In Praise of Bitcoin, by Ben Hunt

One evening a few weeks ago, I was on a Zoom call with a bunch of academic, think tank and Fed economists for a Bitcoin discussion. A lot of names you’d know if you’re familiar with those circles, the most famous one being Paul Krugman (who, btw, I found to be charming, genuinely open-minded, and surprisingly humble about the entire enterprise of academic economics). I had been invited to be on the anti-Bitcoin ‘side’ of the discussion, but they needn’t have bothered. Because there was no pro-Bitcoin side.

Krugman led with a simple question – what’s the use case for Bitcoin? Not a theoretical thing, but an actual use of Bitcoin to solve a problem in the real world? – which led to an hour-long, extremely earnest and altogether unsatisfying conversation about financial transfers out of Venezuela, trade settlement and securitization on a blockchain, and Taylor Swift’s ability to control the scalper/resale market for her concert tickets.

All of which are real things. All of which are interesting things. All of which are good things. But none of which are what got 20 busy people on a Zoom call at 8 pm on a Thursday night.

None of which ARE Bitcoin.

Now, to be fair, there were no old-school Bitcoin maximalists on the call, or if there were, they were too intimidated to make an Austrian economics, hard money, neo-goldbug, Bitcoin-is-the-inevitable-global-reserve-currency argument in front of Paul Krugman. LOL.

But I finally couldn’t take it anymore.

Is this really why we got on the phone tonight? To talk about a novel form of digital rights management? To talk about payment transfers out of authoritarian third-world countries? Are these REALLY our questions about Bitcoin?

Answer: of course not. What got these academic, think tank and government economists on the phone that night was Bitcoin trading at $50,000. The question that everyone truly cared about, but a question that everyone danced around for the better part of an hour, was this: Is there any there there in the price of Bitcoin?

To which everyone, including the supposedly pro-Bitcoin contingent, said no. Not just no, but no, no, no. The price of Bitcoin was an illusion. The price of Bitcoin was the madness of crowds. The price of Bitcoin had no connection to any fundamental economic activity, just like gold had no connection to any fundamental economic activity, and thus – to this audience – could have no inherent value by definition.

I think this is very wrong. And I’ll tell you, like I told this Zoom call, why I think there is a lot of inherent value in Bitcoin.

Because Bitcoin is good art.

Or better yet, because Bitcoin is elegant and beautiful fashion, sitting at the intersection of art and commerce.

Most importantly, because owning Bitcoin has been an authentic expression of identity, an extremely positive identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.

I’ve been saying that Bitcoin is art for more than six years, from The Effete Rebellion of Bitcoin (Feb. 2015) to Too Clever By Half (Feb. 2018, my most popular note ever!) to Riding the Cyclone (June 2018) to The Spanish Prisoner (July, 2019), and it’s been a very frustrating place to be. Frustrating because public stances on Bitcoin are almost immediately turned into cartoons – either you’re the grumpy grandpa “Bitcoin is worthless!” cartoon or you’re the laser-eyed cultist “Bitcoin will be the world’s reserve currency!” cartoon, with no room in between.

The value-deniers, like the Zoom crowd the other night, think I’m agreeing with them when I say that Bitcoin is art. I’m not. The true-believers think I’m trolling them when I say that Bitcoin is art. I’m not. The creation of good art is – in my opinion – what we are put on this earth to do. It is our highest calling. It is my highest praise.

There is lasting value in good art, because it is a very scarce thing and it never gets used up.

Bitcoin is itself an NFT, a unique digital art work instantiated on a blockchain. It’s the most valuable NFT in the world. I don’t mean a Bitcoin, obviously that’s a fungible thing. I mean THE Bitcoin … the 21 million Bitcoins that make up the Bitcoin Project. The notion that Bitcoin would ever “go to zero” is ludicrous. Good art is always worth something. But how do we measure that something … how do we put a price on the value of good art at this particular moment in time? It’s a REALLY tough question.

There are no cash flows to art. There are no fundamentals to art. There is no “use case” to art.

There is only story. There is only narrative. There is only common knowledge – what everyone knows that everyone knows – about the value of art, common knowledge that emerges from our social interaction with story and narrative.

In every respect that matters, Bitcoin IS Epsilon Theory.

The Epsilon Theory Manifesto (June 2013)

Our times require an investment and risk management perspective that is fluent in econometrics but is equally grounded in game theory, history, and behavioral analysis. Epsilon Theory is my attempt to lay the foundation for such a perspective.


So yes, I’ve been saying that Bitcoin is art for a long time now. But what I haven’t been saying – or at least not as loudly – is that bit about identity, and that’s the part that needs to be shouted today. So here it is again, this time a little louder …

Most importantly, owning Bitcoin has been an authentic expression of identity, an extremely positive identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.

This, too, IS Epsilon Theory.

