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"Trouble Makers" - Anarchism and Syndicalism.
The early years of the Libertarian Movement in Aotearoa / New Zealand

Michael Flurscheim.....A Pioneer of Todays Green Dollar System

Michael Flurschiem arrived in Wellington in 1898. He was a supporter of the single tax movement and monetary reform. On arrival he was greeted by the Single Tax Society and spoke at a meeting of the Socialist League and Trades Council. Flurscheim was a wealthy industrialist from Germany who decided to sell his business and devote his money and time to the promotion of monetary reform. Its philosophy was based on the same principles as todays green dollar systems. In October 1898, he established the New Zealand Commercial Exchange Co Ltd with offices at the corner of Willis and Manners Streets, Wellington. Those who joined the exchange agreed to carry out transactions without the use of money, a barter system using exchange notes. It was stated on the notes that "the holder of the note is entitled, on or within a reasonable time after presentation, to goods or services of the New Zealand Commercial Exchange Co Ltd, who are liable to supply goods or services". Flurscheim vigorously promoted the advantages of the scheme. He wrote many articles and letters to the press, published a pamphlet "Business without Gold" and launched a journal "The Commercial Exchange Gazette" later renamed the "Pioneer of Social Reform". He was convinced the exchange would flourish.

His efforts had the desired effect. Several hundred shopkeepers and trades people joined the exchange within a few months. But the scheme began to falter. The main reason for this was a campaign of slander in the press by a one time friend and business associate. This tended to undermine the credibility of the exchange bank. Flurscheim withdrew from all involvement. He left Wellington and established another exchange in Auckland, and by June 1901, it had enrolled a thousand local members. In 1902 he wrote 'Clue to the Economic Labyrinth" which he dedicated to the people of New Zealand. In this book he advocated land nationalisation, the abolition of interest and a co-operative exchange system. He also advocated the co-operative control of production and distribution.

Flurscheim left New Zealand in about 1905. Many of his business ventures, including a soap factory in Wellington failed and he eventually returned to Germany where he died in 1912.

Frank Prebble

Michael Flurscheim was born in Franfurt 1844. He had 2 brothers and a few sisters. He was very famous in the town of Gaggenau in Germany. After he left NZ he went to the USA/Mexico and had 3 children by his second marriage. There is a direct descendent of Michael alive in Mexico today.

Christian Flurscheim - Perth WA.
(Email to Takver 3 July 2000)

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Last modified: July 7, 2000

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