Svetski (Founder of The Bitcoin Times) rejoins me on the show to chat about what he’s working on lately: 

  • The Bitcoin Times as a new annual bitcoin publication
  • How and why he got into Austrian economics
  • How bitcoin changes our time preference
  • Explaining Bitcoin
  • Playing the long game with bitcoin adoption



Stephan Livera links:

Podcast Transcript:

Stephan Livera – 00:00:08:

Hi, you’re listening to Stephan Livera podcast, a show about bitcoin and Austrian economics brought to you by Swan Bitcoin. Now, today I’m speaking again with Alex Svetski, who has been been on the show before. But today we’re talking about his new product, the Bitcoin Times. And this is a special one for us because it’s an Austrian themed edition. So, of course, as you know, I’m a big fan of Austrian economics, so I had to get him on to chat about it. Now, as we come up to the holiday season, it’s time to think about gifting Swan fixes. This swan has a gifting product available. So you can use this to gift bitcoin to your family or friends. It’s Now, the product works this way. You sign up with the platform, you. Assign an amount of fiat, you send that to your friends and family, they get notified through an email and then they sign up and then they convert. that fiat into bitcoin. Now, you’re not just gifting bitcoin, you’re also gifting the gift of Swan’s ongoing customer service and support. It’s world class. Some of the testimonials are fantastic, so I’m just going to read some. Very good and fast, as usual. Another one is solid answers from Real People. Got to love it. And thirdly, Swan support is awesome. Very responsive. So if you want to give the gift of bitcoin and the gift of education about bitcoin, go to When it comes to bitcoin security and hardware, is the website to go visit. Now, they have a really cool product called the Tapsigner. This is just like a credit card but it’s actually a bitcoin hardware device and it has NFC enabled, meaning you can use it to tap with your phone and on wallets such as Nunchuck. So it’s very easy to use. It comes in at a cheaper price point. It’s about $44. This can be part of your multi signature or maybe a smaller hot wallet. Or potentially for somebody in the developing world who needs a cheaper device, Tapsigner is a fantastic option to consider. Or of course, if you want the top of the line device, the Coldcard MK four, you can get all of this over use code livera for a discount on your Coldcards. Now, if you’re in the market for a Bitcoin and Liquid wallet, Green is Blockstream’s. industry leading phone and desktop wallet gain access to powerful features such as multisignature security, full node verification and Tor support. So  the multi signature shield, you hold one key on your device. Another is held on Blockstream servers as the two factor authentication. And you can have a time lock or a third backup key to ensure you retain full ownership of your funds. You can also use this wallet in single signature mode if that’s what you prefer. And it has integrations with hardware walls such as Blockstream Jade, Ledger and Trezor. So if you’re interested in this. It’s available for iOS, Android or desktop. Go to And now onto the show with Szvetski. Svetski, welcome back to the show.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:03:01:

Good to see you again, buddy. It’s been a while.

Stephan Livera – 00:03:03:

Yeah, it has. It has. Since you been on the show, of course, we’ve been seeing each other at some various bitcoin conferences and events around Australian refugees. That’s right. I’m running in every other country. Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I guess there’s these networks, right, of like, Aussie bitcoin is out there and you sort of end up running into each other out and about. I ran into some down at El Salvador as well, actually, and some at Pacific bitcoin also. Anyway, let’s get into

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:03:36:

 I was just going to say, I think we’ve actually caught up more overseas than we did ever in Australia, I think.

Stephan Livera – 00:03:41:

Yeah, I think we did, actually.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:03:43:

I’m pretty sure we have. Yeah, that’s fine. Anyway, let’s get into it.

Stephan Livera – 00:03:48:

I know you’ve got the bitcoin times, which has been running for some time, and we’ve got the Austrian edition. Obviously, as a longtime fan of Austrian economics, we had to chat about this one. So let’s start with a little bit about why start the bitcoin times. Like, what is this and why start it?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:04:06:

Yeah, cool. So the original how it sort of emerged was I got invited to speak at this blockchain conference in Sydney, actually. Do you remember what are they called? Wholesale investor, if you remember those guys.

Stephan Livera – 00:04:23:

I don’t know them, but you go on.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:04:25:

Yes. So they’re kind of like a capital raising forum and they put on events for people to basically come and raise money. And anyway, in 2017, I went there because I was founding Amber and I needed to raise money. And it was funny, I was the only bitcoin company there and the whole conference was full of people launching ICOs. But you name it. Like there was ICOs for toasters. ICOs for everything. And I was like, the only bitcoin company. And we had no token, no nothing. We’re just raising Equity novel concept here. And I got on stage and I buried the notion of ICOs is like the biggest scam ever. And I remember what happened. There was like, everyone I bifurcated the room. Basically, like, half the room was like, we’re going to kill you. And the other half of the room was like, finally someone got up and said something that made sense. I don’t know what the hell these people have been talking about for the last two days. Like, why am I buying tokens? Why can’t I buy the company? Right? So anyway, the event organizers, like, he was watching me in the back of the room and I saw his face went white, and afterwards he’s like, look, please never come to our event again. Right? So anyway, a year later was when obviously all the ICO stuff blew up and everything and I got this sheepish email from him saying, look, I know I said some bad things last time, but it turned out you were right about ICOs, and thank you for saying what you did. We’ve had a lot of really good feedback. So look, this year we’re doing another conference, but do it’s. No ICOs. This year it’s about blockchains. I’m sure you understand that. That’s going to change a lot. I was like, you’re going to be kidding me. So I went to this conference, and again, my talk was, blockchain is dead. The future is on Lightning. And that was the whole premise of the talk. But I didn’t tell him what I was going to talk about. I was like, yeah, you’re not going to talk about how the bitcoin blockchain is the most important. He’s like, oh, that’ll be good. We’ve got all these other blockchains there, and it would be good to give people a different point of view. So I had all this stuff I wanted to say, but it was too much for my talk. I only had 30 minutes. So I took all of it and I packed it into, like, a PDF that we gave out on the day. And it was this kind of like 30 pages worth of just why blockchain is wrong. They kind of broke it down into the three broken promises of a blockchain, which the whole point is like, security, but you remove the proof of work, then you don’t have security. I don’t have to explain to this audience why blockchain is stupid. So anyway, I did all that. I gave the talk again, and it was funny. He was in the back of the room again, and it was the same thing. Like, I put the first letter said, so everyone thinks I’m going to be talking about why the bitcoin blockchain is better, but the reality is, I’m going to tell you why blockchain is the next biggest scam after ICOs in the background again. Anyway, that’s kind of how the bitcoin time started. And we had this pamphlet, and we just came up with a name for the day. We just called it bitcoin times. We handed it out and the feedback was incredible. And after that, we sat down. Maybe we can design this into something nice and give it away as a free PDF. So we did that, and then later that year so end of I think it was 2019 or whatever, I thought, maybe I can do this as a once a year, twice a year, a little collection of essays. So I reached out to Breedlove, to Gigi, to who else was in that first one? Nic Carter, Conner Brown. Who hasn’t seen Connor Brown around for a long time. Rory was in there. Haas was in there, actually. So there were eight essays. It was really good. That was edition two. It was called the Sovereignty Edition. We released that in 2019. Then I did edition three. That was with Jeff Booth and Giacomo and Eric and Jimmy Song and Parker Lewis. That was a solid one. That was probably the most famous one. That one kind of, like, made bitcoin times relatively well known. Then last year I did edition four. That was a New Hope with Tomer, Brandon Quittem, Allen Farrington, Peter St Onge and Craig Warmke. And that was kind of like a forward pacing one. And, yeah, the plan was always to do like a printed collectible, something that people can have and really make it limited edition and design every edition nicely. So it was just I was always too busy with Amber, and then earlier this year, I packed up and finished up sort of my last ties with Australia and with Amber and everything, and I’ve gone double down full content. And, yeah, I’m going to make something of the Bitcoin Times, where it’s an annual once a year publication. We’ll do 21 editions over 21 years. Each one will come with, like, a theme where we bring the best thinkers in bitcoin and look at the theme through the lens of bitcoin and bitcoin through the lens of the theme, which is effectively what this year’s is the Austrian edition. And, yeah, it’ll be 2100. So 2100 of each edition will ever be printed. And they’ll be uniquely numbered on the back. And they’re printed as a really high quality, thick, matte finish collectible. Like, they’re heavy, you can feel it in the quality. And they’re all uniquely numbered. And there’s like six numbers that we’re going to hold for auction. So one of 2100, 2100, 2100. Of course, 1021 of 2100 copy, 21 of 2100. So each addition, those unique copies will be auctioned off. People can get in there and buy the collectibles and we’ll do it on Amazon. There’s the whole plan now, which is to timeless content printed beautifully and available online as a PDF.

Stephan Livera – 00:10:05:


Stephan Livera – 00:10:05:

And so let’s talk a little bit about Austrian economics now. I want to hear a little bit about how you got into Austrian economics and what is it about Austrian economics that appeals to you?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:10:16:

Yeah, so my early journey was I kind of had some sprinkling of Austrian economics back in 2009, 2010, which was post, obviously, GFC, maybe even as early as 2008, actually, with like, I mean, pseudo Austrian economics, but like Mike Malone, the gold bugs and all of that sort of stuff, right. So not real like Misesian or any of that sort of Austrian economics. So while I was at university, I studied civil engineering and I couldn’t sit still, so I took my scholarship money and I placed it on the stock market to try and make a lot of money. Right. And in 2007, I did well, 2008, I got wiped. Actually, no, early 2007, I did well. Late 2007, I got wiped. 2008, I did okay because I learned how to short the market. So it was kind of this whole mishmash. But in the end, anyway, it basically turned into a gambling addiction and I took all my scholarship money and everything I’d made and leveraged and all of this stuff, and I found myself, at the age of 21, about a quarter of a million dollars in debt. And that’s sort of where my entrepreneurial journey kicked off, but also where I first I was, like, reading, what the hell did I do wrong? And then I learnt about QE and money printing and the gold standard and that sort of stuff. I didn’t specifically go down the Austrian rabbit hole at that point. I just related to it. It made sense. I just sort of had this intuition that you just can’t print money that doesn’t make any sense because if the productivity is not increasing, what the hell does the money mean? So all this sort of stuff kind of made sense to me. But life took me on a different set of journeys. I went and started different businesses, really went entrepreneurial. And it wasn’t until Bitcoin again, when I found it in sort of late 2015, 2016 again and started going down that rabbit hole. Initially, as we I mean, I don’t know if we all do this, but definitely for me, the story was I found Bitcoin thought I was going to make millions of dollars, but the more I dug, the more I found something interesting and important here. And it was that that rekindled the Austrian econ stuff for me. And I’d say probably between listening to your podcast, reading Saife’s Book again, and then really in 2019, probably 2020, was when I really moved into, like, actually reading some stuff. So I read my first bit of Rothbard and, yeah, when I read Rothbard, it was like, you know, that meme. It was that kind of moment for me. I was like, what the hell is what the hell have I been missing? What have I been doing? And, yeah, funny, if you look at my Audible Library, I’ve got, like, 400 books in an hour. It was all like, business books and personal development and psychology and thinking. And then all of a sudden you see, like, the first bit of Austrian economics come in like Rothbad, and all of a sudden everything’s like Austrian economics, the whole library just changes. And it’s like sovereign individual when money dies, basically extremists.

