Quality Or Equality?

Quality Or Equality?

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Primary Issue”. Click here to get your Annual Bitcoin Magazine Subscription.

Click here to download a PDF of this article.

Which way Western Man?

“Equality… belongs essentially to decline: the chasm between man and man, class and class, the multiplicity of types, the will to be one’s self, and to distinguish one’s self out — that which I call pathos of distance — characterizes every strong age.”

- Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

It’s often thought the grand struggle of the modern world is between right and left, Republican and Democrat, or liberal against conservative. Libertarians take a more nuanced view. Like them, I used to think it was the individual and individualist against the collective and the collectivists — I wrote about this dimension in the UnCommunist Manifesto last year.

While there is truth in all of this, I’ve come to realize there is a much deeper and more important axis around which we all must orient.

Quality versus Equality

In this essay, I lay out the case for why the former is the basis for both healthy individuals and a healthy society, and how the latter is the harbinger of corruption and decay. From there, you can make your own mind up about which political and philosophical modalities are best pursued in this life, and which, if any, Bitcoin is most aligned with.

Let us begin this exploration with an analysis on life.

The Eternal Battle

A battle rages on, across the universe. Order on the one hand, chaos on the other; life versus entropy. It has and always will endure, and despite the fact that we cannot change it, we each play our part. It’s in our DNA. Humans are the most sophisticated vessels in the eternal battle against entropy, and life seeks to perpetuate itself through us.

Why do I call it a battle? Think about it. Life literally starts as hundreds of millions of sperm competing for the chance to reach the female egg only to be faced with the enormous task of fertilizing it successfully, following which the DNA of your mother and father have to match, fuse and unite to miraculously — over nine months inside a human slow-cooker — become you: the living, breathing, thinking being that is sitting here reading this now. This competition has one winner and many losers over many iterations. You are literally the product of a successful territorial conquest: the only sperm among billions who survived, claimed the egg, and thus changed the destiny of both progenitors.

Click the image above to subscribe!

The reward for winning against millions of other sperm, bonding with the egg, and creating life is your successful individuation! You are born into this world, but before you can celebrate that fact, you’re ripped out of the cozy womb, into the harsh light of reality and faced with… a new competition. Only this time, there are billions of other successful territorial conquests, like you, each seeking to individuate themselves in a new, more complex dimension. They are all driven by a similar set of instincts, yearning to claim new territory, seeking to bring order to chaos and scouring the Earth to plant their seed, so that they can feel whole, and ultimately, so that life can continue its epic battle against entropy.

This is the ultimate goal of life: continuation. You, me, all of us are vessels to that end. Life implants us with dreams, instincts, and desires to increase its chance of successful perpetuation. For many, these dreams remain fantasies and many desires remain unfulfilled. But for some, their dreams come true and it’s those that propel life onwards — the Alexanders, the Caesars, the Jobs, the Newtons, the da Vincis of the world. The empires they built, the legacies they left, and the lives they lived serve as a reminder that life continues not through being average, but through individuation, the act of which is the separation of oneself from the mass.

Why? Because by reaching and expanding, by claiming new territory, life takes another step forward in the fight against entropy. When you set a new standard, the whole of life becomes larger because everyone else now knows what’s possible. Roger Bannister was the first man to break the four-minute mile. What’s interesting is not that he was the first to do something everyone thought was impossible, but that within a year of doing so, another 24 people also ran a four-minute mile, and since then almost 2,000 have.

Before Roger, it was not even considered possible. After Roger, it’s become another standard. The lesson? When you win, life wins.

The Territorial Imperative

Territory is at the heart of evolutionary history. Life wants to claim space and to transform it — and humans are its prime vessels. From the forests where our ancestors first carved out shelters to modern civilizations that sprawl across continents, we had and always will have an impulse to claim, cultivate, and conquer space.

This territorial imperative is more than just a primal urge. It’s a deep-seated instinct for growth. It’s the apothos that drove Alexander the Great to march to the ends of the known world and compelled Magellan to circumnavigate the Earth on a ship made of wood. It’s not just a desire to control resources but a yearning to claim space, and, by extension, claim our destiny.

Think about the words here; etymology tells us a lot. A destiny is a destination, which is a place. A place is another way of saying territory. We are literally wired for this. It’s in our bodies, in our language, and in the very way we conceptualize and interact with the world. This is why private property works so well. It’s not just a “rational fiction” made up by the human mind, but an abstracted biological imperative. It is a fact of nature and a fact of life that applies beyond just humans. It’s how nature and social species of all kinds develop a dynamic equilibrium with competitors, with other species and with their environment. It’s how the “good” is able to thrive and grow, while the “bad” is discarded and recycled. The following image from a recent study of wolf packs denotes this. They require no “abstract rational fiction” or written constitution to enforce property rights. There is natural conflict at the borders (enmity), peace and homogeneity internally (amity) — and miraculously, it works.

Territory must be claimed and owned, which by definition creates insiders and outsiders. There is no equal access to or on territory, and the quality of the territory is not only a function of what is included within its borders, but also what is excluded. The ancients practiced ostracism as a form of punishment for those who did not abide by or conform to local customs and norms. Banishment from the community or the tribe was worse than any sort of confinement. It was the same principle in action.

Those who believe in common property are ignorant of this fact of life, and it’s why their narratives always break down and their experiments always fail.

Territory is inescapable, and the rule of claiming and maintaining it is quality.

When the quantity exceeds what the ordering force on the territory can handle, the quality will diminish and the territorial integrity will fall, opening the door to entropy. This is how dynamic equilibrium occurs in nature. The “border” is where the fight we discussed in the prior section occurs. You can’t just let everyone — or everything — in. There has to be a barrier to entry. This is also why there exist both economies and diseconomies of scale. Bigger is not always better. It’s the most adapted that matters, hence why truth, first principles, and alignment with natural order is so critical. Ignorance, lies, or deceit will lead you to make decisions that produce a lower-quality territory in all dimensions. It will lead you to an illusion of strength and right, when in reality you are weak and wrong. This is where Rome was in its twilight. It’s where the West finds itself today: confused, open, fractured, and territorially compromised.

A final note on territory: It’s not only physical but metaphysical. It includes the body, the mind and the spirit. It is psychological and emotional. Your territory starts with you. It radiates outward, and its size is proportional to the amount of life force that you can harness and channel. This is the will to power manifest, and it has not only shaped our evolutionary trajectory but also serves as a testament to life’s undying ambition to expand and imprint its essence wherever it can.

The lesson? When you expand, life expands.


Territory requires hierarchy. Hierarchy implies quality — at least a functional one does. Like territory, hierarchy is internally inclusive, and externally exclusive. It is far from equal or flat. It’s more like a pyramid, which requires a strong enough base to support a sharp tip.

What is a hierarchy and why can I be so sure that it matters? The answer is simple. It’s how all living organisms orient and organize their relationships to time and energy.

Time marches forward, and cannot be reversed. Energy is the currency of the universe. Living things are at all times, spending both. This is inescapable. The only question is “on what?” This is the essence of selection, which is a form of implicit prioritization. Selection is at times conscious but otherwise an unconscious valuation of an act, deed, or intent that ultimately either serves life or entropy.

Prioritization is by definition the formation of a hierarchy. You cannot do all things, all the time, all at once. You have to choose. To have the freedom of choice, carries with it the burden of responsibility: to say yes to one thing, and no to many others. You, me, all living things are ordering entities. We are always saying yes to some things at the exclusion of others. Sounds familiar? The sperm, the egg, and the creation of life.

Exclusion matters just as much as inclusion. Recall territory. Furthermore, some things are superior to others. The master to the apprentice, the adult to the child, the teacher to the student. To ignore this is to invert the natural order found in physical and biologically sound systems, or competent and meritocratically oriented social structures. Pecking orders are natural, and found across all living systems because life must select and prioritize.

So, if hierarchies will always form, the question is not whether they should exist, but “in what form are hierarchies most conducive to life”? As with most things, there is no “one” right way: Life is not so simple. There is a general shape, yes, but within it a spectrum. We exist in a complex world where hierarchies and methods for prioritization emerge across multiple dimensions. The pyramid analogy helps here.

The context it exists in will determine what the optimal size and breadth of the base is, and therefore how high it can reach, the pitch, the angle, and how sharp its point can be. If you’re building on unstable ground, you will need a stronger, larger, wider base to reach a similar height than if you’re building on stable ground, with a deep heritage or culture. On a uniquely stable territory, you can build more of an obelisk, and it will stand. The territory — which is not just “the place” — will determine the final style.

Can you have the wrong kind of hierarchy for a territory? Yes, of course. You can have top-heavy ones, you can have them built on quicksand, you can have them built from the wrong materials. I call these hierarchies by fiat. They are unnatural and exist not because they work, but because of some lofty decree. Like positioning a pyramid upside down and expecting it to stand strong. Such structures ultimately fall over, but while standing they suck up resources in a vain attempt to prove that up is down, down is up, and black is white. Entropy wins those battles quickly, because those experiments are inherently anti-life. They’re on the entropic side from the beginning. It’s why I call such anti-life ideologies “death-cult” ideologies.

The lesson here? Life promotes life. Entropy promotes entropy. There are hierarchies and modalities that favor life, and there are those that do not. Don’t be surprised to discover where each leads.

Quality over Quantity

We live in a world of excessive quantities, and ever-receding quality. Everywhere you turn, there is mass media, mass retail, mass politics, mass food, mass markets, mass social media, mass consumption, mass hysteria, mass medicine, mass money — mass everything. As a result, few of these things carry weight or value anymore. They are like worthless Zimbabwean, hyperinflated toilet paper money.

That which has quality, has weight and energy. Bitcoin is like this. It’s literally money backed by energy. Like gold, it has gravitas. It means something because it is scarce. When you hand someone a gold coin, you can feel it. There is something visceral about it. Bitcoin already carries a similar charge, despite having existed for only 14 years — imagine the charge it will carry in another half century of not changing.

Fiat on the other hand is very abstract. It can be created out of thin air and changed on a whim. It lacks weight and substance. It’s all conceptual. It’s why we call it “fiat”. It’s theatrical in nature. Think about the term “Quantitative Easing” for example. It’s the process of increasing the quantity of the money by making it easier to produce. This, of course, occurs at the expense of its promise and quality and makes the money “easy” or “soft”. People rightly do not trust it like they do a metal, and even less so when it’s just digits on a screen. This is why fiat money is in a death spiral. It is not only becoming more and more digital, but it carries no weight; it’s just the empty promise of a group of bureaucrats.