Clever Hans (Oct. 2017)

Trainers don’t break a wild horse by crushing its spirit. They nudge it into willingly surrendering its autonomy.

Because once you take the saddle, you’re gonna take the bit.


Why am I shouting about identity?

Because the artistic Bitcoin identity I admire and value has been subverted by the neutering machine of Wall Street and the regulatory panopticon of the US Treasury Dept.

Because what made Bitcoin special in the first place is nearly lost, and what remains is a false and constructed narrative that exists in service to Wall Street and Washington rather than in resistance.


Yes, the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy strike back. They always do when it comes to money. Not with imperial stormtroopers or legislative sanction, but with golden handcuffs and administrative surveillance.

It’s not that the State and the status quo institutionalization of capital – call it Wall Street, for short – have any desire to ban Bitcoin. Why would they do that? No, far better to accommodate and swallow Bitcoin, like they have every other financial “innovation” for the past 1,000 years. Far better to neuter the censorship-resistant and anonymity-preserving aspects of Bitcoin, and turn it into another gaming table in the Wall Street casino.

In my dystopian vision, Bitcoin isn’t banned or criminalized. Pfft. That’s a rookie, weak State move. No, I see a future where everyone buys Bitcoin. Where you are encouraged to buy Bitcoin. Where Bitcoin is sold to you morning, noon and night. Where normie economists get on conference calls late at night because they’re Bitcoin price-curious.

Except it’s not really Bitcoin.

Instead, it’s Bitcoin! TM — a cartoon version of the OG Bitcoin, either a Wall Street-abstracted representation of the price of Bitcoin or a government-painted version of Bitcoin in Dayglo orange. Either way — abstracted or painted — your Bitcoin! TM is trackable and traceable, fully KYC and AML and FBAR and SWIFT and every other US Treasury acronym-compliant. Either way, your Bitcoin! TM has all the revolutionary potential of a bumper sticker and all the identity signaling power of a small tattoo on your upper arm.

Bitcoin!TM doesn’t stick it to the Man … Bitcoin!TM IS the Man.

Welcome to the MMXXI Hunger Games.

Hunger Games (Feb. 2021)

You’ve been told that the odds are ever in your favor. You’ve been told this for your entire life.

More and more, you suspect this is a lie.

This is no “democratization” of Wall Street. You’ve been played. Again.

The abstracted version of Bitcoin! TM is a Wall Street specialty.

What is Bitcoin! TM in abstracted form? It’s a securitization or representation of Bitcoin ownership that promises the price appreciation of Bitcoin without the hassle of Bitcoin ownership. It’s a casino chip that represents the price of Bitcoin. Michael Saylor, for example, is only too happy to sell you a MicroStrategy casino chip. Or maybe you’d prefer to play on the Canadian crypto ETF felt? Or try your luck at the wheel of a Morgan Stanley private fund?

Why does Wall Street loooove abstracted forms? Because there are no fundamental limits to how many of these Bitcoin! TM casino chips Wall Street can sell. It doesn’t matter if all the OG Bitcoin HODLers keep on HODLing. It doesn’t matter if the vast majority of all the Bitcoins ever mined never get caught up in the Wall Street neutering machine. There are an infinite number of games that can be created around the price of Bitcoin as a reference point, just like there are an infinite number of bets that can be made on a football game. There are an infinite number of rehypothecations and derivative representations that can be made off the millions of margined Bitcoins that have already been captured by Wall Street-custodied accounts.

The only limiting factor on how many of these Bitcoin! TM casino chips Wall Street can sell is the effectiveness of the narrative they have created around Bitcoin itself, that Bitcoin is a “hedge against inflation” and a “store of value” that is uniquely positioned to “protect your portfolio” against “dollar debasement” because it is “hard money” immune to “money printer go brrrr”.

It’s rather artistic in and of itself, right? Selling an unlimited number of Bitcoin! TM casino chips off a meme slamming unlimited fiat money printing? Creating an unlimited number of entertaining market games and venues where we can use our Bitcoin! TM casino chips?

If these narratives and casino games sound familiar, it’s because this is exactly the same process of abstraction, securitization and leverage that Wall Street has been using for the past twenty years with precious metals.

What is the GLD ETF? It’s gold! TM. What is a unit in an ETF basket of gold miner stocks? It’s gold! TM. They and their many kin are securitizations of gold ownership that promise the price appreciation of gold without the hassle of gold ownership. They are casino chips that represent the price of gold.

I’m old enough to remember when people bought and sold gold coins in private transactions. I guess we’d call that peer-to-peer today. I’m old enough to remember when well-meaning people would have earnest conversations about gold as a reserve currency, just like well-meaning people today have those earnest conversations about Bitcoin. I’m old enough to remember how quickly those conversations died out after State Street launched GLD in 2004 and took in a billion dollars in a few days. Turns out people didn’t really want the grumpy grandpa identity of owning physical gold in some Mad Max world as much as they wanted gold! TM in their financial portfolios as an abstracted insurance policy against central bank error.

