Daily Balajisms – Crypto is for power users and the powerless
Become power users to avoid becoming powerless – by getting to the bitcoin life boat.
Vaclav Havel once talked about the power of the powerless, referring to the greengrocer who falsified his preferences by putting up a "Workers of the world, unite!" poster in his shop window to avoid trouble. Slavoj Žižek talked about the "I would prefer not to" attitude of internal exit from the empire.
Balaji Srinivasan takes it further by inverting basic premises with statements like "true charity is investment." This approach can make moral innovations scalable and accelerate both technological and moral progress, making actual exit possible.
Balaji goes beyond just introducing new concepts like moral innovations in the form of The One Commandment, startup societies, network unions/archipelagos/states. He wants to build an actual on-chain off-ramp for both the counter-elites and the powerless of the world, including those fleeing persecution in China and cancellation in the US or people using crypto in places like Venezuela or Lebanon to make ends meet.
Crypto is not for the median person in the West yet because it is still very early, like the internet was in 2000. But Balaji believes crypto is definitely for power-users and the powerless. Some people like CZ, the founder of Binance, can be both at the same time, a power-user and the powerless, disliked by the US and Chinese establishment.
Balaji distinguishes between money-rich and power-rich people, where very often, money doesn't buy you power. Tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk might be billionaires, but they had to flee dysfunctional San Francisco for Texas or Miami, choosing exit over voice or loyalty because they are not power-rich or political billionaires.
Balaji has another powerful mental model of founding versus inheriting or built-rich versus born-rich. Political heirs or people who inherit family businesses are legitimate but often incompetent because they haven't built their backlinks over time but inherited them all at once.
The internet increases variance and teaches regular people to act like venture capitalists, according to Balaji. One day someone's tweet can go super-viral and make them a hero, while the next day, the same person might get canceled for some gauche remark.
People like moderation and moderators (smart regulators), but they don't like mediocrity and mid-wit hall monitors. The internet is retribalizing the world, says Balaji. The old establishment and wokeified institutions are chasing away the best and brightest, turning the power-users into the powerless.
Decentralized tech innovations like AI, Crypto, and Social, with new communities around moral innovations, can provide an exit from the old world. Crypto is to the US what America was to Europe, a new frontier, says Balaji.
Ending the Fed is impractical because it's a central node with many backlinks. However, bitcoin made exiting the Fed possible. Similarly, Balaji explains that ending the FDA is impractical, but network states can make exiting the FDA possible through smart regulation.
We are in a Financial Crisis 2.0, where many people will need to become power-users to avoid becoming powerless – by getting to the bitcoin life boat when it is still possible – like in Venezuela or Lebanon.