Bitcoin is Hope
Hope moves us forward, and our values chart the way. Money is intended to be a safe harbor for economic value—not a constant cause of stress, worry, and entrapment, as it is in the world today. A fundamentally dishonest money, fiat currency ruins our relationships with the intrinsic entropy of nature and our fellow humans. To rejuvenate hope for more harmonious human action in the world, we must set our sights upon the invaluable aims of honest money, entrepreneurship, and civilization.
Hope is the Wind
Hope is the wind which carries us forward: an attitude to act instead of despair. Most of our lives are spent navigating from “what is” to what we believe “should be,” each of us charting our way by what we perceive to be valuable. The ideal state towards which we are (hopefully) moving ever-closer is the realization of our own potential — a seemingly ever-receding horizon no matter how rich, fit, or well-liked we become. True progress is only possible by taking actions guided by clear valuations. Action is akin to a slicing scythe, which separates proverbial wheat (the valuable) from chaff (the valueless). Sometimes, we may lose hope, but we can always redeem it through action.
Spanning the everlasting gulf between “here and now” and “a better tomorrow” is a boundless ocean of spacetime. All the aims of our actions can only target other places and other times. As we sail the stormy spatiotemporal seas toward our desired destinations, we inevitably encounter unforeseen stressors, setbacks, and challenges. Pain — the inarguable basis of being — becomes acute when the consequences of our actions diverge from our aims. Hamartia—this tendency to “miss the mark” so fundamental to our sinful human nature—pervades precisely because our universe is one of entropy.
Entropy is uncertainty, randomness, and disorder; it naturally pours forth from reality, and destroys the works of man over time (just ask any homeowner). Fortifying ourselves from the omnipresent chaos of nature within handcrafted systems of socioeconomic order, we distinguish ourselves as human by building civilizations. Yet human flourishing can exist only along a knife-edge of order and chaos. Encounters with entropy are the only way we can grow stronger, faster, and smarter — indeed, such adaptation to life’s many tribulations is our only hope of becoming better. Hormesis ensures that life improves its environmental fitness through failure, hence the old adage “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” The lessons gleaned in our contentions with chaos are structurally incorporated into manmade law and order. In Talebian terms: individual fragility is inseparable from ensemble antifragility. Adversity advances us. Absent the rough waters of life, our true competencies could never emerge, nor our civilizations thrive. As the ancient African proverb says:
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”
In modernity, the dominant institution in the world is central banking; its (ostensible) purpose is to “smooth the seas” of markets by imposing price stability and low unemployment. This misguided purpose inflicts a depravity on market participants by robbing them of the critical stressors necessary for learning and the development of competence. Cutting entrepreneurs off from the vital flows of information engendered by well-measured exposures to entropy causes price distortion, interruption of innovation, and suppression of skillfulness. Elevation of the human condition is achieved by breakthroughs in engineering, not the art politic. Political machinations can only divvy up the spoils generated by our ingenuity. Innovation is the unleashing of human creativity, the fruits of entrepreneurship, and the restoration of hope when formerly beneficial systems of order fail us. Experimentation in the dark laboratory of the unknown is the only way we can gain illumination. Nature is terrifying and volatile, but it is also the unexplored territory where we hunt to enrich humanity’s treasury of knowledge.
Life well-lived is a series of skill-building expeditions. Before any embarkation we must first set our destination: a precise determination of where we want to go. Destination-setting is an inherently subjective and value-driven decision. Equipped with the motivational guidelines encoded in our systems of value, we set our aim and set sail. Spiriting us along is the hope that our wits, skills, and instrumentation will prove true in our trek. When faced with ambivalent courses of action, we take the path perceived to be most progressive toward our values. As the heavenly maps of human action, our values are moral behavioral schemas intended to help guide us through the inexorable ambiguities, complexities, and tradeoffs in our circumnavigations across the tempestuous seas of spacetime. Constitutional to this cartography of action is the answer to one of life’s most ancient mysteries:
“Why did the chicken cross the road? Because the chicken decided being on the other side was more valuable.”
