooner, Ar-
thur Mülberger and other individual and social anarchists on the popular
French anarchists and federalists Pierre Jo-
Seph Proudhon (1809-1865). Proudhon is the founder of an independent
ancient anarchist economic theory, which Gesell used the term
brought and their central insights also the basics of the key
Form nesschen money, interest rate and business cycle theory (as we will see later
become). (6) This is an important fact that is borne out by today's an-
chisten is completely overlooked. This still current economic theory
retic tradition is with the spread of authoritarian, state social
Stisch-Marxist labor movement has been almost completely ousted and
fell into oblivion. (7)

Proudhon's concern was "reciprocity" in intercourse
Restore people. In 'organization of the credit and the circu-
lation 'he writes: "In creation, reciprocity is the principle of
les existence and in the social order the principle of social real
the formula of justice. "(8) The prerequisite for mutual
In his opinion, speed is the creation of "exchange justice" in the
economic area: the "mutualism". In contrast to the "product
tion socialists "Karl Marx (1818-1883), the causes of social
Injustices and economic crises primarily in the production
the "exchange socialist" Proudhon
Exploitation and crises on the monopoly-like supremacy
development of gold money in the movement of goods and credit and the associated
related imbalance in the sphere of circulation of the economy.
back. In Proudhon's opinion, this "king of the market" fulfills his
Exchange function only imperfect: this money is not only a "key
sel "to the market, but also a" bolt "that is always
who pushes between the producers and the exchange of their products
blocked. (9) Because this precious metal money is arbitrarily
circuit can be pulled out, periodic demand
Gaps. That would restrict production, workers
laid off and entrepreneurs would go broke.

In addition, due to its monopoly-like key
position in circulation enable its owners to collect an interest
blackmail from those who rely on accumulated money as credit
sen are. This interest must be earned by real capital, which causes
that this also yields an interest: the return.

Since the soil is an inevitable, monopoly-like, but extraordinarily
is an important means of production and commodity, he also throws a
Interest from: the pension. It flows to the landowners, indifferent,
whether they lease their land or (together with an apartment or
Commercial spaces) rent or manage them yourself.

Interest on money, return on capital and rent on land all reduce labor
earned income and, on the other hand, appear in the prices of products
and thus burden the purchasing power of all consumers. This "added value"
hold the finance capitalists and owners of real capital and capital
as non-work income.

That is the core of the Proudhonist analysis of capitalism.

In order to eliminate the exploitation of the producers through interest and rent
and to prevent the periodically recurring economic crises
Proudhon called for the socialization of private land
te, (10) a permanently closed economic cycle and - as a central
tral concern of his economic theory - the equality of goods
including the commodity labor with the money. In his main work
'The natural economic order through open land and free money', whose
The first editions he dedicated to Proudhon, Gesell quotes a corresponding one
Proudhon's core sentence: "Provides the economy with a closed
a cycle, d. H. a perfect and regular delivery of goods
exchange, raises commodities and labor to the rank of hard cash, and
the human community is secure, the work is
arranges. "(11)

In order to achieve the goal of a closed economic cycle and the abolition of
of interest in money, Proudhon wanted to use the gold
make money superfluous. To this end he wanted to exchange the
Products directly and cashless via a "swap bank" as a clearing house
and thus at the same time organize the "interest-free loan", which he because of
his arrest at the time, however, could not materialize. (A
Concept from which the eco bankers could learn! But their ecological bank
will probably be just as capitalist as the Raiffeisen banks
or the bank for community service ...) (12)

That and how swap banks work and that they are Proudhon's aim,
to get the circulation going and to reduce the lending rate,
can actually meet, show the file sharing sites that are back in today
in the USA and occasionally also in Europe.
Siegfried Fröhlich reports on it in Capital:

"Everyone works according to the same concept: The members - possibly
As many as possible, as diverse as possible sectors - offer goods and
Services without asking for cash payment. For each-
de delivery or service to a member they receive a instead
Credited to your account with the barter company. In return
they can deliver goods or services to any other
without having to pay in cash. Single-
Lich your swap account will be debited accordingly. But even if that
Account does not yet have credit, members can buy: Depending on
Creditworthiness you will receive a credit in exchange units on your account
cleared, which you can compensate for a later performance.

