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Jordan Peterson: Bitcoin Could Separate Money from State

Clinical psychologist and former professor Jordan Peterson discussed Bitcoin’s societal and philosophical implications at the Bitcoin 2022 Conference on Friday. He compared the story behind the cryptocurrency to a “fairy tale”, and suggested it could separate government from monetary control.

A Defence of Free Market Ideals

Though Jordan Peterson’s best-selling books and online lectures cover psychology, he’s also an outspoken political voice for classical liberalism. In particular, he is famous for railing against the over-prevalence of Marxist theory within the education system. Marxist philosophy critiques free-market capitalism as exploitative of the working class, and promotes communal ownership over private property.

Peterson centered his talk around this topic, countering cynical views of capitalism with a more optimistic outlook.

“Don’t be defensive about the ethics of your capitalist enterprise,” he told the audience. “You should be on the offensive, claiming forthrightly that what you’re doing is profoundly ethical”.

The “Intellectual Dark Web,” explained: what Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro have in common with the alt-right - Vox
Jordan Peterson. Source: Vox

Bitcoin wrapped into this discussion as a “revolutionary” new tool, which helps guarantee free-market principles around the world. Unlike traditional finance, the network lets everyone access and take control of their money to send it wherever they want.

Bitcoin is also non-inflationary, with a capped supply of 21 million coins. To the degree that coins are still produced, they must have competition on the open market through energy expenditure. This makes the currency immune to monetary debasement or inflation, which the professor says is arguably a “form of theft”.

This makes the currency “incorruptible” as it lacks a “central agent of control”. Peterson argues that this is good for an economy, which most efficiently allocates resources by way of individual free choice. “There is no central planning way, even in principle, that can substitute for that,” he said.

He later contrasted this with the phenomenon of “zombie institutions” which function through government spending, and not free choice. These institutions, he claims, may lack any real value if people aren’t willing to uplift them with their own money.

What Brought Jordan Peterson to Bitcoin?

The professor developed an interest in the crypto space through a mix of natural curiosity, and interest in decentralization and competitive currencies. Like Canadian PM candidate Pierre Poilievre, he believes currencies should compete on the free market, like ordinary products.

“It looks to me like if the Bitcoin theorists are correct, that could take the monetary system permanently out of the hands of the political establishment.”

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However, the professor does not believe this was an entirely good thing. He warned of possible unintended consequences of a hyper-bitcoinized world. From privacy to irreversibility, he said that we have “no idea” what would happen if money really reached complete decentralization.

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