After my last article about how conspiracy theories undermine the potentially good reputation of crypto, I got this comment on Reddit:
Let's say you work at a high level in the $1 trillion per day global finance system and I build a system which competes with it. What do you do?
The comment implies that it's obvious that a person who benefits in the current economic system would obviously fight any competing system that undermines their power. And that's true... so far as you assume that the new competing system is mutually exclusive to your current status. But is that the case?
I would use my current wealth to buy a significant amount within the system you've created in order to protect my position no matter which way the wind ended up blowing. It's so much easier than trying to manipulate secret plans.
I felt there was so much more to explore with this concept. I kept thinking about the question of what would I do if I were part of this supposed global elite trying to suppress Bitcoin. I mean really, really think about exactly how I would deal with a potential threat from Bitcoin.
Let's say I'm some kind of billionaire type, the kind who golfs with politicians, I can buy media companies, maybe I build space ships for kicks. What gives me all my power is wealth. I want to keep my position so that I can act on all the things I think is good about having power. Maybe I want to make my mark on history like some kind of modern day pharaoh, maybe I just want cruise around on a huge yacht with a bunch of scantily clad models, maybe I just like having everything go my way.
They key point here is it actually doesn't matter to me how I have wealth in order to support my power, just that whatever society considers valuable, I have it. Whether it's cash, stocks, gold, celebrity status, information, Pokemon cards, chickens... could be anything. All I need to do to preserve my position is to make sure a lot of whatever it is we're all using to measure wealth is in my control. I probably have my wealth diversified across different forms already, and I probably already have some contingency plans in case of problems. If the economy of one country collapses, I'll just go to one of my other houses in a better country.
So along comes Bitcoin and it's going to shake things up. Does that mean I'm going to stop it? Why would I? Why not just buy it like I do everything else that supports my wealth and power? It's just another part of my diversified portfolio. If fiat starts having problems, I have gold. If gold has problems, I have real estate. Or whatever. If any of the other things have problems, I now have Bitcoin too.
That's something I already casually mentioned in my Reddit response, but let's think about it a little more deeply.
Let's say I think Bitcoin is in some way mutually exclusive to some of my other assets, mainly the ones more closely tied to fiat cash. As Bitcoin goes up, those other assets go down. That's a problem. But still, it's not only easy enough to buy some of it to make sure my wealth in Bitcoin climbs as my wealth in other assets depreciate, it's practically a steal.
Bitcoin right now is light years from having the scale of acceptance of anything like an actual global currency. Which means it has a long way to go before it's actually any kind of threat to any economic system. And that also means that if you believe that it really could become that threat, then it's currently extremely cheap. One Bitcoin now could be a fortune in the future. As a billionaire trying to protect my position, I could buy enough Bitcoin now with an insignificant fraction of my portfolio that would ensure that by the time Bitcoin was actually upsetting the fractional reserve system or whatever, I would have plenty of it to continue being rich and powerful in the new paradigm.
And this is true for governments as it is for individuals or companies. As I've talked about before, the US government didn't invent gold, it just bought up enough of it to have control over the world supply of gold and it's impact on the global economy. It could just as easily do the same thing with Bitcoin. Much easier and cheaper with Bitcoin, in fact.
Compare that with me trying to come up with some kind of plot to suppress Bitcoin in some way. Get my political friends and other rich dudes together and pool our resources to get the CIA and Academi to run psy-ops campaigns. Maybe also get our buddies in Goldman Sachs and the Fed to start doing funky things with banking services.
All of which costs money, because no one is acting for free. And comes with a lot of risk. A leaked email could blow the whole thing up. And even if we do everything right, those dastardly Bitcoin enthusiasts might still pull it off and all my efforts will have been for nothing. And then I'm stuck without any wealth in a new Bitcoin future.
That seems like a really, really dumb investment compared to just buying some Bitcoin. Not only is it less risky than covert operations, I could openly Tweet about it, and if I'm rich enough, my Tweet will cause the price of Bitcoin to go up, which, you know, is nice, because that recoups some of my investment already.
But there's even a further problem that makes any kind of covert operation less appealing than just buying a bunch of Bitcoin to make sure I'm still rich if it takes off.
I've been told that the word "conspiracy" is maybe too volatile, and that really when Bitcoin people talk about conspiracies, they're really talking about an "alignment of interests" of certain groups. Groups like the rich and powerful who benefit from the current system.
While the people who benefit from the global financial hierarchy are definitely an identifiable group, who probably all show up to each others's parties on the French Riviera or wherever rich people hang out, where do their loyalties to each other lie?
If I'm super rich, do I care if the super rich guy beside me also stays rich? As long as I continue to reap the benefit of whatever it is I get out of power, whether it's hedonistic excess or trying to make my mark on history, I can't see why I care who else is getting their fix of the benefits of wealth.
Put another way, why would Mark Zuckerberg need Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffet to stay rich in order for him to have his own wealth? He doesn't. None of them need each other, they just leverage each other so long as it's beneficial. People move in and out of the rich elite for all sorts of reasons all the time. In some ways, it's less desirable for me to have other people in the world as rich as me, because those are the people I can't easily compel to do my bidding.
Which means that maybe if I'm out to destroy Bitcoin, others may have done their own math and come to the conclusion that if Bitcoin succeeds, and they get in on it early, then I'm going to be left in the dust while they have a good laugh. After all, the Bitcoin I don't buy is the Bitcoin they can hoard to their benefit.
Again, this is as true for countries and corporations as it is for individuals. If the US tries to suppress Bitcoin, then other countries might find it beneficial to support it, openly or covertly. And within that, national interests are rarely so unified. Does the entire US government have just one position on, well, anything? There are competing factions within competing factions.
If I were rich enough, influential enough, powerful enough, I wouldn't want to have to rely on anyone else to preserve that position. Given a choice between starting some nebulous conspiracy that could go wrong in so many ways and buying my own personal pile of Bitcoin, the choice is pretty obvious.
So that's my conspiracy, or at least the conspiracy of the me that is hypothetically super rich. For a tiny fraction of my current wealth, I'll buy more Bitcoin than you can ever afford to buy or lose. If Bitcoin succeeds, I'll be wealthier than you in Bitcoin. If Bitcoin fails, I just laugh it off and keep being richer than you anyway.
That's the real conspiracy of the rich.