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Autarky is the economic independence of a private household , a region or a state through complete or partial self-sufficiency with goods and services .


The world as a whole is self-sufficient, but neither the individual states nor the continents are self-sufficient. The structure of world trade with agricultural products shows that it is neither self-sufficient nor self-sufficient countries Continents still self-sufficient metropolitan areas are. However, the term is primarily related to the own supply of goods and the economic independence of entire states. A country is economically self-sufficient if it owns or produces everything it needs, or which limits its needs to what it produces itself.

The adjective self-sufficient means "not to be dependent on anyone's support or direction". Among other things , it can describe people , organizations or departments in companies who can act independently and in a self-determined manner, and is used in biology , computer science , ecology , psychology and politics . In the case of regions and countries in particular, the aspect of economic independence comes to the fore.

Synonyms for self-sufficient are: independent, sovereign , autonomous, free, independent, autonomous , unbound.


Linguistically the general term is self-sufficient borrowed from ancient Greek autarkeia (αὐτάρκεια) dichterisch autarkia (αὐταρκία), and self-sufficient (αὐτάρκης) "self-sufficient, sufficient resources possessing independent" autós (αὐτός) "itself, self" and arké͞in ( ἀρκεῖν) "repel, help, suffice, suffice".

On the one hand, self-sufficiency is referred to as that state in which, for example, a person is “sufficient for himself”, i.e. no longer needs any other person and is independent of all external goods. On the other hand, this use is attributed to Aristotle , the autarky simply describes a "sufficient livelihood" of the human being. In this context, the term is connotatively equated with "satisfied" or "sure".

In today's language, the term autarky is primarily used in the economic context and mostly expresses the material and economic independence of an individual, a group or a state. Under the last-mentioned aspect, self-sufficiency describes a state of self-sufficiency in which a country is no longer dependent on the import or export of goods and can forego all foreign financial transactions, i.e. has achieved complete economic independence in this sense. In this sense, autarky is a state of affairs without foreign trade , which is in contrast to the theory of comparative cost advantages , according to which even the country with the highest costs ( high-wage country ) can improve its supply of goods through foreign trade.


Self-sufficiency with certain products can be measured by the degree of self-sufficiency . This economic indicator is in a state gross domestic production to consumption over. In the case of agricultural products , the degree of self-sufficiency plays a major role, because they satisfy the basic need for food , which, if possible, should not be met by imports . It shows the extent to which the goal of security of supply has been achieved. However, some agricultural products in many industrialized countries have a degree of self-sufficiency of 100% or more. Here there is partial self-sufficiency through self-sufficiency ( subsistence economy ). Agricultural protectionism is closely linked to the degree of self-sufficiency . This also aims to strengthen self-sufficiency.


Even in ancient Greece , autarky was a central aspect of political thought and was closely related to the areas of politics and economics. Herodotus described the nature of autarky as a "political ideal". According to him, the territory of a polis should be so productive, especially in terms of agriculture, that all residents of a country can be independently supplied and fed with sufficient goods. For Aristotle, the entire political system of the polis was based on the maintenance of the self-sufficiency, through which a community could only be possible. However, Herodotus and Aristotle were already aware that complete autarky is practically impossible to achieve and is often accompanied by various restrictions. Therefore, both philosophers stressed that people should be content with what they can achieve. The goal must always be to strive for the highest possible economic independence. Failure to do this would lead to the loss of local self-government and thus inevitably to foreign rule. For Plato , autarky is a sign of the highest value and the main goal of the ideal state . According to the Platonic view, humans are not self-sufficient, but can indirectly achieve a certain self-sufficiency. One way is that individuals unite to form a political community. The other way requires that the person becomes internally independent of external living conditions, which is almost impossible.

In contrast to the dominant self-sufficiency in ancient Greece, the flourishing economy in the Roman Empire and the associated prosperity shaped an optimally networked land and sea trade. Max Weber as well as Hans Delbrück attributed the downfall of Rome largely to a relapse into the self-sufficient natural economy . Triggered by the formation of Roman Catholic parishes , estates , districts and later entire church provinces emerged , which increasingly assumed the character of an autarkic rulership. So that was monastic self-sufficiency among others in the form of a monastery garden in the 6th century in the Benedictine Rule fixed. Ultimately, the deliberately brought about separation from the urban economy and the decoupling from transnational trade gradually led to an autarky that became the basis of the medieval feudal system . Poverty, humility, repentance and preaching were the essential elements of this time. The ideal of poverty propagated by the church forbade foreign income, so that the population was dependent on their own farms that were as self-sufficient as possible. It was not until the 13th century that the largely self-sufficient manors lost their dominant position, the urban market and cross-border trade with its monetary economy began to dominate economic life in Europe.

The economic history of the Qing dynasty in China from around 1644 to 1839 shows almost complete self-sufficiency, combined with targeted isolationism , strong prosperity and a high standard of living and population growth . In 1776, Adam Smith described China in his major work The Prosperity of Nations as one of the "richest, most fertile, most industrious, cultivated and prosperous countries" on earth. As an advantage, he named the size of the country, its natural resources, but above all the successfully practiced Chinese domestic trade . This protects people from famine and is "the best means to alleviate a shortage and inflation among the various provinces of a country". But since not every state has similar requirements, Smith came to the conclusion that by means of free trade, "the shortage in one country can easily be compensated for by the abundance in the other". The economic area concerned should limit its imports to goods that it cannot manufacture or produce itself. Adam Smith was convinced that free trade not only leads to greater prosperity, but also creates the "bond of friendship" between states.

Adam Smith described autarky as a kind of "protection against international trade". In connection with this statement, British economists later defined that "an economic policy of self-sufficiency aims to prevent a country from engaging in international trade". This definition is controversial, since British economic history in particular often shows "unilateral free trade". The United Kingdom has repeatedly tried to shield the British Empire from the rest of the world through protective tariffs or closed “ free trade areas ”. Mahatma Gandhi also described British free trade as one-sided, as it forced other countries into dependence on British exports. In fact, some of the ex-colonies of the successor Commonwealth of Nations remained primarily dependent on Great Britain until well into the 1970s. And even today, official British government representatives are pursuing the vision of a “global Great Britain” with closed free trade zones in connection with Brexit .