The exchange system combines two advantages for the members
der: Required goods or services can instead of with scarce
Cash or expensive bank loans with your own goods or services
gen are paid. This in turn brings additional sales that
otherwise - if at all - only possible through costly advertising
would. Powerful computers take care of the account management and store
above all offers and needs of all member companies, so that pot-
business partners can be brought together in a matter of seconds
can. "(13)

Hugo Godschalk and the magazine 'Impulse' report that today
more than 100,000 companies with an estimated turnover of 12 to
$ 200 billion or $ 30 billion in sales in the United States
are organized in barter clubs. There are four in the Federal Republic of Germany
File sharing sites: in Witten, Cologne, Herford and Hamburg. In Switzerland
stands since 1934 by the Gesell-follower Werner Zimmermann and
Wirtschaftsring company founded by health food retailer Paul Enz
cooperative (WE). (14) Refute your real exchange and credit successes
the assertion, also made by Gesell, that Proudhon's exchange
The theory is not functional and has failed in practice. (15)

... to Gesell

From the same interest and circulation theory approach as Proudhon,
but on a more precise justification of the supremacy of money
starting, Gesell has a less cumbersome and costly solution
possible solution of the interest rate and circulation problem. He has
Proudhon's demand, products and labor on the rank of
To raise money (because hardly possible), conversely, his concept
upside down, so to speak: it demands (because it is technical
easier to implement) the lowering of money to the rank of
Goods and work. He wants to achieve that with money that as well as
the goods a "shrinkage" and thus also an obligation to offer
is subject to, like all other goods including
labor force in the goods. The purchasing power of its nominal value should
but remain stable. He believes this is the way the money is made today, too
Savings and interest extortion credit means is, on its function as a value
limit scale and medium of exchange, equate with the commodity and
to be able to establish the continuous movement of goods.

Gesell leads his demand for a "Schwundgeld", a money
with perseverance costs, from his beyond Proudhon's insights
processed money and goods analysis. Like Proudhon, he is also the master
tion that money has a predominant position over other commodities
occupies.According to Proudhon, this "royal" position is his
Function as a "key" to the market, but also as a "bolt" of the circular
tion. According to Gesell, this supremacy also lies in the fact
justifies that money and precious metal functioning as money - different
than the goods to be exchanged for gold and paper money - because of
lack of (value) "wasting", because of, like the bourgeois economist
John Maynard Keynes says: lack of "staying power", "hor-
ten "(misappropriating) and therefore function as a" lock "in the circulation.

A simple comparison of money and goods makes this extraordinary
important difference clearly: The farmer must be able to use his products
as quickly as possible on the market, because otherwise the losses caused by mouse
eaten, putrefaction, etc., thus becoming too high due to the shrinkage of goods. The
Dealer must sell his canned goods, clothes etc. as quickly as possible,
in order to keep storage costs low, because of the change in fashion
not to remain seated on his goods, etc. The manufacturer must
have machines produced in order to reduce their standstill and maintenance costs, etc.
to be able to cover through the sale of their products and to deal with the
Time pressure of the technical development of new, more economical product
resources through timely depreciation of the existing systems
Keep up. In particular, the wage worker must be the owner
Offer these to a worker on the job market if he and his
Family members are not supposed to suffer material hardship or even starve to death.
len. Even the homeowner has maintenance costs etc. Except
the land is only a commodity, and on top of that, those that are
to act in the middle of all other goods, this supply pressure on
the market (apart from inflation) not (or comparatively
slightly) subject: today's money

Gold and silver money does not rust; it can be done at no significant cost
treasured in chests, hidden in mattresses and buried under old trees
dig and be brought out again if necessary. Today also Pa-
pier money is "buried" in tills and safes; the cost of this
Saving, hoarding and cash-keeping methods are no higher than those of the
primitive treasure hunt. In the worst case, they require a one-off
Output for installing a vault. In any case, they are not in any
reasonable relation to the cost of staying power, which most of them
Cause goods that are exchanged with each other with this money
the should and are relevant for the circulation. This is especially true for
the commodity labor. All types of money (cash and book money)
On the one hand, and all other goods on the other, are therefore different
Because of their different physical nature as follows: The
Preservation of the value of the goods requires (the storage time and type of goods
talking) perseverance costs, the preservation of the value of the money does not require
no. (16)

This qualitative advantage of the lack of stamina costs with money
creates a very decisive "bonus" for this economic factor
(Keynes) on the market: It leads quantitatively to a
a performance-unfair distribution of income in the economy
in favor of the owners of accumulated mediums of exchange. According to Gesell des-
half because the lack of stamina costs enables the money owners to
light to withhold this until they receive a job-free income
men in the form of interest offered by those productive borrowers
who are dependent on these hoards of money to invest and
Doing business so that we can work and live.

The amount of the interest rate is limited by the amount of those costs
which require other forms of exchange and credit to which the economic
subjects can evade. These include the Proudhon exchange
banks as well as the society "free money". Lending money through oli-
big gopolitical banks, and even more so the monopoly on the creation of money
a central bank that charges (discount) interest and - which is hardly noticeable-
- the current money without endurance costs drive the
Upward rate of interest.

