TL;DR: Economist Max Gulker and his brilliant essay is the subject of our interview. He writes at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), and he’s has come up with a theory as to how to think about Bitcoin and its development. It’s a pretty original idea, and involves famed reformer Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation, and Gutenberg (Gulker took inspiration from the incredible book, Brand Luther by Andrew Pettegree). This episode is available embedded in the article below, and on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public, Breaker, PocketCasts, PodBean, YouTube for Newer Episodes, YouTube Older Episodes, and Overcast.
What Martin Luther Can Teach Bitcoiners
German religious reformer Martin Luther holds a key place in Western development. He’s credited with what eventually become the Protestant Reformation, literally a fork of the Roman Catholic Church, a protest against the old order.
He’s also, according to economist Max Gulker of AIER, a catalyst for what we understand to be the popularly written word. Most folks give that honor to Gutenberg and his printing press, movable type. Gulker acknowledges as much, but places the real historic technological headwind on the machinations of Luther many years later.
It turns out the printing press wasn’t really that popular during its initial period. The devices made their way around wealthy patrons, but more or less stalled in being any kind of popular technological upheaval.
Luther’s later claim to bring the Bible to more laity and away from the cleric class, along with printing it in the vernacular, was, to Gulker, what eventually gave the printing press its main use case. There are parallels to what Bitcoin is now and how the ecosystem believes it “knows” how it should be used or which cryptocurrency will take off in terms of adoption. Gulker’s eventual argument is a cautionary theory about maximalism and the hubris that comes from over-valuing present-day notions. This is a really fun and thought-provoking episode.
00:00 Max Gulker, PhD
05:40 Edward Stringham, Jeffrey Tucker
08:10 Inspiration, Brand Luther
12:05 Who was Martin Luther?
13:15 Gutenberg and the printing press — the next cool thing
14:40 The printing press bubble
17:40 The catalyst
21:25 Different use case: best selling author, cosmetics
25:20 Technological use is not obvious
26:30 Bitcoin as an evolutionary learning process
28:40 The internet didn’t just fall from the sky, neither did Bitcoin
30:30 Reformation parallels to Bitcoin forks
31:50 BTC maximalists are central planners, protectionists; network effect fallacy
34:00 Shouting at cryptocurrencies is futile in a free society
35:00 Bitcoin is just at its start, historically
36:05 Mass extinction events sober thoughts of inevitability
39:20 Tsunami movement or small cracks?
40:25 Medium of exchange versus digital gold
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