Likewise, the United States has not participated in the further development of the free trade system since the presidency of Donald Trump , it does not conclude any free trade agreements and is also endeavoring to end or reverse multilateral agreements. According to various economic experts, the USA is thus pursuing a policy of isolation, combined with striving for greater economic self-sufficiency, in which imports are made more difficult by tariffs , but exports are sometimes forced. The US trade conflicts with China and the European Union are far from being resolved, and in the 2020 US election campaign , Trump challenger Joe Biden also spoke out in favor of radical protectionism and even greater isolation of the US domestic market.


In Germany, economists and philosophers also dealt very early with the theory of autarky. List , Müller , Kant , Fichte , Hegel , Feuerbach , Treitschke , Mommsen , and Marx deepened the idea of ​​economic self-sufficiency in extensive works .

For example, Immanuel Kant - as a contemporary of Adam Smith - also expected the expansion of international trade relations to curb the bellicose conflict behavior of states: "It is the commercial spirit that cannot coexist with war and that sooner or later seizes every people." Kant was not a supporter of unconditional free trade and emphasized:

“The state must have the right to prohibit imports so that the means of acquisition are carried for the benefit of the subjects and not for the benefit of the foreigners and encouragement of the industriousness of others, because the state, without the prosperity of the people, does not have enough strength to turn to foreign enemies resist and not be able to maintain oneself as a common being. "

In his remarks On Eternal Peace (1795), he continued that the state had to intervene in economic development in order to secure the freedom and independence of its citizens. According to Kant, this includes measures that are suitable for increasing the technological, organizational and scientific competence of a country. In the event of a development deficit, the temporary isolation of the domestic market from products from abroad could be imperative.

In his book The Closed Trade State, published in 1800 , Johann Gottlieb Fichte outlined the main features of an autarkic nation state. The foundations of this state are freedom through reason and economic and political autarky. Fichte was critical of international trade, as the imbalances in the trade balances of the various nations lead to a "general secret trade war". To this end he stated:

“The real cause of war lies in the warring trade interests of nations. There is an endless war of everyone in the acting public against everyone, as a war between buyers and sellers. And this war becomes more violent, more unjust and, in its consequences, more dangerous the more the world is populated. Production and the arts [this means technical progress] are increasing and as a result the amount of goods in circulation and with it the needs of all increase and multiply. "

As an antidote, Fichte recommended the closed trading state, whose government shields its own nation against all outside influences and rules with reasonable equanimity and with strict justice. The inevitable basis of this state must be the ability to be self-sufficient. Although Fichte's trading system cannot be denied a certain proximity to socialist state utopias, for him private property remains inviolable. Fichte understands this private property as the existential basis of individual existence, since freedom is not possible without property. In addition, it must be taken into account in his considerations that Fichte did not understand nationalism as an ideology, but as the overcoming of German small states .

Similarly, Adam Heinrich Müller , as the main exponent of political romanticism , examined in his work The Elements of Statecraft (1809) the intellectual foundations of economically developed nations, how they can use their wealth for all social classes and create a just world order. Central is his criticism of liberalism , which is contrary to the common good . Adam Smith's free trade concept rejected Müller and emphasized the “strengthening effect that a self-sufficient economy has on the sense of community ”.

In his main work, The National System of Political Economy (1841), Friedrich List suggested, as a reaction to the impending British free trade policy, increased customs protection for young industries that were not yet fit for the global market against the overpowering British competition. List was not an opponent of self-sufficient forms of economy, but neither was it an enemy of transnational interdependencies. He recommended a rich mix of economic policy measures with which catching-up economies can optimize their position in the world economy. For Germany, List was also a pioneer of the Zollverein created in 1834 . Long after his death, his theories became internationally influential for the growth strategies of developing countries .

Marxism delivers the most violent criticism of free trade . Even today it sees itself as a classic counter-theory to liberal doctrine and says that free trade is to be rejected because it is based on the freedom of capital movements. Without national barriers for capital, the antagonism between the classes becomes even more pronounced (“unscrupulous freedom of trade”). In addition, free trade exacerbates national and international inequality, which can never be peace-promoting. On self-sufficiency, Karl Marx analyzed that capitalist countries can never be self-sufficient, since capitalism is always dependent on expansion. Therefore, “in an international mode of production, every thought of the long-term survival of an autarkic economic organization is a pipe dream”. As a result of this ambivalence , communist movements have at different times adopted or rejected autarky as a goal.

The German Imperium

During the rapid economic growth from 1850 onwards, German economic development had shifted from the self-sufficiency of mercantilism to laissez-faire and internationalism . Bismarck and with him all the German emperors promoted international trade. As early as April 1866, Georg Siemens , who was soon to found Deutsche Bank , declared: "Since we changed our entire trade policy by concluding the French trade agreement and switched to free trade, we have switched to the Western European system since that moment."

The emergence of an economically strong unitary state in the heart of Europe in 1871, superior to its continental neighbors, meant a geopolitical revolution. Until then, the center of Europe had always been fragmented by the state. Within a very short time, Germany managed to conduct a well-founded and successful economic policy far beyond its borders. This had become possible because the German Empire integrated itself into the world economy in a variety of ways. The most intensive trade and financial contacts were with other European countries as well as the USA and had no imperialist significance. After Great Britain, Germany soon had the largest merchant fleet in the world. As a capital exporter, Germany was also in second place behind Great Britain. His trading houses and large corporations established business relationships all over the world. Germany was not only a beneficiary, but also an active contributor to the great economic globalization wave before the First World War. This then turned out to be essentially a trade war .

After the British declaration of war on August 4, 1914, Great Britain imposed a naval blockade on the German Reich . On November 2, 1914, the British Admiralty declared the entire North Sea a war zone and laid down certain routes for neutral shipping to make it easier for ships to be controlled in English ports. With military and diplomatic pressure almost all neutral states were forced not to trade with Germany and to accept British control over maritime trade. The sea blockade violated international law, but turned out to be a very effective and lasting weapon against the German economy and against the needy population, for whom it became a “hunger blockade”. Even after the Compiègne armistice in November 1918, the British continued the blockade. According to the prevailing opinion at the time, this forced Germany to adopt a policy of self-sufficiency.

Weimar Republic

Not least because of the experience of the British naval blockade, after 1918 economists, politicians, publicists and sociologists of various political stripes took up the concept of a closed, self-sufficient economic area. These included Max Weber , Werner Sombart , Karl Renner , Heinrich Braun , Edgar Jaffé , Robert Michels , Emil Lederer , Eduard Spranger , Robert Friedlaender-Prechtl , Ferdinand Fried .

