Friday, July 31st, 2020
I bought my first Bitcoin in July 2017. It was two weeks before the split, and at the time I really had no clue what I was buying. I also had no idea how much my purchase would end up impacting my life. But before I knew it I had fallen down the Bitcoin rabbit hole and suddenly found myself surrounded by all kinds of crazy people known as Bitcoiners.
Not long after BCH forked from BTC, it was clear to me that Bitcoin Cash was the version of Bitcoin I was most interested in. This was what they were referring to when I heard people talking about magic internet money.
I honestly can't remember the last time something captured my imagination the way BCH did. Before I knew it I was obsessed. I spent hours upon hours watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts. In many ways, BCH had allowed me to find my passion again.
Looking back on the past three years, so much has happened since August 1st, 2017, I could probably fill an entire book about the history of Bitcoin Cash. Everything from operation dragonslayer, to the Satoshi's Vision conference in Tokyo, to the Hash War and the Bitcoin Cash City Conference in Australia. There was the Bitcoin.com fundraiser drama, the IFP drama, and now we have the DAA drama. The list goes on and on, and at times it feels not a moment can go by without another news-worthy event happening in BCH.
But that's not really what I'm here to talk about. What I want to talk about is my own personal journey in this space, and how my perception of what Bitcoin Cash really is has changed throughout the years.
I remember in the earliest days, I spent most of my energy focused on learning the technical side of things. I wanted a better understanding of how cryptography worked, but not having a background in computer science I found it difficult to absorb many of the concepts. That's when I decided to participate in the community. I started asking questions on the BCF discord channel, and then later on Telegram. Everyone was nice and willing to take the time to answer my many questions. I couldn't help but feel like I owed a debt of gratitude to these people, to this community.
In the months that followed I learned about libertarianism, and economic freedom, and I thought I was finally beginning to understand what Bitcoin Cash was all about. I also bought into the whole Bitcoin Cash is the real Bitcoin narrative. I argued with BTC maximalists on Twitter who called me a Bcasher and a scammer. But I took it all in stride because it was all part of being a member of the BCH tribe.
In my mind BCH represented a movement. The big blockers had thwarted the evil small blockers and forked the coin. They may have won the ticker and the name, but we all knew that BCH was the real Bitcoin.
In many ways it was like being in a religion. I believed that being a BCH supporter meant you believed in certain things like freedom from the state, freedom from Blockstream, freedom from any central authority. This was understandable if you knew the history of how BCH came to be. After years of fighting with the Bitcoin Core developers and not being able to persuade them to raise the block size, those who believed in on-chain scaling were finally given another chance when Bitcoin ABC, along with Haipo Yang, and Jihan Wu, forked the code and dedicated their hash power to this new big block version of the chain.
Big blockers rejoiced. They saw BCH as a protest movement that had defeated the evil Core devs and given them what they believed they wanted.
The following year, when CSW, nChain, and Calvin Ayre attempted a hostile takeover of BCH, we were able to retain the Bitcoin Cash name and ticker after an expensive hash war. Many, including myself, saw this as yet another successful protest despite losing about half the community and a significant % of our market cap.
But the huge crash in the BCH price led to funding problems. BCH holders suffered major losses both in terms of USD and BTC. Amaury and his small team were struggling to maintain the network and were badly in need of funding so they could hire more people to help carry the load. A fundraiser was held. I forget the exact amount, but the total amount received by Bitcoin ABC was something in the neighborhood of $300,000 worth of BCH. It might have helped a little if the entire fundraiser had been for Bitcoin ABC only, but almost an equivalent amount was also donated to Bitcoin Unlimited, an organization that was already sitting on approximately 500 BTC (~$5M) all while contributing very little to the BCH ecosystem. Even as of today, when's the last time you've seen any significant contribution from the BU team other than a new logo for their twitter account.
Some of you may think the $300K ABC received in 2019 represents a large amount of money, but you would be sorely mistaken. One highly skilled software developer will likely cost you more than the total amount ABC received, and that wouldn't even include things like benefits and bonuses. If we want BCH to become global money, we need the best minds in the industry working on this project, and in order for that to happen, we need the money to pay them.
Look no further than what happened right here on read.cash only a couple of days ago. The anonymous developer of this site came out and revealed he has been working on this project all alone since its inception when he could have easily found a job paying him up to $200,000 a year for his time. Instead he devoted himself to this site because it was his passion, only to have to put up with people complaining and attacking him for his efforts. If anyone can sympathize, it's Amaury and his team who have had to deal with the stress of maintaining a multi-billion dollar network, making sure people like you and me and BCH miners and entrepreneurs didn't lose all our money.
Which brings us to the present.