I will note that the digital nature of Bitcoin is a psychological challenge for many. While it has a fixed supply and absolute scarcity, it will take some time for people to get viscerally comfortable with it. This is also why Bitcoin’s value proposition lies in its resistance to change, not in its ability to “add new features”. Bitcoin is software, yes, but more importantly it’s money. People need to trust the promise of the money, and it will take time for Bitcoin to prove this.

Notwithstanding that fact, Bitcoin has scarcity, and scarcity is at the very root of quality. The more absolute or certain the scarcity, the higher the quality. This principle applies to money, property, art, relationships, or to the words you speak. Buying another NFT that anyone can screenshot is not real art but a mockery. An old painting from a deceased artist will be worth more than when he was alive. Many surface-level relationships will never compare to a few deep and meaningful ones. Talking too much inflates your speech and cheapens your words. The examples are endless. It’s why we have antiques and collectibles.

This is also why aphorisms are so powerful and why the greatest thinkers in history were not verbose, but tried to condense big ideas into as few words as possible. Nietzsche's work is so powerful because it cuts deep, like a sharp knife. It’s surgical. This is why the greatest leaders spoke little and took action. Alexander wasted no time and cut the Gordian Knot. Julius Caesar didn’t write prose, but instead said, “Veni Vidi Vici: I came, I saw, I conquered”. Leonidas, when told to surrender his arms, simply said, “Molon Labe: Come and take them”.

These people took the words they said seriously. In fact, the word “word” comes from the old Norse “wyrd”, which translates to “destiny”. The vikings understood words as incantations or the expression of an inner will. They wouldn’t just “say them” but would mean them because they led to a destiny. The word would precede an act, because it implied a commitment. It was either go or stay. There was no middle ground. No “try”. Do or do not.

Why do you think the Bell Curve meme is so popular? At a primal level, we all know that the “mid” is the enemy of life. It is the fence, the noncommittal “middle ground” of average.

If you’re alive, you either commit to the fight or run away fast. You either take the leap or you don’t touch the water at all. You put your heart and soul into it or you completely ignore it and check out. Quality comes from depth, from scarcity, and it manifests at the extremes.

The in-between is where life lacks color. Think about what happens when you mix all the colors together? You get gray. You get the lifeless color of the mid. The bland. The enemy of life. There’s a reason the gray goo is the thing that eats up life in science fiction.

I should note that nothing of what I am saying implies eradicating the mid. In fact, it’s impossible: A middle will always exist. What I am saying is that we need not focus on it, orient around it, or even worry about that dimension because quantity will always follow quality anyway!

Like certainty at the base of the pyramid of human needs, the mid is not the goal of life. Mids and masses naturally follow because extremities are for the few. In fact, if you focus on quality and orient for the extremes, you expand life and make more room for the mid. But if you focus on quantity, you will end up losing quality, and the long-term effect is actually shrinkage and therefore less territory or room for quantity. It has the opposite effect!

That’s what’s happening in the West today. It’s why birth rates are dropping and why the culture is being lost. Nobody wants to procreate and produce into hell or nihilism, demographics follow quality, as does everything else. There is less room being created because there is less of a focus on excellence. The bucket is getting smaller and the remains are turning into crabs.

The lesson here is quality > quantity. Less is more. We need not focus on the mid — it will take care of itself. Where there is quality, quantity will follow because it naturally moves outward to new frontiers and makes way for the inertia of the masses to follow.

80/20 → It’s the way of life.

Equality of Outcome or Opportunity?

How about neither?

“Injustice results as much from treating unequals equally as from treating equals unequally.”

Aristotle, Politics

I need not waste any time on “equality of outcome” because it is of course at the high end of insanity, but equality of opportunity, which many champion instead as a worthy pursuit. On deeper examination, it is also a deeply flawed idea. Flawed not because it’s inherently evil, but because it is a fantasy almost as stupid.

Think about it. How can two people, let alone eight billion, have the same opportunities? Let’s say we could somehow magically equalize the resources, climate, and the environment around us irrespective of where we are, so we all start with exactly the same thing. What do we do about our genetic differences? What about our natural talents and predispositions? Should we all be lobotomized at birth and programmed such that we have an equal array of talents? What about the resources passed down from our parents? Should some arbiter confiscate everything from the parents and distribute it to everyone else? Who would manage such a thing? What sort of cost would be involved in such redistribution? How would you ensure they don’t use that power to enrich themselves? Who should be given such power?

Obviously this is madness. The truth is that there can never be equality of opportunity. It is a fantasy. Equality, in all forms, and any pursuit toward it, simply kills life. The only outcome we’re equal in is death — when we flatline, literally, visually, graphically, and metaphorically speaking. Until then, life is a manifestation of inequality, and to live in accordance with it, we must embrace this truth and fact.

The best we can do as humans is strive to play fair games. Because fair games demand we grow and develop, they call upon the best from us. In a fair game, you have the battle of inequalities and the goal of the game is to win, i.e., to produce an unequal outcome. Losing in a fair game is also valuable, because when treated maturely, it is feedback. Participation awards destroyed this. Now everybody is a winner, even if they lost. It distorts our feedback mechanisms, and from there we come up with even more ridiculous ideas.

Modern equalitarianism in its many forms is full of examples. It’s a peculiar and artificial death-cult ideology that deviates from the historical norm. Its core tenet, that “all men are created equal” has taken root and gained an almost divine, cult-like status. People on both sides of the political spectrum pay homage to this idea, despite the fact that it is not only metaphysically impossible, but is clearly disproven by just looking around and observing human differences. We are not all equal; we are different. Ignoring reality doesn’t change that fact. It only leads to the suppression of quality where it matters, and worse, to Streisand-Frankenstein effects where stupidities such as “intersectionality” rise to fill the “diversity-void” left in the wake of this blind pursuit. It actually perverts the game of life and therefore people’s behavior downstream.

In fact, this is the fundamental distinction between life-affirming and death-cult philosophies. The former prioritize quality and fairness, while members of the latter prize equality. Period. The former recognize winners and losers. The latter, in trying to make everyone a winner, turn everyone into a loser.

There is a lot to say about Bitcoin, inequality, and fairness. It is a framework for a fair game, with fixed and very easily verifiable rules. Bitcoin’s unequal distribution is a reflection of the unequal and naturally uneven distribution of humans and access to information that they have.

For now, the lesson? You can have fairness, or equality. Not both.

Freedom or Equality?

Equality stands against not only quality, fairness, and excellence, but also freedom.

Freedom is counter to equality because as soon as you are free, you begin to de-equalize. The only way to equalize nature or humanity is to force it into an unnatural state. Another way of saying this is if you want equality, you must eradicate freedom. This is a paradox so evident that I don’t know how people remain oblivious to it, especially once it’s been pointed out. It takes some professional-level mental gymnastics to reconcile the two.

If you want excellence, freedom, quality, or vitality, you must learn the truth about equality. You must deprogram yourself and understand it for the anti-life lie that it is. These are strong words, yes. And they may hurt. They might call into question parts of your identity. That’s a good thing. It means you’re learning. The truth often burns in this way. It is an acid to falsehoods.

The West PSYOPed itself with the idea that “all men are created equal”. As we’ve established, there is no evidence for this. Not only are we all born genetically different, but we’re born to different cultures, territories, and eras. The only setting in which “all men are created equal” is the test tubes in human-growing labs from Huxley’s Brave New World. And even then, life finds a way to throw a spanner into the works of perfect “engineering” because life is variance. Ignoring this requires lying to ourselves, and lying about life or reality can only lead to decisions that increase entropy, which are in the end self-defeating.

The lesson here? You can have freedom, or equality. Not both.


If all of this is true, then why is equality so appealing and so persistent?

The answer lies in one of our most powerful tools. Narrative.

Humans are unique because of the stories we’re able to tell ourselves and share with others. We are conceptual creatures and both the human mind and body are wired to learn through stories. Experience, memory, dreams. These are all stories. Philosophy, politics, psychology. All are simply stories or elements of a story. History? A story. It’s in the word. Science too, is only useful within the context of a story. Outside of the why (a story), the study of matter does not matter.

Here’s what’s interesting. All stories have embedded within them both truth and lies, and all lies and truths are stories themselves. The closer the map (story) is to the territory (reality) the more useful the story. This is the purpose of truth. The further away, the less useful. This is why lying and deceiving have short legs.

Our left hemispheric brain — the often deluded, rationalizing part of our brain — is capable of both great analysis, and the creation of all sorts of rationalizations (stories). Some of these can be incredibly useful, but many can also be complete stupidities, cope, or delusion.

Equality is one such stupidity conjured up to hide the resentment some have for people and things more beautiful than them. Marxists are of this type. They have always been envious of a natural elite, and instead of competing with them or making their own selves better, they concoct elaborate stories of equality or equity to mask their envy, and psychologically justify (or even feel good about) bringing those people down.

They’ll force themselves to believe in this story until they have a taste of power, at which point the story begins to unravel. Their true desires, which were always there, pierce the veil and take hold of them. They become openly hateful and vengeful and spiteful. To deal with this, they must concoct new stories about “righteousness” or “justice” or fill-in-the-blanks. You saw this with the murders of the entire Russian royal family by the Bolsheviks, and the subsequent destruction of Russia by the communist regime over the next century. It was the same with the Maoists and every other deranged group that did the same.

Equalitarians are like the guy that’s been friend-zoned and secretly has feelings for the girl. He will rationalize away his feelings and lead himself to believe that he’s a friend, but if the girl ever texted him and said “I’m drunk and really horny”, his true drives would take over and the elaborate lie he’s told himself will fall apart, revealing the truth beneath it: He wants her. They want power, but because they’re unable to channel it, they have to find another way to take it. Equality is just the story being used. An elaborate lie a particular kind of person tells themself to, on the one hand, feel better about not being enough — which is one of the greatest human fears — and on the other, justify taking other people’s stuff or bringing them down to their level.

This is it. This is all.

The lesson here? True stories matter most.

The truth is we are not equal. Nothing in nature or life is, and if we do not live in accordance with life, it can only lead to death and decay . Quality is a story of growth, and therefore of life.

Equality in contrast, is a story of the opposite to growth, i.e., a map that pretends the territory does not exist. It’s like a man running east looking for a sunset. Such ignorance of reality can only lead to damage, destruction, and the opposite of growth, which is death.

What does this all have to do with Bitcoin?


First, the eternal battle.

