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[00:00:06] CK: What is up, Bitcoiners? It’s your boy, CK. Waiting for Pete Rizzo and Aleks Svetski to join. We’ll be taken over, but I’m just here to fill in the void. It looks like Pete just jumped in. While we’re waiting for everything to get settled here, just want to inform me all about the venue for Bitcoin 2022. I was actually just there yesterday and it is absolutely next level. If any of you were at Bitcoin 2021 this year, earlier this June in Miami, you know it was an incredible event.
with that, the event was a little bit oversold. There’s too many people in the venue and that will not be happening again this year. The guest experience is going to be absolutely A-plus topnotch. The Miami Beach Convention Center can scale up to 100,000 people, and it’s going to be absolutely fantastic. We have a enormous amount planned for all the Bitcoiners out there. Of course, like any big one conference, we respect your privacy, we respect what Bitcoiners respect. We are Bitcoiners.
This is an event put on by Bitcoiners for Bitcoiners. I think, all of you will be very pleased with the announcements that are soon to be coming. If you haven’t already purchased your ticket, you can get 10% off by using promo code satoshi. That is Bitcoin Magazine’s official promo code. Yeah, don’t hesitate. If you are traveling from abroad and unsure of whether or not you’ll be able to get into the states, still buy your tickets while they’re cheap. If you can’t come because of any legal restrictions, we will refund you. You will also probably be able to sell the ticket on a secondary market for a nice profit as well. this is not investment advice, but we’re trying to make it as risk-free and easy as possible to come to the event.
Bitcoin 2022 in Miami, April 6th through the 9th. It’s going to be absolutely game-changing. All right, that’s enough for me. I’m going to pass it over to Rizzo and Svetski.
[00:01:59] PR: Yeah, and I’ll also add, you can meet cool people there. It’s where I met Svetski last year. Also, networking a key component for the Bitcoin Conference.
[00:02:08] AS: Am I cool now? I thought I was toxic. Wait a minute. What’s going on here? I’m being reclassified.
[00:02:15] AS: I don’t know the difference there, but – I guess, we’ll get into it. How are you, man? Good to hear from you.
[00:02:20] AS: I’m good man. I’m good. I was just literally having a conversation with a special Bitcoiner, who is also in here. Pablo.
[00:02:28] PR: Nice.
[00:02:28] AS: Yeah. I’m doing very good. We had a incredible fucking week last night. I was on a series of pods, and we raised some money for Amber for some of the new really, really fucking cool shit that we’re going to be doing for Bitcoin.
[00:02:42] PR: Well, congrats, man.
[00:02:43] AS: Thank you.
[00:02:43] PR: Yeah. Definitely good to see the Bitcoin-only businesses do well. I guess, yeah. I mean, just to backtrack on our convo, I think this was more informal between me and you, right? I think that one of the things I was keen to catch up with you on is just, I think we’re both – we both have different dispositions to Bitcoin evangelism, I think, of say, I’m a bit more left with the bell curve maybe, or right about, whichever version of the bell curve it is.
but yeah. Just curious to get your take on the state of things and also, the recent article I published on Forbes, which was Against Cryptocurrency, the case for Bitcoin Maximalism. Definitely was inspired by your work as well. I viewed it a bit as a intelligent framing on the Bitcoin, not shitcoin argument that you wrote about as well.
I know that we have been talking about, as far back in May or April, where I think I was struggling to put forward maybe an argument that was more intellectually appealing for Bitcoiners, but still core to Bitcoin maximalism. Yeah, I guess, that’s what I was curious to just jump off that and maybe dive into that subject.
[00:03:47] AS: Yeah, man. I think, I mean, the conversation really, I remember it when we were sitting on the table with – it was with Russ and Francis and stuff. That’s who we’re actually having a conversation. Yeah, and we’ll try to dig into, okay, but why is Bitcoin-only so important? What’s the special ingredient? I think, I tried with that piece, with that I did the why Bitcoin not shitcoin, to elaborate on three core pillars, like the economic reasoning, the moral reasoning and think, it was the philosophical. It was those three. Then, I think Allen did something similarly, actually, in his really one piece, Only the Strong Survive, which I still haven’t read yet, because it was fucking war piece that –
[00:04:29] PR: Yeah. That one’s – that long.
[00:04:31] AS: Yeah. I was like, “Fuck you, Allen.” Because he was sending it to me beforehand. He was like, kept telling me, Oh, this is the DeFi piece,” in his little squirrel accent. he kept trying to get me to read it. I’m like, “Dude, I got a company to run, man. Give me a break.” He did a similar angle, and then your one was just obviously a more synced piece that was, I guess, more – I don’t know. We obviously have a very different writing style. Yours is I guess, more formal/objective?
[00:05:01] PR: Yeah. I think, it’s more deferential to the other – for the other side.
[00:05:05] AS: Yeah. That’s it. That’s it. They all say the same thing, I guess, differently. How would you sum up – Maybe, I feel like I’m throwing the question back at you. If you had to sum up what you said, because I know, what I did was try and blend – I went for the lead bullet approach. Bitcoin’s not different, because of a single silver bullet. It’s different because of a blend of things and that blend of things is impossible to recreate. what would you say was your sum-up, or summation for Bitcoin?
[00:05:36] PR: Yeah. I think I can take it from there. I think, one, I’ll start with just the why of Bitcoin maximalism. I think for a long time, I think, as people who support Bitcoin only, I don’t know, I felt that it’s hard to vocalize exactly – or I don’t know. I felt there was a missing piece for me where it was like, okay, why – It’s one thing to think that Bitcoin is the best of all alternatives, right? That is one classification, or the way to look at it. then, the other thing to say that you only support Bitcoin is just a completely different spectrum.
I think, I was really trying to wrestle with that, because I think, ultimately if you’re a Bitcoin maximalist, you have to believe that the only, or best option – actually, I would say, the only option is to support Bitcoin, so this theme of Bitcoin-only. I think, that’s what I was looking for, because I think what this piece, what I was trying to really tease apart was what actually separates Bitcoin maximalism from what I call crypto agnosticism, which is this idea that just any cryptocurrency is just satisfactory, because it’s a non-government cryptocurrency.
I think, that at the heart, I think, a lot of – some Bitcoin maximalist, I actually think are crypto agnostics. I’ll explain why, because I think at some point, some of the arguments we make for Bitcoin, you listen to some people talk about why they believe in Bitcoin maximalism. A lot of these arguments are I feel like, are constructed in such a way where if Bitcoin wasn’t the number one asset, they might just construct the same counter arguments for some other asset. I guess, what I mean by that is that I think crypto agnosticism is actually something that occurs within Bitcoin and then within cryptocurrency generally. I think that if you are a crypto agnostic, probably, what you believe is that there’s some comparative basis by which Bitcoin is the best by person.
Really, what you’re doing is you’re creating some sliding scale, where it’s possible for some other cryptocurrency to displace. I’ve talked to people who are Bitcoin maximalist and they’ll straight out, admit this framing. Where they’ll say like, “Oh, well. If something else was Bitcoin economically dominant, then Bitcoin would have would have failed or something like that.” Not everyone, but there are some people, I think, who believe this. Then I was trying to tease apart –
[00:07:46] AS: Can I capital on that thread just really quickly? Because I just want to point something out. one, I just wanted to say, I loved when you sent me the draft, crypto agnostic and Erik Voorhees got triggered by that. He’s like, “This framing is triggering.” I was just sitting there laughing with that, because – Dude, it’s such a good framing though, because that’s effectively what it is. I really just want to echo your sentiment there is, it reminds me of the same sentiment, or reminds me of the same type of argument, or counter argument that people use about the Bitcoin energy thing, is they step into the frame of who they’re arguing with, which is they say, “Oh, well. Bitcoin uses renewables.” It’s like, no.
[00:08:28] PR: Right, right. Exactly right. That’s a diminutive argument, because you’re accepting [inaudible 00:08:32].
[00:08:32] AS: Exactly. It’s the wrong frame. Bitcoin eliminates the wastage of a world in which economic consequences doesn’t exist. As a result, will make the world 99% more efficient. That is what Bitcoin thing is. You need to fuck about what the energy mix is. That’s like, you got to change the frame. What you’re doing here is, you’re changing the frame, which is Bitcoins in a different fucking category altogether. anyway, I just wanted to pull on that.
[00:08:56] PR: Yeah. I think, what you’re pointing out is what I struggled with for a while, where it’s like, a lot of arguments for Bitcoin seem like they’re passively accepting of the other frame. I think, the other frame is really what I needed to define to get out of this piece, so I’ll just restate it, where I think – again, crypto agnostics, I think seemingly, they seem to be fine with any version of a non-state government money and they seem to be deferential to the market to adjudicate claims to the status.
I think, immediately, one of the differentials that I feel I finally tease a part of a lot of thinking, I think, to be a Bitcoin maximalist, I think you have to believe that – the way I’m phrasing the pieces that the definition of a neutral, non-state monetary system is just something that exists in economics and computer science. That is just something, either satisfies that definition independently, or it doesn’t.
Whereas, the cryptocurrency agnostics, I think, one of the things that done, and I think, it took me a really long time to realize this is that offloaded this decision-making to the market. Again, this puts them in a position where – and this confounded me for a very long time, because it’s like, they’re looking for something else. They’re seemingly fine with any technology that meets some criteria. That’s essentially what they’re saying. Because they’re saying, one, this market is valid, we accepted the frame of the market. Two, whatever the market chooses, or elevates must therefore be good. then three, because we’re looking at the market, we believe in this data. We believe that it’s somehow meaningful.
Well, I think from the Bitcoin maximalist perspective, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think we care about the data, and CoinMarketCap, or Masari, or any of these types of things at all. I just think, that data is completely irrelevant to us.
[00:10:31] AS: I was going to riff on that really quickly, is I think – That reminds me almost of the quote that I put in the [inaudible 00:10:37] article recently of Henry Ford, about if I asked people what they wanted, they would have said, “I want faster horse and carriage.” What Bitcoin is doing, what Bitcoin is doing is reinventing the basis upon which money and human action – the basis upon which human action can be measured. Reinvents money completely differently. I guess, the category is unlike anything else.
Whereas, what crypto is doing is it’s trying to take some of the technological elements of what Bitcoin is, but still apply them in the framework of the old world, and try and see how it can partner with the banks and the governments, and still live within that old frame. Whereas, Bitcoin is like, “No, no, no. We’re moving into a new land, into a new place.” and this means that all of these metrics and stupidities don’t actually mean anything.
It reminds me of the way Keynesian economics works in a sense. They create a metric to satisfy a particular thing that they want, and they build a model around that metric. then they keep adjusting the metrics to fit the model, instead of reality. It’s like, it is complete derangement. Whereas, I don’t know if that’s – if I’ve explained that well, but reinvention doesn’t rely on taking some meaningless metrics and looking at it through a lens of the existing world. Bitcoin is different.
[00:12:04] PR: I think, we’re saying the same thing. I think, what I’m saying is that a lot of the arguments where I was firstly, it was Bitcoin maximalist arguments is they seem deferential to those metrics. We’ll end up arguing that Bitcoin is the most decentralized and we’ll spend a lot of time – by the way, I think only the strong survive. I also think, is very guilty of this. It spends a lot of time accepting the frame of decentralized finance, arguing why conceptually decentralized finance works and then reconstructing – attempting to reconstruct the reader’s idea of why Bitcoin is more decentralized than other alternatives.
Immediately, what you’ve done is you’ve accepted that frame. your attempt then is to argue that Bitcoin is more decentralized based on some metric. What you’re seemingly saying, even though you’re arguing for Bitcoin from the crypto-agnostic perspective, and I think this is why they view a lot of our arguments as weaker than they are. They’re seeing that argument and they’re saying, “Oh, well. Okay. Then seemingly, you should be fine with any cryptocurrency as long as the most decentralized,” which also is true, right?
There’s properties to Bitcoin outside of decentralization. I mean, obviously, decentralization is very important to Bitcoin, but there are other properties. Like the 21-million-coin cap, or have nothing – They’re completely outside of that metrical comparison. I think that, I also struggled with that for a while, because I do agree with that. I think that there was a right criticism that was being put forward. I think, they’d become overly reliant on trying to prove that Bitcoin is the most decentralized, trying to establish some metric for that, or even economics, on the economic side.
We spend a lot of time also arguing that Bitcoin is the best form of money based on satisfying his property, so he spent a long time educating people about economics. ultimately, I just don’t know how much people on the other end really care about that.
[00:13:44] AS: I was going to say, I actually recall you and I hitting that point at that dinner, was we’re saying, we got so hung up on fixed supply of 21 million, fixed supply 21 million, sound money, hard money. then these fucking dweebs, the 25 and 30-year-old virgins over at Ethereum decided to do ultrasound money. It’s like, they use the marketing spin against us. Whereas, the better frame would have been an inability to change the cap. Or sorry, it was deflationary money, or whatever we call it. Deflation is good or whatever.
They jumped onto that. Whereas, what we need to lean into is where they can’t lean into, which is can you show me something out there that actually is in the same category of Bitcoin? Wherein, there isn’t a foundation, or a group, or design by committee kind of thing that exists, that is out there to try and compete in the marketplace as a product effectively. Bitcoin is different to that, again, it’s not a product that we’re trying to tinker with, so that we can sell it to people at the shop, or that we need to build a whole marketing campaign around.
