The Bitcoin Matrix Podcast #34 — Michael Goldstein: Everyone’s A Scammer, Praxeology & Advanced Geopolitical Meme Warfare
Link to the audio: https://bitcoinmatrix.libsyn.com/michael-goldstein-everyones-a-scammer-praxeology-advanced-geopolitical-meme-warfare
Cedric Youngelman: Michael Goldstein is the founder of the Nakamoto Institute, the co-host of The Noded Podcast, author of several notable pieces in the Bitcoin space, including Everyone’s A Scammer, How to Meme Bitcoin to the Moon, Austrian economics guru and the memelord himself, Michael Goldstein welcome to the Bitcoin Matrix Podcast! How are you?
Michael Goldstein: I’m doing great Cedric! Thanks for having me!
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah man! It’s really great to connect with you! I bring up those two pieces in particular, because they’ve really had an important affect on the way I frame things up and think about the world now! And I also look at the writing style and the timing of the writing. It seems that — you know I mean you’re writing is incredibly concise, and I say that in the most positive way! You don’t mince words. I think you’re very careful with your words, it seems to have a lot of conviction. Where did your understanding of a lot of these topics like Austrian economics come from?
Michael Goldstein [05:24]: Well I started studying Austrian economics in high school after the financial crisis happened. And I realized that I knew nothing about economics. I was hearing on the radio people talking about all these different things going on and, despite being a high-performing student in some respects, despite being kind of a smart guy or whatever, I had no clue what they were talking about! And that was quite humbling! So because of that I reached out to some people online to get some information on economics, and I was sent — thankfully — basically Rothbard and other ways to the Mises Institute. So I was devouring that all through high school and college, and I think that gave me a very strong if not somewhat heterodox view of money as far as the modern age goes! But that also set me right up for being able to incorporate Bitcoin into my worldview!
Cedric Youngelman: I find this interesting in the sense that — obviously that event is definitely gonna draw attention to the mindhive — and so I can completely understand you diving into it a bit. But what did you think you were gonna do with that knowledge, and how it might impact or enhance your life or your outlook?
Michael Goldstein [06:59]: You mean like the Austrian economics?
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah when I was studying Austrian economics in high school or even going into more esoteric subjects or contrarian topics, sometimes you can get into a rabbit hole and you might say, Okay great! I’ve learned a lot about economics here, but I’m still probably gonna get a four-year degree, maybe a job somewhere. I mean not everyone takes that information and thinks it’s gonna enhance their life in any way that might impact their actions or their behavior down the road. And sometimes you say, Okay well you might study economics and you might find out that maybe you think a certain system is not designed properly or is gamed — but what is the individual gonna do about it? And what are you gonna do with this knowledge?
Michael Goldstein: Yeah! It’s a very good question but I guess it’s funny because for me it was like, Well, when it really comes down to it I wanted to win arguments online! That was what it brought me, was the ability to win arguments online. It does also paint a generally coherent view of the world, and having that I think is just generally powerful to have because you’re able to make rational decisions about what to do! It sets the stage so you can apply it to just about any part of your life. So especially with Austrian economics with its specific ways of looking at things like entrepreneurship, it sets you up for thinking about entrepreneurship in a very broad way, encourages entrepreneurship, encourages capital accumulation and all that. With that, whatever it is someone has an interest in beyond just the economics, it can help you in your decision making — it sets up a good picture of the world to place yourself in.
Cedric Youngelman: I wonder how much of it was from — I think you’ve called yourself a lifelong contrarian? And I get the vibe that you’re a bit anti-authority, and it’s not even so much, Don’t tell me what to do! It’s more like, Can’t tell me what to do. That you were searching for that power, that truth, and that ability to stand on something firmer than the discourse you didn’t understand.
Michael Goldstein [09:51]: Right! I don’t like sit around and use that anti-authoritarian label, because I think there are different kinds of authorities in our lives.
Cedric Youngelman: And I wasn’t trying to label you!
Michael Goldstein: On no for sure! Understood! I was just saying I look to certain people as authorities on different subjects and I will tend to listen to them. Yeah I don’t really take up these labels. I don’t really think in terms of labels — that’s a really kind of cliché and douchy thing to say, but—
Cedric Youngelman [10:39]: No I think it’s actually really on point! It comes through in a lot of your writing, where you’re very careful with the words you choose. You tend to define them in a very subtle, careful way, to make sure that people don’t misinterpret yourself. It gets across very quickly because you’re so concise and you’re not overusing words!
Michael Goldstein: Yeah I appreciate that! To get back to what you were saying though, Yeah! I’ve always had a strong interest in pursuing that actual truth. As far as the contrarianism goes, it’s not really because I want to be a contrarian to everyone — although it certainly can be satisfying and entertaining — it’s also, I’m willing to point out where there’s a place where everyone is literally just wrong about something! And I don’t mind being the only person who sees that!
Cedric Youngelman [11:39]: I’m curious what your journey was like from the moment you discovered Rothbard, and what that path was like for you? Was it a lot of just reading and solo consumption of material? Were you meeting people online before University of Texas, and connecting with other Rothbardians and other Austrian economic thinkers?
Michael Goldstein: You know, this is so long ago now I don’t really remember what kind of online discussions I was getting into or if it was just me lurking the Internet on those topics! It’s been too long for me to remember! It could have been one or the other, but as far as finding that, the very first thing that I read of a sort of Libertarian and economic — in that realm — was an essay called I, Pencil by Leonard Read, which is a famous one. I think most people would know it based on the Milton Freedman retelling in Free to Choose.
Cedric Youngelman: That’s what I’ve seen, or at least a video of it.
Michael Goldstein: Yeah it’s just describing how when you actually come down to it, no one person knows how to create a pencil! It seems absurd but it’s true because you have to get the wood from somewhere, and that requires all of this specialized knowledge of cutting down the wood, etc., then you have the people who have to go get the graphite, the little metal piece, the eraser, you have the rubber of the eraser — you have all of these lines of production that go into this single thing! And so there is a factory where probably one guy knows how to take all of those resources and put them together, but that ignores all of the structures of production that lead up to that point! So what that essay taught me — I mean before I was even done with the essay it just all clicked — what a market really is, it’s a very expansive set of these structures of production and exchange between different producers and consumers and all of that. Also, because of how complex it is, you probably don’t want to mess with it! So it was very easy with those simple realizations to get sucked into the anarcho-capitalist mindset of Rothbard. From there, I’ve certainly tried to challenge that worldview a lot, but for the most part it’s just been sharpening over time! Adding nuance where needed, but mostly just diving into the implications of this and how we can apply it perhaps to our understanding of the historical events and the world around us.
Cedric Youngelman [14:55]: So you get to University of Texas, and do you start the Mises Circle right away? Is that something you just start up? And what kind of reaction did you get in the Mises Circle? I ask in the sense that, I think you also mentioned that the Longhorn Libertarians were the best Libertarian group in the country, and it seemed like this was a really special crucible! Or did you just make things happen there?
Michael Goldstein [15:24]: No there was already a group there, the Libertarian Longhorns, that at the time it was all a bunch of hardcore Rothbardians on UT campus! I was actually sad that I wasn’t able to get in touch with them while I was still in high school, because it’d be nice to have that camaraderie. They were already like that, so I fit right in! And it was a wonderful group of people and that’s where I met many friends who I know to this day! Yeah the Mises Circle was started later on because when you’re in these groups there is this kind of understandable pattern where you stick with a lot of basics, because you always have new people coming in to check out the group, so you want to keep it accessible to a wide audience. For instance, when the topic of economics comes up, you’ll find that a lot of groups like this, it’s talking about the broken window fallacy over and over and over again. It’s like, That’s a good lesson! It’s great! Every new person needs to learn that lesson! There’s a reason why it’s the very first thing in Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. However, as someone who already knows that lesson and has a deeper interest in the economics, there was a desire to be able to dive in deeper with friends. So a few of us just made an additional group that could act as a reading group and dive into whatever was interesting us at the time! There was a gazillion different rabbit holes you can go down within economics!
