Bitcoin battles nihilism and fiat psychology by allowing you to take control of your attention, and directing it toward the betterment of your person.
This is an opinion editorial by Aleks Svetski, author of “The UnCommunist Manifesto,”founder of The Bitcoin Times and Host of The Wake Up Podcast.
The series continues. If you’ve not yet read chapters one through three, you can find them here, and of course you can find Part One of this chapter here:
Quotes with no source underneath are attributed to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson.
In Part One, we explored value, decisions and actions. We made a case for how Bitcoin enhances the fidelity of each and how this results in playing better “games” on the road to becoming better versions of ourselves.
In Part Two, we shall explore how Bitcoin enhances one’s aim by focusing their attention, such that playing more meaningful — and perhaps multiple — games becomes possible.
One can expect a world whose economic and thus social signals are largely fake, to also exhibit falsities in other areas.
Glaring examples are the positive illusion and pill-popping movements so prevalent in modern psychology.
“It is for such reasons that a whole generation of social psychologists recommended ‘positive illusions’ as the only reliable route to mental health. Their credo? Let a lie be your umbrella. A more dismal, wretched, pessimistic philosophy can hardly be imagined: things are so terrible that only delusion can save you.”
In this downstream effect of “fiat,” you are always a victim, i.e., it’s never your fault, you shouldn’t feel pain, there’s a quick fix available and you shouldn’t ask too many questions.
“No sir, the problem is not that your behavior is out of alignment with what your soul desires and that you are acting out a dismal version of what your life could be. Your problem is the absence of prozac and a lack of lies. Here’s a prescription of [insert pharmaceutical substance], with a side of positive illusion to numb you into a steady-state of nihilistic submission.”
Fiat psychology builds lies upon lies to shield you from the ugly truth. But that ugly truth may just be what you needed to hear in order to improve. Sure, it might hurt your feelings, but that’s what it’s supposed to do. Your nervous system has evolved to signal that you’re transgressing your own values. It knows when you’re “sinning,” and it tells you.
Subduing it through lies and chemicals does not make the problem go away.
It just makes you a weaker, more ignorant version of yourself, who must one day face an even uglier truth.
Fiat → Nihilism
Nihilism is a feeling of hopelessness about the road ahead. It is a psychological manifestation of high time-preference in which low-to-no value is given to the future, for it is uncertain and treacherous anyway, while the present is elevated, assuming it even matters at all.
With that in mind, hedonists at least attempt to find joy in the moment, and are of a higher energy. Nihilists are numb today and more numb tomorrow.
“There will always be people better than you — that’s a cliché of nihilism, like the phrase, ‘In a million years, who’s going to know the difference?’ The proper response to that statement is not, ‘Well then, everything is meaningless.’ It’s, ‘Any idiot can choose a frame of time within which nothing matters. Talking yourself into irrelevance is not a profound critique of being. It’s a cheap trick of the rational mind.’”
Time preference is at the center of all human behavior. Unfortunately, most people either haven’t heard of the term, or think it’s “just some economics lingo that doesn’t concern my life.” But it does. It really does. Economics is central to all life.
The problem is most people have no idea what economics is, or why it’s important. They’ve been brainwashed into believing it’s a science that uses mathematical models to understand how a society should be planned, how its resources should be used and how well it is performing against some conjured up measurements (gross domestic product, consumer price index, etc.).
The longterm, downstream effect of this kind of thing is a world in which an entire host of ultra-nihilist, vegan talking heads become best-selling authors who predict a world where your sterile, meaningless existence will be obviated by grey goo and intelligent machines.
Free will? Who needs that when you have total biometric surveillance?
Economics? What do you mean? Why would the study of human action matter when humans are just numbers on a spreadsheet?
None of this is normal, nor healthy.
To have become so internally empty and externally emaciated is not something to be proud of. This bug-man is not an example but a warning of what humanity can devolve into if we continue on this path.
This is why a relationship to the non-empirical is so needed. A reacquaintance with value, or “quality,” as Robert Persig would say. How can we do this?
It all starts with adjusting our aim, and refocusing our attention on “what matters.”
Attention, Focus And Aim
We used the “blind builder” analogy in Part One to illustrate how a high-fidelity instrument can change the outcome of an objective or goal. We’ll expand on that here.
“Our eyes are always pointing at things we are interested in approaching, or investigating, or looking for, or having. We must see, but to see, we must aim, so we are always aiming.”
Human action is a pursuit of ends we deem valuable, and in order to achieve these ends, we must first take aim and then apply attention.
In order to aim accurately, we must have feedback. The same way our eyes triangulate visual feedback, prices and exchange are the feedback mechanism in a market, or the “social landscape,” so to speak.
If someone buys what you’ve made, there is an implied value there, along with information that what you’re doing may just be on the right track (barring any flukes). The reverse is also true. If nobody buys your shit, you’re being told by the market that you’re either early, wrong, late, incongruent and need to adjust, i.e., you need to aim better.