We can’t, tomorrow, change Bitcoin supply issue and scheduled to go nowhere, ultra-ultrasound money. We can’t fucking do that. the very fact that Ethereum can change from world computer to ultrasound money is why it’s different to Bitcoin. anyway, I don’t know if I’m explaining that quite –
[00:15:19] PR: Yeah. I think, what you’re saying is correct also. The way that I think, I think I ultimately came to after that conversation, the thing that I wasn’t thinking about that I’ve tried to reincorporate in this article is that I do think from one perspective, Bitcoin is vastly superior to the others.
again, I think, again, people have been [inaudible 00:15:36] for a while, but is that Bitcoin protects user rights to a greater degree. I think that when you get into this, and you have this framing in your article on economic, philosophic, and moral. It’s like, I feel the moral argument is of these the strongest. It is the strongest case for Bitcoin. I think, if there’s anything that we could have done a better job, or could do a better job on is just trying to bend some of these arguments back to that point.
Some of these more complicated argumentations is like, you get lost, like, why does this matter? Why does it matter that Bitcoin has 21 million and you can make all these elaborate economic arguments for it? Or, I think, and ultimately, I think I phrase this in the article, and this is how I’ve – now I think, wants to start treating it as like, you have the right to unknown money supply, unknown, fixed, unchanging money supply in Bitcoin. therefore, any other cryptocurrency just simply does not offer you that. There’s just no condition under which that right will exist.
I ended up trying to flip these longer arguments into just really, what’s the point? If Bitcoin is the most decentralized, it’s like, well, why does that actually matter to you? I think, the ultimate answer is it’s because your rights have the greatest percentage chance of being insured in a system in which there is no control. Essentially, I think we’ve spent a lot of time arguing why Bitcoin is both decentralized, but we’re able to also argue why that’s meaningful to people.
I think, it’s just about bending it back in, where it’s, the reason that that matters is because then these other systems – and this was the other thing I got from the article as well in writing it is just, I think, what the other cryptocurrencies do by and large is that they just put the rights of the user and then they make them subjects to the market. I think, that was something that I’ve seen some people present some criticisms of that claim, and I’d be curious to your read on that. what I ultimately think they do is if you think about these cryptocurrencies as systems, where essentially, because they’re constructed in such a way where any majority, or organization, or political entities force their will on others, they’re essentially not much different than that the systems that they’re trying to replace, from the perspective of user rights. Somebody can take away your rights.
[00:17:46] AS: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I don’t know, see, if market is the right word there. What you described was basically, democracy. It’s like, okay, the majority want this, so now we’re going to do this. Whereas, if the majority of human beings didn’t like gravity, and they just decided to start jumping off a cliff, it wouldn’t work out very well for them. it’s a universal law, right? When I try and frame Bitcoin to people is not just better money. it’s not just the next iteration of money. I’m really going on a rampage and I was doing this with the [inaudible 00:18:17] is that there will be historically speaking, before Bitcoin and after Bitcoin.
Before Bitcoin was the era of humanity, in which human beings attempted to discover better means and better objects and better tools to represent this metaphysical thing called money and money is this metaphysical fabric that allows us to intersubjectively value time, energy and scarce resources. Money will always exist. It’s the object that we use to represent money will change.
Now, Bitcoin is actually perfect for that. as a result, we’re not going to go and build a better Bitcoin for [inaudible 00:18:59]. it’s the substrate. What this discovery means, the discovery of energy money for an intelligent sentient species, means that this thing called money, this metaphysical thing called money becomes information and becomes something that is out of the reach of all of us and lives in the realm of gravity, the speed of light, the second law of thermodynamics, etc. It’s out there, and none of us can go and change that.
All we can do is use it to our advantage. You go and build a fucking plane, you design aerodynamics to leverage gravity, so that you can fly. You don’t change fucking gravity. You don’t change the speed of light. that framing is something I’ve been trying to use.
[00:19:44] PR: I think, you’re ultimately talking about that Bitcoin is fixed and that it’s something that, because it is able to hold its guarantees to such a level, that is what gives it its properties. I’ve even seen this in response to the piece. Part of the reason I wrote this was to open source this conversation with the journalistic community, in saying like, “Look, this idea that you have that cryptocurrencies are neutral, just does not exist.”
from the perspective of user rights, these are very different systems. you should really try to stop thinking of them as just stocks and bonds that are just have no end relationship to the user. I think, to the people who have actually honestly intellectually engaged with that conversation, and messaged me privately, I’m still surprised by the extent to which the questions are dominated by what ifs. The questions that I’ve gotten in response are always like, “Are you saying there’s no chance that Bitcoin will ever change the 21 million hard cap?” Which, the obvious answer is, absolutely yes. That would invalidate most of the properties of Bitcoin.
they don’t seem to grok that. They’re still asking questions about, “Okay. Well, what happens if Bitcoin can’t support the fee market? Then are changes going to happen?” They’ve still seemingly, and again, this is coming from the perspective that I think we’re both trying to argue against is that there is this neutral cryptocurrency lens. Defusing that bomb seems to be strange, because you’re always – For some reason, the cryptocurrency market has been really good in becoming the central frame. therefore, you’re always met with questions that seemingly have to be – you have to actually argue against the entirety of the frame of the question, as opposed to answer it itself. Because again, it’s coming from such a different perspective.
[00:21:23] AS: A 100% agree with that. This framing thing, again, is really important. The fact that – how am I going to phrase this? I want to just tie back to user rights and what you said about market in majority, is that the way a functional market works is not by changing the rules that the players of the game – If the market is a game, effectively, being able to change the rules of the game, mid-play, is not actually a functional market. What it is, is you do that, and you argue that a majority of people wanted to change the rules of said game. You then impose the rules onto everybody else. I’m trying to think of an analogy here to Bitcoin, is that even if a bunch of people want to change the rules of the game, it’s like a universal law.
[00:22:15] PR: I think, the way that this has been phrased so far is Bitcoin is apolitical. I think, that’s the best argument that I’ve seen before, is that Bitcoin not only rejects political apparatuses, it removes your rights from being subject to the political apparatuses. Bitcoin is disrupted in such a way where political groups, even to the extent that they emerge, they can’t actually impact, or make any decision that affects you. I think, that’s a hard argument to get across.
I think, I’m intending to work on this a little bit more, because I do feel that’s one of the most powerful arguments with Bitcoin, is that it is a political, that in some ways, it is anti-democratic. It doesn’t function like democracy does. You can almost look at Bitcoin governance as an evolutionary step away from democracy. I think, that’s the conversation that I understand why people haven’t made that argument, but maybe it’s time, because, I don’t know. To me, I feel like, Bitcoin is post-democracy and somewhere.
[00:23:13] AS: Dude, I have 3,000 words to this article written at the moment literally. It’s called Bitcoin is Not Democratic. Bitcoin is apolitical. Literally you just fucking called on that right.
[00:23:23] PR: There you go.
[00:23:25] AS: that’ll be that’ll be the later this month, or November article to Bitcoin Magazine. It’s literally, you just nailed it. Bitcoin is totally post-democratic. It exists in a realm in which the masses can do whatever the fuck they want to do. my Bitcoin is my Bitcoin, and I enforce the rules that – It’s like, that right there is so foreign to the existing world, in which people believe that democracy is some panacea. Like you said, they can’t fucking grok it. They don’t understand it. I’m in Costa Rica at the moment. I’m down here with my girlfriend and we’ve been having friends and all these girls over and stuff like that. Long story. Anyway –
[00:24:06] PR: Hanging out with Mersha’s ghost as well?
[00:24:09] AS: Mersha’s ghost, basically. Literally, I’m recreating that now. anyway, they’re all feminine, and everyone ends up flowing into that whole like, oh, equality and all this stuff. I was actually having this discussion yesterday about why democracy is such a bad idea. I tried to use the idea of rule by committee. As an example, when deciding what a – let’s say, a household of 20 people would like to buy from the shopping center, or would like to eat. I said, “All right, there’s two ways. It’s either everyone works individually, takes their own individual money and goes to the shop and buys whatever the fuck they want. Or, they take their money, they put it in a pool, and then as a committee, they go and decide what everyone’s going to eat, because they’re going to pool the money together and buy what needs to be bought.”
there’s the 20 people, 11 vote for broccoli, three vote for meat and the remaining six vote for fucking salad, or some shit. then because, the committee, one, everyone’s going to eat broccoli. now, the people that voted for salad and meat, they got to eat fucking broccoli as well. then, they get pissed off about that. then, they start lobbying, wasting their time and energy lobbying to everyone that hey, meat is better than broccoli, so we should all eat broccoli. Sorry, we should all eat meat.
then, the next time the vote comes around, and they pool their money and everything, it was like, think about the amount of fucking time and energy we waste doing that. it’s trying to use that as a framing for why democracy is bad, because that’s a whole other rabbit hole. for me, realistically, I see democracy is the most insidious mechanism of theft that has ever existed. Socialism, communism is bad, but it’s overtly bad, and we know it’s bad. It collapses really quickly. Whereas, democracy is this method of leaching from the system, but allowing it to grow to the point where the leech, or the parasite get too big and ends up consuming itself.
[00:26:03] PR: Yeah. I think, that’s a tough framing, because I think, most, especially intellectual people, and I’ll just interject that, because I do think that’s important. Have a favorable view of democracies as [inaudible 00:26:12] values. I do think there’s a long history of that. I understand what you’re saying. Being mostly true, I would say. I mean, I think if you look at the lineage of different governance structures in history, I think, you could probably argue that, especially when compared to communism, and monarchies and some of these other systems, democracy, just by its imperfections, has served us roughly pretty well.
I think, that’s why that’s one of the risks that I think, actually injecting this argument, or talking about it further. there’s also a lot of unrest about the markets right now. Particularly United States, I would say, that’s true.
[00:26:45] AS: There is. I think, this is too deep a rabbit hole to go now. I think, once I finished the actual article, and we’ve got some threads we can pull on, then we dive into that article. I think, suffice it to say, it’s Bitcoin, again, doesn’t suffer from the tragedy of the commons, that the world has essentially suffered from, irrespective of whether it was democracy, communism, socialism, fucking name your ism. It doesn’t matter. All of them end up suffering from the tragedy of the commons, because the rights can be changed by the majority.
Whereas, Bitcoin doesn’t exist in that realm. It is something in which the use of the individual, the owner of the Bitcoin hold something in which the property right is not subject to the whims of the group, the foundation, the majority.
[00:27:30] PR: Well, so let’s talk about tactics and a little bit. Because I think, me and you differ a little bit on approach. I would say that, one of the Lightning rods in this conversation has been, and I would say, conversation about Bitcoin maximalism is the shitcoing attitude, that everything that isn’t Bitcoin is shitcoin. We talk about them dismissively, sort of aggressively. I’m just wondering your thoughts on that. I know you’re a big, staunch proponent of the Bitcoin-shitcoin line.
I try not to use that phrase, but that’s for my own reasons. I’m just curious, how you’re thinking about that currently. Do you think that meme has served its time? Or do you think that’ll continue to be an important thing in conversations?
[00:28:06] AS: I think, it will continue to be an important thing. I’ll use what Ben Kaufman’s doing with Clown World Today, as an example. We need to ridicule what’s stupid. At this point, I used to get riled up and a lot more emotional about this stuff. I think, I would really, be a little bit more vicious about it. These days, I laugh about it ridicule it. I think, that that framing needs to continue, because that frame is actually one of the frames we can own. The Bitcoin not shitcoin frame is, there is no Ethereum not shitcoin frame. That doesn’t exist, right?
I think, that should continue. I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s funny. I think, one of my favorite things to see on Twitter is this emergence of names, genuinely of fucking players. I love Rob. The memes that came out of the fucking BitCloud thing were the funniest shit I’ve fucking ever seen in my life, man. it was great. I enjoy that. I think, that needs to continue and I think that is part of what Bitcoin’s spirit is. It is rough. It’s raw. It’s natural. It’s organic. It’s the fucking Wild, Wild West. by no means, are we anywhere out of the woods yet.
I made this argument yesterday to our marketing team that does some of the marketing for Amber. They were doing an article and they did the whole little adoption curve bullshit, and they got the button of UI here as somewhere in the middle of early majority. I was like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” We still in the early days of early adopters. We don’t touch early majority until one set equals one cent.
that’s when we start to move into “some mainstream success,” in a real parabolic move. when people stop thinking about Bitcoin and they start thinking about how many SATs they can accumulate, because 1 cent will buy you a single SAT. When people start to see one SAT, one Satoshi go from 1 cent to 2 cents in a day, which again, mark my word, that will happen this year. Sorry, not this year, but this decade. My bad. It would be nice to have [inaudible 00:30:12].
[00:30:13] PR: I was going to say, yeah. But what do you know?
[00:30:15] AS: Yeah. [Inaudible 00:30:17]. that’s when we start to move into next stage of Bitcoin adoption. Maybe at that point, the number and the saturation of people in around Bitcoin, like the memification, everything will drown out, but that core, I think, will always exist. There’s no, none of this, like there’s a time and a place for it. I think, it’s fucking beautiful. I think, it’s hilarious.
