Bitcoins and Gravy # 65: Men Will Be Angels? (Transcript)

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[0:00] John Barrett (Announcer and Host): Welcome to Bitcoins and Gravy, Episode #65. At the time of this recording, Bitcoins are trading at $212.00 dollars each, and everybody's favorite alt-coin, LTBCoin, is trading at $0.000095 U.S. dollars each. Mmm...Mmm...Mmm... Now THAT'S gravy!

[Intro music]

John: Welcome to " Bitcoins and Gravy " , and thanks for joining me today as I podcast from East Nashville, Tennessee, with my trusty Siberian Husky, Maxwell, by my side. Say hello, Maxwell.

Maxwell: Grrrrr.....

John: We're two Bitcoin enthusiasts who love talking about Bitcoins, and sharing what we learn with you, the listener. Thank you so much long time listeners for your generous tips, and for your great comments in the comments section on Let's Talk Bitcoin. And new listeners, welcome to the show.

[end of intro music]

[1:00] John: On today's show I have the great privilege of speaking with Ian Panchevre. Ian is a political scientist from Yale, whose primary studies include political theory and political psychology. Most recently, Ian has been researching the internal politics of the Bitcoin community - uh-oh! [laughter] . He's interested in both the " informal power networks " that have formed among miners and core developers, as well as the " formal power structures " like the Bitcoin Foundation - mmmmm!.

Ian will be self-publishing his research paper at the end of April - something I'm looking forward to. Ian and I had a great conversation - a long conversation - about all things having to do with Bitcoin, the Bitcoin Foundation, and the politics about what's going on in the Bitcoin world, and in the " real " world.

[Segway music]

John: All right, ladies and gentlemen, today on the show I am thrilled to welcome Ian Panchevre. Ian is a political scientist from Yale University.

[2:00] Ian, welcome to Bitcoins and Gravy, sir.

Ian: Thanks so much for having me, John. I'm excited to speak with you.

John: Oh, thanks. It's not often that I speak with someone in higher education. And, of course, there is a certain allure, a certain mythology that surrounds the Ivy League schools. So talking to someone from Yale feels like I am already outside of my element [laughter].

Ian: [laughter]

John: I went to Indiana University, in Bloomington Indiana, and I drove a bus there [laughter], so.

Ian: Well, thanks for the ego boost. It's a good school. I'm glad to be here.

John: Yeah, I'm sure it is. So let's just start out on the subject that brings us together today, and that's the Bitcoin Foundation, the debacle over there. What the hell just happened over at the Bitcoin Foundation , and what are your thoughts on the foundation, in general?

Ian: Yeah. Well, just to catch up your listeners with the latest events, in case they're not following it too closely. A bomb just detonated in the Bitcoin world. About two weeks ago, at this point, Olivier Jannsens - who is a recently elected member to the Bitcoin Foundation board - published a post on the forums of the Bitcoin Foundation . The title was " The Truth About the Bitcoin Foundation " .

[3:11] I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially what he said was that he was elected on a platform of transparency and accountability. And since he's joined the board he's really upset and disgusted with the secrecy that he's witnessed, and he feels obligated to disclose the truth about the Bitcoin Foundation to its membership.

So then he goes on to explain that the Bitcoin Foundation is effectively financially insolvent, they've laid off a substantial amount of its staff, and it's very likely going to be dissolved in the near future. This is obviously [a] really, really intense allegation to put out there. And what's interesting is that shortly thereafter, Gavin Andreson - the chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation , and one of the lead core developers - and Patrick Murck, the executive director. They both obviously responded to Jansenn's post, and they didn't explicitly refute or deny what he had to say. I mean, they were trying to spin it -

[4:07] John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: -- in their own way, but the fact of the matter is that they effectively acknowledge that there [are] some REAL financial problems, and the future of the Bitcoin Foundation is very much uncertain.

John: Yeah. You know what? Whenever I hear about a foundation that I know, for a fact, has received lots of donations, or lots of money, over time - whether it's a nonprofit or what-have-you. When I hear the word " insolvent' my mind always goes to a picture of an overweight guy on the beach, sipping a Piña Colada, and chuckling.

I don't know why I get that picture in mind. It's a horrible picture. But the [term] " misappropriation of funds " comes to mind, and all these things. But we'll get into that, but let me ask you first, " What country is Olivier from? "

Ian: I think he's from Belgium, but I'm not sure. I think he might be living in the south of France. I don't know too much about his background.

John: Right. It sounds to me like Olivier is somewhere in between your Bitcoiner who stands behind the foundation no matter what, as the ship is sinking, and then on the other side a Cody Wilson, who says, " Dismantle this thing immediately. This is ridiculous! " So it sounds like Olivier is somewhere in the middle actually.

[5:11] Ian: That's a really interesting observation. I think it's something that I'd like to see the community discuss more openly, but we haven't really had a discussion. We haven't really been vetting, or avowing the motivations of Olivier, because on some level he's gained a lot of moral credibility for this whole thing. I think a lot of people in the community really appreciate the fact that he's bringing this to light, [and] that he's operating in a way that's transparent. But he's trying to ride that moral credibility to gain more influence in the community. Maybe on some level that influence is warranted. But I think we seriously need to ask what his long term game plan has been, and is, and what his motivations are.

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: Because on some level you could describe this as basically a coup, where he pushes the Bitcoin Foundation to the brink, to the edge of the cliff, and then behind the scenes he's working to build up a competitive or alternative organization. I just wouldn't want to see a situation where we replace ONE organization that is intransparent, unaccountable, [and] nonrepresentative, with ANOTHER organization which is intransparent, unaccountable, [and] nonrepresentative. Because at the end of the day we're not really solving anything. And it seems to be that there is a very real possibility that that might be the outcome here.

[6:23] John: Wow. Yeah, that's interesting. Obviously I don't know Olivier, and I've never spoken with him. He SEEMS to be the kind of guy [who] really cares. I mean, he ran for a position with the platform of transparency, right?

Ian: Right.

John: And I believe he ran on the platform of decentralization. But there is the camp that says, " Look, if we're going to have some kind of a Bitcoin Foundation , don't we have the tech abilities to create something that is decentralized? " I mean, I slammed the Bitcoin Foundation a few times for not being transparent, but also for inexcusable things like, for instance, they had problems with the voting. It's like, " Look guys, if you really have problems with the voting, I know a kid down the street, Jimmy, who could code and set up for you, in about 15 minutes, the basic way to tally votes, with a paper receipt. That's not hard to do at all. It's hard for the FEDS to do, because they don't WANT to do it, right? It's hard for our STATES to do, because they don't WANT to do it.

[7:20] But if you WANT to do that then you should not have any problems with that, with the actual voting. So I thought THAT was ridiculous. That really made me mad. Then the funds not being there, that really makes me mad. I guess what makes me the most angry is that - just like you said, as far as a dialogue about this - I'm not really hearing people scream, whereas I think they SHOULD be.

Ian: Well, I think one of the problems there is that there isn't an established, or a formal, place for people to go where they can have constructive or loud and angry conversations. There isn't a town forum where people can gather. So the community is distributed through different forums, different web sites. So you have one thread of conversations happening on the Bitcoin Foundation forums. Then you have multiple threads happening through Reddit. Then you have other threads happening just in the comments sections of different articles.

[8:10] So there isn't a place for the community to be centrally organized, which I know is, on some level, ironic. But that's the only way you're going to be able to have an inclusive and comprehensive conversation, and it's just not there.

But again, I think it's really important that people aren't so quick to just assume that the leadership that's effectively asserted itself, or appointed itself - because remember, the Bitcoin Foundation didn't come about from this democratic, constitutional convention process. It's not like the Bitcoin community came together and decided that we need to have some sort of foundation. " Here's the limits of its responsibilities, and this is how it's going to be structured. " That never happened, right? Really you had some of the technical priesthood, some of the core developers, and then some opportunistic entrepreneurs just step forward and put the crown on their head.

[9:02] John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: And they weren't really challenged, right? So I think what I'm concerned [about] is that right now, the way he community seems to be structured, I don't think it's ever really going to escape a situation in which these foundations keep stepping forward, just trying to claim authority.

So I think it's really important that people just question across the board, " What are the ultimate motives of individuals that are involved with his? "

John: I agree. Political psychology is something I don't know much about. I do know a decent amount about psychologists. I was RAISED by a psychologist, in case anyone wonders why I'm insane. [laughter] But you just mentioned that these guys - the Bitcoin Foundation - came along unelected and just kind of assumed this position, without any kind of opposition.

But moreover - because I know you've already thought about this, and I'm sure this is something you're writing about - we have the same thing we've seen or thousands of years. The big ape stands up; he's the biggest ape, and all of the other apes bow down to him.

[10:03] So I know so many people [who] as soon as the Bitcoin Foundation existed, they were bragging, " I'm a lifetime member. Lifetime member. I'm a lifetime member of the Bitcoin Foundation. " I remember looking at these people and thinking, " What does that even mean? Why would you spend money to be a lifetime member? What are you getting from this? "

To me, it really reminded me of people just jumping on board that which represents power, authority, safety... you know?

Ian: Well, at the end of the day any sort of political discussion is going to descend into commentary on human nature. So really, whatever your pre-conditional assumptions are on the nature of mankind, that's going to influence the worldview that you adopt.