Therein lies the importance of “sin.” To sin means to miss the mark. To know you’ve sinned is to have the opportunity to correct. How can one hit the mark in this day and age when the target is not only a chimera, but one’s vision is blurred?
Society turns into a culture of gamblers and madmen all in the pursuit to hit targets they can neither see nor evaluate, borne of their desperate need for survival.
“The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some.
“As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.” — Comrade Lenin
We see this sinfulness manifesting at all layers of society today. Desperate speculation on one end of the spectrum and helpless abandon on the other.
In my recent visit to the United States I couldn’t help but feel the weight of hopelessness of the not-so-fortunate homeless beings littering the major highways. I felt it walking into Walmart too. Otherwise “good” people, lost, confused, and under a continually mounting pressure they know not from where.
You could see the opposite end of the spectrum in the recent collapse of LUNA. People who had no business “investing” got sucked into a Ponzi scheme through sheer desperation and fear of missing out. They are the same people who approach me at conferences and ask “what coin should I invest in?”
It’s tragic. It’s wasteful. It’s wrong.
Of course I’m aware that each situation is more complex — people are responsible for their own lot in life — much stems from the desperation and subconscious panic of being socially and economically blind.
I would argue, as others have, that much could be straightened out if upstream adjustments were made — and I don’t mean “political” ones, but the classic “fix the money, fix the world.”
Vision and focus are naturally expensive. Deliberately (or through ignorance) obfuscating the signaling mechanism necessary for making value judgments (in a social sense) only makes it more expensive, and ultimately useless.
Obfuscation reinforces both nihilism and desperation. When you’re seeing nothing but a mirage on a regular basis, you begin to doubt yourself. Over time this constant self-doubt transforms into fear — fear of your own abilities and fear of the world around you.
When people operate from such a state of mind, they cannot and will not operate as mature, conscious, responsible human beings. They begin to regress; à la modernity.
Focus is the precursor to attention. Robert Breedlove discussed it at the recent Market Disruptors conference in Dallas, and called it another “deep answer” to the “What is money?” question.
Everything in the world conspires to attract attention.
“This is partly because vision is expensive — psychophysiologically expensive; neurologically expensive. Very little of your retina is high-resolution fovea — the very central, high-resolution part of the eye, used to do such things as identify faces.”
Attention is directed or focused energy and intent. It’s expensive, because it represents in some sense our social currency.
The free market is a collection of individual, intersubjective “attentions” which thread together into a more complex social fabric.
The division of labor literally means that each of us can direct our attention in accordance with what we value, while the rest is taken care of by others who are focusing on that which matters to them. In this way, we collectively fill each other’s blind spots.
“You’re blind to everything else (and there’s a lot of everything else — so you’re very blind). And it has to be that way, because there is much more of the world than there is of you. You must shepherd your limited resources carefully. Seeing is very difficult, so you must choose what to see, and let the rest go.”
No one man, think tank, group or entity can ever see it all. Nor should they attempt to. Our collective strength comes from diverse viewpoints.
Diversity (in the organic and functional sense, not the political marxist sense) comes from the fact that we’re all seeing clearly within our own dimensions. As things weave together, the beautiful tapestry of the free market spawns complex human civilisation.
On the opposite end of the “visual” spectrum is the central, singular eye which supposedly “sees all.”
It is arguably the height of evil.
Why? Because as we’ve established, vision, focus and attention are expensive. There is too much to be attended to at once, so for any “Eye of Sauron” to maintain the illusion of control, it must reduce the complex into something linear and empirical. This can only be done through conformity, and of course, like a lawnmower that chops everything down to size, conformity can only occur by force.
The “unholy trinity” of the State, as we shall explore in Part Three of this chapter, depends on such force and conformity in order to produce static, inorganic structures that are an affront to the dynamic nature of life.
Its mindless proponents believe that in its absence of an all-seeing, all-controlling “state” apparatus, all progress would suddenly cease and humanity would vanish into a puff of smoke.
“If the government didn’t build the roads, we would all perish.”
This is of course absurd.
If anything, the “evil triad” of the State halts progress because it conspires to direct, oversee, micromanage and control it.
Don’t believe me? If you’re an employer or parent, go stand over the shoulder of your staff member or child, watch them every minute of the day and see how much genuine progress they make.
Progress And Attention
The following two quotes by Dr. Peterson illustrate a beautiful element of the human condition and give us an answer to why there is never an “end state” of being or an absolute maxima to wealth, as the Marxists would have you believe:
“We are always and simultaneously at point ‘a’ (which is less desirable than it could be), moving towards point ‘b’ (which we deem better, in accordance with our explicit and implicit values).”
“Even when satisfied, temporarily, we remain curious. We live within a framework that defines the present as eternally lacking and the future as eternally better.”
They explain why we as humans are always striving, reaching, growing, adapting and evolving, and they also explain why there can be no organic monopolies in a society. Things change and the old will erode while the new and dynamic will grow.