Cedric Youngelman [17:18]: Sure! It sounds like the group is a little bigger than I imagined in the Libertarian group, and then you guys moved into the Mises Circle to get a more intimate experience, dive deeper into certain subjects?
Michael Goldstein: It was just like an offshoot, yeah.
Cedric Youngelman: Right. And did the Mises Circle become the Nakamoto Circle at some point?
Michael Goldstein [17:43]: Sort of! I think I actually posted somewhere all of the readings that we did at the Mises Circle —
Cedric Youngelman: Yes you have!
Michael Goldstein: And later on you start to see that there was a lot of Bitcoin-related discussion, and that came about in late 2012 and early 2013. As soon as you get into Bitcoin, it’s hard to stop thinking about it! So in a way it did become the Bitcoin circle! The Nakamoto Institute idea did kind of stem out of that, but basically the Mises Circle was where these ideas were first being developed. We were the ones — sorry I shouldn’t say the ones, there were other places that were thinking about Austrian economics! — but it was a place where we were trying to take this thing, Bitcoin, that we had all gotten interested in, and try to apply an Austrian lens to it, to understand it through Austrian analysis! At the time online, there was just not that much to go by to think about Bitcoin from a serious economic perspective. So I was like, Okay, well, we’ll just have to figure this out! The good news is that the Austrians pretty much had money completely figured out! So it was really just about porting over what already existed onto Bitcoin. But that does have its hurdles that I think a lot of people have recognized: that not all Austrians have been able to make those leaps!
Cedric Youngelman [19:38]: Yeah that’s the hinge that I really want to dive into here! So in high school you come across Austrian economics, which is not a brand new science. It’s been around since the mid-1800s I believe. But you come across it, you’re not learning about it in school, you dive into it! I don’t know how you come across Bitcoin between 2008–2012 but you do, and I see the Nakamoto Institute as a natural extension of the Mises Circle and discussion, but, like you’re touching on, there is that hinge where you’re reframing the conversation, and I find it remarkable that your mind was able to not switch the conversation but switch the framing very quickly upon this new idea! And what I’m impressed by is your ability to digest a new idea to you, and decide what it means to you! So I just think that’s remarkable and I wonder — for Bitcoiners today a lot of Bitcoiners today they might discover it on Twitter and it still is a very solo experience! And I gotta imagine it’s quite different to be able to have these incubated conversations very early on, and very interesting and very special to maintain these relationships over this long period of time and still be interested in the same thing! Sort of like, I’m amazed when four guys end up in the high school and form Radiohead, and they just happened to meet as children and they’re able to create music together, but also maintain those relationships! Because people change, and your views change, and maybe Bitcoin is this one fundamental thing that doesn’t change. But I find it remarkable! Maybe you could just touch on: Has it been a different ride for you? Having that experience — you know in college I used to stay up with friends and we used to talk about things all night! Maybe all weekend! And you can get into things in philosophy and metaphysical topics and esoteric things. I have less time with my friends to do that —I’m not saying I have less time now. And then to maintain that dialogue I just think is remarkable!
Michael Goldstein [21:56]: Yeah! I think I was very lucky to be with a group of people who had a similar worldview because having a sort of hardcore Rothbardian outlook on the world is not something you come across often! So the fact that there was a good group of people that I could be chatting with all of the time on these things — I was very very fortunate! I agree these sustained dialogues, they’re just amazing to have! I think everyone could benefit from being able to find even just one person that they can maintain a dialogue with over the course of years. To this point, people see how Pierre and I are — we have a podcast together, we did the Nakamoto Institute and all of that, you know? We met at the University of Texas while doing this and it’s been able to maintain that the whole time! So yeah I was very fortunate to be able to have those particular things come together.
Cedric Youngelman [23:12]: Yeah well it makes me think that UT is a very special place!
Michael Goldstein: At least our part of it! I don’t know what the rest of the school was like!
Cedric Youngelman: I understand! But the fact that it was there, and I believe UT is in Austin and you’re still in Austin, so I’m assuming that there’s more to it than just the campus! I mean you moved there from a different part of Texas and it seems like you’re still there!
Michael Goldstein: Texas is home! So it’s just what it is!
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah. We’ll touch on that hopefully a little later! I do want to turn our attention to the first piece I want to dive into. You did write this in September of 2014, I think that’s important to note. And it’s Everyone’s a Scammer! The first thing we’re gonna touch on is there was a war going on! What do you mean by that? Especially in 2014?
Michael Goldstein [24:03]: Yeah! It’s funny, over the years people have always been very upset about throwing around the word scammer, which I made sure to put my disclaimer all the way at the end because they’re not gonna read the whole article!
Cedric Youngelman: I was gonna touch it! It’s a heuristic, we’ll get there!
Michael Goldstein: Yeah it’s a heuristic rather than an accusation. Now there are actual scammers — I think everyone would agree, including shitcoiners, that there are many for real actual scammers in this space! But the real thing is just, this article was me trying to take the scarcity of Bitcoin completely seriously! And take these implications to the logical conclusions and think about, Well what is the implication of that in how I should view other people in the space? To me that’s like, If everyone’s a scammer, that doesn’t mean to have a negative view of everyone! But it’s more about being able to cultivate the lowest time preference attitude possible! Because if your default is that everyone is just trying to take your Bitcoins, then it sets a high threshold for what you’re willing to actually give, which means that you are cultivating serious standards for yourself! And all of this is just very important because there are only 21 million Bitcoins and as we’ve seen the price since that article has continued to increase at an exponential rate, and you just have to take that seriously! There’s no going back, and I wish there was going back, because I was a college kid up until around when that article was written! It’s like, I couldn’t even afford Bitcoin when they were super cheap because I was completely broke! So I wish I could go back and be buying $10 Bitcoin! So you have to have that forward-thinking attitude, but not just to tomorrow but deep into the future! So when a person is offering to sell stuff for Bitcoin it’s like, Well what’s in it for you to pay in Bitcoins? Now if there wasn’t a capital gains tax on just any Bitcoin spending, then there could be a reason to want to spend and replace because it’s just like, there are obvious benefits to being able to spend in Bitcoin rather than using a credit card. However as far as pure economics, a lot of people talked about spending Bitcoins as if it’s this sort of great, altruistic thing that grows the network or whatever! No, what grows the network is its scarcity and Number Go Up, not dis-HODLing! And so you’re not really helping, especially if a lot of these merchants are just gonna be turning around and selling the Bitcoin themselves, they’re just suppressing the price — that’s all you’ve done! Whereas if you HODL it, you’re helping add — you’re helping the value increase, thus on the very margins you’re benefiting from Bitcoin’s growth!
Cedric Youngelman [27:59]: Right. I mean for me, I think the root of this article is praxeology. I didn’t know that word at the time I read this article. It’s funny you say you’re gonna get people upset — you’re calling everyone a scammer! So you read that title and I’m like, Alright bro! Let’s go! Like, how am I a scammer? I’m reading through it and I’m thinking, Yes, yes, well he’s gotta call me a scammer somehow, how is he gonna include me? How is he gonna upset me? And then I think the really interesting part is that you did call me a scammer. You said: Hoarders are scammers! They want your Bitcoin! I said, Holy fuckin’ shit! I’m a scammer! He just got me in here! And I’m not mad at him! And I think the reason that — what clicked for me is that it goes to something that Breedlove just said on my show recently or on Twitter I think, but it was like, Bitcoin kind of unlocks the selfishness to selflessness. So it’s encouraging selfishness to get to a more selfless place for the entire community. But you gotta recognize your self-interest first! That’s what I got through it: I’m a hoarder! I’m a scammer! I want your Bitcoins! I want them for less than you think they’re worth right now!
