These days, it seems like you can’t go on social media without seeing some kind of argument raging between Bitcoiners. One of the biggest points of contention is the label of “maximalist.” Some people wear it as a badge of honor, while others see it as a pejorative. So, what exactly is a Bitcoin maximalist? And why is there so much drama surrounding the term?
Simply put, a Bitcoin maximalist is someone who believes that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency that matters. All other coins are worthless applications running on top of Bitcoin’s blockchain, or inferior copies that will eventually be replaced by Bitcoin. Maximalists are often very critical of altcoins and their developers, and they tend to view any kind of altcoin promotion as an attack on Bitcoin itself. This adversarial attitude has led to a lot of drama within the Bitcoin community, with maximalists clashing with altcoiners on a regular basis.
Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that maximalists have had a major impact on the cryptocurrency world. Their unyielding belief in Bitcoin has helped to drive its price to new heights, and their willingness to fight for its supremacy has kept other coins from taking over the
A bitcoin maximalist is defined as an investor who believes that bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency that matters and all other cryptocurrencies are either scams or distractions. The debate among bitcoin maximalists surrounds the purpose of the project, with some believing that it should act as a global reserve currency, others believing it should serve as a buffer against government interference in money supply, and others holding that the cypherpunk ideal of censorship-resistance is the most important use case. While there is disagreement among bitcoin maximalists, they all share the belief that bitcoin is superior to all other cryptocurrencies.
For the past few years, the hard money community has been growing increasingly divided. On one side are the so-called “toximaxis” who are aggressive on Twitter toward anyone who doesn’t share their views. On the other side are those who believe that hard money should be used sparingly and only in certain cases. This division came to a head recently when one of the toximaxis, @BitcoinErrorLog, was banned from Twitter. This caused a great deal of consternation among the hard money community, with many wondering if the toximaxis had gone too far. However, @BitcoinErrorLog has since been reinstated, and it remains to be seen what will come of this division within the community.
The Bitcoin community has long been divided between those who support the cryptocurrency as a store of value and those who see it as a means of transaction. This division came to a head recently when prominent VC and essayist Nic Carter revealed that his fund, Castle Island Ventures, had invested in a company developing wallet-based login functionality that had nothing to do with Bitcoin. The announcement was met with outrage by the so-called “maximalists” who saw it as a betrayal by a prominent supporter. Carter responded with a Medium post eulogizing maximalism as a “sickness.” The exchange highlights the infighting that has plagued the Bitcoin community for years and threatens to undermine its credibility in the eyes of mainstream investors.
Bitcoiners have long prided themselves on their relative similarity to the early cypherpunks–a group of libertarians who came together in the early 1990s to promote the use of cryptography as a tool for social change. But recently, there has been an increasing rift within the community, with some members feeling that the quest for purity is costing the group valuable allies. Prominent members such as Udi Wertheimer and Hasu have left in disgust, and even Nassim Taleb, who once praised Bitcoin, has retracted his support. This division threatens to undermine the Bitcoin movement at a time when it is already facing challenges from regulators and governments. If the community cannot come together and find a way to bridge this divide, it is likely to lose even more ground in the battle for mainstream adoption.
There was a time when the only people interested in Bitcoin were utopians who saw it as a path to overthrow the existing financial system, and anarchists who wanted to opt out of it entirely. But over the years, Bitcoin has attracted a wider range of followers, including “pragmatists” who see it as a way to make money and “moderates” who simply believe it is a better form of money than traditional fiat currencies. This shift in attitude is reflected in the changing rhetoric of Bitcoin leaders. Where once they spoke of revolution and overthrowing the government, they now talk about Bitcoin’s potential as an investment and a store of value. This change in rhetoric has helped to attract new investors and users to Bitcoin, and has made it easier for mainstream businesses to accept it as payment. While there are still some holdouts who cling to the original vision of Bitcoin as a tool for subverting the status quo, it is clear that the majority of the community has moved on to more practical applications.
In recent years, the hard-money maximalist movement has begun to experience some internal turmoil. This is largely due to the fact that many of its members have become increasingly interested in projects that would have once been considered scandalous by the group’s standards. For instance, Eric Wall, a former maximalist, left the movement when other members became hostile to his interest in Bitcoin layer 2 chains called “drivechains.” This disagreement highlights the growing rift within the maximalist community regarding what direction the group should take in the future. While some members want to explore altcoin functionalities via Bitcoin, others believe that such plans are misguided and will ultimately lead to the group’s downfall. Only time will tell which side will ultimately prevail.
Wall’s statement reflects a common sentiment among Bitcoin developers. While Ethereum has soared in popularity and price, Bitcoin has largely been stagnant. The reason for this is that Bitcoin is not built to handle the same level of functionality as Ethereum. Ethereum is able to handle much more complex applications and transactions than Bitcoin, which is why it has become the platform of choice for many developers. However, this may be changing. Recently, Blockstream, a major Bitcoin development company, rolled out Liquid, an Ethereum-style “sidechain” network that enables token sales and decentralized finance on the Bitcoin blockchain. This suggests that Blockstream is acknowledging the need for greater functionality on the Bitcoin blockchain and is working to provide it. If successful, this could help to reignite interest in Bitcoin and bring it back to the forefront of the cryptocurrency world.
Wall’s criticisms of Liquid ring true when one looks at the data. According to numbers from Blockchair, a blockchain explorer, 51% of all Liquid blocks contain only one transaction: the miner’s fee. In comparison, only 38% of Bitcoin blocks are single-transaction blocks. This indicates that there is indeed a lack of usage of the Liquid network relative to other blockchains. Part of the reason for this may be due to the fact that Blockstream, the company behind Liquid, has been more focused on developing the technology than on marketing it and getting users onboard. This is reflected in Wall’s comment that Blockstream “cares only about their own anal arguments.” If Blockstream hopes to increase adoption of Liquid, it will need to do a better job of promoting the network and making it user-friendly. Otherwise, it risks becoming just another failed experiment in cryptocurrency.
