Does Bitcoin Really "Stop Wars"?
The take-home message is not that Bitcoin adoption would stop war, but that it's a unique off-ramp from the clown world of debasement, inflation, and propaganda.
The narratives around Bitcoin are shifting. Not so long ago, it was supposedly a source of global conflict and misery, the currency of criminals and an environmental catastrophe. With adoption and backing from major financial institutions, those voices have receded into the background. Bitcoin may even offer solutions for the energy industry and the climate crisis.
Alongside these claims, there are those who believe that Bitcoin might offer us even more as a species. Moving to a Bitcoin standard might, they say, end wars.
The premise is straightforward. Governments fund their wars by printing money, because there if there aren't enough tax revenues to fund the military hardware and combatants, they don't have any other option. End fiat, and the ability to conjure money out of nowhere, and you force governments to live within their means—and that includes not embarking on costly and violent escapades in other countries.
Jack Mallers, CEO of Swan Bitcoin, said exactly this in a recent interview. "Do you know how people fund war? They debase your currency to go bomb people... I'm opting out of funding war."
Mallers argues that using Bitcoin is a powerful way to opt out of the fiat system that is an integral part of the war machine. Max Keiser has claimed something similar in the past.
It's a great concept, and it has a grain of truth to it. Cut off the ability to fund anything you want by debasing the currency, and war will become too expensive to undertake in most cases. Unfortunately, though, the problem runs deeper than fiat alone.
The Cost Of War
Wars have been a feature of human life ever since there were enough of us to organize into factions and arm ourselves with sticks and rocks. The more organized we became, the easier (and more important) it was to create standing armies. And while controlling the money printer has made it easier to do that, wars have been around long before fiat money was.
Debasement doesn't have to take the form of creating more fiat. In the past, it was a question of diluting the precious metal content of coins. That's how Roman emperors funded their campaigns. Henry VIII famously debased the currency to fight wars, and to build vanity projects. Alongside this, though, these rulers levied heavy taxes to fund their armies.
Would moving to an un-debasable currency help? Very likely yes. Preventing money printing and debasement (fiat or otherwise) puts a ceiling on the amount of cash you can raise for war. It wouldn't stop it, but it might well curtail it. (It's worth mentioning, however, that this may not be net positive during a transition period, when some nations find their continued and outdated use of fiat provides them with a unique opportunity to launch wars against their Bitcoin-loving neighbors...)
The Ultimate Off-Ramp
The take-home message here is not so much that Bitcoin stops wars. It's that Bitcoin offers a rare and possibly unique opt-out: An off-ramp from the clown world of fiat debasement, inflation, spiraling debt growth, entrenched inequality, financial abuse, government and corporate propaganda, and the hamster wheel of making ends meet that is otherwise the lot of the Millennial Generation.
That is what taking the Orange Pill is really about.
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