I think, one of the best things people like Murray Rothbard, and all that stuff did to the establishment was basically, ridicule them, but ridicule them intelligently. What I see in memes and the “toxicity” is a deep level of understanding of nuance and intelligent, that is compacted and presented in a fucking meme. it’s beautiful. It’s grand. It’s artwork. It is fucking hilarious. I think the Bitcoin shitcoin frame will continue, will subsist. I will definitely be waving the flag for that. I don’t give a shit about who I scare away in the process.
[00:31:12] PR: Yeah. I mean, I would just say – I think, I tolerate the shitcoin stuff more. I’m not against it. I think, my only qualm to that is that, I think, it needs to be balanced by argumentation that’s also empathetic. That’s the criticism towards Bitcoin maximalism. I’m also a big advocate of Bitcoin toxicity. I’m a big fan of [inaudible 00:31:32] as a whole. Again, I do think, maybe we need a bit more Bitcoin empathy, because in a lot of respects, it is hard to understand these arguments.
There is the original frame that many people are coming to cryptocurrency large is so polluted, and so difficult. You almost have to detox people from these arguments. Yeah, I think that aggression and derision can be a powerful tool. I don’t think that anyone’s going to argue better than that. I think, for me myself personally, I was faced with a lot of derision against my work over the years, especially during when I was an early journalist, I think that helps shaped my thought. I was able to come to that at face value, objectively asked whether my work was worthy of derision and ultimately, I’d say, a lot of the early stuff, yes, I mean, that was the case.
I don’t stand by that stuff now. I think, the extent that I was in a position to do journalism on cryptocurrencies, early on, I probably didn’t do great jobs. I do think a lot of people, they don’t engage with criticism as well. I mean, this is a society at large, like people don’t really engage. Humans are not great animals that engaging with criticism. I think, there does have to be some equal opposite approach. I think, if there’s anything I’d say to that, I just like to see it balance out some more, because I think –
[00:32:47] AS: I would just argue that it is balanced, like the horses for courses. I don’t know if you guys use this in America.
[00:32:54] PR: I’ve literally never heard that phrase.
[00:32:55] AS: Okay. We use that in in Australia. It just means, each to their own thing. Horses for courses means that there’s something for you, something for you, something for you, something for you. it’s like, most people will not see a lot of the Bitcoin toxicity. It’s like, you need to be in there. A lot of people just won’t get the memes, they won’t get the jokes and all that stuff. They may come in via one of Reid Love’s articles or something. Then, I’m further down the track with when you read one of my articles, like getting beaten over the head with a stick. It’s a little bit different.
I think, we speak to different audiences. I mean, I would argue that in many ways, it is balanced. I mean for example, my girlfriend, I did give her one of my older articles when she first started. Mind you, you look at my evolution. When you go back to my early, early writings about Bitcoin, so back in 2016-17, it was framing Bitcoin through anthropological lens and it was happy, happy, fucking Yuval Harare-inspired, money is a shit fiction, etc., and all this stuff. It’s very accessible. That article still to this day, converts people into Bitcoin in a nice way.
Fast forward three years and I’m like, “Fucking burn down the state. Fuck the masses.” All this shit. it’s much more violent. I’ve dug deeper. Now, my audience is no longer the top of the funnel, if we’re going to put it in that framing. I think, what that means is as the funnel inevitably gets larger, because more and more people, it’s not that they want Bitcoins that they fucking need it. The top of the funnel will always be a little bit more welcoming. There will always be content creators.
[00:34:37] PR: Are you saying that Bitcoin toxicity is bottom of the funnel?
[00:34:40] AS: It is. It really is. It really is. It’s like, the closer you get to enlightenment – and this actually is reminiscent of Zen of everything. when you come to a Zen master, the closer you get to the Zen master, the more he beats you over the head with a stick for no fucking reason, until you become enlightened and realize you didn’t need the [inaudible 00:34:59] in the first place that you were –
[00:35:00] PR: You’re saying, because you should know better at that point. Therefore, you’re penalized. You should be penalized, because you should know at that point.
[00:35:07] AS: It’s a wake-up call. Exactly. It’s a wake-up call. this is the case across all sorts of things like this, like masteries is processing. It gets more raw and real, the closer you come to the center. That’s the role that maximalism, or toxic, call it maximalism, or what I’m going to try and maybe I can create a term. I think, I’ll change mine to Svetski is a Bitcoin extremist, or something like that. I think, it’s part of the spectrum.
I don’t think it’s unbalanced in any way. I think, if anything, it’s the duty of people who are more, I guess, eloquent, and objective in their writing, in their speech like you, to reinforce what – let’s say, a meme says a 1,000 words, in this one fucking name that makes fun of someone and it’s hilarious, and it’s a dense piece of information, but 99.9% of people are not going to fucking understand what the hell’s going on. then, I would then go and write an article about it that beat people over the head with a stick, which elaborates on the meme. then, you would then write a piece that is more objective and accessible, that brings people into understand that, and then they go down the funnel. Again, I think that’s a beautiful process, and it’s emerged organically without committee. It’s fucking incredible.
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[00:38:28] PR: Let me give you a question. Let me give you a question I’m struggling with right now a little bit. I think, one of the things is that, let’s accept this frame that Bitcoin is the strongest technology we have for protecting user rights. Let’s say, people at the bottom of the funnel getting hit with your toxicity, they know that. Let’s just say, they engage in a known trade-off. They’re using some system that they know was weaker.
Let’s just say, there’s a lot of controversy about the systems being built on Bitcoin, especially when you get into things like stacks, or other liquid, things that are second layer Bitcoin things that maybe don’t qualify as Bitcoin. I think, what extent is then it okay for an individual knowledge, in your opinion to make that trade-off, if they do something knowingly?
I guess, the question is, is there ever a case where, let’s just assume the person isn’t being misrepresented. Let’s just assume the project on the other end is completely representing correctly, that they’re putting that user in a system where they have weaker rights than Bitcoin. Is it okay for you? Do you think those systems are good and holistic and adding to Bitcoin?
[00:39:28] AS: Okay, so can I rephrase it this way? I’m a Bitcoin maximalist, and I talk about property rights, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and then I turn around and use liquid BTC to perform something. Should I be attacked? Is that the question you’re asking? Or should I feel –
[00:39:45] PR: Yeah, exactly. To what extent are you – Again, this goes back to agency. I think most Bitcoiners would say, we’re trying to free people. We want them to be in a financial system where they have rights. In some cases, some of these systems seem to ask people to trade off those things. My question is, to the extent that they know that trade-off is happening, is that okay? Should we demonize these systems? Liquid is a great example. Liquid, I think, represents the products how it’s built. It’s a top tier system on Bitcoin. It’s a multisig contract with a federated network that controls the token. If you’re going to engage in that system willfully, is that a problem? Is that system a problem to you?
[00:40:26] AS: hell no. Hell no. Hell no. As much as I’m a rabid, fucking toxic, fucking extreme psychopathic, misogynistic, whatever. I’m trying to think of all the things people have called me. [Inaudible 00:40:36] spawn type of Bitcoiner, I think that’s perfectly fucking fine. It’s your Bitcoin, choose to do with it as you wish. It’s one of the beautiful things about Bitcoin. I actually know some really good, solid, fucking Bitcoiners, who to this day, they live out in the middle of fucking nowhere. They don’t talk to anybody. They don’t interact with the world. They’re not really on Bitcoin Twitter. what they do is they are really good traders and they trade shitcoins and they make more Bitcoin, and that’s the whole fucking game in life. That’s all they care about. power to them. They’re like, “No, I fucking hate Ethereum. I hate Vitalik. I hate what it stands for.”
[00:41:10] PR: they are still Bitcoiner. In your book, they still meet the definition of Bitcoiners.
[00:41:15] AS: Yeah. Now look, could they do something better with their lives? Sure, but should they go out and build a Bitcoin company and make a mess of it? Probably not. Because they’re probably better at sitting on a computer doing that, surfing and maybe jerking off on Pornhub. It’s up to them, whatever they want to do, but they get it.
Now, one could argue and I know data [inaudible 00:41:36] arguments, like trading shitcoins makes you a shitcoiner, because you’re giving them liquidity and you’re giving credence. Yes, I get that argument. it’s not my job to tell you not to do that. going out, for example, and saying you’re a Bitcoin maximalist, but then holding your wealth in Ethereum is a bit, how’s it going? That’s a bit hypocritical. Maybe flipping some Ethereum and stuff like that. I don’t know. That does get a little bit hard. If I pulled back just for a second, is like, to your liquid argument, is there will be products and services that emerge off the top of Bitcoin, that look like liquid, or that are abstractions, even of liquid, etc., that will exist, that offer a clear trade off, and that present themselves as what they are, where you as a individual can make an economic calculation on that trade off.
The reality of the world, and this is something that people like the Keynesian and the democracies of the world and all this shit, the status basically don’t understand is that there is trade-offs with decisions. the beauty of Bitcoin at least, is that when a trade-off is made, there’s no way to socialize out the backend, a mistake for the bad consequences of a trade-off. if you do go make a trade off, and you do get penalized, if you’re either unlucky or stupid, you have no way of being remade whole again by committee, or by the state being able to reproduce, or socialize your loss.
that’s what’s different about Bitcoin. I fully expect in the coming decade, there would be a lot of coin products, things being built on the Bitcoin stack, etc. In there, to be some bad apples, who misrepresent what they’re doing, or mismanage what they’re doing, and people will lose that. I expect it to be fucking, like a wild, wild west scenario, where some people lie about it. there will be honest companies that say, this is the trade off and people still do it and they still fucking lose their Bitcoin, etc.
the beauty of it is it’ll be natural wealth redistribution by the market, in the sense that the loser does not get made whole again, because they took a trade-off. then, those who didn’t make any trade-offs and just held the Bitcoin in cold storage and they never touched it, they’re sitting there laughing. They’re happy about it, and that’s the benefit of it. Then that maybe helps me identify, or at least, things like Ethereum, etc., etc., see, and liquid represents itself as this trade-off for usage, but allow security and custodianship for Bitcoin. Whereas, Ethereum is a completely different pitch. It’s like, “No, Bitcoin is shit. We’re better. Come and give us your money, and enrich us.” It’s in a different realm again. anyway, I’ll shut up there for a second, because I think you had a –
[00:44:22] PR: yeah. Maybe I’ll jump in and just say, I think this is something that I still think is confusing, even to me, as someone who’s been, I guess, in and around Bitcoin for a while. It does seem we have this weird, unwritten moral code. I think this is implied in a lot of our evangelism that we do divide such stark lines between Bitcoin and shitcoins and things like that. I’ve struggled with the question of, am I a Bitcoiner? I don’t actually know, or pretend to answer that question.
The way that I would look at that, I think, is that anyone is capable at any time of having their incentives put them in a situation where they’re not aligned with Bitcoin. I prefer to look at this question, I think, a lot more – just like, you don’t exist absolutely as a Bitcoiner. Or, it’s merely your place in that space and time. It’s like, are your actions aligned with Bitcoin? Or are they not aligned with Bitcoin?
The way that I prefer to look at that is currently, most of my work, or I’d say, a 100% of my work is dedicated right now to furthering Bitcoin, explaining Bitcoin. That’s Bitcoin Magazine, helping, cracking with their open source Bitcoin developments. I align my work towards Bitcoin. Does that make me a Bitcoiner? I don’t know.
This is where, I think, the absolute distinction of Bitcoin maximalist can be a little bit problematic, because I think, we’re already in this conversation referred to other situations, where it does seem situational, and that your decision at any moment could put you out of context with Bitcoin, and that doesn’t make you bad per se, but you might not be aligned with Bitcoin. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s how I prefer to look at it.
[00:45:45] AS: It does. For me personally, a little bit of history here. People don’t know this, but when I was first building Amber as a Bitcoin-only dollar cost averaging app, I had in the early days, not only did I have an opportunity to do a major ICO. I wanted to do a Binance style ICO in the beginning and all this shit. This was a moral question for me is, people know this part of the story, which is I went away. I took 20 white papers with me that had raised between one to a 100 million, and I went to Byron Bay for a weekend just to relax and rebase and glean the wisdom of people that raised a bunch of money.
I walked out of there, 30 fucking points of IQ less. I literally became stupid. I was like, “What in the fuck is this dribble? What is this?” I just can’t in fucking good conscience do this, because I actually care about what Bitcoin means to the world. That was still earlier on in my journey is that, I still really – I had a gut sense about what Bitcoin’s impact in the world would be, but not to the extent that I have today, by no means. Still, my gut was telling me, “Man, there’s easy money to be made here, but I can’t do this.” I want to be in it, or I think, Bitcoin is going to be here for a long time and blah, blah, blah. I wanted to not sell my soul.
Then later on, when we started building the product, like dude, I had the Dash Foundation offering me money, Litecoin, all these fucking shitcoin companies, they were offering me money to instead of the Bitcoin accumulation app to help people dollar cost average into their shitcoin, I turned on millions of dollars, whilst we were running out of money and I was out there fucking campaigning, selling a chunk of the fucking company for equity, selling equity in the company for fucking dollars. We barely scraped through after 20 hours a day, seven days a week for six months straight, fucking trying to raise in the doldrums of the bear market at the end of 2018, with people fucking waving millions of dollars in front of me saying, “It’s okay.”
