Dan Weintraub is a retired history teacher, author and Bitcoin advocate. In this interview, we discuss how fiat money results in a cycle of increasing consumption to meet our need for stimuli, destroying our neurological systems, and how Bitcoin arrests and reverses this cycle.
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Previous societies had been more spiritually centered and had long regarded the roots of materialism (i.e. pride, greed, lust, envy etc.) as being the worst of sins. Then, following industrialisation, materialism has been distorted and promoted as a desirable mindset. The capitalist rationale is obvious: meeting people’s needs generates wealth.
But, have fiat currencies locked the capitalist system into a dangerous charade? Increased debt within the system means there is a need for increasing economic activity. This can be met by exploiting people to create superficial desires and wants beyond their actual needs. Advertising is now a ubiquitous facet of modern living: a 24/7/365 machine of selling.
Thus, it is not surprising that as materialism has grown, so has the reaction to it. It has long been lambasted as being harmful to society: excessive consumption can be at once wasteful, polluting and divisive. However, increasing concern has been raised over its destructive effects on human neurology: our brains are being rewired, and we have lost the memory of an alternate way to live.
Materialism enslaves us in an elusive search for satisfying stimuli. A lot of our consumption is driven by an addiction to our brain’s chemical reaction: a release of endorphins and dopamine gives us momentary pleasure. With the body’s exposure to any drug, we build tolerance. Then, we need a greater high to satisfy our need for stimulation. We’re biologically locked in.
Bitcoin is heralded as the opportunity for a new and more honest economic paradigm. The question is though whether Bitcoin can reset more than just the economic system; can it reset our damaged neurological systems? Can it enable us to re-establish an understanding of the path to more centered and happy lives?