It’s exactly the same with Bitcoin! TM today.

You think “institutional adoption” is driven by a spirit of personal autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and Nudging Oligarchy? You think Paul Tudor Jones and Mike Novogratz want to BITFD? LOL.

The ONLY difference to Wall Street between gold and Bitcoin is that gold! TM is tired and Bitcoin! TM is wired.

The king is dead. Long live the king!

This is the artistic genius of Wall Street – the creation of new product to trade and new assets to manage, all through the alchemy of securitization and leverage. This is Flow.



It’s like Ash said about the chest-bursting xenomorph in Alien – you may not admire the creature itself, but you gotta admire its purity. Unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. Yep, that’s Wall Street.

Ditto the US Treasury.

If there’s a Western governmental institution that is more unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality than the US Treasury, I am unaware of what that institution might be. But unlike Wall Street, which is motivated by Flow, the US Treasury has an entirely different (but highly compatible!) goal.

The goal of the US Treasury is to see all of the money in the world.



That’s really all it is. That’s what Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations are all about. That’s what Know Your Client (KYC) regulations are all about. That’s what Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) regulations are all about. That’s what the Treasury-led Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) is all about. That’s what the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) is all about. None of these programs are really about taxes. None of these programs are really about catching crooks or fighting terrorists. All of these programs are really about information for information’s sake regarding the greatest source of power in the world and the raison d’etre of every government on Earthmoney.

The US Treasury is the Eye of 

— a gigantic panopticon tower that sweeps the world with its unblinking gaze, seeking out the owners of power, i.e. money.

The US Treasury can’t see Bitcoin. It can, however, see Bitcoin! TM.

The giant all-seeing eye of the US Treasury is primarily built on two regulatory structures — the Bank Security Act (BSA) to compel transparency and reporting by financial institutions on their clients and themselves, and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) system to compel transparency and reporting by individuals on their financial institutions and themselves. There are a dozen more acronyms and programs involved here, all overseen by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), but to keep things simple I’m going to refer to all of this as the BSA/FBAR regulatory panopticon.

Everything in plain text in the next two paragraphs is regulatory policy as it currently stands with the BSA and FBAR. Everything in bold italics is a new policy proposed in the past few months and expected to go into effect shortly. Taken together, I think it will be clear how Treasury uses the combined BSA and FBAR instruments to mark your Bitcoin with a DayGlo orange fluorescent paint and create their highly visible version of Bitcoin! TM.

BSA — If you are in the business of money in any way, shape or form (what Treasury calls a “money transmitter”), and you do any of that business in the US, then you are subject to the Bank Secrecy Act. Note that this money transmitter designation and BSA jurisdiction explicitly includes peer-to-peer exchanges that work with self-hosted wallets. If you are subject to the BSA, then it is your affirmative obligation to collect complete identifying information regarding clients who transmit or receive more than $3,000 over your systems, and to collect and immediately report to Treasury complete identifying information regarding clients who transmit or receive more than $10,000 over your systems – including any cryptocurrency (“convertible virtual currency”) transmitted to or from a self-hosted wallet.

FBAR — If you are a US entity (citizen or resident, any type of US-registered corporate or trust structure, etc.) and you have any sort of account (banking, securities, custodial, etc.) with any non-US money transmitter, anywhere in the world, and at any time during the course of the year, you have in the aggregate across all accounts more than $10,000 in value in those accounts – including the value of any cryptocurrency holdings (“convertible virtual currency”) in those accounts – then it is your affirmative obligation to report complete identifying information regarding each of those accounts to the IRS in a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

I think the intent here is crystal clear. Whatever rules were in place yesterday regarding transfers of dollars or rubles or pesos through US-touching money transmitters or by US entities … well, now those exact same rules are going to apply to Bitcoin. As soon as your virtual currency holdings land in any financial institution that cooperates with or does business in or is regulated by the United States … BAM! your Bitcoin is painted DayGlo orange and becomes the Treasury-preferred form of Bitcoin! TM.

When these regulations go into full effect, as I understand them, the only remaining safe harbor for keeping your Bitcoin hidden from the BSA/FBAR Eye of Sauron will be to maintain a self-hosted wallet that never connects with a money transmitter that does business in the US.

That’s a safe harbor for the moment, but ultimately nothing is safe from the Eye of Sauron. While 2019 guidance explicitly states that “a person conducting a transaction through an unhosted wallet to purchase goods or services on their own behalf is not a money transmitter”, and so is not subject to the Bank Secrecy Act directly, the December, 2020 proposed rule-making doc also included this doozy of a comment.

The Treasury Department has previously noted that “[a]nonymity in transactions and funds transfers is the main risk that facilitates money laundering.”

The Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) has similarly observed that the extent to which anonymous peer-to-peer permit transactions via unhosted wallets, without involvement of a virtual asset service provider or a financial institution, is a key potential AML/CFT risk in some CVC systems.

