The Time For Deposition Has Come
“A long Habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of Custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more Converts than Reason.
As a long and violent abuse of power is generally the means of calling the right of it in question, (and in matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry,) and as Bitcoin Core hath undertaken in their own right, to support the Developers in what they call theirs, and as the good People of this Economy are grievously oppressed by the Combination, they have an undoubted privilege to enquire into the Pretensions of both, and equally to reject the Usurpation of either.”
This is an open letter to the entire bitcoin ecosystem, and I fear it is arriving far too late. It is with a heavy heart that I lay this pen to page to copy down a terrible truth: bitcoin is stagnating. This truth comes at the end of dreary trudge through a network bogged down in untenable transaction speeds. The blockchain that we all know and love has become bloated under the volume of transactions now flying across its blocks, and is now so sufficiently strained under the press of the influx, that the backlog of its ledger will be consistent and eternal. Transaction verifications are being pushed hours, if not days out unless of course you’re willing to spend your hard earned bits bidding for a place in the next block. Such a position we now find our lauded crypto currency, the veritable honey badger of money, bitcoin, brought to such a state!
Was it not Satoshi Nakamoto himself, the brain of the individual or the collective, that gave us the blockchain in origin? Was it not this entity that coded no original limits upon block size, and enacted the 1mb limitation of today out of necessity?
Satoshi’s intentions were laid out explicitly and without dissonance. His vision: a truly peer to peer electronic cash system without central control that would change the way the world viewed and exchanged currency. He placed the foundation and coded the framework for this economic marvel that we are all rejoicing in today, and yet somehow, the blockchain he so carefully cultivated is running with slightly different parameters than he originally intended.
Surely enough, in it’s true infancy, it made far more sense for Bitcoin to be limited to such small blocks. With the average size of a transaction being less than a kilobyte up until about eighteen months ago, what use would anyone have for much more than a 1mb limit? Such a cap would require much larger storage requirements for miners, thus increasing mining fees and placing a fledgling experiment under ever greater strain. But while logical at one time, this logic does bear an expiration date, and this limitation has already come to pass. That was then, this is now.
Bitcoin is not some passive, dismissable experiment any longer. It is a global entity with a worth of over ten billion dollars operated by hundreds of thousands of users upon every developed continent. Where there is internet access, and cheap power to boot, bitcoin mines are to be found, producing and maintaining the blockchain.
Enter Bitcoin Core. Bitcoin Core, or more simply Core, is the mantle of the original Bitcoin client, written in C++, passed down by Satoshi Nakamoto. Later rebranded, and expanded, Core is the platform upon which the majority of Bitcoin Mining is performed.
But wait, you say! Surely there are other Bitcoin mining clients besides Core’s platform. Haven’t you heard about Bitcoin XT, or Bitcoin Classic? Weren’t those viable platforms as well?
It is with regret that I must confer that no, they are not viable alternatives any longer. They were killed off, for they suggested a truly heinous thing indeed: a hard fork! Diverging away from the original block chain that Core controls so closely, to a new chain with a higher block size limit. And although this migration would mitigate any issues the network is currently experiencing with transaction restrictions, Core strategically struck down these prospective offshoots, leaving only the problem they were attempting to solve.
The phrase “hard fork” is now so toxic in certain communities, mentioning it aloud carries a higher likelihood for retaliatory censorship or outright banning over being verbally engaged in an open discussion. But a question for Core: Why, exactly, is this? It is no secret, the Reddit community of r/bitcoin is now a mockery of free speech upon the topic of anything that is not Bitcoin Core. Anyone who would raise a discussion there, even an intellectual one, upon a topic deemed unworthy by the mods would find themselves typically immediately censored. Their posts removed, their accounts shadowbanned, and their post and comment history flooded with down votes. Such a caustic response! Heaven help the plebeian who wanders into their community seeking unbiased information.
So here we sit, a community of thousands plagued with a network incapable of handling our daily transaction demands. And one of the more frustrating elements: this problem is far from new. The issue of the ever closing bottleneck of the block cap has been a topic of discussion in actual intellectual Bitcoin communities for years now. And while at that time the issue was not so pressing, it has remained none the less a foreseeable and fixable problem. But this now brings us around to a truly important question: why isn’t the problem already resolved?
