Let’s say you’re miserable.
You hate your job. Every Monday morning at 9:00 am, you begin the countdown until the weekend when you’ll be able to watch sports, drink beer, and do whatever else makes you Happy. This countdown will be exactly as long as the one you started last week, and the week before that, and the week before that, and so on. It sucks. It’s endless. And at this rate, you’re going to die as miserable as you are today.
You just want to be Happy, goddammit!
But the fruits of your labour – the new house, the new car, the new TV, and the rest of the things from the magazine ad – utterly fail to fill the void. Goodness knows you’ve tried. That sweet, sweet honeymoon period of consumer gratification is never as long as you expected, and before you know it, you’re back at the store, hassling the salesperson for the inside scoop on the next generation of gizmo, hoping to glean an edge or a release date or anything of value at all in the exact spot where you won’t find. Maybe you just haven’t bought the right thing yet. Even you have to admit, if you’re perfectly honest, how utterly pathetic this all is. But everyone else around you is doing the exact same thing, so what’s the alternative?
If you agreed with the last paragraph and weren’t too offended to keep reading, you’re neither ignorant enough for the bliss enjoyed by the unwillfully retarded and possibly also not too stupid to do something about it. Yes, you’re out of the Garden of Eden now, and yes, it’s time to come to terms with Knowledge, and no, you don’t have a say in the matter. You might be lucky enough to have an Eve to accompany you, but you might not. Either way the mission is the same: be Happy despite Knowledge. The alternative to this is life as you currently know it, which might as well be death.
So the Golden Calf of Consumerism is a false idol, a hollow facsimile of genuine Happiness, so then where to?
While there are a few steps on the ladder before you reach Immanual Kant’s heady heights, there are worse pursuits than coming to terms with his Critique of Pure Reason (1781). Therein, Kant describes the road you must take. It isn’t at all like the roads you see around you but that makes it no less real.i
Let’s explore a few passages and see if we can’t bring them into digestible terms:
Morality per se constitutes a system. But we can form no system of happiness, except in so far as it is dispensed in strict proportion to morality.
This is a point worth belabouring. As morality is right action, as defined in your time and your place, you cannot be Happy unless you act right! There’s no “Right To Happiness,” no obligation on the part of the world to suck your toes and make you giggle like a schoolgirl, and there’s no way to enjoy what’s Good without earning it. The Good isn’t for everyone and you sure as fuck don’t get a whiff of it just for being born. You come into this world deserving nothing. Not a blanket to keep you warm, not a morsel of food, not a rock to play with – much less healthcare, education, and a pension.ii Remember that. You’re not entitled to a goddam thing on this planet unless you act rightly; not as self-defined either, but as defined by your rulers.
But this is only possible in the intelligible world, under a wise author and ruler.
Hmm. Now where can we find a wise author and ruler? Democracy perhaps? Nope, already looked there… Ooh I know! Monarchy! Yup, a hard pill to swallow for your “educated” noodle, but a pill that must be swallowed nonetheless. Your +EV strategy from here on out is to listen dutifully to the Bitcoin Lordship. Yes, that includes me.
Such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we must look upon as future, reason finds itself compelled to assume; or it must regard the moral laws as idle dreams, since the necessary consequence which this same reason connects with them must, without this hypothesis, fall to the ground.
Another key point: Without proper rulers, there can be no right action. You think you were born knowing what right action is? Doubtful. You bought a home in the suburbs and locked yourself into a 30 year mortgage. You plunked down 4 months take-home for a shiny rock for your fiancée. You’ve demonstrated exactly zero critical thinking skills thus far, and without proper guidance ASAP, the probability of you developing such skills rapidly approaches zero. You’re not getting any younger.
Hence also the moral laws are universally regarded as commands, which they could not be did they not connect a priori adequate consequences with their dictates, and thus carry with them promises and threats. But this, again, they could not do, did they not reside in a necessary being, as the Summum Bonum,iii which alone can render such a teleological unity possible.