FATF members have specifically observed that unregulated peer-to-peer transactions “could present a leak in tracing illicit flows of virtual assets,” particularly if one or more blockchain-based CVC networks were to reach global scale.

Importantly, as explained below, while data contained on some blockchains are open to public inspection and can be used by authorities to attempt to trace illicit activity, FinCEN believes that this data does not sufficiently mitigate the risks of unhosted and otherwise covered wallets.

That last paragraph doesn’t mince words. Even if the blockchain facilitating a crypto currency allows for “authorities” to trace transactions, “the risks of unhosted and otherwise covered [i.e., hidden from the Eye of Sauron] wallets” are too great to let stand. LOL. I think we all see where this is going.

The response I get from the Bitcoin and larger crypto community to what seems to me to be the clear intent and path of Treasury regulations is always this: well, good luck enforcing that!

Unfortunately, that’s the evil artistry of panopticons like the Eye of Sauron or Treasury’s BSA/FBAR regulatory structure: we are driven to willingly enforce their discipline on ourselves.

A panopticon is an institutional structure that creates a permanent feeling of being watched. Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t at any given moment. But you’re never sure that you’re NOT being watched. And if you ARE being watched, then you better ‘fess up and cooperate before you get your head stuck on an orc’s pike. Did I mention that the penalty for a willful failure to make an FBAR report was the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the unreported foreign assets?

Moreover, a panopticon structure allows you to see the behavior of others. And they of you. If the discipline imposed by the Watcher includes obligations to snitch — and that’s exactly what the Treasury requires here, with obligations on money transmitters to report on clients, and obligations on clients to report on money transmitters — a panopticon sets up a classic Prisoners Dilemma game, where the only equilibrium is for both the money transmitter and the client to volunteer information about the other.

Once you start looking for panopticons in our modern world, you will find them everywhere. And of course there’s an Epsilon Theory note on this.

Panopticon (March 2014)

“Transparency” has little to do with freedom and everything to do with control, and the more “radical” the transparency the more effective the control … the more willingly and completely we police ourselves in our own corporate or social Panopticons.

You’re not opposed to “transparency” are you? Why would you be opposed to “transparency” unless you have something to hide? You’re not a … a … terrorist-lover, are you? No, I didn’t think so.

It’s not just that Wall Street and the US Treasury dominate policy.

Far more perniciously, they also dominate narrative.

And that’s why I’m writing this note.

Frankly, I doubt that the policy battle can be won. This has been my view since I first started writing about Bitcoin, and nothing has happened to change my mind. On the contrary, Treasury’s moves to make crypto visible and controllable have happened faster than I thought they would. I mean, I’m hopeful that we are at least at some point of policy equilibrium with the proposed rule changes to BSA and FBAR, an equilibrium that will at least allow self-hosted crypto wallets to exist in peace. But hope, unfortunately, is not a strategy.

Too Clever By Half (Feb 2018)

The inevitable result of financial innovation is that it ALWAYS ends up empowering the State. When too clever by half coyotes misplay the meta-game, that’s all the excuse the State needs to come swooping in.

Just as they did with Bear and Lehman in 2008. Just as they’re doing with Bitcoin today.

So, no, I don’t think I can help much in the policy battle.

But I think I can help a lot in the narrative battle.

Or rather, the Narrative Machine can help.

Inception (April 2020)

The systematic study of narrative, what we call the Narrative Machine, can be used for analysis, yes, but also as an active instrument to reclaim our autonomy of mind and our generosity of spirit.

Everything else is commentary.

I know you don’t believe me, but we’re going to change the world … you and me.


The Bitcoin narrative must be renewed.

Bitcoin has been an authentic expression of identity, a positive identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.

It can be again.


Wall Street and Treasury are running a psyop with their creation of Bitcoin! TM, and it’s necessary to think about Bitcoin in those psyop/narrative terms if the goal is to preserve an active community with an identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy in the context of Bitcoin specifically and crypto more generally.

That’s my goal, anyway.

I’m not in this for Bitcoin-as-global-reserve-currency. I’m not in this for Number Go Up. I’m not in this for “store of value” against that gosh darn “dollar debasement”. I’m not in this for Flow. I’m not opposed to any of those things, and I don’t think you’re a Bad Person if those are your things. They’re just not my things. I’m in this for Bitcoin as good art and the inspiration it provides to a community that shares my values and goals for making a better world.

Phase 1 of this anti-psyop campaign is to identify Schelling points (game solutions that people arrive at by default in the absence of direct communication … also called focal points) so that people who share this goal of community organization and narrative reclamation can find each other.

I think that one of these Schelling points is maintaining a self-hosted wallet and the capacity for peer-to-peer connections away from the Eye of Sauron.

