The last few months have increasingly seen more and more of the popular leaders in Orthodoxy online discussion embrace cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in particular. Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin have been something I have been involved in since 2013 and in the earlier years, this embrace is something I would have welcomed. I had a religious zeal for bitcoin by mid-2014; I had spent nearly a year studying Bitcoin. I became convinced of its power and potential importance; I went as far as to write my undergrad thesis on Bitcoin long before it had the respect or headlines it does today. I see today what looks like a current zeitgeist that fails to take into account anything other than what the prevailing narrative is surrounding Bitcoin. With the unsustainable and unnatural rise in prices, all rational thinking has been suspended while the authors of narrative rule. That narrative is distinctly unorthodox when it comes to Bitcoin.
The narrative that the Orthodox Church is the true church is one that followers hold true while those outside it do not. For me, one of the reasons among many is that this is true is that it has maintained the original teaching and ministry as established by Jesus Christ. It alone carries the true apostolic tradition. Forgive an unholy comparison, but there is a similar occurrence in Bitcoin. Bitcoin and the crypto market at large have failed and it no longer accomplishes or resembles the document the created it. That opinion is far from popular in the crypto world and in fact verges on heresy for the “industry”, especially with prices so high, how could anyone claim failure?
Bitcoin was created with a paper known as the whitepaper whose opening words state that Bitcoin is meant to be a “peer to peer electronic cash system” with the goal of reducing the need for the trust of third parties for two or more willing participants to transact directly with each other. This is the most basic definitive reason for Bitcoin; you can read it for yourself on the first page. It is a peer to peer digital cash that doesn’t require a third party; often this third party cannot facilitate the trade of pennies, small dollars (microtransactions), or even large transactions because it costs more to the third party to do so as is often the case in traditional banking. That third party then passes costs on to the customer in the form of fees or simply doesn’t provide the service. Bitcoin became a new frictionless way to transact for an age where increasingly money is spent through online interactions.
Bitcoin (BTC) with the big price tag that many of you think of as Bitcoin today does not reflect the white paper. It does not even share some of the simple properties I have explained. Bitcoin today is reflective of the branching off of Christian protestant sects from the original orthodox faith than it is the original vision. Sure you can send money to each other still, that part still works; it now however comes at an extreme cost of both time and money. Gone are the days where there were dreams of the micropayment economy of instant payments existed for the entire world, replaced by “hodl” and “number go up” and “digital gold” which have only furthered the distance from Bitcoins original goal. Memes have been instrumental in shifting the purpose and story of what bitcoin is and what it ought to be.
The digital gold narrative has been in particular the most damaging. The gold tale arose because the development team responsible for Bitcoins code severely limited what Bitcoin is capable of. It has essentially “goldified” Bitcoin, not because it is anything like gold but because it has become extremely difficult (comparatively) and expensive to move around. The solution to this has been a continual problem-filled and broken project called the Lightning Network. Those that are familiar with the history of money and how paper notes eventually came to represent the gold that sat in bank vaults unmoved are essentially seeing the same result in Bitcoin, with the Lightning Network becoming the new fiat note system. Users are unwittingly giving control to modern-day bankers. Acceptances by corporations like PayPal or square aren’t utilizing bitcoin they are just using their own systems with a bitcoin label. Bitcoin was not meant to become that and it was not meant to become whatever lightning labs and Blockstream are trying to turn it into.
I once bought this narrative about digital gold and the promise of the lightning network solution to the scaling problem. It was a cheap buy because I also knew it would make me wealthier. However, after witnessing the greed in the market in late 2017 something broke in me. I began to reexamine why I got into crypto to begin with and it wasn’t because I thought I was going to get rich but because I saw real promise for a better future with better money. I had maintained a Bitcoin maximalist position for the most part since the beginning; meaning that I may have found alternatives to Bitcoin like ethereum, dogecoin, etc. at times interesting or possibly exciting but ultimately the goal was to acquire more Bitcoin and that it would ultimately be the “winner”. After the greed I saw I decided to back away from it completely, I decided to go back and determine why things had not played out in the manner I foresaw as possible in 2014.
Starting with the white paper I went through all of Satoshis’ early correspondence. I could happily quote to death how the vision he had laid out does not reflect where we are now. Concluding that something was not right I went back and reexamined the biggest debate and fracture Bitcoin had ever known: the block size/scaling debate. For those with arguably more interesting lives, it was a debate over how many transactions to allow per second on Bitcoin. It had been severely limited by a cap placed on the size of blocks of transactions, one that wasn’t meant to stay. This cap was only there as a result of a decision by an early developer, Hal Finney, to limit the chance of spamming the network, a change with which Satoshi disagreed. Those that opposed the cap did so because they knew that Bitcoin could simply never scale to work for millions and billions of people transacting without removing the cap limit.
Shortly before this debate began to reach a fever pitch a for-profit company called Blockstream came into the picture publicly. When it became public, it became obvious it had hired nearly all of the main bitcoin developers. Quickly development of the biggest “decentralized” cryptocurrency was largely controlled by one company. Strangely enough, as the debate began the position of the developers working for Blockstream all supported keeping bitcoin limited with a small block size. I want to avoid getting too technical so further detail must be sought elsewhere however I will provide their argument. They claimed that bitcoin would become too centralized because the number of miners that process transactions would go down in number due to economies of scale. They also doubted that it could even work without jeopardizing the network security and operation. Opposition to that argument was led by Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn (not Blockstream employees); the former of was left at the head of development after Satoshi left the scene. They presented their own proposal, creating a method that would see the block size increase slowly over time (BitcoinXT).