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: I'm thinking about the situation the Bitcoin community finds itself in now, and it brings to mind a quote from James Madison in the Federalist Papers, where he says, " If men were angels no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. "

[11:09] Then he goes on, " In framing a government which is to be administered BY men OVER men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and then in the next place oblige it to control itself. "

John: Mmm...

Ian: Olivier might be very well intentioned. He might be very [?]. He might be very skilled as a manager [and] a leader, but he's not an angel. So really, ultimately you need some sort of structure that can account for the fact that at some point you are going to have people in a position of authority that either AREN'T going to be very competent, or aren't going to be very morally grounded. And again, if people just keep asserting themselves, on same level we want to believe the best in others, but we also know that, in practice, that assumption tends to disappoint us.

John: What do you think is going to happen next?

Ian: Well, as a political scientist, this whole situation is just really exciting and fascinating, because we are literally witnessing the entire spectrum of political debate as far as the nature of government. [12:11] Here in the United States, when we have political debates, we're debating along a very narrow spectrum of possibility. We sort of take the Constitution, assume that it is in place, and that really frames the scope of what we can even be discussing.

We don't have anarchists or communists openly running for government in the United States, for example. Then between the two parties that actually HAVE, they identify a very narrow set of issues, and their positions really, in many cases, aren't that different from each other, right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So we have a fairly limited political discussion in the United States. But within the Bitcoin community, naturally, the question that was almost immediately asked after Olivier published this post was, " Well, what do we do now? "

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So you look through the various forums, and the various discussion threads, and it's really interesting as a political scientist, to see the entire spectrum of political opportunity being discussed.

[13:06] So I, kind of, played this game with myself where I pulled out quotations from different people [who] were commenting on the threads, and I tried to label their political ideology. They might not explicitly describe themselves accordingly, but as far as I understand the different political views, you've got obviously strict anarchists, strict libertarians, anarcho-capitalists. You also have a more colorful spectrum of viewpoints, like: confused socialist. You have technocrats, [who] really believe that, " Hey, the core developers are this elite class, [and] they ought to govern. " There's one individual who I would describe as a " royalist " . Let me see if I can pull up the quote really quick.

John: Yeah, I was going to ask if you have any of those quotes you could share with us, and then your analysis of the - obviously you're not analyzing the individual, because you don't KNOW the individual. You're analyzing based on what you've studied - what that language is pointing back towards.

[14:04] Ian: Yeah. I've got the quotes. Here's one that's really interesting. Andreas Antonopoulos posted a comment, or response, to a threat that was initiated by Olivier on Reddit. In response to Andreas, [“JimmyJamma " ?] wrote, " Just the right guy, with just the right message, at just the right moment. This is the definition of Andreas Antonopoulos. Who needs a foundation when one man is single-handedly, articulately, and delicately - when required - spreading the virtues of Bitcoin all over the world to all the right people. "

To me, knowing the philosophical foundation of the Bitcoin technology project; its relationship to crypto-anarchy, and then the anarchistic relationship to pure anarchy and libertarianism. The fact that someone would say this just really boggles my mind, because he's really calling for a sort of pseudo monarchy. This is a form of royalistic support. Who needs a foundation when ONE MAN " single-handedly, articulately and delicately " ... " spreading the virtues all over the world to all of the right people. " He's literally saying, " You are our leader. You be the king. You takeover. " You know?

[15:07] John: I have to say [that] I think if we were going to elect a king, it would have to be Andreas, but I think Andreas would be the first one to say, " I'm not interested. " [laughter]

Ian: Yeah, and I would say, " There shouldn't be a king in the first place. " Right? But the fact that you've got people [who] are saying this kind of stuff is just really funny.

John: It is, yeah.

Ian: So yeah. In the book " " Anarchy, State and Utopia " - which is a FANTASTIC read, by Robert Nozick, one of the greatest political theorists of the 20th century. In his preface he talks about the fundamental question of political theory, which is essentially, " Why government in the first place? Why not anarchy? Why is government preferable to anarchy? " Then once you answer THAT question you can then talk about the scope and the limits of government, and how it ought to be designed, and how you can legitimate it, etc. But literally, right now, in the Bitcoin world - in my research I refer to " immaterial worlds " , [which are] sort of like virtual realms where people are coming together online -

[16:03] John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: -- they're literally having this debate. So it's really interesting to see them struggle with the same kind of issues that the political theorists, and the historians, have been talking about for thousands of years. Right?

John: Yeah.

Ian: I think a lot of the conversation right now is happening very much in the state of ignorance, where people aren't really aware of the rich intellectual history that's behind all of these questions. But I can assure everyone that you're not the first person to have thought about the nature of government, and what its purpose should be, and how it should be designed.

I mean, this conversation started with Plato, and it proceeded him, but we don't have much written record about the pre-Socratic world - or philosophy rather. And it's continued up until today. So it's exciting to see this kind of stuff happening in real time, but it's also frustrating just to see the quality of the political debate that's happening, because people will post these one-liners, and in one single, whimsical sentence they'll dismiss democracy, or some other form of government, right?

John: [laughter]

Ian: It's just like you don't realize that there's so much history on this specific question that you're just casually dismissing.

[17:14] John: I think we have a lot of really intelligent people, obviously, in the Bitcoin world -- with Etherium ( ) and all these other - super intelligence people. But some of these people DO NOT have a well-rounded background with a liberal arts education, meaning a lot of these people did not take a philosophy class. They maybe did not take an English class, so they still spell the word " lose " as " L - O - O - S - E " . I see these things all of the time that tell me [that] these people are really intelligent, but they don't necessary have a background in history , or in political science, or anything like that.

It would be nice - I think what YOU'RE saying is - [that] it would be nice to step up the academic nature of these conversations, and for people to be able to even refer - so if you were involved in the conversation you can bring some intelligent background in, and you can say, " Look, here's the history of what's going on in THIS particular instance. " Or, " What YOU just said basically reminds me of... " Then you could quote something from a book that was back from the 1500s when some event was going on in Europe, let's say, with the king, that PARALLELS it.

[18:14] You can say, " Look, this has already been said. This has already been done. " Or, " This has already been tried. " Which doesn't mean that people shouldn't continue to throw these ideas out there. It ALSO doesn't mean that some of these ideas are not UNIQUE. There is a lot of great conversation going on, but I also wish that it could be stepped up a little bit, [so] that we could actually MOVE somewhere with it. How do we do that? How do we get a forum? How do we get a town hall together to have people start having these more academic, meaningful conversations.

At the same time, how do we bring culpability to these people? Why is no one saying, " Hey, let's really look at the forensic evidence, when it comes to the monies that have gone into the coffers of the Bitcoin Foundation , and the money that's no longer there, and let's try to figure out where it went. "

Ian: Yeah. Well, a lot of thoughts. First off, I'd just like to say [that] I don't mean to suggest that the community is not intelligent, or that it's ignorant. I certainly agree that there are some wonderfully intelligent people here.

[19:11] Really, my comment was more to suggest that within, specifically, the domain of political theory, we're not seeing very mature debate. So I think a lot of the community members might have an amazing technical background, they might understand economics well, [and] they understand cryptography. But I think political science has been a very important academic discipline that is highly relevant to this project, but for the most part it hasn't really been included in the discussion. And I think it's been happening both ways. Internally, within Bitcoin, you really don't have rich political debate. But also, academics and scholars [and] professional political scientists, THEY haven't really taken a close look at Bitcoin. There's not a lot of interest from the established political science community, and so it's very much, I think it's a very interesting research area. But thus far it's been mostly overlooked. I think a lot of political scientists don't understand the technology to begin with, so they don't really understand what makes Bitcoin unique or innovative. So to them it's just this other virtual currency that's probably going to fail at some point, and that kind of satisfies their curiosity.

[20:18] John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So I think THAT'S part of the problem. There's so much literature out there that could really, really guide the discussion. So to your question of, " How can we make this discussion more rich and more meaningful? " I have to be honest. I don't think I have a good answer there. I do think part of the problem is that we don't have a central location for having, sort of, official discussion, where everybody is organized. I think part of the issue here is just that on a philosophical level the early adopters and the early enthusiasts behind Bitcoin have a dogma, or mindset, where they're disinclined to see a lot of the problems that Bitcoin is facing as political problems. Right?

John: Mmm...Hmm. Yeah.

[21:00] Ian: If you read Satoshi's early emails, and posts, and whatnot, he'll explain that part of the reason why we have a fixed supply of currency that's deflationary is because we don't want to empower an individual, a person, with the decision-making authority to manipulate the currency. So, for Satoshi, this whole project was an effort to design around a human problem; to use technology so that we can basically circumvent people as decision-making points.

John: Right.

Ian: But functionally that's just not how it works, because so many technical questions about the technology itself, most of them are non-controversial. They're patches. They're bug fixes. They're optimizations. They get deployed. It's fine.

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: But any time we're talking about a new feature, or a dramatic change to a feature design, there's always going to be some segment of the user base that is going to be advantaged over the other. That, in itself, requires, or demands. a political assessment. What are the ultimate objectives of this project? How can we best deliver upon that?

[22:04] And so without having a framework for evaluating these decisions, and for MAKING these decisions, we don't really have an inclusive debate for the community. So what ends up happening is that the Bitcoin core developers will make decision unilaterally - which again, in many cases is probably the right call, because you and I don't need to be in a discussion about some architectural optimization, right?

