Bitcoin presents an opportunity for us to redesign our relationship with money in a way that's conducive to being good citizens.
Rule X: Plan And Work Diligently To Maintain A Healthy Relationship With Money
A REIMAGINATION OF “BEYOND ORDER” BY JORDAN PETERSON THROUGH THE LENS OF BITCOIN.
This writing mirrors the exact chronological structure of Beyond Order offering reflection through a Bitcoin lens. This is chapter 10 of 12. If you read the book it adds a second dimension. All quotes credited to Jordan Peterson. All reflections inspired by Satoshi Nakamoto.
The Unbearable Date
“They sit there, distant, arms crossed and eyes rolling. Neither will give an inch.”
Bitcoiners can be a handful to deal with, especially if you’re stuck with one on a date. We can’t stop blabbering about our nerd money that is going to change the world. Many dates have died at the incessant drumbeat of Bitcoin nerd money talk. It can be hard to keep a lid on obsession, especially when attention is supposed to be lavished on the person across the table rather than on Bitcoin. Be wary of becoming society’s unbearable date.
“How do you find the mystery in the other person over the long run? … For each person is in truth an unfathomable enigma.”
Bitcoiners obsess over every nuanced element of Bitcoin because while it is understandable at a high level, it seems to exist on so many planes of resolution. Falling down the rabbit hole is a continuous rediscovery over the long run. What makes it more interesting is not only the seemingly infinite depth of Bitcoin as it is, but the unlimited forward-looking potential as new layers are built on top of it. Bitcoin’s breadth and depth make it an unfathomable enigma worthwhile because its core principle is publishing the truth.
“The person whom you have made your confidant is now in a position to fulfill your desires, but could equally deprive you of what you want, embarrass you for wanting it, or hurt you in some manner, because you have now made yourself vulnerable.”
At a base level, bitcoin ownership offers the opportunity to fulfill your financial desires. But if you do not understand it fully, there is a part of you that is fearful it may deprive or embarrass you socially for wanting it, if it all goes south. Humans are genetically driven for social acceptance. This runs at odds with bitcoin because ownership means you are a very early adopter, a societal outlier. And that makes you vulnerable.
“Trust in turn trumps cynicism, and true trust is not naivete.”
Trust is priceless. It’s also nowhere to be found in modern society. Adults are vigilant cynics, often perceived as jaded by the younger generation who risk being the naive fool. But trust is not naivete. Trust requires vulnerability in another party. And when you find something you can truly trust, the cynicism fades away. Bitcoin is the internet of trust, and money is its killer application. If you are feeling cynical about the ease with which your dollars are made, perhaps it is because you know you cannot trust it.
Bitcoin tests whether you are courageous enough to trust yourself. Not everyone is ready for that. But there will be a tipping point where national currency debasement loses your trust so much that it becomes worthwhile to invest the time to understand the ins and outs of how to create, manage, and secure your Bitcoin private keys. You will arrive at the painful truth which all Bitcoiners realize: “I could have had X more Bitcoin had I just figured it out sooner.” But better late than never.
Christ In The Candle
“They were both at least nominally Christian, so they were married with a ceremony reflecting that. During their exchange of vows, the bride and groom held a lit candle aloft between them.”
Everyone on earth is married to money. It’s an unavoidable fact of life. The trouble is that money is losing its quality. So it is being treated with less respect. I remember when you could buy high quality goods at $10. Nowadays it seems like anything under $20 is disposable. Money used to be something acquired and held with a great deal of respect. Now it’s distributed out of a Pez dispenser and spent frivolously. Money used to be a valuable, high-quality reward. Think of it like marriage. What type of marriage do you want? Most people prefer a mutually beneficial relationship focused on long-term success. The same thinking applies to money.
“So, we illuminate the Tree of Life, at or near December 21, the darkest time of the year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.”
January 3, 2009, Bitcoin went live and Satoshi left an Easter egg in the inaugural block that reads “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” It was a quiet illumination in the corner of the internet during a dark period of monetary recklessness.
“But a relationship… should not be a question of one or the other as winner, or even each alternating in that status, in an approximation of fairness. Instead… decide that each and both are subordinate to a principle…”
Fiat is money by rulers who decide the rules. The rulers are the permanent winner, the Cantillon Effect benefits the royal court. The primary aspect of fairness in fiat is its acceptance. Per Ross Stevens, “We finally got a monetary system governed by rules, not rulers.” Controllers of fiat currencies decide the winners and losers before the game is cast. The power of decentralization ensures an equal playing field. The catch is that the Bitcoin network only allows those players on the field who are willing to subordinate themselves to principles of equal treatment.
“That is what the ceremony of the candle represents: Neither participant rules the other. Instead, both bow to the principle of illumination… both should be oriented toward the most positive future possible, and agree that speaking the truth is the best pathway forward.”
America has forgotten how free markets operate. To borrow a line from HBO’s “The Wire,” “We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy’s pocket.” This is the end game of opaque money: participants are oriented toward the most positive outcome in the short run and agree that hiding the truth is acceptable. Alex Svetski follows the fiat audit trail of misallocated capital that seeps into every major industry. And sadly, we now bear the burden of the long-term consequences of this fiat behavior. For anyone determined on calling bitcoin a pointless waste of effort and energy, read his piece on what fiat has done to society and compare your notes.