At this time, for example, Max Weber coined the thesis “Autarky des Oikos ”, based on Aristotle , according to which a closed, self- sufficient large household does not need a market. Or Karl Renner, who came to the conclusion during his self-sufficiency considerations: “Almost every piece of earth, even the Eskimos' snowfields, can still nourish people in complete isolation.” And Werner Sombart hoped that the “economic age” would be overcome by a strong leader , economic self-sufficiency and the rise of the peasant class.

After the end of the war, German economic power was significantly decimated by the provisions of the Versailles Treaty . Germany's industrial production had fallen back to 1888 in 1919. The German Reich had to cede numerous areas and thereby lost 26 percent of its hard coal production as well as 44 percent of pig iron and 38 percent of steel production. The cession of Alsace-Lorraine alone meant the loss of 70 percent of the entire German ore production. Agriculture lost a total of 14 percent of the area.

The self-sufficiency debates were exacerbated by the fact that Germany did not have unrestricted access to the world market, had to open its market, reduce tariffs and unilaterally grant most-favored-nation treatment to the victorious powers . In addition, there were enormous reparations claims , most of which had to be paid in goods or in foreign currency . The procurement of sufficient foreign currency turned out to be almost impossible due to the restrictions of trade policy, so that already during the Weimar Republic the achievement of the greatest possible self-sufficiency represented one of the most important economic and political challenges.

In the case of food production, for example, this goal should be achieved through the increased use of mineral fertilizers to increase yields. While it was possible for the fertilizer industry to purchase and manufacture nitrogen and potassium in their own country, phosphate had to be imported in exchange for foreign exchange. To avoid this, research began on the plant availability of phosphate in the soil. In addition to field and container tests, government institutions and industry carried out laboratory tests with soil organisms in order to increase agricultural yields. Garden and settlement planners developed concepts of "self-sufficiency for everyone". These said that everyone must have enough garden land to grow the food they need to feed themselves. In addition, concepts for circular economy and cultivation methods have been successfully developed that sustainably improve soil fertility.

In other areas too, such as the conversion of coal into synthetic gasoline , the self-sufficiency efforts unleashed enormous potential for innovation. Of the 36 natural science Nobel Prizes awarded between 1919 and 1933 , one in three went to a researcher from Germany. The Emergency Association of German Science was founded to maintain and promote research . The state acted as the client and financier of non-governmental institutions.

From the second half of the 1920s onwards, the “Enquete Committee to Investigate the Production and Sales Conditions of the German Economy” established by the Reichstag noted a trend towards increasing self-sufficiency. For example, the share of total agricultural imports fell from 21.9% in 1925 to 9.6% in 1931. The significant increase in self-sufficiency was primarily attributed to agricultural and trade policy measures.

At the latest after the outbreak of the global economic crisis (1929), the topic of self-sufficiency was omnipresent in Germany. Anti-liberal economic theories and the call for isolation from the world trading system were by no means inherent domains of the National Socialist program. In principle, all conservative parties advocate total self-sufficiency . The NSDAP , the VNR and the KVP called for a principally radical, but actually moderated, autarky . The KPD strove for full self-sufficiency with intellectual and cultural independence based on the Russian model in a Soviet Germany. The Landbund , the DNVP , various peasant parties and the Bavarian People's Party wanted partial economic self-sufficiency (agricultural self-sufficiency, currency self-sufficiency). The German Democratic Party denied a restoration of “ Manchester liberalism ”, but just like the center , the DVP and the SPD , fundamentally refused any autarky.

Regardless of this, all the cabinets of the Weimar Republic supported the production of domestic goods and the research and development of substitute materials through subsidies . The subsidy policy first appeared in the Weimar period. It was seen as an important and modern instrument of economic policy and was systematically used on a large scale. Agriculture, chemistry and heavy industry were the main beneficiaries of the subsidies . The collapse of world trade and the unbundling of foreign trade led to a new policy of self-sufficiency, which must be understood as an expression of a broad political current. Due to the global economic crisis, the high unemployment, the shortage of capital, the international interdependence of capital, the interest burden and the withdrawal of many other economies from world trade, only economic aspects dominated.

Against this background, the Brüning government restricted the free movement of capital through several emergency ordinances in 1932. In connection with the levying of a Reich flight tax , the entire foreign trade was converted to a forced currency management. Private foreign exchange holdings were to be reported to the Reichsbank . From then on, the state directed and controlled every single company that traded abroad via central foreign exchange offices. However, this was not a German solo effort. Differentiated trading blocs crystallized around the world, with Great Britain and France forming their own blocs with their colonies .

In addition to the German Reich, 15 other European and seven non-European countries introduced foreign exchange control. Since there were only a few foreign currencies available in these countries, the governments of these countries tried to conduct foreign trade without foreign currency by means of direct exchange of goods on the basis of bilateral agreements . As early as 1932, Germany concluded bilateral clearing agreements with several Eastern European countries as well as Austria and Denmark. The settlement took place on the basis of a clearing procedure in which the two countries involved credited the value of the foreign trade goods to each other on clearing accounts and tried to find a balance. With these self-sufficient compensation transactions , the participating countries not only undermined the most-favored nation principle , but also the entire stock exchange, credit and interest system, especially the British and US financial oligarchy .

Nazi era

After Adolf Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, autarky became a catchphrase for the economic competence of the NSDAP and a declared part of National Socialist economic policy . Elevated to ideology , the self-sufficiency policy initially represented nothing more than a continuation of the measures taken during the Weimar period, albeit on a much larger scale. The fact that the National Socialists continued on the path they had started was expressed, for example, in the “Economic Immediate Program” of 1932, in which it was postulated that friendly European countries should be preferred when importing raw materials, especially if they were prepared to import German finished goods in return.

The period between 1933 and 1939 was undisputedly characterized by technical progress and economic upswing, combined for the majority of the German population with social security and personal prosperity. Götz Aly coined the term “feel-good dictatorship” in this context. The focus was initially on the rapid implementation of extensive measures for job creation , such as the Reinhardt program . In addition to road construction, the Nazi regime reduced unemployment through housing construction programs, tax breaks, training courses and the creation of state-subsidized employment opportunities, for example as farm and harvest workers or welfare workers. Numerous campaigns for the preferential purchase of products made in Germany were also intended to stimulate willingness to consume and domestic demand.

