What is the need for compound interest

middle Ages



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Questions of freedom

Issue 167, April 1984

Pages 30 - 36






The interest in history (*)



Tacitus Germania:


Money transactions and usurious interest are unknown things ... The land is alternately taken into possession of the total number according to the number of farmers and then distributed among the individuals according to rank.


"Borrowing money at interest and capitalizing on the interest on the borrowed money is unknown to the Teutons, and that protects them better than if there were bans."




Statement on interest from the Gospels and from early Christian times:



Luke 6:35:


"Love your enemies, do well and lend that you hope nothing for it, and your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High."



Paul, Letters of the Apostles:


"Strive for you to be quiet and to create yours and work with your own hands, as we have commanded you." 1. Thessal. 4.11.


“We did not take someone's bread in vain, but worked day and night to ensure that we were not burdensome to any of you. Not that we do not have the power, but that we give ourselves as an example to follow us. And since we were with you, we commanded you this, that if someone does not want to work, he should not eat either. We command that they eat their own bread. "2. Thessal. 3, 8, 10, 12.



James 6/5:


“Your gold and silver are rusting. The rust will be a testimony against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have been collecting treasure in the past few days. Behold, the wages withheld from you by the workers who harvested your fields are crying out loud, and the shouts of the reapers have come to the ears of the Lord of Hosts. "



New Testament Apocrypha, Shepherd of Hermas:


“But I also saw another place. . . very dark, that was the place of punishment. . . further on, men and women stood up to their knees in a lake that was large and filled with pus and blood and boiling mud. They were the ones who borrowed on interest and demanded compound interest. "



Clement of Alexandria 215 AD:


“I know that God has given us the right to enjoy, but only to the limit of necessity, and according to His will, enjoyment must be common. It is not right for one to sit in abundance while others are starving. "



Lactantius around 325 AD:


“In order to make the others dependent on themselves, they began to move away and gather together what was particularly necessary for life and then to keep this tightly locked in order to take possession of the heavenly benefits for themselves. . . . It is extremely unjust to ask for more than has been given. To act like that is to exploit one's neighbor and to speculate in a perfidious manner with one's misery. "


“Everything that is added to capital is usury. Give him what you want for a name, it is usury after all. The one who pays you interest is in need, he is forced to borrow from you to pay the debt that weighs on him and he is left without help to himself. .. The one who lacks food pays you interest: is there a more blatant injustice? This man is looking for a cure, you offer him poison, he is looking for bread, you show him the sword, he begs for freedom, you impose bondage on him. . . . You enrich yourselves through the unhappiness of others, you seek your gain in the tears of others, you feed on the hunger of others and you call yourself rich who demand a reward from the poor. You scrape the gold out of the metal veins, but then hide it again. How many human lives do you bury with this gold! "



Gregory of Nyssa 331-394:


“The life of the one who lends on interest is useless and insatiable. He does not know the work of the field and has no real insight into the nature of trade; . . . Without plowing and sowing, he wants everything to grow for him. He has the pen as the plow, his paper as the farmland, the ink as the seeds, the time as rain, which mysteriously increases his income. Sickle is the extortion of debt to him, and threshing floor is the house in which he reduces the possessions of the oppressed. He regards that which is common property of all as his property. "


"What difference is there between secretly getting into possession of someone else's property by breaking into and through murder as a highwayman, in making yourself master of that person's property, or through the compulsion that lies in the interest, that takes possession of what does not belong to one?

O wretched word usage! Interest, which we have taken as a name for something that is nothing other than robbery. . . To help another by borrowing interest is the same as putting out a fire in oil. And if someone snatches the travel needs by force or steals them secretly, then he is considered a violent person or pickpocket and the like, but whoever commits his injustice and his blackmail with the help of witnesses and even confirms his offenses through beautiful contracts is considered Philanthropist and benefactor and whatever else these common beautiful names are, praised. "



John Chrysostom 347-407:


“Because what could be more nonsensical than that when someone intends to plant without a field, without rain and without a plow? That is why they will reap weeds that deserve to be turned over to the fire, they who devised such a miserable way of farming. «







Emperor Lothar 825:


"Whoever takes interest is subject to the king's spell, whoever repeatedly takes interest will be expelled from the church and should be imprisoned by the count."



Gregory the Great 1085:


“The people who make the gift of God their own property, assert their innocence in vain. For by withholding their food from the poor in this way, they become the murderers of those who die every day of want. "



The second Lateran Council 1139:


“Anyone who takes interest should be expelled from the church and only be accepted again after severe penance. A Christian burial should be refused to a debtor who dies without conversion. "



Thomas Aquinas 1224-1274:


“The use of money consists in spending it, so there is no interest to be paid to the creditor. To borrow at interest is a sin. "



Martin Luther 1483-1546:


“But the greatest misfortune of the German nation is certainly the purchase of interest. Where that would not be, many must leave their silks, velvets, specerei and all sorts of embellishments unsought. It has not stood for much more than a hundred years and has brought almost all princes, monasteries, cities, nobility and heirs into poverty, misery and ruin. If it were to stand for another hundred years it would not be possible for Germany to keep a penny, we would certainly have to eat one another .... Indeed, the purchase of interest must be a figure and an indication that the world has been sold to the devil with difficult hours that at the same time temporal and spiritual good must break us.