John: Right. [laughter]

Ian: But if we're talking about how to improve anonymity on the root level, or how we should structure micropayments? Do we need to have more simultaneous transactions? You know, things of that sort. There should be some designed, product development direction, from the broader community. Otherwise, these elites [who] have already kind of asserted themselves within the network of decision making - and this is sort of the informal power structure that I have identified - they'll just continue to make these decisions on their own, exclude people like you and me from the debate, and Bitcoin will, over time, deviate away from the " general will " , which is a Rousseauian concept, or just the popular sentiment of the average users...

[23:14] John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: ... And there will be this gap between what's actually happening on a technical level, and with the actually parties of the technology, and with the will of its stakeholders. And so I think that's a problem, right?

John: Yeah.

Ian: This kind of goes to your third question, which is, " How do we make this organization more accountable? " Or " How do we improve culpability? "

John: Let's go back for one second, though. We'd like to think of the core developers as people who are good stewards of this technology, like Gavin. [laughter] Gavin has also been accused of not only MEETING with the CIA, but being EMPLOYED - or coerced - by the CIA. I've read all of these things, [but have] no proof for that. But obviously some people are mad that he met with certain people, [or] are mad that the Bitcoin Foundation is basically in bed with regulators. There's all of this going on, but are their some blatant or obvious conflicts of interest that you can see? I have read that a few of the core developers were actually employed by some larger Bitcoin companies, such as Bitpay ( ) . Is it true [that] one of the core developers is currently employed by Bitpay? Is that still the case?

[24:17] Ian: I've heard that rumor as well, but I haven't really seen definitive evidence. From my perspective it looks just like a rumor, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are some uncomfortable or unnatural relationships, because that's inevitable. If you don't have a formal political structure, you're going to have this informal political apparatus that co-opts authority. This is going to be very opaque, you're not going to be able to really recognize or access the conversation, but they make decisions nonetheless. So I think right now what happens is there's a handful of core developers that actually have the passcode so they can deploy updates to Bitcoin core, right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: This is the technocratic elite, the technical priesthood that's managing the technology. If you think about just code, [and] its ability to define what behavior is permissible and impermissible within this virtual realm, code effectively takes the form of law, right?

John: Sure.

[25:13] Ian: Because they can regulate away certain behavior, and then they can design it so that it encourages OTHER forms of behavior. But unlike the laws that we're subjected to in the real world, we can break them, and then we just may or may not face punishment. In the virtual world it literally defines the parameters of the universe.

So from that perspective, they're not just building technology. They're more like legislators that are actually designing the social institution that Bitcoin is growing into. So they're kind of like this legislative branch, but again, there's no accountability. As a community, normal Bitcoin owners don't have really any formal voice to influence the prioritization of features, and different kind of frameworks. Because with technology development you're going to face tradeoffs all the time, right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian : " We can make this feature faster, but it's going to be less scalable, " Or whatever. Those are the kind of technical decisions which have moral and social implications, and right now the core developers are just doing whatever they want. And again, you and I have no influence.

[26:14] John: I think the Bitcoin community assumes that [these " high priests " ] are good stewards of this technology, such that when it comes to making sure that Bitcoin develops as something that is everything that the anarchist wants, and everything that the libertarian, for instance, wants. Gavin is right there at the helm, making sure that he's steering away from tyranny and toward freedom.

And I'm not so sure that he is. The reason I'm not sure is because I can't PROVE it either way. It's not transparent. I don't know what's going on in Gavin's head. I don't know what's going on in his heart. I don't know if he's someone who could be influenced by other people. And when I refer to Gavin I'm referring to the developers, generally. I don't know how to trust them, and I don't know if we in the Bitcoin community, looking at the blockchain technology, want to be once again held captive by this concept of trust.

[27:19] Do we want to have to trust Gavin, and then we find out later on, " Oh gosh darn it! We couldn't trust him. " Because from the beginning of the Bitcoin Foundation there are these ties to - not the Gambini family, not the Lanski family - but ties to Mount Gox, which is Carpellis. You know? " Grandson of Al Capone, Mark Capellis. " You can see him with a cigar in his mouth, and instead he's got a latte. But I'd still like to open up a can of whoopass on that boy.

Ian: [laughter]

John: A friend of mine, years ago - this guy who's no longer alive - here in Nashville. His name was Krik Brown. He was homeless for years, but also a woodworker, and a very talented and intelligent person; a country boy from Kentucky. I said that one time to him. I said, " Man, I'd like to open up a can of whoopass on that guy! " And Kirk said to me, " Johnny Barrett. You know the worst thing about opening up a can of whoopass? " And I said, " No, what is that Kirk? " He said, " Getting the lid back on. " [laughter]

Ian: [laughter]

[28:22] John: Anyway. So go ahead, man. What do you think?

Ian: Well look, I think your intuitions are spot on, and my reactions would be [that] we shouldn't trust them. There should be some formal process for vetting the individuals that are going to have the technical ownership, and the technical authority over the project, and making sure that ultimately that authority is vested in the community at large, and if necessary it can be revoked, and it can be reassigned to someone else.

John: Right. But as soon as you say the word " authority " people are thinking, " Are you kidding me? Let's look at our federal government. Let's look at our LOCAL government. " Look at the politics in Chicago as a perfect example. Now you've got Rahm Emanuel in there. It goes from organized crime to just pure evil, you know? So how do you trust in authority? People's experience these days is, " I can't trust an authority. " But then you're calling for an authority. Of course, I'm playing devil's advocate here.

[29:11] Ian: No, absolutely. No, this is great. So the first thing, I think you have to be pragmatic about the way you are thinking about this. And I think recent events have demonstrated that whatever situation is currently existing within the Bitcoin leadership, it's not long term tenable. It's not long term scalable or reliable, [and] for two reasons.

One [is that] the formation of these inevitable, backroom, informal power structures is inevitable. It's going to happen whether you like it or not, because at some point someone's got to be sitting in the middle, routing the decision, and routing the conversation. And there is a handful of people, at the end of the day, that has the actual technical control to deploy updates and to change the live version of Bitcoin. There's a quotation from Robert Nozick's " Anarchy, State and Utopia " which I really think is fantastic. And it's " Out of anarchy, pressed by spontaneous groupings, mutual protection associations, division of labor, market pressures, economy of scale, and rational self-interest, there arises something very much resembling a minimal state, or a group of geographically distinct minimal states. "

[30:19] John: Hmm.

Ian: So you never have this situation where no one has authority. It's going to end up being consolidated somehow, somewhere. That's number one. Number two, as long as there's this leadership void in the community, you‘re going to have more foundations, and more organizations stepping forward trying to CLAIM that leadership authority, right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So let's say the Bitcoin Foundation is dissolved within two months, which seems very possible. And let's say Olivier rallies the community. He rides all of the moral good will he's generated, and he creates this trust which he's been discussing and proposing on Reddit. The purpose of the trust would be to employ the core developers. Well, guess what? Now we have another entity that the community doesn't have any authority over.

So you're never going to be able to avoid the usurpation, or the centralization of power. It's just [that] we're seeing it happening in real time. So you can be really dogmatic and refuse any sort of formal authority, or you can claim control of the political destiny of this project.

[31:21] And back to your earlier question about, " How can we trust the individuals [who] are running the technology? " Look, on one level you can question their intentions. I'm also inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, that these are honest, reliable people that have the best interests of Bitcoin at heart.

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: But that's not a scalable, or long term tenable assumption, right? Because at SOME point, someone's going to get into a position where that's just not the case. So either it's not the case now, or it won't be the case in the future.

Then the second issue is just, " What is their competency when it comes, again, to making these types of political decisions? " I'm sure [that] when it comes to technology these are some of the best people in the world, with cryptography and distributed networking, etc. But do they understand the political dynamics, and the social consequences of a lot of their features? I really don't think so.

[32:10] I'll give you an example. I was going through the Bitcoin forums, and I stumbled across a post. I forgot who posted it, but it was somebody - I want to say it was one of the core developers. It was definitely someone technical that was at the Bitcoin Foundation .

John: Okay.

Ian: He was talking about " coin tainting " , where the core developers basically released this notice out, to the whole community, that certain coins that are associated with certain wallets, are tainted. Maybe they were illicitly acquired. So the idea is [that] they would be able to devalue those Bitcoins, because people wouldn't want to exchange for tainted coins.

This is literally a form of distributing justice, right? Because someone's going to make a decision that somebody did something bad, and that somebody is worthy of being branded as having coins that are tainted. Then they're going to relegate that justice out, right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So when I was reading this discussion it was really technical. It was like, " How do we do this? " But nobody really stopped to say, " Wait a second, SHOULD we be doing this? "

[33:10] Should we? Right. [laughter]

Ian: And if so, what are the right institutional checks so that this power is not being abused; so that the core developers don't just have some grudge against someone, and they just go and taint that person's coins. There has to be some sort of checks in the system.

So you have to pick your poison at the end of the day. Either the technology is literally going to be stolen by this elite group among the core developers; these technocrats that have asserted their technical leadership. And a lot of these people are in that position just simply because they're early adopters. They stumbled across this project sooner than most others, and they've built up moral credibility in the community.

So you have the technocrats on one level, that are making the technology, and influencing the actual code of this world, and laws of this community. Then you have the mining coalition, and we know that that's been forming into pools. So now there's this oligopolistic, oligarchic structure within the mining community. And because the miners -- at least a majority of the computational power in the mining network has to accept any updates to the Bitcoin protocol in order for it to actually go into effect - they're effectively like the executives.