Mapping our values is a charting of awareness, a training of the moral compass, and a trimming of the sails toward the outcomes we ultimately desire. By establishing an unwavering hierarchy of personal values we are accepting the sacrifices requisite for forward movement. All individuals and institutions are finite. No entity can accomplish all aims. Life is a series of decisions in which we face tradeoffs and opportunity costs. As both individuals and institutions, we choose a single course of action at the necessary exclusion of all others: a rule of reality beyond exception, even for the (allegedly omnipotent) central banks of the world. Action is the sacrifice of life to our higher values, in the hope that our aims hold true. All attempts to tamper with this calculus of sacrifice necessary for progress can only fail.
Soon after embarking on any voyage toward a valued aim, we observe the congruity between our intentions and the consequences created by our actions. Improving the fitness of action and expectation is the highest hope of humanity; as convergence comes, man gains greater freedom to try his mettle on other forms of misfitness within a broader sphere of possibility: a principle expressed in adaptation, innovation, and evolution. In this way, man circumambulates himself toward his value-directed “North Star” through an iterative process of trial, error, and retrial—finding his proper path through experimentation and perseverance. Through this inherently non-linear and unstable process, man converts entropy into growth. Paradoxically, mankind can only succeed in advancing himself through a willingness to fail. The way of the warrior (and the entrepreneur) is the resolute acceptance of death; the alacrity to confront the chaos of nature courageously with the aim of converting it into good and useful order. Poignant to this paradox of progress is the ancient wisdom of warrior-sage Musashi, in one of his nine principles for strategic living:
Training their minds, spirits, and characters against the entropy of nature, entrepreneurs deliver to us all the hard-won treasures of erudition earned in their explorations. Entrepreneurs seek knowledge by putting their skin in the game and adventuring into the unexplored territories of nature in search of better, cheaper, and faster ways of satisfying wants for society. Enduring the pain of failure, adapting to the unknown, and living to tell (and sell) the tale is the way of the entrepreneur. These information foragers understand the inherent tradeoffs of hunting, and navigate them intelligently to achieve growth. Antithetical to the entrepreneurial ethic is the central bank, which “chases two rabbits” of growth and stability, with deleterious results in the long-run. Growth is purely a market process, and it cannot be induced by decree (just try yelling at your garden to “grow faster”). By attempting to override Darwinian reality, central banking stifles entrepreneurial adaptivity—the most important aspect of survival for any species.
As we navigate the world, the fitness of our value-maps to the progress we observe is dependent on circumstances both within and beyond our control. For instance, if an entrepreneur leading a hyper-growth technology company is intent on disrupting an entrenched industry, he can control his own allocation of time and capital in the aim of making a software solution that (he hopes) market participants will prefer. But no entrepreneur can control broader market forces like customer preferences, industry regulations, or competitor actions. Indeed, he must strive valiantly even to “control” events within his own organization. Clearly, we can exert some degree of influence on the things outside our control, but to a much lesser extent than we can our own time, attention, and capital. Truly, we can only ever (hope to) maintain control over our thoughts, attitudes, and actions as we live and learn.
Knowledge is treasure, and entrepreneurs—led by hope—its dogged hunters.
The Way of Hope
Hope — the ultimate motivational emotion — propels each of us forward, and indicates when we veer off of the optimal path to our value-mapped destination. All action is future-oriented and therefore speculative by nature, requiring faith in a perceptual model of an unknowable future. When we take action, and the results play out in a way consistent with our intentions, then we experience positive emotions, and are motivated to move further forward by the hope of experiencing more good feelings. In this way, goal achievement reinforces our patterns of action. Contrarily, when our actions cause consequences divorced from our goals, we experience negative emotions, and are motivated to change course by the hope of avoiding more bad feelings. Failure gives us pause to reconsider our trajectory through lived experience, and the systems of value mapping us through life. In human action: pleasure is our preacher, and pain is our teacher. Or, to cite the stellar lyrics of Muse:
“Our hopes and expectations. Black holes and revelations.”
