What if Learning History isn’t About Avoiding the Same Mistakes?

I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Hijacking Bitcoin, by Roger Ver and Steve Patterson.

The history of BTC is wild and full of lies, ops, scandals, villains, useful idiots, and (mostly failed) heroes. Like any history of things gone wrong, there’s a tendency to study it thinking you will then be able to prevent the same type of corruption in the future.

But I’m not so sure that’s possible.

Human institutions are run by humans. The more valuable and powerful they become, the more they corrupt the humans involved and attract the already corrupted. History teaches the inevitability of this pattern more than how to avoid it.

But even if it’s unavoidable (it can be stalled and delayed, but not avoided if there’s real power at stake) at the institutional level, the study of history offers you examples at the individual level.

Which kind of player will you be? What role will you take? By seeing what became of attempted power-seekers, reformers, resistors, those who went all in, those who opted out, those who played politics, those who didn’t, and every other type of character in the story, you can see what it does to them. That helps you choose what roles you should avoid or play.

Learning history won’t save the world, but it could save your soul.