Starting today, Epsilon Theory will accept Bitcoin as payment for all annual subscriptions through our BTCPay server. It’s a plain vanilla Raspberry Pi set-up. We’re not holding ourselves out as crypto mavens. We’re signaling an identity of autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and resistance to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy in the context of Bitcoin.

Phase 2 of this anti-psyop campaign is to use the Narrative Machine to measure and visualize the narrative archetypes and story arcs of Bitcoin! TM. In exactly the same way that there are only, say, a dozen archetypal scripts for every TV sitcom episode ever filmed, or in exactly the same way that there are three acts to every modern movie screenplay, so is there an underlying structure and a finite number of underlying archetypes to the media coverage of every market entity.

We believe that we can measure these narrative structures and archetypes as they apply to Bitcoin! TM, and map those structural dynamics to market behaviors.

Seeing is believing, and I think there is no better way to prove the existence of Bitcoin! TM, in both its Wall Street-abstracted and its Treasury-painted form, than to show the psyop in action. I think this sort of analysis and visualization will get a lot of people who would otherwise be quick to dismiss our claims to take a fresh look at the ways in which we have been nudged.

Phase 3 of this anti-psyop campaign is simply to call things by their proper names. That starts with locating the value of Bitcoin in its elegant art and its ability (like all elegant art) to inspire great things away from the art itself. Yes, great things away from Bitcoin itself, so that even if Bitcoin! TM dominates financial markets (which it will), the story arc of Bitcoin doesn’t end there, but generates a thousand new initiatives to improve our world.

We don’t have to tell a story of price. We don’t have to tell a story of apocalypse. We don’t have to scold or “educate”.

We can tell an Old Story of autonomy of mind and generosity of spirit within a new context of Bitcoin and crypto.

You know, a couple of thousand years ago, a really smart guy — the most subversive, revolutionary guy you can imagine — had a good line. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

Bitcoin! TM definitely belongs to Caesar. It’s part of his game. But Bitcoin doesn’t have to be. It can be part of our game. Still. Again. And that will change everything.

