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Silvio Gesell Edit Profile

economist , merchant , social activist

Silvio Gesell (March 17, 1862 – March 11, 1930) was a German merchant, theoretical economist, social activist, anarchist and founder of Freiwirtschaft.


Silvio Gesell was a German merchant, theoretical economist, social activist, anarchist and founder of Freiwirtschaft.

Gesell was born in Germany. His mother was Belgian and his father came from Aachen. Silvio was the seventh of nine children.

In 1886, he emigrated to Argentina, where he was successful as an importer - he opened up a branch of his brother's business, in 1900 he retired and moved to Switzerland to take up farming and literary work. After Gesell again he went to Argentina to help his younger brother in business.

From 1907 to 1911, he was in Argentina again, then he returned to Germany and lived in the vegetarian commune Obstbausiedlung Eden, which was founded by Franz Oppenheimer in Oranienburg, north of Berlin. Here, he founded the magazine Der Physiokrat (The Physiocrat) together with Georg Blumenthal.

His active literary career began in Argentina and who had been called there a place in the late 1880s, economic chaos. But fame has brought him work The Natural Economic Order, first published in two parts in 1906 and 1911 .. In 1929 it was translated into English. This procedure is characterized bezrentnoy land and interest-free money. Earth would be nationalized and its owners would receive compensation in the form of government bonds. Through the use of stamped money which would remain valid only for regular updating of the stamp, carried out by the state, for a fee, the interest rate on these bonds and other top tools, in the end, would be reduced to zero. When, therefore, would be to eliminate such sources of income as rent and interest, worker would receive the full value of production of their product. Mother would have to receive a portion of the revenue derived from the nationalized land, as their "products", the population is a source of demand for land and thus the rent.

Gesell depression linked to inadequate investment, and the last to fall in the expected rate of return on an investment project to continue despite the fact that the reduction of the monetary interest rate can not take place because of the existence of alternative investment opportunities. This analysis is, in fact, anticipated the General Theory Keynes, which was fully recognized in their work and Keynes himself. Gesell propose to set the stamp duty for the deposit of money in order to reduce the interest rate.

Principle stamped money in the 1930s, was used three times on the local level: in Bavaria, in the Austrian Tyrol and in Alberta (Canada). In each case, this measure has successfully increased the demand and employment, but the use of such money was soon banned by the authorities.

It had to be wound up in 1914 as World War I broke out because of censorship.

In 1915, Gesell left Germany to return to his farm in Les Hauts-Geneveys. In 1919, he was called on to take part in the Bavarian Soviet Republic by Ernst Niekisch. The republic offered him a seat in the Socialization Commission and then appointed him the People's Representative for Finances. Gesell chose the Swiss mathematician Theophil Christen and the economist Ernst Polenske as his assistants and immediately wrote a law for the creation of Freigeld. His term of office lasted only 7 days. After the bloody end of the Soviet Republic, Gesell was held in detention for several months until being acquitted of treason by a Munich court because of the speech he gave in his own defense. Because of his participation in the Soviet Republic, Switzerland denied him the opportunity to return to his farm in Neuchâtel.

Gesell then moved first to Nuthetal, Potsdam-Mittelmark, then back to Oranienburg. After another short stay in Argentina in 1924, he returned to Oranienburg in 1927. Here, he died of pneumonia on March 11, 1930.

He promoted his ideas in German and in Spanish. Although the concepts can be imputed Gesell theoretical uncertainties and practical difficulties of its implementation, the primary responsibility for this probably is the purpose of its creation. However, it continues to exist unnoticed at the bottom of Keynes's General Theory and Booms and Depressions Fisher.

Villa Gesell, a seaside town in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina was founded by (and is named after) his son Don Carlos Idaho Gesell.


After visiting the public Bürgerschule in Sankt Vith, he attended Gymnasium in Malmedy.

Being forced to pay for his living expenses from an early age, he decided against attending a university and received work for the Deutsche Reichspost, the postal system in the German Empire. He did not like this profession, so he decided to start an apprenticeship as merchant under his brother in Berlin. Then he lived in Málaga, Spain for two years, working as a correspondent. He then returned to Berlin involuntarily to complete his military service. Following this, he worked as a merchant in Brunswick and Hamburg.


Monetary writer, considered a crank until Keynes rehabilitated him and others of the ‘brave army of heretics’ in the General Theory. His plan for stamped money was designed to discourage hoarding by requiring that stamps be bought and fixed to money to preserve its value. Merchant, Buenos Aires, 1887-1914, Germany after 1914.


  • book

    • The Natural Economic Order (1906,1911)


  • Other Interests

    He considered himself a world citizen and believed the Earth should belong to all people, regardless of race, gender, class, wealth, religion and age and that borders should be made obsolete.