If you are alive, in crypto, and haven't tried the "stick your fingers in your ears and go nahnahnahnahnah" method of research on the world wide interwebz, you may have heard Jack Mallers' speech with Strike, and their initiative that led to El Savador's announcement to push a bill, making Bitcoin legal tender for their small, forward thinking country.
The past 2 months of crypto have revealed a manipulated divide among communities, tribes of online coin maxi's dueling for relevance, market share, and maximum pumpability. For Gordon, it has been a fight worth remaining in, for the hope of educating rather than pushing people in one direction or another.
While Max and Michael may have started the Bitcoin Miami 2021 Conference out with a bang that was a little bit cringe, okay a lot... there were a few exponential miles of well-planted crypto crops ready for water, soil, and now its just time to let them grow. Nothing provided better book-ends to the Bitcoin show better than Jack Mallers' tearful presentation that led to the announcement that Bitcoin, the pioneer to the industry, has finally been given a home... or so it sounds depending on approval, as El Salvador's new legal tender.
The first thing this made me aware of, is how incredibly divided crypto has become, and I do not see that as a good thing.
I try to view the world based on my own analysis, but I do so while taking in a massive amount of data. I look at the in/out flow of coins on exchanges. I read individual sentiment. I look to see which hype makes the minute-to-minute emphasis on YouTube. I try to learn from the experts, for which 2021 truly may have been the first year to offer us actual "experts" in crypto, while years have provided a lot of smart guesswork influencers and people who absolutely never disappoint to read every, single, market, wrong, but we are in constantly unprecedented times. It doesn't end.
Last year, we were giddy if Starbucks was considering blessing us with their willingness to accept crypto payments. By the end of the year, PayPal added crypto to every U.S. PP account. Now, Venmo, CashApp and oh... did I mention, maybe a country?
Over the years, there have been "this is my camp, that is your camp" maxi wars that make crypto seem either the IQ or maturity level of 4th grade recess. The "flippening" discussions of people pumping their bags, desperate for the moment when their precious cargo outranks Bitcoin. That hasn't worked yet. So, we get the "decoupling" movement, where adding new pairs from top coins was sure to reduce Bitcoin dominance in the market and eventually allow a coin like XRP to rise to the top.
I understand wanting price action. Especially for people that have had their limit orders sitting dormant on the books since 2017, waiting for that $5 XRP everyone was certain was right around the corner.
But, 2021 thus far has been a year of resilience and ridiculous Bull pumps, unfortunately leaving piles of cow patties behind. For the real market advancements and exciting events taking place, I believe the underlying truth is going to be that there are tens of thousands of new bag holders who are starting to wonder if their clown billionaire dictators are actually going to come through for them, or whether they were learning what it was like to be inside the disturbed mind of a stoned futurist with aspergers. I don't mind market manipulation; I expect it. I don't like people manipulation, and there's a lot of weaker personalities unsure what to make of this space.
So, I have to imagine that 3-5 years ago, when the entirety of talk in the young, growing crypto space was about mass adoption, and I mean 100% was about adoption, here we are, with all the markings of mass, mass, mass adoption, making steps into the merging of markets, banks showing that they are not ignoring where this is heading, crypto trying to move capital into their own banking systems to eliminate the Obama-era blocking of crypto-business accounts, and now the serious question/answer of shaking the green ESG monster off the industry's back long enough to enjoy the more technical arguments over PoW and PoS. Crypto is just starting to arrive. It has indices on the major exchanges. Mining companies are going public. In my newsfeed and push-newsletters crypto is the first news in "stock" news ever week this year.
We are still early. But, we are divided. There is more bully-ness here and in social media, more trolling, more divisive tribalism, more overall nastiness, and I can't help but think this is what it is like when people get serious about money. A lot of people lost their jobs last year. A lot of businesses based around local communities, brick and mortar, are simply gone. Small hubs of large cities are becoming tent cities of the new homeless. UBI is becoming a serious conversation. These things are not good.
I'm certainly focusing more on Bitcoin right now, since we're talking the biggest news bites of the Miami conference. But, crypto should be about taking a look at the bigger picture, taking it all in, and looking at what is best for our industry to grow. There is a piece of "what is happening" in crypto taking place in every corner of Bitcoin's ecosystem. Scale, speed, efficiency, from green mining to Lightning Network, banks, serving struggling communities that appreciate what crypto brings more than the speculative market, and more. This was a pocket of time for the world to focus on the OG of crypto, to come together, support the market leader, to observe what it is doing. In a day or so comes the BS...V conference, and unless it's a joke, which I don't think it is, I want to watch, listen, and learn from these guys as well. They may very well have some superior ideas in how their blockchain has developed, but they will never win my support, having witnessed the minute to minute, hour by hour of the hash rate wars. Ver and Wright were unforgivably willing to destroy the entire industry with their venom and banter, and yesterday served more of the same, as Ver dogged on Bitcoin like the evil alter-ego episode of every TV series, if one were to flashback to his early days of educating the world about Bitcoin. The jealousy and misguided anglings are an embarrassment to the community as much as people's requests for the Bitcoin maxi's to stop going full-nuke to the rest of the arena.
