Today, Bitcoin avoided a very contentious hard fork. I like to think that I had a hand in that decision – I mean, after all, I’m a part of the crypto community. Sadly, word on the internet is that I didn’t have anything at all to do with the cancellation decision – and either did you. Apparently, it fell to the whims of just six people. Hey, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound very decentralized!
It is an unfortunate truth that, since the introduction of expensive, specialized mining equipment, the Bitcoin network infrastructure has been consolidating around a handful of big players. You know… for innocent reasons… economies of scale, deep pockets, all that jazz.
Not to worry, some will say, because as Bitcoin continues to succeed, more big players will certainly enter the space. We must all concede this inevitably – there will be more geographic decentralization eventually. Unfortunately, that is only one kind of decentralization, and it may not be enough.
The nature of “big players” is this: they can never be as completely decentralized as a bunch of “little players”. Big players, regardless of geographic location, are much more likely to be corruptible. They usually have power hierarchies built in to their organizations, making corruption “at the top” enough to corrupt the entire entity. They have massive physical and economic investments that are fairly centralized – and remain more vulnerable to government threats as a result.
Big players also need deeper and deeper pockets – and the source of their financing is not unimportant. If the money is coming from sources that have deep roots in the pre-crypto “old economy” – there will certainly be unresolvable conflicts of interest. At some time or another, these big players will be forced to act in the interests of old power brokers, rather than the interests of the crypto community.
The fabled “decision makers” who canceled the Segwit2x fork today do not live in a vacuum. They are intelligent, successful people. I would like to believe that they made their decisions while considering what was best for themselves and the crypto community as a whole. I would like to believe they did not profit in any way off of their decision-making ability.
The community has a voice. We must all be sure that it remains the loudest voice in the conversation. Vote with your dollars and your online presence for what you truly believe is best for the future, not just for the price... or else you will win the fight at the risk of losing the war.
Today, it is Bitcoin’s decision makers in the spotlight – so, if you hold another digital asset you may not think this concerns you. You would be wrong.
Do not be lulled into imagining that the decentralization revolution depends on a single digital asset “winning”. To have any hope of changing the world, hodlers of all decentralized assets need to defend each other against the powerful trends to re-centralize the space.
If you own a digital asset that depends on a blockchain for its value – centralization in any form is not your friend. Consolidation of power in this space is not in your best interest. Educate yourself – and openly fight against it.