What explains elite contempt for Joe Rogan? – System Update with Glenn Greenwald

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very soon thereafter she converted
58:57
into a real enemy she emerged two months
58:59
later and wrote this
59:01
article aggressively condemning the idea
59:04
that trans women should be able to
59:06
compete in female athletic and female
59:10
athletics because it the the the kind of
59:13
intolerance for her even asking
59:17
converted her it alienated her converted
59:19
her into an enemy and
59:20
it seems like people who don’t care
59:22
about outcomes are about winning
59:24
really don’t get bothered by that but
59:27
let me just ask you about one
59:28
the kind of the last um
59:32
kind of prong of the case of the liberal
59:34
case against joe rogan i find this one
59:36
really interesting
59:37
too which is you know people say
59:41
okay fine he he liked bernie like tulsi
59:45
um and yet i believe in 2016 if i’m not
59:48
mistaken
59:50
he said that he was voting for trump
59:51
over hillary
59:53
and i’m certain that after saying that
59:56
he
59:56
thought bernie was the best candidate
59:58
and really like tulsi
59:59
he’s now saying i can’t vote for biden i
60:02
probably would vote for trump over biden
60:05
which would is leading ripples to say to
60:07
people like you
60:09
why would we possibly why should we
60:12
possibly regard somebody
60:14
as an ally who is
60:18
saying twice now that they’re going to
60:19
vote for donald trump and i guess like
60:21
an
60:21
ancillary part of that question is you
60:24
know there is this phenomenon of people
60:26
who twice voted
60:27
for barack obama and then voted for
60:29
donald trump in 2016
60:31
not a small number a large number and
60:33
here in brazil
60:34
same thing you know a lot of people who
60:35
voted for bolsonaro in 2018
60:38
were people who voted for the workers
60:40
party four consecutive
60:42
elections so if you’re kind of a
60:44
political junkie who relies on the
60:46
polarization of choose between rachel
60:48
maddow and sean hanovey
60:50
it doesn’t make any sense that somebody
60:52
could do that to say i like bernie
60:54
but i’m gonna vote for trump because you
60:56
have to pick an ideological box
60:58
and joe rogan clearly is a person
61:01
who doesn’t think that way and i think
61:03
there’s like this liberal sense that
61:05
that makes him bizarre when in fact
61:07
i think it makes him pretty common it’s
61:09
one of the reasons why people like him
61:11
because he’s not in one of those boxes
61:13
but what do you say to liberals who
61:15
would make that argument that how can we
61:17
consider somebody supporting
61:19
this authoritarian racist for president
61:22
to be an ally
61:25
well i mean there are two things that
61:26
you you have to kind of
61:29
kind of set the record straight on first
61:31
is that i i’m pretty sure in 2016 he
61:33
voted for gary johnson so he voted for a
61:35
libertarian i don’t think he voted for
61:37
trump in 2016.
61:39
um and in 2020 again he first you know
61:42
supported tulsi
61:43
then he supported bernie um and then
61:46
most recently if you really
61:48
look at his comments it’s not that he’s
61:49
saying he’s endorsing trump but he’s
61:51
saying that
61:52
he would he would vote for trump um
61:55
as a result of the party choosing biden
61:57
because he just doesn’t think biden can
61:59
do the job
62:00
just from a kind of mental age
62:04
decline standpoint so it’s not like the
62:06
most heartfelt support of trump but yeah
62:08
i mean
62:08
let’s set that aside and just say okay
62:10
like he’s willing to vote for trump
62:12
right
62:12
um i mean the idea that you wouldn’t
62:15
want to engage
62:16
someone who is willing to go from the
62:19
most
62:20
liberal the most left candidate in the
62:23
democratic primary and willing to then
62:26
switch over to trump
62:27
i mean you know it’s the argument that
62:29
the left’s been making
62:30
for you know for years now right that
62:33
like
62:33
these this is the is the guy to be
62:36
studying right he’s the one that we can
62:38
kind of crack the code on
62:40
um as for you know why that’s the case
62:43
i think it’s real again it’s really
62:45
threatening i don’t think
62:46
you know i think the democratic
62:48
establishment what i tend to tell people
62:49
is that the democratic establishment
62:52
their main priority is not really to
62:54
actually even win elections
62:56
it’s to keep control of the democratic
62:58
party right like that’s where most of
63:00
their power comes from it’s certainly
63:01
where
63:02
their most reliable source of power
63:04
comes from it’s keeping control of the
63:05
party because as long as you can
63:07
keep control of the party and you keep
63:08
control of the cultural
63:10
um levers of power in the country
63:13
you’re always going to be able to
63:15
command 50
63:16
of the political system you’re always
63:18
going to be able to command
63:20
um you know the entire media apparatus
63:23
that’s devoted to politics right you’re
63:25
good
63:25
or at least half of it right you’re
63:27
going to in control the liberal half
63:29
and so i think it’s i i mean i it’s
63:32
i’m sorry to say but i think it’s a
63:34
really cynical calculation
63:36
that cultural elites and democratic
63:39
party elites are making when they make
63:41
these decisions because when when you
63:43
engage joe rogan
63:45
and you engage his viewers you’re being
63:47
bringing in
63:48
a ton of people who you can’t
63:50
necessarily rely on to keep these clean
63:52
lines of political and cultural
63:54
engagement you’re
63:55
you’re completely blowing up the
63:57
political system you’re you’re blowing
63:59
up the racket
64:00
right and why would you want to do that
64:02
because at the end of the day
64:04
hell trump could get reelected and
64:05
they’d still control the party they can
64:07
still control the other half they’d be
64:10
raising hundreds of millions of dollars
64:12
for their think tanks and therefore you
64:14
know the media institutions and so
64:16
it’s a great racket why would you risk
64:18
that just for
64:19
winning you know the presidency for
64:21
maybe four years eight years
64:22
don’t get me wrong obviously they’d like
64:24
to win that too
64:26
but i don’t think that’s the real game i
64:27
don’t think that’s ever been the real
64:28
game
64:30
we saw that in the uk right where the
64:33
centrists and playwrights and moderates
64:36
who controlled the labor party
64:38
levers of power forever whether they
64:40
were in power out of power
64:42
when they lost control of their own
64:44
party to jeremy corbyn
64:46
they it was very obvious if you’re just
64:48
paying minimal attention but we now know
64:50
from documents that have been leaked and
64:51
reports that have been issued
64:53
they were actively working against the
64:56
labor party they preferred
64:58
to destroy corbyn and retake control
65:01
of the party even if it meant empowering
65:04
the tories and making boris johnson
65:06
prime minister because as you say
65:09
their top priority is ensuring that they
65:11
maintain
65:12
control of their party and secondary
65:15
or even more distantly is actually
65:18
winning elections
65:19
um and you know i think that you know
65:22
it’s like when people ask me why i go on
65:23
tucker carlson i
65:24
can barely even understand the question
65:26
because it’s such an obvious answer
65:28
which is
65:29
because there are four million people
65:30
watching and whatever percentage it is
65:33
that i can reach in any way not
65:34
necessarily change their minds instantly
65:37
but just kind of make them a little more
65:38
open
65:39
to hearing from different people maybe
65:41
get them kind of unsettled about
65:44
who they should be paying attention to
65:46
or introducing some ideas that maybe
65:48
maybe it’s ten percent maybe it’s five
65:50
percent maybe it’s fifteen percent
65:52
why would i ignore that if i actually
65:54
care about outcomes
65:55
to watch you know i i it kind of shocked
65:58
me edward snowden
65:59
uh appeared on rogan’s show for the
66:02
second time this week and so i went back
66:03
to look at what the audience was the
66:05
first time he appeared which is
66:06
about 10 months ago and even though
66:09
edward snowden being edward snowden kind
66:11
of spoke in like a monologue form for
66:13
about
66:14
three hours you know and he was
66:16
obviously remote because he couldn’t
66:18
go to the studio since he’s trapped in
66:19
russia the audience for that
66:22
appearance from edward snowden just on
66:25
youtube never mind all the other
66:26
platforms
66:27
was 15 million people 15 million
66:31
um which is you know four or five times
66:34
the size
66:35
of a primetime cable host even on their
66:37
best night
66:38
and obviously by virtue the fact that
66:40
you watch it that people
66:42
listen to it and can hear him say i
66:44
support tulsi or i support
66:46
bernie obviously there’s huge numbers of
66:48
those
66:49
that audience that are very reachable
66:51
from a liberal perspective
66:53
anybody who says i don’t want to have
66:56
anything to do
66:57
with a show that reaches 15 million
66:59
people
67:00
is somebody to me who’s saying
67:04
i look at politics as about everything
67:06
other than
67:07
winning wielding power and changing the
67:10
world
67:11
right right and they shrouded in moral
67:13
language right they shrouded
67:15
in how could you associate with someone
67:17
like that how could you you’ll be
67:18
tainted by someone like that
67:20
um they shrouded in those things but at
67:22
the end of the day it’s a much more
67:24
cynical calculation it’s
67:25
it’s put forth as some kind of moral
67:28
decr
67:29
declaration but it’s really a cynical
67:31
calculation
67:32
calculation in terms of controlling the
67:33
party in terms of controlling cultural
67:36
power centers
67:37
why would we want to upset that this is
67:40
a great setup
67:41
um and yeah that’s why you see 15
67:43
million people tuning in to edward
67:45
snowden because it completely cult
67:47
cuts across all of these cultural lines
67:50
i mean there aren’t
67:51
you know being interested in edward
67:53
snowden just his story and what he did
67:55
and the cultural and political impact he
67:57
had
67:58
that’s not a liberal or conservative
68:00
idea that’s
68:01
that’s reaching millions of people um
68:03
but that’s just not interesting to
68:05
um what informs the you know the the
68:08
careers and the lifestyles of the people
68:10
that
68:11
sort of hold these both the political
68:13
and cultural
68:14
levers of power in the country yeah so
68:16
yeah so thanks very much for
68:18
for taking the time i i think is a
68:20
really important topic not just
68:22
because it’s important to understand the
68:24
phenomenon of joe rogan although that
68:25
is important there are very few people
68:28
having the kind of cultural
68:30
and political impact that he’s having
68:34
um in a reaching a group of people who
68:38
often tune out politics or who aren’t
68:40
engaged in the traditional ways which
68:42
makes him
68:44
even more important than just the
68:45
numbers alone but i do think too
68:47
the reaction to him tells us a lot about
68:50
how media figures view their position
68:52
how liberals view what their political
68:54
project uh is and so
68:56
um i i think your your analysis on
69:00
twitter and the discussion that we just
69:02
had
69:02
um has really clarified those issues in
69:05
in a really helpful way so thank you so
69:07
much for
69:08
taking the time to talk to me um and i
69:10
hope people will tune into your
69:13
back channel youtube program where
69:14
you’re doing a lot of these kind of
69:15
header docs
69:17
uh discussions with people across a wide
69:20
range of
69:21
ideological and cultural uh belief
69:24
systems so