I almost picture William Wallace getting gutted at the end. It’s like, “Just say mercy. Mercy.” Then, you free them. I think, it takes a particular type of character. Now, I could have easily sold my soul and done that, but I didn’t. I think, this is where in some senses, I relate to that. There is a bit of bitterness. I must admit, in some senses, I’m like, “Man, maybe I was the dumb shit. I could have fucking pulled a 20 million-dollar ICO. I could have got a bunch of money from all these dickheads and then I could have built a really nice product, because I’m still a product guy. I still know how to run a business.”
This is where maybe ties back into the moral argument about what is Bitcoin and what is a Bitcoiner. It’s like, someone who can refuse temptation and have a strong enough character to do the right thing, irrespective of the temptation that sits there right before you. That I guess, temperance maybe, and I don’t know how else to describe it, is rare in the world, and I think that is one of the attributes that I see in Bitcoin is tying it back to who you are as a person in particular circumstances and stuff like that.
It’s a tough one. Maybe what it does, the toxic maximalism is there and maybe it’s a helpful reminder for ourselves, because maybe if that wasn’t – honestly, maybe if that wasn’t there, in 2017-2018, maybe if that wasn’t there, maybe I would have just been convinced enough to go and take the temptation and say mercy, right? Maybe I would have. I saw that community and I saw what I was passionate about and I’ve started writing words on fucking paper, reinforcing what I believe. Maybe that together was a big part of the reason why I didn’t go and sold my soul to the shitcoin.
[00:49:32] PR: I think, you’re talking about toxic maximalism. It was like, the conscience of Bitcoin.
[00:49:36] AS: Yeah. It’s like a conscience. Yeah, exactly. It’s like the Dr. Dre and Eminem. sitting there, it’s like, I don’t know. Maybe there’s something there.
[00:49:47] PR: Well, let me ask another shitcoin-framing question, because I know again, talking about this divide of worldviews here, it’s like. Something I had to think about recently, to the extent that we can define Bitcoin, let’s just again accept the framing of the article that I put out on Forbes, that Bitcoin is the technology that best ensures user right, the money that best ensures the financial rights of individuals.
Now, let’s just say that there is this other market of other cryptocurrencies and we can define them as just a broad class of things that offer people with their rights. Let’s just cut it clean on the middle right there. Where do you fall politically on the spectrum of, do those things have a right to exist even poorly? I guess, to what extent do you personally – if governments decided to treat that class of cryptocurrencies differently, or come after them, is that something you support? Do you think about that at all? To what extent do you support free markets? Even if this whole class of cryptocurrencies is problematic?
[00:50:37] AS: I completely support anybody rolling their own – Sorry, I don’t support them. I support the freedom to go and roll your own shitcoin, and then I support the freedom to people to ridicule you into oblivion. Do I support governments going out with their henchmen and beating people over the head, because their monopoly is being threatened? Actually, no.
simultaneously, I do support the idea that Bitcoiners can laugh with the shitcoiners for that happening. The fact is, one monopolist is threatening – the upcoming monopolist, or want to be monopolist is threatening the existing monopolist. we can sit back with some popcorn and laugh at them, now shitting their pants for pissing off the older lion, I guess. In my mind, yeah, that’s how I look at it.
[00:51:24] PR: I guess, I would just say with that frame, I guess, yeah, it’s tough. There’s a trade-off, right? Because on one hand, we’ve talked a lot in this conversation about there being a frame of cryptocurrencies and that being the hardest thing to break, and then how do you actually break that? You can evangelize all you want, but at the end of the day, the default view of most people is just, “Oh, I’m on CoinMarketCap. Here’s this wall of cryptocurrency that are all seemingly the same.” Would something like a disclaimer, like hey, these other cryptocurrencies do not offer you the same rights as Bitcoin. does Bitcoin deserve greater protection?
Because I think, this is where it gets confusing, right? Because I think, the claim of the cryptocurrency advocates, or the agnostics, as I call them in the article, essentially seems to be that Bitcoin exists. Because Bitcoin is entitled to this designation as this decentralized commodity, we should be benefit from that distinction as well. There does seem to be this relationship happening here, where these other cryptocurrencies are – I think, I wrote this down on my notes somewhere, pretty recently, where I think that most non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies are really always trying to convince you about three things.
One, what they’re doing is not Bitcoin. Two, because they’re not Bitcoin, they should be able to take greater liberties of your rights. Then three, that the USD market for their coin validates that decision. I think, that has to be the thought process there. this is why I think, the cryptocurrency market itself has become so problematic, because again, I think most of the crypto-agnostics they say, “Oh. Well, this is okay, because the price of our coin is going up. If our price of our coin is going down, it wouldn’t be okay.”
I just don’t know how to deal with that moral framing, because it seems to be to me, something that seems very alien to me. I don’t know why you would – why you would be able to claim that a market is somehow an effective adjudicator of people’s rights, or that whether a decision was moral. If you don’t think a government can make a moral decision, I’m like, why do you think a market is capable of that?
[00:53:14] AS: That’s a big question. before I go into that, I just wanted to mention something about your three categories of what’s going through a shitcoiner’s mind when they want to – like, we’re different to Bitcoin, so we can take differently liberties and base the decision to Bitcoin, and is a justification. We’ve got a market cap. It’s really funny how all of a sudden, when governments start to say, “Oh, we’re going to start looking into it,” and they’re like, “Oh. No, no, no. We are like Bitcoin. Give us the same classification.”
To me, there’s a really interesting dynamic here is like, you’ll never see Bitcoiners change their narrative to say, “Oh. No, no, no. We’re more like Ethereum,” when it counts. Then, “No, we’re less like Ethereum when it doesn’t count.” It’s always like, “No, we are fucking unlike any of you.” Now, notwithstanding, like you said in the beginning of this discussion, it’s like, some people use a poor frame. They go into the cryptocurrency frame to substantiate why Bitcoin is superior.
fundamentally speaking, that Bitcoiner is one who understands that Bitcoin lives in different categories to the rest of these things. what shitcoin is and cryptocurrency and crypto-agnostic enthusiasts do is they flip-flop between, we’re like Bitcoin when someone is chasing us and wanting to enforce something, like the existing monopolist wants to do something, but we’re unlike Bitcoin if the existing monopolist is not peering into our affairs, which is that is very telling.
The other piece there is like, Bitcoiners aren’t really too concerned with again, what the government can and cannot do with Bitcoin. I think, the government, had they been able to do anything about Bitcoin, would have done something about it back in the days of Silk Road when Bitcoin was $10. We are well beyond their capacity to make a dent, or hurt Bitcoin. The only thing they can do is disable some individual’s capacity to acquire Bitcoin, which will only create a black market, so they’ll find another way to acquire it anyway.
It’s like, the government’s are in a catch 22 with respect to Bitcoin specifically, but they’re not in a catch 22 with respect to any other fucking cryptocurrency, because that whole space has an operational framework that exists in the old realm. Bitcoin doesn’t operate in this realm, so they lack the capacity to do anything about Bitcoin. They do not lack the capacity to come down on the rest of the shitcoiners, whether it’s from Ethereum, all the way down the fucking list. They can do whatever the fuck they want. that really, I think, is a nice indicator for the fact that these two things live in a different class. They’re different galaxies.
[00:55:50] PR: I think to what you were saying about the crypto market, that’s why I think you asked, well, what’s the state going to do in that situation? I think, it increasingly seemed obvious to me that you’ll take advantage of the cryptocurrency market, which is why I’ve been a bit keen recently to start probing Bitcoiners to start developing argumentation. Let’s just say, hypothetically, one day, Bitcoin is not number one on CoinMarketCap for whatever fucking reason. It doesn’t matter.
You assume that the CoinMarketCap doesn’t operate on logic anyway. You know what I mean? I feel a lot of Bitcoin mass was like, you log on CoinMarketCap and it feels good that Bitcoin is number one, right? in some way, it reinforces our belief. I think, my worry is that we’ve become addicted to that. I mean, I think, Pierre pushed back on me about that and he said, “Well, Bitcoin will always be the number one. It’s the most supreme.” I think, Rodolfo presented some criticism of this, where he’s like, “If Bitcoin fails to get liquidity, then it’s just failing.” To me, it’s like CoinMarketCap is such an absurd structure. It’s almost devoid of any logic, or reasoning. It’s just the big list of random coins, times by their price and gaining some market cap.
I don’t find it impossible to think there’ll be some situation someday, where Bitcoin is let’s just say, number two on that list for any reason. However illogical. I think, I worry about the current state of the Bitcoiner, because I think that – I don’t know if we’re psychologically prepared for that attack. To me, it’s like, that’s what I would do, obviously. If I were going to try to come after you, I would hit you where it hurts. I think for a lot of Bitcoiners, it is this idea that Bitcoin is number one, which is why the thing that I like about the user rights argument is that it removes that for an issue for me, I think. Well, if Bitcoin is number two, are you still a Bitcoin maximalist? The answer is yes. It’s still the best tool for ensuring financial rights.
[00:57:36] AS: Individual sovereignty. Yeah. Dude, you touched on such a good point there. I think, I was trying to say this on the panel during Bitcoin 2021. I was trying to draw the line between Slavecoin and Bitcoin. Maybe this is the new framing. Maybe we transcend Bitcoin shitcoin and go from –
[00:57:51] PR: I like Slavecoin. I’ll never –
[00:57:53] AS: Yeah. Bitcoin to Slavecoin. Well, because that’s basically what everything else represents, is – I did a pod with Pump straight off to the conference. In there, I laid the case for why Ethereum is actually the best possible opportunity for a state sponsored attack on Bitcoin.
[00:58:10] PR: Yeah. A 100%. Yeah.
[00:58:12] AS: Maybe that was triggered by a discussion with you and I or something. Here’s how the state will operate. They’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” They clued on to the fact that the content is fucking Bitcoin thing off. China took a fucking hammer, baseball bat to the fucking mining industry and slowed the blocks down for two weeks, and they did fucking nothing.
they’re trembling. They’re absolutely fucking shitting their pants. They’ve gone and bought a whole new set of brown pants, just so they can fucking manage the week, right? They can’t do anything about it. what do they do? They’re like, “Oh, we’ll talk about CBDCs, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” But they’re fucking incompetent. By the time they roll anything out that’s functional, that works, that will compete with the retail banks and all this stuff, they’ll have pushback and all this crap, what they’ll end up doing, and this is really good pitch, is they’ll go and sit down with Joe Lubin and friends, Vitalik, [inaudible 00:59:03] and all of that. they’ll be like, “Hey, boys. We have an idea. We’re going to partner together and deliver central bank digital currencies that are decentralized to the marketplace.”
then, Vitalik, Joe and friends, maybe Hoskinson will come back in there, they’ll have a decision to make, which is do we partner with this and share? Yeah, exactly. It’ll be literally a family reunion. Or, they might even compete. Maybe Hoskinson will say, “Look, I’ve got Cardano is better than Ethereum,” and he’ll try and do a better deal with Klaus. the game theory will change then. They’ll be like, okay, who can get the large customer? Because to them, the customer is not you and me. to them, the customer is the government and the World Economic Forum and the IMF. they’ll be like, “Oh, that’s how we can get from one to many.” Because they’re thinking about a fucking product to sell to people.
Whereas, Bitcoin is not thinking about that. Bitcoin is thinking about obsoleting the existing system and the infrastructure. These guys are going to try and partner with these guys. there’ll be a situation here is like, maybe Vitalik is innocently stupid and he’ll be like, “Oh, there are risks here, because we might create a surveillance coin.” Then Joe is going to sit there and say, “Hey, no, no, no. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to grow the Ethereum user base and spread this around the world, blah, blah, blah.”
at some point, there may be – let’s say there is some – because I have actually met some libertarian guys, who are totally anti-state, but still pro-Ethereum. Maybe they’ll put some brakes on, if you’re in quickly partnering with the World Economic Forum. Then, Hoskinson is going to put forward a submission, and then these guys will lean towards Hoskinson, and then Ethereum, Joe and stuff, they’re going to be like, “Look, we’re going to lose the fucking contract. We need to partner with them.”
let’s say, somehow, they need to decide. They’re like, “Maybe this is a bad decision.” Maybe their conscience actually comes and hits them. Then, IMF, World Economic Forum and friends would just turn around and say, “All right. Well, we know where you live. We know your family. how does Guantanamo Bay sound for the next 20 years, or perhaps North Korea or whatever.” All of a sudden, you’ll see them get in bed. it’s either going to happen by force, or by a [inaudible 01:01:13]. Exactly. In some way, shape, or form.
the future will be a partnership between one of the high market cap shitcoins, maybe a multiple, maybe a blend of the high market cap shitcoins to deliver a “decentralized central bank digital currency,” which is a fucking misnomer in the first place, but people are so fucking dumb that they’ll believe that shit. they will go and buy that and very likely, very likely from a market cap perspective, it may surpass Bitcoin, but it doesn’t fucking matter.
