This is opinion editor Logan Bolinger, a lawyer and author of a free weekly newsletter on the intersection of Bitcoin, macroeconomics, geopolitics and the law.
“I’m more interested in asking whether the world we want to live in is one where we have to hyper-financialize every aspect of a person’s life, because the financial conditions at the macro level are such that you have to finance your entire existence. to keep up or to get ahead? Is this really a victory for democracy and the psycho-spiritual well-being of all of us and the life we want to live? Against something like Bitcoin, it’s basically saying it’s a financing force because we think it might be better to have a world where you can actually save money and you don’t just have to spend it or invest it in some things or speculate? Discover ways to feel more fulfilled or fulfilled as a person, and then you will be able to pursue other things? I think the end of Bitcoin is that we all think less about money and more about other things we care about.
I made these statements in a recent episode of the What Bitcoin Has Done podcast discussing Bitcoin and the ways in which I think it can catalyze positive change in our inner lives as opposed to the current state of Web 3.
We often think of Bitcoin as having an impact on our external realities, be it political, monetary, legislative, etc. we discuss and theorize ways to reshape or reconfigure them. internal lives, a process that can cause leakage in aggregate up priorities and values.
I want to talk about two different concepts of freedom to explain why we focus so much on one of them. When people describe themselves as “liberty maximalists”, they primarily mean a negative idea of freedom, the idea of freedom. from intervening external constraints. This type of freedom is obviously of fundamental, extraordinary importance. Without freedom from certain external constraints, it is difficult, if not impossible, to try to achieve meaningful self-realization, which we will call positive freedom.
We focus so much on the negative freedom aspects of Bitcoin that we fail to fully appreciate the positive freedom that Bitcoin facilitates. This means that we pay close attention to the ways in which Bitcoin avoids external interference or restrictions (freedom). from) we believe that Bitcoin allows us to fully express ourselves (freedom for).
[N.B. for my humanities/philosophy friends: Yes, I am drawing on the work of Isaiah Berlin with these positive/negative freedom terms]
I would argue that libertarian maximalism does not hold in a long-term sustainable way because it is not really an end state. It is a necessary posture to achieve a certain environment in which positive freedom can be productively exercised. However, negative freedom without positive freedom is like having an infinite number of television channels but not knowing what you want to watch. It’s like having the freedom to pursue whatever you want without actually having to decide what you want to pursue or what’s worth pursuing.
Americans are particularly attuned to ideas of negative liberty, but not so adept when it comes to positive liberty. We can see this everywhere, including in the Bitcoin space. If one makes money, builds a following, or creates an entire identity around being a “liberty maximalist,” one’s livelihood and sense of self depend on the continued presence of external constraints for one to critique. As the author Lewis Hyde once wrote about irony, it can become a bird that unwittingly (and mostly subconsciously) begins to love its cage.
So, while freedom maximalism (negative freedom) is vital, we also need to watch and prioritize what my spouse invents accordingly. goal oriented maximalism (positive freedom), is a perspective and way of living in our inner life. Bitcoin doesn’t get enough credit for its ability and potential to promote this kind of inward-looking change.
What does expediency maximalism look like in our daily life experience? One obvious example of this is our relationship with the unbridled consumerism endemic in the fiat monetary system.
Let me share some statistics that show just how broken these relationships are:
According to the Los Angeles Times, the average American home has 300,000 items.
According to NPR, the average size of the American home has nearly tripled in the past 50 years.
Nevertheless, one in ten Americans rents out-of-home storage, the fastest-growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades.
British research found that the average 10-year-old child owns 238 toys, but only plays with 12 a day.
The average American household spends $1,700 on clothes each year, while throwing away an average of 65 pounds of clothing each year.
You get the idea. There is practically no end to the data showing the amount of crap we have and the increasing amount of space (physical and mental) this crap is taking up.
Americans are consuming more than ever.
Although their purchasing power does not increase significantly.
