What Is Bitcoin Culture All About?
This article was originally published as Culture and Choice on Thriller.
In this article, plebpoet presents an argument for identifying the mechanisms of culture at play in the decisions you make in order to realize and make full use of the choices life presents you with.
I point to the counterculture wave inside the Bitcoin ecosystem to exemplify the importance of examining one’s culture and individual choice.
First, let’s deal with what I mean when I say culture and choice. The individual is a creature of choice. Everything he/she is and does comes as a consequence on the other side of a choice. One’s environment presents the choices that he/she will make.
But humans are complex organisms within complex systems; therefore, our environment is complex. An individual becomes a participant in the environment because they must select from a narrowed set of choices; otherwise, there would be decision paralysis, and the individual would quickly be overwhelmed by all the choices that the environment presents.
What arises from the relationship between each individual and their environment is culture. Culture limits choice; this is not its ultimate function but an effect. Culture removes certain possibilities in order that the individual should pursue more favorable possibilities, and “favorable” could be defined here as whatever means lead to the continued success of the species, i.e. existence.
I am not a biologist, nor am I an anthropologist, but what I have just laid out comes from my understanding of the discussion of culture presented in the book, Culture as Given, Culture as Choice by Dirk Van Der Elst, published in 2003. It is this book, along with my personal experience, that got me thinking about culture and choice. It is Bitcoin that has totally revolutionized how I think about the individual.
Now let’s turn to the current environment. Speaking as a young American adult, it seems the culture is broken. The test of a healthy culture should be the general health of the population because it is the culture that supplies the population with information and choice. Did it present you with choices that, if followed, would lead you to a flourishing life?
When I look at myself, family members, close friends, or employers, I find that going along with the culture, using it as the template from which to generate a life, plugging in its signals, and following its directions, one ends up miserable, unhappy, single, depressed, and probably addicted to something, be it television or other media entertainment, drugs or pornography, gambling, or incessant, narcissistic self-care. While I don’t have evidence for this claim, it feels as though recently our culture began to be used as a weapon against us.
When I examine the cultural programming around me, and by this I mean the materials and messaging used to influence choices that rely on culturally-accepted norms as their justification, I see traps. I see destruction. The narrowed landscape of choice in the current culture is treacherous.
I can speak from personal experience about this treachery.I listened and went along with the influence of culture long enough for it to mess up and show me that my choices were not my own. I wrote of this personal experience in 2021 for Citadel 21 volume 11, the article titled, “How a Lefty Became a Maxi.” It was my response to the undeniable awakening I went through in 2020. If there ever was a single moment that a human being becomes a sovereign individual, I had mine that summer, and I’ll never forget it. There is a marked difference between who I was prior to June 2020 and who I am now. This is why I am so interested in examining culture and choice in order to understand what’s happened to me, and to warn and protect the people I care about from an influence that seeks to destroy them. If the culture, as I see it, is moving against the individual, how are we to survive? If the culture is influencing in the direction of destruction, and this is where a large portion of our information about how to live is received, it is no wonder that things fall apart.
Here’s the happy part. Yes, things are falling apart, but at the same time, there is a counter-culture movement focused on building things up again, imagining life in the future that can be greater than, well, ever. It could only be counter to culture because, as discussed, the culture is filled with traps and a narrow set of choices that limit and destroy. It could only be Bitcoin, because transacting between each other as sovereign individuals in a free and open market with free and open money built on free and open software is a principled set of rules arrived at through consensus. These are the ingredients for human flourishing.
While there is cultural transformation happening inside Bitcoin, fortunately, it is not the aim or the most interesting part of its story; it is only its effect. And this, I believe, is what fortifies the movement against capture, keeps it honest, and turns out a community of dedicated, passionate, forward-thinking, clear-headed people—the sort of people I would trust to bring about a future that is good and fair. I did not see this at first, and it has taken me time to verify that this movement I’m aligning with can back up its claims, that Bitcoin fundamentally works, and that the network in which I can be a participant is truly open. If I had attempted to write this a year ago, I would have said that bitcoiners are just as vulnerable to the true believer traps as anyone else, the self-righteous, “our team is going to save the world” religiosity found in other movements that emerge in response to broken culture.Still, there is risk involved, and any bitcoiner should be up front about it. But Bitcoin does not set out to disrupt culture; it sets out to be an internet-native hard money that works, establishing and incentivizing a culture around it that focuses on building and growth, realizing their limitless potential as sovereign individuals, and therefore completely changing the narrowed set of choices the culture in decline projects onto them, as these means do not produce functional nor favorable ends. Probing Bitcoin will unravel every system of knowledge and build back up the ones that are useful based on their principles. We refer to this as the rabbit hole. I do not find anything else in the current environment as effective at replacing bad cultural inputs with true signals.
It is possible for an individual to wake up and realize their life will be better when they take control of it and make conscious decisions that go against, or at least question, the cultural programming that surrounds them, hoping to consume their strength of will by supplying easy choices and bad information. It’s happening now.
Like what you’ve read? Care to challenge or discuss? Have something on your mind you think I should write about? I’m @plebpoet and you can message me on Twitter. Thanks for reading!