It IS a community, you know.
It’s an epistemic community, which is a ten-dollar phrase meaning a community of shared knowledge, or more specifically a community that shares a sense of how one gets to useful and valid knowledge.
Within that broad epistemic community of crypto, there are lots of very different goals, lots of very different geographies and environmental attributes, lots of very different talents and constraints.
There’s also lots of money and lots of passion. Which attracts lots of raccoons to steal your money. And lots of false prophets to steal your passion. And usually your money, too.
I’m trying to build a different epistemic community than yours – one based on shared knowledge of small-l liberalism. There are lots of important differences in the epistemic focus of small-l liberalism (at least as I understand it) and the crypto community (at least as I understand it), but even more important similarities.
The crucial similarities are a commitment to individual liberty as the sine qua non for any organization of our social lives, and a resistance to instruments of the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy, both of which have a very different conception of how our social lives should be organized. There’s also a shared belief in technological progress and advancement, an advancement that drives an up-and-to-the-right arrow to history, as well as a shared belief in the epistemic foundation of that technological progress – the research program.
I’m writing this letter to invite an exploration of a joint research program, as described in the Take Back Your Data section of Things Fall Apart (Part 3) – Politics.
I’m interested in sharing ideas for a research program focused on liberty.
I’m interested in sharing ideas for a research program focused on resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.
I’m interested in sharing ideas for a research program focused on technological advancement.
I’m interested in learning.
I’m interested in teaching.
I’m NOT interested in a shared research program ABOUT money.
I’m not interested in coins. I’m not interested in tokens. I’m not interested in cryptocurrencies per se.
Why not? Because I believe that a research program ABOUT money is inevitably a metagame fail. It’s not just the raccoons that money attracts like an open garbage can, although that’s bad enough. What’s worse is that money attracts the hostile gaze of the State, and our communities cannot withstand a direct confrontation with the worldly seats of power.
I say this because humans have been wrestling with these questions for thousands of years. I say this because we have evidence of succeeding in these confrontations and failing in these confrontations. Here’s how one well-known resistance fighter handled the issue.
And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
They said to him, “Caesar’s.”
Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
― Mark 12:13-17
Everything to do with money – and by everything I mean everything, including banking and credit, not just the currency itself – belongs to Caesar.
Money is why Caesar exists. Money is the sole foundation and the sole provenance of the City of Man. This was true for Jesus. This was true for Maimonides. This was true for Siddhartha Gautama. This is true for us. If you challenge Caesar on money … if you fail to render to Caesar the ONE THING that is inextricably and undeniably his … then you will lose.
I read the Old Stories of religious leaders and tell them to you now, not because I’m a religious person – I’m really not – but because these are stories of successful secular resistance and winning secular metagames. It’s not an accident that in every example I know of an epistemic community successfully fostering real and lasting social change, they have rejected the siren call of Resistance-as-money. It was the wrong answer to Caesar’s test then, and it’s the wrong answer to Caesar’s test today.
I’ve been thinking about writing this letter for more than two years now. So long as people were getting rich from their crypto faith, though, I knew it would be pointless to write it.
As the Buddhists say, “money is the most trusted material to test human nature.”
When money is flooding in like a river, the roar prevents us from hearing anything else. Certainly that’s been my experience, usually to my ultimate detriment. But when the water rushes out, there’s nary a sound. We’re all ears. That’s been my experience, too. Almost always to my ultimate benefit.
There’s bigger game afoot than getting rich.
There’s liberty and justice for all.
We say those words by rote when we’re kids in school, and our belief in those words gets thoroughly kicked out of us as we move through the world. But I tell you that it’s time for a comeback. I tell you that this is a game we can win, if we play the metagame as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.
To see what we’re about, check out the Epsilon Theory website. You can enter the rabbit hole from pretty much any point, but the “Things Fall Apart” series is a particularly good place to start. In any of the notes, you’ll find that the commentariat is vibrant, active and wise. It’s the best thing happening on the internet today, imo, and it’s where we will design a shared research program to change the world.
And when you’re ready to join our pack, go here. You can just watch if you want, but I hope you’ll participate. Because the smarts and the passion of the crypto community will make all the difference in this long game, if there is a metagame to the crypto community beyond the creation of Resistance-as-money.
Is there more to crypto than cryptocurrencies?
Asking for a friend.
Co-founder, Chief Investment Officer
Second Foundation Partners
1735 Post Road, Suite 10
Fairfield, CT 06824