This article originally appeared at our Weekly Bits newsletter. If you would like our information and investigation prior to anyone else, be sure to sign up today!
In my opinion, Bitcoin Independence Day is a holiday which says a good deal about the BTC community. Its roots are highly specialized and hard to comprehend, the “independence” it observes describes the programmer community beating pursuits from industrialized miners and, finally, it’s an opportunity for Bitcoiners to reflect the history of their technology and take part in debate.
To observe, Bitcoin Magazine hosted a day of instructional, evangelical and argumentative programming. I believe that it spoke nicely to what this vacation should finally mean for Bitcoin.
What’s Bitcoin Independence Day Worth Celebrating?
Bitcoin Magazine’s Aaron van Wirdum has coated the technical argument this festival season, which culminated in the effective activation of this SegWit protocol update in 2017, better than I ever could. For this year’s celebration, our team made a helpful animated video to cover the history as well.
But the history alone doesn’t quite explain why Bitcoin Independence Day is important enough to celebrate three years later. I think we celebrate it because we see this as an existential moment Bitcoin when the good of the many won out over the aims of the powerful few — proof that this universal, permissionless value system was resilient in the ways it needs to be. Evidence of our independence.
“It’s not possible to deploy whatever you want on a consensus network,” Eric Lombrozo, a key developer behind SegWit and participant in our live stream this year, told Bitcoin Magazine as he reflected on the history in 2019. “I could want to deploy a million features, but if other people don’t want to accept it, it’s not up to me. I can’t negotiate this on behalf of the network. It’s not up to me or anyone else.”
Bitcoin Independence Day might stem from an esoteric developer debate, but its resolution was ultimately a recognition of the larger independence that this technology promises from bad actors, gatekeepers, powerful third parties, etc. And I think that will always be worth celebrating.
Bitcoin Independence Day As A Chance To Celebrate True Independence
Expanding the spotlight of the holiday to the larger independence that Bitcoin affords was definitely on the docket for our party this year. With some help from the staff behind The Little Bitcoin Book, our live stream included stories from around the world about how Bitcoin is growing in ways that ingrained institutions cannot stop.
The international team of authors behind the book connected via movie chat to discuss its translation into various foreign languages on its one-year anniversary. They also discussed the independence that Bitcoin is granting in places outside of the U.S.
As Jimmy Song and Alex Gladstein checked in with fellow Little Bitcoin Book co-author Timilehin Ajiboye, for instance, they discussed how Ajiboye sees BTC being used in Nigeria, where he operates the BuyCoins exchange.
“I would say 50/50 between moving money in and out of the country and speculation,” Ajiboye said of how he sees Nigerians utilizing bitcoin. “It’s kind of like intertwined, where you receive bitcoin and you’re meant to send it somewhere else but you can also try and make some money on the fluctuations in the meantime. At the end of the day, wherever the money ends up, it’s still someone needing it outside or in Nigeria.”
Emphasizing Productive Debate On Bitcoin Independence Day
Though Bitcoin’s 2017 block size debate was contentious and politically wrought, Bitcoin Independence Day seems like a good time to emphasize something else that’s truly unique about this technology: it really is by the people, for the people and of the people.
The SegWit odyssey proved that consensus is required to fundamentally change the Bitcoin network and that ultimately, the strongest and most technically-sound arguments will win out. Anyone who has spent five seconds on Bitcoin Twitter knows that Bitcoiners don’t all get along, but Bitcoin the protocol can and should be a place where productive debate is encouraged and sound reasoning wins out.
Emphasizing this aspect of Bitcoin Independence Day, Bitcoin Magazine’s celebration hosted some high-level discourse on contentious topics, with well-versed proponents making their own cases and leaving it up for the wider world to decide.
Debates included “How To Activate A New Soft Fork?,” “Can KYC Stop Bitcoin?” and “How To Build A Sound Economy.”
“I think it’s very naive if Professor Wray tries to make this merely about the technical economics and to say, ‘Oh no, we can trust the government to get it right with fiat money as long as they did X, Y and Z with it,’” said Bob Murphy, an Austrian Economist, in his opening statement during the Sound Economy debate. “That still doesn’t establish the truth of the proposition we are debating today.”
“MMT explains how the monetary system actually works and this should be useful, even for Austrians,” Wray, a noted Modern Monetary Theorist, retorted in his own opening statement. “If you want to reform the monetary system and you can get the political support for the reforms that you want, you should at least understand how the monetary system works so that you can use it in your interests. Now, I hope you don’t succeed … but I think everyone ought to understand how the economy actually works.”
Unsurprisingly, the Bitcoin community at large appeared to overwhelmingly support the Austrian viewpoint in the debate, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth having on a day that is meant to observe our independence from corporate interests, central authorities and the dangers of restrictive thinking.
To view all of our content from Bitcoin Independence Day, make sure you visit our YouTube page along with subscribe.