The Fight For Bitcoin, Round One
”Everybody trying to PvP when the game is PvE.” – Edward Snowden
The revolution will not be centralized. The ideal peaceful revolution that Bitcoin could be will not enable solely one class, one ideology or one political party to replace themselves as the new king of the hill. If Bitcoin’s social consensus is commandeered by one homogeneous group, the necessary ideal of decentralization has failed.
Bitcoin’s governance is upheld by both social and economic nodes, and this political structure is very far from the traditional democracy often misrepresented by both the many critics and proponents of Bitcoin alike. Bitcoin is not a democracy in which every node is an equal vote, and that is for good reason in the ever-unfolding socio-economic game theory presented by the protocol; those with skin in the game, in the form of network wealth in satoshis as well as Bitcoin-specific hardware such as ASICs, have more incentives to ossify and protect the economic policy of the Bitcoin network than a nocoiner or someone relatively new to the system.
This is by design. Rather than giving unelected Cantillionaires power to take advantage of proximity to the money printer which is the current incentive of our fiat system, this new structure allows all sorts of participants from all sorts of socio-economic positions a fair shot at using a system with a predictable governance; this is the only way to achieve true equity. That is perhaps a controversial opinion, but there is simply no fair way to distribute funds or tokens of economic activity across an ever-changing and dynamic population, and thus the only way to achieve equity is by supplying everyone with an equal opportunity to utilize a predictable economic governance system with no centralized, trusted mediators and no large stakeholders lording threats of difficulty bombs to enforce consensus changes over the masses. The irony of the social adoption of proof-of-stake systems in the traditional progressive political class due to misunderstood environmental metrics is that hypocritical recreating of the many problems of the legacy system with a technological bastardization of the Nakamoto consensus that leads to compounding governance from venture capitalists and other beneficiaries of these pre-mined tokens.
Equity does not mean trusted third parties take a snapshot of the world and hand out equal amounts of tokens and wish you luck; equity means every participant in the network has an equal and predictable opportunity to utilize a financial network that promotes savings; rather than a leaking entropic force such as inflation debasing your capital, every payment you receive gains in relative economic value as the available supply issuance decreases in half every four years. This idea of “the water’s warm” Maximalism is not to shriek and yell loudly when a potentially misinformed voice says something that goes against the incentive structures of the one-of-a-kind Bitcoin network, but rather to meet their misrepresentations with facts and kindness. Screaming that the 70% or more pre-mine of a network innately makes it a scam is not doing anyone any good, despite it being a fair piece of evidence that perhaps the incentives and intentions of the founders of said Cantillionaire coins are not aligned with these greater concepts of equity and opportunity. The Bitcoin network is both represented by members that will fight tooth and nail for the sovereign individual, understanding that an empowered individual breeds an empowered collective, as well as traditionally progressive voices that fight for a fairer network for the collective, understanding that a better society will lead to happier and healthier individuals.
These concepts are not at all in contrast with each other, and in fact are completely aligned towards the greater good of the human condition, which contains both the individual experience as well as the group consensus of the greater species. Lately, much division and discord has been sewn on social media platforms between these two ideologies as if the war is to be fought amongst the parties of the working the class, and not as a united effort against the bigger forces of enslavement, control and authoritarian entities that make up the many faces of the seen and unseen ruling class. The cheap and lazy dismissal of Bitcoin Maximalism as a close-minded ideology has to be fought not with potentially concept-confirming ad hominem attacks, but with focused and kind rebuttals built upon understanding, grokking, and even self-reflective critical skepticism on our own beloved protocol.
Bitcoin simply must be for enemies, or it will never be for friends. And the way we strengthen the capability of the network is not by trying to fruitlessly excommunicate others from access to the knowledge needed to become a strong economic and social node, but rather by providing careful, articulate arguments to persuade even the most polar opposite of philosophies we have been trained and influenced to reject. Many in the Bitcoin space have found themselves politically homeless, with a strong distrust of the government and the large incumbent power structures that have misled us into vile hatred directed upon foreign populations we have never even interacted with. This top-down propaganda is easy to see for some of us, and yet far too many of us continue on similar actionable attempts of removal for those on the other side of this imaginary aisle. Bitcoiners fighting for sustainable energy sources in the ever-expanding mining industry have simply no governance power over those that believe in order to sustain humanity we need to utilize fossil fuels. This is a good and very powerful concept that truly separates Bitcoin from the other attempts of digital economies, either valiantly tried before Satoshi, or fruitlessly attempted after. Those that believe Bitcoin will save the collective spirit of humanity have no governing advantage to those that believe Bitcoin will create a never-before-seen actualization of the sovereign individual. But the bigger point to glean from all of this is not to further distinguish the differences between these parties, but rather to illuminate the common ground and the necessity to punch up and not sideways, or even worse, down.
