Not only is Jeffrey Tucker one of my personal heroes, but also this is quite possibly the best talk about Bitcoin Cash that I have ever heard in my life.
It encapsulates everything that is absolutely vital to understand about why Bitcoin Cash is the most important invention in the history of humanity — in the ongoing fight for our freedoms, liberties, human rights, individual empowerment, and just plain damn happiness.
I loved this talk so much that I transcribed it in full below. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please share this with your friends and loved ones.
[00:00:21] I think what I'd like to do is talk about some monetary fundamentals because I think we forget this a lot. You know, I mean, one of the frustrations I have, and I think it's the same frustration we all feel, is that that history isn't moving forward enough. I remember when Bitcoin first proved itself to be a viable alternative to national money — the first one in maybe modern age in years, and certainly the first in the digital age after many, many experiments. Bitcoin actually worked for a variety of technical and theoretical reasons.
[00:00:55] And at that moment, I really hoped that society would get smart, and that we would rally around it, and it would be widely adopted and used, and we would bail out of national money. Now, there's a number of problems here. One is the information problem. It took a long time for people to come to believe. Many years, in fact.
[00:01:15] I remember the incredible abuse I faced in early 2013 when I first read about this at a time in which there was grave incredulity towards cryptocurrency, and people thought that I was rallying behind some sort of scam. Now it's true that prior to Bitcoin, there were many attempts to create a digital currency that didn't work that collapsed into scams — not because they were scams, but because they got hacked and it just wasn't working.
[00:01:45] So people thought that I had become part of a pump & dump scheme or something like that. It was actually, for me personally, somebody who very much values my reputation — I guess, as any professional does — it was worrisome, because I realized if I had been wrong on this, that I would have had to claw my way back. And I wasn't sure I was right. I just had a pretty good intuition about it. So I began to write about it. I turned out to be correct, I think. And it was good. It was good. It was all good.
[00:02:18] But what I had underestimated at the time was that the number of problems that are associated with adoption. There is the network effects, right? So everybody is already using dollars, everyone is already is using credit cards. People are invested in national money. And making that shift to something new is not something that Americans are really very good at in particular. But actually, nobody is. If things work, then why do something else better? So there's the network effect problem.
[00:02:50] There's the problem that the monetary system, as we know it, isn't currently as broken as it was when Satoshi invented Bitcoin, where the financial system was collapsing.
[00:03:01] It's very interesting, these last 5 months, we've seen governments deliberately destroy prosperity all over the world and lock everybody down and really do fundamental attacks on human rights. And the most egregious form that we will ever see in our lifetimes, I think, and certainly generations of people have never faced anything like this.
[00:03:21] And yet, it's been fascinating to see that the financial system has continued to perform for now. We don't know what that's going to look in the future, but it's continued to perform. I do think it's fascinating that over the last 5 months, one thing that nobody ever considered shutting down — because they can't — is the cryptocurrency world. So, you know, even Trump has talked about shutting down Tik-Tok in the United States today, you know, but it's inconceivable to shut down a distributed network, because there's no single point of failure. So that's been actually a glorious aspect anyway.
[00:03:58] But the problem I never really expected and I hadn't anticipated — even though the scaling debate had been going on really quite early, and I couldn't be bothered to look at because I thought it was too technical for my understanding — was that not everybody in the Bitcoin community was in favor of adoption.
[00:04:23] And many people got ahead of themselves and thinking that they had invented the new digital gold, which should serve as a foundation for a monetary system that would then be layered on top of that many times over. You know, I'm not saying that that's incorrect, but they're WAY ahead of themselves. And money has to follow a certain evolution, natural evolution, through the market. And you can discover this if you read Carl Menger. You can find out how and where money comes from.
[00:04:58] Or you could just look at normal monetary history and see that money is an outgrowth of barter. It's a more advanced stage of economic development, but it goes through experimentation. There's entrepreneurships. The invention of money and the use of money and the adoption of money on a widespread basis is subject to the normal forces of entrepreneurship that everything else is — whether it's software, things in the digital economy, or really anything: medical treatments, whatever it is, housing techniques, technology, everything is subject to a market test.