“Furthermore, if you have an escape route, there will not be enough heat generated in the chamber to find yourself jointly trapped in to catalyze the change necessary…”
Printing money to solve our problems is not an escape route. You cannot print productivity, jobs, nor Gross Domestic Product. And if you try, you can only fake it for so long. That’s just moving gravy around a plate. The question is how do you grow the pie? The heat comes from innovation. That’s the America that inspired the world and catalyzed the change every country has since emulated. Bitcoin is the escape route and it’s been incubating in the chamber for over a decade. Fiat becomes weaker with each passing day while bitcoin becomes stronger. Ever tried to fight gravity?
“There are three fundamental states of social being: tyranny (you do what I want), slavery (I do what you want), or negotiation.”
Bitcoin is the permissionless negotiation towards better money. One that promises the reduction — if not elimination — of tyrants and slaves. The most sensible countries are negotiating coexistence with Bitcoin. The least receptive to Bitcoin prefer the tyrant or slave model of citizenship. Bitcoin is a governmental litmus test.
“The husband was dying, and his wife was trimming his nails — a little too close. With each clip, there was blood… That is the end stage of an unbelievably deceitful and brutal relationship. It is subtle. It does not announce itself loudly as murderous.”
Inflation is devious because it is taxation’s dangerous invisible cousin. Benjamin Franklin knew that the only certainties in life are death and taxes… notice how inflation even evaded this list. Inflation is so insidious it managed to escape even this famous quote. Inflation is subtle. Inflation does not announce itself loudly as murderous, it just arrives as a “new normal” one day. And that one day is now. Our government does not have an answer to solve our problems, so it must employ monetary tactics built on deceit creating an increasingly bitter brutal relationship with its citizens.
Negotiation, Tyranny, Or Slavery
“Negotiation is exceptionally difficult. We already discussed the problems associated with determining what you want and then mustering up the courage to tell someone exactly that.”
Bitcoin is no joy ride. It is the fight for freedom. Freedom is costly to maintain just like Proof-of-work. Affordable freedom is like cheap trust — an oxymoron. “The Blocksize War” by Jonathan Bier summarizes just how fierce the battle for freedom must be. America began losing its way when we started prioritizing freebies and forgetting the price of freedom.
Fortunately, freedom is being restored as Bitcoin is being negotiated across the world in boardrooms, dinner tables, and social media. It is an exceptionally difficult negotiation but it has become an imperative conversation. This includes whether an individual, corporation, or government should put it on their balance sheet by purchasing it, or put it on their income statement by integrating their business with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin itself is provably antifragile. People mistake a culture that constantly fights as toxic when in truth that is the price of maintaining freedom and a well-informed consensus based upon the conclusion of a multitude of inputs. Groupthink is how you arrive at the Nazis rising to power. In order for a system to be resilient, it must constantly deal with threats both foreign and domestic. It takes real courage to speak the truth in today’s climate and Bitcoin only knows how to speak the truth.
“It is not rude. It is a cruel act of love. Persistence under such conditions is a necessity, a terrible necessity, akin to surgery.”
Bitcoin’s persona is the honey badger, i.e., the Chuck Norris of the animal kingdom. The honey badger is a heat-seeking missile that knows exactly what it wants. Gold is the sacrificial lamb to the bitcoin honey badger. Bitcoin could not be effective without subsuming the lessons taught by gold. It will be savage but also a cruel, necessary act of love.
“Do not foolishly confused ‘nice’ with ‘good.’”
Nice guys finish last. That may be an overstatement. Nonetheless, the world is full of nice guys whose mission is to remain locked in the sweet spot of comfort. Bitcoin is full of good guys, not nice guys. Good guys have the capacity to inflict controlled chaos. Good guys are willing to leave the comfort zone to ward off encroaching demons, both foreign and domestic.
Nice people often view the Bitcoin community as mean-spirited. There is truth in that, but don’t conflate our lack of manners with a lack of goodness. If anything, our lack of “nice” indicates our potential to be “good.”
“… if you are married to someone, you often see them at their worst, because you have to share the genuine difficulties of life with them. You save the easy parts for your adulterous partner… You do not have a life with someone when you have an affair with them. You have an endless array of desserts…”
Bitcoin benefits those willing to make a long-term commitment. Altcoins thrive by exploiting the short-term mercenary mentality. Altcoins are the affair of the crypto world. That’s not to say nothing beyond Bitcoin will ever have value. It’s simply to state that Bitcoin is undeniably the most rewarding long-term play because it solves the single greatest issue plaguing the world — sound money.
Those that have been in the arena for two or more halvings have battle scars. They’ve witnessed Bitcoin at its worst and they’ve ridden it out. People who tempt an affair with Bitcoin end up lesser. This is why Bitcoin maximalists keep it simple and HODL. Bitcoiners are the Warren Buffett of the crypto space. We let time do the work. Doing nothing exposes another counterintuitive aspect of Bitcoin: it turns out that doing nothing is exceptionally difficult in our fast-paced ADHD world immersed in pump-and-dump strategies promoted by fiat thinking.
