Is the Danger of Bitcoin Maximalism De-escalating?

Bitcoin will halve for the fourth time since 2009 next month. CoinDesk is offering a month-long editorial package on Bitcoin's cultural shifts and projected technological advances to mark the occasion.

Bitcoin-land is busy right now. Bitcoin has been rising to new highs since the U.S. launched spot market ETFs. Famous people like former President Donald Trump and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink have praised crypto. Banks are developing coin exposure for customers.

Perhaps the biggest change has been the culture around the first and largest cryptocurrency. For years, Bitcoin culture has been dominated by Bitcoin maxis, which insiders wear as a badge of honor to declare they believe Bitcoin is the only blockchain worth constructing but also insults those who have a toxic relationship to bitcoin.

Can it be said that hard money fans are becoming softer? If “the class of Bitcoin 2021” was led by laser-eye maxis who solely ate meat and harassed people on Twitter, Bitcoin appears less aggressive today.

I'm not alone in feeling the vibe alter. Stacks developer Muneeb Ali said he gets less hatred on X in a recent interview. Ali, a Bitcoin maximalist who believes anything other cryptocurrencies can accomplish can be done to Bitcoin and that BTC is superior money, has spent the last decade as a blockchain developer being hounded by his peers for developing an altcoin.

“Honestly, it's improving. Ali claimed in a recent phone interview that Bitcoin was in its Dark Ages. “New builders and tools are improving it. Builders are excited.” Ali is referring to the Bitcoin activity surge when Casey Rodarmor launched the Ordinals protocol, which allowed “inscribing” NFT-like data on Bitcoin and spurred many other new ideas.

Not everyone likes this. The Bitcoin community has been debating Bitcoin's purpose since Casey Rodarmor launched the Ordinals protocol. The dispute is between money crypto and tech crypto, to use a word from CoinDesk contributor and ConsenSys lawyer Bill Hughes.

Do you think Bitcoin is just “savings technology,” a hard money alternative to ever-inflating fiat currency? Is it a platform for fun or useful app development? Since Bitcoin wasn't really useful, the former dominated Bitcoin culture for years.

Nowadays, “Money Bitcoin” people worry about Bitcoin-based NFTs and BRC-20 tokens “clogging up the network.” The room's loudest or most powerful voices are becoming harder to distinguish every day. Fighting technical progress is difficult (and hypocritical, because the Bitcoin network was created to be used by anyone).

It's fine to say bitcoin's main goal is to create a new monetary paradigm. But urging somebody to “have fun staying poor” or “stay toxic” is impolite. People say bitcoiners built a hard shell (to stay political) in response to non-holder criticism over the years. Smug self-satisfaction may have increased from being right about price repeatedly. Bitcoin adoption was once considered counter-cultural and a way to "drop out."

Original Bitcoin culture was a mix of determined cypherpunk and intelligent libertarianism. Crypto scholar Paul Dylan-Ennis wrote in 2022 that this combination was ex nihilo, a once-in-a-generation cultural phenomenon.

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