Why Can’t Donald Trump Laugh?

The president’s niece diagnoses her family’s dysfunction.

How To Argue (But Not Fight) With A Narcissist

Because narcissists are so dominant and controlling, they have a knack for steering relationships into conflict. Do you have a game plan for handling yourself as potential arguments arise? Psychotherapist Dr. Les Carter discusses developing a mindset that will serve you wisely in the midst of that conflict.

Richard Rohr Meditation: The Source of Action

The effectiveness of action depends on the source from which it springs. If it is coming out of the false self with its shadow side, it is severely limited. If it is coming out of a person who is immersed in God, it is extremely effective. The contemplative state, like the vocation of Our Lady, brings Christ into the world. —Thomas Keating [1]

.. I founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987 because I saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. Over the years, I met many social activists who were doing excellent social analysis and advocating for crucial justice issues, but they were not working from an energy of love. They were still living out of their false self with the need to win, the need to look good—attached to a superior, politically correct self-image.

They might have the answer, but they are not themselves the answer. In fact, they are often part of the problem. That’s one reason that most revolutions fail and too many reformers self-destruct from within. For that very reason, I believe, Jesus and great spiritual teachers first emphasize transformation of consciousness and soul. Without inner transformation, there is no grounded or lasting reform or revolution. When subjugated people rise to power, they often become as dominating as their oppressors because the same demon of power hasn’t been exorcised in them.