[00:05:34] And certain developers within the Bitcoin community imagined that they would "game the system" by artificially restricting the ability of Bitcoin to be adopted on a widespread basis. Now, I didn't understand that in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.
[00:05:58] But there was a point at which I used to use Bitcoin all the time for small purchases, actually plane tickets and coffee and everything else. And I thought that the goal — as it always is in any kind of monetary innovation — is to seek adoption and use, because you've got a big problem. You've got a network effect to overcome with the dollarization and national monetary systems, generally speaking. So, you need people to be able to use it, have friendly interfaces, have producers accept it, consumers adopt it, and see ever more use.
[00:06:38] That's always the goal of any money.
[00:06:41] And to my great shock, I woke up one day and discovered that Bitcoin was actually almost unusable, actually. And, I felt like my beloved cryptocurrency had been invaded by somebody who was not in favor of it ever becoming a money, and had throttled it in a way that made it far less useful, far slower, and far more expensive than national money.
[00:07:06] So obviously, under the conditions, Bitcoin couldn't ever perform. And it was it was a shock.
[00:07:12] Very soon after that, of course — and by the way, I'm not just a cryptocurrency researcher, right? I'm doing research on many other things: international trade issues, antitrust issues, cultural topics. I write about everything. So I went through a couple of years without having risked my career on writing about Bitcoin, and I went through a couple of years writing about it, took off a couple of years and came back to it, and discovered it had become something like Frankenstein's Monster, something completely unfamiliar to me.
[00:07:48] And it was all because of the scaling problem.
[00:07:50] It's just one flaw, one mistake, but it ruined any hope that Bitcoin could ever have for overcoming the network effects of the globalization of the dollar. It's a currency.
[00:08:09] So I wasn't involved in the fork. But when it happened, and it was shocking when it happened, I didn't even at that point entirely understand why it had to happen. But after it happened, I realized that something had to give, that there had been a fatal flaw at the heart of the Bitcoin developer community. It ended up really throttling the chance of Bitcoin — during a very critical period — could have ever become a viable competitor to the dollar.
[00:08:42] So Bitcoin Cash didn't have a network. It was a brand new currency, it was like starting all over again, but it had to happen because at least the developers of Bitcoin Cash understood that there can't be such a thing as a money that is not useful in exchange.
[00:08:57] Now, I know this. I've always known this, because I've read the works of the Austrian economists. But I'm happy to say that many modern Austrians actually understand this, too. And so the great economist George Selgin figured this out quickly. He realized that Bitcoin couldn't ever be a money under those conditions, that you have to go through a natural stage of evolution. So he debated in a SoHo forum in New York, and unfortunately, lost the debate.
[00:09:29] But it's just really sad that many people in the Core community have never really thoroughly understood this very important point, that markets have to evolve on a natural way to scale up, scale up, scale up, and eventually become economically viable for the masses of people.
[00:09:52] So I happen to think that Bitcoin Cash — among probably many others, but I think Bitcoin Cash is probably the top currency in that respect — has the possibility of becoming, you know, basically a hand-to-hand currency, which is to say widely accepted.
[00:10:10] But then — and I'm not really part of these debates anymore — but I rallied around BCH and then promptly got abu[sed], treated to the Twitter mobs. That was a terrible period, actually. I didn't like it because, I mean, I've always been a champion of privatized currencies, whatever form they take. I don't even care what you call it. As long as it's out of the hands of government.
[00:10:43] So to be accused of, yet again, of being part of a pump & dump scheme, a scamster, of all these things, you know, I was subject to harassment, intimidation. It was horrible. And actually, at the time, people had warned me that if I showed any sympathy for the fork at all, that I would be subjected to this. But it was far worse than I really imagined. And nobody wants to live that way. It's disgusting. Now, as far as I know, these days — and maybe I'm not that active or maybe I've just blocked all the right people — but it doesn't seem like the abuse is continuing as much as possible.
