Daily Bell review: on Wörgl, Gesell, the Fabian society, and the “alternative” media
Mindless attacks on anti-usury activists have become the Daily Bell’s modus operandi in recent months, so the tenor of this article did not surprise us too much. However, there are some blatant inaccuracies and misstatements that deserve to be pointed out:
‘Gesell’s theories were tried famously at Wörgl in Germany.’
Actually, Wörgl is located in Austria, although it is true that the town is close to the German border. Nevertheless, this is a blatant error, given that a long debate on Wörgl had already taken place on the Daily Bell (see feedbacks), and that bionic mosquito’s articles on Wörgl, endorsed by the Bell, clearly stated that the town was located in Austria. The truth is that this “mistake” was probably intentional: the Bell is reluctant to associate, even implicitly, the words “Wörgl” and “Austria”, to avoid confusing the average naïve Austro-libertarian sympathizer.
More importantly, although the Bell seems to conclude, in agreement with bionic mosquito (hereafter BM), that the Wörgl experiment was a “funny-money miracle fallacy”, neither the Daily Bell nor BM convincingly analyzed the effect of demurrage on velocity. To be fair, BM eventually addressed the issue of velocity in a reply to a comment by Memehunter, but his arguments have been thoroughly debunked by Anthony Migchels (here, here and here).
‘Fabians were an upper crust phenomenon – along with the Bloomsbury Group – that sought to replace Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand with increasingly virulent socialism … the regulatory hand of government, in other words.’
As pointed out by blogger (and Daily Knell commentator) Tao Jonesing, Adam Smith’s original use of the expression “Invisible hand” refers to “a sort of system of social pressure that persuades the wealthy to do, of their own volition, what the society around them requires”, quite unlike the meaning ascribed to this phrase by contemporary Austro-libertarians. Indeed, the first appearance of the “Invisible Hand” is found in Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, and the “socialist” connotations of this sentence are unmistakable:
“The rich…are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society…”
‘The Fabians reportedly published a lot of both Gesell and Douglas’s work, in part because much of what these two were proposing probably couldn’t have come to pass without government compulsion.’
To our knowledge, there is absolutely no evidence that the Fabians published or supported the publication of Gesell’s work. It is likely that this is pure speculation on the part of the Daily Bell, perhaps motivated by Keynes’ endorsement of Gesell’s ideas. Gesell himself wrote in German and in Spanish. The Natural Economic Order, perhaps his most important book,was only translated in English in 1929 (one year before his death), and most of his work has not yet been translated to this day.
Speaking of Fabian connections, the Bell should mention that Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek was himself a member of the Fabian Society and taught at the London School of Economics, an offshoot of the Fabian Society. Besides Hayek, Ludwig von Mises also collaborated with Lord Lionel Robbins, head of the London School of Economics.
‘This is the real reason that proponents of free markets are attacked by followers of Gesell and Douglas.’
Interestingly, Gesell was seen by many as a proponent of free markets and fair competition. Of course, Gesell’s vision of a true “free market” differs considerably from the anarcho-capitalist utopia envisioned by the Daily Bell and other Austro-libertarians.
Here is a relevant quote from Harper’s Magazine:
“If Karl Marx can be called the prophet of socialism, Silvio Gesell can be seen as the prophet of free private economy. But oddly enough, few businessmen have ever heard of Gesell; he has been consistently neglected by orthodox economic theorists and not one nation has put his teachings into practice. Of course there are reasons for this; but nevertheless the day may come when we realise this to have been one of the greatest ironies of world history.
Most people believe in freedom in theory and many have given their lives for it. But in practice, most people seem to seek freedom only for themselves, for their group or class, but still desiring power and control over others, even to the extent of accepting the danger of social unrest, revolution or war. Silvio Gesell wanted freedom for all and like others in the past whose call was directed to mankind as a whole, he found devoted followers in all countries, but no party that fought for his ideas. It is time such a party was founded.”