No moral outrage from ancient Greek philosophers, no Christian
ches, Jewish or Muslim interest prohibition, no "public education,
as demanded by the Nazi would-be interest breaker Feder, can
forcing private money owners to give borrowers "his", in fact,
social, through an act of sovereignty by the state or the
database launched without a tribute.
to ask. Not even hunger can bring great treasures into the world
Drive back circulation, because the super-rich don't need them
Substance of their million dollar fortune to go to satisfy their hunger.
However, those who depend on this public medium of circulation
sen are, the private money owners must with consumption incentives - what
is irrelevant in the case of wealthy millions - or with this tribute called
Interest - bait, so that the money owners this public circulation
out funds and make them available to the public again.
The possibility of hoarding this social circular
by private means is, according to Gesell, the reason for the possibility of
extort a job-free income in the form of interest, and the original
matter for the periodic interruptions of the circulation and the
with associated opportunities of effortless income accumulation
by means of currency speculation. But also the interest itself, so Gesell has
found out, leads to economic fluctuations and economic crisis
sen. Money and money interest, the anarchist theory of circulation teaches, are
essential causes for exploitation, crises and capital and power
concentration (see chapters 2 and 3). And today we know that the interest also
essential to economic growth and thus indirectly to the
world destruction contributes.

Of course, only the portion of the loan interest is non-working income
that is left over when the credit management costs, the risk
premium and (if applicable) the inflation rate have been deducted. (82)
Gesell calls this interest component, the amount of which he specifies as 3 to 4%, the
"Urzins". (17)

Gesell has the logical proof for his theory of interest and capital in
of the natural economic order delivered with his Robinsonade (18) (s.
Text 3). In the spirit of Proudhon, he shows there that in a moneyless
Barter economy of creditors when lending products from
Debtor cannot extort (original) interest and that it is there too
no capitalism and (assuming "free land"; see Chapters 8 and 9) none
Exploitation of human labor by others.
When someone has to save in order to make the necessary investments later
can (e.g. in the case of Robinsons, who
must have had a fortune because he wants to build a canal during this time and so on
long has no time for hunting and agriculture), then it is already
to the advantage of the lender when he only receives the debt from the debtor
Quantity and quality of goods returned at the agreed time
that he had lent him: the creditor then saves the stamina
cost of his savings that would occur if he had these goods
would have to keep. The debtor, on the other hand, does not need any additional
to pay for interest; he only pays back what he received
Has. Since he uses up the loan immediately, so does the debtor
hardly burdened with staying power. So both draw an advantage
the lending business, but neither exploits the other's manpower:
Labor value is exchanged for the same labor value. In this
There is not only no "bar" for an "exchange-fair" economic cycle,
which blocks the exchange of goods and creates unemployment, but
also no "added value" withheld from the producers.

To ensure fairness of exchange and an undisturbed exchange of goods
However, money does not need to be abolished as a medium of exchange.
With its qualitative differentiation between money on the one hand and all other
On the other hand, there are some goods (relevant for barter)
a reason for the locking and exploitation function of money,
which enables a different socio-economic therapy than Proudhon
proposed with his swap bank concept: the Schwundgeld-
and fixed currency concept. I will explain this later (Chapters 4, 5 and 6).

Of course, there are also exceptional situations in which the egg
owners of products and means of production from them a special
the profit, such as B. in times of war and crisis, in the event of natural disasters
phen, poor harvests or in the particular distress of individuals
People (19), can knock out. But wherever freedom of movement and un-
There is limited competition where no artificial (today's
Money, duties, taxes, subsidies, unlimited protection of
Inventions etc.) and not natural (limited offer of the pro-
production and commodity soil and its treasures and natural
forces) monopolies exist or unavoidable monopoly profits (
denrente) are socialized and where there are no economic crises,
the exploitation of labor through interest, rents, speculative
lation gains and other extra profits. On a moneyless goods and
Credit market throw products and services and from human
hand-made means of production in the long term and on average no
ne yield and are therefore (under these conditions) no capital.
Only with the introduction of private property in land (see Sect.
Cape. 8) and hoardable money - a medium of exchange that is
can be savings and credit resources in time - the money, capital
and land interest, the main causes of the exploitation of the
human labor by a few parasites and for con-
economic crises. So Gesell does not condemn money in its usefulness
Function as a medium of exchange (and measure of value), but that money, which as
Bars of circulation and, as a means of exploitation through interest,
can yaw. He doesn't want to get rid of money any more than he wants to get rid of the land; he
wants to socialize the land and the rent of land and lower the money
Force circulation, de-privatize and de-capitalize it: a "money oh-
ne added value "(Dieter Suhr (67)). He believes that with perseverance
sten for money, with a hoarding fee, a kind of "money tax" that is called
"negative interest" that prevents hoarding of money and extortion of interest, achieve
to be able to (more details in Chapters 4, 6 and 7).

Gesell's theory of money, interest, circulation, and soil are preliminary
End point of an independent anarchist economic theory. White
more developed, it could perhaps have the same meaning for the libertarian
win more socialism, like Marx's incomplete capitalism
analysis regrettably for the failed authoritarian state
lism, which did nothing other than capitalism as
Reproduce state capitalism. However, the prerequisite is that we
understand that the money and interest problem and private property at
Land is not a trifling matter that we use as an alternative when building
ver economic forms and without consequences in the struggle for a new society
could neglect.

This page was brought into the net by: W. Roehrig.
Further dissemination expressly desired.