[34:21] They're the ones that are empowered to implement the new law that's coming out of the legislative branch. And they do it through a majoritarian consensus, but we've also seen informal power networks happening here. There's this one case where a few years ago the core developers released a new update, and for whatever reason a majority of the miners did not actually start working on this updated version.

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So the older, outdated version of the blockchain grew faster, and we know that Satoshi's laws of Bitcoin stipulate that the longest blockchain is, definitively, the accurate one. So that should have been it, right? If the [?] were to be strict constitutionalists about this, and interpret the laws word-for-word, then the update just doesn't exist, right? But the core developers were able to negotiate with the leader of one of the largest mining pools, who switched over to the updated version, which in turn tilted the balance of computational power. And so this is literally a unilateral decision to break the rules in terms of which blockchain is authoritative.

[35:26] And again, on a small scale, maybe it works, right? Because these guys know each other. Maybe they trust each other. They're all collectively interested in making Bitcoin successful in the long-run, because they're all invested in the currency. But that economic calculus can change over time. And again, we just can't trust long-term that men will be angels, right?

John: Absolutely.

Ian: So if you wanted to [do] kind of a religious read of the whole thing, with Satoshi being the creator, the God of this universe. Then he passes the commandments down to Moses - or to Gavin. That might work for the first generation, but it's not going to work for the second, third or fourth, etc. And ultimately Bitcoin is going to face challenges. It's going to face internal challenges: the decision making with technical developers, the consolidation of power in the mining pools. By the way, you and I - just people who own Bitcoins - we're the plebeians here, you know?

[36:14] John: Yeah. [laughter]

Ian: We're the people without any say. So at least in the United States we can vote for our president, or make donations, [or] volunteer in campaigns, etc. to try to influence our Commander in Chief, who in turn will appoint the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. So at least we have some indirect political voice, as far as how our monetary policy is ultimately managed, even though it is VERY indirect.

John: Very indirect. [laughter] Yeah.

Ian: And when we divide it out among people it's probably inconsequential. But that's still more of a voice than we have in the Bitcoin community.

John: I really do think that Bitcoin community IS, for the most part, full of people who have really good intentions, and who have really good hearts. We see the philanthropy. We see the nonprofits. We see the charities. And from the word " go " the Bitcoin community has been behind so many different good causes. So I like to think that maybe, just maybe, so far, we've been treated really well by the developers, that they have been good stewards, that they HAVE been leading us in the right direction, [and] that they haven't been leading us to the slaughter unbeknownst to us. But you never know.

[37:21] And I think that there obviously has been immense pressure on people like Gavin. In a sense I feel sorry for Gavin, because I think he's an atheist, and if you're an atheist - and I don't get into religion on my show; I have my own personal beliefs that do not really parallel anybody else's, my beliefs in " higher powers " - but I feel sorry for Gavin that he DOESN'T believe in God, because what do you do when you're the guy in the trenches and the shells are coming around you? You know, they say, " There are no atheists in the trenches. " Right? Something like that. What does Gavin do? Who do you call out to? You're just like, " Oh God! This is killing me! " Who do you cry out to? If you can't cry out to God, who do you cry out to?

I always wonder, who do you cry out to in your worst time, when you just feel like all is lost and there's no hope at all. You don't know where to turn. I mean, what is it? Maybe you believe in Mickey Mouse. " Ah, Mickey!!! "

[38:25] Ian: [laughter] Well, you know that saying, " It's lonely at the top. " It's not easy being a leader, and you've got to reconcile a plurality of different viewpoints and interests, and try to balance the needs and the desires of various different stakeholders. And you have to coordinate that into some sort of coherent policy, and a coherent framework for decision-making.

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: Which, by the way, that's what government is. That's what politics is. You know?

John: Yeah. So you're saying we HAVE to have government. Obviously, if you look at any place, any municipality, like Nashville. If we didn't have a government, we would still HAVE to have a government. Let's say we disbanded all the governmental agencies here in Nashville. Well, we're STILL going to have to scramble to get a group of people together who agree to coordinate the trash pickup, and who agree to coordinate the infrastructure of the sewer system, and agree to work on the infrastructure of the public schools, and maintaining the libraries.

[39:22] So you HAVE to have government. There's no question about that. But what we don't want [is] the kind of government we've seen before. And I think what you're saying - and I'm not trying to put words in your mouth - is that the way things are going right now, with the Bitcoin Foundation , [and] the way thing HAVE gone, we essentially HAVE a form of government. What do you call this form of government?

Ian: You've got to read John Locke " Second Treatise of Civil Government " for two reasons. One, if you're not really familiar with Lockean philosophy, it's probably the single largest source of inspiration for the American constitutional project, and the revolutionary spirit in our own founders in the United States. It has a lot of historical significance to our own country, but also it has a tremendous amount - I mean, it IS the foundation of libertarian thought. So if you're a crypto-anarchist, and you assert this claim to property rights, and, " We have a right to build these technologies that are going to preserve our property and our privacy. " Well, that's great, but where did [those] property and privacy rights come from in the first place? Why do we have them?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

[40:24] Ian: What is the nature of these rights? What are the limits? Where is their origin? That conversation really started with John Locke. He's the one who proposed the labor theory of value, which [essentially states that] there [are] all of these natural resources out there that are held in common, but at some point I have to mix my own labor - which is literally part of my life, because I can spend my time doing whatever I want - to make these resources more productive. And the process of mixing my labor with the natural resources is what entitles me to a property claim over it.

So that's the foundation in Lockean assessment of property rights, which is really what this project is all about, right? The Bitcoin project is about trying to secure your currency in a way that's resilient against external manipulation and intervention.

John: Right.

[41:11] Ian: So let me take a step back. You've got this state of nature theory, [where] basically the state of nature theorists ask, " Why do we have government? " And they answer that by engaging this thought experiment, where they basically try to hypothesize about what life was like in a pre-political, pre-civilization state - literally a state of nature, [or] a state of anarchy, where there IS no formal governance. And they have assumptions on human nature, and so they had a model for how people behaved in that environment. Then from there they think about what would happen, and then they draw conclusions, and they justify the role of government.

And Locke, Hobbes, [and] Rousseau , all go in totally different directions. But the rules of the game are different in the virtual realm. For one, there is,sort of, contingencies - or background conditions - that we assume on [that?], right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: So if you're trading Bitcoins, you have access to electricity and the internet. You're probably not starving, [and] you're probably not immediately fearful for your bodily security, right?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

[42:06] Ian: But that's the kind of situation that really motivates all of the Hobbesian world. So Hobbes compares the state of nature to the state of war, [in] which life is nasty, brutish and short, because people are perpetually fearful that at any given moment they can be killed. And even though you may not be physically superior to me, you can poison me, you can stab me in my sleep, etc. So everyone's in a state of equality to the extent that anybody can kill anybody at any time. So that creates a tremendous amount of anxiety and instability, and ultimately accepts some sort of government - the sovereign or Leviathan is how he described is - [that] DOESN'T have to be accountable, because however awful the sovereign is, it is always better that state of nature, [or] the state of war would be. So that's Hobbes, right?

John: Right. Hobbes was an absolutist. He said the sovereign has absolute power.

Ian: Right. But that CLEARLY does not apply to the Bitcoin world, because we don't have that kind of fear, and there's voluntary entry. At some level, participating in Bitcoin is very much a non-coercive process, because no one is forcing you to buy coins, and at any given point you can sell your coins and leave, or go to one of the 500 alt-coins that are out there.

So there's that. Then there's the programmability, [in] that you can iterate and quickly change, literally, the design parameters of that world. And you can always fork and clone it, so if you don't like what's happening in the Bitcoin space, you can branch off and create and alt-coin, [or] and alternative version. [43:29] Which, THAT'S a really interesting point too, because at the end of the day you're looking at all of these different alt-coins, and they're all trying to - I mean, some of them have really crazy approaches, but I think probably the more mainstream alt-coins are basically trying to address a design flaw within the Bitcoin protocol. So some are maybe trying to process transactions faster, or they do a better job at preserving anonymity, or they can do more simultaneous transactions.

But Bitcoin has such compelling network effects already. It has such a strong first mover advantage, that I really don't think that any of those marginal benefits of those alt-coins are compelling enough to substantially shift traffic away from Bitcoin towards this alternative crypto-currency. But I DO think that building out a formal governance structure, where the community has product stake, and the leadership IS accountable, it's transparent, [and] representative, and there's a stable and reliable protocol for making decisions. That, to me, could be a really compelling competitive advantage.

John: Yeah.

[44:27] Ian: And I think [that] if the Bitcoin community continues to struggle - I mean, something that really boggles my mind is [that] they're having these debates on these forums about how to reliably pay the core developers . I understand [that] the core developers don't want to be campaigning for funds, and trying to crowd source their life every month. That's just not practical for them. And we would presumably want the best technical talent working on this, right? So we want to attract the best people to the project.

The market cap of Bitcoin is 3.5 billion. Over hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital have been raised for Bitcoin and blockchain startups, and yet the community can't figure out how to get a million dollars a year to pay half a dozen core developers a full-time salary. There's money in the ecosystem.

John: It's pretty sad really, when you think about it, and where the money went that did actually come in, and they're insolvent. I mean, where DID that money go? Is anybody going to be discussing that at any point? Is anybody tracking the Bitcoins? What's going on with that? Have you heard any information about that?