Michael Goldstein [29:14]: Yeah! Before the show you were talking about growing up Jewish, I forget what Jewish thinker or whatever but I remember I was hearing something about, You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself, kind of thing. So that’s a bit of wisdom that people walk around with and can often forget about it when they demand that other people just be altruistic for no other reason than someone wants some free stuff. But yeah that’s a common viewpoint of how free market capitalism, not corporatist capitalism or whatever the heck you would even want to call this hellhole that we have. Because Mises writes about the sovereign consumer. Where ultimately a producer on the free market — he has to be selling to someone, and the person buying things is the person who gets to decide what makes or breaks that producer! They are the real sovereign! You can put a product out on the market, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is going to buy it! So if you cannot create something that people are willing to buy, then you’re shit out of luck! So in a free market capitalist system, you have to think about other people’s wants and needs in order to even satisfy your greediness! Which I think is a very good thing for a society, because you do have to basically be empathetic of others and think about others’ needs! And then if you do well at satisfying those peoples’ needs, you get handsomely rewarded, so in a sense what Breedlove was saying, that sort of selflessness is kind of rewarded. So the only way to be very successfully selfish is to be selfless in one sense of the term.
Cedric Youngelman [31:49]: The other thing that I want to bring up that you note in this article — again it’s really important to note when you wrote this article, in 2014 — you say, All investments are scams! And I’m reading this article probably in 2019, maybe 2018? And so now there’s five years where I can look at data points, and see how right you are in the article! And then you bring up under the topic of Investments are scams — and this blew me away when I was revisiting this the other day — you talk about, Investments are scams because they’ll lead you to believe that you can get a higher return than holding the Bitcoin itself! Despite the economics of Bitcoin naturally making this an absurd claim in the medium-run, in a post-fiat world there’ll be plenty of investments that have a greater return and risk than holding Bitcoin, but they’ll be assets that generate Bitcoin cash flows. I think that’s astounding, talking about Bitcoin cash flows in 2014! You know, we look at this in 2021, and the writing’s on the wall: you can look at something like MicroStrategy and what they’ve done with their treasury, and you could just look at the data points of the price of Bitcoin compared to anything else in the market! And that’s what gave me—when I’m revisiting your work and I’m enjoying the humor and the wit and the cleverness, is also the truth in it! The facts and the data points.
Michael Goldstein [33:11]: Yeah one place where I was caught off-guard since writing that was that Ethereum actually managed to launch! Which, back then, it was actually a completely open question if it would be anything except vaporware.
Cedric Youngelman: Same question now!
Michael Goldstein: Well at least with Ethereum 2.0. There is at least a running network and I have to at least give them credit for starting the network. Based on some metrics, some people have done better against Bitcoin at different scales. But even now, a lot of the people who got interested in Ethereum say in the giant bubbles in 2017 and stuff — they’re doing very poorly. Once again this goes back towards needing to have a very long term view of Bitcoin, and be very cognizant of those exponential trends!
Cedric Youngelman [34:22]: I took the article in a different way! Because I think you do mention Ethereum, not so much as a success, but you note the fact that they sold the Ethereum for Bitcoin! That to me was a huge wrinkle in the shitcoin paradigm.
Michael Goldstein: Right I think the Ethereum Foundation held Bitcoin, yeah.
Cedric Youngelman: They all sold it for Bitcoin! They didn’t sell for dollars, for stocks and bonds, or for yen! They took Bitcoin, and that was the key! If you zoom out far enough, I will argue that the Ethereum holders will lose in Bitcoin terms and they lost their Bitcoin to the scammer who took their Bitcoin!
Michael Goldstein [35:10]: Right. Okay, I’m looking at the article again! And I’m remembering now, yeah. Because the original thing — there was like the Exodus address that everyone was sending to for the crowd sale!
Cedric Youngelman: So now we kind of talked about Everyone’s a Scammer, and we know that it’s a heuristic and not an accusation. But we’ve learned about praxeology here. You had a conversation with Peter McCormack, that was also one of my favorite pods of all time! And the name of that conversation Rejecting All Forms of Activism, and that was actually maybe ten minutes out of the hour and a half — and I think the whole hour and a half is astounding — and people should check that show out on its own. But the idea of Rejecting All Forms of Activism, again this was a pivotal in my worldview when I was listening to this conversation. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Fallen Down?
Michael Goldstein: Yes.
Cedric Youngelman: In the movie there was a scene where they’re driving through Hollywood and there’s a lady on the corner of some intersection, she’s holding up a sign. And the sign says, I want to be in your movie! And from what I’ve learned about the anecdote behind the movie — she stood on that corner for twenty years! She moved to Hollywood when she was young, wanted to get into the movies, never got into the movies, and held that sign for decades. And it was sort of like a running joke in town! And she ends up in the movie holding the sign, and the reference to it is making fun of her for holding that sign! And yet that’s her dream! Her dream is to be in the movie, and she got in the movie, and I’m imagining in my mind that she doesn’t even care that they’re making fun of her in the movie! It’s a fait accompli. But to me it’s the saddest thing in the whole world. That’s what I got across from your conversation with Peter. So what does it mean to reject activism? And what I think of is, What are the benefits to the individual to not be out there trying to influence others, or however you want to put it?
Michael Goldstein [37:28]: Yeah I mean I think it’s great to try to influence others, but it’s important to understand where are you actually doing the influence! So I think that the real key there is it’s trying to think through a lot of the actual economic opportunity costs of these different activities. There are a lot of things that I think everyone wants to change in the world. There’s certainly things I want to change in the world, it’s why I’ve been interested in Bitcoin and other related topics! But a lot of people have been trained to think that, for instance, going to the voting booth every four years or whatever is the highest calling as far as actually doing something to change the world. Now, do some elections matter? Probably, there’s probably like different local elections that people could get involved in, where they can actually have a real impact. I wouldn’t discount that! But as far as like, voting for a president, for one, I still don’t even know if the president is actually even a powerful entity or if it’s just an entertainment show in front of other power structures!
Cedric Youngelman: I’m gonna go with the latter!
Michael Goldstein [39:05]: So if that’s the game, it’s like, What are you even voting for? It seems even less relevant than voting for American Idol because at least that has like — it seems more real!
Cedric Youngelman: You could maybe get what you want!
Michael Goldstein: Yeah! So there’s that but it’s also the sheer number of people in your voting blocs, you just don’t have an appreciable statistical effect! So if that’s the case, then why expend so much energy on that one act, as opposed to other things that you can do in your life? People look towards that activity as a way to address a lot of big problems in life, so like, You name the area of their life and someone will tell you how voting for the right person is going to fix everything, or get us put on the right track! Meanwhile, I think there’s just laziness in, at the very least, assuming that elections are the be all, end all. So externalize all of that responsibility onto just some ballot thing you throw out. Because I think about the world around us: there’s a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities, there’s a lot of places that you as an individual can make actual impacts in your community, in your family, and none of that involves having to go convince a bunch of people to fill in a bubble the same way you do! But, it does involve having to do actual hard work, and I think that’s perhaps something that people are not interested in doing, and certainly it is hard work! But in order to get anything done in this world, you do have to put in the work! So I find it unfortunate that people hinge so much of their life on politics, without thinking about these other opportunities they can take to improve their station in life, especially when those other opportunities not only will have an effect, but probably could have an even bigger effect than those elections themselves! So I think Bitcoin is just the best example of this, because the Federal Reserve has been a problem since the day it began. It was created because banks wanted to control the money supply further so that they could manage our lives more than they could manage it prior to the Federal Reserve. And it’s devalued our money since then in a dramatic way, it’s had all of the effects on the economy that we could have whole podcasts on. So it hasn’t been fixed, it was never fixed — for the most part people weren’t even talking about it! It wasn’t even that much of a topic at all until Ron Paul and especially in his presidential runs, where he opened people’s eyes to this! But even then Ron Paul was merely educating — now, I say merely and yet, I think most of the people who hate the Fed, that kind of stems from Ron Paul — so, many thanks to the good doctor for spreading the word and getting us to believe that. Even so, as far as political action — to actually do something about it — that’s been at a complete standstill and obviously we’ve sort of regressed in the sense that the monetary supply continues to increase, there are no checks on the system, we’re seeing what’s happening this week with Gamestop and it’s revealing a lot of absolutely insane inequalities in the way the monetary and financial system is set up and effectively rigged. So it just doesn’t go anywhere! We make no progress no matter how much we might stamp our feet with regards to the fact that the Fed exists and hasn’t been audited. But Bitcoin comes along and it comes at it in a completely orthogonal way that’s also completely productive, it’s just like, Okay! We’ll just make our own! And we just do that! I don’t even have to consider the idea of calling a Congressman to say, Hey! Can you uh, think about ending the Fed? I don’t have to do that at all! I can just go stack sats! And every sat you stack is at the margins pushing us towards hyperbitcoinization! Now, maybe not to a large extent, but they all add up! Every sat that’s going into deep cold storage is pushing us closer to a fully Bitcoinized economy. So because of that, the actual expenditure of energy is going towards a much more fulfilling place. We’re actually getting something for the effort that we put in now! So before, I was a Libertarian pre-Bitcoin, I’d stamp my feet, I was like, Oh! How bad is it that we live in this world that has the Fed! I don’t have that negativity anymore! I don’t care! In fact I feel bad for all of the Americans who are harmed by it, but I actually kind of relish the Federal Reserve taking absurd action, because it’s like, You’re just digging your own grave! So we can actually be somewhat accelerationist on that now! It’s like, Yeah! That’s fine! We have our own thing now!
