This is an opinion editorial by Andrew Axelrod, a Bitcoin educator and writer whose LinkedIn posts have orange pilled thousands.
“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.” — Charles Baudelaire
Throughout history, people have always been blinded by the cathedral of their times. Ideas of chivalry, caste systems and royal bloodlines were all incredibly powerful constructs that towered above any possible scrutiny, let alone rebuke.
Today is no different.
Just as fish cannot perceive the water they swim in, it is also difficult for people to recognize the cathedrals for what they truly are. Grandiose narratives, fanciful myths, and seductive lies make for invisible chains.
They are the walls of Plato’s Cave. They are the scrolling green code of the Matrix.
And no prisoner can break free from shackles that remain hidden.
Such illusions are shattered by bitcoin — like waves breaking against solid rock. This is because bitcoin unveils the three most powerful and enduring illusions of our time — those of the competent central planner, the common good, and fiat money.
Let us now step through the looking glass and dissect these magic tricks one by one, starting with the competence of central planners.
Ah yes, central planners. They aspire to positions of power in the guise of charismatic figureheads, lofty intellectuals, the spiritually enlightened or impressive polymaths who’s vast knowledge spans the fields of economics, finance, healthcare, engineering, infrastructure, energy policy and oooohhhh so many more.
Even better, they are packaged and sold as benevolent leaders that strive for a better tomorrow, acting only out of altruism and for love of the common good. Truth and justice are their names.
Intellect, wisdom and hearts of gold? Sign me up!
Of the three, this is perhaps the easiest illusion to dispel.
At its best, politics is often described as the act of jumping in front of a moving parade while claiming credit. And at its worst, central planners get drunk on the myth of their own competence which inevitably turns the parade into a chain gang shuffle.
This is because central planning at its heart must rely on coercion. Voluntary actions occur organically, bottom up, and on the individual level. By definition, they do not need to be centrally orchestrated.
Next, putting aside the laughable notion that an individual mortal could possess any meaningful level of mastery across so many complex domaines and ignoring the fact that these are flesh and blood humans, naturally prone to self-interest and subject to all the usual dark appetites, it is equally insane to think that an abstraction such as the “common good” could ever be agreed on let alone achieved.
But that, of course, is the entire point.
The common good has always been in the eye of the beholder and is therefore highly susceptible to every possible perversion. It is ideally malleable — custom tailored camouflage for the central planner.
In the name of the common good, central planners then take upon themselves the right to decide on the conflicts of nations, on conscription in war, on the hollowing out of industry, on the allocation of rations, on the burden of tax (either directly at gunpoint or discretely through inflation) and, most importantly, on who gets to be first in line at the money printer’s trough.
Bitcoin of course flips this on its head. More on that later.
But how does such a ludicrous belief in central planning perpetuate itself — the deranged idea that a miniscule group of people, or oftentimes even a sole individual, should with the flick of a pen decide the wellbeing and economic fate of millions?
It all comes back to the delusion of the common good.
It is precisely this belief in the common good taken to its extreme, a belief in paradise on earth, that justifies the greatest abuses.
This is the corrosive narrative which central planners always draw on for legitimacy and which they use to feed their lust for control. Because ideas of eutopia justify any means to accomplish their end, central planners can use them to maximum effect. Not only do they make dubious claims of a eutopia, but also insist on possessing knowledge of the righteous path that leads to it.
Why go through the trouble of building such a cathedral?
Contrary to the common cynic’s belief, the vast majority of people want to be perceived as doing good and aren’t prone to extremism — a benefit of normal distributions.
Therefore, evil has to cloak itself in the mantle of virtue or else be rejected.
After all, the road to perdition is famously paved with good intentions.
And what could be more well intentioned than the pursuit of heaven on earth.
This is what lifted the Communists into power, perhaps the most outspoken central planners of them all. It is also what gives the jihadis credibility in the eyes of the faithful and what fueled the rise of Nazi Germany.