I am not crypto-neutral. I am not a coin-agnostic. I do pick favorites, and I have experienced, from the hard way, that not all coins deserve the merits they claim, and not all coins are going to rise to the top, and not all bags are created equal. I embrace the extremely different positives taking place from the new, rising projects like GEEQ, to the old standards taking a long stroll towards 2.0 like ETH. It is very possible that the crypto world can provide services like a CD for crypto like HEX, while providing an easy-to-launch platform 'world computer' like ETH for ERC20 coins, NFT collectibles for people that want to offer patronage, and people who's favorite mascot Doge may or may not wreck them. There's room here for everyone. The only times you will ever find me intentionally leading a divide, is when I am concerned about people being purposefully divided from their investments.
So, this thing that happened at the Bitcoin conference, with El Salvador making a move to provide Bitcoin to its people as an official legal tender, can have implications that stretch the entire industry, from mining to tax law, from a domino of other countries to the CBDC war between China and the rest of the world. Is it a good thing? They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I have zero doubt... absolutely zero doubt, that big waves, big problems are going to come from what could appear like a positive move in the right direction.
I personally have always, and will always, take the position that Bitcoin is better off with as little regulation as possible. I believe that we want exchanges with as much, or as little centralization as possible. I believe in exchanges as localized or mass-appeal as they want. I believe in exchanges with as much, or as little KYC as they wish. When there is a hack, I expect security lessons to be learned and for 100% of user accounts to be unaffected or backed by cold storage. Only when a serious event is extortion, theft, laundering, do I want to hear about government intervention, and it should only be in the attempt to punish and recover funds. Sure, this is an area that suffers lag and failure in most cases, but that is equally true in the 'real' world outside crypto, and has been the case the history of the internet.
Crypto has survived growing up, growing pains, learning from Mt. Gox-sized lessons, and prior to years like 2020, the message has been each wave of users helping to educate new arrivals with welcoming arms. On the one hand, I am disappointed in our community for the ridiculous saltiness. The Bitcoin maxi haters showing jealousy and bitterness in moments that are a win for the entire community. It is petty and embarrassing. Equally, the Bitcoin maxi bull-headishness can take form as intimidation instead of confidence, and it is equally cringe. I am not a side-liner. I am not passively in this game. But, I do see the bigger picture. The mature, level-headed members of the community should be having the intelligent conversations about crypto, and at the pace of this cyber-society, these conversations should be happening every day. Now is our time. But, that is always the case. NOW is the moment we should be taking advantage of growing this industry into what it can become.
So, bringing this all around. I am excited about what Mallers has accomplished. I'm also excited about El Salvador considering the promise of Lightning and what it can offer for their economy and especially their citizens. Does better money fix corruption? I don't know. Sometimes, it seems the establishment's most corrupt evils of the banking sector bark the loudest about worries of money laundering and theft in crypto, while poised and organized to steal from every single person's wealth 1000x.
I am concerned that govt history of corruption, power, greed, manipulation of the worst kind, wars and rumors of wars, instability (and did I mention greed?) and social Marxism means we should all be very concerned over any governmental adoption of Bitcoin. It is the largest, oldest, most significant player in crypto. When governments pile in, we can expect all of the conversations to change. It isn't going to be about El Salvador nearly as much as it is about the implications to the EU, U.S., China, Russia, and the powerhouse banking systems in Singapore. Everyone will weigh in, and the arguments like ESG will pale in comparison to real threats of centralization.
But, "Bitcoin fixes this" is going to go through its first serious, publicly scrutinized test in real world conditions that have never been served by a corporate presence fronting a decentralized open ledger network protected by global energy distribution. It is one of the most interesting events in our time. Consider the power displacement that has come from public oil companies backing the petro-dollar basis, and now we could be seeing Strike, MicroStrategy, Square, Kraken 'Bank', exchanges and coin projects re-positioning power grids and energy efficiencies across countries, changing the demographics of energy-as-political power. I don't know if anyone is truly seeing the bigger picture here, but it is huge.
Us normies, plebs, don't often sit at the same table as the quants who are 300 steps ahead, in the conversations we barely even have yet to fathom. The talks of how energy use can change from oil to batteries, both which have terrible environmental issues, and the countries that will battle over control, perhaps even new wars based on the potential economic shifts that could occur. Meanwhile, gold reserves have been an equal play for power and protection against national insolvency. What about natural resources like lumber, coal, copper? All of these things are becoming more and more critical to the balance of superpowers. It isn't an ongoing debate for intellectuals alone. Last year, we witnessed what happens when the world's population joins in a social and psychological experiment never seen to this scale. It is science and intel that made it possible for a global psyop to provide statistical information on how to control populations. We aren't finished with any of these things, but we are going to see what year one of the Bitcoin experiment does, when placed directly on top of all of these issues.
None of us truly know if El Salvador is the first step in a good direction, bad direction, or the most likely mix of the two.
We must always recognize, if not embrace, the duality of the crypto-enthusiast's desire to break from the system, escape corruption, run from tyranny, and build back better, pardon the pun, with something less agonizingly corrupt, and the fact that we have a hard time not seeking acceptance from banks, approvals, markets, tickers, and big firms. This is an era of institutional interest, and poopcoin shenanigans. I hope we can, as a community, get a little less jaded, and a little more serious about the time we are living in. Let's be more supportive, argue the important points but not use the arguments to pit against each other. Let's keep a fair and focused approach to see whether politics can enter a deeper core of solving social issues while hopefully leaving out the leviathin of the EU and U.S. Congress, CCP and Russia on our steady climb towards freedom.
And on that note, a lofty crypto Gordon Freeman sharing cautious optimism after a mega-week in crypto, for now... out.