[45:24] Ian: No, and again, I think the fact that we can't organize around a reliable structure for paying the core developers , the fact that there isn't a reliable protocol for initiating audits and internal reviews. These are the kinds of benefits that we get from structured political association. It doesn't have to mean like a communist state. You can have a minimalist state, with a very narrowly defined vision.

John: Oh, yeah.

Ian: Presumably you would want to build out mechanisms for doing that kind of stuff. Also , earlier you said you felt that the core developers had been doing a great job of managing the technology, and I think, for the most part they have. But we could hold them to a higher standard. We could ask them to do an even BETTER job, and I think the community deserves that, right?

John: Yeah.

Ian: Product road mapping and technical development could be more user-driven. The community should be setting the priorities, and should be making these big macro, directional decisions about the technology.

[46:17] John: Absolutely. I mean, the fact that Andreas and other people have distanced themselves from the foundation, based on the lack of transparency. I mean, that's the biggest thing. It's so funny [and] ironic in a way. You see the Bitcoin community saying, " We HATE government. We hate the NSA. We hate this shit. We're so tired of the lies. We're so tired of the lobbying, or the bribing, of the lack of transparency, [or] our lack of power to do ANYTHING about it to change anything at all. "

And then here comes this foundation, and all of these libertarians, and all of these crypto-anarchists are running over there. Okay, running over there is one thing. People still have lemming and ape DNA in them, so it completely makes sense that they would run over there. But once they find out that they're insolvent, and that they're really a bunch of crooks, or that they HAVE ties to Carpellis, or ties to Mount Gox, and all of these other things... Once they find that out and they're not up in arms,

[47:17] I don't know. It makes me think that there are as many dumb-dumbs, percentage-wise in the Bitcoin world, as there are dumb-dumbs sitting at home watching that goofy guy spin that wheel on " Wheel Of Fortune " , and clapping, and thinking [that] this is the greatest thing in the world. I mean, do we have just a bunch of real lemming-like dumb-dumbs in the Bitcoin community? If you are listening out there listeners, are you yourself a lemming-like follower, who loves the Bitcoin foundation still, and you're still a lifelong member, even though they're not transparent, and even though they've screwed everybody, and even though they're continuing to screw everybody by not being transparent.

I mean, if you're listening, what side are you on? Are you on the side of transparency and truth and justice? Or are you happy just to hand your money, your donations, over to what basically to me is starting to look like a criminal organization?

[48:13] Ian: You know, again. Any political question at the end of the day can be distilled to reflections on human nature. You're suggesting that people have a tendency to conform in terms of their thinking, which I don't think is an unreasonable claim. But that's, again, sort of like this societal design flaw that the proper political structures could design around, or at least mitigate the effects of it.

Again, with the Bitcoin Foundation, there's just so much irony here, and I think there's not a lot of philosophical consistency within the community. Because you have this technology which is presumably distributed and decentralized. But for a while it was publicly managed by this foundation that was in-transparent, unaccountable, non-representative. I characterized the Bitcoin Foundation as this sort of Hobbesian sovereign, that literally sprung forth from the state of nature and asserted authority.

Of course, they didn't have a monopoly on power and force, but none-the-less, when the Senate Finance Committee wants to learn more about Bitcoin, they're calling up Patrick Murck, who is now playing the role of a political figurehead, speaking on behalf of Bitcoin. And even though he'll say, " The Foundation is not Bitcoin. " The public can't tell the difference at that point.

[49:32] [Segway music]

John: Also in this episode of Bitcoins and Gravy we get to hear a cover of Ode To Satoshi, as performed by Andy Gonzalez, my new friend from the Texas Bitcoin Conference . Andy does a great job of covering this timeless classic. And I should also mention that Andy will soon be publishing his own podcast with his good friends Alex Eton and Ed Clemence. They will be calling their podcast " Deep In The Heart Of Bitcoin " , " The miners cry, kai-yippy-yai, deep in the heart of Bitcoin " .

Well more power to you fellows. I can't wait to hear the podcast. It's great to know that podcasting is growing in popularity here at the dawn of the age of crypto-currencies. Nice work, Andy, Ed and Alex. [guitar cover music and lyrics of Ode To Satoshi, performed by Andy Gonzalez]

[50:28] " Well Satoshi Nakamoto, that's a name I love to say,
And we don't know much about him, but he came to save the day.
When he wrote about the way things are,
And the way things ought to be,
He gave us all a protocol this world had never seen.

Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.

Till everybody knows ...

Dang it, Johnny, You make this sound easy.
Hit it.

Rill everybody knows, everybody know,
Till everybody knows you name.

[guitar instrumental]

Down the road it will be told about the Death of Old Mount Gox,
About traders trading alter coins, and miners mining blocks.
But them good old boys back in Illinois,
And on down to Tennessee,
See they don't care to be a millionaire,
They're just wanting to be free.

[51:36] Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.

Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.

[instrumental interlude]

From the ghettos of Calcutta, to the halls of Parliament,
While the bankers count our money out for every government.
Oh, Bitcoin flies on through the skies of virtuality,
A promise to deliver us from age-old tyranny.

[52:34] Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Everybody knows -- " Keeping my composure " --
Everybody knows your name.

Oh Lord, pass me some more,
Oh Lord, before I have to go.
Oh Lord, pass me some more,
Oh Lord ... before I have to ...
Go ...

[instrumental finale]

Andy: Ah ha! ... Thank you old bedroom. You keep yourself organized now, you here?

[Segway music]

[53:45] Ian: I think for me, the first big red flag that I saw with the foundation was when a while ago I was going through their bylaws, and they listed the founding members, and the last founding member that they list is Satoshi Nakamoto. I'm like, " This is interesting. " So I look at the date the foundation was started, and the bylaws say they were incorporated, I believe, on June 1st, 2012, I might be wrong there. And then I compared that to Satoshi's correspondence, and his last public correspondence was a year-and-a-half prior to the formation of [the] Bitcoin Foundation.

John: Right. [laughter]

Ian: So either he was having private correspondence with the rest of the founding team, and then just never bothered to release that, or share it, which very unlike Satoshi. Or they just ASSERTED that he was a founder to claim, again, moral authority for their project, and they basically dared Satoshi to come out and deny that, and he hasn't.

John: Right.

[54:37] Ian: The other thing, too, is that when you look at the genesis blocks, that were all going to Satoshi's wallet, he has, I think last time I read, like half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin. That's a lot, right? You'd think that if he were really behind some sort of institution to help protect and promote his currency - which is the stated mission of the foundation - you'd think that he wouldn't have a problem peeling off like 5% of that to endow them with a really, really juicy financial position. But as far as we know, his wallets have never transacted or exchanged currency.

John: For one thing, Satoshi may not be alive anymore. We don't know. And Satoshi may be alive and well, and may have purposely thrown away the private keys. We don't know that either. So we don't know that there is actually an entity that actually HAS Bitcoins. But your point is well taken. Well, when it comes down to it, we've got to do something. What do YOU think about Cody Wilson's suggestions , on the one hand, and then what do you think about the cry for decentralizing the foundation on the other hand. And if we could decentralize the foundation, Ian, what do YOU think should happen next.

[55:47] Ian: Yeah, absolutely. I would like to see - to borrow the language of John Locke - a sort of " commonwealth " forming. This sort of constitutional convention moment where in one defined space, the majority - ideally ALL - of the public Bitcoin leaders: the core developers , many of the miners, people like Andreas, etc. -- and then anybody who wants to participate who is just a regular Bitcoin owner, or an interested member -- come together onto a forum, and really have structured debate.

And SOMEONE is going to have to just step forward and assert some leadership here, and say, " Okay, we're going to discuss this set of issues, and at some point we're going to make a decision, and we're going to move on. " But ultimately, the community has to decide for itself, I believe, what kind of structure it wants to have. There's still so much disagreement, fundamentally, on whether or not they should even accept something formal to begin with.

[56:40] But they HAVE to work past that. Then the question is, " What are the objectives of the decision-making apparatus? What are its responsibilities? " Presumably, I would imagine most people would be in favor of a pretty minimalist political structure.

John: Yes.

Ian: And how are we going to go about building it, right? And then the big question is, " How do we assert actual foundational moral authority? " Because you're not going to get 100% of all the Bitcoin users in the world to vote in favor of whatever it is. At some point the power has to be coopted again. That's just inevitable. So with the foundation of the United States we had delegates from all the different states [who] convened at a summit, and then they formed the Constitution. On some level it's going to have to be a representative process, as opposed to a democratic process. But I think as long as everybody can share their opinions, and we can have well-informed debate, and that debate moves along at a reasonable pace, and we come to a consensus. Again, no one is going to get everything they want. The art of politics is compromise.

[57:44] John: Right.

Ian: But, if for the most part, people are reasonably satisfied, that's really great. Then I think that we adapt that structure and then we go from there. So I think we can definitely take a design approach that's similar to just product management in general - launch early, iterate quickly. Maybe the first objective is [that] we want some sort of mechanism for reliably paying the core developers, and here are some questions: How are we going to find it? How is it going to reflect the general will of the community in terms of feature prioritization and product direction?

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: What are our checks against it? Can it be dissolved? Or can we remove people who have technical authority, and passcodes, etc. Maybe that's where you start, right? And you get that out the door, and then you have some mechanism for ongoing [review]. Maybe in the future, it's like, " Okay. Well, it turns out that we DO need... " - and I'm not SAYING this is the case. I'm just, sort of, speculating here, but...

