Long ago, but not so very long ago… there was The DAO. This was a stateless, autonomous organization that wished to pioneer a brand new kind of decentralized business model. It was to be implemented on the Ethereum platform.
What the DAO investors did not realize… until it happened… is that the code on which The DAO was based allowed for a large amount of Ether to be transferred from the DAO investors to the control of some other party.
The Ethereum community became divided – some in the community wished to undo the transfer. They considered the transfer an act of theft – and disliked the idea of theft more than they disliked the idea of undoing a specific transaction on the blockchain. This group is the ETH (Ethereum) community today.
Another part of that original Ethereum community vigorously opposed undoing any transaction on the blockchain. For that group, theft was much less of an issue than reversing a blockchain transaction. They strongly believed that blockchains should be immutable – under any and all circumstances. This group is the ETC (Ethereum Classic) community today.
Each group has its own blockchain. The ETH chain has the contentious DAO transfer reversed. The ETC chain has the contentious transaction intact.
Take a minute and contemplate which side of the argument you’d support. It’s not a technological argument, it’s an ideological one – and so it’s open for anyone to consider deeply. Think about which appeals to you more, and consider investing in the corresponding chain.
Though they started as identical technologies, the two assets have since grown apart in a few noteworthy ways.
ETH has seen a greater increase in market price. It has the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance in its ecosystem. It is traded on more exchanges. It has more dApps in the wild. It has more developers. It plans to transition to Proof of Stake shortly. As of right now, it does not have a hard limit on ETH supply.
ETC is sticking with proof of work, but does have some tech changes of its own planned this December. Primarily, it’s adding stealth addresses to ensure privacy and putting a cap on the future ETC supply.
It should be noted that ETC can implement some, but not all, ETH tech upgrades. For instance, µRaiden – which was just released on ETH is implemented with contracts – and so can easily be ported to ETC. Protocol upgrades will not necessarily be as trivial to port over.
For an even more in-depth answer to this question, check this out: https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-ethereum-classic/
I’ll delve into the philosophical arguments more substantially in a later piece. For now, suffice it to say that I personally believe blockchains should function more like tools for democracy. Code can be law, but law needs to be open to modification as the world and community served by the law evolves.
Certainly, modifying code/law needs to be in the hands of the community and not any centralized group. Blockchain governance is still evolving to that end. Which is wonderful… because I don’t think the immutable-no-matter-what approach is very “seventh generation” friendly. The rule that rules can never be changed after they are passed – especially that rule itself – isn’t something that all sentient beings in perpetuity would obviously desire to be bound by, in my view.
As always, you’ll have to decide for yourself. Keep asking questions!