[01:01:47] PR: It matters to the extent that we’ve made so many economic arguments for Bitcoin. I think, if there’s something that worries me, I think there’s a couple things about the current generation of Bitcoiners. I think, one of them is we’ve weaned everybody on these economic arguments. Everybody’s promising hyper-Bitcoinization tomorrow.
again, there’s this weird contradiction. I was on [inaudible 01:02:03] podcast yesterday, where I was talking about this, where we talked about making low-time preference individuals, on the other hand, we’re seemingly pinning this idea that Bitcoin needs to keep going up exponentially. By the way, I mean, I agree that it will keep going up exponentially, because that appears to be what’s happening based on the data.
again, I worry about the expectations that we’re setting. The only thing that I think I’ve reasoned that we should do about it is I think, you have to start undercutting all these economic arguments by just not that the economic arguments are wrong. It’s just that the cryptocurrency market exists in such a way where it’s not even going to validate the claims correct. the whole system itself is so convoluted and non-functional, that I think that is what gets manipulated. The more that our feelings are attached to that system, I think the harder that it is to hurt.
[01:02:49] AS: I agree.
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[01:06:54] AS: This coming back to this argument is like, we need to stop waving the flag of Ethereum is Slavecoin. Cardano is Slavecoin. I think, we already won the economic frame. Now, the shitcoiners are going to chase the economic frame, and they’re going to tinker with the metrics, so that they can make it look like they won the economic frame.
[01:07:14] PR: I think, that is the big thing that will emerge after the cycle. I think, what will happen is that the halving will prove to be a sufficient motivator for the market. They finally have the end of the year. Your Ethereum, that situation, what are you supposed to do? I mean, you’ve been telling everyone for years that major superior technology was the – is the special sauce here. Now, and for all this investment, all that’s done, you mentioned all these other coins, it’s like, how do you justify that?
I think, the answer is it seems obvious to me and what the adjustment that you make is then, you start fiddling more aggressively with the economics, because you can. Then you find the argument on those grounds.
[01:07:47] AS: Exactly. then, what we need to do is we need to by the time they’re doing that, we need to then have moved into the frame of Bitcoin, not Slavecoin, and really frame these guys into Slavecoin and highlight the fact that they are now changing something, which defeats the purpose of why you would buy this Slavecoin in the first place.
[01:08:08] PR: I like Slavecoin. I feel like, Mersha would have liked Slavecoin. Let me say, it’s something else that I think worries me about the newer class of Bitcoiners. I do think that in our economic arguments and our arguments about stuff that we’re building on Bitcoin, I know you’re an entrepreneur in this space, I’m curious to ask this to you. What does it mean for you to build on Bitcoin?
I think, in some respects, this cycle, one of the things that I noticed that’s being here since 2013, I think people are a lot more reticent these days to build things on top of Bitcoin. They’re unsure of what it means. I’ll just give you an example that I do some work with Bitcoin Magazine and even inside the Slack right there, are people there who are newer. They don’t know anything about what sidechains are, and they don’t know about historical proposals for Bitcoinization.
I guess, to you, so what does it mean for you to build on Bitcoin that you worry about the culture that we’ve created that is in some ways, dismissive to people trying to build on top of Bitcoin? Or what’s your take on that?
[01:08:59] AS: I think, it’s again, it forces someone to really think about what they’re doing. I think, a culture in which you do have to sell – I’ll tell you what, if you come up with a business idea, and you get a yes straightaway from a VC, or you get a yes straight away from your first couple customers, you most likely build something shitty. If you keep getting told and told off and dismissed and all this stuff, it’ll actually force you to adjust it. me being an entrepreneur and fundamentally having been in the product space, is that I need to go out and effectively get feedback and adjust the mold and really hone in on what the value proposition of what I’m building is.
This is where I think much of that pressure, or deception in and around Bitcoin forces, not through coercion, but forces through market demand and need and desire to a Bitcoin company, or an entrepreneur to think a little bit more deeply about what they want to build. Again, once you’ve thought deeply about it, if you can reason and justify why you’re building something in the way you’re building, then how to? Like for example, I with Amber, again, I’ll come back to this always as an example, is we are a custodial Bitcoin on-ramp. that’s how we started. we’re still like that today. Over 70% of our users don’t have their own wallet. They keep their Bitcoin on Amber, because they are completely fucking brand-new to Bitcoin. They’re not ready yet.
what we do to manage them is we help educate and assist them on the journey, so that they can move onto self-custody. it is super easy to withdraw out of Amber. now with the new round, we’re going to enable white withdrawals. We’re going to do all sorts of other stuff. I adapt to the marketplace based on that feedback and that viewpoint. I can reason why I’ve done what I’ve done the way I’ve done it, as opposed to not having that pushback.
then, what are you going to do? You go and build a Coinbase. Coinbase completely dismisses that. They don’t give a fuck. Whereas, I take that onboard, because I care about what I’m doing, and I appreciate the opinion of Bitcoiners in the space. I think, something.
[01:11:11] PR: I guess, to propose a more specific definition there, I mean, to what extent do you think it’s important for companies building on top of Bitcoin to drive value to the 21 million coin supply? Because I feel like, this is where it gets – especially when you start getting into other protocols and people building more experimental things on Bitcoin? I feel like, you start getting the question whether tokens are okay and that seems to be the extent to going back to this question of what does it mean to build on Bitcoin?
It seems to me that there’s a lot of confusion about that issue. Some of which, we’ve – just by treating most other non-Bitcoin tokens as shitcoins, you’ve created this – I don’t know what the right answer is. It feels like we’re debating. I’m just curious on what your take is, if you’re building that type of structure, is the definition that we’re supposed to be building things that drive value to the coin supply? Or how do you define it?
[01:11:55] AS: I don’t know, man. That one is a little bit, because whilst we built the Bitcoin company, we’re not so far into messing around with abstracted layers with Bitcoin and doing things. That it’s not exactly in my wheelhouse, and I don’t know specifically some of the things that people have an issue with. I know, there’s been people with issues with liquid. People have had their say about Lightning and the other stuff. That’s really the extent to which I –
[01:12:23] PR: You boil it down to just to an extent, are you enabling sovereignty more, but you are giving the user the ability to exercise Bitcoin, or their rights to Bitcoin. That’s the split that you would use.
[01:12:33] AS: Yeah, for sure. because I would argue that again, Robinhood, for example, is a really good place to buy Bitcoin, because you’re not buying Bitcoin. You can’t control a fucking thing. Whereas, River Swan, Amber, stuff like that is a good place to buy Bitcoin, because you can buy and you can withdraw it. it still embodies what Bitcoin existed for. With liquid for example, if you’re going to use that, you can go from Bitcoin to LBTC, back again, that’s fine. That’s great. if you go into a product, when you swap your Bitcoin for name the representation of Bitcoin.
[01:13:03] PR: Well, I think, you’ve just demonstrated fairly well how [inaudible 01:13:06]. It’s like, the shitcoin in line has almost – and we’ve turned it inward, and I don’t know what that means. I almost don’t know if we’ve come to a conclusion on that.
[01:13:15] AS: I don’t know. If it serves the purpose of extra inquiry on behalf of the entrepreneur who’s building the thing, such that should the customer want self-custody once again, they can do it, then that’s a good thing. I’m sure, there’ll be collateral damage, which is some great entrepreneurs may have been deterred from building something really unique.
[01:13:37] PR: Well, but I guess, my point is we need to develop the Bitcoin economy. I mean, if we’re going to view Bitcoin as a financial system and get passed as digital gold narrative, we need to encourage people to do that in some way, right?
[01:13:48] AS: We do. I guess, that encouragement is there anyway, because people want to see cool shit being built. It’s happening, whether it’s pull the toy with saying, so what the guys are doing at Breeze. I’ve got something huge up my sleeve 2022, with Amber, which is my contribution to what we want to do and how I see Bitcoin evolving. It just crushes [inaudible 01:14:07].
[01:14:09] PR: Podcasts are a good time, if you wander.
[01:14:14] AS: I promise, that’s not people in the closet. I swear to God. I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m sure it’ll manage itself, because the market has a way of balancing itself.
[01:14:24] PR: Yeah. I definitely think it has [inaudible 01:14:25] with Lightning. I’m definitely seeing those structures emerge. I just feel like, it does seem a touchy line. there’s something I would say about the Bitcoin and shitcoins narrative is that, it’s added a bit of – its made it more opaque, like what we want to build on Bitcoin. I think, the early Bitcoiners would have a different definition of what the current Bitcoiners think should be built on Bitcoin. I think, there’s friction there. I’m not sure what to think of it. I don’t even know if the community has a real answer to that.
[01:14:52] AS: No. I guess, this is part of the emergent process of us answering these things and why we have these conversations. We are in a since, we’re all laughing, because this is live action, role-playing. We’re fucking figuring this shit out. We’re all wearing a random costume on Twitter and barking at each other. We’re essentially figuring it out. This is the free market utopia that libertarians and Austrian economists have been talking about. What’s really crazy about it is that, it does genuinely work itself out. It really does figure itself out, which is incredible.
[01:15:24] PR: Well, cool, man. I’ve done an hour, 20. I know you’ve got a hard stop in 10. If you want to close it out. We want to take up questions. We’re giving in.
[01:15:32] AS: I think, we can take a couple questions, man. See if there’s anyone who wants to say something. Yeah, then we can – I think, we can do it quickly.
[01:15:38] PR: I saw that [inaudible 01:15:38] was in here earlier, but seem to have left. let’s see. If anybody wants to ask some questions, we got some hands going up. I’ll try to bring people on stage. we’ve got Mr. Shinobi. Shinobi, I’ve been loving your Lightning articles, by the way, man. Have been really interesting. I don’t follow Lightning as closely as you, but appreciate you’re doing them.
[01:15:58] S: Alex, I just got to ask you. Do you really think that we can make a compelling argument calling Ethereum slave money? Or that, we’re just going to really alienates a fuck ton of people who are going to roll their eyes and does not take that seriously?
[01:16:14] AS: I think, this will be the funnel approach again. The main is slave money and then up the stack is we need to describe why Bitcoin is in a different category to Ethereum. Then, maybe a little bit further up the funnel is where someone like I’ve come into it and talk about why Bitcoin didn’t partake, etc. it represents free marketism. Whereas, something like Ethereum represents rule by a committee.
then, someone like Pete Rizzo, for example, described the nuance between Bitcoin being something that protects individual private property rights. Whereas, Ethereum is something that operates by the consensus of the majority. The ramifications of that are the potential of influence of the committee by other committees, such that it transforms that network into a conduit for control. That is a powerful argument, but it’s like, the question then is how do we at the different layers, present that argument? At the bottom layer, at the core layer, it is Slavecoin. At the top layer, it is this argument around rule by committee, versus private property rights of the individual.
[01:17:20] PR: Yeah. I don’t know. Shinobi, I’d answered that and say, maybe, I don’t know. Slavecoin’s a good one for the back-pocket. I don’t know if we should break it out too early. I will say, if you look at what’s going on in these cryptocurrencies, I mean, you look at what happened with comp recently, right? Where there’s a distribution of money to individuals. That distribution of money is deemed immoral. Then, the people who claim that money and then have that money rescinded from them.
You look at the mainstream journalistic articles on these, it’s never talked about that framing, where you really have, supposedly decentralized technology, like redistributing money and then somehow, redistributing it again, because they deemed that other action immoral. I don’t know. I feel like, you’re starting to see real-life examples of that, that just should be called out for being more ridiculous than they are. Because again, in any situation where someone’s rights are rescinded, you have to ask the question like, there seemingly was a choice made there, and by whom is the question?
I think, we were debating this a little bit earlier today. It’s like, my choice of words in the article has been to call it the market, the cryptocurrency market. That’s what I’ve termed in this, because I don’t know what – I feel like, we need to pin that down. It’s like, what is this thing that is happening, that is somehow invalidating this person’s right? Because if it is a decentralized cryptographic network, then no one should be able to rescind that individual’s money, right? Seemingly, that’s occurring.
I’ve actually gone to the comp Reddit recently. I’m trying to find an answer. I don’t actually even know how this is happening. There’s a deliberate obfuscation here about how these tools and system work. I don’t know if Slavecoin is the right way to go about it, but there’s certainly, like something happened here and these other cryptocurrencies where, how is this money changing hands? It’s like, we’re in situations where it would seem preposterous that it would do so.
[01:19:02] S: Yeah. Brian. What was what I said like, what do you think? What’s your feedback on that?
[01:19:06] B: I think, it’s a good meme for us. if your goal is to try to expand that understanding to a wider circle, they’re going to hear something like, slave money and just dismiss that as a completely hyperbolic statement, you know what I mean?
[01:19:23] PR: Maybe you could argue that that was possible in the shitcoins as well. I actually made the argument in this conversation as well.
[01:19:28] B: It was. We had to fight for that. We had to fight to make that a term that didn’t just immediately get that dismissal and people still dismiss it.
[01:19:38] PR: Well, to be honest, I’ve been shocked the cycle to what extent, the word altcoin has permeated within the mainstream media. I think, that’s actually really telling, and how far the arguments come. Because I think, four, or five years ago, I don’t think you saw altcoin being a term. If you think about, where does the term altcoin come from, it literally comes from alternative cryptocurrency, and it being a derogatory slang word against those things.
I see continually, it’s like, I think I even saw Bloomberg pretty recently that there was an article that just use the term altcoins pretty liberally. I don’t know. Maybe pushing it. Maybe the reaction to the mainstream from cheering shitcoin was the pullback into something like altcoin, and then you could argue that that actually wasn’t that formal.