[58:44] John: Sure.

Ian: It's possible that at some point we say, " Okay. We actually DO need some sort of formal figurehead, if you will, who will speak on behalf of the community when the question of external regulation; when one of the hundreds of national governments around the world has an issue with this, how are we going to elect a person to do that? " We have to ask, and we have to analyze politically, " Where is the power actually held here? " How can we actually compel the core developers to be accountable to this structure?

And then, ultimately, how do we get the miners to adopt whatever is going on? So I would imagine there would be some sort of entity that would source all the ideas, and interests, and concerns of the community, to kind of really understand the general will of the Bitcoin commonwealth.

[59:32] John: I think that should be an entity of the highest moral character, and I actually think that they should elect ME as the sovereign.

Ian: [laughter]

John: The Bitcoin sovereign. I mean, I actually wouldn't mind if anybody wants to throw it out there that we have a referendum vote, and I'm voted in as the emperor of the Bitcoin world. That wouldn't offend me in any way at all, because I have the strong moral fiber and character to keep this ship pointed in the right direction.

Ian: I would say if you were to be willing to pull a George Washington, of sorts, and from the beginning set a term limit for yourself, that's something that I think the community would find compelling, and I would be inclined to support that. Because then we know we can trust that you don't have long term aspirations to be running this thing for 30 years, or whatever. You just want to see it through this critical period of governance formation for the next couple of years.

[60:22] John: Couple of years. You know what I always wonder, Ian? Why are there no governments run strictly by referendum? That may be a very naive question, but if you have anybody who's interested in weighing in on an issue, they weigh in on the issue, and then we tally those, and it's by referendum vote. It's not by representation. I'm talking about a true democracy, where the majority would rule, even if it was just 51% right? Or just over 50%. But why is that so infrequently employed?

I mean, you DO see that with propositions, locally, right? " Vote on Proposition whatever. " Well, those are actual votes that are tallied. Now, if they're using the Diebold machines, they get to take these little computers and files. Someone takes them in their car, and they take them to " Stop #1 " , before they go to " Stop #2 " and then " Stop #3 " . What's happening at one, two and three, God only knows.

[61:24] But assuming that we could have an actual paper trail, and actually have some kind of voting mechanism, or machines that would accurately tally the votes, and that was transparent, and that we could all see it, and that it was basically as transparent as the blockchain. Isn't that a possibility? Can't we actually all vote? All of us people who want to weigh in and vote, can't we vote?

I mean, why couldn't all of the people who wanted to vote about the new members of the Bitcoin Foundation, why couldn't that be EVERYBODY. Why couldn't we set that up to be EVERYBODY in the Bitcoin world? Wasn't that limited to Bitcoin Foundation members? I mean, is that not ironic? Or am I missing something?

Ian: Oh, it's completely ironic. And I think, to answer your final question first, " Why don't we have that to begin with? " The political condition in which Bitcoin was birthed, and introduced to the world, was basically monarchist. Satoshi had all of the moral authority. He's the one who had the passcodes. He had well-reasoned and well-articulated points, and he would make concessions to people, and he would change his mind, and he would give credit to others when they built stuff. So by all means I think he was a pretty effective leader for being this avatar behind a computer somewhere.

John: Yeah.

[62:37] Ian: But it was birthed into this state of monarchy, and everybody coalesced around the king, and then he disappears, right? So he abandoned, but he did it without putting in place a tenable and reliable political structure. So now the community has to build it for itself. Because if it doesn't build it for itself, again, you're just going to be locked out of the discussion. Some elites that have asserted themselves early on are going to continue to control the direction of this thing. And again, just more and more foundations are going to come up and try to claim that they are the ones speaking on the part of Bitcoin.

John: There's part of me that can't help but think - and I know I'm not alone - that Satoshi is this wise old man who knows so much, and who is such a master at the game of chess that he could see into the future. He could see 2010, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15... on up to 2040.

[63:28] He could see what was going to happen. He could see that around this time in spring of 2015 the price would be low, and what that would do is take the regulatory heat off, and take the interest from investors off, and allow startups to get their core work going, and it would allow the other competition - Bitshares to come in, and Etherium to come in and finish their projects. In other words, it would allow people time to do the important work of Bitcoin, and then, he knows, that once that important work is done, and the foundation is laid, and we have this core protocol, or these core protocols, then the rise of Bitcoin all the way to the moon. [laughter]

I like to think that there's some wise - but you know, the reason why I like to think that is because I know that I PERSONALLY don't have any control over it. And the idea that there IS something, someone, who knows more than me, who has some power, who can make things turn out good for all of us.

[64:29] That concept is so appealing from a political, religious, social, psychological perspective. I want so badly to know that there is someone there in the back room, the man behind the curtains. Some core devs that are working on things that are just going to blow the lid off of this government ripping us off, and Wall Street organized crime. I just love to think that there's some powerful force that's going to lift us up and save us here in the 11th hour, before World War III starts. Right before World War III starts we'll get saved.

Ian: Well, on the topic on Satoshi - and I do want to circle back to your earlier question about just democracy and referendum voting, etc. As far as Satoshi goes, I agree that he was obviously a very intelligent person. He understood the technology. I don't think anyone doubts that he's a genius. He also had really principled social views. He recognized this super-structure of the global financial system that had this arbitrary authority.

[65:27] Do we want to live in a situation where a handful of central and private banks literally control the financial fate of the world? His answer was, " No, and I'm going to do something about it by building an alternative. "

John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: But I think on some level his story has been a little bit mythologized. There's sort of this quasi-religious foundation myth, and that's part of the appeal of this whole thing, that sort of mystery. But to your latter point about wanting to believe in a person like Satoshi, yeah I think that speaks to a really valid and real psychological drive. But we have to be aware of the fact that wishing something into existence does not mean it will come.

At the end of the day, just as Satoshi tried to take control of his destiny by building Bitcoin, the community that has now engaged in his project needs to take control of this technology by building out some sort of political structure which is actually reliable enough.

[66:20] John: Yeah.

Ian: I'd like to go back to your question about referendums and direct democracy. This is one of those questions, one of those lines, that is very short, relatively, but you're opening up this HUGE tradition of intellectual thought, and so many different discussions and viewpoints. Just a few high level thoughts to be concise about, to just give you some food for thought on that.

First, I would like to appeal to David Hume, one of the great enlightenment philosophers. He writes that ALL government: dictatorships, democracies, it doesn't matter. They're all based on the consent of the governed. Because at any point people can just wake up in the morning and say, " You know what. We're not going listen to the king now. We're going to revolt. " So there's either explicit consent, in more representative and democratic systems, or there's implicit consent, when people are just tolerating the situation. But at the end of the day the power really is vested in the people, and the government knows that. Now that doesn't necessarily apply to Bitcoin, because the power in the Bitcoin community is among the mining coalitions, and the entrance costs are really high there for people like you and I. And then also among the core developers; the entrance costs are EVEN HIGHER there, because we're not going to study cryptography for 10 years, or whatever.

[67:27] But then on the question of representativeness, that really strikes also interesting debate on what is the role of representation? You can take, sort of, a Hannah Arendtian view, which is [that] political representation is a form of labor specialization. And in an economy, if you're not doing all of the functions that you need to survive, you specialize and sell whatever your work is, and then you buy the goods that are specialized by other people.

And similarly, we have a specialized class that's handling politics, right? You can take, sort of, an Edmond Burke analysis, where he really BELIEVES that the representatives are this higher class, that's more noble, and more refined, and more capable of governance, and therefore we need to trust the elites. John: [laughter]

Ian: You can take a federalist reading. You know, Hamilton, Madison and Jaye. They believed that representatives need to temper the popular passions of the masses, and to inform and educate and guide their thinking.

[68:23] So the Bitcoin community gets to have the possibility of engaging in a really exciting conversation about what THEY want their form of representation to be. Because I don't think anybody really wants direct democratic decision on all decisions. That's just not going to be efficient, and I think people recognize that.

But if we have this entity that is sourcing the opinions and the thoughts of the community, and that entity employs the core developers , so [that] they speak to the core developers, [and] learn about the technical constrains and technical considerations that we may not be aware of, that would definitely influence our judgement. And that representative body, in turn, reflects that back to the community so that we can become more educated in our thought process.

And on some level you can't eliminate trust. On some level you have to trust that they're NOT trying to manipulate us into forming bad opinions, or whatever.

John: The problem is that people can be bribed, [and] lobbied. They can have a nice sit down lunch in a little bistro, and an envelope is passed under the table, or passed under the napkin, or whatever.

[69:26] It's funny. I think a lot of the political theorists of the past, and philosophers of the past, that spoke about politics. I think that if we could go back in time and show them a film of the future and say, " By the way, in the year 2015 EVERYBODY will have AT LEAST one of these boxes called a " television " , and that will be the way that the state will influence them. " I think that they would chuck a lot of their political theories out the window. Because so much of what we forget is that public opinion is now manufactured. The manufacturing of consent is by way of getting people to believe in certain things, and it doesn't necessarily have to be that you get them to believe in what you want them to believe in. You just have to get them to believe that their sports team is the best thing out there, and so distract them away from the fact that you're invading a sovereign nation, let's say. [laughter]

[70:30] You know? So there [are] so many different ways to manipulate people using the television, and using the computer, and using radio, that so many of the political theories that didn't take these technological advances into account in their theorizing. They're really kind of behind because these are major events in world history, such that the idea that you have people that are basically still free, if they will get up and revolt, if they will, en masse, move in this direction or move in that direction.