Values determine not only where we focus our attention, but also how we filter our perceptions. Goals, by definition, are the valued ends of games we play. In the Selective Attention Experiment, scientists proved that focused attention can blind us to most other aspects of being when engaged in goal-directed action. This means that our values not only tell us where to look, but also partially determine what we see. In any given situation, if you’re feeling hopeless or lost, you could be the victim of bad circumstances, or you may just be blind to the pathway forward due to a disvaluation of goals, since goal-setting in part determines your perceptions. Attention is directed and refracted through the circuity of our values, an intersubjective reality which we communicate with humanity’s most important tool—money.
Money is a tool of value expression: it is used to denominate market exchange values (prices) and is a medium by which we communicate interpersonal values. When you decide a good or service is sufficiently valuable relative to its current price, you buy it, and the market responds by producing more of what you purchase or causing its price to rise (or both). Through buying, the interpersonal values and action patterns of producers you buy from are energized, since your actions help achieve their goal of revenue generation. Selling, of course, causes the reverse: declining prices, less production, or a general devitalization of producer values and action patterns (or all three). In this way, trade reshapes the relevance of elements in the world around us.
Reality: A Realm of Relevance
Most members of Western Civilization conceive the world from a materialist viewpoint, yet the reality of human experience is perhaps best understood as a realm of relevance. Although our surroundings are composed of matter, we perceive them as what matters in the sequences of our goal-directed actions. When we press the accelerator on an automobile and it moves forward, knowledge of its inner-workings are irrelevant to our goal of transportation. But when the vehicle has a mechanical failure, its inner-workings become quite relevant, since they now impede our goal of forward motion. The goal of innovation and civilization, then, is to make the operations critical to want-satisfaction less relevant to our active awareness, thereby freeing up our limited attention spans to focus on ever-more valuable aims. As Alfred North Whitehead poetically elaborated this pathway toward civilization:
“It is a profoundly erroneous truism repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they’re making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking about what we’re doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”
Civilization, to be sustainable, must be maximally free from compulsion. Control over the primary economic frame of reference — money — means central banks can compulsively reshape the relevance of objects for players in the socioeconomic landscape. As a medium through which mankind conveys value, money is a motivational and perceptual tool penultimate to our own five senses. When someone rests their drink on a table, it is a tool to them. At the same time, that same table can be an obstacle to someone being paid to jump over it. Objects only matter in context of our goal-directed actions. Therefore, a compulsory command over money is the power to (at least somewhat) reconfigure relevance within the minds of human beings and rewrite history. As Mises explains in his Magnum Opus Human Action:
“The course of history is determined by the actions of individuals and by the effects of these actions. The actions are determined by value judgements of the acting individuals, i.e., the ends which they were eager to attain, and by the means which they applied for the attainment of these ends.”
Since attainment of money is such a major goal in life (private property rights are a territorial imperative), control over money means central banks possess the power to twist our valuations, perceptions, and goal orientations. Monopolized money mutilates our sense of meaning. Cowering to centralized control over money forfeits all hope of humanity forming a free civilization.
The Destabilization of Civilization
Freedom is held to be the highest value of Western Civilization, where individual sovereignty is superordinate to state sovereignty. Pricing systems, denominated in money, are primary determinants of the configuration of relevance in a free world. Relevance is always a relative and dynamic quality, and in the sphere of exchange it is sculpted by prices. We can think of prices as communication tools for gathering or dispersing attention to the things markets want satisfied or the problems its participants want solved.
As prices increase (inflation), more attention is drawn to resolving the underlying “want” each represents by dissuading buying and incentivizing selling. In a free market, this is a healthy function, as price increases indicate wants which demand to be satisfied. But when price increases are artificially imposed through currency depreciation, they do not reflect real wants for which the market demands satisfaction (except perhaps an unarticulated want to eliminate central banking). In a non-manipulated market, prices tend to decline naturally (deflation) as we become smarter and better at satisfying wants. As prices deflate, more attention is liberated to seek satisfaction of higher value wants for society. In this way, central bank induced inflation pumps up our socioeconomic problems and destabilizes civilization: an ironic outcome for a “stability providing” institution. Deflation shrinks our problems by lowering prices away from our active awareness, freeing us to focus on higher value aims, and letting us grow more civilized (as Whitehead so brilliantly said in the above quote). To state the argument succinctly:
Artificial price inflation is destabilizing.