Bitcoin itself lives at the nexus between chaos and order, and in that sense emulates something living. The tip of the Bitcoin blockchain is a place of constant battle between the order of a block and the entropy in a mempool, the order of a discovered nonce and the chaos of the mining process hashing trillions of times per second to find the right number. Bitcoin marches forward relentlessly because humans perceive value in participating in it, directing their energy and time toward it. Through a chaotic consensus mechanism, Bitcoin delivers ultimate order in the form of an immutable supply cap and schedule, that we in turn can trust.

Second, Bitcoin is territory. In fact, it’s some of the most valuable territory known to man, due to its attributes and absolute scarcity. Bitcoin is almost impossible to bend or change. It carries real weight and value, and therefore will always be in demand. Those who claim territory on the Bitcoin network today will be giants tomorrow. And like the most pristine forms of territory, it will remain long after their deaths, for future generations to lay claim and battle it out for usage and ownership.

Third, Bitcoin makes for functional hierarchies, not equality. There are no equal holders, there is no democracy or voting, there is no redistribution of wealth or equalization by fiat. There is ownership of your own bitcoin, complete freedom with, and associated responsibility for its use, and therefore the highest degree of localized consequence for both great and poor management of this resource. The result is greater probability for rewarding competence and merit, and greater probability for punishing incompetence and wastefulness.

The same goes for the way Bitcoin fundamentally functions. There can only be one block added to the blockchain, and if there is a chain split, there will be a war of probabilities that leads to one winner. The mining process itself is probabilistic. The more work you perform, the greater your chances of winning the block reward. If you have a better, newer, superior miner, you increase those chances. You don’t just get the block reward because you’re nice, and it’s not just distributed to everyone equally. Yes, you can be lucky at times (similar to real life) but this is the exception, not the rule. Bitcoin is fair, not equal. There is only equality in probabilities — which is another way to say fairness.

The topic of quality or quantity requires little discussion. Bitcoin is the ultimate, qualitative asset for there is a prescribed total quantity and this can never be altered. As this dawns on the world, and as the pendulum swings inevitably back to a desire for quality, everybody will seek to hold it.

Equality of outcome or opportunity? Bitcoin recognizes neither. You get it when you get it. You keep what you deserve. Is there a luck factor involved, yes, but that’s natural and normal. The key is that there’s no way to give everyone the same amount from the beginning through some ridiculous Worldcoin-like, iris-scanning contest — an impossibility, short of forcing everyone on the planet to do it (also impossible) — nor is there a way to redistribute it after the fact, like they will try with CBDCs.

Bitcoin’s unequal distribution is a reflection of the unequal and naturally uneven distribution of humans and access to information that they have. Some of this is fair, some not, but absent the idiotic idea of bombing the entire world and starting fresh where every person everywhere has exactly the same thing, at the same time, then this is just a fact of life we must deal with. The Bitcoin game is fair, but we’re transitioning to it from a fundamentally unfair and broken status quo. As a result, you cannot expect the transition to be smooth. But it has to be done! Whether voluntarily now, or by necessity later when the Titanic is sinking and everyone is drowning.

Click the image above to download a PDF of the article. 

There will be large disparities in Bitcoin holdership. There will be the Michael Saylors and there will be those who came in “last” with two sats to their name. That’s the nature of any transition. There are first movers, and there are the smart, the prudent, the lucky, and even the unsavory types who take advantage. But once we’re on the new gameboard, the opportunity to close the gaps exists because there is a better quality of winners and losers. As a result of its fixed rules and unwavering nature, over time the distribution of bitcoin will likely reflect real and fair differences more closely. As the unfair frameworks — such as proximity to a money printer or government apparatus that can pay Peter by robbing Paul — disappear, we’re left with the results of unequal but more fair differences stemming from competence, effort, luck, territory, culture, natural resources, and the like. So forget about equality, bear with the process, and load up on bitcoin. It’s an insurance policy, and a head start for a new game.

Freedom or equality? It should be clear by now, the words equality and Bitcoin don’t belong together. Bitcoin is both freedom and responsibility money. You can’t have one without the other, and the more absolute one, the more absolute the other. There are no bail-outs on Bitcoin, no rewind or reverse. There is no central planner. Just a “physical law” in the form of a set of key promises, the main ones being a fixed supply cap and schedule. Around this you orient yourself. That is it, that is all.

Finally, what is Bitcoin’s story? Many like to call it science, or math, or technology, but this is like looking at a human through a microscope and coming to the conclusion that what you’ve discovered is simply a bunch of “cells”. Bitcoin is so much more than a technology. It’s a movement, it’s a philosophy, it’s a way of being, it’s a story, and yes, that also means it’s a religion. Whether you like it or not, from the very beginning, Bitcoin was a story. The chief protagonist was a pseudonymous figure that proposed an idea and essentially bootstrapped it alongside some early believers of the story. Had Marti, Hal, Laszlo, and others not believed in the idea (story) we might not have been here today. The disappearance of the lead character created a mythos around the real-life story which captured everyone’s imagination and continues to do so today. Stories about Bitcoin Pizza days, Silk Road cowboys, Mt. Gox exit scams and Bitcoin “fork wars” fill our feeds to this day, and will continue forever more. Memes themselves are stories in condensed form, and there is scarcely a more rich and nuanced meme-scape than Bitcoin.

HODL is a story, and so is NgU, RgU, HFSP, DCA, and the rest of them. These memes fuel micro and macro cults, creating movements around their message — whether that’s to save your bitcoin instead of trading it, to accumulate it by dollar-cost averaging (DCA) instead of trying to win big by gambling, to “stay humble and stack sats” as a way of quietly building up your personal reserves and not bragging about it, that winning is a matter of time and patience rather than tinkering or experimentation, and the list goes on.

The question with all of this is of course, are these stories life-aligned or not? From what I can tell, the answer is largely yes. There is some stupidity — the 80/20 rule always applies — but in general, Bitcoin narratives are searching for truth. They hone in and converge around ideas that represent a life-affirming way to deal with and handle reality. Savings is, in my opinion, the most important example, because it’s the bedrock for civilization and helps to set a standard for individual time preference, which in turn influences behavior. When a people have a low time preference, they are more inclined to mature and become strong. The outcome is a society which can dream, reach, and aspire toward excellence. They can build for tomorrow.

In Closing

What have we learned?

A number of things.

As I said at the outset, while it might seem that the battle is left versus right, liberal against conservative, or — if you’re a libertarian — individual versus collective, the truth is deeper.

The truth is that it’s life against death. It always was and always will be. As humans, it’s up to us to pick a side. We are vessels of life, and we have the choice to be either for life or against it. To be for it means we must first recognize what stories and principles are life-affirming and which are not. We must then consciously choose to support the former.

We can be for Quality, Excellence, Hierarchy, Freedom, Responsibility, Vitality, Energy, Strength, Family, Localism, Cultural Variance and Life.


We can be for equality, average, mass, homogeneity, globalism, commonality, flatness, fiat, decadence, nihilism, weakness, entropy, and death.

We must choose wisely, because while it seems so obvious when it’s written like that, for the past two hundred years, we’ve seen a steady decline in the former, and in an increase in the latter:

Our individual, and therefore collective thumos — or essence — matters. It’s our North Star. It guides our behavior. It orients us. If it’s qualitative, we become upward-gazing. Sure we will battle, but it will be for a place among the stars. Better that, than crabs in a bucket.

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Primary Issue”. Click here to get your Annual Bitcoin Magazine Subscription.

Click here to download a PDF of this article.

VanEck Releases New Bitcoin Commercial, Ahead of Potential Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval

VanEck Releases New Bitcoin Commercial, Ahead of Potential Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval

VanEck, a prominent investment management firm, has unveiled a interesting new Bitcoin commercial, stirring excitement and speculation within the Bitcoin community. The release comes amidst mounting anticipation surrounding the possible approval of Spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The commercial, showcases a high-quality production recorded at PubKey, a Bitcoin bar in New York City. "All Bitcoiners in NYC need to make the pilgrimage to PubKey if they haven’t checked it out yet," VanEck said.

This move by VanEck appears to be a prelude to the imminent decision on the much-anticipated Spot Bitcoin ETFs. Industry analysts interpret this release as an attempt to not only capture public attention but also to bolster confidence in Bitcoin-related financial products.

The commercial’s timing aligns with VanEck's continued efforts to secure regulatory approval for a Bitcoin ETF, signaling their readiness to enter the market should approval be granted. The SEC has been under increasing pressure to greenlight a Spot Bitcoin ETF, which would open the door for institutional and more retail investors to access Bitcoin exposure via traditional investment avenues.

As the Bitcoin community eagerly awaits the SEC’s decision, VanEck’s bold marketing move has ignited conversations, fueling optimism about the integration of Bitcoin into mainstream financial services. The commercial aims to resonate with both seasoned Bitcoin enthusiasts and newcomers, emphasizing the potential significance of BTC in reshaping global finance.

How Will Bitcoin And Ethereum’s Differences Impact Their Spot ETFs?

How Will Bitcoin And Ethereum’s Differences Impact Their Spot ETFs?

Analysts predict that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will approve spot Bitcoin ETF applications in January 2024, following the approval of Bitcoin (BTC) Futures ETFs in October 2021 and Ether (ETH) Futures ETFs in October 2023.

In anticipation, traditional financial institutions also applied to issue spot Ether ETFs. Since applicants like BlackRock have a near-perfect track record in obtaining SEC approval for their ETFs, spot Ether ETFs are likely to be approved, too. However, the SEC might approve them only after their Bitcoin counterparts, which would mean approval of Ether ETFs in late 2024 or early 2025.

If approved, spot Bitcoin and Ether ETFs will attract millions of new investors who were previously unable or unwilling to purchase crypto assets directly. Will Bitcoin and Ether's differing investment theses, alongside issuers' capability to integrate each asset's features into spot ETFs, impact the success of these newly created products?

For Ether in particular, the disparity between the underlying asset’s use cases and the spot ETF product offerings raises doubts about the product's viability. A spot Ether ETF does not allow shareholders to participate in the Ethereum network – the primary reason that an investor would seek to acquire Ether. Meanwhile, Bitcoin, which is widely used as a store of value, makes a spot Bitcoin ETF a more straightforward investment proposition.

Ether ETFs Have No Investment Thesis

The Ether investment thesis revolves around the ability of individuals and institutions to utilize the ETH token on the Ethereum network. Unlike Bitcoin, which is recognized for its monetary qualities as a store of value, as well as a medium of exchange in some geographical regions, the Ether token functions as the "gas" of a technology ecosystem. One way users use ETH is for staking, the process of participating in transaction validation on a proof-of-stake blockchain by locking up an amount (stake) of the network's native token to validate consensus and earn a yield.

