Silvio Gesell

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



Silvio Gesell's mother was Belgian and his father came from Aachen. Silvio was the seventh of nine children.

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 Reichspost[disambiguation needed], 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.

In 1887, Gesell moved to Buenos Aires, where he opened up a branch of his brother's business. The depression in Argentina, which hurt his business considerably, caused him to reflect upon the structural problems caused by the monetary system. In 1891, he released his first writing on this topic: Die Reformation des Münzwesens als Brücke zum sozialen Staat (German for: The reformation of the monetary system as a bridge to a just state). He then wrote Nervus Rerum and The nationalization of money. He gave his business to his brother and returned to Europe in 1892.

After an intermediate stay in Germany, Gesell moved to Les Hauts-Geneveys in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. He established a farm in order to finance his living expenses while continuing his economic studies. In 1900, he founded the magazine Geld- und Bodenreforn (Monetary and Land Reform), but it failed as it had to be wound up in 1903 for financial reasons.

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

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