[00:11:24] Back in the day, after the fork occurred, we kept hearing again & again about 2nd & 3rd tier layer solutions that are going to be piled on top of BTC. And yeah, I'm all for that. That all sounds great, but it always struck me as a overly rationalistic & ovelry preprogrammed, as if the smartest people in the world were going to "gamify" the invention of a new monetary base.
[00:11:51] But they never really wanted to bother with the market, which is the strangest thing, because actually the greatest thing about a cryptocurrency over national monies is that it's actually part of the market experience, unlike national monies that were basically nationalized and imposed by governments and throttled in their development. And so the great thing about cryptocurrencies is it's supposed to be adaptable and changeable. As far as I know, that is the essence of the BCH developer community.
[00:12:24] Today, so I'm actually very optimistic. I'm very frustrated that it's taking so long to get there. But I've been frustrated since I first discovered Bitcoin.
[00:12:34] And again, my excitement about Bitcoin was not really the sort of abstract intellectual position that it would become some base money for the world. The real test — and this is true now, and it will always be true — the real test of a cryptocurrency is whether or not a regular person can find it useful and a regular merchant can accept it.
[00:13:00] I must tell you, it's actually been a very strange thing because Bitcoin is supposed to be adaptable and progressive and move forward in history in the way in which the dollar couldn't.
[00:13:08] In 2013 and 2014, you could go anywhere at PorcFest in New Hampshire, or really, many big cities had lots of merchants that were accepting Bitcoin. You could spend it. You could use it. You could trade it. And it was very common. In the years since then, it's been ever less and ever less and ever less. So, adoption has actually gone down.
[00:13:35] I've been a part of debates for some years with advocates of Bitcoin Core who actually — it's a consistent position, I guess — but they're AGAINST adoption. They don't want you to adopt it, the HODL movement.
[00:13:52] Then, at some point, I began to get frustrated by this, and I really began to notice that the HODL movement (and amongst the BTC'ers) were mostly the old gangsters. You know, some people would consider me among them, I don't know, I mean, 2013 doesn't sound that old.
[00:14:09] But what they began to get upset about was competition — competition in the crypto realm. They thought there should only be ONE cryptocurrency, and they thought that every NEW cryptocurrency would diminish the status and value of BTC, which to them, hurt their holdings.
[00:14:29] Now to me, once I discovered that this is actually the motivation, struck me as an outrageously economically ignorant and backwards and mercantilist and protectionist outlook and fundamentally selfish. In other words, you want to throttle the development of cryptocurrency just so that your chosen gangster, your old gangster original token, can be as valued as high as possible.
[00:14:57] That's contrary to free enterprise. That's contrary to competition, it's contrary to economic logic, and actually smacks of a kind of what you might call kind of a crypto fascism, actually. And it took me a while to realize that this is what's going on. But that's definitely struck me at some point that is, at least in part, part of the motivation for the for the BTC movement. And I think it's not a future for humanity. It's a future for a FEW. But it's not a future for the whole world.
[00:15:32] So let me just use my last minutes here to talk a little bit about WHY we're involved not just in the struggle for sound money, not just in a struggle for free enterprise brought to the subject of currency itself, but why I think that we're really in a struggle for for human rights itself. And I think we should be aware of this, and now, more than ever.
[00:16:02] So, let's go back in time a little bit before the advent of central banking and the nationalization of currency into the late 19th century, where we had global free trade, no income tax, very limited government, very little debt.
[00:16:22] Governments didn't tell — most governments in the world, maybe outside of Germany — never told anybody what wages they had to pay their employees. There were very few restrictions on migration in the world, anywhere in the world. In other words, a time before central banks. Just before central banks. It was a time of relative freedom. Not perfect freedom. There were plenty of problems in the world. But things were gradually improving. You could make money and keep all the money you earned. You could live and even be a citizen of most any country in the world that you wanted to go to. You could hire whom you wanted. You could start a business without facing a plethora of government regulations. In other words, government was more or less contained. Too big, but at least restrained, because everything it did, it had to pay for by taxing the citizens, and governments mostly don't like to tax people, because people don't like to be taxed.
