June 4, 2021 Bitcoin Conference, Miami, FL: Max Keizer steps onto the stage in a white suit, in a triumphant manner, shouting,
“Yes! Yes! We are not finished! We are not finished! F*CK ELON! F*CK ELON!”
This clip has attracted a lot of criticism online, probably mostly from those who are already looking for something to criticize, but also from some pro-Bitcoin. But what is the effect? And how much can Bitcoin hurt?
I’ll have more on Max Keizer later.
The most underrated aspect of Bitcoin is its fully distributed (often described as decentralized) nature, both in terms of miners and node operators. But this concept of decentralization also extends to Bitcoiners themselves: core developers, miners, podcasters, educators, media personalities, merchants, on-chain analysts, venture capitalists and the general public are certainly groups. However, due to the nature of Bitcoin “subscription”, attempts to dress up Bitcoins usually fail.
How can bitcoins harm bitcoins? I think it’s a tough question, but it’s best to consider when getting around. If you were a secret agent and could send someone to mine bitcoin – who would you send, and what would they do?
Let’s think of two new candidates. Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb has covered many topics in his books (such as “Fooled by Randomness,” “Black Swan,” “Antifragile,” and “Skin in the Game”) that fit the principles of Bitcoin. He has for many years been a loosely-approved Bitcoin advocate, writing the preface to the best-known Bitcoin book in recent years, “The Bitcoin Standard.”
As is known, a student somewhat abruptly announced that he sold all his bitcoins in February 2021, and doubled down on it by writing a “black paper” denouncing the true value of bitcoin as zero. This could certainly seem harmful to Bitcoin. However, the concepts expressed in his research paper do not indicate the wealth of new insights suddenly gained from being a kind of Bitcoin insider. His arguments need to stand on their own merits (or lack thereof) in either case. I would argue that Talib has simply joined the ranks of the current Bitcoin critics, of whom there are already many.
Many of Taleb’s ideas still resonate in his books. He was once asked what he thought of Microsoft as a popular stock, and noted that since he was neither long nor short in the stock, he was not qualified to give his opinion on it. The skin in the game is important.
The irony is that he wrote a “black paper” denouncing the value of bitcoin as zero, yet it now appears to be neither long nor short on bitcoin. He doesn’t have an obvious in-game appearance there, then.
Let’s think of another potential secret agent – Elon Musk! What better way to degrade Bitcoin than to endlessly connect Dogecoin and call it a “crypto,” essentially calling into question the notion of digital Bitcoin scarcity? The reason is that if the Dogecoin is an investment similar to Bitcoin, why not the Little Doji too? and so on and so on. Second, he publicly questioned Bitcoin’s environmental impact.
Many Bitcoin participants will find Musk’s actions very frustrating; At best it can be described as learning in public, which is not yet around. One thing I would like to point out is that actions speak louder than words. Just in terms of his actions, in 2021 he personally bought Elon Musk and still owns as much bitcoin as Tesla and SpaceX. I guess we haven’t heard the end of this story yet.
If we take Elon Musk’s environmental comments, in recent months there has been concrete opposition to this narrative by others. For example, Lyn Alden noted earlier this year that Bitcoin’s energy use may not be an actual problem, but the public perception of its energy use is. Bitcoiners are now working on debugging.
Going back to the idea of Bitcoiners criticizing Bitcoin, I think there is an interesting contrast here with a A recent BBC documentary Appears in the UK and presented by Sir Michael Palin on North Korea. When his guide asked why North Korean citizens never criticize their leaders, she replied that the leaders represent the nation, of which they are all an intrinsic part, adding, “Criticizing our leaders is like criticizing ourselves as well.”
This was somewhat of a disguised expression of loneliness, but scratched beneath the surface and it’s a very tense state. There is no opportunity to debate or correct mistakes, and indeed, North Korean citizens have no choice but to belong to the nation, and they have no free borders.
Bitcoin is the exact opposite. Bitcoin is not in itself barriers to entry – or exit. He may now be the embodiment of freedom of expression and righting wrongs without a leader.
Bitcoiners can only harm Bitcoin in large numbers. I recommend reading “The Blocksize Wars” by Jonathan Bier, for anyone looking to make sense of the 2015-2017 events around the proposed changes to the Bitcoin protocol. The fact that this seems far from happening again today is perhaps another example of Bitcoin’s vulnerability.
Bitcoin can be considered in its operation as a one-way valve. She has the power to take improvements from charitable actors, but she rocks those who seek to do her harm.
After considering all of that, let’s think again about Max Keizer and his amazing entry at the Bitcoin Conference. Of course, he may have his own reasons for making a lasting impression! As for the effect, in my opinion:
(1) It had no effect on Bitcoin. Max Keizer knows that he – or indeed anyone – can get into this phase however they like and it won’t make any difference to the future of Bitcoin.
(2) The added genius of Max Keizer is that he appreciates that the moment the observer fully points to a single point, they come close to understanding Bitcoin themselves.
In short, toxic extremism has no greater impact on the success or failure of the technology itself, and is just an aspect of an enthusiastic community.
This is a guest post by BitcoinActuary. The opinions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.