Cedric Youngelman [45:33]: Yeah! There was a lot there that I agree with and that I want to touch on. One thing was the cost-benefit of voting. You were the one who really struck a chord with me. I actually thought this last year, for the right not to vote! To use that time to do other things! I wasn’t doing a podcast then but that was the argument, it was like, Well I could go do a podcast, and that will be evergreen and in perpetuity creating value for us, whether it’s from what I learn from there or whether other people learn from there or whether it takes off, but I’m doing something for us, for our life, versus taking time out of my day to try to solve a problem or — I agree with you, I don’t think I have any impact — that was the cost-benefit analysis! I’m like, My vote doesn’t matter! There are other things I could do that matter! I could spend that time with my family, my friends. There was this conversation around, The most important election of our lifetimes, I would argue that —
Michael Goldstein: Every single election is the most important!
Cedric Youngelman: Right! And I would argue that they get less important each time! In terms of them being figureheads and not really the seat of power. But one thing I want to touch on is Ron Paul. Not his presidential bid, but my question is: I’m not very familiar with Ron Paul. And when Ron Paul ran for president, I saw it in the same way — I was in New York, I wasn’t familiar with this senator, and I wasn’t listening or hearing the arguments per se, so I just knew that there was a flank senator running from one of the lower states of the union. And it wasn’t anything more to me than a flank — an Andrew Yang running, or anybody else, right? And I think Andrew Yang’s a bad example here, I’m not discussing him here either, but I think he’s been more well received than Ron Paul was by the greater masses! I’m not saying I receive him well or not, I think more people received Andrew Yang better. And what I’m getting at is, Ron Paul was not received well in the north, or in New York, or in my circles. And that precluded me from doing my own research. So I’m curious — and I’ve heard you speak very highly of Ron Paul — so my question is, Where did he come from, and what did he mean to you — and I’m not talking about presidential run — I’m talking about him [rising] up and speaking to the Fed?
Michael Goldstein [48:05]: Well it’s interesting because when Ron Paul ran in 2008, that was when most people caught wind of him, even though he had been in the House of Representatives for many many years before that doing great things. People should actually go back and read some of his statements in Congress. He has amazing stuff! I think relevant to Bitcoiners, for instance — they would probably love reading what he had to say about KYC regulations and stuff like that! When that was going on I was not that familiar with him. I knew one or two people that were into him, but there was in particular a moment in one of the debates — I don’t think I was even watching the debate live but I think I saw a clip later on — one that I think had a big effect on many people, which was him standing up to Rudy Giuliani with regards to Osama bin Laden and the War on Terror, and Ron Paul pointing out that, You know, they attacked us for a reason, and they stated that reason! Now that doesn’t mean that that was a good reason, but we can go and see what was the grievance that they felt that caused this to happen in the first place, and in what ways can that cause a need for self-reflection? And in this case it’s like, Well we’ve been meddling around in the Middle-East for so long, it has created a lot of aggression towards the American foreign policy machine and the war machine that has been basically oppressing those people! And of course they’re gonna be mad about that! So it was a great moment — people should go watch that! In hindsight really what that did — that didn’t make me a Ron Paul fanboy, it just made me [think], Oh! He’s like a cool Republican! And he was on my radar like, Okay, this is a guy that’s cool. He gets it.
Cedric Youngelman [50:30]: Do you think it’s all altruistic with him? And I’m just asking out of carte blanche.
Michael Goldstein: Yeah. He’s very much an educator through and through. I think his whole life is one of service to the community. His work as an OBGYN delivering babies and all of the stories around that — he’s delivered thousands of babies in the Lake Jackson area, including people in need. And his time in politics was also like a means to be able to educate people about these topics that you don’t hear about! No one talks about the Fed! Going forward though I was all on Mises.org and reading all about Austrian economics, and I kept seeing the name Ron Paul! Which was very surprising, because he was just like that random old guy that was pretty cool in the election! And I soon found out that all of this Austrian economics stuff I was getting into, he was all into that! That was the whole basis of his entire political platform! In hindsight it was like, Oh! That’s why he was so cool! Because he was spouting this stuff that I’m learning right now! And so I came to respect him because I found out he had been a major proponent of the ideas that I was very much getting into. And by the time the 2012 election was happening, if he had become president, how cool would that have been? But, it was more a time for me to use Ron Paul’s bid as an education opportunity, to be like, Hey! There’s this candidate — what are the ideas he’s talking about? They’re very important! Let’s learn about Austrian economics and anarcho-capitalism! I didn’t care so much about the actual politics of it, if that makes sense.
Cedric Youngelman [52:34]: Yeah that makes a lot of sense to me especially coming from you! I’m trying to frame up, so 2008 the great financial crisis was obviously a huge inflection point in your life — that’s what kind of brought you to Austrian economics, Austrian economics I don’t want to say brings you to Bitcoin but takes you in a new direction. And I don’t want to speak for you but it seems like that’s a really big inflection point in your life, and I’m gonna make up numbers here that are off by a couple years just to round things out, but if you’re 21 when the great financial crisis happens, you were 10 when there’s the 9/11, and you’re 30 when there’s COVID. And I wonder, a) is crisis just a major backdrop to our lives and your life, and b) are 9/11 and COVID as big events in your mind as the 2008 financial crisis?
Michael Goldstein [53:30]: Well the funny thing is, the 2008 financial crisis is actually almost this non-event in my life because I was just too young for it to have actually had any real effect on my life! It didn’t really have an effect on day to day living for me and my family.
Cedric Youngelman: Right, but I mean your thinking and your interests were changed — not changed, but awoken!
Michael Goldstein: I kind of just like, happened into [them]! It was obviously this topic that everyone was talking about and it’s like, Well I want in on the conversation but I don’t understand this! And when I get in on the conversation it turns out that, well, everyone is completely wrong about how all of this stuff works at all! The point is is that the event itself was not impactful on me, but the fallout of it, spurring an interest in economics, was extremely impactful on me. So I would say that 9/11 and COVID and stuff were much bigger events as far as an actual appreciable effect on me, because 9/11 I was quite young, but I certainly remember the effect that it had on the community around me. And COVID had obviously we were all stuck in our homes and stuff like that. I never had to wait in line to go to the grocery store and I know that’s very minimal compared to the hardship that a lot of people have but I bring that example up because that was the first thing [where it] became apparent that something it for real different here! It’s not like COVID was the first time there had been a scare about some kind of viral epidemic. In my childhood I remember there was monkey pox, SARS, a brief time in 2014 that people thought Ebola was gonna find its way over, so it was not the first time that there had been a scare of a viral epidemic, but it was the first time that it had been a viral epidemic that actually had an effect. [The line outside the grocery store] was of course just the beginning! Just wait, there’s more!