In the course of the self-sufficiency efforts, the government pushed the establishment of a production of substitutes, especially in the areas of gasoline and rubber synthesis as well as synthetic fiber production : The synthetic fuel produced at BRABAG and in over 20 other hydrogenation plants was supposed to reduce the dependence on oil imports and develop the Buna plants synthetic rubber to free the tire industry from raw rubber imports. Wool and cotton were: in the production of consumer goods was increasingly resorting to substitutes, for example, radio housings, fittings and equipment in the clothing industry rayon and viscose staple fiber leather replaced by Igelit . While private companies were mainly involved in the production of substitute materials, with the establishment of the Reichswerke the state took over the processing of products that appeared unprofitable for industry.

In general, historical research assumes that the self-sufficiency drive before 1937 had no military-strategic component. That changed in August 1936, Hitler's memorandum on the four-year plan and the resulting regulation for the implementation of the four-year plan of October 18, 1936. This was Hermann Goering , the general power within four years of the economic and military war capability of the German Reich by self-sufficiency and forced upgrade to to reach. One of the goals explicitly called for by Hitler in his memorandum was greater self-sufficiency in the supply of raw materials. After Hjalmar Schacht was dismissed as Reich Minister of Economics in the summer of 1938, Göring completely converted the four-year plan to defense economic goals, so that the needs of the civil economy were no longer taken into account.

Ultimately, Hitler's aim was to ensure that the German Reich was supplied as independently as possible from abroad. In fact, in the Third Reich, self-sufficiency was nowhere near achieved, neither in food production, nor in fuel production, let alone in heavy industry. The self-sufficiency was only pars pro toto . For foreign trade was indeed the most important component of National Socialist economic policy. The military supply alone was largely dependent on imports. This is why the clearing process was considerably expanded, primarily through the conclusion of bilateral agreements with Southeast European and South American countries and, until June 1941, with the Soviet Union. On this basis, however, there was also a German-British payment agreement from 1934.

The aim of foreign trade policy should be the formation of self-sufficient economic areas , which ultimately corresponded to Hitler's demand for living space and the idea of ​​a blockade-proof European large-scale economy . For this purpose, the Society for European Economic Planning and Greater Economy was founded in 1939 . Whether the National Socialist ideological basic conceptions of race ideology , combined with the autarky and large-scale theory, represented something like a foreign trade program is still the subject of controversial scientific studies.


The GDR continued the self-sufficiency policy practiced in the Third Reich . The SED regime had favorable prerequisites for this, because the GDR inherited the central German industrial complex ( Leunawerke , Brabag-Werke , Buna-Werke, etc.), which had been geared towards self-sufficiency from the start . The central guideline of economic policy in the GDR was the “unity of economic and social policy”, which was to be realized through autarky, dirigism and five-year plans. Although the supply situation improved steadily in absolute terms, the demand of the GDR government for an ever better supply of the population, and as far as possible without necessary imports, led to a shortage economy . In fact, the GDR achieved a high degree of self-sufficiency in some areas of agriculture . The GDR was also self-sufficient in terms of electricity and heat using local lignite . However, at no point did consumer goods production increase the standard of living to the extent desired. In addition, the self-sufficiency efforts had negative ecological effects in almost all economic sectors .

In agriculture, the aim was to separate animal and plant production through specialization and large-scale production, in order to be able to generate foreign currency as well as possible in addition to the self-sufficient supply of its own population. With the need for more effective land use and to secure increased yields, agricultural production cooperatives (LPG) and nationally owned goods (VEG) emerged as part of collectivization measures. Chicken meat was to become a staple food of animal origin for the population . Immediately after the founding of the GDR, egg and poultry production was organized across the board in such a way that a self-sufficient supply was guaranteed from the end of the 1950s. A self-sufficiency rate of over 110% annually was achieved in this area.

The eggs and broiler production took place in a total of 22 industrial fattening combines ( KIM ). The stock sizes of the officially so-called broiler fattening systems were extremely high. There were holdings with over a million laying hens and 1.6 million chickens. Although this was a success story, the self-sufficiency achieved had a downside. Factory farming was at the expense of the environment, people and animals. Every year over 1000 tons of poultry excrement were produced, which were often dumped in former stone quarries or sand pits. The faeces led to extreme odor nuisance and the potassium permanganate required to neutralize the exhaust gases was not available in sufficient quantities in the GDR economy. In addition, from the beginning of the 1970s, animal diseases broke out on a large scale due to the intensive keeping and concentration of large livestock . The GDR was the first country in the world to introduce prophylactic vaccination against avian influenza . These are now prohibited in Germany and the EU due to the risk of mutation .

A very high level of self-sufficiency could also be achieved in pork production . There were numerous fattening facilities here in which up to 180,000 animals were kept per individual farm. The large systems were very energy-intensive and therefore cost-intensive. In addition, the excretions of the animals at such a concentration led to enormous ammonia pollution in the air in the vicinity of the fattening farms. Although on this basis there was in fact self-sufficiency due to sufficiently high animal populations and nobody in the GDR had to go hungry, the supply of meat and sausage products to the population was characterized by constant scarcity . Because goods that were originally intended to meet domestic needs were exported on a large scale. A lot of live cattle and freshly slaughtered meat were exported to West Germany . In return, the GDR received foreign currency and imported older cold store meat and cheap offal from the Federal Republic . The USSR received most of the fresh meat on the basis of special "oil-for-meat barter deals". After the Soviet comrades were extremely annoyed to find that the GDR leadership was selling the cheap oil for foreign exchange to the West, they lifted the fixed prices in the mid-1970s and increased the price of oil eight times.

The GDR industry therefore had no choice but to fall back on local lignite. By 1989 the GDR had developed into the largest lignite producer in the world with an annual output of 320 million tons. To this end, the government of the GDR, for example, had around 500 square kilometers excavated in Lusatia alone , hundreds of places destroyed and over 23,000 people resettled. In addition to the loss of huge fields and thus productive areas, the forced resettlement of people from the devastated places led to population density in the cities and increasing supply problems. The reduction in field area through mining was one of the reasons why the GDR had to import up to five million tons of grain per year . However, it was mostly feed grain.

Ultimately, the SED regime's strivings for self-sufficiency turned out to be pure mismanagement. The feed consumption was so high due to the large number of animals that the demand could not be covered by in-house production. Therefore one fifth of the feed demand was covered by imports. From the beginning of the 1970s, grain and animal feed imports accounted for 60% of western debts. Because of this, the government has always tried to reduce feed imports in order to save foreign currency. As a result of import restrictions, grain imports fell from 4.8 million tons in 1978 to 1.5 million tons in 1987. The consequences of the import restrictions were immediately apparent: there was less feed for the animals, so that on average the delivery weight of the Pigs fell from 127 to 94 kilograms and the population shrank to half the animals.