Thanks in large part to the ABC team, the Bitcoin Cash network has survived in spite of everything and everyone that has tried, intentionally or unintentionally, to bring it down.
I used to think Bitcoin Cash was all about the community, that it was a movement to usher in a new era of economic freedom for the world. But I was wrong. First and foremost Bitcoin Cash is a technology. Nowhere in the whitepaper does it talk about freedom, or community, or protest movements. It's all about the technology and how it works to solve the double-spend problem. Terms like economic freedom and banking the unbanked are ideas that will hopefully result from Bitcoin Cash achieving its goal of becoming global peer-to-peer electronic cash, but those ideas in and of themselves aren't going to manifest digital cash simply because we believe in them.
Currently BCH appears to be facing yet another crisis. The community finds itself divided once more as we approach the August freeze date. There is a great deal of uncertainty about which DAA proposal we are going to go with. While some people seem to believe that the only reason Amaury is pushing his Grasberg proposal is because he sees himself as an evil dictator who wants to either control BCH or destroy it so no one else can, I ask those people to take a step back and see things from another perspective. Amaury and his colleagues at ABC have dedicated the last three years of their lives to this project and have received little in return. Do you think they want their efforts to have been a complete waste of time while simultaneously ruining other people's lives in the process? In all my interactions with Amaury I have never once gotten that vibe from him. From everything I've seen, I consider him to be one of the smartest people I've had the chance to interact with, but what's even more surprising is that he might just be the sanest one out of all of us.
Earlier today I saw this tweet thread by Justin Bons talking about protest movements and how BCH's greatest strength is its revolutionary fervor and that we must reject kings and emperors. I'm not trying to pick on Justin. I think he's a class act, but I think he's looking at the situation all wrong like so many others in our community.
Our greatest strength isn't our fervor, it's the technology that BCH is built upon. And our best hope is to improve upon that technology, to scale BCH so that we can onboard the masses and succeed where BTC failed. Imagine if in 2017 the BTC network had been prepared for the millions of new people that were introduced to Bitcoin for the first time. Imagine if they had scaled and enabled secure 0-conf transactions that let new users experience the true magic of magic internet money. What if businesses like Steam, Microsoft, and Expedia had continued accepting Bitcoin as money because it actually worked? That's how you revolutionize the world. Not because a handful of passionate people refuse to let one person do what he feels is best for the network he helped create.
I responded to Justin's tweet by saying that people need to stop confusing BCH with a movement rather than a new form of technology. Because of its open source nature, the fact is anyone is free to fork the BCH code base and run their own version of the project however they see fit. The market will choose to accept or reject any forks accordingly. There are no kings in bitcoin, I wrote, only leaders and followers.
You may not agree, but it's the truth. Nobody controls Bitcoin Cash, it's a completely voluntary system, and if you don't like the version of the network people are running, you are free to fork the code, or sell your coins, or go off and mine BTC, or do whatever else you want to do. You are free to lead just as I am free to follow whomever I choose.
Some of you might think BCH belongs to you because you've also dedicated your time and energy to this project, but it belongs to no one. Miners aren't obligated to mine using ABC's implementation. Exchanges can choose to run whatever node they want. All anyone can do is show their proof of work, and for the last three years, I don't think anyone has come close to accumulating the amount of proof of work that Bitcoin ABC has achieved. In my mind their organization is representative of the longest chain with the greatest proof-of-work effort invested in BCH.
I know that there are going to be many of you who remain unconvinced by my words. In your mind, Amaury is a bad actor who is maliciously trying to attack the network. I sincerely ask you to reconsider.
I said earlier that there are only leaders and followers. Since joining this community I have followed a number of people hoping to learn from them. I have listened and learned from the likes of Ryan X. Charles, and Imaginary_Username, and many others. But I have always been free to make my own choices and to change my mind. As of today, I think Amaury is the best person to lead the BCH project. But that doesn't mean I don't plan on holding him accountable. Should I see something that might lead me to question his intentions or ability, I will have no problem speaking out against him.
I understand some of you are still angry about the IFP. I know it was a radical move, but even if you believe it was handled poorly, I don't think that anything Amaury did broke any kind of social contract with the BCH community. Instead Bitcoin ABC went out and hired someone to find another way to raise funds, someone who I might add has worked tirelessly to help BCH succeed ever since he joined our ranks.
You can go ahead and choose to support another chain if the network undergoes a split this November. Like I said, everyone is free to do what they please. I'll even wish those that do the best of luck because there are no guarantees here. Nobody knows what the future holds for Bitcoin Cash. All we can do is keep working and trying to do what we believe is best, and for me, that's supporting Bitcoin ABC because we wouldn't have gotten this far without them.
As always, thank you for reading and happy BCH day to everyone.