Cheeseknives and Enlightenment

Why a secular currency like Bitcoin is the best money for the Information Age – by Jörg Platzer

If we cease to believe in God, he ceases to exist. If we cease to believe in the dollar, it does the same. Not only for this reason are our debts a profoundly religious issue based on faith.

Any money‘s acceptance relies on trust – trust in money somehow maintaining its value, in others sharing this opinion, and therefore, trust in our acceptance of money in exchange for other products or services. Hence believing that through our money, the quantified moral guilt of society is made apparent and that society will redeem this guilt.

We have learned that Bitcoin, or cryptocurrencies in general, demand a great deal less belief than regular money. While one can only believe in the dollar if one essentially believes in central bankers, governments, their good intentions and rationality and, on top of it all, in the postulated invisible hands of highly manipulated markets, one doesn‘t need all that to believe in Bitcoin. The rules by which this money functions are carved in source code, transparent to anyone and impossible to manipulate.

The Information Society

Jörg Platzer at Room 77

Where does the readiness to fundamentally believe in this new money come from, the readiness to believe that Bitcoin will keep on representing value for others, making it a potential means of payment for the future? The faith, which in the case of government money is asserted through constraints of armed forces to accept it and pay taxes with it. Whoever starts out using and understanding Bitcoin solely as payment method alone makes an astounding discovery: the discovery that our existing financial system and money is absurdly inept for what we call information society and globalized economy.

With our financial system, it is impossible to send 50 cents to a blogger on another continent because you liked his article, or 10 dollars to a coder in Bangladesh for his bugfix without paying high transaction fees. Here comes Bitcoin and suddenly it enables such transactions without which we can‘t even begin to speak of information society.

The Globalised Economy

As a cheap labourer from the third world, the only way to send earnings back to the family is by paying sinister credit institutions up to 20% of its value in fees, meaning the family back home has 20% less to eat. This means 20% worth of toll to government authorised highwaymen, their monopoly guaranteed by the government as the only way allowed to be taken. Here too comes Bitcoin and puts an end to this incredible, outrageous exploitation of the poorest members of globalised society.

This experience gives you the feeling that, all your life, you have been attempting to tighten and loosen screws with a cheese knife and then, all of a sudden, you are introduced to: a screwdriver. Or more accurately: a cordless screwdriver with interchangeable stainless-steel bits. Only now do you realise what a cruddy, unhandy tool you have been using all along.

Our accustomed fiat money was created in the age of the Industrial Revolution and for an industrial society, read monopolistically channelled money from monopolistic structures for monopolistic structures. Bitcoin, however, is decentralised money, made by individuals for individuals, developed on the Internet for the Internet.

Beating a Dead Horse

The Bitcoin community shows us what a financial system can look like in this century and reveals how absurdly incapable and equally corrupt our economic and financial elite actually is. An elite that beats the fiat system with the same fervent despair and the same chances of success as a cowboy dying of thirst in the desert beats his dead horse, with the railway he never noticed or wanted to notice only yards behind him.

Bitcoin is made to fulfill demands our society has for the financial system of the future. This is where a further level of faith which is needed for a medium to become payment method comes into play: the faith that others will use and accept this money. In the future, preferring Bitcoin to conventional means of payment will be as reasonable as preferring a screw-driver to a cheese knife when dealing with screws.

The Austrian school of economy tells us that every society with free market conditions of currencies will always choose the method with the best suitable features to be used as money.

Clearly, Bitcoin is out on a limb and beats all known options. It brings with it its own free market automatically, as the government or any other institution imposing restraints would only earn a bitcoin-user‘s crypto-anarchic smile in response.

As Powerful as the Printing Press

Bitcoins underlying technological achievements are just as impossible to be collectively made forgotten as the printing press, which kings and popes of the time disliked just as bankers and presidents of today dislike Bitcoin. To trust in Bitcoin as a payment method and financial instrument of the future, and to assume that others share this perception, does not need believing in government force, but simply offers the obvious logical conclusion.

With Bitcoin, the trust, which is necessary for the acceptance and establishment of currencies, is not based on faith, but reason, not on compulsion, but on voluntariness – therefore, not based on religious values, but those of the Enlightenment.

Bitcoin is secular money. Through Bitcoin, the financial system has finally reached its Age of Enlightenment. It‘s about time.

Room 77 in Berlin-Kreuzberg

Jörg Platzer is the co-founder of the Crypto Economics Consulting Group. Until 2021 he ran the bar Room 77 in Berlin, the first brick and mortar place on this planet where you could pay with Bitcoins (since 2011).