Peter St Onge is an Economist at the Heritage Foundation and a Fellow at the Mises Institute. In this interview, we discuss the burden of excessive government control, corruption & the erosion of trust in institutions, the influence of activists on government decisions, & reducing the size of government. Using examples from Argentina & Lebanon, we talk about the resilience of normal people in the face of a collapsing state, & the challenges of scaling anarchic systems.
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What Bitcoin Did makes films, which are published on YouTube under the banner “Follow the Money”. Through the experiences of everyday people, and through the lens of new kinds of currency like Bitcoin, these films explore what money is, who controls it — and how new forms of it could help create a better, more equitable future for us all. So far, 3 films have been released, covering Bitcoin’s legalisation in El Salvador, inflation in the UK and Bitcoin mining in Texas.
There are currently 2 further films in post-production: a film about the impact of triple-digit inflation on Argentinians, and a film about the impact of the economic crisis on the Lebanese. These films have had a profound effect on me, providing me with a unique perspective on the role of government.
Making these films has spotlighted obvious negative issues emanating from bloated & corrupt states being allowed to thrive. But there are also unexpected positive experiences showing normal people’s capacity to show agency & develop innovative methods of self-reliance in the face of a collapsing state. I was eager to share my experiences with Peter St Onge, who I knew could understand and contextualise my observations and insights.
We delved into our philosophical beliefs on the size of government and the potential of Bitcoin. Initially, I dismissed libertarian ideas, but my experiences in these countries have challenged this thinking. We discussed the difficulties and potential risks of eliminating the state, acknowledging the natural tendency for people to organise and create rules. We also touched on the role of democracy and the potential problems that arise when the political unit becomes too large.
In both countries, I observed the effects of severe economic strain on different social classes. The poor are obviously massively disadvantaged in these situations, and I was witness to many heartbreaking stories. However, the incredibly inspiring stories of resilience and organisation in the face of adversity reinforced my belief in the potential of people when they are not burdened by excessive government control.