Are Bitcoin Investors Buying Into A 'Money Cult'?

Are Bitcoin Investors Buying Into A 'Money Cult'?

By Necksus | BottomShelfCryptoTalk | 3 Aug 2021


In the United States, we have a long, proud, storied tradition of calling people cultists for doing things outside the norm.  This isn't going to stop most people IRL from telling you that you're a weirdo for thinking like Fox Mulder from the X-Files or living and breathing the world of Alex Jones, but the consensus does seem to be that if you are an 'outside the box' thinker, you're going to be living and acting on the fringe.

There still exist modern movements that get called cults or cult-like in their behavior (multi-level marketers and some 20th century movements even bear these attacks in the mainstream media), but it's becoming less fashionable to call them a cult, presumably because of the era of political correctness. 

Like certain words, slurs, and ways of speaking, it's considered a rude thing to say.  I, personally, am against painting any large group with a broad brush, even if those groups behave in ways that I find reprehensible. 

That, however, is neither here, nor there.  We're here today to talk some more about people accepting Bitcoin.

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The time-honored American tradition of calling people cultists goes back a long time, long enough in our history that established religious organizations continue to bear the brunt of attacks against younger faiths.  The most prominent is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons for short, who have seen great criticism into the late 20th century regarding research into their historical origins, a narrative which is surrounded by great debate, even now.  The point is, throughout history, the narrative will change, but the facts of events remain the same.

Bitcoin, like Mormonism, is a creation whose origin is shrouded in mysteries which the world may never know.  Satoshi Nakamoto might be Japanese; Russian; American; Filipino; or any other race on this planet.  He might have been old, or young.  He may have been a she.  He may even have been Australian businessman whose pedigree just so happens to match that minimally required to have the genius and vision to create the Bitcoin.

We're already too far removed from the initial events for any good reconstruction of them to be possible, and the blockchain's here to stay.  As the old platitude goes, "the fuckin' horse is out the barn door."

Pepe Silvia

I find it more likely that a wheelchair-bound cryptographic genius was the creator of the original coin than Craig Wright, but I'm just an observer, and speculator.  I don't know any more than you, dear reader.  And by Hal Finney's own admission, he corresponded with Nakamoto; he is not the man himself.

Back in the 1800's, when Mormonism was still a burgeoning movement, it was common for frontiersmen and women to trod off into the vast unknown of the American west (generally considered anything further than Kansas), and see what fortunes they could make.  They did much of that exploration on a prayer, and a dream; many weren't rich, and many more didn't survive the journey, or got scammed by snake-oil conmen along the way for their most valuable possessions, all in the hopes of arriving in a better place and seeking freedom to practice their life as they see fit.

Does any of that sound familiar to any of you?

Bitcoin and the internet spaces we now occupy to talk about it are themselves brand new frontiers: places that didn't exist before Nakamoto uncovered the hidden valleys of blockchain.  I realize I'm being a bit flowery and hyperbolic with my language, here, but that's how it feels sometimes in this space: like I'm a cyberpunk cowboy with a computer bank, in more ways than one.

Normal people don't check or understand the price or gravity of the Bitcoin, even as many of our fortunes rise and fall with its numbers changing constantly.  If you walk into your average retail store, and show a stranger the price of a single Bitcoin today, chances are, your average American would be shocked to hear that it's over thirty thousand dollars even still!  For an intangible asset that they cannot touch!  The numbers are as intangible as any in our bank accounts, aren't they?

The dollar itself is backed by alleged full faith and credit of the United States government.  It says so right on it.  But in a time of low optimism, and cynicism towards state bureaucracy, where would that full faith be coming from?  And, is faith in government any more spurious than our faith in the Bitcoin?  I guess that would depend on whose faith we're talking about, wouldn't it?

In order to answer the question of whether Bitcoin is a money cult and the people who own it are cultists, we must first answer the question, "what is a cult?Defined in Merriam-Webster as a noun, the word "cult" has three connotated definitions, with the first and third being entirely defined through the lens of religious faith: "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious" or "a system of religious beliefs and ritual." 

I could see how one might apply the lens of religion to the belief that "a Bitcoin has value," the fact of which is an arguable feature of "a spurious and unorthodox leap of faith." 

I'll give you that much.  There is, arguably, also, a computerized ritual in the hashing of the algorithms to support the blockchain: we turned our COMPUTERS into the real cultists, everyone!!  Watch out for when Ethereum accidentally births Cthulhu.

Jokes aside, it is the second definition from Merriam-Webster which more accurately fits our purposes: "great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book)."  The people who can make a living off of cryptocurrency are the pioneers of the 21st century, living an independent life thanks, in part, to the power of people's devotion to the idea of the ledger: the blockchain itself. 

The immutability of a Bitcoin transaction, once you've seen it, participated in it, and understand it, is not something that requires religious faith; it doesn't actually require a leap beyond basic human logic: if a thing has value, it can be exchanged for other things of value, at varying rates depending on the qualities of the goods and services in question.  This isn't just a law of economics or capitalism; it's a law of human civilization itself.

Based on that, I think anyone reading this can conclude that Bitcoin is not a money cult.  Bitcoin is merely just a new way of transferring value.  An immutable new way.  And I don't have to believe in magic to spend Bitcoin on things in my life.

If you aren't into crypto, and if you still think Bitcoin is a scam or a cult, consider this one simple question: if you clearly need a leap of faith to see value in the Bitcoin, and you need a similar leap of faith in the U.S. Dollar, what does it say that one singular unit of faithless digital gold can be exchanged for over thirty thousand units of faith-in-government-backed printed paper?

Thank you for your time, and as always, stay curious, my friends.

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Necksus
Necksus

Followed BTC since 2010; hodler since 2020; retail worker, intellectual, streamer, miner, culture scholar. Ride the Bear: HODL! (not financial advice; Necksus just likes the crypto)


BottomShelfCryptoTalk
BottomShelfCryptoTalk

Takes, tales, stories and musings from Necksus' travels in the crypto space, from no-coin to whole-coin, and written with a special dash of irreverence. Special Thanks: the Wolves of Alt Street Discord Community for providing encouragement and inspiration on my journey

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