There has been a lot of commotion in the Bitcoin world lately. A few of the core developers (an informal group that maintain the program) made a big splash by saying that the "block size" (a technical issue) had to be increased or else horrible problems would ensue. They're calling their plan "Bitcoin XT."
What I Learned
At first, I simply didn't want to be bothered with this. Just about everything that passes across a plasma screen these days is sold as a major, life-threatening crisis. I ignore as much of it as I can.
But after hearing a bit more about this issue from several friends, I decided to look into it a bit further.
The first thing that caught my attention was that this idea was being sold with fear. That, to me, is a huge red flag. If you want to sucker humans – if you want make intelligent people act stupidly – fear is your tool; every serious manipulator of humans knows this. So, this fact turned me off from the Bitcoin XT idea right away.
Next, I learned that one of the two guys driving this has been speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations about Bitcoin going mainstream. Seriously? Bitcoin is cypherpunk technology; it is inherently outside the mainstream. (Does Sid Vicious take tea with the queen?) Bitcoin was created by radicals and bears their nature. To make Bitcoin acceptable to the powers that be is to kill it. Period.
So, the fact that this idea comes from people who want to turn Bitcoin into a guv-friendly payment system – to neuter it and kill it – drove me even farther away. If I had wanted status-quo tech, I'd never have looked at Bitcoin in the first place.
Thirdly, someone told me that the guys driving this wanted to make themselves "benevolent dictators." Hearing that, I immediately started laughing. Then I checked and found out that it was true and that they were saying so overtly. You can find the comment, "[W]e will be benevolent dictators," here. That cemented it for me. In addition to everything else, these guys want to run a technocratic dictatorship. And not only that, but they had the arrogance to say so in public. Wow.
Be afraid, surrender your values, and accept dictatorship… that always ends well, doesn't it?
So, to all of this, I reply: Fork off.
Yes, I know that sounds like I'm playing cute word games, but I really mean it. I want them to pull their hard fork. I want them to break off and go away.
Take your fear, your compromise, and your dictatorship with you, and be gone. Fork off and take as many with you as will follow. It will be a great lesson, and more importantly, it will be a great cleansing. I welcome it… I seek it.
And if these people do split the Bitcoin blockchain into two parts (this is called a "hard fork"), here are some things that I expect to happen:
The fair weather venture capitalists will have panic attacks, as their dreams of Zuckerberg Heaven start to evaporate.
Mainstream media will breathlessly report – for the 20th time – that Bitcoin is dead… but this time for sure!
Regulators will have no clue what to do and will then pile into Bitcoin XT, turning it into just another PayPal.
The exchange rate… might… drop! Ye gods! It could be the end of the world!
The heart of the Bitcoin world will keep right on doing what they're doing.
So, yes, I want the fork. It's about time to shake out the people who are clogging up the works. Let the price fall for a while. Let the agents of the status quo go over to Bitcoin XT and leave the rest of us alone.
Now, please bear in mind that I'm under no illusion that Bitcoin is perfect. Changes may indeed be required. But anyone who seriously utters the phrase "benevolent dictator" or who pounds us with fear, or who wants to "go mainstream," excludes himself or herself from being taken seriously in the world of Bitcoin.
The agents of the status quo should fork off. And the sooner the better.