[00:17:23] The invention of central banking was originally supposed to be about providing a flexible monetary policy that could adapt to the supply and demand, and then maybe restrain some of the inflationary tendencies of wildcat banking, diminished business cycles. The idea was to bring rationality to monetary policy.
[00:17:46] And, as with most things that governments do, the opposite happened.
[00:17:51] So in the United States, we followed Germany and followed the Bank of England and created a central bank. What that did is put money fully in control of a banking system that had a symbiotic relationship with government, because it was the government that actually created the central banks and the dollar became de facto nationalized.
[00:18:13] Even if it was restrained somewhat by the gold standard, the restraint didn't last long because very quickly after that, the U.S. did the unthinkable thing and turned what was a regional military conflict into a global war. That happened, and I'm citing here the research of Benjamin Anderson, who wrote about this in the mid 1920s with an empirical research about the role of central banks that start in the prolongation and the murderous horror we call World War I. He blamed it all on the central banks. Now some central banks are worse than others, but I think if you're interested in counterfactual history, we can go back and say that the U.S. probably never would have turned a regional conflict into a global war without having a printing press in the central bank that was going to consider the banking system and the government too big to fail.
[00:19:09] After all, now, the limits had been taken off money. So the nationalization of currency at that time unleashed that horror on the world. It's not a coincidence.
[00:19:25] So that was a catastrophe for Europe, and I don't want to go through the political history, but it was a catastrophe for Europe and a catastrophe for the U.S. In the U.S. we faced, during that war, censorship, a shutdown of futures markets, a brief shut down of stock markets. A first test, really, of what a total state looks like, conscription, death and a destabilized American society like nothing else had ever done. Not even the Civil War had been so damaging. By the time soldiers came home, demoralized, PTSD, a disaster. They came home to a society that was VERY different from the one they left. The Central Bank not only unleashed hell abroad, but also unleashed it at home.
[00:20:12] So immediately, we saw the advent of the regulatory state: minimum wages, zoning laws, the imposition of Jim Crow laws, regulation of wages, a banning of women's work, and in many places the income tax. The new, direct elections of senators was to stabilize the relationship between the federal government and states. In the course of just a few years, between 1913 and 1918-1920, we saw a complete transformation of a relatively laissez faire world (a world that was getting ever freer) into a world that was where the total state was descending, suddenly involved in all aspects of our lives.
[00:21:01] Food and drug regulation, the cartelization of the medical profession, all the things that are wrong with the world were born in those few years, fundamentally trace to the advent of central banks and the nationalization of currency and the REMOVAL of money out of the market to put it in the hands of the ruling class backed by government power.
[00:21:33] That was, I would say, the original sin that happened in the early 20th Century that unleashed almost all the hell we're dealing with now.
[00:21:45] People have a hard time understanding this. You have to understand something about the history of money and the complicated relationship between central banking & the rise of statism to get the whole feel for this. But once you do, you realize what this really is:.
[00:22:02] Centralized money is the fuel for a leviathan, and ultimately the Murder/War State and despotism at home.
[00:22:13] And we saw this unfold all over the world. The Weimar inflation ultimately destabilized and destroyed Germany, and led to the rise of Hitler. It provided the means for the U.S. to get to do what it did in World War II. World War I was just a rehearsal for the catastrophe that happened 20, 30 years later. We had prohibition in this country. Mostly again, the arrogance fueled by cheap money led the American leaders to imagine that they could abolish forever the consumption and distribution of alcohol.
[00:22:53] Again, I blame central banking and the nationalization of currency after World War I to war, war, war, more depressions, more inflations, more wars, more debt, bigger and bigger government, everything.
[00:23:10] And then finally, it ended up as we would expect, you know, the abolition of the gold standard and the advent of pure paper money controlled by the central state. Technologically backwards, yes. But very, very favorable towards Leviathan control of the world.
[00:23:28] We're coming up now to the 50th anniversary of the end of the gold standard, by the way. And we have nothing good to say about it. Nothing good to say about it. So something had to give.
[00:23:37] Finally, crisis after crisis after crisis after crisis, we come to the 21st century and the disaster of the 2008 financial crisis, and the invention — finally! — of a private money for the digital age. As far as I'm concerned, it's the greatest invention in all of human history and offers the greatest hope for progress, peace and freedom. And finally, the [greatest] normalcy in our times that the world has ever seen.