In 1987, the State Planning Commission had to determine that the plans and calculations to implement extensive technological rationalization in the industry independently on their own had failed. Isolated from the world market, predominantly equipped with pre-war technology and little innovation potential, the attempts were absurd to be able to operate a disproportionately large amount of resource-intensive industries in a country that was poor in natural resources and on a large scale. In addition, due to a lack of technical progress, labor productivity fell far behind that of West Germany over time (1989: Federal Republic 100%, GDR 28.5%). This lack of modernization had ideological reasons. The GDR saw itself as a workers-and-farmers state with an extremely high degree of concentration of employees in agriculture and industrial production. In contrast, there was an extremely low number of students.

Federal Republic

In the Federal Republic of Germany , the term self-sufficiency has been used since the 1950s with the resumption of the European idea and the discussion about Europe, mostly as a term for an undesirable form of isolation instead of pan-European cooperation and international free trade policy. The prevailing opinion today is that the state can only fulfill essential of its tasks in cooperation with other states, such as maintaining external and internal security, promoting the economy or research.

In the age of global networking, Germany has completely abandoned the idea of ​​a closed trading system. The industry of the Federal Republic is export-oriented in all branches and relies on foreign raw materials. Likewise, Germany today is massively dependent on foreign countries for its food supply. This applies to both agricultural raw materials and finished products. According to the Federal Statistical Office , since the beginning of the 21st century the land used for agricultural purposes in Germany has decreased significantly. One reason for this is the increasing cultivation of energy crops , so that the German population is increasingly feeding from abroad and less and less from their own agriculture.

According to general doctrine , the implementation of a policy of self-sufficiency would be almost unthinkable today, since national interests only play a subordinate role in the economy. It is no longer the state, but corporations that determine the relocation of production facilities abroad, company sales or penetration strategies . Accordingly, global economic policy is not about a consensus, but about profit interests, increasing profits and maximizing capital.

Other countries (selection)

The goal of self-sufficiency can often only be achieved with a loss of prosperity, since many goods cannot be produced domestically or can only be produced at higher costs. The loss of prosperity in the self-sufficient country also has an unfavorable effect on other countries because of the reduction in the international division of labor . Nevertheless, in the past, and still do, many states strive for self-sufficiency, for example with agricultural products or in energy supply ( partial self-sufficiency ), in order to be independent of imports in the event of war or crisis.

Some countries on earth are able to be economically self-sufficient to a large extent due to their size and their natural resources or their socio-economic and cultural characteristics. These include, for example, the USA , Russia and China . However, there is no country in the world today that does not export certain goods to other countries or import them from other countries. The striving of a single state for complete self-sufficiency, whether voluntary or forced, inevitably leads to isolation.

Soviet Union

While the workers 'and soldiers' councils in early Soviet Russia strived for a completely self-sufficient economy, Lenin and Trotsky strove for decentralization and liberalization in agriculture, trade and industry even before the founding of the Soviet Union . With considerable resistance in his own party, Lenin announced the New Economic Policy (NEP) in March 1921, which resulted in the Rapallo Treaty with Germany, among other things . The main focus of the NEP was not on foreign trade, but on strengthening the internal market . Ultimately, the period of the NEP ended in 1927 with a resolution on the XV. Party congress of the CPSU .

Stalin's foreign trade policy increasingly followed the goal of Soviet Union self-sufficiency. This should free the domestic economy from the processes of the world market. Accordingly, the Soviet Union concluded only 18 multilateral treaties by the mid-1930s , mostly with Germany and Austria in the field of technology and health. Foreign trade was thus given the role of a “stopgap”, true to Stalin's motto: “What can be produced in the country is not imported”. This self-sufficiency policy was not reoriented after the Second World War. In June 1945, when the UN was founded , the Soviet leadership announced that bilateral agreements were a much more tangible guarantee for peace than free trade.

After the emergence of the socialist camp , multilateral agreements with “ brother states ” became increasingly important, but until 1957 bilateral agreements dominated. Within the COMECON system , the states involved then resorted to the clearing procedure successfully practiced in the Third Reich and processed foreign trade using goods credits. The Comecon states under the leadership of the Soviet Union thus represented nothing less than a self-sufficient large economic area.


Already two years before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War , the anarchist CNT and the Marxist UGT independently founded economically fully self-sufficient communities in Asturias and the Levant . The two rival groups expropriated landowners, divided up the land, and declared the economic system in the occupied territories to be self-sufficient and independent of the government. The communist and left-liberal factions of the Spanish Republic , which also strived for collective cultivation or division of the land among the peasants but by means of central leadership, had the autarky movements violently suppressed by republican government troops.

Contrary to these efforts, the autarky policy of Francisco Franco is controversially discussed among historians to this day . Especially in the post-war years up to 1952, the dictator wanted to achieve an autarky of the Spanish economy as a result of international ostracism and to underpin this with protectionism . In 1946, with the exception of Argentina, all countries withdrew their ambassadors from Madrid because they did not want to recognize an authoritarian regime. At the same time, France closed its border. Up to the present day it is controversial in historical studies whether Franco's isolation was a voluntary decision or not.

The Instituto Nacional de Colonización (INC), i.e. the National Institute for Rural Development, and the Instituto Nacional de Industria (INI) are seen as the two most important instruments of autarky policy . The catastrophic economic situation, in which Spain found itself due to almost complete isolation, was improved by the USA in the course of the Korean War . In order to strengthen its support against communism as part of its containment policy , the US needed bases in Europe. Spain with its ports on the Strait of Gibraltar was thus one of the most important countries in Europe, and Franco had always expressed his negative attitude towards the communists.

After the USA diplomatically recognized Spain again in 1950 - and shortly thereafter all Western countries - a bilateral agreement was signed on September 26, 1953 in which Spain granted the USA military bases. In return, the government in Madrid received 225 million US dollars as immediate economic aid and all western countries reestablished economic relations with Spain. In this episode, the Spanish economy began to grow rapidly. As early as 1951, the country was able to join the FAO and UNESCO . In 1955 she was admitted to the United Nations , whose Security Council had condemned the Franco regime a few years earlier in a total of three resolutions . In 1958 Spain became a member of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation and joined the IMF and the World Bank . With the Plan de Estabilización , Franco officially ended the autarky policy in 1959.


An extreme example of the striving for complete self-sufficiency and independence was the time when the Albanians went it alone between 1979 and 1990. It should be noted that the economic development of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, founded on November 29, 1944, began very dynamically. The break in relations with Western European countries, the USA and the Eastern Bloc countries were the result of various factors.