Stephan Livera – 00:13:28:

And it’s funny in a way. I mean, what’s seen as, quote unquote, extreme nowadays, of course, this point has been made before, this idea that the window shifts so far that even a normal person from 100 years ago, 150 years ago, the views of that person are just seen as, like, some crazy, radical, extremist person. But the reality is that many people do believe some of these things and we’ll get into some of this around why certain ideas and schools of thought, quote, unquote, one out in the mainstream system as opposed to, let’s say, the Austrian ideas that you and I would like to see propagated around there. So I guess the next question I’ve got is why do an Austrian edition?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:14:08:

Yeah, well, I mean, I think it was funny when I was thinking about what we’re going to do for this year’s theme. I just thought, look, this is the first year I’m really taking the bitcoin time seriously. What is integral to bitcoin? And I don’t think there is anything, I mean, other than the obvious computer science component, but I don’t think anyone wants to sit there and read about cryptography equations in 70 pages of a nicely designed thing. Maybe there is, but maybe there’s a market for that. Maybe, but I just thought Austrian economics is like embedded within bitcoin and bitcoin in many ways, as is argued in in the this edition is a manifestation as a practical application of the Austrian school of thought. And yeah, I just thought, what better topic to relaunch effectively the bitcoin times? And what better group of individuals than people like Saifedean and Pierre and Bitstein, etc. To really fountainhead this edition? Obviously wish I had you in there, but time was a little bit tough and we couldn’t get you squeezed in. But we’ll do an Austrian edition, part two, or maybe the Australian edition, like I told you, you Vijay Kansa or something. But yeah, I think the topic just felt right and I’m so happy with how the essays turned out. We’ve got such a beautiful spread of ideas in here and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Stephan Livera – 00:15:40:

Yeah, that’s great. And obviously I’ve had a chance to read it for listeners, so you’re aware we can talk about some of them and pull out some of the key ideas and just maybe chat a little bit about some of the key insights that were shared. So, for example, Saifedean has got his piece about making time preference low again in this one. And so those of us who are fans of Austrian economics or call ourselves Austrolibertarians, we like a lot of Hoppers thinking in how time preference has this relationship with civilization and that actually people being able to accumulate capital. Is actually what creates what we now know as the nice, peaceful civilization, as opposed to the horrible British short life without these nice things that we all enjoy.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:16:29:

Yeah, I mean, the whole basis of the time preference argument is the basis of the bitcoin fixes this mean, right? And this is sort of what a lot of bitcoin is kind of intuitively understand, even if they can’t articulate it. And people like Hopper, etc. Has, I think, been the best in the world to articulate the central importance of time preference for civilization. If an individual who is a constituent of a civilization cannot in some way, shape or form, like store the excess product of their labor or the value that they create. They can’t save effectively. And without saving, you don’t have civilization. You can’t sort of build a bedrock or a foundation. You can’t move forward. And saving is the thing that allows you to plan for the future, to effectively lower your time preference, because you know you have something moving forward. These things are so interrelated. And that’s kind of where I think you get that light bulb moment with bitcoin, where it’s not a thing that you’re doing to make money or to trade or to any of that sort of stuff. It’s like it’s not just about payments and things like that. This lightbulb moment switches for you when you’re sort of going down that bitcoin rabbit hole where you’re like, holy crap, bitcoin fixes saving. And by fixing saving downstream, it fixes all of civilization. Because now you can lower your time preference. You can think for the future. You can orient yourself towards longer term planning so that you don’t have to just react like an animal every day. You can actually be a human. You can actually think of things that are higher order. I think of all things, and I touched on this, I think in my essay as well. Where the Keynesians kind of I don’t know if you want me to jump on that, but the Keynesians have basically decivilised us by heightening, time preference to such a degree that nobody thinks about the future anymore, no one thinks about any of that sort of stuff anymore. And it’s kind of like animalistic and easy versus, I don’t know, like the hard path.

Stephan Livera – 00:18:34:

Yeah, I think you’re right. There’s something to that. Now it’s a question of whether that’s deliberate or is it more like a mistake, or maybe it’s more like the incentives of the system drove it that way. Right now, we could also talk about this question of Austrian economics as we know, it used to be just economics. Economics went back like, maybe in the 1900s or something like this in the early 1900s. It just was economics. It just shifted over time. So what people get typically taught at schools and universities, this kind of neoclassical Keynesian idea, or the alternative is the Monetarism idea. So that’s kind of all you get shown at university and high school economics. That’s typically what you get taught. And so it raises that question, why was this stuff the one that got promoted in the so called mainstream schools and universities? And partly it could be that it gives an excuse to politicians and people in power to intervene more, whereas obviously the Austrian school and Austrian school economists tend to be more free market in nature, and they tend to be saying, no, you should not do government intervention. So I’m curious your thoughts on that, on this idea of why is it that if Austrian economics is correct, how come it didn’t intellectually remain in command, as you said?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:19:58:

I don’t think it’s as clear cut to say that hey, this is all one big conspiracy by the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers and the lizards to impose totalitarian rule in all the world, right? In my view, Alex Jones was right about things on the surface. But the rays on duty behind it I think is a little bit naive to just think that this is all a grand plan. I think what happens, as you said, is the incentives orient in such a way in the near term that everyone is effectively looking out for themselves. And Australia economics is very aware of that. It says that and that’s why it says not to try and play with the dials too much because when you do, people don’t reorient and everyone is kind of like trying to get out for themselves. And I think the problem that sort of emerged and this is interesting, I spoke with Raheem about this, who is student of Hopper, brilliant guy, wealth of knowledge, also one of the writers in this edition. And he said something about he said modernity is a combination of basically what did he call it, not merchant banking but he called it like sort of industrial banking or modern finance. Effectively with the industrial age, like that sort of stuff came together and effectively you had the emergence of the modern state, the sort of republican kind of ideal democratic state and what that it flourished in a period of increasing centralisation. And in that increasing centralisation, what you ended up having was the emergence of these power centers who believed that it was their duty in some degree to do everything. And I was thinking about this actually the other day, I even think a person like Bismarck, a lot of people say that, you know, he’s sort of like one of the fountain heads of the centralisation of the world and you know, the state apparatus and everything. But I think if you took him from back then and kind of brought him to here he’d be embarrassed about sort of the way the world went. He’d be like Jesus Christ, what the hell happened? Or Napoleon for example, or even any of those sort of early figures who were sort of forces towards centralization. I don’t think they really knew what was happening. I think they were naive enough to think that, hey, I’ve managed to amass a lot of power whether politically, militarily or economically. And particularly with the rise of the industrial age like that transformed everything. The world moved from a feudal age into the bourgeoisie age for lack of a better term. And that created massive, massive disruption to the social strata that was existed before and the amount of money people had unlocked, wealth, all this sort of stuff. And it was very tumultuous. And I think we, as a species, maybe if we sort of step back on a long enough time frame, maybe we’ll look back on this a thousand years from now and say, look, that’s what we had to go through. Because during that phase of centralization, we basically civilization like outpaced the capacity for gold to solve the problems of exchange. Goldstein writes about this in his pieces, that with gold lacking in its properties to be used as broadly available money, fiat had to step in to solve a few things. But as we said at the beginning of sort of this point, is that step by step, you end up making these decisions which force you down a path that you don’t really know you’re going down and take that out. 10 steps, 50 steps, 100 steps, 200 steps, then the logical decision seems to be, well, look, we’ve come this far. Let’s try and fix it again. Let’s try and organize it. And the very thing that you’re trying to do send you in the wrong direction. So I think in many ways, you’ve got that. And then I think also in my article, I’ve got this, the USDA Food pyramid. I say that I’m going to quote something from the article that says, you may be thinking, if Austrian economics is so good, just and functional, why on earth have I not heard about this? And why is it so obscure? And then I said, to which I would reply simply with the following the USDA pyramid, the food pyramid, which basically places, you know, the base of your diet should be bread and pasta and carbs. And the thing you should have the least of is butter and red meat. In fact, I think in the thing they have, like, alcohol, plant oils is more important, apparently, than eating red meat. So it’s kind of like this derangement of thinking that emerges from scientism, from centralizing forces, from naivete. Like, it’s all sort of mixed in there. And I think this has sort of been the era of that, the era of peak Fiat. And that’s, I would argue, why the Keynesians have won the recent battles. But you can only lie to yourself for so long until everything breaks, and then you need to sort of have an awakening. And I think that’s sort of the moment that we’re in now with Bitcoin.