Natural price deflation is civilizing.
Inflation is compulsory and invisible theft—an insidious enemy of hope and an amplifier of socioeconomic problems. When people feel that they are free and able to significantly influence the courses of their lives, they naturally develop higher hopes for the future. Freedom matters for sustainable social cohesion and skill-building. By placing freedom at the pinnacle of our social value hierarchy — as Western Civilization was meant to — we engender an environment most conducive to cooperative problem-solving at both the individual and institutional levels. All force by fiat runs counter to this core principle. A more hopeful world is equal to liberty minus legislative force. As Bastiat wrote in his infamous antistate treatise The Law:
“Try to imagine a regulation of labor imposed by force that is not a violation of liberty; a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of property. If you cannot reconcile these contradictions, then you must conclude that the law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice.”
Lack of unwarranted legislation in human affairs leaves us free to engage in the activities we find relevant and meaningful. Liberty lets us render more satisfaction from life, and generate more wealth through work. Intuitively, a world where everyone works on what they love is better economically, culturally, and spiritually. Freedom from compulsion is an essential ingredient of this ideal state. Vividly visualize your highest hopes and dreams and I am sure you will find freedom as an indispensable element of your day-to-day existence. But this fading remnant of the American dream is diametric to our world’s present financial nightmare caused by inflationary fiat currency.
Inflation is Despair
In the world today, the rules of money are bent and broken to favor a few cantillionaires at the expense of everyone else. This has the consequence of sucking hope out of society, since no matter how well citizens run their personal or business affairs, they are perpetually pushed further off the path of progress to their valued ends. In life, progress feels the best, and hope for more propels us forward. Central banking inverts hope by causing a persistent regression of civilization through the distortion of price inflation.
No matter how productive society may become, or how many problems its entrepreneurs may solve, central banks steal vast swaths of economic surplus by imposing “positive price inflation” through fiat currency counterfeiting at scale. Further, and more devastatingly, these proceeds stolen from entrepreneurs are increasingly used to fund police states and perpetual warfare worldwide. The dishonest money we use today is asymmetric, and we are all victims of the most colossal fraud in history. Truly I tell you, inflation is most accurately described as any or all of these five malevolent acts:
- Taxation without Representation
- A Legally Enforced Injustice
- A Violation of Natural Law (Inborn Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property)
- An Act of Moral Turpitude
Fiat currency supply inflation perpetually plunders the economic surplus of productive people, no matter how hard they work. Always turning up the treadmill of inflation to outpace the real economy’s productivity gains leaves people utterly hopeless. Debasing currencies forces everyone to fight their economic battles uphill on an ever-steepening slope: costs keep rising, wealth disparities keep widening, and laws keep convoluting. Inflation is toxic to truthful pricing, the natural environment, and virtue-seeking. Without accurate prices, relevance becomes more a matter of dictate than discovery. By siphoning away people’s private property rights, incentives to care for the Earth and its many diverse ecologies are broken, leading to mass pollution. And since value is more easily gained under a fiat currency standard through political positioning instead of problem-solving, deception is rewarded, and development of virtue is largely abandoned. Modern civilization has come so far in so many ways, yet inflation remains as our prime impetus to despair.
When you come to see the truth of fiat currency— a game with ever-shifting rules designed to disfavor those already dispossessed in the socioeconomic hierarchy—it becomes clear why its victims are constantly drained of morale and all hope for a more fortunate future. Central banking is an economic tyranny: a top-down bureaucracy built on lies and theft, built to maximize the value of its shareholders at any cost; it is a monopoly that enriches itself by depreciating our money. As the Red Queen told Alice in Wonderland:
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”
A New Hope
Stripped of the sound money necessary for forward economic progress, and its associated positive emotions, citizens holding their savings in fiat currency are plagued by hopelessness. In this sense, and in many ways, Bitcoin is a new hope for the world. First, Bitcoin restores economic independence to entrepreneurs by giving them a way to store wealth that cannot be plundered. Working-class people now have a savings medium that does not force them to take unnecessary risks or extend their working lives in a race to outpace inflation. Second, each incremental unit of reservation demand for Bitcoin is decremental to fiat currency, since to save Bitcoin you must divest your fiat. A shrinking market value for dishonest money can only benefit humanity, since fiat currency is the stealth funding source for every dictator, world war, and internment camp in human history. By nullifying the inflation-financing of government militarization, Bitcoin represents a restoration of hope for the retreat of global warfare and (re)advancement of civilization. Finally, by disrupting the institution through which politicians enrich themselves and externalize costs — the central bank — Bitcoin forces governments to be more accountable to the preferences of their citizens. In a Bitcoin denominated world, citizens would be treated more like government customers than slaves. Honest money empowers the realization of all our high hopes for civilization.
