<MoneyLab> 18 theses on the problem with bitcoin by @agorismlabs

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Wed Aug 18 13:59:37 CEST 2021


@agorismlabs <https://twitter.com/agorismlabs>Dr. Paul Dylan-Ennis - Lecturer/Assistant Professor, University College Dublin DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, social tokens.

(1) The problem with Bitcoin maximalism (not Bitcoin): Bitcoin emerged as a cypherpunk and crypto-anarchist reaction to an inherited financial system, which it deemed a failure. It proposed an algorithmic alternative to failed centralised institutions.

(2) Bitcoin would be an apolitical answer to the human tendency toward corruption and collusion. It demonstrates the possibility of a decentralised currency/store-of-value. A world-historical achievement we are still reckoning with.

(3) However, Bitcoin's decentralisation has always been an 'incomplete ambition' (Schneider) and in practical terms there are entrenched clusters of centralisation: early wallets, developers, mining, influence, all highly concentrated.

(4) However, like all ideological movements, Bitcoiners have learned to live with these contradictions because the end goal (decentralisation) is worth it and it is preferable to living under a dysfunctional neoliberal financial system. And gains (frankly).

(5) For those new to crypto, there was also a civil war in Bitcoin (appox. 2015-2016) concerning a technical issue - the block size - but also over the core economic motif Bitcoin should represent: cash or gold. Gold won, w/ a infrastructural micropayment solution (LN).

(6) The victors of the civil war have driven themselves more and more into a digital gold, store-of-value narrative concerning the collapse of the fiat system and a FOMO scarcity mindset ("have fun being poor" if you don't 'don't get it,' to echo SN).

(7) Bitcoin set the template, literally, for other altcoins, but *some* members have always had an awkward relationship with them. Some of these critiques are definitely valid: early bitcointalk was full of altcoin scams, the ICO boom too.

(8) (Note): there were plenty of Bitcoin-related ones too. Now, I believe the source of *maximalism* specifically stems from a desire to establish Bitcoin as legitimate in contrast to the illegitimate alternatives.

(9) Bitcoiners have forgotten, as Amir Taaki once said, that Bitcoin was the original shitcoin. To the maximalist, Bitcoin is somehow different. It has the largest marketcap, it has the most hashrate, it is the most valuable (let's leave YFI aside for now).

(10) It is also curiously said to be the most decentralised despite how concentrated the hash rate is among a small no. of pools, despite a small number of "core" developers. Bitcoin *is* more decentralised than most alts. True, this is a legitimate claim.

(11) This includes Ethereum. Bitcoin nodes: 12,000. Ethereum: 8,000. More hash rate. Somewhat fairer launch (depending on we read Satoshi's mining). And no contest compared to Polygon or Cardano, etc.

(12) I think, all the same, this is a sleight of hand that hides Bitcoin's centralisation under the cloak of how it is more decentralised than the others. How legitimates itself in *contrast* to the others. Thereby not needing to face their own lack of centralisation.

13) Look outward, not inward. It is a tempting and very human thing to do. To point out the flaws in adjacent systems, but never really face up to you own. When was the last time Bitcoiners really assessed those internal structures cemented post-civil war?

(14) It is up to the average Joe Bitcoiner to rescue Bitcoin from this maximalist narrative because it both radically alienates what are basically the same community: the other alts, DeFi, NFTs, etc. and lets the centralisation of Bitcoin roll on quietly.

(15) Further, it seems maximalism also stems from FOMO around all the exciting trends that have exploded in recent years (DAOs, DeFi especially). The plan seems to be to simply ignore or repress these radical innovations in the crypto space. Which is *absurd*!

(16) Or we get slogans like 'Bitcoin is DeFi' instead of Bitcoiners working with DeFi protocols who *are trying to achieve the same thing as them.* The situation is wild and needs to be reversed before Bitcoin turns into the Facebook of crypto.

(17) I believe most of us want to get back to a world where Bitcoin is part of our narrative as it was for quite a long time, but there needs to be a reckoning in the Bitcoin culture about the broadening of the culture.

(18) A monolithic Bitcoin culture is a fantasy. Get with the times, Jack

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