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Unpacking “The Art of Bitcoin Rhetoric”




Unpacking the legendary presentation from Michael “Bitstein” Goldstein, “The Art Of Bitcoin Rhetoric, How To Meme Bitcoin To The Moon”. The day this dropped, Brian Bishop transcribed the content, people lost their fucking minds. The maxis were marching in the streets with tiki torches and the shitcoiners were in disbelief.

There are some great lessons to apply in meme warfare, and we will likely include and expand on them in future work.

Michael Goldstein’s “The Art of Bitcoin Rhetoric”

Bitstein presenting “The Art of Bitcoin Rhetoric” at Bit Block Boom 2019.

Slide Notes

I did’t transcribe every slide but most of them.

  • Define memetic landscape
  • The path to victory
    • Frankly, no one person is needed. This is all just fun and games as hard money does what hard money does: dominate. However, in the meantime, we can learn how to better meme to expedite the process at the margins where possible
  • Rhetoric vs dialectic
    • Rhetoric: the art of persuasion
      • Rhetoric is good for public discussion, defending or accusing
    • Dialectic: the art of argumentation
      • Dialectic is good for private or academic discussion, attacking and maintaining an argument
  • When to Argue, When to Troll
    • Argue:
      • Engage in discussions with in-group members, such as Bitcoin maximalists. These are people who earnestly want to learn and understand your point of view.
    • Troll:
      • When interacting with the out-group, which includes shitcoiners, multicoiners, nocoiners, and journalists, a different approach is used.
    • Engagement Guidelines:
      • There is no reason to engage with someone who is not willing to understand your point in a systematic, logical manner. This highlights the importance of echo chambers.
      • However, it’s important to consider that the person you are engaging with might not be the intended audience for your message.
  • Relentless Propaganda
    • Rule #1: There is no bad news for Bitcoin.
    • All public-facing Bitcoin propaganda should be relentlessly positive
    • Anchor on the most bullish position, specify nuance from there, as needed, as deserved
  • ABB: Always Be Bullish
  • Trigram1 Memes Good
    • Learn from the best: “Many such cases!”
    • Orange coin good
    • Number go up
    • Bitcoin fixes this
  • In-Group Techniques
    • Be witty, fun, and memorable – make the mental models stick
    • Share the knowledge people seek at every chance you get (there’s no such thing as too much Austrian economics content!)
  • Relentless Propaganda
    • Rule #2: Nocoiners must be crushed.
    • They are supporters of a massively destructive economic system that is both a historical aberration and completely unnecessary
    • Show no mercy.
  • Out-Group Techniques
    • Reframe
      • Do not let others define the boundaries of your narrative
      • Wear pejoratives as a badge of honor (“maximalist”, “toxic”)
      • Anyone who is anti-Bitcoin is actually a Bitcoin accelerationist
      • If others define your narrative’s framing, you lose
      • Notice the cringe factor when someone proudly refers to
      • themselves at shitcoiner
    • Agree and amplify
      • Accept correct (but incorrectly labeled “bad”) premises and furthermore, accept even more absurd conclusions
    • Dominate
      • Nocoiners are supporting a massively destructive economic system
      • Most nocoiners are ultimately paid shills of this massively destructive economic system
      • Being nice takes energy
      • Why should they deserve it?
      • Make nocoiners feel pain
  • On “Ad Hominem”2
    • An ad hominem is rejecting an argument because of the person making it
    • An insult is treating a person with contempt or rudeness
    • Know the difference!
  • No Apologies
    • We were all nocoiners once, except maybe Satoshi (PBUH)
    • They will learn, or they will be forced to learn by economic circumstance
    • If someone is unwilling to take on the “intolerant”, “toxic” opinion, they will be unable to take seriously correct, but heterodox conclusions
  • Reject Nocoiner Orthodoxy
  • Requirements for Successful Memeing
    • Knowledge – Study hard!
    • Truth – Always be right!
    • Confidence – Know you’re always right because you studied hard!
  • Time Preference
    • You didn’t think I’d give a talk without mentioning time preference, did you?
    • Memecraft does not transpire in a day.
    • It took years for “shitcoin” to enter the congressional lexicon
    • A focus on truth guides you towards long term, valuable content

The last thing I will mention is his mention of ethical trolling. This is a big tactic that needs more discussion, I argue with Clancy about this often.

On Persuasion

More recently, Aristophanes has communicated similar positions about when and how to engage.

On persuasion from Aristophanes “You persuade the audience by either having the blatantly superior argument or making your opponent a pathetic gibberish mess.”

“Remember that Twitter is not a place for winning people over or proving you are right when it comes to arguments or debates held here. It is a place of spectacle, where you clash with slaves for amusement before lopping off their heads to the roaring applause of the crowd.

If you aren’t doing it for the spectacle, then it’s not worth doing. Just block the people who want to argue.

The audience are the only people you can sway, the only people who may not have decided. The people in the ring already know what they are. And the audience sides with whoever is having the most fun and whoever is the most skillful in their rhetoric.”

– Aristophanes

  1. This was a huge takeaway and TIL moment. Never heard of a trigram although we use them all the time, nice to put a word with a meme. Long story short… keep the memes short. 3 is powerful. THe Trigram list ↩︎
  2. “ad hominem is useful when you want to win the argument but the person you are arguing with on the public stage actually has a point, but is a fucking asshole. people acting in bad faith with you in the public square are just there to be executed brutally to the point of applause from the crowd, by any means necessary, including ad hominem etc. people acting in good faith deserve reciprocity and sincerity, even in public. even to the point of assenting to good points they make, because to the audience you look reasonable, and you make your adversary deal with you more reasonably. most important thing of all in a “culture war” situation with a mass movement, is it has to be fun. ” – Aristophanes ↩︎