On the Inauguration of the Gesell Research Society's Bulletin "Study of Free Economy"
Morino,Eiichi In the wake of the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, those of us who have consistently opposed the repression of freedom and the human spirit by totalitarian communism have good cause to reconfirm the validity of our libertarian beliefs. At the same time, we may also reconfirm the correctness of John Maynard Keynes' prediction which sprang from his work on the ideas of Silvio Gesell. That prediction, to be found in Keynes' General Theory, went as follows:
"...unduly neglected prophet Silvio Gesell, whose work contains flashes of deep insight... 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, if he will refer to it, the moral quality of Gesell. The answer to Marxism is, I think, to be found along the lines of this preface."
We here at Study of Free Economy have long been fascinated by the implications of these words of Keynes. Unfortunately, information regarding Gesell has been extremely hard to come by, with the result that he remained for many years a treasure whose seal had yet to be broken. This situation began to change only in the 1980s. Following the success of the Greens Party in West Germany, environmentally-minded economists who constituted one wing of that movement began to assess the contemporary significance of Gesell's theories. It was under the guidance of one of them, Werner Onken, that the editing and publication of Gesell's Complete Works began. Another cause for renewed interest in Gesell's ideas was provided by the school of economists calling themselves Post-Keynesians in countries like France, Italy and the USA, whose reassessment of Keynes' ideas led to a reconsideration of Gesell too.
As a result of this changing situation, access to Gesell's theories has become progressively easier, and some three years ago we formed the Gesell Research Society in order to collect as many relevant documents as possible and to read and discuss their contents. The reasoning for our looking as widely as possible for materials was that, while on the one hand Gesell has been rated very highly by Keynes, in other quarters he has been consigned to the realms of economic crank alongside such figures as the Royal Air Force Technical Officer and economic theorist Major Douglas, or the Nobel Prize-winner in chemistry and pioneer in nuclear technology Frederick Soddy, with the result that all three have been long ignored.
We here have always found it hard to consent to the label of "crank" pinned upon these men. True, they have as many theoretical points in common as those upon which they differ. While in their political outlooks they bear little resemblance to one another, the contemporary relevance of their economic ideas can hardly be questioned. A case in point is the ecologically-rooted economics of Soddy. Our decision not to give Keynes' views on Gesell the benefit of the doubt was perhaps also affected by the arguments of the New York Federal Bank economist Garvy, whose empirical research on Keynes' own remarks on the formation of his theory has thrown up a large number of questions.
Despite the limited size of our Research Society, we have been able to collect a considerable number of documents, and it has been proposed that we publish a Bulletin in order to make them accessible to as many readers as possible. Although we have few proposals of our own to make, the fact that information on Gesell in Japanese is virtually non-existent made us feel the need to at least publish the documents themselves so as to attract as wide an interest as possible. If this would add extra to the Research Society's own activities, so much the better.
The Bulletin will not merely be concerned with Gesell himself, but will take up all matters discussed within the Research Society. Consequently, our coverage will range widely, from the arguments of Keynes himself to those of his contemporary, the American economist and self-styled "humble disciple of the German-born Argentinian [Gesell]" I. Fischer. He planned to send a research team to Woergl in Austria, where attempted to put Gesell's ideas on economic reform into practice led to many important achievements.
Needless to say, even while we carry on this far-ranging programme of activities, our interest will be focused ultimately on Gesell himself. For we are in full agreement with the insights of Gesell's close friend Albert Einstein, who wrote: "I became absorbed in the brilliant prose of Silvio Gesell... The minting of unhoarded money will quite certainly lead to the creation of a possession system in a different basic form." The need for fundamental changes both in the ownership system of land and the positive liquidity premium of money are also matters on which we are in complete agreement.