So it turns out that. . also all wise, reasonable heathen have scolded usury as extremely bad Aristotle Pol. 1 says that usury is against nature; from the causes: he always nips more because he gives. This abolishes the means and standard of all virtue, which is called: equal and equal ... He goes on to say: Money is sterile by nature and does not increase, because where it increases than in usury, there it is against the nature of it Money. For it is not yet alive, as does a tree and a field which every year gives more than it is; for it does not have to lie, nor fear, as the guilder does by nature.


I am told that one now takes ten guilders, that is, thirty for one hundred, at a fair Leipzig market every year; some also add the Näumburg market that it will be forty per hundred; I don't know if there is more ... Anyone who now has a hundred florins in Leipzig takes forty a year: That means a Baur or burger eaten in a year. If he has a thousand floras, he takes four hundred a year: that is, a knight or rich nobleman eaten in one year. If he has ten thousand, he takes four thousand a year: that is, eaten a rich count in one year. If he has a hundred thousand, as it must be with the great traders, he takes forty thousand a year: that is, a great rich prince eaten up in one year. If he has ten hundred thousand, he takes four hundred thousand a year: that means devoured a great king in one year: and does not suffer from it, neither in body nor in goods; don't work, sit behind the oven and fry apples. So a stool robber might sit at home and eat a whole world in ten years.


Here you really have to put a bridle in the mouths of the fuckers and societies like that. How is it possible that it should be divine and right that a man's life should be brought to a heap of such great royal goods? I don't know the bill, but I don't understand how one can earn twenty with a hundred guilders a year, yes one guld for the other, and all that not from the earth or from the cattle, since the property is not in human wit, but in God's devotion stands.


“The interest is a thief and murderer dyed in the wool, but we Christians hold him so in honor that we worship him properly. The interest is a great monster, like a werewolf who ravages everything, worse than any villain. But he does not admit that it was him. He thinks no one will find out because the oxen he pulled backwards by their tails make their tracks seem like they have been brought in. Similarly, interest would like to deceive the world as if it were useful and create oxen for the world, while it actually usurps everything and devours everything. The greatest misfortune of the German nation is the interest: the interest must indeed be a figure and a sign that the world has been sold to the devil, that at the same time we are broken in time and spiritually. "




The theological faculty of Paris 1670:


"The loan contravenes both natural law and divine law, which even the king cannot change, under whatever pretext it is."






Ernst Abbe (founder of the Zeißwerke in Jena):


"Elimination of the interest system from the economic systems of the peoples is therefore the prerequisite for sustainable economic activity that does not steer towards complete disorganization."



Friedrich Naumann (social program of the Protestant Church 1890):


"We do not doubt that a time will come when a Christian movement will rise up against interest."



Silvio Gesell 1862-1930:


“The fact that the banker slams the safe in front of the borrower's nose when the borrower does not want to pay interest and knows nothing of the worries that weigh on the owners of the goods is only thanks to the superior power that money in and of itself has over them Has goods - and that's where the sore point lies. "



Henry Ford 1862-1947:


“However, I was unable to see how a business can still charge a high rate of interest on its goods and still bring them to the market at a reasonable price. I never understood that, nor was I able to understand the theory according to which the interest rate for the original investment capital of a business was to be calculated. The so-called financiers among business people claim that the money is worth 6% or 5% or 4%. . . . Money in itself is worthless at all because it cannot generate any value in itself. "



Rudolf Steiner 1861-1925:


“You know there have been times when it was considered immoral to take interest on borrowed money. And it was only considered moral to borrow interest-free. "


“There is something highly unnatural in the social order today. That is, money increases when you just have it. You put it on a bank and get interest. That is the most unnatural thing there can be. It's actually sheer nonsense. You don't do anything, you put your money in the bank, which you may not have earned but inherited, and receive interest on it. This is complete nonsense. "



Leigh, Secretary of the London Chamber of Commerce 1934:


"Interest is economic nonsense and also immoral."



John Maynard Keynes:


"An increase in the rate of interest as a cure for the condition resulting from a prolonged period of abnormally substantial new investment (full employment, reduction in the demand for capital) is among the remedies that cure the disease by killing the patient."


“It is certain that the world will no longer tolerate unemployment. I'm convinced that . . . it would not be difficult to increase the stock of capital to the point where its marginal efficiency (profitability) would have fallen to a very low level. . . This state would. . . mean the gentle death of the (capital) pensioner and consequently the gentle death of the increasing oppressive power of the capitalist, exploiting the scarcity value of capital. . . The owner of capital can receive interest because the capital is scarce, just as the owner of land can receive rent because the land is scarce. But while there may be reasons for the scarcity of land, there are in themselves no reasons for the scarcity of capital ... I therefore view the retirement side of capitalism as a transitory phase that will disappear when it has served its purpose. And with the disappearance of the retiree side, many other things will also experience a change of tide.





(*) Quotes from Adolf Damaschke: "History of National Economy," Jena 1920 and Lothar Vogel: "The Realization of Man in the Social Organism" Eckwälden 1973