- Michael Goldstein
ABOUT THE ARTIST
There is little doubt that whenever someone first discovers Bitcoin Twitter – Michael Goldstein aka Bitstein, is one of the very first follows.
Known for his seminal article, Everyone’s A Scammer, the Noded Bitcoin Podcast with fellow Bitcoin high priest Pierre Rochard, the high signal Bitcoin repository that is The Nakamoto Institute, meat maximalist that makes even Saifedean look like a pescatarian and of course, his epic meme ability! Not many have done as much for Bitcoin as Bitstein, yet he keeps on creating stellar content.
THE INTERVIEW 1/3
Everyone’s A Scammer was probably the one article I read that stopped my early shitcoin dalliances, redirected my focus and changed my 80/20 Bitcoin/shitcoin rule to 100% Bitcoin. Back then I didn’t have a twitter account so I hadn’t been exposed to a single Bitcoin meme yet but this one article packed a punch in the same way memes often do. Even the title is a bit of a meme in itself.
The one thing that struck me when I started to learn about Bitstein’s work was ‘how the hell does someone, seemingly so young, know this much about Bitcoin?’.
His own entry point into all of this was around the financial crisis of 2008 when it dawned on him how little he knew about economics. After asking friends for resources he was introduced to Leonard Reed and Rothbard amongst others and was immediately drawn into the Austrian Economics rabbit hole. Equally as intrigued and obsessed by this and sound money as he became with Bitcoin later.
"I’m not like a special genius or soothsayer or something but I did have the benefit of being very young. You know, I’m a digital native. I’ve known computers as long as I remember so it’s always been part of my life. So it didn’t take very much for me to rid myself of the idea that a commodity must be a physical good and that you can actually have a digital one."
In 2011 he watched the MtGox bubble grown and explode and a little later the rise of The Silk Road but it wasn’t until he heard someone describe Bitcoin as ‘sending gold through the internet’ that the fiat penny dropped. Unsurprisingly not fully able to understand all of its complexities yet but quickly established it was definitely not a fiat currency but rather a scarce digital asset, that seemed to perform that function perfectly.
"What was more difficult for me, was to understand the scarcity aspect because as a digital native I knew about copying files and file sharing, as did everyone who was into music near the year 2000."
THE INTERVIEW 2/3
What is always of great interest to me is what characteristics and experiences we have that prime us to receive and understand Bitcoin when we encounter it.
For Bitstein it was probably there all along in his personality. Highly curious. Intellectually insatiable. An appetite for heterodox ideas and the confidence to openly share and defend unpopular opinions publicly.
"I think I was always the odd one out with a lot of the ideas I have had but I think that is probably a benefit with regards to bitcoin but I have always been comfortable having unpopular opinions and being iconoclast towards things people hold dear if I don’t think there is merit to those beliefs. "
Luckily he found plenty of like minds when he started his education at The University of Texas at Austin. There he joined a group called The Libertarian Longhorns, an amalgamation of Libertarians, sound money Rothbardians and Anarcho-Capitalists.
A little later he started his own spin-off group called The Mises Circle, where he ran into Pierre Rochard and a strong friendship developed. Not only was it a playground of ideas for the two of them but other early Bitcoiners, like Daniel Krawisz, were also minted here.
What started out as The Mises Circle, a group to discuss Austrian Economics in all its glory, very quickly became the Bitcoin Circle because “once you learn about Bitcoin it’s simply very hard to want to talk about anything else”. They were of course studying Bitcoin’s technical aspects but also trying to understand Bitcoin through the Austrian framework.
"The important thing was having that strong Austrian foundation and being able to think through things praxiologically instead of purely based on numbers and charts but also having the Austrian framework to look at this charts and to see what is happening.
No doubt this was hugely influential in laying the foundation for these early Bitcoiners’ conviction. Austrian Economics stresses the importance of a logical theory to make sense of historical data. Some kind of a priori economic theory to help frame your understanding of what you are looking at. Once you understand that money converges on the best money, Metcalf’s law as well as more commonly understood economic ideas, such as the characteristics of money etc, it becomes more and more apparent that, not only is Bitcoin the better money, but also how the exponentiality of money as a network effect means that hyperbitcoinisation starts to appear as an inevitable outcome.
These were some of the ideas both Bitstein and Pierre started writing about as early as 2014 and what allowed such a strong conviction early on, though Bitstein makes an interesting point that those of us that discovered Bitcoin later, often forget.
THE INTERVIEW 3/3
"At the time it doesn’t feel so early. I don’t think there is a Bitcoiner, apart from maybe Satoshi, who didn’t feel like they were late and even Satoshi may have felt like ‘man I should have written this thing way earlier’. It could well be that there will never be a single BItcoiner who did not feel late."
This insatiable hunger to dig for truth – this thirst for knowledge – often seems to result in a compulsion to share and educate further down the road. Every content creator in the Bitcoin space knows the urge to spread the message, to share the wealth so to speak.
This is also what resulted in Bitstein setting up The Nakamoto Institute, to write articles, to start the Noded Bitcoin Podcast with Pierre and also what inspired his “meme career”.
The knowledge from other rabbit holes, such as the carnivore rabbit hole, have also resulted in a prodigious educational output. In the case of carnivorism resulting in the dense and meticulous repository that is justmeat.co
This drive to create and proliferate is also what motivated us at 21ism to start memeing, write articles, make music & videos – all culminating in our vision to start 21ism.
We’re all compelled to spread the knowledge we have attained. We all have an urge to share the truth we have gleaned. The truth that holds so much promise and hope for a better future, individually and thus collectively too.
The weapon of choice in the post-truth, war of realities we find ourselves in is memes and Bitstein is a Captain, if not a General, in our army. When he isn’t with us in the trenches serving up dank memes, like his video Failure To Stack Is Not An Option from earlier in the year, he is directing the troops from the back.
His talk from BitBlockBoom 2019 is an inspiring masterclass is why and how we meme. Like so many of his interests it is clearly something he has given a lot of thought and I wholeheartedly recommend you watch it, even if you consider yourself the illest of meme lords.
I understand the fascination. Memes have this incredible power to reduce a complex point to three words or an image and by reducing bandwidth, by communicating the most truth in the most concise form possible, it’s possible to convey complex ideas with brutal brevity and precision. The best memes make you think. They impact viscerally and sometimes forces you to carry them around with you for days. The best memes slap you across the chops in different ways at the same time.
This might not be how we win the war and Bitcoin has enough in its arsenal to win without my own silly arse videos, but let’s not underestimate ourselves. Memes are the white blood cells, the marketing department, the recruitment office, the songs of camaraderie and hope sung in the trenches. Memes are the bugle, the shot of adrenaline when needed as well as the cauldron of boiling oil being thrown on enemies from the top of the citadel walls.
"We’re winning and we’re gonna keep winning and we’re gonna win big all the way until we win everything."
Michael Goldstein Tweets
You, a Wall St trader: spent years in school learning minutia of finance, 10 years of 100 hour work weeks, never see family, super excited about your 10% returns this year— Michael Goldstein (@bitstein) November 26, 2017
Me, a Bitcoiner: read some books, shitposted on Twitter, ate some steaks, enjoying 900% returns this year