And here is a paragraph from Wikipedia:
“Taking selfishness into account, Gesell called for free, fair business competition with equal chances for all. This included the removal of all legal and inherited privileges. Everyone should rely only on his personal abilities in order to make a living. In the “natural economic order” which he aimed for, the most talented people would have the highest income, without distortion by interest and rent charges. The economic status of the less talented would also improve, because they would not be forced to pay interest and rent charges. According to Gesell, this would lead to an equalization between the poor and the rich. Further, there would be more means available to help the poor because the higher average income would mean that everyone would have enough money to spare what was necessary to help.”
Finally, unlike Austro-libertarians, who have turned Mises and Murray Rothbard into quasi-deities, we are not strict “followers of Gesell and Douglas”. We do not necessarily agree with everything Gesell wrote but, as explained by Anthony Migchels, the aim is to take the best ideas from each school but to refuse to become enslaved by any single one.
‘The Anglosphere model of Keynesian inflation, high taxes and multinational corporatism is coming under attack as never before. The “alternative media” has emphasized ancient verities of sound money (gold and silver), low taxes and republican forms of government at the local level.’
The problem with Wile’s narrative here is that by advocating for the reduction or destruction of government, the neoliberal ideologues of the Mont Pèlerin Society and their Austro-libertarian associates are paving the way for a global takeover by transnational corporations and globalist concerns. The belief that Austro-libertarianism is a real opposition to the elites is dangerously misguided.
A feedbacker made an interesting comment in reply to this article:
“But how come libertarians have not succeeded in putting their leaders out front in the national stage if its tenets, as you say, are the most ideal for today’s problems?
Much like communism that hastily labels anyone an evil capitalist if he or she does not subscribe to their ways, you also quickly judge anyone who is not a libertarian a “power elite puppet” who’ll simply carry on business and politics as usual. Are you sure a libertarian would not do the same once such an individual occupies the White House? I believe you fell flat on your face when you exhorted libertarians not to vote. That was a big mistake! Why? Because the nation never got the chance to see how many you were had you all voted for that 3rd candidate whose name escapes me.
And about this “currency to be determined by free markets,” ever heard of the Mafia? If only Dr Mises factored in greed, he wouldn’t be all too ecstatic in espousing this free market thing because at the end of the day, a market system devoid of government is like saying Utopia exists. Greed and the urge to control is in man’s DNA, which is also the reason why the power elite came to be in the first place. Someone or some group is definitely bound to create a system that would give them the most advantageous position and limitless amount of resources even in your so-called “free market” society. Nothing man-made – or man-thought – is meant to last.
You want to be really free of the power elite? Go Amish. “
The Daily Bell replied:
”But how come libertarians have not succeeded in putting their leaders out front in the national stage if its tenets, as you say, are the most ideal for today’s problems?”
‘Money Power. Ron Paul was starting to win and he was stopped. Jefferson was a libertarian. The US was founded on Libertarian principles. Money Power is a great distorter. That’s why we value the Internet Reformation.’
Ironically, Ron Paul is himself supported by elite elements, such as Peter Thiel (a member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg), and the Rothschild- and Rockefeller-connected Agora. Moreover, the Bell’s reply does not address the valid points made by the feedbacker regarding the fact that “some group is definitely bound to create a system that would give the most advantageous position and limitless amount of resources even in your so-called “free-market”. The feedbacker also perceptively notes that the Bell is quick to “judge anyone who is not a libertarian a “power elite puppet”, a tendency we also highlighted in our previous Daily Bell review.
The Daily Bell’s analysis of Gesell’s theories and of the Wörgl experiment is marred, as usual, by a litany of errors, misstatements, and dubious interpretations. Importantly, the Bell’s attempt to paint Gesell as an opponent of free markets falls flat on its face: Gesell was an advocate of freedom, but of a very different kind of freedom than the fake neoliberal and neofeudalist “freedom” that is the end goal of anarcho-capitalism. More generally, Austro-libertarians try to sell their ideology as the only real pathway to true freedom, whereas we have shown time and time again that this ideology is just another cleverly disguised elite meme.