Discover more from The Narrative
Bitcoin and Veterans
A natural alignment
Bitcoin and Veterans: A Natural Alignment
Although it’s not something widely repeated, there is a natural but perhaps under-appreciated alignment between military veterans and bitcoin. Initially, this may seem counterintuitive, given the role the military - specifically the U.S. military - plays in supporting the current fiat and petrodollar system that bitcoin seeks to disrupt. But that relationship is a strategic one; viewed at the individual level, the alignment makes more sense.
Idealism and Hope
The large majority of veterans who voluntarily join the military do so because of a sense of duty, patriotism and idealism; they simply want to do the right thing, serve their country, and play their part in shaping what they hope will be a better world. In the U.S. specifically, few young recruits have a deep strategic understanding of the U.S. military’s vital role in maintaining the dollar as the global reserve currency, or the geopolitical machinations of the petrodollar system. They serve because they want to make a difference. But whether or not they fully understand why, this community has been as abused by the fiat system as any other. In the past century alone, from World War I to Afghanistan more recently, they have suffered unspeakable injuries, been lied to by their leaders, have seen promises broken, oaths ignored, and have generally been used by the existing global order and financial powers that be. As a result, they are often disillusioned, their prior idealism hardening into cynicism and even despair.
But hope abounds in bitcoin. Bitcoin can provide a renewed sense of purpose, and the bonds of community and shared ideals that many veterans find desperately lacking in their post-military lives. For an intensely mission-focused community, bitcoin is the ultimate mission. Instead of siphoning their time, energy, and wealth into the giant, rent-seeking maw of the government contracting machine, they can now dedicate themselves to something worthwhile, something that truly will change the world for the better. There is an enormous opportunity to educate this cohort about bitcoin and reignite the spark of idealism that has gone dark for so many.
Although the path is different, most bitcoiners share a similar idealism at their core; they want to improve the world and help their fellow humans. Bitcoin has the potential to accomplish much of what veterans thought they were accomplishing with their military service. It is the peaceful alternative to kinetic war and bloodshed. Many bitcoiners are also disillusioned, having watched the rampant money-printing, financial repression, inflation, and outright theft that governments around the world seem to execute with such practiced proficiency. They seek a better, more inclusive financial system that is open, free, and fair. Bitcoin has a better chance at ushering in an era of global freedom and democracy than bombing countries, or nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan ever did. Ironically, if it reaches its full potential bitcoin drastically reduces the role of militaries worldwide.
On a more concrete level, bitcoin shares many obviously positive properties and characteristics that should be readily apparent to any veteran with an open mind and eyes to see.
The most obvious point in common is the principle of taking responsibility for your actions and holding yourself accountable. Retired Navy SEAL commander and widely-recognized leadership expert Jocko Willink has built an entire leadership philosophy based on the concept of “extreme ownership”, the idea that you are ultimately accountable for all your actions and for everything that happens to you and those you lead. Bitcoin is the ultimate form of extreme financial ownership. Taking control of your money, your time, your future, your family’s well-being, and ultimately your keys is the ultimate expression of personal accountability. Many veterans were placed in positions where they were accountable at very young ages not only for themselves, but for those around them and under their command. They are no strangers to accountability, and it is a concept that will resonate quickly with them.
Proof of Work
Nor are most veterans strangers to the concept of proof-of-work. In fact, it abounds in the military, ranging from putting in the work to meet the physically demanding aspects of service to more nuanced expressions, such as expertise in a chosen field. Just as bitcoin is not created from thin air, tier one military operators don’t achieve that status overnight simply because they enlisted and therefore have a “proof of stake” in the system. They achieve that status after years of hard work and dedication to their craft. One might also consider medals and military honors as the ultimate expression of military proof-of-work. The Medal of Honor is the proof-of-work of heroic action, far and above the requirements of duty. There is no way to fake it, and no way to replicate it.
While related to accountability, self-sufficiency is slightly different. It implies an element of resiliency and preparedness; the ability to survive and thrive during times of adversity. This is a core part of military culture. Perhaps the most succinct distillation of this idea can be seen on some of the tee-shirts made by the veteran-owned apparel company 30 Seconds Out: “No one is coming. It’s up to us.” And “Expect to self-rescue.” There are no bailouts and second chances in combat, just as there are none in Bitcoin; resilience and self-sufficiency are paramount. For the veteran plebs who aren’t able to socialize their losses and privatize their gains, and whose military benefits and pensions have no chance of providing for them in a potentially dark future, Bitcoin is the ultimate self-rescue technology, allowing them to shape their destiny and secure their financial independence without having to rely on anyone else.
To most who have not served (and even some who have), the military likely appears to be the pinnacle of centralized command and top-down decision making. And there is some truth to that. But any halfway-decent small unit commander, from Corporal to Captain, will tell you that one of their biggest weapons is decentralized command. In a war zone there are hundreds, if not thousands of things happening simultaneously, each affecting the others in ways that a commander simply cannot see or comprehend. The decisions are simply too complex, and running everything through a central authority would be slow, woefully inefficient, and would lead to terrible decisions and extremely poor outcomes. Additionally, concentrating your forces in one place leaves them disproportionately vulnerable to attack and catastrophic loss. On the flip side, if the past half-century has taught us anything, it is the effectiveness of guerilla warfare conducted by a loosely affiliated but dispersed group dedicated strongly to a common cause. Their weapons of choice don’t necessarily even need to be sophisticated, just reliable. Sound familiar?
Any honest examination of centrally commanded economies and central banks - even a cursory one - leads inevitably to the same outcomes as centralized command does, albeit on a different scale. As all bitcoiners know, bitcoin is the ultimate decentralized asset and network for a decentralized economy filled with billions of individual decisions made every second. That this is superior to a small cohort of senior citizens sitting around a table making arbitrary but consequential decisions for the entire world’s financial system should be obvious to anyone with even a superficial understanding of finance and economics. After all, we have centuries of history as our guide.
The beauty of bitcoin is its resiliency and elegant simplicity. It has a single mission – to be the world’s hardest, best money – and it executes that mission relentlessly. The best military units act in a similar fashion. They abhor mission creep – the addition of arbitrary and unrelated objectives that detract from the focus of the original mission. They are laser-focused on their primary objective and it is clear, unanimously understood, and ruthlessly executed against. Bitcoin is the anti-mission creep asset. Changes are made slowly and thoughtfully and always with an eye toward strengthening its primary objective of being perfect money.
Exit strategies and planning for unforeseen contingencies are part of any halfway decent military operation, and discussing bitcoin in these terms is an obvious way to frame the conversation with veterans. If nothing else, they are realists and are under no illusions about happy outcomes once things have gone sideways. As they come to further understand the magnitude of our current fiscal and monetary disaster, it should be readily apparent to them that bitcoin represents a monetary evacuation, the economic helicopter that will fly them out of a shitstorm and off to safer ground.
A common and popular refrain is that we would benefit from more veterans serving in elected office and leadership positions. This is probably true; but more importantly, we would benefit from more veterans serving in bitcoin roles. The best of them deeply understand the importance of selflessness, sacrifice, and determined execution, and importantly for the future of bitcoin, are not prone to backing down from a fight. They are a mission-focused community with the ability to sort through noise and execute in difficult situations. The only impediment to mass adoption among veterans is awareness and education. As a bitcoin community, let’s make a concerted effort to seek out and welcome this important and naturally aligned community.