Such dramatic change can seem scary to people who are generally conservative. Those comfortable in the relative stasis of their socioeconomic surroundings are often reluctant to “rock the boat” even when inflation ensures it is (gradually then suddenly) sinking. Central banking is critically dependent on an ignorant and passive citizenry to perpetually perpetrate its scheme of plundering our private property rights to the benefit of their shareholders. This parasitic institution preys on the capital entrepreneurs accumulate as a buffer against uncertainty in the aim of maximizing its own shareholder value. Our complacency gives the entropy externalized by fiat currency inflation an incubation period to infect our socioeconomic fabric, thus causing the future of civilization to become less certain with each new dollar produced. Inflation is a legally justified policy of plunder injecting disharmony into the natural human capacity for collaboration. Unfortunately, such a policy is orthodox, as Mises writes:
“Economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics… economics as such is a challenge to the conceit of those in power.”
Uncertainty is entropy, and money is an insurance policy on the uncertainty of the future. Since money can be used to buy anything in the marketplace, it is an instrument of pure optionality and the most effective tool for dealing with uncertainty. By confiscating money through inflation, central banks maximize certainty (negentropy) for their shareholders in the form of profits, growth, and dividends, all while externalizing uncertainty (entropy) onto society in the form of price distortions, capital misallocations, and warfare.
Entropy is an ineradicable property of thermodynamic reality; when its imbalances grow too great through forced redistributions, our socioeconomic institutions can rupture. Razing our intersubjective structures is this way is the essence of social revolution: a dissolution of social conventions, an upending of our venerated institutions, and a defiance of the values which previously provided our bearings. All sinister yet unintended consequences arising from misguided attempts by central banks to suppress the entropy of prices and employment. Fortunately, Bitcoin can help us eliminate the enforced socioeconomic entropy imbalances caused by central banking.
To most effectively contend with uncertainty at scale, entrepreneurs — our economic heroes — need untrammeled liberty and a sound frame of reference for values. “Measure twice, cut once” is the most important mantra of every effective entrepreneur. With Bitcoin, we move away from an economic system premised on “stable prices” and toward one based on stable measurements of value. Imposing price and employment stability, the (ostensible) purpose of central banking, is ignorant of entropy, and an exacerbation of long-run volatility. Bitcoin is engineered in accordance with the unavoidable entropic realities of price discovery, unemployment, and growth instability. Bitcoin is money rooted in thermodynamics, optimized for measurement stability:
If we hope to thrive in this universe, we cannot centrally barricade unstoppable flows of entropy, and must instead learn to harness this innate cosmological force in a decentralized way.
Righting the Ship
The way of decentralization is the free market: a forum of free experimentation where problem-solvers make wagers to try their hands at resolving entropy for society. Entrepreneurial entropy resolution comes in the forms of want satisfaction and innovation. True entrepreneurs are those who play with fire and learn from their mistakes, growing the civilizational treasury of knowledge in the process. Entrepreneurs are tinkerers pursuing positive payoff convexities while hoping not to get burned, yet contributing to the enlightenment of us all of us when they do occasionally go up in flames. Tinkering is antifragile action that transmutes randomness into revelations. As Nassim Taleb states in the opening lines of his masterwork Antifragile:
“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, and chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.”