The common good is the perfect narrative for central planners to seize the reins of power and gives their followers the iron conviction to follow through on even the most heinous of acts.
And who would dare speak out against them? Who would be so cruel as to deny paradise.
Because when it comes to bringing about heaven on earth — no price is too steep, no sacrifice sufficient and no body count too high.
What do another million dead matter if paradise awaits just around the corner. It is never enough, the bloodlust cannot be slaked.
The nameless mass graves of 80 million killed at the hands of Mao, the 40 million under Stalin, the 20 million under Hitler, the 3.5 million under the Kims and the 3 million under Pol Pot … they all attest to this — slaughtered in the name of this most depraved of fantasies.
The sad irony is that although paradise is an illusion, hell on earth is very real.
In fact, eutopia and dystopia aren’t opposites — they’re synonyms.
And the surest way to arrive at this terrible destination is to concentrate ultimate power in the hands of a few, in the hands of central planners.
The carrot of eutopia combined with the stick of an emergency — whether it be a classless and plentiful society threatened by the greedy bourgeoisie, or the promise of a thousand year Aryan rule to crush the corrupting globalists or the establishment of a glorious caliphate as a stronghold against the aggressing infidels — these narratives are all designed to rally a core group of true believers and convince the wider public to enshrine in central planners extraordinary powers.
But how then do the actual mechanics of coercion work at scale and how is the average person ensnared beyond just turning a blind eye?
How does the narrative actually transmit into reality?
Through fiat money.
In the words of Henry Kissinger: “Who controls money, controls the world.”
This is the greatest trick ever played.
If the competent central planner and the common good can be called illusions, fiat money makes these look like cheap parlor tricks by comparison.
Most civilized societies have concluded that central planning of the economy is generally a bad idea. A committee of central planners overriding the free market by setting the prices of commodities, goods and services has always lead to great misery and starvation.
But when it comes to money, suddenly the rules seem to magically change.
At the center of every modern economy sits a central bank who’s explicit mandate is to control the supply of money through its balance sheet and set its price through interest rate fixing.
How can this contradiction be rationalized?
By this he meant that we’d grappled with the snakepit of national socialism but not the communist den of vipers — a tragic consequence of the Allies’ expedient alignment with the Soviets against the Third Reich.
One key consequence of this was that central planners were allowed to nest in the corridors of power and permitted to desecrate once hallowed institutions.
But even still, the notion that at least half the lesson was learnt is hopelessly optimistic.
The lessons of the past have been reduced to a wild goose chase for the modern day equivalent of an angry-sounding German man in leather boots and a silly-looking mustache. It’s a stultifying distraction from the underlying culprit of fiat money which allowed such madmen to rule in the first place. While society is preoccupied with a frenzied scavenger hunt for goose-stepping fascists, literal central banks have been put in charge of the money. As we will see, this is a clear pattern.
The money printer allows central planners to override free market choices.
What instrument of control could possibly be more perfect.
Endless wars can now be financed with just the push of a button, destructive policies can be pursued no matter the cost and when challenged, central planners can bribe their opposition into compliance with promises of a universal basic income, of “free” education and health care, and of subsidized housing for the needy.
And all of this they can deliver, if only given the power of the printer.
Fiat money lets central planners hide the true cost of their destructive decisions by papering over them. And when society inevitably collides with the walls of reality, this provides central planners with the perfect emergency to centralize even more.
In their greatest time of need, people blinded by panic will turn to the arsonists and beg them to extinguish the fire.
As the black hole of money printing distorts price signals, misallocates assets, and debases society’s savings, people will actually blame “late stage capitalism” for the deterioration.
Not recognizing the caustic effects of fiat money and centralized power, people will instead cry out for more of the same poison that ails them. When decades of loose monetary policy and insatiable money printing drove America into the Great Depression of the 1930s, the remedy was more centralization.
