The tribalism in cryptocurrency has gained much media attention and social media discussion. I think we all realise by now that outrage sells; it gets clicks it creates engagement, and plays into the hands of big tech platforms.
So why would Bitcoin and cryptocurrency discussions turn into anything different?
I can see how easy it is to get lost in the various shouting matches and narratives. It can be unpleasant, and many naturally tend to tune out completely. When arguments descend into name-calling like the school playground, the chance of anything constructive coming from it diminishes at a rapid rate and trends towards zero.
I guess that’s fitting since most of the coins backed by proponents who throw out these insults will see their coin trend the same way over time.
The most famous name calling has to be the term Bitcoin maximalist coined to discredit those who solely advocate for Bitcoin. It infers that this person is close-minded, arrogant, selfish and jealous.
The maximalist cannot understand the value created in these other projects, that they are jealous their coin isn’t producing the same returns or don’t want other projects to thrive and create wealth for others the same way Bitcoin has for them.
Now that you have the simple gist of it let’s blow it apart and look through the nuance of this so-called insult or badge of honour in some circles.
Maximalism exists on a spectrum.
There are very few things that are entirely binary in this world; there is always nuance. And the same goes for Bitcoin maximalism; I feel maximalism exists on a spectrum. I think you can transition between different parts of maximalism, and I don’t see why that is anyone’s business.
- Some have done the work and feel that Bitcoin is the goal worth fighting for and wants to focus their energies on it.
- Some have not done the work, but find it easy to parrot off what other maxis say
- Some recognise the opportunity in shitcoins, and are willing to use this rehypothecation of fiat value to flip it for more Bitcoin.
- Some realise Bitcoin is so time-consuming that they cannot offer much intellectual capacity to anything else.
- Some believe it’s all about free-market actors and people need to get burned in the altcoin market; but they won’t participate.
- Some dismiss everything that’s not without constructive criticism.
Like any group, it’s always those entirely on the fringes that seem to get the most attention. The subset that is most sensationalised is used as an example for the group to dismiss its credibility.
So despite there being so many variations, all bitcoin maximalists are labelled as the lazy, arrogant and toxic kind. It’s a label you have to accept, and I think most maximalists understand it comes with the territory.
Having grown up as a minority myself, I know how easy it is to have a derogatory term thrown at you to dismiss anything you say. I know what it’s like to be called something that dismisses your intellectual rigour and any effort you’ve put into coming to your conclusions. I know what it’s like to be judged on the surface and not the content of your character and your arguments.
It’s intellectually lazy and is used to avoid engagement as if you can never make a viable point because you are of this class of people.
And like I feel no shame in being called those derogatory terms based on my appearance, I feel no shame to be called a maxi, closed-minded maxi, maxi pad or whatever derivative of that term can be thrown at me.
I’ve realised when all that can be thrown at you is insults it’s because, on the battlefield of ideas, your opponent realises they’re going to lose to logic and reason.
The essence of Bitcoin maximalism
One thing that distinguishes Bitcoin maximalists from the rest of the crowd is that they look beyond the application of blockchains to this or that niche. They see beyond oh let’s technically improve the blockchain for certain short term advantages and see Bitcoin as a currency and technology with profound implications for monetary economics, censorship, and governance.
In other words, regardless of Bitcoin’s price, the very architecture of Bitcoin is what makes it so revolutionary. Bitcoin is a technology but transcends the technology play and reaches deep socioeconomic and consumer behaviour issues that plague our world.
Bitcoin maximalists are focusing on an effective method of redistributing wealth to the best use cases for the planet. Bitcoin is a tool to repair the gross misallocation of fiat.
Goals like these far outstrip debates on look how many transactions my chain can do per second. AWS can perform millions of transactions, but it doesn’t mean people are AWS maxi’s; there’s more to it than being right and getting rich.
It’s a byproduct of Bitcoins success, not the end goal.
What is the issue with Bitcoin maximalists?
Bitcoin maximalism has its hurdles to overcome, definitely in the communication department, but like any new product, it is refined with time. The market will either see it fold completely or turn into a valuable force for the consumer’s good; that’s how free markets operate.
It’s not all pretty marketing and copywriting; the free market is messy since anyone can participate.
The discovery of Bitcoin is reshaping the way we think of everything we do; it has such grand ambitions. We are only scraping the surface to how it will change the way we operate as a modern society, with Bitcoin creeping into more of the world citizens and operations.
Of course, creating such a monumental shift in the world will see others try to mimic the product; for every great product, you’ll see knock offs. Can you name a currency in recent history that hasn’t seen someone try to counterfeit it in some way, shape or form?
Many of the altcoins and the subsequent variations of blockchain networks have come into existence because of the limitations of the Bitcoin network in its current state.
Some of the challenges and limitations are not worth solving with blockchain others are poor implementations, and some are outright scams.
Rome was not built in a day, and Bitcoin has so much to focus on right now.
