War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. BCH is fiat money.
Jimmy Song recently wrote a piece entitled BCH is fiat money which really reeks of a desperate attempt to brand his opponents with terms he knows Bitcoiners don’t like. I suspect part of his motivation may be due to the fact that Bitcoin Cash has been grabbing a lot of headlines lately and taking attention away from the coin where he invested all his money.
Further it appears that after years of being propagandized and lied to people have finally woken up and are dumping the censorship-ridden propaganda subreddit /r/bitcoin. The competing subreddit /r/btc, without censorship and manipulation, is consistently seeing more daily viewers than /r/bitcoin.
But whatever Jimmy’s motivation I figured it would be good write a reply so that people can see there are other sides to the debate.
So let’s start with Jimmy’s arguments.
BTC/BCH have different philosophies. BTC is classically liberal, anarcho-capitalist and Austrian, befitting its cypherpunk roots and is a sound money. BCH is interventionist, paternalistic and Keynesian befitting its corporate roots and is a fiat money.
While I agree that BTC has classically liberal, anarcho-capitalist, cypherpunk roots it’s rapidly moving away from roots. Many of the OG anarchist Bitcoiners (myself included) have left for greener pastures, many to Bitcoin Cash but also to Ethereum and other projects. There are a few who still remain committed to Bitcoin but they are increasingly outweighed by statists (usually silicon valley leftist types).
Very few of Core developers strike me as hardcore libertarians. I am friends with Ben Woosley who recently started contributing to Core, but besides him I can’t say with any confidence that any of the rest of them are libertarians, let alone solid anarchists.
We do know that Core developers like Mark Friedenbach and Jorge Timon believe that interest is usury, which is a typical left wing, anti-libertarian screed.
Further the obsession in the Core crowd about “store of value” and speculative trading and the corresponding lack of interest in using Bitcoin for the one thing that can actually undermine the state―money, stands in stark contrast with actual anarchists who place extreme priority building a counter economy to undermine state control.
I still remember the Core supporter on reddit last year who told me that “merchant adoption was soooooo 2014”.
Today merchant adoption is labeled as “corporatist” by Core supporters and anyone who is looking to start a business (God forbid a large business) that uses Bitcoin is looked on with extreme suspicion. After all, the Core rallying cry/propaganda line during the segwit2x drama was that “Corporations are trying to take over Bitcoin!” And various other anti-business BS.
BCH rose out of Bitmain.
Bitcoin Cash exists because Amaury Sechet, who is a very solid anarchist in his own right, got fed up waiting around for Core to increase the blocksize and released a client which forked off and did it. Whether or not Amaury received funding from Bitmain isn’t relevant. It was his decision, not Bitmain’s to fork off. And the only reason Bitcoin Cash has any value at all, is because a sizable portion of the Bitcoin community agreed with him and prefer Bitcoin Cash over Bitcoin. If it was just a Bitmain effort as Jimmy wants you to believe, BCH wouldn’t have dozens of non-Bitmain paid developers working on it (myself included) nor would it have thousands of enthusiastic users.
BCH is centralized with an elite group that determines a roadmap.
This is an amazing statement given the history of Core. That is the quintessential definition of an “elite group determining the roadmap”. The fact is Bitcoin Cash has several competing implementations (something absent from Bitcoin Core). ABC has about 60% market share and Unlimited has about 40%. Anyone paying attention knows that the developers from these two groups don’t exactly get along nor do they agree on the roadmap for Bitcoin Cash. Hence the current drama in Bitcoin Cash. If there was, as Jimmy says, an “elite group determining the roadmap” then there would be no risk of a fork in November as our BCH overloads would just dictate the protocol to us.
Alas, anyone who has read any of the headlines about Bitcoin Cash the past few weeks can see how bogus this claim is.
The method of payment use case has been subsidized by central authorities through large blocks, despite all market signals to the contrary.
One could easily turn this around and say that it’s the user’s of BTC who are being forced by a central planning committee to subsidize miners despite market signals. As BTC fees blew out to an average of $100 last year users flocked to other coins and Core’s market share dropped down to 30%. If that isn’t a central planning committee imposing their will on the system despite market signals telling them the opposite then I don’t know what is.
And this leads to power struggles like what we’re seeing now. Bitmain and Craig Wright are now fighting for control over the direction of BCH. They will probably end up splitting BCH into at least 2 coins. BCH is not a network where users are sovereign.
