The Economics of War with Alex Gladstein

“Bitcoin stands alone in the world as the only currency that’s non-political. And that’s why I think it’s the only one that has a shot to be this neutral reserve asset that would be globally restraining equally among all players.”
— Alex Gladstein

Location: San Francisco
Date: Monday 7th February
Project: Human Rights Foundation
Role: Chief Strategy Officer

The majority of citizens of developed countries are blind to the true cost of modern warfare. Wars are fought in far off lands by technically advanced and voluntary armies; few people have direct or indirect exposure to first-hand experiences. Media coverage is sanitized of the associated brutality. And politicians willfully talk up the benefits of such wars with patriotic vigour.

Yet, the cold hard truth is extensive and vicious wars are being fought in our name. The costs of such wars are counted in thousands of faceless lives, and trillions of dollars of debt to be paid by future generations. That such wars have vague and shifting missions, or, are predicated on falsehoods, seems to be of little consequence. Citizens mostly tend to shrug their shoulders.

Large anti-war protests are still evident on occasions, most obviously at the moment in relation to the Russia-Ukrainian conflict, and previously in the lead up to the Iraq war. But, such protests are peaceful, sporadic, and ineffective. Wars still get fought. Aside from ethical discomfort, the costs to the majority not fighting the wars are limited.

That citizens don’t personally shoulder the costs of war is why politicians still feel empowered to engage in such actions, or, more importantly, to stay engaged in wars they did not start. It is why democratic peace theory has broken. There are multiple causes, but the fiat monetary system is a principal area of concern, enabling the financial burden to be offloaded to future generations.

Bitcoin doesn’t fix war. But, in a Bitcoin standard world, it would certainly make it harder to fight wars without citizens feeling the fiscal impacts. Ergo, citizens would have a greater interest in demanding a say.

In this interview, I talk to Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation. We discuss how the fiat monetary system has broken democratic peace theory, why MMT enables forever wars, how Bitcoin could reduce unnecessary wars, and the need to discuss this more honestly within society.

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WBD468 – Show Notes


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