The isolation from the capitalist countries goes back to covert operations by the US and Great Britain, which tried between 1948 and 1952 to overthrow the Albanian government. For this purpose, the secret services of the two countries recruited Albanian refugees and politicians in exile. A large number of young Albanians were trained in Malta, Cyprus and western Germany and smuggled into the country. The attempt failed because the British double agent Kim Philby transmitted all information to the Soviet Union shortly before the intervention. Albania responded with iron isolation from the west, the introduction of the death penalty for treason and conspiracy, and a stronger lean towards the Soviet Union.

Integrated into the COMECON system , large heavy industrial operations, numerous coal , chrome , copper and iron ore mines , and many retail stores and factories emerged. In addition, high-yield oil fields, especially in the area around Ballsh and Patos, were developed, huge hydropower plants were built, and wine-growing areas , large-scale olive, lemon and orange tree plantations were created. New and highly fertile agricultural areas were gained by draining wetlands, for example the Myzeqe plain . The level of education could be increased enormously, in 1957 the first university was established in Tirana . The equality of women presented in the once predominantly Muslim and Albanian Orthodox embossed land a huge step forward. Many offices were with female party members occupied.

As a result of the de-Stalinization initiated by Nikita Sergejewitsch Khrushchev from 1956, Albanian-Soviet relations gradually cooled. The reforms were increasingly incompatible with the Marxist-Leninist principles of the Albanian head of state Enver Hoxha . After Khrushchev asked the Albanian leadership to leave military bases on the Mediterranean coast and demanded that the Albanian economy only export oranges and raw materials in the future, Enver Hoxha saw this as a clear attempt by the Russians to bring the country into colonial dependence. With this statement, Hoxha openly criticized the Soviet course in November 1960 during a visit to Moscow in the presence of the other representatives of the Eastern Bloc. Just like Mao Zedong , he called the policy of the USSR “red imperialism” and a threat to world peace . In 1961 this led to the severance of all relations with the USSR.

However, on the way to the Albanian self-isolation it should be noted that the Soviet side was the first to recall its ambassador from Tirana on November 25, 1961 and on December 3, 1961 presented the Albanian Chargé d'Affaires in Moscow with a verbal note about the break in diplomatic relations. Among other things, it stated that the Albanian embassy in Moscow had distributed anti-Soviet material. In its reply on December 9, 1961, the government of the People's Republic of Albania rejected the allegation as a shameful and provocative insult, thereby confirming the termination of diplomatic relations.

The People's Republic of China became the new and sole ally. Mao Zedong agreed to compensate for the entire loss of the Soviet agreement. This made China the only buyer of Albanian products, respectively Albania completely dependent on the Chinese. On this basis, Albania withdrew from Comecon and the Warsaw Pact in 1968 and declared itself the “first atheist state in the world”. However, the new alliance could not compensate for the failed trade relations. There was a lack of technology and spare parts for the predominantly Russian machines, which led to the decline of industrialization. Mao Zedong's attempts at rapprochement with the USA in 1970 marked the beginning of the end of the Sino-Albanian friendship. The break was not completed until 1978 after China completely stopped various payments. Albania no longer had an alliance or trading partner.

A rapprochement with the West was unthinkable for Hoxha and a resumption of relations with the USSR due to his anti-Soviet statements hardly possible. In these circumstances, self-sufficiency was seen as the only possible solution. According to Enver Hoxha, the country should reflect on its own strength and completely forego foreign support. Years of absolute solo effort and isolation followed. Due to the positive population growth and the lack of food imports, from the beginning of the 1980s Albania, with the exception of bread, was hardly able to adequately meet the demand for basic foodstuffs . This so-called bread-grain self-sufficiency brought agriculture to the higher mountains. Even schoolchildren, students, teachers, professors, artists and scientists were sent in campaigns for stays of several weeks in the Albanian Alps and Jablanica for shifting cultivation .

Ramiz Alia , who succeeded the late Enver Hoxha in 1985, was convinced that the supply difficulties within the system could be overcome. He continued the ruling party's policy of self-sufficiency and declared before the 8th plenum of the Central Committee in 1989 that the party would not allow any other system. The economic situation had worsened when he took office. In order to solve the problems, the party leadership decided to set up a foreign exchange speculation department within the Albanian State Bank . The start-up capital was obtained from private foreign lenders via channels that have not yet been clarified. Needless to say, the work of the State Speculation Department ended in fiasco and accelerated the final fall of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania.

The speculative losses very quickly reached millions in the three-digit US dollar range. In an act of desperation or madness, all available foreign currency was then scraped together in the fall of 1989 and speculated with the total amount on a devaluation of the German Mark (DM) against the US dollar. That was the economic end. It was precisely at this time that the DM was revalued by 25%. The Albanian State Bank was thus insolvent. Wages could no longer be paid. Production collapsed, especially in agriculture. A famine could only be avoided thanks to the Italian government, which provided the country with urgently needed food worth 190 million US dollars as part of the "Pelican Emergency Aid Program".

For the population, self-sufficiency over the years meant renouncing all kinds of consumer goods. Albania had become Europe's poor house. It is noteworthy in this context that the Albanian population grew from 2,670,000 in 1980 to 3,255,000 in 1990. In socio-economic terms , this development could be traced back to cultural peculiarities, a pronounced community spirit, frugality and the ability for collective self-sufficiency. These aspects do not have to be deliberately, morally, politically, idealistically or normatively justified, but can also be an expression of a natural instinct for self-preservation or altruism , which is often characterized by consideration for others.

On the other hand: In the first democratic elections in March 1991, the Labor Party of Albania, under the unchanged leadership of Ramiz Alia, won predominantly with the votes of the rural population. However, the state party had dissolved the agricultural cooperatives before the elections and given each village family 2,000 square meters of land plus either a milk cow or alternatively goats or sheep. Four months after the elections, the Labor Party of Albania was renamed the Socialist Party of Albania . In the parliament elected in 2017 , it has an absolute majority, as in 1997, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

South Africa

Between 1984 and 1994, various states used economic sanctions to increase the pressure on the South African government to end the apartheid policy . Today it is clear that the sanctions did not trigger the political transformation, as South Africa could exist relatively self-sufficient at a comparatively high economic standard. This was used by the racist think tank SABRA as an ideological justification for the socio-economic concept of apartheid that is based on it.

