I would like to differentiate the original notion of “Bitcoin Maximalism” with the extreme “BTC Supremacy” currently popular within the r/Bitcoin/Blockstream/Bitcoin Core/Magical Crypto Friends wing of the Bitcoin community. The purpose of this piece will be to emphasize the positive aspects of Bitcoin Maximalism while polemicizing the wretched tendencies of BTC Supremacy.
“Bitcoin Maximalism” was originally used to describe someone who championed the BTC blockchain over all others. This term once represented a Bitcoiner for whom “blockchain tech” referred only to the timestamp ledger for Bitcoin as p2p cash. During that time, BTC enjoyed the vast majority of market share and proponents felt that undue attention to experimental altcoins with no additional value proposition was a needless distraction from the goals of a p2p electronic cash system.
“Bitcoin Maximalist” is often used disparagingly to describe over zealous fanatics who say people must run a Raspberry Pi non-mining relay “node” to be actual Bitcoin users, that Bitcoin “is a store-of-value” never to be spent, and that early adopters and Bitcoin entrepreneurs are “scammers” for today supporting the version of Bitcoin that still works as money at scale. If this sounds far-fetched just have a look at the feature image of this article. It was taken from a recent conference in Riga (#bh2018) where folks gathered to talk about #hodling their digital gold, Waiting for Lightning strategies, and the virtues of central-planning.
I propose that all derogatory mentions of “Bitcoin Maximalist” are actually descriptions of what is better understood as a “BTC Supremacist”. We must make this distinction clear and well-known. BTC Supremacists are the only ones who say that Bitcoin is not a great form of money, that BTC is not for people who earn less than $2 a day, that you should just use fiat to collect credit card points.
BTC Supremacy holds that only the blockchain currently designated by the ticker symbol BTC can possibly represent any idea of Bitcoin. No other blockchain, not even forks with the same UTXO history, can possibly participate in any conversation about Bitcoin. To suggest otherwise earns you the title, “known scammer”. Accordingly, the will of the sole BTC development team, Bitcoin Core, reigns supreme. Dissenters are censored and cast out of Bitcoin communities by BTC Supremacists. Heretics are blocked on social media by BTC Supremacists.
Bitcoin-as-cash proponents and any mining pool operator who does not have all their hash on the BTC chain (but nonetheless supplies large quantities of BTC hash) is slandered and provoked by BTC Supremacists.
But Bitcoin is a much richer idea than merely what is represented by the ticker, BTC, or the codebase maintained by the one-and-only BTC development team, Bitcoin Core. Underlying this Bitcoin idealism is an economic value system that came into conflict with the BTC/Core/Blockstream/Lightning central-planners.
And so it was that the ideal of Bitcoin that had built momentum such that it was poised for massive adoption was cast aside in favor of a crippled BTC base-layer, high fees, 70% loss of market share, a fractured community which eventually led to a hard fork split to save the original project of Bitcoin-as-cash.
Many original Bitcoin Maximalists remain true to the goals of p2p cash though. It was this new subset of BTC Supremacists that marched on with the inane narrative of Bitcoin as “digital gold”—never to be spent. Paradoxically, these same BTC “maximalists” accept and openly promote the use of alts such as DOGE or LTC. For more on this absurd hypocrisy, read the original bitcointalk.org threads where Litecoin was announced to almost unanimous disapproval by the early maximalists.
Those who eschew the positive aspects of maximalism as naïve or too idealistic forget that it was this idealism, this specific passion for what is clearly the best form of money ever known to man, that propelled Bitcoin onto the world’s stage in the first place. Bitcoin did not become popular as a “store of value” (the BTC Supremacist position) but as digital cash (the original Bitcoin Maximalist position).
The problem many have today with “Bitcoin Maximalism” is actually a problem with “BTC Supremacy” which has completely lost sight of the original goals of Bitcoin that are now carried on by many who consider themselves to be Bitcoin Maximalists and support the peer-to-peer electronic cash version of Bitcoin above all else. Bitcoin Maximalism was usurped by the narratives of Bitcoin Core/Blockstream/Lightning Labs and every Bitcoiner is now worse off because BTC Supremacy is not Bitcoin Maximalism and #hodl is still not an adoption strategy.