Skip to content

Capitalism Is ‘Fundamentally Ethical’: Jordan Peterson at Bitcoin Conference 2022

Peterson, El American

Leer en Español

[Leer en español]

Prominent Canadian clinical psychologist and university professor, Jordan Peterson, participated this Friday on the third day of the Bitcoin Conference 2022, the world’s largest conference of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, where he highlighted his faith in capitalism, shared his curiosities about digital assets and promoted entrepreneurship.

Tuur Demeester, an economist and Bitcoin enthusiast who moderated Peterson’s participation, began the conversation by asking the Canadian where his interest in entrepreneurship began. “The most appropriate way to understand something is to try it,” replied the psychologist, who would later delve into a fierce defense of the free market.

“Starting a successful business enterprise is a deeply ethical endeavor, in the broadest sense,” Peterson said. “Cynics – and many academics share this because they’re zealous and tend to sit on the left – like to think of capitalist enterprise as fundamentally about exploitation, and I think that’s wrong (…) because that’s not what you do when you run a business, unless you’re a parasite, and if you are, you’re not going to last long.”

The successful Canadian speaker explained that whoever has a “valid business” in a free market offers a “valuable” product to people who “can freely choose otherwise”. But it is not enough to offer it: he must deliver exactly what he offered and the product must perform as promised. That process is, according to Peterson, fundamentally ethical.

If one step of that process is not strictly followed, Peterson believes, it will result in “a very bad reputation,” developed “very quickly,” and the business is doomed to fail. “Nothing destroys you faster than unhappy customers,” he said.

After explaining his example, Peterson addressed the audience and the entrepreneurs listening to him, “Don’t be defensive about the ethics of your capitalist enterprise; on the contrary, you should be on the offensive, proudly proclaiming that what you do is deeply ethical, and that you provide free customers the option to make free choices about what they value. And what’s wrong with that?”

“If people accuse you of nothing but greed in your attempts to [run a clean business], I would say that says a lot more about the accusers and their worldview than it does about you, because all of that turns out to be really difficult,” he added.

Peterson: Bitcoin could “stop” totalitarianism

When Demeester asked Peterson what had attracted him to cryptocurrencies, the intellectual cautioned that the technology doesn’t come so easily to him because of his age, but he acknowledged that, even so, the philosophy behind Bitcoin captured his attention powerfully.

“The Bitcoin phenomenon attracted my attention for a couple of reasons,” Peterson responded. “One is that the story of its development is so incredible that it sounds like a fairy tale. It’s so bizarre that you can’t believe it’s true.” But the reason the thinker emphasizes is that “the idea of a decentralized monetary system is a revolutionary idea.”

Peterson pointed out that cash is, in the broadest sense, a decentralized system, and that it is not easy to track. If it were, the spheres of power would be engaged in tracking every exchange of money that each individual made, in order to “force them to make the decisions that they considered ethical.”

He explained that one of “the fundamental axioms of the free market” is that only the free decision of a group of individuals is capable of determining the future of society, and that there is no model of “centralized planning” that can replace the freedom of exchange.

“All the evidence, especially from the 20th century, suggests very strongly that as soon as you subordinate free market mechanisms to the ethical dogmas of central planning, you catastrophically affect the economic system in a detrimental way, and that destabilizes the whole society and tips it into totalitarianism,” Peterson said, adding that this keeps repeating itself because “there is always a new generation” that believes it is “smart enough to plan the world.”

But Bitcoin cannot be subordinated to any kind of central planning, which is why Peterson sees the cryptocurrency as “preventing that from happening” by decentralizing the money.

Peterson considers the free market to be an “existential necessity,” so the natural competition between different cryptocurrencies was one of the factors that enlivened his curiosity about Bitcoin, but there was one specific reason he found it revolutionary.

“It seems to me that if the Bitcoin theorists are right and Bitcoin takes precedence over other cryptocurrencies, that could take the monetary system permanently out of the hands of the establishment and the political system,” he developed.

He cautioned that much still needs to happen in the contemporary financial system to be able to observe the true scope of cryptocurrencies, and perhaps the most efficient way to do this is to allow competition between digital assets and fiat currency, so that the market determines which one best meets its needs.

Leave a Reply