June 4, 2021, Bitcoin Conference, Miami, Florida: Max Keiser steps on stage, in a white suit, in winning fashion, shouting,
“Yes! Yes! We didn’t! We didn’t! F * CK ELON! F * CK ELON! ”
This clip has attracted a lot of online criticism, most of them already looking for something to criticize, but also from some pro-Bitcoin people. But what was the effect? And how badly can bitcoins hit bitcoin?
I’ll do more with Max Keizer later.
The most underrated aspect of Bitcoin is the nature of its fully distributed (often also referred to as decentralized) nature, both in the case of mine and node operators. But this notion of decentralization extends to Bitcoiners themselves: key developers, miners, podcasters, academics, media personalities, businessmen, on-chain analysts, venture capitalists, and plumbers all must come together. However, due to the “opt-in” nature of Bitcoin, attempts to typecast Bitcoin usually fail.
How can bitcoins harm bitcoin? I think this is a difficult question, but is considered the best when turned around. If you were a secret agent and could send someone to weaken Bitcoin – who would you send it to and what would they do?
Let’s consider some recent candidates. Author Nasim Nicholas Taleb has covered many topics in his books (such as “Fool by Randomness,” “Black Swan,” “Antifragil,” and “Skin in the Game”) that resonate with Bitcoin’s principles. He was a Bitcoin advocate for many years and wrote the foreword to The Bitcoin Standard, one of the most popular Bitcoin books of recent years.
As is well known, Taleb announced quite abruptly that he sold all his bitcoins in February 2021 and doubled the actual value of bitcoins by writing a “black paper” denouncing it as zero. This would certainly seem detrimental to Bitcoin. However, the ideas expressed in his research paper do not suggest suddenly gaining new insights from something inside Bitcoin. His arguments need to stand on their own merits (or lack thereof) in any way. I would argue that Taleb has only joined the ranks of existing bitcoin opponents, of which there are already plenty.
Many of Taleb’s ideas still resonate in his books. He was once famously asked about his views on Microsoft as a stock and he commented that since he was not long or short on the stock, he was not qualified to give his opinion on the matter. Skin is important in sports.
The irony is that he wrote a “black paper” calling the value of Bitcoin zero, and yet Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be long or short. Then he has no clear skin in the game, then.
Let’s consider another possible secret agent – Elon Musk! What better way to make Bitcoin smaller than by constantly plugging Dogcoin and labeling it “crypto”? The reason is, if Dogcoin is a comparative investment with Bitcoin, why not Baby Dog? Etc. Second, he has publicly questioned the environmental impact of Bitcoin.
Many people involved with Bitcoin will find the activity of the mask quite frustrating; At best it can be described as learning in public, and he’s not there yet. One thing I will mention is that verbs speak louder than words. Just in terms of his actions, in 2021 Elon Musk personally bought bitcoins like Tesla and SpaceX and still owns it. I suspect we haven’t heard the end of this story yet.
Taking Elon Musk’s environmental comments, there has been a clear backlash against this narrative from others in recent months. For example, Lynn Alden commented earlier this year that the power use of Bitcoin may not be the real problem, but the general idea of its power use. Bitcoins are now correcting mistakes.
Coming back to the idea of Bitcoins criticizing Bitcoin, I think there is an interesting contrast to the recent BBC documentary shown in the UK that Sir Michael Pauline presented on North Korea. When he asked his guide why North Koreans do not criticize their leaders, he replied that the leaders represent the nation, of which they are all an inherent part, adding that “criticizing our leaders is like criticizing us.”
It was a compelling expression of a slight amount of unity, but scratched the bottom of the surface and it was a pretty horrible condition. There is no room for controversy or error correction, and in fact North Korean citizens have no choice but to belong to the nation because they do not have independent borders.
Bitcoin is the complete opposite. Bitcoin itself does not prevent entry or exit. It is now perhaps the epitome of leader-free speech and error correction.
Bitcoins can only damage a huge number of bitcoins. I would recommend reading Jonathan Bear’s “The Blockchain Wars” if you want to understand the events of 2015-2017 around the proposed changes to the Bitcoin protocol. The fact that this phenomenon seems to be happening again today is probably another example of the antifragility of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin can be seen as a one-way valve in its operations. It has the ability to take board improvements from benevolent actors, but throws away those who want to harm them.
With all of this in mind, let’s think about Mack Kaiser and its fascinating entrance to the Bitcoin conference. Of course, it can have its own reasons for making a lasting impression! For effect, in my opinion:
(1) It has absolutely no effect on Bitcoin. Max Keizer knows that he or virtually anyone can enter that stage even if they like it and it won’t make any difference for the future of Bitcoin.
(2) Max Keizer’s extra talent is that he appreciates that the moment an observer sees a watch perfectly, they are one step closer to understanding their own bitcoin.
In short, toxic excess does not actually have a major impact on the success or failure of technology, and it is simply an aspect of an indifferent community.
This is a guest post from BitcoinActuary. The opinions are entirely their own and BTC Inc Bitcoin Magazine.