Finance and False Idols
Every industry is prone to it: worship of those who have, at least on a surface level, accomplished more than you. There’s no doubt that this idolatry flows into every commercial enterprise because it’s simply human nature. We’re envious. We’re jealous. We’re self-deprecating.
I’m as secular as it gets, however the message of not worshipping false idols is a primary one in the Bible and other religious texts. That’s probably for good reason.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
But as we delve further into the contemporary world of instant access, virtual realities, and reconceptualizations of what money means, it may be that finance and finance bros are establishing themselves as the new religions and gods.
Finance: a Guarantee on Future Wealth (faith required)
There’s much that nocoiners, coiners, goldbugs, modern monetary theorists, and other finance nerds can disagree on, but what seems to be at the heart of all of the hypotheses is faith. People will argue “Bitcoin has a supply cap,” or “gold is used for more than just jewelry,” or “stocks represent tangible assets,” or whatever. It doesn’t really matter, they’re wrong. It always requires a leap of faith.
This can be taken to extremes, though. It’s usually shrugged off and called “bagholding” but it’s more than that. People get upset when the value of their money gets questioned or debased — much like they do when their religion is questioned or debased. They also get insanely excited when their religion of choice — let’s say Dogecoin, for instance — is heralded by a god. And rightfully so! If money is the new religion, these people are now rich in faith.
God-Tier Memeing Means You’re a God
It feels as though we’re reaching some sort of apex here, at least in finance: where faith and memes and the arbitrary nature of numbers and reality, combine into one, and then fracture into a billion, trillion pieces. Ultimately, this is exciting and scary, like a rollercoaster or a train wreck — though which of those two it is remains unclear.
The easiest and fairest response to this fear is to say, “Even if it all goes to sh*t, we’ve been here before (‘07/‘08, ‘01, ‘91, ‘74, ‘29), we’ll be here again, it’s nothing new. What you’re describing is finance. Pull up your sleeves and move on.” I tend to agree, but I remember what the Great Recession felt like and I remember what the dot-com bubble felt like — it’s always terrifying and it always requires faith.
On that note, it is alarming seeing how meme gods — whether they be Elon, Chamath, or other VCs and CEOs — truly wield unbelievable power. Normie YouTubers who do video game exploit videos and color commentary are talking about how to game the market by buying when Elon tweets “Dogecoin,” or talk about “how to identify a gamma squeeze” posts on Reddit. We haven’t just gamefied finance.
Finance has gamefied the world.
I’m not certain the future we want is cardboard cutouts of Justin Sun plastered on every elevator door and holographic Michael Saylor bees screeching at us to buy more Bitcoin and Elon Musk being the number one fiduciary in the world — but it’s probably what we deserve.
Stay skeptical friends.