Rather, South Africa is seen as an example of how economic sanctions create practically no necessary pressure for major political change and almost always hit the wrong people. In the case of South Africa, the burden of the international embargo policy was borne exclusively by the non-European population . Thousands lost their jobs in mining and steelworks as various countries no longer imported hard coal, ores, steel and iron products from South Africa. In the opinion of its apologists at the time and the supporters abroad they influenced, South Africa was supposedly far from an economic collapse when the government began negotiations with the opposition and had to end apartheid.

In reality, the aftermath of the Rubicon speech by President Botha and the boycott measures brought about by the US Congress to withdraw US corporations from South Africa, which led to an exchange with other foreign capital, set in motion transformative processes. Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl refused to oppose the apartheid system with an international policy with measures at the European level and national decisions. Domestically, on the other hand, Botha's speech caused a massive loss of confidence in the country's economy, considerable losses on the stock market and ongoing unrest with exceptional circumstances. In order to maintain the stability of the self-sufficiency-oriented situation, the Botha government is now relying on further expansion of measures by the “ surveillance state ” in conjunction with a military-secret service command system ( NSMM ) to deeply influence the economy and civil society.

The South African economy was able to offset the sanctions to a considerable extent. From an agricultural point of view, the country has huge potential due to the climatic conditions. Wine, fruit, citrus fruits, vegetables, potatoes, corn, rice, sugar, tobacco, all types of grain, wool, large herds of cattle - with a well-developed agriculture, South Africa had a diverse range of food available. In addition, extensive irrigation systems have been set up in regions with intensive agriculture , which enabled two harvests per year.

The agricultural sector was also closely linked to the industrial sectors. Thus, the South African industry could easily provide important goods required for agricultural production, such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides as well as machines. In the coal and steel industry , an increasingly independent mechanical engineering sector with a strong focus on large mining and construction machinery ( Bell , ISCOR etc.) has developed since the middle of the 20th century . With over 900 mines in addition to the raw material processing heavy industry, the mining sector continues to represent the basis of South African economic power, which has contributed around 60% to foreign exchange income since the end of the 19th century. The country has very large deposits of gold , diamonds , hard coal , chromium , manganese , platinum metals , uranium , nickel , titanium , antimony and vanadium . In addition, there are other mineral raw materials, so that South Africa can not only be self-sufficient with many mineral resources, with the exception of oil and bauxite , but is self-sufficient.

In order to circumvent the oil shortage resulting from the imposed embargoes, large CtL plants were built in Sasolburg and Secunda, among others, during the period of apartheid , with which synthetic gasoline , diesel and oil as well as raw materials for the chemical industry could be obtained. Operator of this Hydrierwerke was adopted by the State Industrial Development Corporation , founded in Suid-Afrikaanse Steenkool-, Olie- en Gasmaatskappy (Sasol). Despite the sanctions originally initiated by the USA against South Africa, the Sasol plants were built in cooperation with the US company Fluor Corporation . On the basis of these plants, Sasol still covers a large part of the South African fuel demand. In addition, in 1984, after intensive exploration, large natural gas fields around 50 kilometers from Mossel Bay were recorded and developed.

The United Nations arms embargo against South Africa proved to be ineffective. On the one hand, the only major military operations of the South African Defense Force took place in the neighboring states of Angola , Mozambique and Zimbabwe . On the other hand, the South African Ministry of Defense was able to officially announce in the mid-1980s that South Africa was also self-sufficient in this area, since Armscor alone, for example , could produce 141 types of ammunition in the country. In addition, South Africa manufactured nuclear weapons with prior foreign support during the embargo period.

In addition, an investigative committee of the German Bundestag dealt with illegal arms deals by German companies which, with the knowledge of the Federal Ministry of Defense , supplied the apartheid regime with Unimogs and hand weapons as well as a complete ammunition filling plant and submarine construction plans. The trade in rough diamonds was also unbroken . Until the 1990s, the South African diamond producer De Beers had a world market share of around 80%. Diamonds were never subject to international sanctions during apartheid. The reasons for this are still speculated today.

In retrospect, the Hamburg Institute of International Economics and the Swiss National Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research showed in extensive studies that political reasons played a subordinate role in not a few countries in the sanctions against South Africa. The economic embargo was determined to a recognizable extent by the different self-interests of the sanctioning countries. Several states hoped to use sanctions to push a competitive competitor aside and to neutralize South Africa as a supplier of mineral raw materials or agricultural products.

In the US, for example, there were interest groups that benefited from sanctions on South African coal and food. Accordingly, these areas were sanctioned by the USA, but not by the European Community (EC) and Japan. For its part, the EC sanctioned steel. Since this was one of the most heavily protected areas in the EC, the European producers eliminated nothing other than a strong competitor with the sanction.

However, the fact that the sanctions generally did not have any major impact on South Africa's economic growth suggests that the gross domestic product rose by an average of 3% annually, which was well above the usual growth rate of 2.5% in other countries at the time. In fact, exports were only around 2% lower in the first year than before the sanctions were imposed. After that exports increased again. Since 1986 South Africa has also had a trade surplus , which in 1988 alone exceeded 2.9 billion rand .

The structure of exports did not change significantly either: the sale of gold, mineral raw materials and coal continued to make up the largest part of foreign exchange income. This result was mainly due to the fact that South African exports were diverted to countries that did not participate in the sanctions. For example, Turkey and the Near and Middle East could be opened up for the decline in iron and steel exports, and processed metal products increasingly went to the emerging economies in Southeast Asia .

The example of South Africa clearly demonstrates not only the consequences of sanctions, but also their limited political effectiveness. The international sanctions strengthened the drive for self-sufficiency and the economic sanctions did not trigger the political transformation. Some political scientists even assume that the sanctions against South Africa extended rather than shortened apartheid. What is certain is that adaptation processes took place in South Africa even before sanctions were imposed, as the system of racial segregation was not permanently compatible with the changed economic conditions. The high economic growth of South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s created a high demand for labor, which sooner or later could only be satisfied by the influx of black workers into the big cities and complete equal treatment.

The reason apartheid policy ended was not because of cumulative international pressures that piled up over decades. According to contemporary historical research, the end of the apartheid system resulted from the immediate political context of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when various states around the world were disintegrated . The increasing unrest and strikes were a visible sign that the separation of the population was leading to ever greater difficulties. In addition to the many deaths on both sides, they resulted in high security expenses and reduced investor confidence. In parts of the country there was a threat of ungovernability because the spiral of violence could no longer be stopped.