Cedric Youngelman [56:17]: Has COVID accelerated your thinking at all? I’m not talking about COVID and restrictions and stuff — maybe you have less restrictions than other people — but has it accelerated your thinking, this event?
Michael Goldstein [56:31]: So being in Texas there haven’t been nearly as many restrictions as for most people. My life has mostly been normal except I need to wear a mask when I go into retail environments. As far as accelerating, I had a Tweet about this like, 2020 turned everybody into normies! What’s weird is that I don’t actually feel that weird anymore! For a long time I was kind of the weird one because, Hey! I think that it would be better to homeschool kids than to send them to public school! I think that perhaps it’s actually better to live away from a city! Instead of being in the middle of the city. Or I think people should probably have semi-automatic rifles at home for self-defense! I think people should have magic Internet money that they hold for the future! And all these things were a little crazier to say in 2019 than they were by the end of 2020. Now it’s almost like, Yeah! Who doesn’t want to go move out into the country! I mean everyone has had to homeschool to some extent and I’m sure many people have kind of seen some of the benefits! So it has accelerated and I think it’s great! You know I think it’s terrible circumstances, but I do hope that in the fallout from that, people got shaken out of their norm in a way that can reorient them towards a more positive way of living life! So I’m hoping that we can come out of all of these negative events with a better way of living. That’s a little bit of optimism I have. I don’t know if it’s unwarranted, but I’m gonna hold it anyway!
Cedric Youngelman [58:48]: I love optimism! I’m fully optimistic that things will resolve themselves in the long term. I’m not so optimistic in the short term! One thing I want to ask you about is, In the US today, when you see things like Gamestop and what’s happening on Wall Street, and you have the Federal Reserve whether you like it or not — I’m not speaking to you I’m just saying in general — you have more restrictions than we’ve ever had before, and I’m not getting into the warrant of those restrictions and what’s needed and what’s not needed, but what I am getting at is, Do you think we’re fully sovereign, or an individual can be fully sovereign in America today?
Michael Goldstein [59:34]: No! No. I mean I don’t know if an individual can be fully sovereign ever.
Cedric Youngelman: Okay! I get what you’re getting at there. Let’s dial it back a little bit! Do you think that sovereignty is achievable at some individual level — you’ve talked a little bit about this where we’re a ways away from an individual being able to accumulate enough capital to take on the state and be sovereign. But in terms of, you can stack sats! You can be 100% Bitcoin! But, you’re gonna get taxed if you spend and replace, most of society is still operating on fiat and central banking usury, and now the government I feel is — and whether it’s on its last legs or not as Alex Svetski believes — it’s sort of rearing its ugly head and involving itself more in our lives. And I feel more restrictions and more externalities than ever since I’ve been involved with Bitcoin. Bitcoin gave me a lot of that freedom in my mind and a way to put myself out of circumstances I didn’t want to deal with! Kind of like what you were talking about — why fix this field? If this field is horrible, let’s go find another field and farm that land! I don’t have to spend my life making this field better! But there’s a part of me now that’s like, I can’t even find a field around here!
Michael Goldstein [1:01:11]: So I do think that Bitcoin does create a bit of sovereignty in people, because they can walk away from a lot of things in life that just kind of suck! Like there’s just a rat race! I look around and there’s a lot of people that are in a rat race that I’m not quite as concerned about! For instance like having to be able to save money and then go an invest it or whatever. I feel like having Bitcoin in a portfolio helps slow that down. It’s like, Well! You have your Bitcoin! You have this thing for the future! You don’t have to be constantly looking for get rich quick schemes, which a lot of millennials seem to do! Which is I think what drives a lot of this Gamestop behavior! Some of the other forms of that — people just want to find the quick way out because it’s the only way out! So Bitcoin kind of fixes that rat race a bit because even if you just have a normal wage job if you can just put a little bit away each paycheck, you’re going to be making a lot of progress, especially as time goes on! We see what happens in four-year cycles! So I think that’s going to have an even bigger effect on someone of lesser means! And so in a way that’s sort of more sovereignty because it’s like feeling less constrained by the universe! You don’t have to worry as much about where food is gonna come from next week, and you can think more about a long term vision of stuff. And when you have that long term vision and the actual idea of what capital you’ll have available to achieve that, when stuff like a tax or something comes up — Yeah we can all go on about how taxation is theft — but you’ll also be able to take that reality into consideration much more easily! It’s like, Okay! Yes! Add that cost of doing business, but that won’t get in the way of my bigger vision! Yeah I don’t know that anyone gets to true sovereignty, but you can always be accumulating that capital to be able to address and build towards those long term visions, even with certain constraints popping up!
Cedric Youngelman [1:04:14]: Yeah. That was something that really struck deeply with me and you were talking with McCormack about how you speak of, The accumulation of capital is really how we make change in the world in our favor. I think that’s very important!
Michael Goldstein: Yeah! Just on that topic, I think what people do need to realize is like, In order to do anything, you need to be able to do something! You can’t eat unless you’ve produced the food! So capital is a necessity, it’s not — but I think when that word comes up it’s often in a Marxian view where capital is seen as this being of its own that’s above us or whatever. I view it as just tools. Capital is just tools. If you want things, you need capital! You need the tools in order to produce it, you need to accumulate capital so that you can address human wants beyond just what’s in front of your face! You don’t want to be the person who’s living paycheck to paycheck which is what you’re doing in the state of nature. Austrians like to talk about Robinson Crusoe economics, meaning the person who’s stuck on an island! So you get thrown on a deserted island — when you start out, all you have is whatever berries and fish you can gather day after day. And it’s not until you start finding a way to catch more than you actually consume that you can start to think beyond, What am I going to eat today? And once you can solve that problem, you can begin to solve a bigger problem. And it’s only through that process of accumulating those tools — whether it’s in the form of knowledge, physical productive factories or whatever, but you need that in order to actually, for real, solve the the problem, so you can get to bigger problems!
Cedric Youngelman [1:06:22]: Right. Yeah I agree with everything you just said. I want to touch back on sovereignty of America. Something you touched on again in the McCormack conversation was neighbors. And the importance of choosing good neighbors! And that no man is an island kind of thing, and you’re affected by your neighbors. Has your neighborhood changed over the last year? Maybe with an influx of people or something like that? And it seems like you’re outside of town. I’ll loop that in with a little bit of, What is your take on the word citadel, and are you in a citadel situation where your neighbors don’t matter? Do you have a citadel in your mind, and your neighbors don’t matter? Or are your neighbors getting better or worse? How are things going in the neighborhood?
Michael Goldstein [1:07:16]: I don’t know if I’ve ever commented on my neighborhood, but I can certainly talk about the abstract. As far as citadels, the original Reddit post that citadels came from was this super-dystopian vision of the world where basically we lived in this Brazilified world where you have slums everywhere and then pockets of very wealthy people and they have these fortified areas to keep out the riff-raff. Like the movie Elysium or whatever — that’s how this envisioned it, and if you don’t get your Bitcoins then you’re stuck outside of it! I don’t really think about it like that! I actually think that a sound money economy will be good for everyone, rich and poor! And it will increase the quality of life for everyone who’s able to denominate their economic life in Bitcoin rather than a fiat currency. Certainly there’s going to be people who were able to buy thousands of Bitcoins and they’re going to be uber-wealthy and I hope they enjoy their many yachts! Although more boats means more potential for boating accidents so I hope they stay safe out there! My vision for the so-called citadel has more to do with what Hoppe describes with city-states, and just having more localized governance! So that instead of being ruled over by a highly central organization that manages millions upon millions if not billions of people, you have localized governance systems that are more in control of their own private lives without the input of those groups. And with that, you then have more of those groups who are having to peacefully interact with one another because they rely on one another for trade of resources. And I think that just turns back the clock a little bit in some ways but also turns it forwards with the technological capabilities. Back to a time — massive centralization of state apparatuses is a new thing. Before the mid-1800s, Germany was hundreds of little nations! And same with Italy, and same with all of these places — a gazillion little micro-nations! And these places will tend to be generally more peaceful because they rely on one another, for one, and they’re also inwardly focused on some things. I would recommend that people go — there’s a Hoppe talk, The Advantages of Small States or something like that. He’s gonna do a better job than me at explaining that! But that’s more of what I think of with the citadel is more about localized governance so that people can find communities that best serve their individual needs as opposed to what a faceless bureaucracy thinks your life should be managed as.
