Andrew Bailey is a philosopher, professor, fellow at the Bitcoin Policy Institute, and co-founder of Resistance Money. In this interview, we discuss the philosophy of money in respect of what it is, what makes good money, the traps we can fall into with money, and why Bitcoin is a bulldozer that makes us rethink money anew.
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Economists, historians, philosophers, bankers and politicians have all contended with the concept of money. What it is, what it can be, what it’s not, what it’s useful for, how it should be used, how it can be misused: there are a myriad of questions that have spurned a myriad of theories. Consensus has formed around different ideas lasting for generations, only to be followed by sudden shifts as perceived universal truths are dissolved.
Debates and evolving thinking around money have always been a feature of its existence, certainly within modern capitalist structures of the past few hundred years. And yet, we do seem to be in a rare period. Firstly, we are entering a new paradigm of money, when established norms are suddenly being uprooted. Secondly, laypeople are joining the ranks of the so-called specialists in the debate around money.
This change has been spurned by the failures of fiat money. Suddenly, people realise that the assumed solid ground is shifting beneath them. Within a short space of time, we have experienced a flurry of unprecedented events: bank runs, money printing on a vast scale, massive stimulus packages, huge volatility in the markets, systemic inflation, and currency collapses.
The debate has also been spurned by the revolutionary innovation of Bitcoin. A totally new form of money has enabled a reevaluation of the principles and qualities of what we use to store value and what we use to exchange value. This process is being undertaken at all levels: if Bitcoin can continue to flourish, it will serve as a check on those in power. It could for the first time enable money to become pluralistic.
All this means we are living in a time when the debate around money is live and fluid in which we all get a say. Buying Bitcoin, developing Bitcoin and orange pilling are all positive actions that force us to consider these fundamental questions. And, in this process, we’ll find we are asking the most fundamental questions of all – what is the essence of a good life and how does money help to achieve that end?