Natural economy

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A natural economy is the opposite of a money economy .

In natural economy every person has to satisfy all of his needs and wishes himself, unless a government organizes this in a proper cycle of legislation. Division of labor occurs in the form of communities or by direct barter not, but using a generally accepted medium of exchange , which is the beneficiary of trade with goods enabled.

The introduction of the monetary economy enabled specializations and thus an economy based on the division of labor .

The system of natural economy occurs in the Middle Ages with the villication constitution .

Natural economy under the Merovingian monarchy

When in the early Middle Ages, under the rule of the Merovingians, the civil wars threatened to destroy all legal security and the prosperity of the cities and at the same time the offensive of the Arabs paralyzed trade in the Mediterranean, a profound transformation took place: long-distance trade and monetary economy gave way to natural economy and closed house or farm economies that were economical were almost self-sufficient and could only exchange goods with one another to a very minimal extent. Taxes were only collected in the form of levies in kind, which then only served to maintain the existence of the count and his own followers. There was no longer a central cash register for paying royal officials. The increasingly independent counts could only have been kept under control by the personal reputation of the king, but the fratricidal struggles within the Merovingian dynasty destroyed the authority of the kingship. Kings no longer resided in just one capital, whose market would have made it possible to hold court, because such market towns hardly existed any more. Rather, the kings were now forced to live on the yield of their farms: where there were several such farms, a palace, a royal residence, was built. Laws stipulated how many cows, chickens and geese had to be kept there and what quantities of grain the farmers in the Palatinate had to deliver. If the supplies of a palatinate were consumed, the king moved with his entire entourage to the next palatinate.

Later attempt to reintroduce natural economy

After the revolution of 1917, Lenin tried a. a. using an artificially induced hyperinflation to bring about an abolition of money as a means of payment, which, however, ultimately led to famine.


  • Alfons Dopsch: Natural economy and money economy in world history , paperback Aalen 1968 ISBN 3-511-00484-5


  1. Article Lenin, Civil War 1918 to 1922 section , first paragraph.
  2. Article War Communism , 6th paragraph.