River CEO Alexander Leishman stated, “ETH positioned itself as a tech platform and now it is forced to compete as such.” The ETH token’s role as a utility token for the Ethereum platform means its investment thesis is not based on underlying monetary characteristics.

The core value proposition of Ether makes it challenging for firms to market spot ETF products that only provide investors with price exposure. Investors don't hold Ether for its decentralization or monetary qualities. Corporations like MicroStrategy don’t sell stock to buy Ether. Countries like El Salvador haven’t designated Ether as legal tender – in fact, as far as anyone knows, no national governments are even talking about it.

Another obstacle is that applications like BlackRock’s do not even mention staking, which is central to Ether’s investment thesis. The SEC has been strict with crypto exchanges offering staking-as-a-service features, making it even more unlikely for BlackRock or other issuers to get permission to offer staking via an ETF.

Bitcoin ETFs

Based on current applications, spot Bitcoin ETF issuers will not offer in-kind redemptions, which means shareholders cannot take custody of their Bitcoin. Therefore, such products introduce additional counterparty risk. However, shareholders do gain exposure to Bitcoin’s price. This allows them to benefit from price appreciation even if annual management fees cut into their profits.

With a spot Bitcoin ETF, issuers can count on demand from market participants who view Bitcoin as a store of value and seek price exposure for extended periods. The store-of-value investment thesis makes it easy for Wall Street firms to market spot Bitcoin ETF products to financial advisors and retail investors.

Anticipating approval for spot Bitcoin products, traditional financial leaders like BlackRock CEO Larry Fink have changed their rhetoric. They no longer issue sound bites like "an index of money laundering" when it comes to Bitcoin. Instead, Fink now calls it an "international asset" that is "digitizing gold" and represents a "flight to quality" for investors.

Fink's description reflects bitcoin's perceived product market fit in Western markets as a store of value due to its decentralization and the network's monetary policy. Some U.S.-based firms are creating Bitcoin products focused on payments, but most holders of bitcoin store wealth in Bitcoin for long periods.

Looking Forward

The lackluster launch of the Ether futures ETF in October might indicate that a spot Ether ETF will be met with similarly low demand. Bitcoin and Ether’s underlying investment theses will determine the demand for ETFs issued against these assets. Since the utility of Ether comes from its ability to be used within the Ethereum ecosystem, a spot ETH ETF is unlikely to be a valuable product offering.

This is a guest post by David Waugh. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Bloomberg ETF Analyst Reassures Spot Bitcoin ETFs Will Hold Actual BTC, Amidst Concerns

Bloomberg ETF Analyst Reassures Spot Bitcoin ETFs Will Hold Actual BTC, Amidst Concerns

Amid rapidly growing anticipation for the launch of Spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) in the United States, concerns have arisen from many in the Bitcoin community regarding if these funds will truly hold spot Bitcoin or not. 

In response to these worries, Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst James Seyffart has stepped forward to allay fears, assuring investors that the current pool of spot Bitcoin ETFs will indeed hold real, spot BTC, if approved.

This assurance comes in the wake of posts by many in the online Bitcoin community, raising skepticism about whether the impending ETFs will maintain actual Bitcoin reserves. Spot Bitcoin ETF filers were told by the SEC that their applications needed to include clear language of cash creations and redemptions, with no mentions of in-kind creations and redemptions, according to FOX Businesses' Eleanor Terrett.

This has caused many to think that this would allow a loophole for issuers to start fractionally reserving the ETF, which is not the case. "There are a lot of bad Bitcoin ETF takes. People are simply uninformed (being nice) and wayyyy too gullible," Seyffart said yesterday. "Say it with me: 'Spot Bitcoin ETFs WILL hold Bitcoin.'"

The imminent launch of Spot Bitcoin ETFs has been a hotly debated topic within the financial sphere, heralded as a potential game-changer for both institutional and retail investors. As the anticipation for Spot Bitcoin ETFs continues to mount, investors remain vigilant, eagerly awaiting their introduction into the market.

A List of Every Wall Street Giant Seeking to Launch a Bitcoin ETF

A List of Every Wall Street Giant Seeking to Launch a Bitcoin ETF

As soon as January, a Bitcoin spot ETF could be live in the U.S. – but while that much appears likely, it remains to be seen which specific investment vehicles will be approved.

Indeed, in advance of the January 10 deadline, anticipation is high, with over 12 applicants ranging from disruptive Bitcoin companies to some of the most well-known names in global finance.

The prize is the potential to provide investors with a regulated and accessible vehicle to the world's leading cryptocurrency. 

Unlike traditional investment routes, such as direct ownership or futures trading, a Bitcoin ETF simplifies the process, allowing a broader range of investors, both institutional and retail, to participate in the crypto market.

This article delves into the intense competition among prominent players in the financial industry as they seek approval for the first Bitcoin spot ETF in the U.S.


Logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant Grayscale.


A subsidiary of Digital Currency Group (DCG), a global enterprise that invests in and develops businesses focused on blockchains and cryptocurrencies, Grayscale offers investment products that provide exposure to various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others.

Since 2013, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) is a financial product offered by Grayscale Investments that has been one of the only ways for institutions to invest in Bitcoin.

GBTC is a publicly traded trust that holds Bitcoin, and its shares are traded on over-the-counter (OTC) markets. The trust provides a way for investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without having to buy and store the cryptocurrency directly.

Among its owners are Ark Invest, a fellow ETF applicant.


Logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant 21 Shares.


21Shares is a Swiss-based company that specializes in providing investment products focused on digital assets. 

Formerly known as Amun AG, the company rebranded to 21Shares in February 2021. Amun was founded in 2018 by a team of financial professionals, including Hany Rashwan and Ophelia Snyder, and it is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland.

Since then it has operated a series of exchange-traded products tracking various cryptocurrencies. These ETPs are traded on traditional stock exchanges, providing investors with a convenient way to gain exposure to digital assets.

21Shares offers a range of ETPs, including Bitcoin (ABTC), Ethereum (AETH), Ripple (AXRP), and the 21Shares Crypto Basket Index ETP, offering exposure to a diversified portfolio of cryptos.

21Shares' ETPs are listed on various traditional stock exchanges, making them accessible to a broader range of investors through regular brokerage accounts. 

Ark Invest

The logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant Ark Invest.


ARK Invest is an investment management firm known for its active and innovative approach to investing in disruptive technologies.

Founded by Cathie Wood in 2014, ARK Invest has since gained widespread recognition for its focus on disruptive innovation and thematic investing. It remains a notable early backer of both Bitcoin and Tesla, wildly successful contrarian bets.

ARK Invest was founded by Wood in 2014 and manages a series of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that align with its unique approach. 

Some of the flagship ETFs include ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK), ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG), and ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW).

ARK Invest actively manages its portfolios, making strategic investment decisions based on its research and analysis of disruptive trends. 

Notably, its funds were some of the first to offer exposure to GBTC when it in 2015 it was available on OTC exchanges.

Wood, in particular, is on the record as predicting Bitcoin will come to be worth over $1 million over the coming decade.


The logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant Blackrock.


BlackRock is the world's largest investment management firm with trillions of dollars under management. 

Founded in 1988 as a risk management and fixed income outfit, it has since evolved into a global investment management giant with a comprehensive suite of financial services for institutional investors, financial professionals, and individual investors.

BlackRock is primarily known for its asset management business, offering a wide range of investment products, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and institutional separate accounts. The firm covers various asset classes, from equities and fixed income to alternatives and multi-asset strategies.

Notably, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has been dismissive of Bitcoin in the past, criticizing the nascent technology and its links to dark market-based criminal activity. 

However, this only made the news it would launch a Bitcoin ETF in 2023 more impactful, with Fink making clear he believes the only decentralized cryptocurrency has stood the test of time.  


The logo of Bitwise, a Bitcoin ETF applicant.


Bitwise Asset Management is a cryptocurrency investment firm that specializes in crypto-based investment funds. 

Founded in 2017 by Hunter Horsley and Hong Kim, Bitwise aims to provide institutional and individual investors with exposure to digital assets. Its flagship fund is the Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund, which tracks a diverse basket of the ten largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. 

This fund offers investors a way to gain exposure to a broad range of digital assets in a single investment.

Bitwise actively manages the fund by regularly rebalancing its holdings to reflect changes in the market and ensure alignment with the fund's investment strategy.

Bitwise is known for its research efforts, providing insights into the cryptocurrency market. Further, it has been perhaps the only Bitcoin ETF applicant to launch an ad campaign that was been wildly successful, with the company hiring the former Dos Equis spokesperson, known as "The Most Interesting Man in the World." 


The logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant VanEck.


VanEck is a global investment management firm founded in 1955 by John C. van Eck in New York City. 

Initially, the firm focused on managing gold investments, but over the years, it has expanded its offerings to include a diverse range of asset classes and investment strategies.

The firm provides a variety of investment products, including mutual funds, ETFs, and other investment vehicles, but is known for specializing in commodity investing.

VanEck first filed for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in 2017, and has since been one of the most active Wall Street firms in the quest to have the investment product approved.


The logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant Wisdomtree.


WisdomTree Investments is a global asset management company that offers a range of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), exchange-traded products (ETPs), and other investment solutions. 

Founded in 2006 by Jonathan Steinberg, the goal of the company was to create innovative investment products for investors seeking exposure to various asset classes including equities, fixed income, currencies, and alternative strategies.

WisdomTree has shown interest in the cryptocurrency space, particularly Bitcoin. The company has submitted regulatory filings for Bitcoin-related exchange-traded products (ETPs).

WisdomTree's involvement in Bitcoin ETFs is part of its broader exploration of digital assets and blockchain technology.


The logo for Bitcoin ETF applicant Invesco.


Invesco Ltd. is a global investment management company with a diverse range of financial products and services. 

Founded in 1935, Invesco has grown into a global investment management firm with a presence in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and other regions.

Invesco provides a wide array of investment products and services, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), separately managed accounts, and institutional strategies.

Since 2021, Invesco has offered Invesco Physical Bitcoin, a physically backed ETP out of Switzerland, and is currently vying to launch a Bitcoin ETF.

For the Bitcoin ETF in the US, it has notably teamed with Galaxy Digital Holdings, a publicly listed financial services and investment management firm focused on cryptocurrency. 

Founded by former hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, Galaxy Digital aims to be a bridge between traditional finance and the emerging world of digital assets. 

Galaxy's research firm has estimated the addressable market for the ETF in the billions.