[01:20:22] AS: yeah, we moved the overton window in that case. I wanted to say something to Brian’s last point, is that yes, I think internally, the Slavecoin meme is strong. Actually, we have one interesting ace up our sleeve, which is the categorical fucking madness that’s happening in the world around us today.
I’ve been on a series of non-Bitcoin podcasts. I’ve got a friend of mine, Pete Evans, who was a – he was a celebrity chef in Australia, and he got censored on Facebook and then his account deleted, and same thing on Instagram, because he came out a couple years ago promoting paleo. Literally, this is how his career fucking disappeared. He became a paleo fucking chef. The Australian Heart Foundation and all this stuff vilified him as promoting dangerous diets. Eating sweet potato and meat is potentially dangerous. You should eat bread, apparently.
anyway, that’s where his career started to go down. then in 2020, he was a Trump maximalist, because he became – really moved in the health spheres. He’s a little bit of a weirdo, but his heart’s in the right place. Now, I’ve done a 12-part fucking series on his podcast, taking them down the rabbit hole. in the beginning, I mean, it’s always been discussion about Bitcoin and I’ve always sprinkled in the difference between Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
I know that he is one of those people who is ignorant about the difference between Bitcoin and these other things. he ended up with buying some Cardano and fucking Ethereum and all this stuff, thinking that that’s a way to get some upside. in the last three or four episodes, I’ve really double down on what people like him in his community think about, which is what’s happening with the government and lockdowns and the mandates, and all this other shit is a function of the fact that they have a monopoly on money, and they can perpetuate an economic forum. They can do all this stuff. that moving into “cryptocurrency” is jumping from the fire into the fucking fry pan, because all we’re doing is we’re swapping out the old white men and lizards behind the curtain, for example, for a bunch of fucking nerds and dweebs, who never had their dicks wet. That’s what we’re doing. We’re just swapping them out, but it’s the same fucking infrastructure.
I give the analogy of what I said earlier about Ethereum and all these guys partnering with the people that we’re supposed to be fighting for. I think, that there’s a strong narrative there to get a big class of people who are becoming slowly anti-state, anti-government, anti-central bank, to view cryptocurrencies in the same way as they view those guys. Because if we can successfully change that frame, and frame Ethereum as a IMF CBDC, and no different to that, we actually start to separate ourselves from them again, and we take the high moral ground once again. But we need to do it eloquently as a main and in multiple capacities.
[01:23:12] PR: I think we’re out of time.
[01:23:15] B: Come on. One more question, guys.
[01:23:17] PR: We’re going to do one more. Okay. We’ll get one more.
[01:23:20] B: I’m just going to come in from being fairly new into the crypto space this year. I want to say, as an investor, your point you raised earlier about not looking at it like a stock or a bond as Bitcoin, is very excellent point. It’s still something that I’m trying to wrap my brain around, exactly what is Bitcoin? I mean, really, from a critical thinking standpoint. I do think we’re making a false comparison when we call it a cryptocurrency.
I think, it’s something different. It’s not even meant to be compared to what these other things are. I think, that’s the point you guys are trying to make. I do think there’s going to be opportunity in that cryptocurrency space is what you’re calling shitcoins or whatever. There’s opportunity to make money. at the end of the day, we got to sort out why we own this. for me, this is my question. I own Bitcoin, because I’m using it as a hedge of central banks just losing control. I’d love to get your feedback on that.
[01:24:14] PR: Yeah. I mean, I think you have to be very careful with what you view Bitcoin as being. I think, that’s something where I would definitely encourage you to do research on that. I think, what you’re advocating for is viewing Bitcoin from a portfolio perspective, right? I think, that can make a lot of sense. I would also say, though, that there is a deeper framing, right? Bitcoin is money. It’s a economic good that emerged spontaneously out of nothing to acquire the values of money. From that point of view as an invention in history, it’s very novel. I would say, I would probably try to come at it from a couple of frames.
one, I think, I don’t have a problem with your particular frame of Bitcoin as being ahead. I think, that you should also as someone who is researching the space, try to realize that Bitcoin is an invention. It is an economic entity that hasn’t existed before. therefore, it is novel. It is something new that we’re trying to understand. You look at the past as an example. I think, we have failed to understand Bitcoin in some ways. I think, the cryptocurrency asset class, if you want to call that, beyond Bitcoin is proof of that. A lot of people applying probably poor concepts to this new invention.
again, yeah, I don’t have a particular problem with the way you’re looking at it. I would just encourage you to broaden that perspective a bit, because I think, ultimately, viewing Bitcoin as a part of a portfolio really doesn’t even get close, in my opinion, to what Bitcoin is. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you looking at it that way. I just don’t think it really gets the truth of the matter of what it is, the Bitcoin is, and how it’s interacting with the world.
[01:25:45] B: that’s the point that my question. I have to say, it’s hard to wrap your brain when you come from our traditional viewpoints of the cult that we’ve all been raised in. It’s hard to wrap your brain to this new freedom and what exactly Bitcoin is doing. It does take a bit to really think through. It’s definitely something completely new. Like, you say, an invention. It’s something completely new. Fascinating.
[01:26:08] AS: It really is. to that point, actually, just because we’re, we’re short on time, I’m going to show two things quickly. The reason Orange Pill Podcast that I did with Max and Stacy, we really dug into a macro view of Bitcoin. I don’t say macro in the economic sense. I mean, macro in the fucking history of humanity and existence sense, like what the fuck does it mean for an intelligent sentience species to discover energy money? What impact will that have on the world? I did that with Max and Stacy.
I also did a podcast with Princey for 21ism. in that one, that one was a little bit longer. I think, we went for an hour and a half, and I really dug into that shit there. It’s like, what does it mean for an intelligence sentient space to discover energy money? It’s like, there is a time before that, in which we’ve, as I said earlier, it’s like, we’ve tried to figure out better forms of money and interacting. Because money is the tool that enables the intersubjective valuation of energy, resources and time. That’s what it is.
It’s like, we’ve had poor versions of that. we’ve had low-fidelity transmission of that energy, or up until now, and it’s post-Bitcoin, the world looks completely fucking different. what the ramifications of that are, I think, none of us can imagine at this point. That’s something I would recommend for anyone who wants to listen, it’s like, I posit more questions than answers in that. I’d love to hear some feedback and thoughts and all that stuff.
it’s the recent Orange Pill Pod with Max and the 21ism interview that I did with Princey, really diving into these ideas, like what does this actually mean on a grand scale? Not as a fucking economic inclusion into – sorry, as an inclusion into your fucking portfolio? What does this actually do to the fucking world? I think that’s a much bigger question. That’s a frame that we can start to move into, as opposed to just arguing about a supply cap.
[01:28:03] PR: Well, appreciate the question. Appreciate everybody’s time and attention. Svetski, appreciate you joining. You want to let people know we’re going to check out more of your work and I’ll do the same?
[01:28:12] AS: yeah. For sure, brother. Find me here on Twitter. This is much easier than Clubhouse. By the way, I just want to say, it’s [inaudible 01:28:18] to Andreessen Horowitz. I hope Clubhouse goes in the toilet. That’s fucking hilarious. I love [inaudible 01:28:22]. Anyway, that aside, Twitter. My blog has moved from my personal blog on Medium over to Bitcoin Magazine, and I’m doing all of my much deeper, more thoughtful pieces there. Then, I also do The Wake Up Podcast, which is me and really good Bitcoiners. People just from all sorts of walks of life.
I’ve had Zubi on there. I’ve had Shaun Baker on there. Carnivore. I’ve had John Francois Giropay, who wrote what I think is one of the best books probably since Darwin wrote his piece on biology and stuff. It’s much broader topics and discussions, if you want to have a listen to that. Then, obviously, my fucking business, [Inaudible 01:29:00] US, which she’s doing Bitcoin stuff.
[01:29:05] PR: I remember that. We’ll be back later today with another spaces for Bitcoin Magazine. again, appreciate y’all joining and we’ll be back later. I think, Dylan LeClair, market analyst at Bitcoin Magazine. I think, [inaudible 01:29:17] Trader, I think you’d might get some more value out of that. He’ll be speaking to Bitcoin as a macro asset and Bitcoin as a financial position. appreciate everyone joining. I’ll see you soon.
[01:29:27] CK: Thanks, everyone. Thanks, Rizzo.
The series continues. You can find part one here and part two here.
The third chapter in Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules For Life” is entitled, “Make Friends With People Who Want The Best For You.”
This instantly reminded me of the Bitcoin community and the fundamental values that true Bitcoiners have in common, despite many in the broader tech, finance, crypto and blockchain space labelling us as “toxic.”
Bitcoiners are the only crowd I have found whose primary interest is not “getting rich,” but “fixing the money so we can fix the world,” and when behaving in a manner that some might call “toxic,” are merely being intolerant toward skewing the core idea away from its core message and doing so from a place of deep insight and caring.
The following meme immediately comes to mind:
Bitcoiners truly want the best for others and the world, and are not willing to compromise on what it will take to get there.
In chapter three, Peterson takes us on a journey, reminding us that we should choose to spend our time with people who want things to be better for us, not worse. He reminds us that it’s a good thing to choose people who are good for you and who demand the most from you, but that it’s not easy because the tendency is to choose those who “accept” your faults, which may not be so good for you (a concept related to his prior rule).
Being vulnerable, naked apes, we tend to feed off of pity and unnecessary compassion instead of finding those individuals against whom it requires strength and daring to stand up.
Those who want the best for us are an ideal. They hold us to a higher standard. Their very presence can reveal the inadequacy of the present and the promise of the future, which in itself can be daunting, and hence why it’s a difficult task.
Once again, Peterson weaves some incredible principles together in this chapter and I’ve done my best to tease some of them out to help you understand another element of Bitcoin, i.e., the Bitcoiner and the tribes or metaphorical citadels they have built.
Friends matter when times are tough.
Peterson opens this chapter against the backdrop of a teenager’s lonely experience in the cold depths of Alberta, Canada. The entire community was cold, withdrawn, nihilistic and tuned out. Doing anything was seen as “uncool,” losers seemed to abound.
His friends spent more time high than sober, distracting themselves from reality. One of the quotes that made me laugh:
There’s a strong analogy to the hopelessness and nihilism in much of the world today. We’re surrounded by people who’ve either given up or are brainwashed by mainstream madness. People are constantly seeking some form of distraction or escape because they cannot handle being alone long enough to face themselves. They fear the specter of their own increasingly meaningless existence. If you ever wondered why depression is so prevalent, this is why.
It’s a dangerous time for humanity because this version of the human experience has ripple effects that not only reinforce the nihilism, but breed people who don’t believe they deserve better. As a result, they repeat the behavior that got them there in the first place and sink further into the depths of victimhood.
Freud termed this psychological phenomenon “repetition compulsion.”
In order to rise above this, or break the pattern, one must face the “trouble” of better. People create their worlds not only with the tools they have at hand, but in the way they use those tools. Faulty tools can certainly produce faulty results, but mindless use of even functional tools can also produce disastrous results.
Progress not only requires us to use new tools, but to use them in sound ways to build new worlds. Unfortunately, few seem to want to face this reality and, as Peterson says:
Peterson reminds us to find friends, a peer group and a community that not only want the best for us, but are aiming up. That’s what you find in Bitcoin, at almost every level.
The anarchic behavior can at times seem brutal or outlandish, but we are ultimately here to keep each other honest, to strengthen each other’s resolve and to sharpen each other’s wits.
I’ve not come into contact with another group of individuals so diverse in background, experience, race, age, gender, nationality, taste or [insert variable], yet so willing to simultaneously welcome new people in who are on a common path, and call out (in earnest) those who attempt to stray from the path, whether consciously or unconsciously.
This makes for an incredible “community”, unlike anything you will have ever come across.
Bitcoiners are realistic optimists.
We’re pessimistic about the short term because we’re honest enough to both acknowledge the problems we’re facing, and call them out.
But, we’re also optimistic about the long term because we appreciate the nuance of what has worked in functional, free societies, and we know we have the ultimate tool in Bitcoin, whose very existence corrects behavior and time preference at the level of the individual. This is in stark contrast to the defeatist attitudes of the mindless nihilists, the salty socialists and the “larperterians” who’ve all but given up.
We know there are challenges ahead. In fact, we know how to define the challenges better than most, and while we may not have an exact plan on how we get to the other side of every one of these grand challenges, we know that there is something we can do:
Being a realistic optimist is a fine line. It requires a true depth of character, an ability to grasp nuance like few others can, and a strong core group of people who will not waver.
It’s very easy to stray from this path because we’re surrounded on all sides by:
Many of these in the last category are part of the “AnCap,” “prepper” or “libertarian” camps who have for many years been extremely accurate in their assessment of what’s wrong with the world, the state, central banking, the financial and economic system, politics and more, but were unable to present a viable, functional alternative.
Therein lies the big difference between them and Bitcoiners. Many would prefer to complain or make jokes rather than do something about it. In the absence of a viable solution, they devolve into perpetual victims, constant complainers and literally become part of the problem because their identity requires something stupid outside of themselves to ridicule in order to feel adequate.
They do not even want to hear or know of a solution, because if things actually changed, who would they have to complain about?
This is why Bitcoiners are such a powerful, optimistic force.
As an independent thinker, it’s a genuine breath of fresh air to come across people who can both accept and articulate what’s wrong with the world, but simultaneously have hope for a better future and act in accordance with that worldview.