“Traditional roles are far more helpful than modern people, who vastly overestimate their tolerance for freedom and choice, tend to realize. In a less rapidly mutable society, everyone has some sense of their respective duties. That does not eliminate the tension (nothing eliminates the tension), but at least there is a template. If there is no template for what either of you should be doing when you live together with someone, then you are required to argue…”
Sound money stands the test of time. It fulfills the social contract of ensuring future generations have the opportunity for a better life. Tech is rewriting the way the game is played, but that does not mean we can do away with, or make wholesale changes to, all the rules without thinking it through carefully.
Bitcoin is a template for sound money that is clearly defined. It took thousands of years to figure it out. And because we are technologically advanced we believe we are smarter than our ancestors and that their wisdom is obsolete. That cannot be farther from the truth. Modern man is filled with the hubris of Icarus believing everything new is all we need and everything old can be done away with. Look around, is everything looking good for you? How about your children’s generation? Everything is not chill, largely because we’ve disrespected tradition believing it’s just nonsensical children’s stories when in fact it is a proven formula despite its flaws.
Human beings have painstakingly developed templates for life passing them through the millennia in the form of stories. If we do not use these templates we are fools. Bitcoin respects tradition in the process of integrating technology. It’s not new for newness’s sake. It’s an alchemical upgrade to millennia of hard-fought wisdom.
“If you can successfully fight the war that establishes harmony in the domestic economy, you have both won a major victory.”
Within the decade, nation-states will decide their relationship to Bitcoin. Those who adopt it stand to win a major victory on the world stage. Countries that look at Bitcoin as an opportunity rather than a threat stand to benefit the most. Those who fight Bitcoin commit to extending and pretending their existing system is actually a functional long-term strategy.
“What matters, however, is not whether you fight (because you have to fight), but whether you make peace as a consequence. To make peace is to manage a negotiated solution.”
Bitcoiners tend to be bulls in the China shop. So much so that the arguments can jeopardize close relationships. Maturity means negotiating peaceful outcomes. It’s not about adopting some woo-woo lovey-dovey mentality, but our best outcome is to negotiate a peaceful solution by bringing in our communities rather than concussing each other.
How will we negotiate with folks on the fence? How will we negotiate with skeptics? We all need to thoughtfully think through these questions. In my experience, shoving Bitcoin down people’s throats only makes matters worse. We need to patiently educate people knowing the current system screws over the majority. The truth is we are all discovering together how to make peace as a result of our war of words.
The concept of “Bitcoin citadels” is fantastic, but what makes it even better is knowing we brought along humanity as part of this consensus truth. It will be a fight but it does not require violence — it requires compelling speech and patience. People will get burned by fiat. This is an evitability. We just need to be there for our brothers and sisters.
“What all this means is that the problems of knowing what you want and discussing it with your partner must be solved before the romance in your relationship can be maintained.”
It’s one thing to silently own Bitcoin and quite another to discuss it openly with friends and family. You will be labeled the crazy person. But Bitcoiners are accustomed to making sacrifices, especially for the purpose of a better future including those we care most about. We know there is no possibility for society to move forward in a healthy manner with talks of UBI and unlimited money printing. The only thing that is starting to matter is controlling the political narrative in order to control the printing of money, instead of focusing on actually building a better world. You can’t make a better world by politically redistributing wealth.
“Romance is play, and play does not take place easily when problems of any sort arise. Play requires peace, and peace requires negotiation.”
We are in very troubling times. Peace seems to slip away by the day. Bitcoiners are negotiating a new peace in order to return to a world in which people can be healthy. We can be prosperous when we can save our time. Time is required to play. Inflationary currencies steal time. It’s no wonder no one is having fun anymore. You cannot have fun when you have no time to enjoy your life. Relying on governments to employ inflationary tactics to save the economy is akin to calling the gas station to put out the fire.
Bitcoiners experience a sense of great fulfillment because we are able to store our time, to save for our future. That gives us an opportunity for peace and play. The Bitcoin rabbit hole is a place that continues to amaze me. It reminds me of the wonderment most experience as a child at play. If you’re feeling like a jaded empty shell of a soul perhaps it is because your money is squeezing the life out of you. Bitcoin is a supercharged community because each day fills us with compounding knowledge we can bank on.
“Decide what you need to keep yourself satisfied… And maybe — just maybe — you will maintain the love of your life and you will have a friend and confidant, and this cold rock we live on at the far end of the cosmos will be a little warmer and more comforting than it would otherwise be.”
Bitcoiners are a highly motivated bunch. Dig deep enough and you will discover it means a lot more to us than price. New Bitcoiners often join for the “sick gains” but as they become educated they stick around for the revolution. This world is becoming an increasingly dystopian cold rock and Bitcoin offers a community attached to something real that produces a great deal of satisfaction.
Plan and work diligently to maintain a healthy relationship with money.
This is a guest post by Nelson Chen. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.