The logo of Fidelity Investments, a Bitcoin ETF applicant.


Fidelity Investments is a leading financial services company based in the United States, and one of the largest privately owned and operated firms on Wall Street. 

Fidelity was founded in 1946, and is known for its focus on investment management, retirement planning, wealth management, life insurance, and other financial services.

However, the company is best known for mutual fund offerings, offering a wide range of funds covering various asset classes, investment styles, and strategies.

Fidelity has been interested in the digital asset space since 2013, when its R&D divisions began mining Bitcoin, its CEO Abigail Johnson saying famously in 2017 that she "loves" Bitcoin. 

Since then, the company has been active in the industry. Fidelity Digital Assets provides secure custody solutions for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, catering to institutional clients looking to include digital assets in their portfolios.


A logo for Bitcoin ETF applicant Valkyrie.


Valkyrie Investments is a financial services firm specializing in investment management in the digital asset space.

Founded in 2020 and based in the United States, the company has created funds and vehicles that provide exposure to digital assets, such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Valkyrie Investments has submitted proposals for a Bitcoin ETF, awaiting approval from the SEC. 

Global X

The logo for Bitcoin ETF applicant Global X.


Global X ETFs is a well-known provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with a focus on thematic investing. 

Thematic ETFs are designed to track specific investment themes or trends, providing investors with targeted exposure to particular sectors or industries. 

Global X ETFs covers a wide range of themes, including AI, renewable energy, e-commerce, and more.


The logo for Bitcoin ETF applicant Hashdex.


Hashdex is a crypto-focused asset management company that specializes in creating investment products centered around digital assets. 

The company was founded in 2018 and is headquartered in Brazil. It primarily focuses on managing investment products related to cryptocurrencies. The company aims to provide investors with exposure to digital assets through regulated and structured investment vehicles.

Franklin Templeton

The logo of Bitcoin ETF applicant Franklin Templeton.


Franklin Templeton is a global investment management firm with a long history and a diverse range of investment products and services. Founded in 1947, it has grown into one of the world's leading investment management companies.

Franklin Templeton operates globally, with a presence in over 165 countries. The firm has a network of offices and investment professionals around the world.

The Wall Street giant offers a wide array of investment products, including mutual funds, closed-end funds, separately managed accounts, and more. The firm covers various asset classes, such as equities, fixed income, alternatives, and multi-asset strategies.

One of the later entrants into the Bitcoin spot ETF race, Franklin Templeton is not particularly well-known for ETFs. As such, its inclusion in the race is widely seen as a sign of strong Wall Street appetite for a Bitcoin spot ETF product offering.

via Raises $1.5 Million to Provide Infrastructure for Bitcoin Tokens Raises $1.5 Million to Provide Infrastructure for Bitcoin Tokens

Newly launched Bitcoin tokens platform has raised $1.5 million in funding led by UTXO Management, the asset management arm of Bitcoin Magazine’s parent company BTC Inc.

The round included support from Zanshin Capital Management, Unbroken Chain, One Block Capital, Sora Ventures, OWL Ventures, Bitcoin Frontier Fund, Hamble and New Tribe Capital.

The investment comes at a time of increased interest in the BRC-20 token standard, created in March 2023 to facilitate the creation and transfer of fungible tokens on Bitcoin through the Ordinals protocol.

"Today's news is an important milestone in the journey of as we announce some of the most active and strategic investors across the Bitcoin and Web3 ecosystems joining our mission of building the most user-friendly and comprehensive platform for discovering and interacting with BRC-20 tokens and other Bitcoin-based assets," the company said in a statement to Bitcoin Magazine.

The protocol has been criticized by some in the Bitcoin development community for its inefficient use of the Bitcoin protocol, as well as how the protocol has contributed to increasing the size of Bitcoin’s UTXO set, a crucial metric for Bitcoin’s scalability and decentralization.

However, the investment is notable given the recent increase in market capitalization for Bitcoin tokens including SATS and ORDI, which have risen to be worth more than $1 billion each and have been listed on exchanges such as Binance and OKX. is best known for providing a CoinMarketCap style dashboard for Bitcoin tokens but plans to launch a mobile app that would allow users to bridge, trade and stake BRC-20 tokens with their phones. The company also plans to release a decentralized relayer network for new DeFi protocols powered by the .COM token.

Bitcoin Magazine is wholly owned by BTC Inc., which operates UTXO Management, a regulated capital allocator focused on the digital assets industry. UTXO invests in a variety of Bitcoin businesses, and maintains significant holdings in digital assets. Bitcoin Magazine does not endorse any tokens on bitcoin, including but not limited to BRC-20 tokens.

Bitcoin Mining: A Path To Electrifying The World

Bitcoin Mining: A Path To Electrifying The World

In many parts of the world, access to electricity is a luxury that we often take for granted. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), for example, faces a severe electricity deficit, with over 600 million people without power. This deficit leads to economic stagnation, reduced food production, poverty, and even civil unrest. The correlation between electricity access and economic growth is undeniable, and regions with less than 80% electrification rates consistently suffer from reduced GDP per capita. The challenge lies in expanding electrical infrastructure to these underserved areas, which is capital-intensive and often financially unfeasible for governments with limited resources. This is where Bitcoin mining is a potential solution that can offer a pathway to electrify regions that have long been without access to electricity.

Bitcoin mining has long been a subject of much controversy, with critics often focusing on its perceived environmental impact. However, beneath the sensational headlines and mainstream media narratives, lies a story of potential humanitarian benefits, and energy innovation. By harnessing stranded energy in remote locations, Bitcoin mining can provide a source of revenue for new power plants and thus support the construction of electrical grids.

Despite the ongoing mudslinging campaign against Bitcoin mining, knowledge of the importance of harnessing stranded energy for Bitcoin mining is slowly gaining traction. In fact, this is the story that is beautifully captured in the newly released and award-winning documentary, Stranded:A Dirty Coin Short by Alana Mediavialla Diaz, which showcases how Bitcoin miners in places like SSA ingeniously repurpose stranded power, breathing life into both Bitcoin and forgotten power infrastructures.

In this article, we will explore the overlooked positive aspects of Bitcoin mining, compare its energy consumption to other industries, and make a case for how Bitcoin mining could potentially incentivize the discovery of new sources of energy and the build out of new energy infrastructure.

What Is Stranded Energy Anyway?

Stranded energy refers to energy sources that exist in a location but are not effectively utilized or harnessed for productive purposes. It's essentially energy that is isolated or "stranded" in a certain location due to various reasons, like lack of infrastructure to transport it or a mismatch between the location of energy production and demand.

For instance, when new electrical grids are being developed, especially in remote areas, the energy infrastructure may be in place before the demand for it catches up. Which means that, until consumers are connected to the grid, the energy generated is more than what is immediately needed, making it “stranded” and ultimately wasted until more users connect. This is a huge problem that Bitcoin mining can help to solve, and this area in particular is one of the major benefits of mining that Stranded explored in great detail.

In an interview Alana highlighted how Bitcoin mining, by monetizing excess energy in regions lacking traditional demand, acts as a financial catalyst for constructing vital grid infrastructure, thereby changing lives and challenging our perceptions of energy's societal impact. She elaborated on this further by saying, “The concept of how a grid grows through demand, was not something I ever thought about. In the film i wanted to capture that it is a great privilege to have access to electricity and that mining is able to finance new grid infrastructure in places that have never had it before”

Take Ethiopia, for instance. It has the potential to generate more than 60,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from “renewable” sources, but currently has only 4,500 MW of installed capacity. 90% of its electricity is generated from hydropower, with geothermal, solar, and wind making up the difference. However, the country still experiences acute energy shortages, with only 44% of its 110 million people having access to electricity. With projects like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under construction, which is projected to generate an additional 5,150 MW, the government expects to have a total of 17 000 MW of installed capacity in the next 10 years. The introduction of Bitcoin mining has the potential to fund these electricity infrastructure projects.

Dispelling Misconceptions About Bitcoin Mining

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding Bitcoin mining is the notion that it consumes an exorbitant amount of energy, exceeding the energy consumption of entire countries. Critics often point to reports suggesting that Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity than many nations, including Ireland, Nigeria, and Uruguay. The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index by cryptocurrency platform Digiconomist estimates an annual energy usage of 33 terawatts, on par with countries like Denmark.

However, it's important to dissect this critique and place it in the broader context of energy consumption. While it's true that the Bitcoin network's energy usage appears significant, it's essential to remember that energy consumption itself is not inherently bad. This critique tends to presuppose that energy is a finite resource and that allocating it to Bitcoin mining deprives other industries or individuals of this valuable commodity.

In reality, energy is a vital and expandable resource, and the notion of one usage being more or less wasteful than another is subjective. All users, including Bitcoin miners, incur a cost and pay the full market rate for the electricity they consume. To single out Bitcoin mining for its energy consumption while overlooking other industries is a fallacy. As Alana also pointed out, People hold as common misconceptions what the media commonly repeats about Bitcoin. Nobody is ever thinking about the energy consumption of the industries they interact with everyday.This is not a common figure that people know about things yet when it comes to Bitcoin, it sure is dirty because of all that energy consumption!“

Comparing Bitcoin To Other Energy-Intensive Industries

To put things in perspective, let's compare Bitcoin mining to some other energy-intensive sectors that often escape similar scrutiny:

I don’t know about you, but I cannot recall the last time I heard complaints in the media about the paper and pulp industry's high energy consumption. In order to counter the myths surrounding “the dangers” of Bitcoin mining and its energy usage, a nuanced understanding of energy consumption is required. While it's crucial to examine the environmental impact of any industry, singling out Bitcoin mining for criticism while overlooking other energy-intensive sectors is a flawed approach.

What Does The Future Hold?

Unlike any technology before it, Bitcoin mining incentivizes the exploration of cost-effective ways to harness energy, irrespective of geographic limitations or conventional energy constraints. This financial impetus could spark an energy revolution on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution, potentially propelling humanity to be a type I civilization. A view also shared by Alana, who when quizzed about her next film project said, The next one is about what it will take us to reach a type 1 civilization using Puerto Rico as our underdog model that is undergoing major infrastructure change. It’s a pivotal moment in the island’s history and it can serve as an example to failing grids around the world.”

As economic incentives push Bitcoin mining to saturate the energy sector, a convergence is occurring. Energy producers are monetizing surplus and stranded energy through Bitcoin mining, while miners are vertically integrating to enhance competitiveness. In the foreseeable future the most efficient miners could become energy producers themselves, potentially inverting the traditional power grid model. 