Notice how Jimmy is characterizing it as Bitmain vs Craig Wright. The reality is the two visions/roadmaps supported by Bitmain and Wright as also supported by large fractions of the Bitcoin Cash community. It’s not like it’s Jihan and Wright going against the will of the users. The users more or less agree with their respective camps. Hence why there will likely be a chain split. If there was no user support, the forking coin would be nearly worthless.
This phenomenon of dismissing the possibility that users could actually support a larger block roadmap has been pervasive in the Core community. It seems Jimmy simply lacks the cognitive capability of recognizing that users may actually support something he disagrees with.
There are already lots of altcoins that do what BCH does. They, like BCH are all centralized and many are superior as methods-of-payment.
First off, none are superior to BCH as a method-of-payment. You could argue that one or two, like DASH, are close but none are as well positioned to scale to large volumes the way BCH is. The reason for this is that the Bitcoin Cash developers have spent years studying the scaling problem and working on solutions. I’m not sure any other altcoin (except maybe Ethereum though it has a different mission) could say the same.
And again, while Jimmy keeps saying over and over again that Bitcoin Cash development is centralized. He’s really engaging in projection here. Bitcoin Cash has about a dozen or so developers spread across four or five different implementations and no implementation has more than 60% market share.
Besides, there are 74 different hard forks of Bitcoin at this moment
Bitcoin Cash was the first of these forks and the only one to be born out of an actual community split. There was no sizable subset of the Bitcoin community demanding the POW algorithm be changed the way there was with the blocksize. The Bitcoin Gold developers who created a fork with a POW change did so as get-rich-quick scheme. The fact that the fork is irrelevant today is testament to what happens when you fork without community support.
Despite Jimmy’s refusal to acknowledge this, Bitcoin Cash is the only coin born out of a genuine community split and hence why it’s the only one that is relevant today.
BCH is Keynesian in intervening instead of letting normal market forces play out.
It’s rich that someone who advocates a hard coded price control in the protocol says his coin is based on market forces.
The core development process is meritocratic and done by consensus. Frankly, my opponent is not a coder and is grossly mischaracterizing how Core development works.
As a developer let me tell you how the development process works. All open source development is generally based on the benevolent dictatorship model. In the case of Bitcoin there are a handful of developers who have admin access to the github repo who have final say as to what changes get merged. If you propose something these people disagree with, it simply will not make it into the codebase. That’s what being a dictator means, after all. You have final say.
To the extent that the opinions of people outside of this small group are valued or even listened to it’s generally in proportion to how much they contribute to the codebase.
There’s nothing wrong with this process per se, as it’s used in one form or another by just about every other open source project. And it is meritocratic as Jimmy says.
But what happens if the developers shoot down your ideas or make it known certain people are unwelcome and thus block alternate ideas from getting in the codebase?
The open source way of resolving this conflict is to fork the codebase and then a new set of developers can be the benevolent dictators of their new codebase and do with it what they see fit.
This happened FOUR times in the history of Bitcoin. I want to point out that these kinds of bitter disputes that end in forks are fairly rare in open source development. The fact that this happened four times in Bitcoin is testament to how disagreeable the Core developers were and how non-consensus based their development process actually is.
My opponent is characterizing an open, meritocratic process as something evil because he didn’t get his way. He lost the argument and since the market couldn’t be clearer on what it preferred, he’s chosen to come up with kooky conspiracy theories to justify his losing.
Jimmy’s view is that “the market” decided that the Core roadmap was superior and that’s why the four fork attempts did not succeed in changing the blocksize. That’s plausible. But let’s allow the reader to also consider the response by the Core developers and their supporters and allies to each one of these forks.
Every single fork attempt was viewed as a hostile act that must be stopped at all costs, no matter how unsavory or malicious. The ends justify the means type stuff.
Bitcoin-XT XT was the first fork. The response this triggered in the Core supporters was to start a massive censorship and propaganda campaign that continues to this day. Any and all mentions of XT on /r/bitcoin or bitcointalk.org were immediately deleted. Anyone voicing a dissenting opinion against the Core roadmap was banned. And anyone speaking out against the censorship was banned.
While this censorship was technically done by anonymous supporters of the Core agenda, not a single Core developer spoke out against it.
At the peak /r/bitcoin was deleting around 6,000-7,000 comments and posts per month in a desperate attempt to control and manipulate the narrative. All newcomers are indoctrinated into this narrative and thus begin right away to take part in the daily Two Minutes of Hate against Bitcoin Cash and anyone who supported increasing the blocksize.