There are many days I feel like “maybe I’m the crazy one.” To think we can overturn the corrupt behemoth that is the legacy financial system, and to stand strong in the face of a world gone categorically mad can be an incredibly lonely feeling.
But this is where heroes are made. A contrarian is by definition a minority and resides where few others have the insight or courage to.
The archetype of this generation’s Bitcoiner is the contrarian. The blood of the warrior flows through his or her veins. They’re individuals who are willing to be lonely, who are willing to be ridiculed, laughed at and disparaged, but still remain strong, steady and convicted.
This is what is required to transform the world from the bottom up.
Future generations will use Bitcoin because it’s the obvious thing to use, much as they may use a cell phone or the internet today. In fact, the more time that passes, the more that using Bitcoin will be like breathing air.
Future “Bitcoiners” will be fighting other battles, contending with other beasts and striving to accomplish different feats. It’s our job to make sure humanity survives beyond the event horizon ahead. But I digress…
Bitcoiners today are simultaneously the soundest contrarians and the group of people who want the best for you. Find them. Be around them. It will not only strengthen our cause, but will make the journey less lonely.
We contrarians are the Bitcoin Mafia, h/t AMERICAN HODL.
Much like the early team at PayPal, this era of Bitcoiners will rebuild the world. We are a unique set of individuals all striving to grow, who are responsible for their own actions, wealth and decisions, and will long-term change the very course of history.
Despite the challenges that lie ahead, you should be deeply grateful to be a part of it.
Bitcoiners are the community that wants the best for you, while primarily and fundamentally focused on becoming the best version of themselves.
There exists a form of altruistic selfishness because they are striving to grow as individuals and to become better at their own expense. Not yours.
Many have attempted to frame Bitcoin as a method in which early adopters encourage new adopters to buy it so that they can get rich, kind of like a Ponzi scheme. This is incorrect for a number or reasons, mainly:
Any momentum created by a broader base of people buying and holding bitcoin drives up its purchasing power, resulting in a negative impact for a Bitcoiner who will never go back to fiat, and who measures his or her wealth in terms of the number of “sats” they hold. It requires more hours of work each year for me to accumulate a single bitcoin, and my bet is that by the time this decade is out, there is little I can do for the rest of my life to earn an entire bitcoin again. Few understand this.
Bitcoiners have nothing to sell you, but your own freedom and sovereignty.
When we do so, we actually increase the cost of our own transition because those of us who understand Bitcoin are not measuring our wealth in dollar terms, but in sats. A higher relative bitcoin price means we can acquire less real wealth.
Contrast this with shitcoiners who create “uLtRaSoUnD money” out of thin air, change the rules at a whim, enrich themselves via “pre-mines” and sell you a new narrative every few months so that you keep buying it.
Shitcoiners, much like the existing bankrupt monetary system, seek to enrich themselves at the expense of others. When some group of nerds, backed by Silicon Valley VCs, issues its own currency under the banner of “decentralization” or “the good of everyone,” they are enriching themselves at your expense. You are funding their lifestyle, and they thank you for it.
Frauds like Charles Hoskinson, Vitalik Buterin or Dan Larimer are all cut from the same cloth. They all dislike each other because their respective Ponzi schemes are in direct competition with each other, and as such, they’re at constant war. The following passage from a recent book about Ethereum comes to mind:
Blockchainers selling overpriced enterprise database solutions and Silicon Valley venture capital firms like A16Z pumping and dumping the new shiny craptocurrency are no different.
They don’t want the best for you. They just want the best for themselves at your expense, which is to be expected in a world where incentives are skewed, capital allocation is broken, pricing signals are false and morality has been thrown out the window.
The following meme (h/t Gigi) is the perfect example of how these people think and behave, in stark contrast to the image of Bitcoiners earlier in the piece:
A common term thrown around by shitcoiners is “toxicity.” It’s become a futile attempt by those who do not understand the basic premise of the golden or silver rules to slander anyone calling out their scams, mistakes or fraudulent behavior.
The funniest part is that Bitcoiners have actually taken on the term as a badge of honor and in classic cobra effect style, doubled down on the behavior.
Let’s explore a few of the tenets of toxicity:
The golden rule is “do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you.” This is one of the most commonly misunderstood ideas, because it has nothing to do with being “nice,” and everything to do with having the courage to say and do what’s right.
What you really want done unto you is the right thing, the thing that keeps you honest, that demands the best of you and that corrects your erroneous behavior so that you can evolve and develop into the best version of yourself.
80% of the time, the above requires truth, and 80% of that time, the truth will hurt.
Bitcoiners believe this, viscerally.
I quote Nassim Taleb way too much, but oh, well. I’m sure his ghost writer is happy.
The silver rule states that one should not do unto others as you would not want done unto you. It’s a slight variance on the golden rule, and in the context of complex systems (like human societies), a more robust rule.
You may enjoy weird shit like being spanked, so while the golden rule would then tell you to go spank others, doing so might not be such a good idea.
The silver rule suggests that what you don’t like or don’t want to happen to you is something you should not do to another. It’s very basic, but it passes the basic “good person” test. I don’t want to have my things stolen, or be micromanaged like I’m some lemming, or be scammed, promised the world and not have anything delivered, lied to, etc. So, in that sense, I should not do those things to others.
Bitcoiners get this, and while some may once again point to “toxicity” as something they wouldn’t want to happen to them, well… I would counter with the following tweet from a Bitcoiner I deeply respect:
The difference is striking. Please call us out if we ever attempt to betray you.
You’ll also note Bitcoiner behavior is consistent across both the golden and silver rules. It takes a rare kind of character to embody these traits.
This is why people like @dergigi and @GiacomoZucco are some of my favorite humans, and once again reinforces why so-called “toxicity” by an intolerant minority is so fundamental to Bitcoin.
It’s not just an immune response, but is the rock of truth against which the waves of lies break. That which is termed “toxic” is done so by those who are threatened by the light of its truth. They would prefer to build committees of censorship instead of having the humility to adjust their behavior or the courage to rise to the occasion and own their mistake.
Bitcoiners are as toxic to frauds, phonies and charlatans as Bitcoin is to the existing fraud of the world we live in. And we use speech to make it known, like a swarm of cyber hornets.
This idea is eloquently encapsulated in one of my favorite short clips from Peterson:
There is nothing virtuous about suffering in silence, nor is virtue found in conforming to a lie just to be polite. Do not confuse kindness with sincerity, or abrasion with wickedness.
The best thieves will convince you that they’re your friend and often your truest friends are those who will violently confront you when you are transgressing your own morals, virtues or standards.
This is why I would take an “honest asshole” over a “polite liar” any day of the week, month or year.
Modernity has castrated men and battered women to the point where they can no longer stand up for themselves. They have been taught to live a life of quiet compromise and servitude. Daddy Government and Mumma Medicine will take care of you and numb you into oblivion.
If you want to know where this leads, there’s no longer a need to even study history. Just open your eyes and look around. The world in which we live is fundamentally compromised because people have forgotten to stand up straight with their shoulders back.
Note that in engineering terms (and the accurate linguistic definition) of the word “compromised” is that which is broken, non functional and needs to be fixed.
This is why the cultivation of the “monster” inside of us all has always been, and perhaps also never been, more important than it is now. To paraphrase Peterson:
This is why, as Peterson would say, that the capacity to be a monster, but a conscious one, is so critical.
As was explored in the prior chapter, the capacity for malevolence is ingrained in all of us as a result of the knowledge of our own vulnerability. This is something we cannot remove, but something we can stand up to by becoming stronger, wiser and more resilient versions of ourselves.
And once again, this is part of what an honest peer group brings to the table.
“Iron sharpens iron” and pressure is the prerequisite for growth, whether in physical, spiritual, mental or emotional dimensions.
The monster inside you must be cultivated, but needs to be conscious. A conscious monster confronts the dragon (the tyrant) and the snake (the charlatan), while protecting the truth, the tribe and the innocent.
This is what it means to be a virtuous monster and is the archetype of the so-called “toxic Bitcoiner.”
Without them, the world around you becomes either a tyranny or a fraud. Or, in the case of our timeline, a blend of both. In the absence of honest assholes, the world devolves into a mass of polite liars.
Echo chambers have been characterized as bad or, at best, undesirable because they are a supposed “barrier” to learning something new. In some cases this is true, especially in the madness of crowds via the blind repetition of some platitude or falsehood.
But… do not mistake an echo chamber for a point of objective truth that has been converged upon by individuals from different places across different times. There are timeless principles and a-priori truths that have guided humanity from the beginning of time and the individuals that history remembers are those who guarded them with their very lives.
This form of echo chamber is one in which signal is amplified. Search for these. In them lies deep fulfillment.
I recently read “Isaiah’s Job” by Albert Jay Nock, and while I was going to write an entire section about it in this article, it took on a life of its own and is now published as it’s own piece here:
“Bitcoiners Are The Remnant, The Masses Don’t Matter”
Suffice it to say that Bitcoiners are the Remnant, and the Remnant are those who will and always have changed the world.
They are those who want the best for you because they are the same who demand the best from you.
They are your true friends. Your community. Your tribe.
In order to be among them, you must be the best and most honest version of yourself. There is no greater aspiration in life.
Nock’s piece reminds us that diluting your message and your mission to “appeal to the masses” is the greatest fraud a “prophet of the Remnant” can commit. It’s the pathway to emptiness, regret and meaninglessness. It’s a surefire way to dissuade those who matter from the cause, and attract the flakes.
So, while Bitcoin is for everyone, and Bitcoiners can come from any and all walks of life, the purity of the message and the incorruptibility that is Bitcoin does not change.
This is why many have likened Bitcoin to an objective truth. You cannot dilute the truth because it becomes a lie, and when it becomes a lie, you can only fool the masses; not the Remnant.
True Bitcoiners stand at the gates. They are the cyber hornets, as Michael Saylor would so aptly describe them. They are unlike the ephemeral, opportunistic shitcoiners that characterize the world of crapto.
A well known but little practiced idea, once again derived from the Bible, is to not cast pearls before swine.
This is reminiscent of the message of the Remnant and the masses.
One must respect the scarce resources they have on this earth, whether they come in the form of time, energy or other scarce resources. One must allocate them accordingly, such that they are not squandered or wasted.
While waste is inevitable, its elimination is actually the definition of progress. The less we waste, the more effective and efficient we become, the more we honor ourselves, our lives and those around us.
We live in a world with real, physical constraints. You cannot help everyone, you cannot change anyone, the teacher appears only when the student is ready and swine will never respect pearls.
You and I are action-oriented beings, who expend our finite time and energy toward outcomes that we deem valuable. Maximize that by finding those whom you can impact deeply. Give them the pearls. They will not only appreciate them, but they will pay it forward.
Quality over quantity. This is the rule of the wise.
Never be afraid to be selective or exclusive. You do an injustice to yourself, your tribe and those who matter most by being totally inclusive, spreading yourself thin and diluting your message for a mass of people who won’t care anyway.
Focus on those who do care, the Bitcoiners. And if you want to know what it means to be a Bitcoiner, I wrote what might be my shortest piece a number of years back here:
“What It Takes To Be A Bitcoiner”
With this in mind, we enter the final section of this chapter…
This is a meme popularized in the Bitcoin world, but which has its roots in every great narrative where an individual or group have found sovereignty in their escape from tyranny or the collapse of the old.
From Noah’s Ark to the Romans to American independence to Galt’s Gulch or the internet (cyber space), the idea of the citadel has existed since the dawn of history and now lives on through Bitcoin.
It’s gained momentum in the hearts and minds of Bitcoiners because Bitcoin is fundamentally a parallel system that neither needs nor recognizes the old. It operates on a new standard that is both subjectively enforced and objectively measurable.
It is a citadel on multiple dimensions: a communications citadel, a monetary fortress, a time and energy super conductor, a web of inter-subjective value, a human action transmission network, a work and labor storage device, a high-fidelity representation of natural resources, a timechain and a map of reality.
Furthermore, because money is the technology of social cooperation and the transmission medium for time, energy and natural resources, it’s movement into the realm of the incorruptible and untouchable physical law (alongside the speed of light and the second law of thermodynamics), means that it forms the basis for citadels on higher dimensions:
None of the above can be built independent of the old without first securing the money. And if by chance and sheer will they are, they cannot be sustained.
The base of the pyramid of sovereignty is money. We fix that, we can fix anything. There is no greater task that lies before us. The citadels must and will prevail.
To better understand the citadel meme, let’s explore some concepts:
Tribalism is today used as a pejorative term to frame people who think and behave a certain way as bigots, close minded, group-thinkers and echo chamber maximalists.
As with most modern definitions, this is totally moronic.
The tribe is a critical component of a community and if the family is the nucleus, tribes are like the “cells” in a society. They are a fundamental building block whose integrity determines the strength and fitness of the broader species.
We start with the individual, we grow into a family, we form a tribe, we develop a community and communities come together to build a citadel. These citadels then form “human society,” i.e., a diverse network of jurisdictions all with their own flavors, styles, norms and cultures.
These are the layers:
Tribes and perhaps communities are about as far as common values can scale and general governance can function. Beyond that, it starts to break down because of the diverse nature of life.