What followed was the outlawing of gold with Executive Order 6102, the last bulwark against fiat, and thereafter an unprecedented nationalization of private industry that fed the war machine.
In fact, FDR was able to centralize so much power that he became de facto president for life and died while serving his fourth term in office — the only president to ever do so. After his death, a 22nd amendment was hastily added to the constitution, setting a two-term limit on the presidency.
The massive military industrial complex that was erected during this time and has since grown by orders of magnitude, gorging itself on money printing, is something Americans are still contending with — unable to extricate themselves from multiplying conflicts.
When Weimar Germany collapsed under the hyperinflationary fires of the papiermark, the answer was again to centralize. Only this time, the Führer used fiat to turn Germany into a giant weapons manufacturer and burnt Europe to the ground.
And when Lenin’s Soviet Union was ravaged by three successive hyperinflations due to Communist profligacy, Stalin seized the mantle of power, then turned around and brutally butchered the Russian people. In fact, Soviet Russia burnt through a total of seven versions of the fiat ruble and endured seven painful resets.
The central planner’s fiat trick became so routine that Soviet workers would famously joke: “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay.” But of course, every fiat money must find a point of exhaustion, when the money printer’s ink runs dry. It is for this reason, that the seemingly opposite Eastern communist and Western capitalist systems were at least similar in this way:
Both ultimately believed in top-down control through fiat money.
Only the communists, spurred on by a more rabid fanaticism, made the fatal mistake of centralizing every nut and bolt of their economy, involving the government in decisions ranging from the harvesting of crops to the manufacturing of shoes and the production of cars. This ended in incomprehensible human suffering.
Central planners in the West took a more tactful approach by first allowing their economies to self organize and fatten up before milking them dry via centralized money.
And so, fiat is the greatest trick ever played. It is also the ultimate heist, allowing central planners to siphon off a population’s entire productivity and exhaust its every resource through the counterfeiting of money. Fiat money is watermelon socialism — capitalist green on the outside and communist red at its core.
As justification, central planners must contort themselves into impressive mental pretzels and invert the truth. Some of these brazen lies famously include:
- That the constant manipulation of money is productive and necessary.
- That Keynesianism is a legitimate school of thought which every economics major must be indoctrinated with.
- That money printing does not cause price inflation.
- That price inflation, which invariably follows, is actually good because it also inflates GDP. For some reason, less affordable prices of goods and services are claimed as positives by this twisted logic.
- That the financialization of economies and stripping of their real assets through deindustrialization are actually markers of prosperity.
- That recessions no longer exist and employment is full because these terms can be easily re-defined to suit, in true Orwellian fashion.
- That the fiat driven credit boom and bust cycles which lead to great depressions and war are natural and good.
- That central banks are staples of a free market economy.
- And of course, the slandering of bitcoin as a mere toy for criminals and plaything of fringe anarchists.
War is peace. Slavery is freedom. Ignorance is strength.
But what if money could not be printed at will? If money bore an actual cost, then central planners’ maleficence would become almost instantly and laughably obvious. The people’s pocket could no longer be picked with inflation and the central planner’s incompetence would incur an immediate and tangible cost. Want to wage wars? You’ll need to pay for them. Want to fund wasteful government programs? You’ll need to justify them. Want to bankrupt your citizens and leave them destitute? You’ll need to face them.
Central planners could no longer destroy the world on credit and would be required to close out their tab. The cost of unproductive and wrongheaded action would come to bear immediately and allow society to course correct. This is what bitcoin does by separating money and state. It takes the central planner’s favorite tool of coercion and snaps it in half like a brittle twig. Once money can no longer be printed, what good are moral posturing and illusions of grandeur.
Bitcoin strips the lie of the common good down to the hollow and empty shell that it really is and exposes any shred of unearned competence the central planners have left.
Their trick revealed, central planners will finally be forced to take a bow — they just shouldn’t expect any applause.
This is a guest post by Andrew Axelrod. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.