Bursting from deep within the bowels of the behemoth that is Bitcoin Maximalism, was a discussion held by Brad Mills on the SEC’s lawsuit against Ripple. Far from neutral, the host prefaced the discussion with a mewling diatribe on the holy virtues of God’s chosen cryptocurrency, BTC — a crypto he describes as a “once in a species” asset. Something he feels is so fundamentally amazing that humans will never surpass it, never create anything that even approaches its Byzantine magnificence. The Colosseum, the Hagia Sophia, and the Sistine Chapel all pale in magnificence compared to Satoshi’s holy vision. Penicillin and the internal combustion engine, oil, nuclear energy — all mere afterthoughts.
Satoshi’s invention of the blockchain is undoubtedly a revolutionary technology, but those are only a couple of pillars in the Parthenon that is understanding why Bitcoin is like a once in a species asset. Most newcomers who don’t have an understanding of the other pillars, like sound money from an Austrian economics perspective, or the importance of Bitcoin’s decentralization of anybody can run a node and enforce the rules of the network. Don’t go down a path of watching videos and listening to crypto podcasts that focus mainly on the technology narratives or network effects which causes a lot of confusion about what makes a crypto valuable.
In a panel explicitly not about Bitcoin, Brad Mills felt the need to include this preface with the additional suggestion that his followers not become lost in technological discussions but instead focus on the investment fundamentals of BTC. The suggestion that the investment fundamentals are more of what drives the value than the technological aspects is one that I find absurd. It is specifically Bitcoin’s tech that gives it the properties that have attracted investors.
There is no value in Bitcoin absent the technological innovation. These statements are indicative of how far the industry has devolved. Everyone has clustered into their disparate camps with their ideologies of decentralization, and they glower at each other with suspicion and disdain. The most prominent voices, the champions of Bitcoin, or any cryptocurrency for that matter, have become little more than priests.
This idea that we should focus specifically on the investment fundamentals to the exclusion of the tech exists predominantly in the Bitcoin community. It is entwined with the deification of Bitcoin’s technological processes. Mining is viewed as the only valid distribution and consensus methodology — a belief that the members of the SEC seem to have inherited from Bitcoin Maximalists.
The interesting thing about this stance by the SEC is that it has delayed the adoption of other blockchains for long enough that ETH is well on its way to migrating to the more efficient proof-of-stake consensus method. ETH may one day overtake Bitcoin in market cap specifically because it is a superior technology. And as Charles Hoskinson argued, when a more efficient blockchain with many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin overtakes it, what is it specifically about BTC that ensures that it will keep its value?
The Bitcoin ideology is so pervasive that the exemption proposed by Hester Pierce makes non-proof-of-work blockchain distribution a tricky affair. With crypto foundations, which are typically funded by the digital assets that they have minted, the Sword of Damocles always dangles above their head, threatening to drop in the form of an SEC enforcement action. Unless, of course, they follow the proposed exceptions set aside by members of the SEC like Hester Peirce and adopt a technology that many of us, including prominent critics like Elon Musk, think is too environmentally wasteful or slow to be workable.
Keep this in mind when you hear statements from Bitcoin Maximalists that instruct you to not “get lost in the technical arguments.” People like Brad Mills say this because they know Bitcoin cannot compete on the tech. This is an attempt to inoculate Bitcoin holders against competing blockchain frameworks, like XRP. Unlike Bitcoin, XRP can be functionally used as a currency without relying on layer 2 solutions. It features native low transaction costs and is an order of magnitude less environmentally wasteful than Bitcoin.
Outside of BTC, nothing is legitimate to the Bitcoin Maxi. To them, the cryptocurrency industry is only the Bitcoin industry. The peculiar statements by Brad Mills are part of the ideological/religious framework upon which the whole idea of Bitcoin rests. It’s the very reason we see people take to Twitter and say peculiar things like, “Bitcoin frees up trapped energy.”
The BTC belief system is religion inexorably linked with profit. Instead of a worshiper’s soul being saved, it’s the promise of future wealth and prosperity. Prominent members like Michael Saylor struggle when they try to reconcile their belief system with rational outside criticism. In an interview with EI, Saylor said that Bitcoin might be the most energy efficient technology humans have ever discovered:
Imagine if you felt like your net worth would be cut in half if you didn’t pray hard enough — or if you let annoying technical discussions poison the minds of believers. When they start asking questions, and exploring alternative blockchains, they may realize that BTC is no longer the best option.
The one good thing to come out of the absurdity espoused by BTC Maximalists is the meme-worthy reaction by Brad Garlinghouse when he was on the Anthony Pompliano podcast and asked Pomp if he thought the Chinese government could coerce the mining pool operators. Pompliano proclaimed, no. Brad’s reaction is still something I laugh about:
Nevertheless, XRP supporters should watch the discussion between the attorneys featured in the Real Vision video because many seem to think that the fight with the SEC is already over and that we don’t have a long and arduous path ahead of us. I do recommend fast-forwarding through the first few minutes unless you’re willing to risk pulling a muscle from rolling your eyes.
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