With that in mind, there does exist a line between the healthy desire to grow, and the blind chase for a grass thought greener elsewhere. The latter is exacerbated when you’re watching your savings melt away like ice cubes on a hot day. In such a state, you’re no longer evolving by virtue of curiosity, but through desperation. You’re in a constant state of angst about the future.
This is why savings are necessary for not only stability, but sanity. Certainty is a base human need, and we will find it one way or another.
We will seek it through low-quality vehicles such as drugs that numb or distract us, through the false sense of certainty we get when we’re desperate to achieve at the expense of all else, and believing in false, snake-oil promises of getting rich which inevitably turns on us, e.g., $LUNA.
Or, through higher-quality vehicles such as working on something we’re interested in, intrigued by or passionate about, whilst setting aside some of the excess product of our labor in a form that will not evaporate away across time.
Here we confront the case for Bitcoin once more.
We must choose, and the capacity to do so wisely is enhanced with a tool that can preserve your future optionality.
Because attention is expensive and we are mostly blind to the happenings around us, we are prone to being distracted. This is the shadow side of focus.
Dr. Daniel Simon’s famous “selective attention test” made clear that when people are involved or spellbound by what they’re doing, they tend to miss the elephants and the gorillas in the room.
Modernity conspires to do this to you. Deliberately and accidentally.
People are today so busy trying to survive, trying to make enough money to pay for soaring prices for goods at the grocery store and gas station that they have no energy left to notice the crimes being perpetrated by those at the helm of this sinking ship we call “modern society.”
2500-page bills filled with mindless expenses are presented and passed by government bureaucrats on a whim, because they’re too long to read. Of course none of these “representatives” care in the first place because they’re not the ones paying $25 million on “bias training” in healthcare. You are.
These parasites are gaslighting and pickpocketing you at the same time. They’re laughing at you behind your back because you’re stupid enough to trade the precious product of your labor for money they just conjure up out of thin air.
What a deal.
While you work, toil, sweat and sacrifice, we’ll just be over here spending it all and making things up as we go.
It’s no wonder anyone with at least half a brain is desperate to gamble their way out of the rat race, chasing the next Ponzi to the moon on Conbase, Robinhood or some other shitcoin casino.
It’s worth noting here that as I said earlier, there are both emergent and deliberately-planned distractions.
Emergent because there is so much noise and such a high time-preferenced orientation to modern life that people can no longer pay attention to anything anymore: Attention spans have famously dwindled down to seconds, so we’re bombarded by even more “if it bleeds it leads” messaging from the orifice of every homo-hystericus and media outlet surrounding us. Talk about a downward spiral.
Then of course there are the deliberate, more clandestine attempts to psyop all of us into falling for “the current thing.”
These are conspiracies indeed, and as with any attention-seeking apparatus, they conspire to acquire your attention.
The question is, what will you do when affronted? Will you, in desperation, react? Or will you stand your ground and defend your attention?
From personal experience, since discovering Bitcoin, I’ve been far more selective with my time and attention. I am far less prone to fall for the current thing, and more confident and optimistic about the long-term trajectory humanity is on.
Yes, I too, like you, must endure the entire clown world sitcom, but I have the space to sit, to wait and to “take stock,” as we discussed in Part One.
This has improved my life considerably, and it can yours too.
Notwithstanding all of the malevolence present in the world today, a large part of what we do not want comes as a result of being focused on the wrong thing.
It’s true that we’re all here to grow and evolve as individuals, and part of that is the victory over the parts of ourselves that no longer serve us. Victory or just separation? Either way, it’s moving on from that stage.
Bitcoin does not “fix that” because that does not need fixing. Progress by definition will mean that we’re always leaving a part of ourselves behind on the journey of life.
We are, and will always retool as we grow, adapt and become either more complex or simple versions of ourselves.
A Bitcoin standard just makes this process more accurate, more precise, more honest, more rewarding.
“If your life is not going well, perhaps it is your current knowledge that is insufficient, not life itself. Perhaps your value structure needs some serious retooling. Perhaps what you want is blinding you to what else could be.”
As we apply our intention and attention toward ends we deem are of quality or value, we shall move toward them.
This central truth of life is something that every central planner and bureaucratic statist seems to believe human beings are not capable of doing on their own.
Luckily for us, we no longer have to listen to them, or play by their stupid rules. Thank goodness for #Bitcoin.
“There is nothing magical here — or nothing more than the already-present magic of consciousness. We only see what we aim at. The rest of the world (and that’s most of it) is hidden. If we start aiming at something different — something like ‘I want my life to be better’ — our minds will start presenting us with new information, derived from the previously hidden world, to aid us in that pursuit.”
This is a guest post by Aleks Svetski, author of “The UnCommunist Manifesto,”, founder of The Bitcoin Times and Host of The Wake Up Podcast. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.