My hope is that Bitcoin will help entrepreneurs regain their economic antifragility by giving them the ability to store savings in a plunder-proof money, and discouraging undue debt accumulation. Maximally sovereign, problem-solving-entrepreneurs, fortified by sound savings, are our best fighting force against eternal entropy. Let us honor them as true heroes, and disavow the heinous bureaucrats undercutting their achievements through unnecessary legislation and inflation. Let liberty, not legislators, lead us.
A leaderless civilization is, for the first time, possible with Bitcoin. As a means of preserving wealth through political sea-changes by perfecting our private property rights in money, Bitcoin gives the world great hope for renewing virtuosity. Perfected private property rights are prerequisite to the proper placement of freedom, growth, and responsibility in our social hierarchy of values. My hope is that Bitcoin will help civilization permanently emblazon entrepreneurship and virtue-seeking as its highest values, as was true for some ancient Roman Stoics. There are no final answers to the world’s unlimited problems: our only hope is to empower more and more problem-solvers. Entrepreneurship is problematic to problems, and therefore our greatest hope. To this end, Bitcoin is money purpose-built for entrepreneurial accountability, adventurousness, and (mental and financial) enrichment.
Bitcoin suffers no kings. A money uniquely characterized by a firmly fixed finitude of supply, Bitcoin is capable of communicating an infinity of economic and interpersonal values without being politicized, thereby bringing an unprecedented harmony to human action across spacetime. In Bitcoin, only our ideas matter, not our egos. Although entropic sailing is never smooth, a money composed by principles of pure justice pushes us all to become more competent by facilitating an equitable arena for economic competition and cooperation. Removing the attack surface for would-be-plunderers of money is a great leap forward for the potential proliferation and moralization of civilization. Bitcoin imparts a renewed hope for humanity as we navigate ever-deeper into the impenetrable horizons of the future.
Hope is the wind sweeping us all across the endless spatiotemporal seas. Navigation by strong values, and seeking their instantiation in our characters as virtue, is the only way we can advance ourselves and our civilization. Seen this way, Bitcoin is a battle ground to restore freedom, truth, and virtue in the world. In this global campaign for liberty, our strategy is simple: hold our savings in the hardest money in history to reconstitute hope for the billions of sorrowful souls worldwide, and all the generations yet to come into being. Where our money goes, our minds naturally follow, leading each of us down paths we find uniquely meaningful and relevant: hopefully into our own entrepreneurial pursuits to profitably satisfy the wants of our fellow human beings. Through Bitcoin, we can rediscover the value of unencumbered entrepreneurship—the idyllic principle underlying Western Civilization.
Saving in honest money takes the intellectual, political, and philosophical wind out of the sails of dishonest money, letting us right the “socioeconomic ship” once and for all. In its ascent, Bitcoin promises to decapitalize the overly complex (by design) monetary, legal, and tax authorities encumbering entrepreneurial skill-building expeditions today. By defraying frictions to free trade, Bitcoin gives the world hope for a future characterized by true freedom.
Hope is the wind which moves us forward. Fiat currency is a false tempest: a destructive windstorm tragically affecting our civilization. By saving in Bitcoin we raise our sails steadfastly as entrepreneurs racing toward sunnier skies.
Bitcoin is Hope.
Thank you for reading Bitcoin is Hope.
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Thank you for feedback during the writing process:
My sincerest gratitude to these amazing minds:
@real_vijay, Saifedean Ammous, Brandon Quittem, Dan Held, Naval Ravikant, @NickSzabo4, Nic Carter, @MartyBent, Pierre Rochard, Anthony Pompliano, Chris Burniske, @MarkYusko, @CaitlinLong_, Nik Bhatia, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Stephan Livera, Peter McCormack, Gigi, Hasu, @MustStopMurad, Misir Mahmudov, Mises Institute, John Vallis, @FriarHass, Conner Brown, Ben Prentice, Aleksandar Svetski, Cryptoconomy, Citizen Bitcoin, Keyvan Davani, @RaoulGMI, @DTAPCAP, Parker Lewis, @Rhythmtrader, Russell Okung, @sthenc, Nathaniel Whittemore, @ck_SNARKs, Trevor Noren, Cory Klippsten, Knut Svanholm @relevantpeterschiff, Preston Pysh, @bezantdenier
And anyone else I forgot :)