What explains this? One factor is that we measure our economic health by how much we spend, a fiat and Keynesian way of measuring economic vitality. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of GDP. If we spend less, the metric we use to measure economic health goes down.
And we’re seeing more ads than ever.
But most importantly, there is a pervasive high time preference, which I think is part of much of our culture.
This is where I think Bitcoin comes into play. Much of this rat race consumer orgy is high time preference behavior encouraged by a fiat money system that ensures your money loses value over time. Since your purchasing power is sand in the hourglass and you’re working harder than ever, consumer spending serves both a practical and comforting purpose. In other words, we are encouraged to spend because not spending or investing means our money is just sitting around losing value. And if we work so hard, most of us just to keep up with things we don’t enjoy, do we have to buy all the new cool stuff to make us feel like it was all worth it?
If we remove ourselves from some of the rat race stuff, it clears space to think less about money, which means we can be more intentional about everything else. Hence the idea of intentionality maximalism. We are reclaiming our positive freedom, our freedom to express ourselves in the highest way. Bitcoin, in my opinion, is ultimately the search for a sustainable alternative to the rat race model.
It’s really a conflict of values. Consumerism is the value of the fiat system. This is both a literal value, as we measure economic health largely by measuring consumption, but also by underlying behavioral patterns. By encouraging mindless, reflexive consumption and prioritizing less time, if Bitcoin continues to grow in adoption, searches, connections, creativity, community contribution, presence, and more.
When it comes to this internal transformation, this maximalism of purpose, and the ways Bitcoin moves us in that direction, I think Bitcoin shares some fundamental principles with minimalism, which has deep, ancient roots but is gaining more popularity. in the last decade or so. Proponents of minimalism, given the limitations of uncontrolled consumerism, can place in our lived experience, living with fewer unused, unnecessary items to reclaim freedom and space to realize life and what is important. Which is the pursuit of a more purposeful life.
Joshua Fields Millburn, co-founder of theminimalists.com, describes minimalism as “what helps us make room for the important things in life because of the things we have.” things all.”
Bitcoin’s promise, to borrow Millburn’s phrase, is to be the money that, with its health, allows us to stop thinking about money all the time so that we can make room for the important things in life—which we tend to lose, to neglect. , and/or sacrificed in consumption and systematically forced pursuit of more and more money.
We spend a lot of time thinking about money (how to get it, how to get more of it, how to grow it, how to keep up with inflation, how to invest it, how to spend it, what to spend it on, how to get rich quick, how to pay the bills, etc.). ). And to some extent this will always be true. I am not advocating a Platonic form of communism here.
But when money doesn’t hold its value, when it’s constantly depreciating, when the national debt is so large it needs to be inflated, and when a country’s economic health is measured by how much it consumes, it creates an environment where money is almost all we think about.
That’s why I’ve been so critical/skeptical about some of the proposals in other corners of the crypto world, many of which are trying to finance every corner of our lives. I think this perpetuates and perhaps reinforces our highly time-sensitive environment.
In contrast, the consequences and downstream effects of our collective lowering of our time preferences, which in my view necessarily include less consumerism, simply cannot be underestimated. Imagine if an entire population could finally save a healthy amount of money and spend more time and energy on the things that mean the most to them.
Now again, I’m not referring here to a utopian end-state where we’re all singing around the campfire (although I do enjoy songs and campfires). I’m talking about giving back some space and some presence to people who are accustomed to spending their every waking moment thinking about money and consumption out of necessity. I’m talking about a transformation of our inner lives that clears space for more purposeful living. I think an underrated aspect of Bitcoin is its potential to catalyze such a transformation.
So be a freedom maximalist because it matters. But don’t stop there, because this alone won’t keep you full for long. Be a maximalist on purpose, too.
Many people live a forced, constrained, and unwitting life in a fiat system:
I think Bitcoin is meant to avoid that.
This is a guest post by Logan Bolinger. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and those of BTC Inc. or do not reflect the views of Bitcoin Magazine.