I like to think of it as we all realise the need for mobile access to music, now we get it on our smartphone with apple music or Spotify. However, iPods were a thing, and so were walkmans.
Sure they had utility for a brief period, but it wasn’t enough to sustain the product existence; the market naturally absorbed the superior use case. That innovation happening on the fringes, if valuable enough, will eventually be subsumed by the network with the largest user base and deepest liquid.
I am not an everything will be built on Bitcoin or Bitcoin side chains type of person; I am, however, one that thinks centralisation, distributed and decentralised products and services will all exist; they have not found their niche yet.
However, money needs to be completely decentralised, and that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.
Maximalists do not fear competition.
A common misconception regarding maximalism is advocating for a new monopoly on money. They want a new system where the Bitcoin holder now lives on top of the food chain. They fear new technology, innovation and, of course, competition.
I don’t see this to be the case at all; I think people discount the gravity of the issue Bitcoin is trying to solve, especially those who are privileged enough to spend their time and money shitcoining.
I can tell you I am not one of those; if Bitcoin doesn’t work out, I think we will face some pretty dark days.
I’ve spoken previously about how I think shitcoins are bullish for Bitcoin. They allow you to see the real-time competition of collective technologies, ideas, resources and talent. I think it provides for a measuring stick to compare with Bitcoin and showcase the failure of low time preference thinking.
Time brings about the best lessons, and humans learn best through trial and error and watching people error correct in their own time is a wonderful thing and shouldn’t be an experience we should take away from others.
Learning from one’s own mistakes is a fundamental human experience, which I’ve gone through myself. In doing so, I can confidently say that many shitcoin advocates today will be wrecked and migrate to Bitcoin maximalism soon.
Innovation should be allowed to happen and will, regardless of what Bitcoin maxis are saying. It doesn’t mean you should be putting your life savings in something that may or may not take off.
I think that hating on maxi’s is feeling the insecurity of your product; if your product is to be battle-tested, it needs to pass the stress test. If you’re confident of your product or service, there should be nothing to worry about since you’re creating real value.
As many consumer protection firms review products to see if it’s safe for consumers in the centralised world, so too do maxi’s offer this service to the free market.
There are no rules and regulators in this nascent asset class.
The digital asset space is still formative, despite Bitcoin being over a decade old. As the sector continues to evolve at such a rapid pace outside the confines of centralised authorities, it’s been a digital wild west. Since code is open source, the barrier to entry is so low that anyone can come in and create an idea and experiment with it in the open market with no restrictions.
It uses a sandbox environment for product development that would normally only reach the public once it proves a use case. Yet, it bypasses all that and delivers a product straight to market. The product or service can then have complete access to real value and real investors.
Since most of us aren’t used to this kind of unrestricted access, our ability to discern opportunities from scams is completely non-existent. Our over-reliance on centralised authorities to protect us from harmful products and services has seen us stunt our growth in the critical thinking department.
These senses are completely atrophied to a point where we look for simple touchpoints to provide us with validation. Instead of doing your research, we look at implications like:
- Follower counts on social media
- What our peers are saying
- Influencer messaging
- Price and market cap
- Press releases
Instead of thinking, we use reference points, and all these touchpoints are easily manipulated and therefore tricks the mind in the process. When you move into a place with danger at very concern, completely ill-equipped to handle it, you’re asking for trouble.
Heading into the vast openness of the cryptocurrency space is moving to Mars and thinking you can cope with all the harsh elements of this new planet.
Maximalism is a natural market function.
Since there is no protection afforded to you by central authorities, nor will there ever be effective policing of the space, Bitcoin maximalism has spawned to provide decentralised consumer protection.
Instead of lawyers with expensive degrees and power suits getting paid to advocate for your rights. You now have random online accounts with names like @hodlmybeeer and @deepfuckinghodl69 telling you what a complete shit show it is and what a moron you are for believing these narratives.
Sure the message can do with a little refinement, it’s crude and harsh, but the intentions are the same. I’m not making excuses for all the online berating and shouting. All I am saying is that in the decentralised world, consumer protection takes on a different form.
Bitcoin maximalists have actively gone and done the research, they’ve used the product, they’ve taken the financial losses on your behalf, and they’re offering you empirical evidence with a dash of insults. Of course, in the decentralised world, there is no cohesion. We cannot enforce rules, so you’re still free to ignore the message of Bitcoin maximalists.
You are under no obligation to believe them nor to listen. I am not saying you should trust any maximalist, verify what they say, listen to counterarguments, take their points to task and engage in the debates. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll uncover once you look past the shouting online; they’re not all crazy DOTA players garage mining in their mom’s basements.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss the value maximalism brings; it sprung up for a reason, there is a market demand for their services; if not, it would not exist.
Since you are free to tune out of their frequency and find the safe space echo chamber you prefer, in the end, only you can save yourself. Bitcoin maximalists can only provide you with the collective wealth of experience, experimentation and intellectual rigour; they cannot make decisions for you.
In the end, your path is your own to walk, but know this; it could have been slightly easier.