The real battle isn’t among us — it’s between the defenders of the old, dying way, and a newer, better way.
Like many of you, I’m a bitcoin early adopter. I bought into the idea in 2010 because I saw how broken and corrupted our financial system was. Like many of you, I’d hoped that we’d see our broken financial system replaced by one that was fair and untainted by political tinkering that always seemed to favor the friends of the tinkerers. I write this to remind you of the feeling we used to have, a feeling that used to unite us — and a feeling which I think underlies much of the value of our currency.
Unlike many of you, I’m close to total ignorance on this battle between Segregated Witness and Bitcoin Unlimited. I haven’t followed bitcoin development that closely, aside from tracking the price almost passively. When it goes up, I’m happy. When it goes down, I focus on other things I have more ability to effect.
I confess that am not the most sophisticated bitcoin supporter. I only recently bought a hardware wallet. I sometimes keep coins in exchanges while trading, and only recently started diversifying away from BTC towards other emerging cryptocurrencies. I don’t trade on margin or anything like that — I just passively buy coins using a fixed daily investment strategy, and occasional move some into other cryptocurrencies.
In short, although I have been a bitcoin supporter for years, I am by far towards the simpler end among you. I do not claim to be an expert in anything but the emotional aspect of this business, which I think is at the core of its value proposition.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are building a new world that isn’t fucking idiotic. We are building a world where fairness is at the core, and we can never lose sight of that.
I remind you all how it felt to be mocked and ridiculed by people who hoped our community would fail. To be insulted by stooges like Paul Krugman was gratifying at some level, but I hope you all remember the tribalist mentality we used to have at the start of our auspicious enterprise. We are turning that mentality on each other. We should focus the outgroup status exactly where it belongs — on the clusterfuck of a system which has brought the world to the state it’s in today, not level that animosity at each other.
We must always remember that we are building a newer, better world, and we are being opposed by people who think the old system is still working just fine. People who think it’s anything but a walking corpse. People who haven’t realized it’s a joke, or are busy laughing because they’re not the punchline.
People say, “First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.”
They left out one part.
I think we’ve been ignoring the missing penultimate step — before you win, you fight each other. In order to win, you have to accept that the differences among you will never be resolved because different opinions and different desired directions are the symptoms of a healthy society.
Let’s not repeat the old mistake of identifying with the political movements that build up around different concepts or ideas. Please, please don’t let Core and Unlimited become a different, slightly less stupid version of Whigs and Torries or Republicans and Democrats.
Those are meatspace concepts. They are known modes of idiocy. They are vectors for head-in-the-sand thinking. They are the death of empiricism, the cause of much of our suffering, and the rulers of the status quo. The combat between federalists and antifederalists started before the American constitution was ratified. That fighting has gone on, in some form or other, to this very day.
If you’re an American like I am, our president is now a man who used to hit people over the head with chairs on a fake wrestling tv show, where all the conflicts were scripted to maximize the drama. Is there a more perfect man to lead the system of idiotic tribal infighting that characterizes the current status quo of the world?
People like Paul Krugman, who are smart enough to know better, seem to think a global financial system is totally capable of being managed by the same process which produced that outcome. The other side that was fighting against Trump was first busy elevating him because they thought they had the best chance of winning against him. They knew he was dangerously unqualified, and did their best to elevate his chances of winning, because they thought that it improved their odds of winning to do so.
That’s our opposition. That’s the out group. That’s the other. That’s the people we need to see ourselves as opposed to. Let’s not turn bitcoin into that.
George Washington warned his countrymen against the dangers of political factions. People would put their faction above their country, he warned, and the results would be disastrous. The leaders and supporters of both American political parties constantly ignore this warning, and are now reaping the benefits of the world they’ve contributed to.
Bitcoin is an attempt build a system of power — financial power — in a new way, unconnected to the insanity of an old system responsible for powering genocide, ignoring slavery and abetting massive injustice, while enriching the connected few people running the show. Lets not pollute it with that old, unsophisticated way of thinking governed primarily by amygdala-driven reactions.
Lets leave mentality at that the door. When necessary, direct it at the howling mob outside — while inviting in any one who things that world is a mess and knows something more fair is possible.
We don’t need to fight each other. We’re too smart for that, and we’ve worked too hard to build a system that doesn’t repeat the idiocy of the old way. This old system we’re fighting against is one in which all the “serious” people in the room accept for a fact that the drug war should keep going.
This is insane. It’s completely out of touch with reality. This position shows zero regard for empirical evidence, common sense, or the basic decency of not wanting violence used against fellow citizens — and yet this position is the default among ‘serious’ people associated with the old way of thinking. That’s how broken the old way is. That’s what we should be fighting against, not each other.
If that old, broken system can’t make progress to end the war on drugs —where there are mountains of incontrovertible evidence that what they are doing isn’t working — how the hell are they going to fix climate change? If they can’t build a consensus around something as obviously correct as ending the war on drugs, how the hell are they going to build consensus around something more difficult, more abstract, more ephemeral? SPOILER ALERT: they can’t. They won’t. Their inability to build consensus is why they are failing.
They will keep blaming each other as the world gets progressively more screwed up, with each side supremely confident that the only other side is at fault. The people at the top will continue to do better and better according to their accounting metrics, while the system gets worse and worse, especially for the weakest.
I want a world that’s fair. We all do. We need consensus do to that, and although we have the best damn technology in the world for consensus, we must keep the mindset about us that we are building a new world, not replicating the mistakes of the past in digital form.
I risked putting some money into the DAO on the small chance that it would succeed. I knew the probability was that it would fail, but I’m willing to take risks because I’m a responsible adult, and I understand how the world works. What separates the world of cryptocurrency enthusiasts from the old way is that we understand life is risky and we think the freedom to take and benefit from risk should be distributed, instead of centralized.
The guardians of the dying system were more than happy to take the ‘risk’ of loaning money to a corrupt Greek government they had to know was skimming off the top, and they were more than happy to socialize the cost of that risk when it blew up.
Bitcoin’s 2008 happened in January 2014, and our market took just three years to come roaring back. All the people who trusted the bad actor lost their money, and we were fine with that. All of us. That’s what we wanted from our system, was fairness. Not this bullshit idea of ‘safety’ where all the risk is hidden until it blows up, while the people who created the most risk get rewarded for profiting from it and protected from the worst of its consequences.
Our bad actor died, and yeah it was scary, but we survived. They rewarded all of their bad actors, who are now bigger than ever and repeating the same bad behavior, as if any other outcome were likely to happen. That’s the old way: as long as you are big enough, you can get away with anything.
We are building a new world. We need to be unified in this dream, and remember that whatever technological route the development takes, the only healthy place for an ‘us vs them’ attitude is one where the ‘us’ includes all cryptocurrencies — definitely not just bitcoin core or bitcoin unlimited.
Ethereum, DAO, dash, monero, lightcoin, ripple, and all of these other attempts to build a new system — these are the future. Whenever we’re tempted to fight each other, please be wary of that old tribalist mentality — the one that’s powered the world for millennia — and if you must use it, please, direct it towards the old world that’s dying. Not the new world being born one block at a time.