Cedric Youngelman [1:11:21]: I agree with you totally in terms of the external world! I really hope we don’t end up in that feudal state where we have wastelands in between guarded —
Michael Goldstein: That would be very sad to me! That would be very sad if that happened.
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah that’s not the goal for me or what I’m optimistic about! The citadel for me is more in my mind. To have as much sovereignty and independence and freedom as I can envision for myself within my mind! For me that goes back to Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins can find freedom in prison because this man is free wherever he goes, whereas Red was institutionalized and the moment he gets out of prison he wants to go back to prison and go back to the rules, and he doesn’t want to be free because he’s been institutionalized. So that’s kind of my citadel, it’s just always be as free as I could be in my mind, and find the tools in the real world that will expand my physical freedoms. Not to satiate physical needs, but to satiate my mental mindset.
Michael Goldstein [1:12:25]: Right! It’s very much like Stoic thinking. And Epictetus himself was a slave! There was almost a need to develop a Stoic attitude to be able to understand it’s like, I can be a slave and yet I am still in control of my own mind and how I react to things! So someone in that situation — more than certainly any of us — is really going to have an understanding of this having this citadel in your own mind!
Cedric Youngelman: And you can go back to the Old Testament with Joseph being sold into slavery by his twelve brothers and rising to be the vizier of Egypt — from prison! So it’s incredible what an individual can do! I really want to turn now to some of the fun stuff! How to meme Bitcoin to the moon! And the moon part is not so important to me, but it’s really about meme warfare and meme ideology! Again this article was written a while ago and I think it’s prophetic! The first thing I’d like to ask you is, How do you define the memetic landscape?
Michael Goldstein [1:13:37]: So for those who don’t know this was a talk that I gave at BitBlockBoom! in 2019.
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah I do want to touch on that real quick! The introduction is, A lot of people talk about price fundamentals, but I’m gonna talk about how to troll and take the curves hard! I’m glad you brought it up — where this talk took place — because I wanted to go to that conference in my mind, but like, I was just stacking sats and we were in the middle of a bad market. It was really hard to convince my kids and my wife that I need to go to Texas to listen to these guys talk about this money that keeps going down in value in terms of US dollars! And in my mind I wasn’t really worried about the USD denomination because I understood what I was getting into at that point, but it was hard to convince other people! It’s like I’m telling them, I want to go vote. And they’re like, Yeah. Okay, cool! But maybe this is not the year. And I didn’t get to go. And another reason there is it generally takes place on my birthday! Again — I’m not gonna be here for my birthday, which is generally when we throw the biggest family party of the year because my daughter was born right after me, so it’s not even my birthday party and I don’t even tell people it’s my birthday! So I didn’t get to go, but I’m sitting at home, and, Yo, that shit came across Twitter, and it lit a fire! That was the first time that Bitcoin entered the physical realm for me! Where I felt the vibrations! It felt like the mind hive — the human global consciousness. Bitcoin reverberated with me as an individual before that — I had sort of enlightening moments with Bitcoin, but this was where I was like, Holy fuckin’ shit! People are actually getting together and creating this vibe in real life! And something electric is happening! And I think that your speech hit Twitter before you got off the stage! And I think you were even responding like, I didn’t even know people could hear this at home!
Michael Goldstein [1:15:54]: Yeah! Like I knew it was being filmed but yeah Bryan Bishop (@kanzure) was typing furiously as he always does and so the transcript was up immediately, which was also funny because the transcript without my voice — I mean you can use whatever voice you want to read that! So people were reading the words in that because you know I jokingly used terms like bullying, which have a sort of specific Internet parlance. On the Internet, these terms are very —
Cedric Youngelman: Loaded!
Michael Goldstein: They’re loose, and they themselves are like memes. Of course I was not intending — I do not want anyone to be physically bullying anyone! But when those words come up, for people who were not hearing the tone of it, I think they thought that I was using those words in a very direct way. Someone joked to me like, You can read that transcript in the voice of Mussolini and then you can understand why the — for instance Ethereum folks that were upset by it — why they were so upset! I was like, Yeah if you read it in that voice it’s gonna be a bit upsetting! But that’s also part of the fun of the talk, is these layers of rhetoric and how — I mean that itself illustrates an important point which is that the way you say things is going to be interpreted by literally everyone in their own way! And messages have to be crafted in a way where you’re cognizant of that fact! Like I just know that even a lot of stuff in this podcast — someone’s gonna be listening to it and they’re gonna take something, that I meant something totally different than what I actually meant!
Cedric Youngelman: Yep. I have those conversations with my wife after every show!
Michael Goldstein [1:18:18]: Yeah! It’s just part of the landscape! So this was what the talk — one of the important themes of the talk was that we are in a rhetorical world. I think a lot of people have come to this understanding over the past few years. You know, facts don’t really matter to a lot of people!
Cedric Youngelman: Can you talk a little bit about the difference between rhetoric and dialectic though? We are using these terms, and this talk — I mean first of all I thought it was witty and clever as fuck, but it was really hard for me to take this talk and put it to use, but I think it is a how-to in how to Tweet and what Twitter is about!
Michael Goldstein [1:19:16]: So rhetoric and dialectic — the idea there is, rhetoric is like persuasion. It is using different persuasion tactics to try to win someone over on an idea, or make someone feel a particular way. Whereas, dialectic is very much like dry debate! It’s like, let’s look at the facts, let’s argue through the logic. Think of an Oxford-style debate! That would be a dialectic! A rhetoric is more like a United States presidential debate where you just get on stage and no one’s trying to make a clear argument about like the system of government and, Here’s why this not a good way to do things. I propose that we do this because XYZ — it’s all a bunch of — it’s a show! And the problem is a lot of people want to engage in dialectic because it’s how you learn, you have to sit down and really think through things. But not everyone is having a good faith discussion! When you’re on the Internet, there’s millions, there’s billions of people on there! So each one of those people is going to have a different interpretation of everything that’s flying through the screen—another problem with that is it’s a very hostile environment! A lot of people I think they’ve finally come to realize this: the Internet for a while had a hippy feel-good feeling to it, where it’s like fun good times, people are nice, everyone’s having fun!
Cedric Youngelman: A lot of optimism about what the Internet could do!
Michael Goldstein: Yeah and I think more recently on Twitter the past couple of years there’s been increasing hostility and people have really come to feel that! In some ways that’s good in some ways that’s bad, it depends if you want being in cage matches or not!
Cedric Youngelman [1:21:44]: I have a feeling you like being in a verbal cage match!
Michael Goldstein: Occasionally I do! But I don’t get into too many arguments anymore! I’m more interested in just sharing what my ideas are!
Cedric Youngelman: Well I think that’s kind of what this article gets at! When do you argue and when do you troll? When are you speaking to the echo chamber and when are you just trying to dominate?
Michael Goldstein [1:22:08]: Yeah so it’s like, Someone like you — you’ve been agreeing with me a lot! But I also know, because we agree on a number of things, I can know we have this solid foundation to work with.
Cedric Youngelman: Well I’m also choosing topics — I know where you’re coming from!
Michael Goldstein: Right! But if you were to disagree, Look! I know you’re saying this about Ron Paul, but I have this feeling about this policy of his and we get into an argument about that. I know where our shared foundation lies, and so from there we can have a fruitful discussion where I know we’re not even judging one another, we’re putting out, Hey! I think this is the truth because of these reasons. And it’s like, Well I think it’s the truth because of these reasons, and I think you made a misstep here in your logic. And there is a potential for one of us to be like, Oh! You know what you’re right. I totally saw this incorrectly! I’m gonna fix my logic and actually now I still disagree with you but it’s in this way! You have this actual, fruitful dialogue where the two of your in that discussion can walk away having learned something. You might not agree still, but you have gone through this exercise of putting your logic and ideas to the test. When you’re engaging in rhetoric it’s nothing like that! It’s, Did I dunk on my enemy? Did I get someone to feel a certain way? And so you’re just playing a completely different game, and it’s important to know which game you should be playing at what time! Don’t get caught — because it can actually be a troll tactic for those who want to try using it to get people to engage in dialectic while you’re rhetorically dunking on them! I think in some corners of the Internet it’s probably —
Cedric Youngelman: That’s the A game!