This is a guest post by Kudzai Kutukwa. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

What Happened the Last Time the SEC Ruled on a Bitcoin ETF

What Happened the Last Time the SEC Ruled on a Bitcoin ETF

The quest for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) has been a protracted journey, marked by highs and lows. 

In fact, those excited that a Bitcoin spot ETF approval could take place as soon as January may be shocked to know the initial attempt at a Bitcoin ETF dates back to July 2013 .

That's when investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, then best known for their controversial role in creating Facebook, first proposed the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, an exchange-traded vehicle that would open up Bitcoin to institutional investors. 

However, despite their forward-thinking proposal, the SEC officially rejected the proposal in March 2017, citing concerns about market surveillance and regulation. At the time, the Bitcoin price dropped some 30 percent on the news, declining from a high of around $1,400 to just over $900.

This rejection set the stage for a series of subsequent ETF rejections that have occurred ever since. 

The Early Attempts

Yet, even before the Winklevoss rejection, the quest for a Bitcoin ETF continued with other entities presenting their own proposals.

2013 also saw SolidX file a proposal for its Bitcoin fund shortly after the Winklevoss brothers. Despite later partnering with fund manager VanEck, the proposal for the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust was withdrawn in 2019.

At the same time, Barry Silbert's SecondMarket took a different path, launching a publicly traded trust that holds Bitcoin, but whose shares are traded on over-the-counter (OTC) markets. Investors can buy shares of GBTC through traditional brokerage accounts, and the value of each share is intended to track the price of Bitcoin. However, GBTC can trade at a premium or discount to the actual net asset value (NAV) of the Bitcoin it holds.

As far back as July 2017, Grayscale filed to convert the GBTC to an ETF. Despite becoming the largest and most popular Bitcoin fund, GBTC remains unlisted on major U.S. exchanges.

Over the past few years, amid turmoil at its parent company, discounts have turned as steep as 40%.

September 2017 witnessed ProShares applying for two Bitcoin ETFs, facing rejection in August 2018 along with seven other proposed Bitcoin ETFs.

December 2017 brought applications from Direxion and GraniteShares for respective Bitcoin ETFs, both of which were rejected in August 2018.

2019 To Today

In the wake of the 2017 bull market, there were a host of other hopefuls that attempted to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF.

By January 2019, Bitwise proposed the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF Trust, which was rejected by the SEC about nine months later. (It is among a set of new applicants seeking approval in January.)

Simultaneously, Wilshire Phoenix proposed a unique approach with the United States Bitcoin and Treasury Investment Trust, hoping to blend Bitcoin and U.S. Treasury securities. Yet, the SEC rejected this proposal in February 2020.

2019 saw Realty Shares ETF Trusts proposing a Bitcoin fund investing in Bitcoin futures contracts. The SEC compelled the withdrawal of the proposal just two days later.

2020 brought WisdomTree's application for a commodity fund, planning to invest up to 5% of its assets in Bitcoin futures. 

Since then, traders have relied on stocks like MicroStrategy and Block to gain exposure to Bitcoin, with these companies, both of which offer Bitcoin services, providing buyers with exposure. 

Regulatory Shifts And Resignations

The regulatory landscape underwent changes in December 2020 when SEC Chair Jay Clayton stepped down from the SEC, and at first, there was optimism a change might come.

For instance, in 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Gary Gensler, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as Clayton's replacement. The appointment was notable as Gensler had given lectures on Bitcoin during his tenure at MIT, and even promoted various cryptocurrencies. 

However, Gensler's policy responses to the industry has arguably been even more draconian. 

During this transitional period, VanEck re-filed its application for a Bitcoin ETF in December 2020, marking the first filing post-Clayton. The SEC acknowledged the filing on March 15, providing a 45-day review window.

In 2021, Valkyrie filed a new application for the Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund to be listed on the NYSE. Subsequently, NYDIG filed for approval of its Bitcoin ETF in February 2021, coinciding with Bitcoin's price hitting $50,000 for the first time.

March 2021 brought Fidelity's filing for approval of the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust, adding another dimension to the ongoing quest for a regulated Bitcoin ETF.

Flash forward to the end of 2023 and there are 13 applications from players including Fidelity and BlackRock. Most of the applicants have met with the SEC and made modifications to their applications, heightening the prospects of an approval.

Still, it remains anything but a sure bet. While Bloomberg analysts predict a 90% chance of approval, some fear the SEC may find creative ways to further delay the Bitcoin spot ETF's debut.

If past fake news is any indication, markets will likely react to the decision, and volatility could be in store.

Michael Saylor's MicroStrategy Buys 14,620 Bitcoin For $615 Million

Michael Saylor's MicroStrategy Buys 14,620 Bitcoin For $615 Million

MicroStrategy, a leading business intelligence and software company, has continued its steadfast commitment to Bitcoin by purchasing an additional 14,620 BTC at a total cost of $615.7 million, Founder & Chairman Michael Saylor announced today. The purchase came as Bitcoin's price has been experiencing upward momentum, reaching highs of over $42,000.

The company initially entered the Bitcoin market in August 2020, making a significant initial investment of $250 million into BTC. Since then, they have consistently added to their Bitcoin holdings, creating a treasury reserve strategy that has garnered over 189,150 bitcoin worth more than $8.11 billion at the time of writing.

“On December 27, 2023, MicroStrategy Incorporated (“MicroStrategy”) announced that, during the period between November 30, 2023 and December 26, 2023, MicroStrategy, together with its subsidiaries, acquired approximately 14,620 bitcoins for approximately $615.7 million in cash, at an average price of approximately $42,110 per bitcoin, inclusive of fees and expenses,” MicroStrategy stated. “As of December 26, 2023, MicroStrategy, together with its subsidiaries, held an aggregate of approximately 189,150 bitcoins, which were acquired at an aggregate purchase price of approximately $5.895 billion and an average purchase price of approximately $31,168 per bitcoin, inclusive of fees and expenses.”

As the fourth Bitcoin halving quickly approaches and the first spot Bitcoin ETF in the United States may be approved early into the new year, MicroStrategy continues its aggressive bitcoin investment strategy with no signs of slowing down.

Crypto Project Sues Chainalysis

Crypto Project Sues Chainalysis

The new year seems set to start tumultuous for Chainalysis. In addition to the trial for Roman Sterlingov set to begin on February 12th, which questions the reliability of Chainalysis Reactor in a multi-million dollar money laundering allegation, Chainalysis is now getting sued by the crypto project YieldNodes.

In their 2023 Crypto Crime Report, Chainalysis alleged that YieldNodes, a Hong Kong based project which rents out computing power to participate in a masternode pool, is a scam. In their crypto scam activity summarized graph, Chainalysis depicted YieldNodes as the second largest crypto scam in revenue of 2022 with a total of $341.6M. Notably, Chainalysis’ graph fails to have caught FTX, one of the largest crypto scams to date having misappropriated $8 Billion of customer funds.

“They never tried to contact us before publishing their report, and when we tried to contact them to discuss their report, all they did was direct us to their sales representatives and try to sell us licenses for their software,” writes YieldNodes in their newsletter.

Chainalysis’ categorization had devastating consequences for YieldNodes’ business, as participants were blocked from depositing and withdrawing profits from exchanges. Reputational damage continued to ensue as Chainalysis’ claim spread across media, leading to the removal of YieldNodes products from trading platforms.

In a short statement, YieldNodes told me they had only found out about Chainalysis’ categorization after receiving transaction errors from participants. YieldNodes now accuses Chainalysis of putting “marketing ahead of reliability”, citing the admitted lack of scientific evidence for their flagship product, referring to the absence of false positive rates, false negative rates, and margin of error rates.

In July, YieldNodes encouraged projects to join a possible class action lawsuit against Chainalysis, citing the company’s size and the associated costs with challenging Chainalysis’ claims in court. Chainalysis, founded in 2014, is a blockchain surveillance firm offering its products to exchanges, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, including ICE, IRS, FBI, SEC and DEA. Chainalysis has received over $3.3 Million from InQTel, the non-profit venture capital arm of the CIA, since 2020. 

A Perfect Fight: The Battle Against The Machine

A Perfect Fight: The Battle Against The Machine

In 1997, history was written when the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeated reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Humanity had sent its greatest warrior, a Russian, who had been world champion for a record number of years. Garry was no one day fly, he was the best in all history. At the same time, during his reign, engineers worked arduously on a chess engine. Convinced they were, that one day, the computer would defeat even the greatest player of all time. It was going to be a perfect fight. The best human vs. the best machine. Either man or machine would have to bend the knee.
Quoting Garry, “That was the first time I lost. Period.” Yes. Kasparov hadn’t lost a match to anyone yet as world champion. Only the computer beat him. This upset him deeply. Distraught, he walked away from the chess board. How was this possible? Wasn’t it the nature of man to be creative, strategic, and superior? We could say that postmodernism ended the day Kasparov lost. Man was not what he thought he was. Elevated, beyond animal, distinct, superior...egoic. The machine crushed all Kasparov’s beliefs. It crushed his ego. I’m not sure the Russian grandmaster has still fully gotten the memo yet. But that’s not important. The question is: Did we get the memo?
William Gibson once said, “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” Whatever Kasparov faced, we are all going to have to confront in the near future. It’s inevitable. Kasparov experienced it first because he was at the top of his game. Garry couldn’t have any delusions about his defeat, whilst the rest of us can still deny the war is coming. Kasparov bravely, as a true warrior, faced the machine early.

And lost.

A Perfect Fight

Now, what does it mean for humanity at large? To see the significance of Kasaparov’s loss, we have to understand what a perfect fight is.
In a perfect fight two warriors agree to duel. It’s a test of strength. The warrior who has aligned himself with the highest principles will have the superior strength and win. The loser will be humbled, and his ego crushed. By accepting the loss fully, the defeated warrior can extract the lesson. This is an uncommon attitude in the western world, but chivalric code, bushido, and chess, still honor the value in defeat and learning. There’s no shame in loss. There’s shame however in avoiding mistakes. One needs to properly humble oneself to superior power.

The best exemplar of this "perfect fight" is the duel between Rokurota and Tadokoro in Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, the Japanese precursor to Star Wars. In this flick, Rokurota is a general of the Akizuki clan who just lost the war against the Yamana. The Princess, escorted by legendary samurai Rokurota, tries to smuggle her gold and livelihoods behind enemy lines into friendly territory. However, the Yamana get wind of their position, and Rokurota goes in pursuit, to kill the messengers who spotted them. In his attempt he gets encircled by the army of the great Yamana warrior Tadokoro. Who is surprisingly happy to see him...

