The False Dilemma of XT Versus Blockstream

Since the beginning of the XTCoin affair a substantial amount of social engineering has been directed into framing the Bitcoin blocksize as a polarized dispute between exactly two camps. One of these camps is the XTCoiners lead by former "Core" client developer and current United States Government Stooge Gavin Andresen working with Google washout Mike Hearn. The opposition is supposed to be lead by the current set of power rangers developing the "Core" Bitcoin client. This other side happens to be linked through a startup called "Blockstream" which also eventually wants to push through a heretical block size hardfork. The Blockstream difference is they don't want their hardfork until they sell miners on a number of less contentious "soft" forks to make Bitcoin safe for their hypothetical product.

This framing, which is being heavily pushed on social media and by the venture capital circus, completely ignores actual Bitcoin interests prepared to defend Bitcoin from hijacking, or it presents them as some part of the Blockstream camp. This happens in spite of certain Bitcoin interests being demonstrably not "in on" the larger Blockstream agenda.

Forcing a narrative dichotomy is a social engineering strategy which has had great success herding "the masses" in the past. Its most notable success was transforming domestic politics in the United States from a thing which was contested into a theater piece appearing to be a contest. During elections in the United States candidates present wildly differing visions, yet if elected they would carry out nearly the same agenda as their opponent. There's occasionally some inconsequential measure taken to recognize the camp that turned out the most votes, but the actual impact of a US election is trivial. The mechanism working here along with the final outcome are exactly the same as they are in sports fandom. A surrogate tribal identity is cultured by marketing to a large mass of people. Despite the marketing they are fed, they are in fact irrelevant to and unaffected by the actual outcome. Their carefully manicured tribal identity however leads them to believe otherwise.

The XT side of the blocksize debate counts numerous fiat/BTC interfaces and YCombinator backed startups desperately hoping microtransactions just might make them viable as supporters. They1 have been working to build a froth among people too poor to consider a Bitcoin network with any possible set of merits worthwhile should they ever have to spend so much as a whole dollar's equivalent in transaction fees. This powerless and impoverished mass is made to feel further aggrieved through Y Combinator backed social media outlet Reddit's /r/bitcoin "community" having a moderation policy in opposition to "their" team. What interest does it serve Y Combinator to have Theymos continue running /r/Bitcoin and "censor" marketing for other properties like Coinbase? It contributes to uniting the fandom through shared adversity, and this raises serious questions about who is actually DDoSing XT nodes.

With one tribal identity solidified, everyone else is framed as "the opposition" to XTCoin. An emphasis goes on "the" so that the opposition might be treated in the "debate" as a singular other tribe. The XT opposition's only actual unifying factor is they don't want that stupid populist idiocy to succeed, but their face is framed as Blockstream, a different populist idiocy.2 Blockstream3 which "just happens" to employ many of the "Core" client power rangers is "conveniently" there to serve as the "face" of the opposition.

As this performance continues, remember to consider the economic actors missing from various compromise hard fork proposals. These parties are withholding consensus essential to change and some possess the economic force to sink a hardfork. There is no actual serious blocksize "debate" at present, just an elaborate show creating the appearance of one.


  1. Yes, Y Combinator properties collude.  

  2. In a stable system like US domestic politics both sides end up defining themselves through differing ossified sets of populist idiocies.  

  3. The chief idiocy in the Blockstream camp is that if miners decide to stop enforcing the "soft" forks that Blockstream needs, the miners are somehow on "invalid" chains. Soft fork enforcement is nothing more than a courtesy extended by miners. Should miners trigger activation of segregated witness, and a super majority of miners later decide to stop enforcing its rule set, Blockstream is out of luck. Luke-Jr's protests about the "valid" blockchain would be as impotent as his protests about the valid Pope. So long as the longest chain that wins verifies on the actual reference Bitcoin client, life goes on.

    There are hazards to artificially trying to introduce new levels of trust to a system that doesn't require it. Softforks that explicitly create an incentive for their own revocation create an extraordinary moral hazard. 

2 thoughts on “The False Dilemma of XT Versus Blockstream

  1. all I know is that they will simultaneously count me amongst their numbers even as they ask me please to die. Or kill, depending on how much power they get.
    […]

    Do you know why you have such poor candidates every single election? Because you want them, you want someone you can easily judge for some sexual indiscretion or because they called latinos chicanos. "Well, that matters to us!" Then you got what you asked for.

    The media will have data mined the culture and chosen for you two cans of Campbell's Chicken Soup, and then encouraged a public debate about which can is a better representation of the spirit of the country, the one on the left or the one on the right. "Well, that matters to us!" I know.

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