Michael Goldstein [1:24:32]: Yeah you get someone to effort-post! It’s actually like quite fun! You see it on Twitter like if someone just says something to egg you on, and then you see someone have an incredible whole Tweetstorm just to talk about this thing and it’s like, That troll would get the joy just of seeing that you spent all of that time, and you’re still going! He Tweeted again! He Tweeted again!
Cedric Youngelman: It’s really interesting here your understanding of praxeology here on Twitter. You know I never heard the term effort-post before but I got it right away!
Michael Goldstein: To be clear I did not come up with that!
Cedric Youngelman: Sure but it seems like you’re in tune with how people behave, online, offline, whatever it is!
Michael Goldstein: You know you get into arguments enough online or you see enough arguments online and you get a sense of these strategies! So I think I put in the recommended reading on my talk a book called The Art of Controversy by Arthur Schopenhauer the philosopher. It’s an interesting book because that book is literally him basically saying how to troll your way to win any arguments!
Cedric Youngelman: Which is a power unto itself! I mean you might not even be right, but you can win!
Michael Goldstein [1:26:00]: It’s also can be an evil power. There’s also plenty of good uses too! But he is explicit about, This is not about being right and truthful, this is about winning the argument. And so he has all of these different tactics like, Oh! Your opponent says this? All you have to do is turn it around with this jab and you’ve totally destroyed him! So it’s like the art of the troll from the 1800s! You know, these ideas, they have been around for a long time—on the Internet, because there’s such a high volume of information, we get to see more of these little argumentative simulations happen in real-time, and so we almost get a sharper sense of them. That’s not to say — I don’t want to suggest that we’re better than Schopenhauer or something, we’re better than Aristotle — Aristotle’s gonna be better at dialectic than I am, and Schopenhauer’s gonna be better at rhetoric than I am, and probably dialectic than me. And Aristotle also wrote on rhetoric — both of these guys are gonna be better at both than me! But, I’ve probably seen more argumentation than they have, and so there’s been more iterations. So in a way, I would guess that a lot of people today have sort of strengthened those muscles in ways that they couldn’t have imagined! And the landscape is I’m gonna guess much more chaotic than it had been, and it’s engaging in much different media, so we also have to deal with like imagery! How does an image come across! Neil Postman in the 80s spoke in Amusing Ourselves to Death, where he was basically saying that television, the medium, totally changes our interaction with intellectual concepts because it sort of turns everything into cheap entertainment! Because everything now is based on these visual things rather than — he describes how normal Americans were going to the Lincoln-Douglass debates, which meant that normal Americans were sitting down and listening to Lincoln and Douglass engage in dialectic for like six hours straight! And they were able to take in all of those ideas! We don’t have that landscape anymore! We have like, Here’s a funny picture! And you could generate those extremely fast. We get on Twitter and we just have a constant stream of Tweets. It’s a very heated battlefield! And yeah, I think if you don’t have this attitude ready to understand that people are going to engage in rhetoric, troll one another, be hostile to one another, purposefully misinterpret one another — if you don’t have that attitude, you’re probably going to have a bad time!
Cedric Youngelman [1:29:31]: Yeah. I’m gonna just read off a little bit of this: Definitely know when to argue, when to troll. It’s important to have echo chambers — it let’s you cultivate a group of people who share these ideas. That’s something that I kind of struggled with. I sometimes feel that we’re in a Bitcoin echo chamber. I was definitely someone who was outside the echo chamber, and the Bitcoin echo chamber drew me in! I saw the Tweets, I don’t know how they kept coming across my feed, but I couldn’t argue with them, I couldn’t refute them! So I do think it feeds out, but it is also about growing the group and giving an opportunity to get good feedback and information from the group. You’re not really talking to the people who you are replying to on Twitter — it’s for the other people! And it’s really key to understand that! And you must understand who your actual audience is! I love this: relentless propaganda every single day! Just do it! Pump it out! This is good for Bitcoin, there is no bad news for Bitcoin! We must always anchor on the most bullish position! You should never be afraid to take the possibilities to their logical extreme, and from there work reality into your model with nuance as necessary, as needed, and as deserved. A no-coiner doesn’t necessarily need to understand that, Oh we might be going to $99 million instead of $100 million — always give them the most bullish! Their opinion isn’t merely wrong it’s completely wrong — always be bullish! And one of your final — and this really struck with me — trigram memes are good! Think about three-word memes! That’s what resonates right now!
Michael Goldstein [1:31:14]: The funny thing with that, I think a lot of people what they got from that was me saying that it’s sort of a dictum like, Oh! Go find the three-word memes! It was actually supposed to be more of a positive observation of, When we look around and see what ideas have stuck, it’s tended to be these three-word memes. That’s just a pattern that has emerged. So that’s me making an observation, not so much a dictum! Because if you took it as a dictum, then Have Fun Staying Poor would never have emerged! But that’s an example of one that worked with more than three words!
Cedric Youngelman [1:32:02]: Right but there’s still an economy of scale there!
Michael Goldstein: Yes, and I think there’s a reason, which is just like, We have so much information going through, you gotta be able to condense an idea into — it needs to be pure and distilled, and if you can’t take an idea at both a distilled form and a very long interesting extrapolation of it, then it’s not going to be as good! So like, you can read someone or play for someone the audiobook of The Bitcoin Standard — you can also just say: Number Go Up! It’s both effectively the same thing! But you need that idea to be able to fill in for every type of discussion. So if it’s a very long — you have time to read a book — discussion, you can read the book. But if it’s an argument about the future of Bitcoin you can just say, Oh! Number Go Up!
Cedric Youngelman [1:33:22]: And I think it’s important to know when you’re speaking to the out group, there are certain techniques for that. You go over re-framing, agreeing, and amplifying, and the concept of dominating. So the importance of reframing is that no person in the out group should be defining your narrative for you! If that happens for you you lose! And one way that you mention of reframing is if someone is actually anti-Bitcoin, they’re a Bitcoin accelerationist!
Michael Goldstein: Which they totally are!
Cedric Youngelman: Right! And just reframe that shit on their ass! And dominate that conversation!
Michael Goldstein: Yeah a great example also is with Bitcoin energy. You have these, Oh! Bitcoin wastes energy! And they go on about how Bitcoin uses as much energy as however many millions of households. And a lot of people are tempted to say, Well, actually it doesn’t use so much energy because blah blah blah. Thankfully this has evolved more towards, Actually the energy use is just good, because it’s progressing humankind! But the point is, we shouldn’t allow them to be sitting around having to argue whether or not Bitcoin is good. We already know Bitcoin is good and that its energy use is good! We should instead say as much, and point out how, Yeah, we’re going to be using energy, and here’s why that is great!
Cedric Youngelman [1:34:50]: And what I really like about this at the end is, You never need to give an apology, especially to a nocoiner! Reject nocoiner orthodoxy! Do not fall into their frame! Show no mercy, always remind them Orange coin good! Number Go Up! And you do give some good advice at the end: You need to get your knowledge down to be a good memer! You need to do the work to prove it! And you talk a little bit about the end. Ethical trolling is more than just getting a rise out of people. You get back to, Stick to the truth! Don’t just troll the troll! And part of sticking to the truth is having a low time preference. Sticking to the things that are true so that the truth give you long term focus that gives you long term content for perpetuity! I think that’s very important. I’ll definitely open it up to you for any more meme advice from the memelord!
