The First Big Boss Battle of Bitcoin's "Hero's Journey"

Zangelbert Bingledack

Well-Known Member
Aug 29, 2015
A recent post identifying a certain dev as the chief driver of the small-block, Core-centric, no-controversial-hardforks movement prompted me to entertain a humorous thought of likening the dev to the Balrog in Lord of the Rings, a great boss to be defeated. It was humorous because I know Bitcoin is antifragile and in theory shouldn't be vulnerable to any one person, yet there are times when the imagery nevertheless feels somehow appropriate.

Well then, if attacks make antifragile systems stronger, how do you kill an antifragile system? By attacking it too hard, too suddenly, from too many angles. We have a sudden "perfect storm" of Gavin relinquishing Core, certain devs effectively taking over, huge VC interest in exactly the wrong place, ASICs still in concentration phase (pre-commodification), an intensive campaign of censorship of discussion, and the first semi-serious altcoin competition. Besides mining concentration, none of these things were an issue before.

We would have expected the pace and degree of challenges to rise and fall, sometimes coming in bursts, with Bitcoin faltering the most at those bursty times and the possibility of Bitcoin being superseded looming larger than ever before at those times as well. If Bitcoin makes it through, it gains immense strength for the next order of magnitude of price growth. If it doesn't, it may perish here, though "there's a lot of fail in a nation" and likewise I bet there's a lot of fail in a cryptocurrency. Meaning: it may be very surprising how dire things can get before Bitcoin (its ledger) is lost, and as we approach that point more and more people will come to their senses and the situation becomes radically indeterminate as this self-limiting feedback loop meets the self-reinforcing feedback loop of network effect loss.

But why now? Why did these master manipulators (and their followers), overbearing censors, well-heeled questionable VCs, and high-falutin well-marketed altcoins come out of the woodwork all at once?

I think there's an obvious answer. Why is this snake dealing with this giant bulge?

Because it had a giant meal. Bitcoin had a giant meal in 2013. The price rose almost two orders of magnitude in a single year, bringing Bitcoin to a whole new level replete with new dangers. Although there was a time lag, those dangers are now washing ashore at full force. The price rose in a huge surge, so the threats are mounting in a huge surge.

It's no accident that Core was taken over by the kinds of people it was and that the other elements of this perfect storm have aligned. It was the next challenge Bitcoin had to face, in fact a string of next challenges, and thanks to the incredible price rise we are now processing an incredibly large rodent in Bitcoin's belly, so to speak.

If Bitcoin manages to avoid getting eaten by an opportunistic predator while it is slowed down by the digestive process of dealing with Core/BS/Theymos/etc., it will end up stronger than ever. Basically the binary bet is at its most intense right now: the chance of going to zero is highest now, but the magnitude of the sudden giant gains if we learn to deal with the governance threat is also at its highest now.

This is the first big boss battle of Bitcoin's "hero's journey." It's not about any one person or any one factor like altcoins or miners, but about the great confluence of threats precipitated by the gigantic bull run of 2013. It's like Honey Badger has skipped a few areas in an RPG and is now underleveled. If Honey Badger can make it through the storm without having its life snuffed out, it will gain a bunch of levels all at once.
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