Today's difficulties in South Africa result from a weakened integration into the world market, which was blocked by the sanctions and thus set the country back in its economic development. So the economic disadvantage of the non-white population after the end of apartheid could not be fundamentally eliminated. Between 1994 and 2004, unemployment among blacks rose from 36% to 47% and their median income fell by 19% in real terms. The poverty rate also worsened. This development could not be stopped in the period that followed. According to official statistics from the South African government for 2018, one in four South Africans is unemployed. Half of the 53 million South Africans today live below the poverty line. Investors are holding back in South Africa. The reasons are the unstable political situation, the lack of security, the unproductivity and the high level of corruption.

Overall, the sanctions have solidified a widespread economic policy tradition in South Africa of only being selectively integrated into the global economy. In order to lead not only South Africa, but the whole of Africa out of the economic misery, the renowned economist Themba Sono from the South African think tank Free Market Foundation in Johannesburg recommended in 2005: “We have to start with simple, almost biblical principles. We have to develop self-sufficiency. "

North Korea

In North Korea , ideological independence plays a hermeneutic role for politics, economy and the military and is therefore of overriding importance. The basis of this ideology is the Chuch'e ("Dschutsche") developed by the first President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kim Il-sung . Among other things, it regards economic independence as a material basis. The emphasis is on heavy industry , which is seen as the backbone of an independent economy. However, this national autonomy cannot be equated with a state of self-sufficiency, as can often be found in the literature. The socialist building of the nation is given priority, but trade according to the Chuch'e should not be neglected.

In fact, after the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kim Il Sung sought to diversify relations with other states , which is why his country applied for membership in the United Nations in 1949. The admission failed because of the US veto. At the same time, the US government imposed an economic embargo on North Korea, which almost all western states joined. Regarding the discussion as to whether the North Korean leadership pursues a targeted or imposed self-sufficiency policy, it must be noted that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic and economic relations with the GDR in 1949. North Korea also had an association agreement with Comecon . In economic terms, for example, the German working group Hamhŭng played the most important role in the reconstruction of the port city of Hamhŭng , 80 percent of which had been destroyed in the Korean War . In East Berlin there were even plans for the GDR population to go on vacation to North Korea.

Relations between the GDR and North Korea were, however, characterized by the goodwill of the government in Moscow and the constant fluctuations in the Soviet-North Korean relationship. At that time, Burma was the only capitalist country to have trade relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. North Korea avoided becoming dependent on both the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. In addition to its two direct neighbors, North Korea has established extensive relations with Vietnam , Cambodia and Mongolia . In general , instead of long-term contracts, the leadership in Pyongyang favored short-term economic agreements that were paid for in foreign currency, including by North Korea.

With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc , North Korea's foreign trade came to an almost complete standstill in the early 1990s. The import of cheap crude oil, of spare parts for machines, artificial fertilizers and food from the Soviet Union or its successor states was almost completely broken down. In January 1995, the USA partly said goodbye to the economic embargo and concluded a trade agreement with North Korea, including on oil deliveries. As a result, other countries in the western community of states also established partial trade relations.

From the year 2000 onwards, the so-called sunshine policy began to show signs of relaxation between North and South Korea . Since 2003, with occasional interruptions, South Korean companies have been producing in the North Korean industrial region Kaesŏng on the basis of duty-free and free trade. In the course of the North Korea crisis in 2013 , relations with the USA deteriorated, as a result of which sanctions, including those from the EU, were significantly expanded and tightened again in February 2018. Since then there have been various goods and service-related restrictions against North Korea, which prohibit the sale, delivery, transfer or export to North Korea as well as the import, acquisition and transfer of goods from North Korea.

The North Korean state is walking the tightrope between maintaining power and losing face by continuing to align its actions with its state-supporting principle of striving for self-sufficiency. Specifically, this means that his crisis management aims on the one hand to strengthen national food production. On the other hand, the country seems to have overcome its economic low in the last decade by strengthening its domestic market (expansion of infrastructure, many small and large construction projects, approval of private traders and small business owners, etc.), as North Korea's economy, according to Western observers, has been around since 2010 3% growing annually.

Self-sufficient private households

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the term “self-sufficient households” has been used increasingly - but with different meanings. In general, living and building “ off-the-grid ” is seen as a future issue and for some people as a way to more sustainability .

In a self-sufficient house, this means living independently of the local electricity, water and heating network and thus being completely self-sufficient. In Germany, a completely independent supply is relatively difficult because, for example, for reasons of building law, a connection to the local sewer system and a connection to the water supply must usually be available . The reason for this is that, on the basis of hygiene regulations , a cesspool as a substitute for sewerage is generally not permitted and the health department prohibits the use of rainwater or non-regularly controlled well water as drinking water .

In the area of ​​alternative and sustainable building there are some living concepts that include self-sufficient supply in their concept from the outset. In practice, however, very few of these projects have received building permits at all . Despite these restrictions, it is possible to build a largely self-sufficient house that does not require an external power supply. There are different possibilities of energy self- sufficiency , for example photovoltaic systems , wind turbines or wind turbines, combined heat and power plants .

A truly self-sufficient life requires an extraordinary level of idealism to outweigh the limitations that come with it. It means a complete reorganization of your own lifestyle and complete self-responsibility. People who choose to do this have to build many objects themselves and, above all, be able to produce food in their own garden or in a field. The production of food may require animal husbandry, possibly knowledge of milk production and processing, procurement of food for the winter, knowledge of crop rotation and fruit and vegetable varieties, etc. Basically, a completely self-sufficient way of life would correspond to a return to a life that is a farmer before 1850, which would render the technical and social achievements of the past 170 years obsolete.

See also


  • Kurt Pentzlin : The limits of pure economic theory, investigated on the problem of economic autarky. Dissertation. University of Kiel, 1928.
  • Herbert von Beckerath : Autarky or International Cooperation? S. Fischer Verlag, 1932.
  • Volkmar Muthesius : Europe's autarky. German Information Service, 1940.
  • Jürg Niehans : The idea of ​​autarky in mercantilism of yesteryear and in neo-mercantilism of yesterday. H. Girsberger Zurich Verlag, 1945.
  • Friedrich Tomberg : Polis and nation state. Luchterhand Literaturverlag, 1973.
  • Johan Galtung : Self-reliance. Minerva Publishing House, 1983.
  • Markus Huppenbauer : Self- sufficiency and adaptation. On the tension between self-determination and environmental conservation. Springer-Verlag, 2013.

Web links

Wiktionary: Autarky  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

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