Michael Goldstein [1:35:53]: Well there’s plenty of people out there who just say they are just trolling for the sake of trolling. That’s not what I’m personally interested in. There can be a certain entertainment value of that, but the reason I talk about Bitcoin at all is not because I just want to troll people! It’s because I actually believe in Bitcoin and I want more people to become Bitcoiners so that they can also share in the wonderful gifts that Bitcoin has to offer! So with that, yeah! We need to actually understand how Bitcoin operates if we want to be able to communicate that, no matter in what form we end up communicating that best. So it could be best that you’re talking in a very trollish tone sometimes. It could be better for other people to be doing academic research or whatever. But the point is either way, in order to be able to craft the best message whatever that best message might actually be, you’re gonna have to actually understand how does this thing function. And once again, because I am interested in doing this because I actually believe in Bitcoin, I also want to make sure I understand what I believe in! I don’t just want to be believing things just for the heck of it! I also hope that the people who do get brought in—and I think they do!—there tends to be this great culture in Bitcoin where once people are brought in, they’re lured in because it is so strange and interesting, and then they themselves find themselves going down that rabbit hole of learning more! Which has some funny consequences because you get situations where you have tons of people swarming someone on Twitter for saying something stupid about Bitcoin, and that person might actually think, Oh! Are these bots? Is this coordinated? What is going on here? It’s not coordinated! I mean maybe there’s a case somewhere, but by and large it’s not a coordinated effort! What it is, is a lot of people have come to the same conclusion! So it’s because there’s been this distributed learning process that you also have this distributed response system.
Cedric Youngelman [1:38:36]: It’s remarkable and I really appreciate your vision in all this! My final question for you is related to the great unseen. So you seem to have — and I don’t want to put words in your mouth — but 1) you seem to have a great appreciation for music, I’ve noticed you like Fela Kuti. I’ve noticed you put Pavarotti for four minutes before Scaramucci came on in your latest podcast.
Michael Goldstein: I have to give Pierre credit for that one!
Cedric Youngelman: Fair enough!
Michael Goldstein: I do like Pavarotti though!
Cedric Youngelman: But the two of you signed off on it! And I’m listening to the podcast and I’m honestly questioning myself if I’m on the right track for the first four minutes. And the longer it went the more I was impressed! The balls! And really, the chutzpah! I loved it. And you set your articles to music, but you also use imagery very well! And you speak a lot about, it seems to me, the buffalo! The reinvigoration of the great American West! And so my final question for you is like, What does that mean to you? The rejuvenation or the vision or the future of the Western Frontier? And the rejuvenation via animal life or carnivory? What does that mean to you? And I’m wondering when are you moving to Colorado? I’m not talking about borders, I’m just talking about expansive land with moutains and hills and buffalo roaming!
Michael Goldstein [1:40:14]: Right! Hopefully in a couple more Bitcoin cycles I can do such a thing!
Cedric Youngelman: So you woul leave Texas for such a thing?
Michael Goldstein: Well I mean maybe we could just turn Texas back into the Republic of 1836!
Cedric Youngelman: There’s an expression American by birth, Texan by the grace of God!
Michael Goldstein: Yes! I mean look, I’m a Texan and so I think I’ve always had sort of a — always in that background was a romantic view of the West and frontier culture is very much present in Texan culture! As far as that, I think the whole meat thing is a rabbit hole unto itself, but I think our society is not well aligned with the environment, and I don’t say that because I want to take us back to a pre-Industrial society or something like that! I actually think that a free market would be more conducive to ecological sustainability. But part of that is we just see a lot of ecosystems being destroyed and I want to see that reversed! And a less popular opinion — although it’s gaining in popularity — is that large ruminants are good for an ecosystem, rather than harmful! So the common belief is that cow farts are going to destroy the climate. And so you need to stop eatin meat, we need to end factory farming — all of this stuff. Basically end meat production more generally speaking because it is destroying the environment! But I have the opinion — and people can look into this by studying Allan Savory and others — there’s a book that recently came out called Sacred Cow that brings up more of the environmental issues. But basically large ruminants are a vital part of the ecosystem! Because they break down the soil, aerate, which allows the soil to capture more nutrients, they shit, which also brings nutrients back to the ground. They’re very much part of the actual lifecycle! The animals were there! We followed the animals into America! Not we specifically in terms of my ancestors, but humans as a species followed large ruminants across the Bering Strait and down into the Americas. These animals have always been a part of the ecosystem, and it’s absurd that they’re suddenly causing a problem, when in fact we can see when you introduce more of these animals and manage the herds well, they revitalize these ecosystems and they can bring back grasslands to places that have completely lost their grasses. You have a desertification of some landscapes, but once you have those animals stomping around and shitting and all of that, you get the grass back, and then it’s full of life again! So I want to see more regenerative agriculture! I’m obviously a big meat-eater and I care more about the ruminants, but also other styles of agriculture for other products can also be brought into a more regenerative production cycle, and I think that’s better for humans as well. I think it probably increases the quality. It certainly increases the quality of the environment that we get to enjoy! I’d like going out into nature and seeing nature so it’d be kind of sad if all that lost its life because we’ve failed to maintain it through these practices. Anyway, I think people, as far as the buffalo in the American west, I think people greatly underestimate just how many bison there were running around the American Plains! They had herds that were miles wide that would take people days to cross, to get from one side of the herd to the other! These things were just absolutely massive, and they were all part of a thriving ecosystem and I think we can bring that back!
Cedric Youngelman [1:45:55]: Yeah. And you know you lay it out in a way that I’m excited! And it’s very visceral and we could probably do a whole other show on the carnivory, the great American west and a lot of those topics!
Michael Goldstein: Just a couple recommendations on that. I mentioned Allan Savory, there’s also a great little book —
Cedric Youngelman: Is that the person’s name Allan Savory? A great last name for the food business! For you, you had this great opportunity to go from Goldstein to Bitstein! It’s one of those things that really toggles my mind, because I do think that last names, names, are very important! They kind of determine or push people or incentivizes people. Something about names — it’s a lifeblood! People’s last name is like Butcher — they’ll do meat! Whatever it is. It’s really amazing to me.
Michael Goldstein: Yeah! I had hard money baked into my name!
Cedric Youngelman: Hard money baked into your name! You discovered the greatest hard money ever to come since the last hard money baked into your name, and you had the audacity to switch your name! And I have a nickname — Cedric’s not my birth name. Nickname’s are important. Any names are important, and it’s just wild to me the precipice or whatever brought you to hard money and then brought you to Bitcoin and it’s just baked into your name!
Michael Goldstein: There is a nice poetry to it I agree!
Cedric Youngelman: There is so much poetry! My last name Youngelman. Jungle Gym? Young Blood? What am I gonna call myself, Young Coin Good? You know it’s just not the same! I do want to say this has been way more than I could have ever imagined and I could imagine this for a long time. I really looked forward to speaking to you as a reader. Before I even podcasted! I just always had a lot of questions for you, and you and Pierre are just very important to my thinking, and I don’t link you guys together in terms of confusing you or conflating you, you’re very different people! Very different things that both of you have brought into my life. But I do link you together because you go back. This show’s about you it’s not about Pierre but it’s hard to not bring him up. But both of you have just been very influential in my think in very different ways. You’d be like the Gallagher Brothers fighting and I wouldn’t even care!
Michael Goldstein: Well thank you so much for the kind words! I’m quite honored to have helped anyone be able to understand these topics better!
Cedric Youngelman: I’ll leave it to you for any parting words and definitely let people where they could find you and anything else you’d like to share in terms of your Medium page, your Twitter. And I do encourage people to actually read these articles in full, because I think they’re very important, and I think you can learn a lot about how to be online, how to be on Twitter, how to win Twitter fights and to be effective! So I’d just like to thank you a lot and I’ll leave it to you for any parting words.
Michael Goldstein: Best place to find me is on Twitter. I’m @bitstein. You can also find my website the Nakamoto Institute at nakamotoinstitute.org. And the Noded Bitcoin Podcast is at noded.org. Those are the best places. Yeah otherwise, keep learning and stacking!
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah man, thank you so much. This was so dope!
Michael Goldstein: Thank you!