“Why if it isn’t Rokurota Makabe,” shouts Tadokoro, as he stands up smiling, walking towards his favorite enemy.

“Hey, Hyoe Tadokoro!”

“Stand aside, you are no match for him,” Tadokoro commands his soldiers and starts laughing at Rokurota. “A rare meeting! I regret not meeting you on the battlefield this time around.”

“I regret it too.” Both laughing. Rokurota’s face tightens.“What about a duel?”

“With pleasure!”

These standards of combat are full of warrior code (bushido). Both players are ready to test their worth in battle at the cost of their lives. They were honestly looking forward to the fight without cowardice. Whilst Rokurota is trapped, it is he who challenges Tadokoro from an inferior position. It’s paying respect for being captured by his enemy. He takes the lesser spear.
But Tadokoro loses in the end and willingly sits down, so that Rokurota can chop off his head. Rokurota refuses and converts his win into a free pass to escape. In the latter parts of the story it becomes clear why Rokurota won. It is because he has aligned himself with fighting for the higher principle, embodied by the Princess (honesty, compassion, sovereignty, loyalty). Tadokoro, in the final act, eventually understands the nature of his loss. It was he who wasn’t properly aligned, and fighting for inferior principles. Only at this point has the warrior fully integrated the loss, and was revealed a higher power. This is the true definition of losing. It is an opportunity to burn off inferior behavior and upgrade yourself. In a perfect fight, the losing side has much to gain when the loss is properly accepted in humility.

Picasso vs The Machine

Kasparov was not the first legendary warrior to face the machine. A century earlier it was Picasso, the top artist, who had to suffer a defeat against an innovation called photography. But Picasso was a great warrior, at the levels of Tadokoro, for he properly understood the loss. The machine showed him all that was mechanical about himself. Realism is purely mechanical and perfected by the camera. It completely destroyed the art of painting reality.
But Picasso didn’t stop painting. He merely stopped copying and began expressing what was inside him. And so he became one of the first to transition from realism to cubism. Picasso famously said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael. But a lifetime to paint like a child.” Photography didn't destroy Picasso, the machine merely exposed his true human nature and relieved him of all his roboticness, enabling the journey inward.

Why Everyone Is Scared

The world is currently going through a great transition of consciousness. We now all stand face to face with the machine. The scary part is, what will be left after we have suffered this defeat. What remains of humanity? Won’t the machine be superior in all facets of life? Am I redundant? Who am I really? Is there something deeper inside me? Is there anything inside at all?
Maybe most won’t even hit onto the deeper layers of questioning and solely remain concerned with whether they’ll have a job in the future. Unfortunately, we live in a financial system that doesn’t allow for deflation delivered by the machine. Hence people are confused about the nature of technology whose only purpose was to liberate our time. But inflating currencies worldwide have obfuscated this benefit and turned the machine into a device that is set out to destroy us.

Machine Money

The solution lies in adopting Bitcoin. Introduce the machine in money, so we can align again with the higher principle of what the machine naturally wants to do: liberate us. And may we relinquish all that is machine within. Only then can we fully explore what it means to be human. Only then can humanity evolve to a higher spiritual state, and transcend the oppression in which we live today.
We should approach this global initiation as a perfect fight. Confront the machine as a true warrior, like Kasparov, Picasso, Tadokoro, ...Neo. It is no coincidence all modern mythology is drenched in the thematic battle against the machine. For it is the fight of our lifetime. It will be an apocalypse in the truest sense of the word — a revelation.

The machine will show your true nature.

Ready to lose?


Kasparov vs Deep Thought Documentary

This is a guest post by Bitcoin Graffiti. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Desert Mysteries: The Great Oil Game

Desert Mysteries: The Great Oil Game

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Primary Issue”. Click here to get your Annual Bitcoin Magazine Subscription.

Click here to download a PDF of this article.

Come with me to the land of saffron and rosewater for a story lost in the annals of history. This ancient kingdom, rich in history and once the mightiest empire in the world, is a forgotten desert in the eyes of much of the West. Yet those who choose to ignore the Persian empire seem to have forgotten their role in shaping its modern history. Much like the women of Iran removing their hijabs today, let us remove the veil of ignorance that has clouded this murky history and explore a chapter of its history that set the course for the world we know today.

The Persian empire has had dynasties come and go. In 1794, Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, set out to reunify Persia after years of political instability. Despite his heavy-handed approach, he was successful in his mission, but was assassinated three years later. While the beginnings of the Qajar reign showed a future to be hopeful for, each subsequent Qajar ruler became weaker than the last.

In the grand tapestry of the Qajar era, a child of royal lineage and privilege was born: Mohammad Mossadegh. This illustrious lineage saw him journey to Paris to study finance and later he received doctoral honors in law in Switzerland. By the year 1918, the starboy began to shimmer like a desert mirage: unmasking an embezzlement scheme hidden in the finance ministry’s shadowy corners and daring to impose a fine on his own mother, a Qajar princess, for delayed taxes. Yet, beneath these deeds pulsated a fervor greater than integrity or a son of the Constitutional Revolution — it was a yearning to liberate his beloved Persia from the shackles of foreign influence.

The Qajar dynasty bore the marks of falterings and appeasements etched into its historical tapestry: The infamous Russo-Persian Wars saw Persia give up the Caucasian territories to the Russian empire. There was one agreement between the British and Persians, a pact so egregious that it echoes with the mournful sighs of future generations. In 1901, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, desperate for some financial respite, inked what came to be known as the D’Arcy Concession with British entrepreneur William Knox D’Arcy. D’Arcy was granted exclusive rights to prospect for oil across vast swaths of Persian territory, covering three-quarters of the nation, for a lengthy term of 60 years. In return for handing over such immense potential wealth, Persia received a mere £20,000 (£2.1 million in today’s money) in cash, another £20,000 in shares, and a promise of just 16% of the annual profits.

Click the image above to subscribe!

From the ashes of 1905 to the bloom of 1911, a revolution stirred the Persian spirit. A storm of discontent brewed under the oppressive mantle of the Qajar Dynasty, economic turmoil and the looming specter of foreign powers. A symphony of diverse voices — ordinary citizens, merchants, clerics — began to harmonize into a resilient resistance, demanding a charter to rein in the power of the throne. The air thickened with political tumult, resonating with the clash of armed struggle, until the dawn of the Persian Constitution of 1906 broke over the horizon. This sacred document emerged as the symbol of a reformed nation, taming the shah’s unbridled power, welcoming the birth of the Majles — a bicameral parliament — and steering the vessel of the state towards the beacon of modernity.

The D’Arcy Concession was forever shadowed by controversy and resentment. As the Persian Empire entrusted its subterranean wealth to foreign hands, murmurs of dissent began to permeate the nation. The threads of dissatisfaction, silently woven into the fabric of society, were given a voice with the failed Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919. A proposed remedy, it instead served as the spark that set the stage for a grand upheaval. Sensing his nation’s waning influence, British General Edmund Ironside tapped the leader of Persia’s elite Cossack Brigade to seize this moment as his own. Reza Khan claimed more and more power until finally grasping the role of prime minister. Then in 1925, Reza Khan succeeded in convincing the Majles to remove the Qajar dynasty and name him the Shah. Thus was born the Pahlavi dynasty. Yet there was one member of the Majles who voiced his opposition to such a drastic change: A starboy who wanted to honor the 1906 Constitution, but was outnumbered and succumbed to an early retirement when his virtue was not matched by his colleagues in the Majles.

The Shah was not like his father, Reza Khan — a dictator with an iron fist. The Shah was 22 when he came to the throne. In the first Majles election under his reign, he failed miserably at attempting to rig the elections. The backlash was catastrophic, prompting the Tehran Spring. This moment in Iranian political history saw a unification of voices that echoed the 1906 revolution: It did not matter if they sat on the left, right, communist, or religious extremist — everyone was united against the Shah. Much like how Deioces, the first king to unite the Assyrians, vanished until he was coaxed back to rule over this new land, Mohammad Mosaddeq was coaxed out of retirement to help forge a new path for his country. His return marked a new direction for Iran’s political narrative, marrying the ideals of democracy and nationalism in a harmonious embrace. In his own timeless words from 1944, he declared, “No nation gets anywhere under the shadow of dictatorship”. And with this credo etched in his heart, he stepped into the limelight once more, poised to change the course of Iran’s history.

Reza Shah ushered in a new era for Persia. So new that he asked all foreign countries to cease calling his home by the name assigned to it by Greece, but invited the world to call his home Iran (Land of the Aryans). Where the Qajar Shahs were lions in name but lambs in deed, Reza Shah was a lion in every sense of the word. Reza Shah set out to remind Iranians of the richness of their history and culture, he even mandated the religious conservatives to remove their hijabs as Iran was older than Islam so why should Islam influence his esteemed country. And yet, in the gulf city of Abadan, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (aptly renamed Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, AIOC) was establishing a British community in this ancient land. The AIOC had built every imaginable need for their crown jewel of an oil company, but at the cost of alienating the desert tribes and traditional communities. Water fountains adorned with signs that read “Not for Iranians” were the oil that fueled the growth of Iranian resentment toward their British occupiers.

Mosaddeq’s logic of democracy and nationalism went hand-in-hand: how could a country be a democracy if it did not have genuine control over its own affairs? For this era of Iranian history, Iran’s most important resource was its oil. But post-war Britain was not going to release its grip on its crown jewel. The British proposed the “Supplemental Agreement”, but they miscalculated. They envisioned Iran to be similar to when Reza Shah ruled, an Iran where free speech and thought was out of the question. In 1933, Reza Shah negotiated a new deal with the APOC, but the largest concession he received was the change in name to AIOC. But under this new Majles, championed by Mosaddeq, Iranians were quick to question any government dealings that would succumb to foreign influence. The request from the Iranians was rather mundane: They merely wanted to audit the claims of the British that the AIOC was not profitable. In reality, the AIOC was funding their post-war welfare programs in Britain. Interestingly, it was these same British architects of control who, in the confines of their own island, chose to nationalize their resources, thereby fortifying their postwar welfare state. The hypocrisy was stark and inescapable: While they championed national rights on their own soil, they vehemently opposed a similar path for Iran, a country burdened by the concessions it had made to them. Postwar strains left Britain financially vulnerable, compelling them to resist further negotiations with the Iranians. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Americans had forged a 50/50 agreement between ARAMCO and Saudi Arabia, a contrasting model of resource sharing. Yet, despite the shifting sands of international precedent, the Majles in Iran remained cautious, viewing the notion of nationalization as too drastic a measure for the moment.