The moral laws must indeed regarded as commands. Take the Ten Commandments (thou shalt not kill, adulter,iv etc.) and the morality described thereby: listen to me and you will be Good and Happy, pretend like you know better and you’re fucked. This was made so black and white for the simple reason that the opacity of cause and reason are themselves so potent and so beyond the reach of the common man that expecting him to derive them ex nihilo of his own accord is like expecting immaculate conception.v This is why monarchic systems are most successful when aligned with religious institutions. In such an arrangement, the ruling elite can make their decisions in peaceful isolation before relaying their commandments to the Church, who will in turn relay them to the subjects, who will dutifully obey because “God’s Will be done.” And this all happens without the ruling elite ever having to justify the decisions to people who can’t grok the explanation anyways. It’s quite a lovely way to organize a society, all told.vi
Leibnitzvii termed the world, when viewed in relation to the rational beings which it contains, and the moral relations in which they stand to each other, under the government of the Summum Bonum, the kingdom of Grace, and distinguished it from the kingdom of Nature, in which these rational beings live, under moral laws, indeed, but expect no other consequences from their actions than such as follow according to the course of nature in the world of sense. To view ourselves, therefore, as in the kingdom of grace, in which all happiness awaits us, except in so far as we ourselves limit our participation in it by actions which render us unworthy of happiness, is a practically necessary idea of reason.
So we inhabit a world where only we can be Happy (animals cannot) but we cannot attain Happiness until we limit the actions that would make us unHappy. This is exactly what Taleb refers to with his theory of Via Negativa: improvement through subtraction. So what actions should prospective Citizens of Bitcoin limit? To name but a few:
Eating plastic food, being excessive sessile, taking on more than modest amounts of debt, using webwallets, reading CoinDesk, having Facebook/LinkedIn accounts, buying altcoins, using cloud storage, using biometric “security”, updating software, attending Bitcoin “conferences”, etc.
If you’re doing any or all of the aforementioned, don’t write yourself off. You weren’t born knowing this shit. It’s no wonder you’re miserable. You just need a better ruler.
Without a God and without a world, invisible to us now, but hoped for, the glorious ideas of morality are, indeed, objects of approbation and of admiration, but cannot be the springs of purpose and action. For they do not satisfy all the aims which are natural to every rational being, and which are determined a priori by pure reason itself, and necessary.
We can see far off into the distance. We can see a better world. We can take you there. To be happy, you don’t need more apps, you need to better use the tools already available. You don’t need more choice, you need better shepherds. You don’t need more rights, you need better laws.
In Summa: Better Rulers → Right Action → Happiness
You don’t need more golden calves.
If you want to be Happy…
You need us.
___ ___ ___
- Much in the same way that you can’t see the Hāna Highway from your living room window. [↩]
- Not that the shit you’re currently being fed is worth much. Your “healthcare” is more likely to infect you with a nosocomial infection, your “education” has turned your brain into such regurgitated mush that it’ll take decades to unwind all the derpage, and you’ll never see that “pension” if Bitcoin has anything to say about it. [↩]
- Latin expression for “The Highest Good” or “The Supreme Good” [↩]
- Note that, for adherents of the Old Testament, being an “adulturer,” that is, “a corruptor,” meant for a man to have an affair with a married woman other than his own wife. A married man was free to have extramarital relations with other women as long as they were not married. The married woman was forbidden from bedding anyone other than her husband, but the married man was only forbidden from acting as a homewrecker. There was no notion that an unmarried woman acting as mistress to a married man could do anything other than enhance the marriage. [↩]
- Yet democracy expects precisely this. [↩]
- At least on paper. No, no system is perfect, and no, living in a Commonwealth country isn’t the same as living under a true monarch so I’ve never experienced it first hand, but we do know that such systems are better in that they’re longer lasting, create better architecture, and create more art. It’s less “fair” but what of it? [↩]
- Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German mathematician and philosopher. [↩]