Well the SAD thing is that they ARE being moved en masse by the television, by what they hear. They're told what to buy, and they refer to THEMSELVES as consumers, and they have a whole way of thinking about the world and about reality that has very little to do with their day-to-day lives. But they're still stuck in this fantasy television, " I've got to do this sort of world. " to the detriment of their own families and their own children, because they're letting the whole thing slip away while they're busy watching television, and being conditioned, and being misinformed. It's a very sad situation we find ourselves in.

[71:43] Ian: Yeah. Well there's an author you might be interested in. Her name is Nadia Urbinati, and she's a political theorist at Columbia University. She published a book, relatively recently, called " Democracy Disfigured " ( ), and she basically articulates the same point you're trying to make, which is [that] in her estimation there's these two - I don't remember the exact term she used - verticals that influence our political structure.

So one is, on the actual structural level, how the government is designed. The other one is sort of the apolitical realm of opinion formation, and how people engage that government. And [in] her estimation, we look at the dramatically dysfunctional and non-representative, and frankly CORRUPT political system that we live in, and it doesn't align with what we want to believe democracy is. So democracy has become disfigured, and it's not because STRUCTURALLY it's broken down, it's because the mechanisms for forming public opinion and public ideation have become distorted. Therefore, our population is polarized, and we're electing extremes on both sides, and just nothing gets done.

[72:56] I would like to make one more point though, because once again to the question of democracy. Why not more direct democracy. I think on one level democracy has been historically constrained by just geography. The Athenian landed aristocracy could come together and have debates and vote, because they were all within the same proximity of each other.

And when the United States was founded, it REALLY WAS this bold, political experiment. People didn't know if Republicanism could happen throughout such a large geography; that [it] would just be POSSIBLE for such a disparate and diverse group of people to be able to make decisions as one.

And at times it got messy, right? Like we had the civil war, and we've had plenty of disagreements throughout the history of our country. But now, the world is so different, and it's because of this superstructure that's completely changed the way we communicate and share information. It's the internet.

[73:49] John: Mmm...Hmm.

Ian: And so I'm interested, as a theorist, [in the question of] " Are we actually able now to seriously enter this new realm of governance, opening up a new dimension of political structure where we can HAVE more democratic and inclusive experience, because we're no longer bound by the limits of our geography. " So there's this one author whom I really love. His name is Vaclav Havel ( ), and he was Czechoslovakian. He was a playwright, a political dissident. He ended up becoming the president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic after 1989, when it was liberalized. [He was] this AMAZING individual. He's this kind of person who's not just this great theorist, but he's also a doer. He takes his ideas into practice.

And he has this book called " The Power and the Powerless " , and towards the end of it he talks about the " Parallel Polis " , and " Post Democracy " . So he's growing up under totalitarianism, specifically a communist regime, and he identifies the Parallel Polis as this sort of external political structure that emerges OUTSIDE of the responsibility or domain of formal governance.

[74:59] But it's legitimate to the extent that people engage it on their own terms, and they have a floor where they can authentically represent and express themselves. So he'll point to things like student movements, and music festivals, and trade unions, as these external structures that people can organize themselves outside of the direct domain of democracy.

So really when I think about Bitcoin [it] seems to me to be a sort of Parallel Polis. Right?

John: Yeah.

Ian: Nobody asked the government for permission to build this thing, but it was built. In Havel's estimation the Parallel Polis exerts influence on the ACTUAL political structure. So it can incentivize and accrue the dialogue that pushes it to its reform.

[75:46] Although he does encourage people to be wary of halfway measures, that are just meant to appease the public, but aren't that legitimate reforms. Or, it could completely USURP the formal establishment, and it replaces it with this new structure.

And so we have Bitcoin, I think, [as] this Parallel Polis, and so it opens up this broader question which he raises, which is, " Can we perhaps have a post-democratic system? " ... Um, excuse me one second...

John: Sure.

[background conversation between Ian and administrator in his office]

[76:50] John: Oh man, there's the voice of authority once again.

Ian: Yeah. You know, I hate being condescended to, and I definitely have authority issues. So it's like, I'm 25. I'm not going to destroy this room. I'm not having sex in here. I'm literally just having an interview, so leave me the fuck alone.

John: But you DID make a copy of that key, didn't you? [laughter]

Ian: No, and I don't need it. Look, coercion happens in many different forms, and it's not just institutions, it's [also] relationships, right?

John: I wish I could play that whole thing on the show, [but] I won't.

Ian: If you want to. I mean, I don't mind.

John: I mean, if you wanted me to play that on the show I think it's actually hilarious. Even me talking about playing it on the show.

Ian: Yeah, it serves as an interesting illustration. It's like a micro instance of authoritative coercion. In my case I consented to it. I wasn't going to argue, because that wasn't going to accomplish anything, you know?

John: Exactly.

Ian: But right. I mean, did I appreciate that? No.

[77:50] John: What I've told me friend recently is that somebody can say something to you in a condescending way, [or] in a rude way, trying to tell you what to do, or what not to do, or just saying something rude to you. But the key is - what YOU did - to respond... They're the stimulus, and then you have a period of time after that stimulus to decide - microseconds maybe, or 10 seconds - while they're talking. You have the freedom in this period of time to choose how you respond. You can choose to be noble and virtuous in your response, and respectful. Or you can choose to be just as bad as they were. And if you choose the latter then that's the old thing - another thing Kirk Brown used to say to me - " Johnny Barrett, two wrongs don't make a right! "

[78:43] I say that to my friend every once in a while, [when] somebody is texting on their phone, and she wants me to pull the car up next to them so she can unroll the window and say, " You son of a bitch! You're not supposed to be texting, you asshole! " And, of course, if she does that then I tell her " That's two wrongs. " I'll quote Kirk brown, you know. " Two wrongs don't make a right, Johnny Barrett. " So I think that your response to her was appropriate, and I think that that's important for people to know that you're not going to get anywhere by having an inappropriate response, or a condescending response back to them. Being polite is the best way to go. Then down the road, if you can slip in the back door, and send a note here or there, and get them fired - no, I'm just kidding. One of the greatest revenges, really - and I'm not into revenge - but if someone has really, really done something to harm you, of course you want to go hit them, or do something physical, and we know that's not the answer.

[79:43] So one of the greatest things is [to] just get their phone number. Just get their phone number, and just start posting flyers around town, " Free pitbull puppies " .

Ian: I like that. I might have to pull that one.

John: Yeah, but you've got to make it specific, You've got to say, " I work the graveyard shift, so please call after 3 am. " [laughter] You know? So anyway, I think you handled that very well.

Ian: Thank you. You've got to pick and choose your battles. I've found that fucks that you can give is a finite resource. You can't give a fuck about everything, otherwise you're just always upset. So you've got to be selective about it.

John: So let me ask you, Yale University is there in New Haven, Connecticut. What's that like? Is it pretty nice?

Ian: Yeah, [in] THIS time of the year the university is REALLY nice, because it's Spring, the snow has melted, and the weather is nice. In some ways I kind of have mixed feelings [about Yale], because I've had some AMAZING faculty, and just some amazing classroom experiences. Everybody in the student body is just so interesting, and passionate, and talented. So it's an environment where I very much feel challenged, but not intimidated by my peers, which I think is a good balance.

[80:52] At the same time there's a lot of cultural standards to the school that I don't appreciate. I think there is just really strong conformist pressures. I think the majority of the student body [self-selects] to get into these kinds of schools in the first place, and the student body is very much driven by a desire for status and achievement, and also a fear of failure. So they come in all excited to change the world, and then they leave working for Goldman Sachs.

John: Yeah.

Ian: So at some point along the way, the conformist pressures just catch up to people. Then there are issues that I've had with the administration. But at the end of the day I feel that I really don't have much right to complain, because as far as academic institutions go, it doesn't get much better than Yale.

John: Yeah.

Ian: So it's just been a blessing here, and I've grown so much as a person, [and] as a thinker. And now I'm a month away from graduating, so I'm excited to step out into the world.

[81:45] John: Oh, wow. A month away. Now what are your plans after graduation?

Ian: Well, I have a startup that I'm running. It's called Prepd ( ), and we've built first-to-market software for speech and debate teams. So that's definitely going to consume a lot of my time. I plan on going to business school at some point in a few years. I've been pre-admitted to Harvard and Stanford business. So next week I get to go and check out the admit week into those campuses, which should be a lot of fun.

So, I don't know. Life is a journey, and I just think that if I follow my excitement that will lead me to my passion, and hopefully I'll be able to do some cool stuff along the way.

John: Oh nice. So you said you've been offered " deferred admissions " to Harvard business school. Deferred admissions, does that mean they're letting you in free?

Ian: No. It means that I am guaranteed a spot in a future class. So I'm not actually able to matriculate this coming year, in this fall. [But] within two to four years from now I can go to Harvard or Stanford. So I have to be out working for a couple of years until I'm able to start business school.

[82:43] John: Okay, and that's a pretty big word, " matriculate " . That's not to be confused, listeners, with the word " masticate " . Two completely different concepts there. Well, Ian, it has been great talking to you. We did cover a ton of ground.

How is the Bitcoin community there in New Haven? Is there a Bitcoin community? Do you all have Bitcoin meetups there?