Bitcoin Classic When Bitcoin Classic was created there was growing interest in it by the miners and consensus was starting to form around the idea of a one-time increase to 2mb. This prompted the Core developers to fly out to Hong Kong for an emergency meeting with the miners. In the meeting the Core devs got the miners to sign a loyalty pledge, pledging to not run any software other Core and in exchange the Core devs with guarantee the miners will get a 2mb blocksize in six months so long as they keep the Core devs in their monopoly position.
By the way, this is the same group of Core developers that Jimmy insists is definitely not centralized.
Six months came and went and it was obvious right from the beginning that Core had no intention of ever upholding their end of the deal to increase the blocksize. They just lied to the miners for the express purpose of killing the momentum building around Bitcoin Classic and maintaining their monopoly position on development.
Bitcoin Unlimited Unlimited was the next attempt to fork away from Core and increase the blocksize. Unlike past attempts Unlimited was actually making progress getting both miners and users to run their software. The result was some anonymous member(s) of the Core community decided to engage in illegal denial-of-service attacks against anyone running the Bitcoin Unlimited software. Unlimited users were repeatedly subjected DDoS attacks which would freeze up their computers and take their nodes offline.
While it’s true Unlimited didn’t help themselves by releasing code with a couple bugs in it, these DoS attacks were unrelated to their bugs and would have equally affected Core nodes too if they were subjected to the attack.
Segwit2x The last and final attempt to increase the blocksize was segwit2x. What was amazing about this one was there was literally only a couple hundred (at best) Core fanboys standing up and pulling out all the stops (including hat and tshirt campaigns and twitter handles and hashtags) against nearly everyone else in the community. At the end of the day I’m pretty convinced segwit2x could have worked as the opposition was really tiny in absolute numbers. They were just very VERY loud.
But the biggest reason segwit2x didn’t happen was because Bitcoin Cash had already forked off. Suddenly sticking on the Core chain and trying to make the best out of segwit and group of developers and supporters who are actively hostile to you didn’t look so hot compared to the greener pastures of Bitcoin Cash. So people gave up supporting segwit2x and just went to work on BCH.
That is the history of the four attempts to fork away from Core. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if Core’s current monopoly position is due to “the market decided” or any of the other nefarious and malicious activities detailed above.
Gavin Andresen, Mike Hearn and Jeff Garzik were all contributors to Core and I am grateful for what they did. All three are still free to contribute. I suspect they don’t want to because they don’t have the clout that they once did, but that’s entirely on them for not producing, not on the Core community.
Really? All three of them were driven out of the Core community with pitchforks. This is again an example of what I was describing above. Yes, anyone is technically “free” to contribute to Core, but only if you troll the party line set by the people at the top.
If Mike or Jeff or anyone of similar views wanted to start contributing to Bitcoin, they obviously couldn’t do it through Core. They’d have to fork. But with there now being a well established precedent that anyone who tries to fork will be viciously attacked, smeared, have their character assassinated, and be subjected to hacking attacks, nobody will bother. So Core will keep their monopoly over Bitcoin as long as the market will have it.
Free transactions aren’t free. Much like the food stamp program, the cost is being paid, just not by the user. If you look at the current incentives in BCH, every node on the network pays for the free transactions by having to transmit, validate and store these transactions. In other words, free transactions are a tax on every other node.
This might be a hard pill to swallow for Jimmy but the entire Bitcoin protocol runs on altruism as excellently highlighted by Emin Gun Sirer years ago:
Here's a partial list of altruism in and around the protocol:
- Bitcoin creates an overlay network, maintained by a gossip algorithm where a node asks other nodes for their neighbors, and thus builds its own connections to the overlay. When a node contacts you and asks you for neighbors, there is absolutely no payment and no incentive for you to respond. Every honest node who responds is responding out of altruism.
- When someone issues a transaction, the full nodes ferry these transactions all the way to miners, who then incorporate them into blocks. These intermediary nodes do this forwarding out of the kindness of their hearts at the moment, a topic analyzed by my colleagues, formerly at Microsoft Research, in their Red Balloons paper.
- Lightweight Bitcoin wallets called SPV wallets, of the kind that most people actually use on their phones, contact full nodes to ask about the disposition of certain accounts. Full nodes respond with blocks and transactions of interest to the SPV nodes. All of this happens out of the kindness of the participants.
- Full nodes could record and release or sell the IP addresses of their SPV clients, in a large breach of privacy. That they do not do this is incredibly nice of them.