Bitcoin Core has inherited the mantle of responsibility for insuring the health of the Bitcoin network, and and as of yet, has produced virtually nothing to begin addressing this problem. Apart from continuously dismissing any solutions that they themselves have not created, they have been dogmatically inactive in addressing this looming difficulty. They have made promise after promise, and have yet remained resolutely lethargic in their delivery. Segregated Witness, the very much over promised and under delivered Core “soft fork” solution to this issue, was due months ago, and is as of yet absent. To be sure, you may visit Core’s website, and read article after article vaunting the majesty of Segwit, but the proof is in the pudding, and as of today, there is zero pudding to even be had.
Enter Bitcoin Unlimited. The logical continuation of the sentiments left echoing from Bitcoin XT and Classic. An approachable answer to the block size problem with a permanent solution: scalability.
Bitcoin Core’s solution of Segwit requires every single platform to be rewritten in terms of code, and even then only extends the MAX_BLOCK_SIZE by a multiplier of 1.7x. That means that every wallet in existence, whether or not they are created by Core, will need to undergo a mutation to remain viable and attached to the Blockchain. This is madness! What an insane response to something so simple! What happens when this Segregated Witness becomes unviable in the future as more and more individuals join the network? What will Core do, rewrite the entire Segwit code again, forcing every prospective user of these fabled “new nodes” to update all of their software again?
Bitcoin Unlimited seems to be the only sane voice of logic in this arena of loud illogical voices. By utilizing a scalable block cap, MINERS, not a DEVELOPMENT TEAM, choose what size blocks they will accept, and in a system that utilizes a decentralized currency, is it not the voices of ALL the individuals helping to create and maintain the public ledger that should be heard? There is just one problem with Bitcoin Unlimited in the minds of Core: it is a hard fork.
And Core is not being silent about their distaste towards Unlimited. On all forums playing host to pro-Core rhetoric, Unlimited is attacked and slandered. All manner of accusations are leveled: “Unlimited is a hostile takeover!”, “There will be two Blockchains!”, “Do these idiots not remember Ethereum?”, “Who are these untested devs?! We can never trust them!”
Bitcoin Unlimited has always been, from inception, open source, just like the original Bitcoin client that Core inherited. Satoshi knew he wanted to create a community without trusted intermediaries. The notion of everything being shared and discussed would be critical to the expansion and prosperity of the network. Questions surrounding the intentions of Unlimited can be answered by simply observing the code. There are no mysteries nor secret hazards as some Core toadies may claim. What you see is what you get.
“But this does not address the issue of the existence of two chains!”, scream some. “Ethereum! Ethereum!” At this juncture I must surrender the spotlight to others of greater technical proficiency than myself to answer these qualms, but in a few short words: May the healthy chain survive. What is this terror associated with two chains? The only reason Ethereum Classic did not perish was due to the continued viability of the original chain. Bitcoin is not Ethereum. Bitcoin can not be altered by its central planners. It bears a much longer difficulty adjustment period. The Ethereum arguments leveled at Bitcoin Unlimited need not apply. These are different entities.
And who is to say the existence of two chains is such blasphemy? If there is value to be found upon both chains, then let miners and users do as they please. But for the technical constraints, there will be a clear healthier chain, and the logical business oriented operator will, without question, transition.
“Hostile Takeover! Hostile Takeover!”, a panicked flunkie shouts! But what hostility is being referenced? The community had been exceptionally patient with Core prior to the formation of Unlimited. Even after its genesis, the activation and utilization of Unlimited is one hundred percent voluntary. Where is the hostility being perceived? It is within Core’s dogmatic claims that Segwit will be activated with ninety five percent of the hash power behind it, and at the time of this writing, Unlimited already has garnered fifteen percent. This renders Core’s claims empty, and they have a double edged choice to make: go forward with Segwit despite possessing less than 95% of the hash power, rendering their confidence hollow and demonstrating themselves as liars, or scrap the project all together, wasting all their efforts while retaining whatever shreds of honor they have left.
As with any issue that bears such high stakes, emotions correlate respectfully. In response to the slander from Core supporters, many within the Bitcoin Unlimited community have not been pleased with the many abuses being leveled at them. This responsive anger is as justified as anger can be. However, there is a key difference between the angers of both communities. Core is seeking to defame and invalidate the stance that Unlimited has taken, while Unlimited has only been seeking a solution to a problem. The constant bickering and negative energy plaguing the issue of the block size limit has been pushing the users now backing Unlimited into a corner for years. These individuals feel as if they have no other options left to them! This movement to Bitcoin Unlimited is a battle cry of the oppressed! Men do not so casually turn to revolution! Conditions must be deteriorated and terrible indeed for an individual to seek so radical an option!