Stephan Livera – 00:25:08:

Yeah, I think you’re right. And I think it’s coming to a point where the consequences are now being shown to all of us, right? Whether that is energy crisis in various parts around the world, whether that is high inflation, and people are now sadly struggling to afford things in terms of food and the lifestyle. So a lot of people, unfortunately, because of the craziness of the last few years and just the buildup of bad decision making over decades, people are taking a step backwards in living standards, which is unfortunate. And also in recent decades, that’s unprecedented, because up until this point, you could sort of argue that, okay, for the most part, living standards were going up, but now it’s like we’re going in reverse, right? Now, which is unfortunate. And I think we need Bitcoin as a corrective. And also that reminds me as well the point that Saifedean makes. In his essay in this edition of the Bitcoin Times, he talks about how Bitcoin changes our behavior. More people start to save, people start having a family, people start giving up drug addiction and dealing drugs instead. And now they’re actually thinking more about how can they save. Right. And so I’m curious, have you seen that in either yourself or in other people in Bitcoin?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:26:24:

It’s funny how you just pulled on that thread because I was literally going to want to pull on the same thread around, like where you said our material basically living standards have been increasing. But what’s interesting is during the fiat age, I would argue that a lot of our moral standards have actually been decreasing in the background. So we’ve had this sort of increasing material standards, but decreasing moral standard. Now there’s sort of been this gap between the two that’s been growing and growing and growing and growing. And now, because there’s nothing substantiating the level of material standard that we’ve created and all the consequences are now catching up. Now it’s like the material standard is going to start dropping. And in the process, it’s actually, I think, going to accelerate the moral standards going down because people are going to start to get desperate. So you sort of have this downward spiraling negative feedback loop, effectively, yeah.

Stephan Livera – 00:27:22:

And I mean, that reminds me of even when you see in poorer countries where there’s just more crime right there.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:27:28:


Stephan Livera – 00:27:31:

I could probably even think of real examples that I’m hearing from some of my family in Sri Lanka, where, you know, when things are going down economically, they were literally seeing more people stealing just because what else are they going to do?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:27:43:

Yeah, people get desperate. People get desperate. And that’s super sad. I said negative feedback loop before, but it’s actually my truly put it’s a negative positive feedback loop in the sense that it’s a bad thing, but it feeds on itself. And to Saifeden’s point and what you just said there is bitcoin is kind of like an emergent reaction to the moral decay that has been sort of setting into civilization. And in giving people a mechanism through which they can sort of save and start thinking a little bit long term, it actually helps maybe turn that moral decay around. And in fixing that piece, then we have a chance to turn this ship around in a material decay standpoint. The thing is, and this is probably going to be the challenging partner, and I’ve said this in the past, is that we are simultaneously the luckiest generation, but also the generation that drew the short straw from the bundle in that we’re going to have to endure cloud world. Because as much as Bitcoin is going to fix a whole lot of things, there’s a. Delay, right? This is where all the shit coin is. And all the people who think you can just fix something by pressing a button, they don’t understand, they’re like, yeah, bitcoin’s been around for 40 years, but look, the world is still fucked up. It’s like, bro, you can’t turn the Titanic around with a single turn of the wheel. It takes time. I think, as I just sort of said, we’re lucky enough to effectively be the founding fathers of a new world. I honestly think this is how significant the bitcoin innovation is. But we’re also going to have to go through maybe crashing into five or six icebergs along the way and hope we don’t sink the Titanic and the other side in a better direction.

Stephan Livera – 00:29:42:

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Stephan Livera – 00:31:31:

Yeah, and it reminds me as well when, let’s say somebody has been eating very poorly and they’ve got a very bad diet and they get fat. But here’s the thing, they didn’t just get fat overnight. So sometimes you’ll see that person who’s going on the diet or trying to change their dietary habits and their lifestyle, but they expect everything to come back in a day. It’s like, mate, you didn’t get fat in a day. You’re not going to get healthy in a day either. It’s going to take time. And the other really insidious thing is, and I think Austrian economists can explain and understand this better, is this idea that capital accumulation takes time. And that what happens in periods of high time preference is people end up eating the seed corn or they end up doing equivalent of taking that nice wooden chair and throwing it in the fire because they need warmth right now. It ends up destroying a lot of the productive infrastructure of society. And it’s not just physical things. It’s also even labor skills. Like, what labor skills are there out there that people have, quote unquote, forgotten how to do. If we lose the ability for people to, let’s say, quickly build up nuclear power, maybe that’s something that we have lost over time, or we’re sort of losing over time because of the constant efforts against productivity and reliable energy.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:32:49:

Yeah, that’s a huge problem as well. And then there’s the more subtle ones, which is craftsmen are disappearing, right? Like, everyone is racing to become a financial person or a trader or an influencer nowadays. Right, an influencer, exactly. Like all this crap. Right. And what’s happening is we’ve got a massive gap of skilled workers who can do the things that keep the world moving, like sorting out the electricity or building a house or using your hands for something. And you see it in modern architecture. I’ve been traveling Europe for the last couple of months with the wife and going into the old churches, and we went to Milan, for example, and seeing the level of detail in those buildings, I don’t actually think with all the modern technology that we have, I don’t think we could actually recreate any of that stuff, because those craftsmen are gone. Like we’re in Florence. And you look at the detail on the doors of the what was it? Not the actual duomo itself, but where they baptize people right next door. Man. The level of artistic dedication and devotion and beauty is like that’s all being eroded because, as you said, people are getting desperate. You have to have some level of wealth and savings. And Rahim and I actually spoke about this in the podcast that we just did, is like, if you don’t have that level of wealth and savings, you don’t have the space to think about higher order stuff. Like, you’re not going to sit there and learn how to design something really nice when you’re desperate to eat, or you’re not going to figure out an ergonomic chair when you just need to sit down so you know you’re going to chop a stump and sit down on the stump. So, like, beauty and complexity and all of that nice stuff emerges after we have the base settled. And what we’ve sort of done in the last 100, 200 years as a civilization is we’ve kind of dug up all the foundations and thrown them away as, like, evil patriarchy and everything else is crumbling on top. And we’re wondering why. And it’s the fault of your radical thinkers for pointing out that we screwed everything up.

Stephan Livera – 00:35:07:

Yeah. And I think this is also a point that Ron Paul has made, which is to say that it’s no coincidence that the century of central banking was also coinciding with a century of almost total war. So there’s just been massive destruction, massive wealth destruction, massive just moral decay over that 100 years or so. And a lot of it comes back to the creation of the federal reserve. It comes back to monetary intervention, it comes back to mindsets around regulation, licensing, things that stop, just bureaucracy. And it’s funny in a way, we’re seeing that now, even with Twitter, right. We’re seeing Elon apparently either fired or basically induced a large percentage of Twitter to leave. And maybe there’s something to that, that he was able to achieve something by basically trying to return sound engineering principles and thinking to the company as opposed to having just a bunch of overpriced hall monitors.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:36:06:

I know, right? What was the annual bill for food again or something? Or like, what was it?

Stephan Livera – 00:36:12:

I can’t remember. It’s like $400 per person, I think, basically based on calculating the total amount allocated as opposed to the marginal amount and went to factor in how many people were actually going into the office, I think that was the number that he came up with.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:36:30:

I kind of laugh at the timeline we’re on. Right. It’s a strange, strange world because, like, you know, Elon, I’ll give him credit where credit is too. Like, he’s an entrepreneur, he’s a problem solver, but he’s very much a fiat problem solver. He’s got these kind of beliefs and ideas that are very like current worldish. So he’s not sort of he’s not a paradigmatically, forward thinking type of individualist. For example, you put Elon Musk next to a Peter Thiel. Right. Peter Tiel’s thinks about what the world could be and he really thinks from a paradigmatically different way. Right. Whereas Elon, in some ways he does that, but I think his ideas are kind of like ridiculous. Like, who the hell is going to go to Mars when we’ve got all this land here and we have a little thing called oxygen and water, like, everywhere? I’m pretty sure we need to clean our room first before we go and spend ridiculous amounts of money going to some barren wasteland with no oxygen, no water. Right.

Stephan Livera – 00:37:30:

Yeah. It’s a bit putting the cart before the horse, right?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:37:33:

Totally. Totally. So I think there’s some strange things like that, but just seeing all of this play out, like, he becomes by far the richest man in the world and is basically a troll and takes over the public square. I was hanging out with Jack a couple of weeks ago and just picking his brain on what his early thoughts were on Twitter and how he formed it and did he envision it initially as this sort of public square. And he kind of said that that wasn’t what we were originally thinking. I just was fascinated by the Internet and how you could let people know what you’re doing and create this sort of way to tell the world, like, this is what’s happening here. And then kind of then turned into these sort of conversations. He said the timeline came after. So Twitter’s just sort of this fascinating story and it’s an example of what happens in the world. Like Jack Dorsey didn’t set out to create Twitter, what it was today, right? It just sort of happened that way. And that kind of is a microcosm of what we said earlier. It’s like the world just sort of ended up down this path because you can never know where you’re going to end up. Just there’s this sort of series of iterations and it’s sort of tie up the thought. It’s like it’s a strange timeline that we’re on that an individual like Elon, who is clearly a talented problem solver and a strong leader, but with a fiat sort of vision of the world, is now the richest person who privately owns the public square where all the communication happens. It’s so funny, man. It’s so strange. Nothing surprises me at this point.

Stephan Livera – 00:39:11:

Yeah, so bringing it back to some of the articles, I think the other aspect that was interesting to me is just explaining exactly how and why Bitcoin achieves what it does. Because I think to people who are outsiders or no coiners, they look at Bitcoiners and think, just these crazy Internet coin people or whatever. But really when you actually look at if you actually dig into it and you understand, for example, Conrad’s article where he’s explaining and he’s contrasting these different theories of money, right? There’s this David Graeber credit theory or debt as money idea. There’s the state theory, the charterless theory, this idea that, okay, the state or the king just dictates what the money is. And then there’s this idea that it’s commodity theory of money, that it has to form from being a Metal like gold historically. And then he’s explaining, and I think this is a really interesting point, so he says, what has formally been done so I’m quoting here what has formerly been done with Metallurgy certifications, centralized recordkeeping, legal power and threats and cartel coordination is now done with an open source protocol for a PeerToPeer network engaged in cryptographic verification using proof of work. Now, I understand that’s like a lot of words, right? But the basic point is we’re using Bitcoin software and the internet to coordinate in a way where previously you needed all these other things. You need Metallurgy, you need certification, you needed a lot of humans involved in that process.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:40:38:

Yeah, I mean, this is sort of Conrad put in Austrian terms what many Bitcoin is trying to basically describe in either memes or Bumbling tweets or, you know, disjointed conversations, right? Like, he’s put some structure and rigor around that point, which is when people say bitcoin waste a lot of electricity. Right? And what I’ve always said to people is that, well, hold on, let’s think about what needs to exist for you and I to go down to the local cafe and buy a coffee. We need to pull out our card and to tap to do this little thing that is a tap. You know, you just think that we take that for granted. But what do you need? You need the point of sale mechanism. You need between that and the bank, there’s like three intermediaries that need to exist. So, like, the bin issuer, the Rails that enable that. You need the Visa and Mastercard network, and then you need the bank itself. And the bank needs to be plugged into a banking system, and the banking system then is plugged into the central banking system. Think about all the people and the infrastructure and all the crap that needs to be built just to maintain that stuff. And then you need like a judicial system. You need a state to make sure you kind of let’s just give them the benefit of the doubt that the state exists to keep them honest. Like, you need all of that stuff, and then you need the military industrial complex around that to make sure that there is a monopoly enforced in order to deliver all this. It’s like, how much energy does that use so that you and I can go down to the cafe and buy a coffee and sort of when I frame it like that to people, like, holy crap, that’s a lot. Yeah, it’s like everything we’ve kind of caked on system over system over system over system to enable us to do what we necessarily have to do, which is human beings need to trade and we need to measure that sort of language of value somehow. And that’s sort of the tool. That’s what the technology of money sort of enables. But because we’ve sort of we’ve got to this point in stages throughout history, like, it’s this really, like, Rube Goldberg machine version of money that is holding civilization together. And it’s broken. It’s breaking at the seams. Like, we’ve got we’ve got the Tower of Babylon of money effectively. And, you know, bitcoin kind of just does away with all of that. Does away with the military industrial complex, does away with the state, does away with the payment networks, the banking like the Intermediaries does away with all of that and replaces it with this raspberry pi level node that can plug into the internet that anybody can run and proof of work asics that convert electricity directly, effectively into money. And I know it’s an abstraction, like, it’s not exactly how it happens, but that is not an order of magnitude, but it’s like multiple, multiple orders of magnitude more efficient, and you get a superior money that is more effective at doing the job that is sound, that is fixed in supply, and that is unsensible. Like, holy crap, you have 1000 X improvement on money with 1000 X improvement on efficiency and efficacy. How is that not like yeah, that’s.

Stephan Livera – 00:44:06:

A massive improvement, right?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:44:08:


Stephan Livera – 00:44:10:

And I think one other point that we’re touching on here as well is arguably a point that Bitstein made in his article where he was explaining that it’s only through trusted third parties that gold could even become salable, right? Because on its own, it’s not saleable. Right? Like, you would have to verify that piece of gold. You would need to transport it and you might need to have armed guards, you might need a truck to move that much gold. If it’s a large amount that you’re transferring, it might take a long time. Like, there are all these trusted third parties that were required as you spelled out the banking system, the military industrial complex, the state, the courts, the law, all of these aspects that are required as infrastructure to even allow this goal, what previously was the gold standard to operate. And of course, in a sense, that’s what we’re trying to get away from. Of course it’s not going to fully obviate all of that, but I think moving into a bitcoin system and seeing is believing, right? I was in El Salvador and I was spending Lightning at cafes and restaurants and things, and I was trying to show videos of that so people could see, actually, look, this is real world, I’m spending at a Starbucks and it’s going straight to them. So there are all these aspects of which I think it’s difficult to explain how bitcoin achieves what it does. And maybe that’s part of our challenge, right, when we’re out there trying to teach it to people. And of course, our tendency, and maybe listeners of my show as well, can be to go into technicals, right? But we have to be skillful enough to explain it to people in a simple way. So the analogy I’ve often used is this idea that you don’t need to teach everyone to be a mechanic or an aerodynamic engineer or a mechanical engineer. They just need to learn how to drive the car. That’s what most adults can do in the Western world. That’s what most adults can do. They know how to drive a car. That’s all we’re asking them to do.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:45:58:

I mean, totally. Totally. And it’s funny. Speaking of El Salvador, when we first went there, I think I was there with like, Mark Moss and everything before it became legal tender. It was in July of 2021, I think. And we were there, and I think there was a clubhouse running. So I think spaces hadn’t really taken off to the degree it had yet. And we’re on clubhouse and it was me, Brekkie, a couple of swan guys were there and there was a question. It’s like something about what’s different about this generation of bitcoin is and stuff like that, that really became hodlers, particularly through the sort of the 2018 2019 2020 bear market. And I said there’s something interesting about this era of bitcoin. I don’t know if this kind of archetype of person is going to last long. Like, we’re at a stage of bitcoin where the kind of people it’s attracting are truly like renegades or people who want to be the aeronautical engineer and figure it all out and everything like that. But this kind of proves to me that we’re still not even in the early adopter stage. We’re still in the tinkering stage of bitcoin as a kind of yeah, exactly. We’re still in the innovative stage because that’s the sort of people it’s attracting, attracting maniacs like you and me who are sitting here talking about Austrian economics and how we’re going to fix it. The average person doesn’t give a shit. When I’ve been traveling through Europe, for example, and I just popped into Macedonia now, and it’s like, I speak to my family here, it’s so foreign to them. It’s like, so they’re like, okay, so can I buy some food with it? Right, so they’re the people who are looking to drive the car. And I think this era of bitcoin is probably going to be another cycle maybe 2, of people who are that interested in stuff, but at some point, it’s going to be like, people just don’t care. They’ll take for granted that it’s money and that’s what they’re going to use. And it’s like, I’m just sending some, I’m just receiving some. That’s kind of like what I love about what John Carvalho is doing over at Synonyms. He’s trying to change the language. He’s really taking a really interesting product approach for how people will use this Bitcoin thing and kind of trying to abstract away from bitcoin and go to, like, hey, this is just money, and this is a better wallet. It’s a better way to spend, a better way to buy things. It’s a better way to store your identity. And there you go. I think we still got a way to go to get there, because I still believe we need a strong cohort of the innovative archetype because of just the nature of where we are with bitcoin. But as you said, at some point we’ve got to stop. Or maybe it’s not up to us to choose when to start or stop this, but at some point we’ve got the language will need to evolve to here’s how to drive, not here’s how to build a car, or here’s why the car works. Got you. Here’s the mechanic thing. Yeah.