- Many people issue transactions with zero fees. Miners incorporate these transactions into blocks, out of pure kindness.
- On three occasions in its history, a Bitcoin miner exceeded the 51% boundary where they could have controlled the new additions to the ledger, selectively censored transactions, and held accounts up for ransom. They did not misuse their power, once again, out of the kindness of their hearts.
- When miners exceed 34%, they could launch 34% attacks. They have not done this against Bitcoin as far as we can tell, though it has certainly happened in some altcoins.
- There is a block distribution network, operated by Matt Corallo, that connects the big miners and quickly ferries blocks around to help reduce orphan rates. Corallo operates this network out of the kindness of his heart.
- Every non-mining full node that forwards a block in which it has no transactions is doing so out of the kindness of its heart.
- Everyone who operates a seed node to help fresh nodes get connected to the overlay is doing so out of kindness. This used to be just two people. Not sure what the number is these days, but I think you can count it on two hands.
- When a new node starts up from scratch, it requests old blocks starting with the Genesis block. Every node that responds does so out of pure kindness.
- Miners did not implement or turn on replace-by-fee (RBF) functionality until recently, in a display of kindness to the merchants who take 0-confirmation transactions.
- In a fascinating discovery, made by Ittay Eyal, mining pools could infiltrate each other and engage in block discarding attacks, and, paradoxically, make more money than they would if they were to use the infiltration hashpower in their own pool. We have evidence that they occasionally do this, but it's not widespread. This is nice of them, and it's nice for the system because it increases the effective total hashpower (though if they did engage in this behavior, it would limit the size of the large pools, which would also be good).
- People freely contribute fixes and patches to the Bitcoin protocol and code. There is a substantial group of core devs who work on the core client, open source developers who work on wallet software, and even some academics who work to better the protocol. None of these activities are directly compensated.
It’s amazing how Jimmy can complain about #5 on the list and compare it to food stamps while apparently having no problem with everything else.
Getting silenced sucks, but unless the one doing the silencing is the government, it’s not illegal. My opponent seems to think he’s entitled to do whatever he wants in a private forum. Does he want some central authority to say that he must be allowed to speak? Does he want to violate the freedom of assembly and force unwilling audiences to listen to him?
Just because the owner of a forum (and in the case of reddit, the people the owners allow to be moderators) are legally permitted to behave like douchebags and censor like they're the Chinese government doesn’t mean they should do that. You’re still a dick if you do it and you’re still a dick if you support it.
And it’s not like the censorship isn’t relevant to the blocksize debate. Do you think the small block position would have as many supporters if not for the rank censorship, propaganda, and social manipulation? You’re delusional if you think it would.
I might even venture to suggest that even Jimmy has been victimized by this manufactured groupthink though I’m sure he would object to that characterization.
There have been multiple authoritarian hard forks in BCH, hard forks, or complete resets of the software created by an elite group that decides everything for everyone. Users don’t have property rights over their own money in BCH because this group controls everything.
In BCH, only the centralized power needs to be lobbied. BCH does not give users sovereignty over their own money. This is governance by fiat. Governance by authoritarian order. Interventionism instead of market driven innovation. As I’ve said, BCH is a fiat money.
Again, he just keeps repeated this banter over and over again in Orwellian fashion. Bitcoin Cash is no more centralized than Bitcoin right now. There is no statistic that supports this claim. If anything it’s the opposite. On the BTC side you have an entrenched monopoly development team with zero competition and zero alternative. Jimmy wants you to believe this is the true definition of decentralization. This is Orwellian. It’s only because he likes the policies of this monopoly development team that he’s insisting to everyone who will listen that it’s really not controlled by a small group of people.
On the other hand, BCH has two primary dev teams (three if count nChain). While two or three isn’t that much better than just one, at least users have some choice and developers aren’t just told to fall in line or don’t contribute.
The governance process of BCH is centralized. There’s an elite group that decides what the users must upgrade to. They “listen” to the users, but ultimately, they make the decisions. This is evident as the governance process is not transparent at all and the “roadmap” is decided by this elite group.
Again, it’s like he thinks if he just repeats this line over and over people will believe it as true. And it’s definitely not projection.
There’s more I could critique here but I think the reader will get the picture. At the end of the day if Bitcoin were really in great shape Core supporters wouldn’t feel this incessant need to “attack down” and try to smear competitors with false comparisons to fiat and the like.
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