We are easily allured by the next new thing, a new agenda that looks like enlightenment. And then we discover it’s run by unenlightened people who, in fact, love themselves first of all but do not love God or others. They do not really love the Big Truth, but they often love control. Too often, they do not love freedom for everybody but just freedom for their own ideas.

Untransformed liberals often lack the ability to sacrifice the self or create foundations that last. They can’t let go of their own need for change and cannot stand still in a patient, compassionate, and humble way. It is no surprise that Jesus prayed not just for fruit, but “fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Untransformed conservatives, on the other hand, tend to idolize anything that lasts, but then avoid the question, “Is it actually bearing any fruit?” This is the perennial battle between idealism and pragmatism, or romanticism and rationalism.

If we are going to have truly prophetic people who go beyond the categories of liberal and conservative, we have to teach them some way to integrate their needed activism with a truly contemplative mind and heart. I’m convinced that once you learn how to look out at life from the contemplative eyes of the True Self, your politics and economics are going to change on their own. I don’t need to teach you what your politics should or shouldn’t be. Once you see things contemplatively, you’ll begin to seek the bias from the bottom instead of the top, you’ll be free to embrace your shadow, and you can live at peace with those who are different. From a contemplative stance, you’ll know what action is yours to do—and what is not yours to do—almost naturally.

Trump’s Grim Handbook for Governance

Everyone has a code of conduct, whether explicit or unacknowledged. Nearly halfway into President Trump’s first term—which some people hope and others fear will be his only one—the contours of his code have become pretty clear.

Mr. Trump has a consistent way of judging people. Strong is good, weak is bad. Big is impressive, small is defective: “Little Marco.” Winners are admirable, while losers are contemptible. A corollary is that there is neither dishonorable victory nor honorable defeat, which is why Mr. Trump poured scorn during his candidacy on John McCain for having been captured—never mind McCain’s heroic conduct as a prisoner of war.

Finally, people are either loyal or disloyal. Loyalty in this case means their willingness to defend Mr. Trump, whatever the cost to their own interests or reputation. In this vein, Mr. Trump favorably compared former Attorney General Eric Holder’s unswerving support for President Obama with Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

This brings us to the next feature of Mr. Trump’s personal code—his distinctive understanding of how the world works. Here’s how it goes.

With the possible exception of family, all relationships are at bottom transactional. Every man has a price, and so does every woman.

There’s money, and then everything else. Money and morals are unrelated. Even if a Saudi leader ordered the assassination and dismemberment of a prominent dissident, this is no reason to halt arms sales to the monarchy. If American firms don’t get the contracts, someone else will. Why should we be chumps? If promoting democracy or simple decency costs money, what’s the point?

The core of human existence is competition, not cooperation. The world is zero-sum: If I win, someone else must lose. I can either bend another to my will or yield to his.

The division between friends and enemies is fundamental. We should do as much good as we can to our friends, and as much harm to our enemies.

This brings us to President Trump’s handbook of tactics we should employ to achieve our goals:

Rule 1: The end always justifies the means. Asked whether he had spoken disrespectfully about Christine Blasey Ford, he said, “I’m not going to get into it, because we won. It doesn’t matter; we won.” Case closed.

Rule 2: No matter the truth of accusations against you, deny everything. Bob Woodward’s recent book quotes Mr. Trump counseling a friend who had privately confessed to sexual-misconduct charges against him. “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny, and push back hard on these women,” says Mr. Trump. “If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.” The corollary to Rule 2 is that the best defense is a good offense. As the president told his friend, “You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. Never admit.”

Rule 3: Responding to criticism on its merits is pointless. Instead, challenge the motives and character of your critics. Their criticism isn’t sincere anyway: It’s all politics, the unending quest for dominance. If ridicule works, use it, even if it means caricaturing your adversaries by reducing them to their weakest trait. If Jeb Bush is “low energy,” who cares what he thinks about immigration?

Rule 4: To win, you must arouse your supporters, and deepening divisions is the surest way to do it. Even if compromise could solve important problems, reject it whenever it threatens to reduce the fervor of your base. No gain in the public good is important enough to justify the loss of power.

Rule 5: It is wonderful to be loved, but if you must choose, it is better to be feared than loved. The desire for love puts you at the mercy of those who can withhold it; creating fear puts you on offense. You cannot control love, but you can control fear. And this is the ultimate question of politics, indeed, of all human life: Who’s in control?

Defenders of President Trump’s code of conduct will point to what they see as its unsentimental realism. His maxims are the terms of effectiveness in the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. They may not be pretty, but they work. Politics is not like figure skating. You get no points for style. You either get your way or you don’t. Nothing else matters.

Critics of Mr. Trump’s code—I’m one of them—view the distinction between permissible and forbidden means as essential to constitutional democracy, and to all decent politics. What Mr. Trump’s supporters see as the restoration of national greatness, his critics see as the acceleration of national decline.

This, to no small extent, is what next month’s elections are really about.