Ian: No,actually. It's funny you mention that. I mean, as far as student groups, I haven't seen a lot of activity. I'll tell you this though. Whenever I end up stumbling into a conversation about Bitcoin - because this time of the year we're always asking each other what our research is on - people are very, very, very intrigued, and they want to learn more about Bitcoin.

I think typically those conversations are like, " Oh, cool, you're studying democratic reform in whatever country from 1982 to... " You know? [But} when I talk about Bitcoin people are really intrigued, and I've been able to have some really awesome conversations. So I think the community wants to learn more, but it's just [that] beyond basic awareness of it there still isn't a lot of understanding really what the technology represents.

[83:43] And even broadening of the blockchain as this ownership protocol that could change the fabric of society on the same level that the internet once did - or HAS been doing - to me that's just really exciting. When I start to share the larger ambitions of this whole technology, people are really impressed with what is going on.

It's exciting. I mean, who knows how this is going to evolve. A futurist can't REALLY predict the future. They TRY, but they don't do a great job of it. If you think about the change that's happened over the past 100 years, as far as the sociotechnical order, [and] what the world was like at the beginning of the 20th century, as opposed to what it is like now, at the beginning of the 21st century. It's completely unrecognizable from what it was just 100 years ago.

And so if we kind of project onto the future, no one REALLY knows what's going to end up happening at the end of the day, but I think it's a safe bet to say that the world is going to be fundamentally different from our own. And I'm inclined to think that the blockchain is going to play a big role in that.

[84:42] But it remains to be seen whether or not Bitcoin ultimately will have that long term persistence to really drive that up. It MIGHT, but I do think that if the community can come together, and build out a representative, accountable, transparent, and efficient decision-making protocol that takes the form of a minimalist state within the community, I think it will have a better chance of succeeding in the long term, because it will do a better job of responding to problems, and coordinating strategy.

John: I agree. And listeners, I hope that SOMEBODY out there is going to find a way for us to have this forum that Ian is referring to, to have this public meeting, this town hall even, or series of events, online, [as] I assume it would be. But it could start as something that is a conference, of sorts, where it's just a meeting of minds, and we basically organize our own legislature, or whatever is required. Of course, on the other side you have people saying, " No. No. No. No. No. It has to be completely decentralized. "

[85:42] But we're human beings, and we're social creatures, and communication is so very important. And I think that, like you're talking about, at some point we are going to have to have some kind of governance, in SOME way, to protect the Bitcoin core development. I don't see any way around that, really. But, so hey, It's Friday! It's the weekend. What do people there at Yale University do on the weekends. Is there a Greek... are their fraternities and sororities? Are these intellectual kids who will eventually be working for Goldman Sachs, [on] Friday night are they just going to party their asses off. [Is} Friday night, smoking lots of pot, dropping acid, taking mushrooms, drinking lots of beer, keggers. Are you going to a kegger tonight?

Ian: I am so immersed in my research and writing. I've got to submit my thesis next week. So I'm going to be working the whole weekend. I think a lot of people are in a similar boat right now.

John: Oh man. You're going to miss the keggers this weekend?

[86:36] Ian: Well, this weekend I think is going to be pretty low key, because it is the end of the semester. Next weekend we have a " Spring Flight " , which is a student concert. So that is going to be an opportunity for most of the student body - which frankly, a lot the students here don't have a LOT of experience with alcohol and drugs - but next week will be the week for experimentation for a lot of people.

John: Wow. You call it " Spring Fling " . I mean, that has such as nice, innocent sound to it, until they break out the LSD, and the mushrooms, and the kegs. They tap the kegs, and it's like, " Spring Fling dudes! "

Ian: [laughter] There's really not a lot of hard drugs on campus here. I think it's going to be limited to weed and alcohol for most people.

John: Well that's a good thing.

Ian: That's fine.

John: [laughter] Well, it sounds nice. I'm glad it's springtime there. I'm glad the snow has melted. I know that was a pretty heavy winter you guys had. And Ian, it's been great talking with you. Listeners, we have been talking with Ian Panchev, who is a political scientist from Yale University, and who is working on a research paper, I believe. What is the title of your paper?

[87:42] Ian: The tentative title is " Immaterial World: The Virtual Politics of Bitcoin " . And I do plan to self-publish it once it's done, towards the end of the month. So hopefully we can circle back, and I can share with you the web destination in it. I just want to invite the community to read it, and question it, and challenge it, and present ideas. I hope that perhaps that paper might be able to initiate some conversation.
And then just one last point, as far as a destination for having discussion about the political future of Bitcoin. I would really like to encourage your audience to check out . It's started by this team in Argentina. They're currently in YCombinator ( ), and they're building out a technology platform for crowdsourcing, political conversation, voting. They're actually trying to re-architect - as far as I understand - their voting mechanism so it can run on Bitcoin's blockchain specifically.

[88:44] Ian: So I think it's really, really great technology. I'd encourage your audience to check it out. I actually started the handle So hopefully at some point in your future that might be a destination for people to coalesce and have some conversation.

John: Well, Ian, that is all very exciting stuff, and I would definitely like to revisit this with you when your paper is published. I hope you will keep in touch and definitely let us know how we can get a hold of that paper, because it sounds fascinating.

Thank you so much for taking time to be on the show. Good luck with everything at Yale. I know you are going to do well. You are a very intelligent, articulate young man, and I realize appreciate you taking the time to be on the show.

Ian: Well thank you so much for the kind words, and for having me on as a guest. I very much look forward to continuing the conversation with you, and others in the near future.

John: Alright. Sounds great. Take care, Ian.

Ian: Have a good one.

John: You too, man. Bye.

Ian: Bye.

[Segway music]

[89:55] John: A quick announcement. Also, a good friend of mine, Elise Peterson, the owner of is looking for an easy way to send money around the world using Bitcoin. So listeners, if you have information for Elise, please email her via at Or open up a discussion with all of us in the show notes at :

By the way, is a fantastic source of for fair trade teas directly from the growers. Elise and other good folks at work tirelessly to help empower people working in the tea trade around the world. But the best thing about is that they accept Bitcoin and Litecoin payments. Thanks for your question Elise, and I think, if I'm not mistaken, it's " tea time "

[90:48] John: I got a tip last week from one of our listeners named Derick. Derick has started a web site called . I checked it out, and it looks like a great resource for finding out more about Bitcoin. Where to buy Bitcoin, and pretty much EVERYTHING having to do with, that's right, Bitcoin. That's .

And that brings us to the magic word today, which is " much " - M - U - C - H - as in the sentence, " I checked out the , and from what I can tell it seems to be a great resource. "

And great news, listeners. Our transcription page is now live on the web site, thanks to the continuing hard work of one of our loyal listeners, who is also a consultant to the show. These professional transcriptions are provided by one of our fans, who can be found at :

And, of course, you can find a link to this web site in the weekly show notes.

[91:49] And if you've enjoyed the show, please take a minute to scan my QR code, or copy my public key, and send me $0.50 in Bitcoin. If you'll do this every once in a while it will help me out more than you know. Folks, it's not easy being a podcast host, trust me. Putting in 10 hours each week to produce the show sometimes takes its toll. Remember that giving someone a small tip in Bitcoin is what makes Bitcoin folks stand out in this world.

I know, personally, that whenever I give a tip to someone on Reddit, or Let's Talk Bitcoin, or one of the forums, I feel better about myself knowing that I've given back just a little to help that [person continue creating] great content.

And signing off now from East Nashville, Tennessee. I'm John Barrett, with my dog Maxwell. Say goodbye, Maxwell.

Maxwell: Grr...

John: Join us again next week for another episode of Bitcoins and Gravy, and until then y'all be good to each other out there. And remember, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.

[92:54] Do something y'all.

[music interlude]

[93:52] Ian: In the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx has this amazing line where he's describing capital, and he described it as this evil spirit that the sorcery conjured up from the netherworld, and has become too powerful for the sorcerer to control now. And the Norman Heidegger takes that line and he repurposes it, and uses it to describe technology, that it's kind of run away from us now, and taken on its own deterministic life. I think Bitcoin kind of fits that analogy pretty well, or it can.

So yeah, I really admire the technology, but I think it needs to be guided properly. Hopefully the community can coalesce around something that makes sense while staying true to their values.

[94:35] [interlude music]

[95:15] [music and lyrics to " Ode to Satoshi " song]

John Barrett: Now climb aboard y'all! This train is bound for glory... and there's plenty of room for all...

“Well Satoshi Nakamoto, that's a name I love to say,
And we don't know much about him, but he came to save the day.
When he wrote about the way things are,
And the way things ought to be,
He gave us all a protocol this world had never seen.

Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.

[guitar instrumental]

[96:01] Down the road it will be told about the Death of Old Mount Gox,
About traders trading alter coins, and miners mining blocks.
But them good old boys back in Illinois,
And on down through Tennessee,
See they don't care to be a millionaire,
They're just wanting to be free.

Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old Blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.

[instrumental interlude]

From the ghettos of Calcutta, to the halls of Parliament,
While the bankers count our money out for every government.
Oh, Bitcoin flies on through the skies of virtuality,
A promise to deliver us from age-old tyranny.

[97:04] Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your -- " Give me some exposure " --
Everybody knows your name.

Oh Lord, pass me some more,
Oh Lord, before I have to go.
Oh Lord, pass me some more,
Oh Lord ... before I have to ...
Go ...

[instrumental finale]


John: Oh-ho! Thank you East Nashville! Y'all be good to each other out there, ya' hear?