The 2020’s arguably have started off with many worrying trends for the health of both the collective and the individual, and frankly both sides will simply need to fight together to protect the only chance that may ever present itself to take the power back from the few and give it to the many; be it many empowered individuals, or the many that make up a strong and healthy collective.
Bitcoin is innately an apolitical technology, but the implications on the political and social structures of the planet are massive and continually ever-presenting. The trick in this fight is not to blindly accept any and all proposals by everyone as if everyone is a good actor, but rather to encourage everyone to become a strong economic node to uphold the game theory incentives of the ideal money that is Bitcoin, regardless of their personal intentions of use. We should all be so lucky to see the authoritarian leaders of the planet adopt Bitcoin for their citizens, as long as it is done in a way that brings strength to the network and not bad faith actors attempting to chip away at the few potential attack vectors still present in the system.
We need tangible policy that encourages education, self-custody, and privacy-focused scaling solutions that enable self-sovereignty and not a dystopic co-opting of an open ledger technology that allows further surveillance state actualization against the rights of their people. These concepts will be addressed at length in a coming second part to this piece, but the proper utilization of Satoshi’s technological achievement alongside a social movement of kindness and understanding will give us not only the largest number of economic nodes, but stronger and self-perpetuating actors capable of prudently expanding the number of network participants that truly understand the necessity of upholding the Bitcoin protocol. Bitcoin is only as strong as its users, and unfortunately the fiery passion of many in our midst gets misconstrued and manipulated by ignorant or bad faith actors to dissuade newcomers from joining the network with the best incentive structures towards equity and sound money available. This is not to say we should censor our voices or pocket our passion, but rather to focus it on lassoing and protecting newcomers from blindly becoming exit liquidity for the foundations responsible for these pre-mined networks that only offer solutions to artificially recreated problems, as well as for centralized, permissioned networks with a total addressable market far below the eventual scope of the Bitcoin network.
At the end of the day, the more people properly orange-pilled, the stronger and more robust the network will be; just having a handful of new participants that simply leave their coins on hypothecating, centralized exchanges with zero understanding of the ins and outs of the network does little to further the fight against the forces that have controlled our money and thus our human capital for centuries. In fact, in many cases, it actually hurts the cause of hyperbitcoinization, both by creating opportunities for newcomers to get wrecked by market volatility, as well as creating seizable capital for bad faith actors operating exchanges, yield generators, or margin brokers.
There are countless technical and social reasons why many of these altcoin platforms are simply not competing in the same field as Bitcoin, and thus inquiries should be met with sound logic and appropriate reason and tone. Some people are just jerks and should not be platformed or engaged in good faith if so, but for many it is simply a case of ignorance or naivety. Altcoiners are in all likelihood much better candidates for creating strong Bitcoin network economic nodes because they understand many of the concepts behind why Bitcoin matters, they have often simply misplaced them due to coercion from bad faith marketing departments and gross misrepresentations of these platforms by those incentivized to do such.
In much the same way a liberal should not try and box out an anarchist capitalist from participating in the network, neither should a Bitcoiner try and discourage an altcoiner from getting their head on straight and add their “close but no cigar” economic activity to the most secure network. Hardly anyone truly understands the top-to-bottom broad implications that a decentralized, scarce bearer asset like bitcoin brings to the world, and every darn one of us started from a place of zero understanding of this technological achievement when we started our journey. Too many of the loud voices in the Bitcoin space these days do more preaching than teaching, and thus many of the new nodes on the network, while good faith zealots, lack a true depth to properly explain some of the many properties that set Bitcoin apart, and instead fall back on isms and catch phrases rather than a humble approach to learning about the nuances of the network. We can all do a better job of both focusing our tone and message, and we should for the sake of arming our new friends with better arguments to take to their battlefields across the world. There is a false understanding that Bitcoin has already won, and while there are many reasons to believe in the long-lasting potential of this network, there are many things we all take for granted that could use a little humility and humble grokking to ensure the hopeful success of Satoshi’s protocol. Perhaps none more important is our ability to discuss with and encourage newcomers, be they ideological antonyms or those hypnotized by altcoin promises, in order to maximize our chance at taking the power back from those centralizing forces. There are many moments when we need to stay toxic and vigilant, but mass adoption will arguably take many approaches. Many of us are simply looking for a home after years of systemic abuse. Welcome them to Bitcoin; the water’s warm.
This is a guest post by Mark Goodwin. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.