These days, it seems like everyone is a maximalist. But what does that actually mean? In the simplest terms, a maximalist is someone who believes that Bitcoin is the only true cryptocurrency. That might sound like a pretty narrow view, but in reality, it’s a pretty radical belief. After all, there are thousands of different cryptocurrencies out there, and each one has its own unique features and benefits. So why should anyone put all their eggs in one basket?
There are a few different reasons. First of all, Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency. It was the first to solve the problem of digital scarcity, and it remains the most widely used and trusted blockchain in the world. Secondly, Bitcoin is censorship-resistant and permissionless. That means that anyone can use it without needing approval from a central authority. And finally, Bitcoin is hard money. That means it can’t be inflationary, meaning that its value can’t be eroded by excessive printing of new coins.
All of these factors make Bitcoin a very attractive proposition for those who are looking for an alternative to traditional fiat currencies. But of course, no investment is without risk. Bitcoin is still a relatively new technology, and it remains to be seen whether it will be
Rizzo makes a valid point that the selling of unregulated securities is dangerous to retail investors and something that should be addressed. However, he fails to see that this problem is inherent in the very structure of Ethereum. The smart contracts that are used to create these securities are themselves unregulated and impossible to track. As a result, it is impossible to know who is behind them or what their intentions are. This lack of transparency is what makes Ethereum a breeding ground for scams and fraud. In order to protect retail investors, it is necessary to regulate the platform itself. This can be done through increased scrutiny by exchanges and other major players in the space. Only by taking these measures can we hope to protect innocent investors from being taken advantage of.
In the world of cryptocurrency, there is a strong divide between those who support Bitcoin and those who believe in altcoins. The former group is often referred to as “Bitcoin maximalists,” while the latter are more open to the idea that other blockchain projects have value. Despite this disagreement, both sides tend to agree that Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are an interesting and potentially valuable development. NFTs actually originated on the Bitcoin platform Counterparty, he added (this is true!), and the attempt to bring them to Bitcoin is hardly a great traducement. “Bitcoin maximalism just states Bitcoin is the only decentralized cryptocurrency,” he said. “It’s the only one where the value accrual and operation actually occurs equally, so it’s better to strive to build all things back onto bitcoin (however long that takes), with the desired goal of bringing as much to it as possible.” While this may be the goal of Bitcoin maximalists, it is important to remember that cryptocurrency is still a young and rapidly evolving industry. It remains to be seen whether NFTs will become a mainstream success or remain a niche technology.
It’s hard to square Rizzo’s attestation to a deeply principled approach with the reality of the maximalists’ many side projects. For instance, their support for Tether, which runs on Ethereum and has historically been less than honest with retail investors. Or the key instances in which maximalists have pointedly not brought whatever innovation they’re into back to Bitcoin. Who can forget the time when former Blockstream potentate Samson Mow, one of Carter’s big critics last month, backed an Ethereum token! These examples call into question the maximalists’ professed commitment to Bitcoin and whether they’re really looking out for retail investors’ best interests.
It’s not clear where Rizzo draws the line when it comes to protecting investors. Is it more important to him that Bitcoin’s use case is valued above all else, or that new crypto innovations only run on Bitcoin? Or is it more important to make sure that retail investors aren’t fleeced? These are all valid concerns, but it’s hard to say which one is most important to Rizzo. What is clear, however, is that he believes that any crypto innovation should be accessible to accredited investors and not be a risk to retail investors. This is a reasonable position to take, but it’s worth noting that the entire country of El Salvador was fleeced by Bukele’s abortive “Bitcoin bond” scheme. It’s important to protect investors from scams and bad actors, but it’s also important to remember that even well-intentioned innovation can have unintended consequences.
bitcoin investors have been burned by broken promises before, and they’re bound to be burned again. The problem isn’t that there are too few loft promises and byzantine prediction models. The problem is that bitcoin investors keep falling for them. Each time, they convince themselves that this time is different. This time, the predictions will come true. This time, bitcoin will really take off. But each time, they’re disappointed. Recently, some of the most vocal maximalists have called for regulators to shut down the networks of competitors like Ethereum. But even if their predictions come true and Ethereum is forced out of the market, it’s only a matter of time before another competitor comes along and takes its place. In the end, Bitcoin may be the biggest cryptocurrency, but it’s far from being the only one.
Maximalism, in Rizzo’s view, is more of a lifestyle brand than an ideology. The current strain of hard money maximalism shares little in common intellectually with the free-marketeering anarcho-capitalist ethos that birthed it. Many of the more proudly libertarian Bitcoin hardliners like Ver and Voorhees left long ago with the explicit intent of pursuing other opportunities. The remaining core have embraced a quasi-theological lifestyle brand version of the ideology stripped wholly of libertarianism and its temptations, peddling seed oils and keto diets and tradwives. They also dabble in the wider crypto markets—but only under the cover of an array of abstruse justifications. In other words, maximalists have turned their backs on the very thing that made them unique: a commitment to libertarian principles. And without that, it’s hard to see what, if anything, maximalism stands for.
Bitcoin maximalism is often criticized as being a shallow and opportunistic ideology. And it’s true that, like any doctrine, it has its fair share of opportunists. But I believe that Bitcoin maximalism will endure because it is based on sound principles. Unlike other ideologies, Bitcoin maximalism is not built on faith or hope. It is based on a clear understanding of how the world works and a commitment to truth. And while the maximalists may be a minority now, I believe that their numbers will continue to grow as more people come to see the wisdom of their philosophy.