Stephan Livera – 00:48:44:

And I think part of that, even if we look at Lightning wallet and how they’ve evolved, right, the early day Lightning wallet, you had to be an expert or you had to know what was going on in the background. All, okay, I’ve got this channel B. I don’t have any inbound. Okay, let me spend some out of this channel. Now. I’ve got inbound capacity to receive okay, is my node down? I need to run this other thing. And there’s all these little aspects. And nowadays there are nice wallets like Breez and Bitfinex and Muun Wallet that handle all the stuff in the background. And you can just use it without really thinking too hard about it because the complicated stuff is in the background now. Okay, yeah, there’s probably some more innovation coming and more innovation needed and perhaps some level of social normalization to this idea that, hey, we went out to dinner and let me pay you back my $30 for my share of the dinner. Okay? Here, hit me with a Lightning invoice. Or maybe in the let’s call it the slashtags context with synonyms. It’s this idea that I have Svetski as a contact in my Bit kit or whatever, and I send you my share for the dinner or whatever. So maybe that’s one way it could work. I mean, and that’s not that dissimilar it’s not that different from, let’s say, in the US. People using the likes of Venmo or Cash App to send to each other. So it’s going to get there eventually. I think it’s just harder to build in the non custodial way, which is what we want to see. But I think part of it then is yeah. So even taking away the kind of technical how do you use it? I think part of it is also how do we explain the uniqueness of what we’re doing here? Because I’ll give you another example. One of the videos I showed in El Salvador was buying coffee at Starbucks using my Zeus wallet, like, connected to my own lightning node with my own channels. And so some of the comments are saying, well, hang on. How is this different from Apple Pay? Or how is this different from India’s UPI system? And you can understand how superficially if you didn’t understand what was happening in the background, whatever we already have this for in Australia, you’ve already got Pay ID or you’ve already got NPP national Payments platform. So I think that’s part of our challenge is to explain no, hold on. This is actually a separate monetary system and it was self sovereign from the sender’s point of view. How do you convey that? Right?

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:51:01:

Yeah, that’s tricky. I mean, we are all grappling, I think, in these podcasts on Twitter, writing these articles, producing these publications to try and answer that question in a more eloquent way. And to your point, I don’t know if we’ve answered it in a way that is compelling enough, because if we had, I think we’d have the world would be on a Bitcoin standard, right? So maybe the day that question is answered is the day that we finally have hit that tipping point where the usage implies that that answer has been found. So we’ve still got a lot of work to do. But the funny thing is, if we look at all the FTX crap that’s happened and all that sort of stuff, the existing status quo keeps in some part doing the job for us by proving why the existing shit storm is broken and why it doesn’t work and losing everyone’s money. This is where Bitcoin’s consistent narrative and what I think bitcoin has really done well, probably better than any other previous movement that I’ve seen, is like, we’ve managed to distill, you know, complex ideas into these sort of simple memes that are so consistent about Bitcoin. They just don’t change. And that kind of overtime trust, I think, has a deep psychological impact on people’s ability to start to move their wealth onto this. Because we’re asking a big thing, really. Once again, if I use my family here as an example, like, they’re not financially literate. It’s a arse backwards village in the corner of a country which is basically broken, you know, ex communist place and all that sort of stuff, but they don’t get it. But they basically live paycheck to paycheck every month because the average earnings here is €300 a month. And that’s how much people make here. They barely afford enough food. And for them, the more subtle differences behind Bitcoin, as you said, for them it’s a cash economy as well. I think it’s a 70, 80% cash economy. Everyone just uses cash to get paid cash. And like, for them, they don’t even trust putting their money in the bank here, let alone putting their wealth into this Bitcoin thing that’s even another step foreign to them. So I think it’s going to take us time. And as you said, it’s not just a technological change or UX UI change, it’s a cultural shift that needs to sort of happen. And that, by definition, is going to take a generation or two. And we just happened to be in front of us. So I don’t know, sometimes we all get caught up, and we definitely got caught up in this recent bull run. We’re like 250k bitcoin and this and that, and global adoption, and Salvador picked it up and all the dominoes are going to fall. We’re all suckers in that sense. Like, we got carried away when it’s like, hold on, bro, this thing is going to take a while. The world ain’t jumping on putting their life savings into cold storage tomorrow. Hold your horses. And I think, if anything, this is sort of a good wake up call for us to sort of remind us that we’re not all king shit. We don’t know everything. We’re going on a bitcoin standard tomorrow. It’s going to take some time and we just need to basically practice what we preach about bitcoin, which is we need to orient ourselves in a low time preference manner and just, like, plug away. We just need to do the small things consistently, every single day, in the same way bitcoin does the small things consistently, every single ten minutes. We need to do that, and I think we will slowly, by slowly, just become the trusted thing. And that’s how we win.

Stephan Livera – 00:55:05:

Yeah, I think you put it well there, because we fundamentally have to stay humble and keep working, right? We can’t just rest on our laurels and think, oh, hey, it’s all done, and we can just know, like, we have to get out there and find ways to help teach people why they’re being scammed right now by the fiat money system, the fiat currency system, and hopefully help them on board in a noncustodial way. I think that is the game, that is what we’re trying to do here. And in the ideal case, what I would like to see is more and more people treat bitcoin just like, hey, it’s the cash economy, right? Bitcoin should be the cash economy, right? They should be doing Lightning economy back and forth, right? I go and work in your restaurant as a waiter or whatever, and you pay me in sats and then I go and buy my food with sats. And that could be how this advances. If only we could show people the way.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:55:55:

Yeah, I mean, that cash piece is very interesting because as much as we’re conditioned to have moved away from cash in the west, like whether Australia or Sweden or American, all that sort of stuff, like, a big proportion of the world is still a cash economy. And, yeah, if we can get good at articulating bitcoin as cash, like, here we go back to the white paper. I’m going to sound like Roger Verno. Bitcoin is electronic cash with lightning.