By the dawn of the 1950s, the voices of the Persian people echoed through the labyrinthine streets of Tehran, their passionate chants carrying the united demand to nationalize the AIOC. The public had grown weary of foreign dominion over their resources and yearned to reclaim control over their rich, oil-laden lands. Even when the olive branch of a 50/50 agreement was proffered, it was met with resounding resistance, the wound of previous injustices still fresh in the national psyche. The Shah stood on shaky ground. His authority, once unassailable, had been eroded by the rising tide of public discontent, marking a sharp fall from grace. One poignant illustration of this erosion was the Shah’s conspicuous absence at the Norooz (Iranian New Year) celebrations, an event traditionally marked by the royal presence. For the first time in many years, the square that usually hummed with anticipation for the royal arrival, lay eerily silent, a tangible sign that the Shah’s influence and public support were waning.

As winter thawed into spring in 1951, a unanimous wave of agreement swept through the Majles on March 15. This defining moment led to a political fallout — the Prime Minister, Hossein Ala, felt the chill of exclusion as he was bypassed in the strategic decision-making of the nine-step plan to nationalize the AIOC, triggering his abrupt resignation. In the ensuing vacuum of power, the Shah’s nominee, Zia ed-Din Tabatabai, was presented to the Majles, only to be met with a firm rejection. The Majles flexed its democratic muscles and cast its vote overwhelmingly in favor of Mohammad Mosaddeq, 79 to 12, pushing him onto center stage. Backed into a corner, the Shah was left with no alternative but to reluctantly bestow the mantle of Prime Minister onto Mosaddeq, his most detested adversary. Instead of looking to the elder Mosaddeq as an advisor — he was 69 when elected prime minister — the Shah feared Mosaddeq until his death. Consequently, the British found their worst Iranian nemesis at the helm of Persian politics, a fact that would send ripples through the fabric of the Empire.

In the searing summer of 1951, Mosaddeq, often compared to the venerable ancients Cyrus and Darius, came forth as the liberator of his people. Wielding power like a finely balanced sword, Mosaddeq echoed the pacifist resolve of Gandhi and the rebellious spirit of Hugo Chávez. His ascendancy was a bitter pill for the British to swallow, who watched helplessly as their worst Iranian nemesis enacted a sweeping expropriation of the AIOC, or as he provocatively called it, “the former company”.

His audacious move gave birth to an economic deadlock that felt like a protracted game of chicken, with the U.S. blinking first under the stern gaze of Mosaddeq and the increasingly vocal Iranians. Truman, fearing the simmering rise of communism in a strife-ridden Iran, urged negotiation, effectively validating the nationalization of the AIOC. The British, however, responded with an air of imperial disdain, and even their veiled threats of a militaristic Plan Y were quelled by U.S. intelligence reporting on Mosaddeq’s near-unanimous support among his people.

Unyielding negotiations and the adamant British refusal to recognize the principle of nationalization led to severe sanctions on Iran, precipitating its decline into an economic abyss. In the face of this international embargo, a weakened Iran faced the British at the UN, with Mosaddeq eloquently defending his nation’s aspirations. His triumph was so profound that the Security Council was left with no choice but to defer the debate, sparing the British further humiliation.

Even after this monumental victory, the principle of nationalization remained a sore point in the negotiations. Despite Mosaddeq’s openness to resuming discussions, the newly empowered Conservative Party under Churchill remained obstinate. Mossadeq, ever the statesman, recognized that this wasn’t just about oil or economic deals, but a struggle for the very soul of a nation.

Amid this high-stakes drama, the global stage cast its spotlight on Mosaddeq, making him Time’s “Man of the Year” for 1951 Yet the British, undeterred, continued to undermine him, even as the Iranian people rallied around their leader, ready to defend their rights and their resources to the end. In their hearts, they knew that this fight for their homeland, for their very identity, was indeed their finest hour.

In the swirling chaos of Iranian politics, not all were in alignment with Mossadeq. As the quality of life deteriorated, resentments bubbled to the surface, and fingers were pointed at Mossadeq, seeing in him a puppet of the West. The communists, in particular, held him in their crosshairs.

The British did their best to subvert Mosaddeq, even going as far as instigating riots during the next Majles election. A request for military control from the Shah by Mossadeq further stoked the flames of discord, but was met with refusal. Mossadeq, in an act of protest, submitted his resignation, only to be reinstated after his successor’s tenure crumbled in just five days. Fearful whispers spread that Mossadeq aspired to the presidency or perhaps the throne, but the principled leader maintained his stance; a monarch should reign, and a prime minister should rule.

Enter Fazlollah Zahedi, a loyal servant of the Pahlavi dynasty, an officer dismissed by Mossadeq for an overly violent crackdown of protestors, but with deep ties to anti-communism. In his quest to dislodge Mossadeq, Zahedi skillfully played the game of allegiance, managing to turn some of Mossadeq’s closest allies against him. The key figure that Zahedi would manipulate was Ayatollah Abol Qasem Kashani who had supported Mosaddeq’s nationalization plan, but was wavering over fear of growing Western influence in Iran. Meanwhile, Mossadeq, feeling the pressure, severed diplomatic ties with Britain, ordering the closure of their embassy and the expulsion of all British officials.

During this diplomatic tussle, Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President of the United States, promising to take a hard line against communism. Seizing this moment, Britain presented Operation Boot to the U.S., hinting at the communist threat from Iran. British intelligence painted a grim picture of Mossadeq’s Iran — a nation on the brink of chaos, a fertile ground for Soviet influence.

Skepticism met these initial reports in Washington, with the local CIA station chief warning of an Anglo-colonial scent to the scheme. Yet, the relentless anti-communist fervor of Allen Dulles, the new director of CIA, prevailed. Despite a thorough analysis suggesting that Mossadeq was not a communist, and that his nationalization agenda enjoyed almost universal Iranian support, the Eisenhower administration green-lit Operation Boot.

A torrent of propaganda was unleashed against Mossadeq, depicting him as everything from a communist sympathizer to an atheist. CIA operatives infiltrated various layers of Iranian society, hiring the Rashidian brothers and sowing the seeds of dissent, pushing important figures into active opposition against the government. Meanwhile, Mossadeq remained blissfully ignorant of this covert assault, clinging to his faith in American goodwill. He wrote to President Eisenhower asking for a loan or the right to sell Iranian oil to the U.S. By the time Mosaddeq received his rejection letter from President Eisenhower, a quiet American was on his way to Tehran.

Click the image above to download a PDF of the article. 

The stage was set for the CIA’s covert coup, dubbed Operation Ajax, with Kermit Roosevelt Jr. at the helm. In a four-pronged attack aimed at destabilizing Mossadeq’s rule, the plan involved a vigorous propaganda campaign, inciting riots and disturbances, securing the cooperation of military officers, and finally, facilitating the Shah to dismiss Mossadeq and appoint Zahedi as his replacement. The final point was the most challenging, but after receiving assurances that he would be out of Tehran and granted asylum should the coup fail, the Shah signed two farmans (imperial decrees), one dismissing Mosaddeq and one naming General Zahedi as Prime Minister.

However, the coup met with initial failure. Mossadeq’s chief of staff had been tipped off, and the Shah, fearing for his life, fled to Iraq. Yet, the relentless Roosevelt, undeterred by this setback, orchestrated a masterstroke of misinformation. Mass-produced copies of the Shah’s signed farmans were spread across Tehran, turning public sentiment against Mossadeq. Despite the story of the failed attempt on his life that Mosaddeq shared on the radio, the Iranian people began to question their Prime Minister and wondered if he in fact was the one orchestrating a coup.

In the final act of this grand political theater, paid mobs of Iranian wrestlers paraded the streets of Tehran, first as communists supporting Mossadeq, and later as nationalists defending the Shah. This culminated in violent clashes at Mossadeq’s home on August 19, 1953, resulting in 300 deaths and the successful execution of the coup. Many of the dead “patriots” had 500-rial notes in their pockets; the price of their loyalty, handed out by the CIA.

The aftermath was a mixed bag. Britain, the initial instigator, was humbled in the international arena, and the only five-years-old CIA catapulted into stardom with its first win and a playbook they would reuse for decades to come. In the world of petropolitics, it was the United States that had the last laugh. A new deal saw control of Iranian oil divided between Britain and a consortium of American companies, with billions of dollars flowing into American coffers over the next 25 years. Iran would also reap the rewards of this tidal wave, but it was never the same.

Such is the tumultuous tale of power and intrigue that unfolded between Iran, Britain, and the United States. The Shah, restored to his throne, ruled with an iron fist backed by American support. The brief flicker of democracy in Iran was smothered under his monarchy, paving the way for the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which still shapes the region’s geopolitical landscape today.

Eisenhower’s administration, triumphant, set the stage for Operation Ajax to be a play used and reused for foreign policy. The CIA now had the success to point to when engaging in foreign policy around the world: A tactic that would be repeated in many corners of the world with varying degrees of success and often regrettable consequences.

Once the unrivaled guardians of Iran’s oil bounty, the British were compelled to divide the spoils with their transatlantic allies. The concession was not just a sharing of material wealth, but also a surrender of prestige, a palpable testament to their receding clout in a world increasingly tipped in America’s favor. As a desperate attempt to retain a semblance of their former power, they rebranded the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company as British Petroleum. They remained in the game, their chess pieces still in play but demoted from kings and queens to mere pawns. Their dominance had been replaced by a subtle servitude, their power once absolute, now shared.

Mossadeq, the once-celebrated leader of Iran, was left a fallen hero. Accused of treason, he was sentenced to three years in prison and lifelong house arrest. He refused the Shah’s pardon, holding steadfast to his belief in Iranian sovereignty until his last breath.

Meanwhile, the innocent people of Iran, who had once held hope for a future shaped by their own hands, found themselves caught in a storm of international power politics. Their aspirations for democracy were doused by the ambitions of world powers, their rich, ancient land reduced to a mere battleground of Cold War rivalries.

And thus, the chapters of history unfolded, a saga of imperial ambitions, covert operations, and the struggle for sovereignty. The story of the 1953 coup is etched in the annals of global politics, a poignant reminder of the consequences when the games of power override the principles of justice, self-determination, and respect for national sovereignty.

Editor’s Note: All facts were taken from the book America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present by John Ghazvinian from pages 1-206.

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Primary Issue”. Click here to get your Annual Bitcoin Magazine Subscription.

Click here to download a PDF of this article.