Society simply cannot function at the scale of the modern nation state, and especially not at the scale that the moronic globalist believe. The idea that some global, monolithic super structure can effectively command and control all decision making is abhorrent, unless the constituents, i.e., the very citizenry it’s made up of, are all of the same character, values and belief systems.
This is impossible for large swathes of people, unless it is enforced by some decree. But even then, individuality emerges like a rose in a concrete world, or a ray of light in a dark room. We are inherently different, and that’s what makes humanity beautiful.
Groups of people with common beliefs and shared values have been coming together since the dawn of time. At the local level, they may be quite similar and tribal. This is fine. Humans naturally do that. But on a grander scale, to be a functional species we require diversity. We require tribal, cohesive and homogenous “cells” that are similar within, but different to their counterparts, who perform different functions in order to exist.
You see it in all of life. From the quantum universe, to the galaxies that make up the big universe (whatever that is).
Life needs diversity.
Life exists at the nexus of chaos and order. Not in the realm of one without the other. Diversity by its very nature is a form of chaos between the order.
This diversity enables experimentation and discovery, it enables growth. This is what life does. It’s in constant flux, growing and dying, each ebb and flow giving rise to the other in the continuous cycle of life.
Everything we cherish, from art to civilization, spawned from our ability to experiment and to try. It’s only in this way that a discovery can be made. That’s why I believe in tribalism.
It’s healthy. It’s essential. We must protect it.
The individual comes first, but they are nothing without their tribe. There’s no reason why people cannot mingle and experience different tribes and cultures, but those distinct, homogenous core tribes need to exist for us to be able to do that!
Bitcoin and the Bitcoiners that help make it possible are a microcosm of this concept. You see it everywhere despite the claims by shitcoiners and no coiners that we are “toxic.”
Bitcoiners from all walks of life are passionately trying to help others navigate the tools, the information and the nuance free of charge, helping newbies avoid shitcoins, calling out scammers and copping flack for doing so.
The specter of economic reality will completely transform how sovereignty functions and force it to either adapt into a customer ← → service provider relationship (away from subject ← → overlord) with those whom it provides governance services, or dissolve into bankruptcy.
I believe it will drive sovereigns to be smaller, nimbler and more local because it’s the only way to remain economically functional and competitive.
We’ve seen that operating or governing across a large swathe of a population with divergent views, norms, ideals and values is just not viable. People want different things and you can’t just blanket impose arbitrary rules on everyone.
The only reason why large scale nation states exist today is that they are able to fraudulently fund themselves via three mechanisms:
On a Bitcoin standard, you cannot do the above and thus you cannot grow into a leviathan by perpetuating an economic fraud. You cannot privatize gains whilst socializing losses because none of the mechanisms above are possible.
Moral hazard, which is currently built into the system, is no longer systemically possible. It’s only locally possible and the consequence is collapse.
The result is a natural ceiling in size for either governments or corporations. The larger you get, the slower you become, the harder it is to adapt and the more susceptible you are to being beaten by smaller, nimbler and more hungry competitors. This is how things naturally balance. On a fixed, energy-money standard, you cannot bail out the stupid (or corrupt), and you cannot eliminate competition by being close to the ultimate monopoly.
“Royalism” is a term coined by Mencius Moldbug and discussed in his series of essays about the “patchwork” model of the world. Some of you may be familiar with his work, but I assume many are not.
In short, he discusses a future in which the world is made up of a patchwork of city states, all run like corporations, by a CEO with absolute power and accountability.
This city-state CEO is much like a monarch, but operates their domain like a business whose motive is profit. Hence the term “royalism.”
It is so extremely in line with what Bitcoiners have intuited over the past few years that I can only imagine there’s been some influence from his work. The initial draft was written before Bitcoin, but notes made afterward that Bitcoin as a monetary standard might help make a future like this possible.
I would argue that, without Bitcoin, a future such as this one is impossible until after the complete collapse of a globalist super structure which has way too much momentum and too many resources.
Bitcoin may be what makes a royalism-inspired patchwork of citadels possible via a more smooth and functional transition in which the good of what society has built in the prior five centuries does not go to complete waste. I won’t do the concept justice in a few paragraphs, so I suggest you have a read:
“Patchwork: A Political System For The 21st Century”
He is brutal in his analysis of the status quo, and both funny and extremely intelligent. I would also suggest reviewing the fabulous book by Titus Gebel, “Free Private Cities”:
“Free Private Cities”
The idea that Ayn Rand described so eloquently and inspirationally in “Atlas Shrugged” is being memed into reality and the centerpiece of it all is Bitcoin.
It’s okay to surround yourself with people who are helping you be better and to shy away from people who are willing to drag you down. You are not obligated to associate with people who are trying to damage the structure of your being.
Move away from people like that.
A bitcoiner is a unique archetype who represents the true zeitgeist of the modern world. He or she is the counterbalance to the madness of crowds and the destruction by parasites. They are the rational optimist who can envision a better world because they’ve understood the flaws with the current one.
They are the Remnant and oftentimes the lonely contrarian, who I am here to remind are not alone. Like God told Isaiah, there are two things I can guarantee you:
Your responsibility as a Bitcoiner and as a member of the Remnant is to strive toward being the best version of yourself and to do your part in raising the standard with others. Your example and your presence alone will do that. To paraphrase Peterson:
“Like you have an ethical responsibility to take care of yourself, you have an ethical responsibility to surround yourself with people who have the courage, faith and wisdom to wish you well when you’ve done something good, and to stop you when you’re doing something destructive.”
That quote summarizes not only what it means to be a good friend, but what it means to be a so-called “Toxic Bitcoin Maximalist.”
Bitcoin is a peaceful but functional protest against that which consciously or unconsciously chooses to oppress. And this protest is a vital one.
A brotherhood and sisterhood along common values is what’s missing in the world today.
We are different, and that’s a beautiful thing. We are diverse in our values, needs and desires.
When free to choose, we naturally form groups along commonalities. And yes, while these groups are naturally more homogeneous internally, the patchwork they form is more heterogeneous because they’re smaller
For too long we’ve been forced to assimilate and “integrate” as if we’re cattle without an identity, without a culture and without personal preferences.
If children can form friendships at school of their own volition, why in the hell are adults forced to conform and accept each other as some global, homogeneous blob. It just breeds resentment for one another. I have no desire to hang around some people, and nobody else has the right to force us to get along.
I want to pick my friends carefully because who I spend time with is who I become. Bitcoin is my protest and it voluntarily aligns me with others who want the same thing. This is our virtual citadel today, and is the precursor to our physical one tomorrow. I hope to meet you there one day, at a lecture being given by Peterson himself.
Thank you for reading.
This is a guest post by Aleks Svetski, CEO of www.amber.app. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
June 4 2021, Bitcoin Conference, Miami, Florida: Max Keiser strides onto the stage, clad in a white suit, in triumphant fashion, yelling,
“YEAH! YEAH! WE’RE NOT DONE! WE’RE NOT DONE! F*CK ELON! F*CK ELON!”
This clip attracted plenty of online criticism, perhaps most from those already looking for something to criticise, but also from some who are pro-Bitcoin. But what was the impact? And how badly can Bitcoiners hurt Bitcoin?
I’ll have more on Max Keiser later.
Bitcoin’s most underrated facet is its fully distributed (frequently also described as decentralised) nature, both in terms of the miners and node operators. But this concept of decentralisation also extends to Bitcoiners themselves: The core developers, the miners, the podcasters, educators,media personalities, the traders,on-chain analysts, venture capitalists and the plebs are all certainly cohorts. However, because of the “opt in” nature of Bitcoin, attempts to typecast Bitcoiners typically fail.
How can Bitcoiners harm bitcoin? I think it’s a hard question, but best considered when turned around. If you were a secret agent and could send someone to undermine bitcoin – who would you send, and what would they do?
Let’s consider a couple of recent candidates. The author Nassim Nicholas Taleb covered many topics in his books (such as “Fooled by Randomness,” “Black Swan,” “Antifragile,” and “Skin in the Game”) which resonate with Bitcoin principles. He was for many years loosely a Bitcoin advocate, and he wrote the foreword to the best known Bitcoin book of recent years, “The Bitcoin Standard.”
As is well known, Taleb fairly abruptly announced he had sold all his bitcoin in February, 2021, and doubled down by writing a “black paper” denouncing the true value of bitcoin as zero. This would certainly appear harmful to Bitcoin. However, the concepts expressed in his paper do not suggest a wealth of new insight suddenly having been gained from being some kind of Bitcoin insider. His arguments need to stand on their own merits (or lack of) either way. I’d argue that Taleb has simply joined the ranks of existing Bitcoin detractors, of which there are already plenty.
Many of Taleb’s ideas within his books still resonate. He was once famously asked his view on Microsoft as a stock, and remarked that since he was neither long nor short on the stock, he wasn’t qualified to give his opinion on it. Skin in the game matters.
The irony is that he has written a “black paper” denouncing the value of bitcoin as zero, and yet now appears to be neither long nor short on bitcoin. He has no discernible skin in the game there, then.
Let’s consider another potential secret agent – Elon Musk! What better way to belittle Bitcoin than to endlessly plug Dogecoin and label it in with “crypto,” essentially calling into question the notion of bitcoin’s digital scarcity? The reason being, if dogecoin is a comparable investment to bitcoin, why not also baby doge? And so on. Secondly, he has very publicly questioned Bitcoin’s environmental impact.
Many involved with Bitcoin will have found Musk’s actions pretty frustrating; at best it could be described as learning in public, and he’s not there yet. One thing I would point out is that actions speak louder than words. In terms of just his actions, in 2021 Elon Musk has personally bought and still owns a large amount of bitcoin, as do Tesla and SpaceX. I suspect we haven’t heard the end of this story just yet.
Taking Elon Musk’s environmental comments, in recent months there has been tangible pushback against this narrative from others. For instance, Lyn Alden remarked earlier this year that Bitcoin’s energy use may not be an actual problem, but general perception of its energy use is. Bitcoiners are now error correcting.
Returning to the idea of Bitcoiners criticising Bitcoin, I think there is an interesting contrast here to a recent BBC documentary shown in the U.K. which Sir Michael Palin presented on North Korea. When he asked his guide why North Korean citizens never criticise their leaders, she replied that the leaders represent the nation, of which they are all an intrinsic part, adding “Criticising our leaders is like criticising ourselves, too.”
This was to a small extent a compelling expression of unity, but scratch beneath the surface and it’s a pretty torrid state of affairs. There is no opportunity for debate or error correction, and indeed North Korean citizens have little choice but to belong to the nation, not having free borders.
Bitcoin is the total opposite. Bitcoin in itself presents no barriers to entry – or exit. It is now perhaps the embodiment of leader-less free speech and error correction.
Bitcoiners could only harm Bitcoin in sizable numbers. I would recommend reading “The Blocksize Wars” by Jonathan Bier, for anyone looking to understand the events of 2015–2017 around proposed changes to Bitcoin’s protocol. The fact that this seems a long way away from happening again today is perhaps yet another example of Bitcoin’s antifragility.
Bitcoin in its operation could be seen as a one-way valve. It has the capacity to take on board improvements from benevolent actors, but shakes off those who seek to harm it.
Having considered all that, let’s think back to Max Keiser and his striking entrance at the Bitcoin Conference. Of course, he may have his own reasons for making a lasting impression! As for the impact, in my opinion:
(1) It had absolutely no impact on Bitcoin. Max Keiser knows he – or indeed anyone – could enter onto that stage however they like and it won’t make a scrap of difference to Bitcoin’s future.
(2) The added genius of Max Keiser is that he appreciates that the moment an observer fully clocks point one, they are a step closer to understanding Bitcoin themselves.
To summate, toxic maximalism really has no larger impact on the success or failure of the technology itself, and is merely a facet of an impassioned community.
This is a guest post by BitcoinActuary. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.
Infamous Bitcoin Twitter personality Udi Wertheimer discussed why Bitcoiners should not be worried about altcoins.
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On this episode of the “Bitcoin Magazine Podcast,” host Christian Keroles sat down with the infamous Bitcoin Twitter personality and troll Udi Wertheimer to discuss why the hardcore Bitcoin faithful should not be so worried about alternative cryptocurrencies, or “altcoins.”
Generally speaking, Bitcoiners are very adversarial towards altcoins and those who support them. It is not unheard of to see Bitcoiners loudly decrying all altcoins as scams and altcoin investors as foolish.
Neither Wertheimer nor Keroles believe that altcoins pose a real challenge to Bitcoin, nor that they can even be helpful for new people who are not quite primed to understand Bitcoin initially. Bitcoin is quite unintuitive to people still operating with a fiat mindset. Wertheimer also challenged Bitcoiners by claiming that they lose credibility when they continue to pretend that some altcoins like doge and ether have not outperformed bitcoin substantially in 2021.
Wertheimer thinks that toxicity was much more necessary back in 2015 to 2017, during the Bitcoin fork wars. He now believes that Bitcoiners can be much more empathetic and successful at converting new Bitcoiners and precoiners to Bitcoin with a less toxic strategy. The current brand of altcoins pose no threat to Bitcoin itself and, if anything, it amplifies Bitcoin’s own brand, reach and total addressable market.
Please listen, share and tell Bitcoin Magazine what you think of this conversations with Udi Wertheimer.