This is how crypto wins.
Posted August 10, 2022
Politics is downstream from culture.
Andrew Breitbart famously said it.
The overarching idea, known as the Breitbart Doctrine, is that in order to change politics, one must first focus on changing culture.
Though the Right articulated it, the Left has been far better at it, mercilessly beating out any cultural force in America since at least the 1960s.
It’s underappreciated how much Bitcoin and crypto-at-large has -- in just a decade -- already infiltrated certain pockets of mainstream culture.
This may seem inconsequential, but I assure you it’s not.
It has always been clear that — if crypto is to win — it must capture the culture first.
In this way, the crypto critics are right.
Crypto cannot and will not win by fighting the existing system on its own playing field. But, it doesn’t have to. It can win through a cultural war of attrition.
Same as it always was.
Ask Martin Luther.
Fun fact: Satoshi Nakamoto is hailed by some as the 21st century Martin Luther.
The release of the Bitcoin white paper, as we’ll see, holds a few compelling similarities to Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
For starters, both Martin Luther and Satoshi Nakamoto published their works on the same day -- October 31.
Of course, Nakamoto might’ve relished the idea of being praised as a modern-day Luther, so the move could have been strategic.
Nevertheless, October 31 is an auspicious day throughout history, celebrated worldwide as a day of death and renewal.
It’s appropriate, then, that Luther would have -- on October 31, 1517 -- triggered the death and renewal of the prevailing order, bringing about the Reformation and the separation of Church and State.
Consider the cultural environment in the early 1500s, and its similarities to our current age.
The century prior to the Reformation saw what many believed to be a slow creep of corruption into the Establishment, which at this time happened to be the Roman Catholic Church.
Complaints were rampant: of false idols and doctrines, biblical illiteracy, and superstition.
To those on the outside looking in, the Church’s “progress” seemed anything but.
The system was rigged!
Those closest to the Church, the critics observed, clearly benefited most from these new ways of conducting the Church. Not entirely unlike the Cantillon Effect of today’s monetary system, which has a way of taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich.
Especially egregious was the practice of requiring followers to pay for their sins to be forgiven — the exercise of selling indulgences — thereby turning forgiveness into a business.
Enter Martin Luther, who came in like a feral wrecking ball.
He railed against the Church’s “gluttonous dominance.”
He said out loud what nobody dared say, sparking a firestorm of adoration, controversy, denouncements, and death threats.
Things like: “I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist.”
His ideas were powerful. So powerful, in fact, they meant only one thing to the status quo…
In a word: obliteration.
Like it or not, that’s what happened.
For example, the Reformation brought with it the doctrine of justification, which says that through faith alone, the individual can be saved.
Contrary to what the Church proclaimed, Luther announced that there was nothing you must do to “earn” salvation. No ritual given by the priest. No sacrament recommended by the monk. No deed tasked to you by the pope.
Salvation is an individual journey.
While the Catholic Church said that a mixture of faith and works were necessary for salvation, Luther saw the “works” part as a way for the Church to insert itself as a middleman between the individual and the sacred.
He instead emphasized the individual’s personal relationship with the divine, not mediated through a Church-sanctioned clergy.
His radical idea on salvation cut out the middleman -- which, at the time, happened to be the most powerful force in Western culture.
His ideas eventually led to the modern world.
Nobody is Righteous! (Don’t Trust. Verify.)
The reformation is often framed as a spiritual or political movement.
Though the word “protestant” was originally used politically…
First and foremost, it was a cultural war of attrition.
The fight was ultimately about whose ideas would resonate most with and energize the masses. It was also about what ideas could survive and thrive in a time of great social, political, and technological change. It was a war of staying power within the minds and hearts of the people.
As time dragged on, Lutheranism’s staying power has been incredible: Today, Lutheran membership is estimated to be more than 72 million people worldwide. It is still a state religion in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.
Moreover, Martin Luther is now widely credited with the rise of secular democracy, the individual empowerment of women in the West, and Christian rock.
Luther rejected the idea that the Roman church should be a political power, owning vast amounts of land and making its own rules. He also rejected the idea that rulers should enforce matters of belief by coercion and threats of violence.
He and his followers wisely embraced the use of technology to reach his aims of subverting the powers that were: reformers benefited greatly from the rise of the printing press.
The Second Great Disintermediation.
The First Great Disintermediation between Church and State, spearheaded by Luther, took about two centuries to unfold. In a decentralized fashion, it capsized nations and supranational organizations, fundamentally changing the way the West viewed the world and itself.
Today, we’re at the forefront of the Second Great Disintermediation.
And this time it’s between Money and State.
Success is never guaranteed, but if history is any guide, it’s wise not to underestimate the power of a few good ideas — especially when those ideas empower the individual.
More on that — and how crypto wins the cultural war of attrition — tomorrow.
[Ed. note: “Crypto is the biggest asymmetric bet of all time. You only have to be right ONCE in order to make millions from a relatively small stake.” That’s the case James and I made in our Big Book of Crypto. And, when we began Early Stage Crypto Investor, we put that philosophy into practice. Not yet a member? Click here to see James talk all about Early Stage Crypto Investor — and what it means for us.]