There is present and shining hope to be found in Bitcoin Unlimited! It’s community possess a faith in bitcoin that occupies, (some MAJOR pun intended), the core of their philosophy. Core may claim that the individuals backing Unlimited are ignorant and aggressive, and surely not to be trusted, but they are mistaken! Unlimited possesses a myriad of longtime Bitcoin philanthropists and entrepreneurs! These are not some fringe coalition of emotional upstarts! These are seasoned Bitcoiners with a fierce passion for not only the pecuniary value of Bitcoin, but for its moral and ethical stature as well! To cast aside Unlimited under the logic of it being comprised of nobodies is an Ad Hominem attack, and should not be entertained in the slightest! Unlimited is merely a fledgling, and is being treated as an unworthy alternative platform for Bitcoin. But as any free and open market will attest, the best platform wins. And for this reason alone, Core is terrified of Unlimited. It represents a gathering of individuals who hold the philosophies and hopes of bitcoin close to their hearts, and freed of the consumptive greed and co-opting rotting the minds of Core, they will carry bitcoin into the future.
The ground upon which Core’s pulpit sits is rapidly eroding, and their positions of authority have likewise become untenable. It is the height of hubris that they remain so closed minded to a logical solution that fixes a simple problem. So complex are their machinations that even in the face of such urgent issues, their responses and actions have been leaden and lusterless. A solution as complicated and technically shackling as Segwit is true folly. We need look no further than Occam’s Razor: Among competing hypotheses, the one with fewest assumptions should be selected.
But who can blame Core for their ego? Surely when you have enjoyed such unchecked and absolute dominance for such a length of time, the subsequent and indomitable sense of invincibility that such an environment breeds will be expansive indeed. Of the many issues this poses however, the one of most glaring danger, perhaps, is that of impeded judgement. Bias. How can the bitcoin community reach out to Core for assistance, and expect to receive a rational response? If anything, Core’s behavior of late is perfectly understandable, as it fits the mold it was formed in: Greedy, terrified, and power drunk individuals facing their own expulsion and deposement. Observe any famed ruler facing revolutionary upheaval and compare it to the behavior of Core. Perhaps there are fewer heads being lopped off in the case of Core, but the paranoia and xenophobic fears are alarmingly similar.
Core is so sure that their power will not be removed, so confident upon their laurels, they feel removed from the worries and concerns of the common man. And with a blind eye turned, they are ignoring the flames licking at the foundations of their perch. The words of famed political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi come to mind: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”
But this is a message to all, not just Core:
Look upon Rome, powerful and infallible, and take warning. It was the common man in Rome who objected at the corruption plaguing the upper echelons. It was the common man who organized and sought to spread discourse and question the morality of their rulers.
Rome’s leaders in return sought to placate and lull the masses with bread and circuses. They sought to blindfold those they deemed inferior, those unfit to share in their wealth.
Rome fell to the blades of surrounding foes, and the scraps of bread they threw to the peasants did nothing to protect them from the onslaught of war.
Segwit will not placate us, Core, we will not be blinded from the real problems lurking in the wings, poised to render Bitcoin itself powerless. Allowing bitcoin to continue to progress in such a state is tantamount to observing a terrible infection in a loved one, yet leaving it painfully untreated. You fancy yourselves the gate keepers of the blockchain, but it is not and never has been yours. Satoshi would not stand so idly by when such unfit and immoral “guardians” held the reigns to his beloved creation, and neither shall we. Evolution is intrinsic, and evolve we must. The time has come.
So to you, the lover of bitcoin, the link in the decentralized chain, stand and give voice! Oppose not only tyranny but the tyrant! So rare is this ecosystem that we the bitcoiners inhabit! We view it as a haven, a refuge, freed of the oppression and corruption that occupies every facet of the world around us! Hold fast these beliefs, but do not uphold complacency! Seek now, in the hour of need, the swift and efficient solution to the block size limit problem! Stand upon the side of logic, and seek a brighter future for the network!