You tweet about a vision for a better world on a Bitcoin standard, and you immediately get attacked by Bitcoin critics, lifetime academics, and crypto shills. You wonder to yourself - do they really think the current system is fine? Are people really this gullible? Or are they malicious? Don't we all have the same goals for a free, fair, and sustainable future?
If this sounds familiar, you might just be a Bitcoiner.
So what are we to do?
I agree with Austin Hill, we should start with: what do we agree on? Most importantly, do we agree on a shared set of values and principles? Where we disagree, we should focus on understanding why, and if we can compromise. If not, while it may be useful to understand why, it is unlikely we will see eye to eye on how best to build the future. If we find ourselves agreeing or willing to compromise, then we can debate alternative solutions on how to achieve our common vision of the future.
What follows are my values and principles, which are the foundation of my support of Bitcoin. My hope in writing this is to encourage continued discussion on what values and principles are core to Bitcoin. What cannot be compromised for Bitcoin's success, and what are nice to haves? To me, the below are not negotiable. Do you agree?
Value 1: Individual Freedom
I believe autonomy is one of the three basic human needs. We should all have freedom of choice over our own lives. We can each do what we want with our own lives, as long as what we want isn't to tell others what to do, take away their freedoms, or their life.
Value 2: Fairness
Everyone should have equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. How else can we fairly account for differences in effort or ability? This isn't to say we will leave people down on their luck starving on the streets (value 9), but it also means free loaders are not welcome.
Value 3: Sustainability
Live within our own and the planet's natural means. Whether or not you believe in climate change, it is clear that the planet's natural resources are limited. We cannot grow our consumption exponentially without end, as the current fiat system incentivizes.
Value 4: Transparency
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Radical transparency is generally recommended. Troy Cross pointed out the apparent tension between this and privacy. I believe that organizations serving the public, like governments and corporations, which depend on trust, should be transparent by default. How much do you trust opaque organizations?
Value 5: Resilience
Aim to build processes and systems that can withstand shocks and black swans. It doesn't matter if you create a system that efficiently maximizes short term gain, if you sacrifice long term resilience. The fall of Rome was followed by the dark ages. No bueno. Slow and steady wins the race. What's the rush?
Value 6: Security
Have assurances of the security of our rights, property, and personal safety. However, trading personal freedom for security is a fool's trade, and we are likely to end up with neither. That's just human nature when presented with power, especially among those who seek power.
Value 7: Privacy
Privacy is a human right and a human fight. It should be respected by default. Yes, even by governments. Unlike a public organization, I believe an individual should have the right to privacy, and only disclose information if they see fit. For those of you who think "I don't need privacy, I have nothing to hide," it's a trap.
Value 8: Personal Accountability
Take accountability for our own actions. See Extreme Ownership for a good read on this. Honestly, I can’t explain it better than Jocko and Leif, only to say that taking accountability leads to accelerated learning, improved decision making, resilience, and an overall stronger society.
Value 9: Social Responsibility
Act in a manner that benefits not only yourself, but society as a whole. This has two parts:
Value 10: Optimism
Be optimistic about the future. People lacking optimism in their vision will not persevere in the face of extreme uncertainty and multiple setbacks in their quest to help make the world a better place. Without optimists, how can we hope to build a better future?
A lot of skeptics will call us pessimistic on liberal democracy, I see it differently. I see us as optimistic on a new system. A system that more closely abides by the democratic ethos of the people, by the people, where the control of one of the most important layers of society, the monetary layer, is put into our hands.
So where does that leave us?
In my opinion, Bitcoin is the best embodiment of the above values and principles available today. Bitcoin is uniquely decentralized, free and open, resistant to censorship or mutability, anonymous, transparent, digital, upgradeable, and with a limited supply. While not perfect, its properties offer the best set of trade-offs in support of the above values. This is no accident. Rather it was these values that led to the creation of Bitcoin in the first place and have continued to guide its evolution. Ultimately, I believe these values act as a sort of guide for Bitcoiners as we each do our part, either by building or teaching, to help realize our vision of a better world.