[00:24:08] I think it's also one of the great tragedies and historians will have to look back at this period and deconstruct what happened because — and I can't say a perfect kind of factual — but I can tell you that the promise of Bitcoin was so high in 2013, 2014 and 2015, that had Bitcoin scaled, I think we might be living in a very different world today. The initial fork was a stopgap measure and I think absolutely essential. It was essential. But I think what happened to Bitcoin was one of the great calamities.
[00:24:52] We're now living in month 5 of a world lockdown where tens of millions of jobs have been destroyed, where poverty is spreading all over the world economy among non-developed or non-first world societies where children are going hungry, where governments have exercised unprecedented totalitarian powers, where churches have been shut, where theaters have been smashed, where arts have been destroyed, where people are being treated like animals all over the world, where we've seen unprecedented levels of psychological, cultural, economic and social devastation by these lockdowns, all in the name of controlling, mitigating a virus based on recommendations of a bunch of crazy cranks who have no idea what they're doing and will never pay the price for what they've done to our societies.
[00:25:59] And I think we have to ask the question, how did they get away with it? How did they get away with it now? And they could have never done this in the past. And I think ultimately this traces to a kind of hubristic pretensions of power and expertise that is fueled fundamentally by the Central Bank.
[00:26:20] And sure enough, this year we've seen the Federal Reserve used in ways it was never even intended or imagined by its founders or even under the worst types of management, the 20th century. We've got the Fed now creating trillions in new money, actively involved in the securities industry and buying municipal bonds, doing anything possible to keep the economy afloat during times when human rights have been violated on a mass scale like we've — none of us ever hope to see.
[00:26:57] Why? If you want to dig deep enough and really understand why, I think you have to go back to the fact that the states have monopolized the printing press. It's the nationalization of money that's unleashed this hell on the world.
[00:27:14] So let me tie this up and say this.
[00:27:16] We live in times of great desperation, great sadness, great pessimism, and a horror at what's been done to the world.
[00:27:32] Where's the hope? Where's the sign of hope? Now, ultimately, the hope's got to come from within your heart, right? You have to believe. You have to — you have to believe that there's an answer, and ultimately, you have to protect yourself. You have to guard your own spirit and live as good a life as you have, regardless of the world around you.
[00:27:54] But politically, institutionally, economically speaking, I think the highest hopes we have is in a currency that's detached from the state that the people can manage, because if we achieve that, we drive a wall, we put up, we build a wall between the between the people who have done this to us — the state, its ruling class, and its managers, who care nothing about your liberty or human rights or your faith at all, anyone really, they just care about their own power — we drive up, put up a wall between them and the life we want to live.
[00:28:34] So I think the struggle, the struggle for a usable, widely-distributed, networked, widely-adopted, private currency that lives on the Internet in a decentralized way that can never be taken down by anybody, that has no single point of failure, that is a consumer-friendly commodity. That struggle for that is the struggle for life itself. For the good life itself, for human liberty.
[00:29:04] So this is not ultimately, my friends, about technology. It's not really about a fight between geeks on Twitter. It's not a fight over scaling. Yes, scaling's important, but it's not a fight over code. It's a fight over life itself.
[00:29:24] Let me conclude by saying the following.
[00:29:26] I hope you're in it for the long term. I'll be in it for the long haul. Things are not going as quickly as we want. But BCH represents hope for the future. It does. Don't give up that hope. Future generations will thank you, thank all of us for the work we're doing right now.
[00:29:49] And I will say this. We face a choice. You fight. You use this currency. You promote it. You develop it. You protect it. You guard it. Why? Because we will not live in cages. Human beings are not meant to live that way. And we won't live that way. We will not be part of somebody else's dystopian novel. We will write the story of our own lives.
[00:30:22] A well-networked, beautiful cryptocurrency that is owned by the people and not the state is possibly the most important tool that we have in the struggle for human rights around the world today.
[00:30:38] Thanks very much, and I'll conclude with that.