Stephan Livera – 00:56:22:

It really is.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:56:23:

It really is. But cash is the definition of cash is a barrier instrument. It’s got nothing to do with just, like, payments. And that’s effectively what bitcoin is. It’s the best bearer instrument. And if we can sort of teach people that, it’s tricky because cash has become so psychologically associated to a physical object, that we’ve got to somehow find a way to cross that chasm and I mean, I don’t know, maybe what do we do? Do we print private keys on a piece of paper and give that to people?

Stephan Livera – 00:56:57:

Well, there’s like, the sats card and stuff like this, kind of like the new version of the open dime. Now, these cards, I think now, this is from Coinkite, right? They’re a sponsor, but these cards are like $7 or so, so they’re pretty cheap and you can do branded ones. You could have, like a Svetski branded or like, The bitcoin times branded sats cards and stuff like this? I don’t know, maybe that’s one idea. But yeah, look, I think part of it is it’s just going to take time. And I think the other aspect is focusing on the young generation, right, because they are more tech savvy. They’re just natively using phones and tablets and things. So maybe for them, it’s an easier bridge for them.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:57:35:

Yeah, it’s funny because it’s simultaneously easier and simultaneously not because it’s easier where they’ll get the technical piece, but maybe they won’t have the understanding why cash is important, whereas the older generation gets why cash is important. And this is the challenge. This is why I think when people think that you’re going to get global adoption of bitcoin tomorrow, it’s like they’re genuinely naive. It’s like this is a hard problem to solve. You’ve got this sort of two different cultures where each one appreciates elements of bitcoin for different reasons and we actually give them the best of what they both want, but they’re not all the way there. And this is where maybe in many ways like our generation, because you and I are a similar age, it’s like we kind of grew up just before the tech boom and we sort of were in school. Maybe that’s why also we get it so well, A, it’s no brainer. We’re technical enough to get that piece, but we’re also old and bold enough to get the cash piece and it sort of comes together for us. This is obvious. And yeah, I mean, maybe we need to like, do a bitcoin times Gen. What are we, a millennial edition? We need to do the bitcoin times millennial edition. I mean, us, why? It makes sense.

Stephan Livera – 00:59:01:

Yeah, but I think that’s the other thing as well, because a lot of this bitcoin Twitter audience is probably in that age bracket, right? They are millennials of Gen X, maybe some boomers, but it’s probably mostly a millennial. And Gen X cohort is probably what I would say. But I mean, it comes back to what is our job. The job that you and I and other Bitcoiners have is to try and help normalize this in whatever way we can, whether that’s investing in Bitcoin companies and helping contribute in Bitcoin software or hardware, trying to teach people. Whatever we can do to help normalize this thing is going to help advance our process and help, you know, speed the process of hyper. Bitcoinization but at the same time, we have to be humble and say, look, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. It’s not just going to happen, it’s going to take work. We’re going to have to all put in that work just to finish that thought.

Aleksandar Svetski – 00:59:49:

I was just going to say, like, we are literally building those cathedrals that took hundreds of years to build, where you’re starting it and you know you’re never going to see it to fruition. Like I think we’re doing that in a modern sense, is like, we’re going to build we’re going to set the foundations for something that we’re not going to be alive to necessarily see the fruits of. I mean, maybe we will be we might be lucky enough that this will happen so fast that we’ll get to see it. But yeah, in many ways our time is going to be spent laying these foundations and that’s, you know, if there’s something that is like kind of brings some chills down my spine and makes me think of there is still hope for humanity, the essence of greatness still exists. It’s that, yeah.

Stephan Livera – 01:00:33:

Well, I think that’s a great spot to finish. So, listeners, make sure you check out the bitcoin times Svetski. Tell us where can they where can they get it and where can they follow you?

Aleksandar Svetski – 01:00:41:

Yeah, so, they’ll notice that it will redirect to au because I had an Australian URL for it. But the shop is now live. They can buy edition three, edition four collectibles. They’re available for shipping right now. Edition five collectibles, they can preorder them for Christmas delivery. They’re in the process being printed now. Edition one and two collectibles are not ready yet. They’re being redesigned and they’ll be printed early next year. So people who want the whole collection, they can sort of pick them up. Then there is an early bird. So not an early bird, a pre sale on edition five right now, so people can pick that up. It’s 10% off. There’s something unique. I’m doing this, I’m tying the success of the bitcoin times to the success of bitcoin. So when I launch it, I launch it at about $50, $60 per copy of a collectible. But the price is fixed in sats, so if the price of bitcoin goes down, it gets cheaper. If the price of bitcoin goes up, it gets more expensive. So I launched edition three and four back in August when bitcoin was still around the whatever it was, or 25K. So they’re now nice and cheap at the rate of bitcoin. So anyway, it’s a bitcoin only shop. They can go and support it. We’ve integrated Mash as well, so people can actually boost and tip articles on there if they like what they’re reading and things like that. It’s available as a PDF. If you want the PDF for free, you can give us your email. If you don’t want to give us your email, you can tip some stats and you can get a high res copy of the PDF. And, yeah, it’s on Twitter at timeless bitcoin. So you can jump on and share threads there on not just the articles, but sort of broader ideas. So the other day I shared a thread which was inspired by Rahim’s article about scholastics, who are the sort of theologians of the Middle Ages, who basically In many ways

Stephan Livera – 01:02:38:

they were kind of like a protoaustrian?

Aleksandar Svetski – 01:02:41:

Yeah, protoaustrians. So there’s some really interesting stuff in there if people want to sort of learn more about history and broader thoughts. That Twitter account is pretty cool. I’m on @SvetskiWrites if you want to follow any of my stuff. I’m sometimes abrasive. My New Year’s resolution for 2023 is to stop or minimize trolling. So it’s going to be less personal opinion, more threads and education. So let’s see if that works.

Stephan Livera – 01:03:05:

Fantastic. Well, that’s great. And yeah, great to chat and hope to see you soon.

Aleksandar Svetski – 01:03:09:

Thanks, brother.

Stephan Livera – 01:03:10:

Get the show nodes over at, and I will see you in the citadels

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