Without the emotions and the heat of the conflict, it is not difficult to see what occurred in retrospect. As the debate over which path to take went on, one of the main places it was discussed, r/Bitcoin on Reddit, started to become heavily censored against anyone promoting BitcoinXT (big block bitcoin). Censorship of that level before the debate did not exist. Anyone around at the time will remember this and I myself had posts deleted despite at time having no conception of what was really going on. This censorship did not exist only on reddit but spread to other places like the bitcointalk forums, anywhere you expressed a dissenting opinion you were met with coordinated attacks or outright censorship.
The Bitcoin civil war went on for months, the longer it went on the more the Blockstream supported conferences and proposals were offered. In the background of increased censorship, constant personal attacks/smear campaigns, and threats of lawsuits, Mike Hearn left Bitcoin and explained why in a letter to the community. I recall this letter being a complete shock at the time; what was going on behind the scenes lacked clarity due to the censorship and eventually Hearn was written off. Blockstream continued to organize meetings with big miners and eventually came to an agreement with them. They agreed to run only Blockstream software and in return Blockstream “agreed” to develop an on-chain scaling solution. It was settled, Bitcoin would not scale naturally; Blockstream had won and without much time Gavin was publicly smeared before being pushed out of his position which provided them essentially full control over Bitcoin development.
Fast forward to today; Blockstream’s promise of on-chain scaling is no closer to a solution than they were when they promised it. Lightning Labs, the group behind the lightning “solution,” have failed to deliver for years now. Why? Why have these highly funded developers failed to do anything remotely useful? We can’t know for sure the motivations of developers; it is likely they have the best intentions. However, after some digging what comes into focus looks a lot like nefarious interests pulling the strings behind the current state of bitcoin and the crypto industry as a whole.
Following the money trail has revealed a rather clear picture elucidating why things may have gone as they have; Major investors in Blockstream include AXA strategic ventures and a venture capital firm known as the Digitial Currency Group (DCG). DCG has a public portfolio, it shows that they have a hand in nearly every big crypto project in the industry. This includes Blockstream, Lightning Labs, Ripple, Coinbase, Kraken, Abra, and countless more. They fund many of the Bitcoin developers, Ethereum developers, and many other foundations related to the crypto industry. The leadership is made up of Barry Silbert, a former investment banker, Lawrence Summers, a former Federal Reserve chairman, and Glen Hutchins, a former advisor to Bill Clinton. Another early investor in Bitcoin development was MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, which had a few donors in its early days such as Reid Hoffman, and direct ties to investment from none other than Jeffery Epstein. Do these individuals sound like the kind of people that are interested in overturning the global finance apple cart?
Digital Currency Group’s history could be an article to all itself; it is at a minimum important to mention that the foundation started by Silbert in 2015 did so with investment by Bain Capital Ventures, Transamerica Ventures, FirstMark Capital, and MasterCard among many others. Why would many of these groups, MasterCard in particular, support anything that could threaten their business model? Why would companies like Paypal or Square offer bitcoin “payments”?
History has provided better answers than the inference of intention; since that time of DCG, involvement Bitcoin has not fulfilled just the simple use cases laid out at its founding. Developers who did not understand Bitcoin, consciously or unconsciously, were finically supported over others. The project was taken over and dissenters were censored and undermined while bitcoin was remade into something completely different. They changed the narrative from digital money with effectively free, instant transactions to what it is today, hindered, broken, and cumbersome. They continue to operate under the Bitcoin name but they have irreversibly changed how it operates so that is no longer operates in a manner that would have unleashed more possibilities than microtransactions or peer-to-peer money.
Bitcoin (BTC) has become the papal Protestants of its time, claiming a title it was never meant to have. Given the title, there ought to be the equivalent of the orthodox, right? The orthodox chain is called Bitcoin Satoshi Vision or BSV. In the wreckage of the scaling debate and subsequent battles amongst leadership Bitcoin SV has survived a split from the dominant chain and maintained exactly the definitions and purpose of the original Bitcoin white paper. It can do everything Bitcoin can do faster, cheaper, and without a scaling ceiling; Bitcoin SV can scale right now to accommodate not only bitcoin but every crypto project that exists and it will still run faster and cheaper than any other could. Bitcoin can do so much more than just money; it is a Turing complete supercomputer, it can provide a new framework, like TCIP, for the internet called the Metanet. What was once not even thought to be possible, Bitcoin SV proved beyond any doubt with many thanks to crypto’s most hated Trumpian figure, Dr. Craig S. Wright.
Books can and will likely be written on Dr. Wright and leaving aside the debate on his role in Bitcoin’s early days for those texts there is no doubt Bitcoin as it was meant to be in the form of BSV would not exist without his expertise. His efforts and many others have returned bitcoin to its working form and because of that I am only now seeing the flourishing of bitcoin companies and projects that I expected way back in 2014. Unlike many other projects, BSV has remained largely untouched by the hands of traditional finance and attacked because of its power to replace everything in the industry. So while I have used religion for comparison, Bitcoin isn’t one. I use and support Bitcoin SV because it is orthodox Bitcoin and it works exactly as intended.