It may seem paradoxical, but many bitcoin supporters welcome the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuits against cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Binance.
Previously CEO of bitcoin company Swan.com Corey Clipsten in a comment for Fortune called the SEC’s stance on cryptocurrencies “consistent” and head of payment app Strike Jack Mullers said Commission Chairman Gary Gensler is trying to “protect the integrity of America’s financial markets.”
Both criticized Coinbase for listing altcoins and called Binance is an offshore exchange that trades non-registered securities. This position finds support among well-known representatives of the bitcoin community, including Max Kaiser, Samson Moe, Matt Odell and others.
According to Castle Island Ventures partner and Coinmetrics co-founder Nick Carter, this behavior of the bitcoin guru turns the first cryptocurrency into a cult:
“There are “those who use bitcoin”, also known as bitcoiners (they are the majority). And there are people who have turned bitcoin into a secular cult. Let’s call the latest laser eyes, maxi or something else, it’s not so important. They know who they are and we know who they are. There is no uncertainty here – these are the people who turned bitcoin from a tool into a belief system and a way of life, ”Carter says in an essay in Twitter.
He argues that the vast majority of the cult’s adherents are newcomers who are late to the 2021 rally, believe in the Stock-to-Flow model and the superiority of bitcoin over shitcoins and fiat:
“Just by tithing monthly in bitcoin, you can make a financial transformation in a fairer world. When fiat and everything else collapses, you will be one of the chosen few, rulers among the ruins.”
Coinbase and Binance combined have attracted 100 million to 200 million people, Carter said, and have done more to mass-accept Bitcoin than other companies. However, laser eyes are welcoming government attacks on these platforms as they are “more bearish on crypto than bullish on bitcoin” and most of them have lost money since entering the market in 2021 and 2022:
“So what attracts these people to bitcoin? Simply put, a secular cult. It’s a way of life for people on the fringes of society who would otherwise be conspiracy theorists, “golden bugs“radical libertarians, etc. They are generally unhappy with the status quo and blame central banks, interest rates, and ultimately “fiat culture“ in all problems.
Carter argues that bitcoin maximalism is not a “religion”, but literally a religion. Its adherents believe that bitcoin was created in a unique, perfect and fair way, and nothing can compare with it. Only the divine Proof-of-Work of Satoshi and the absence of premine can contribute to the creation of a truly global decentralized money.
In the worldview of laser eyes, Carter identifies several motives similar to religious ones:
- the rescue. Any sin, no matter how terrible, is forgiven if you repent, give up shitcoins and accept bitcoin;
- religious texts. White paper by Satoshi and his forum posts, as well as exegesis like the “Bitcoin Standard” by Seyfedin Ammous;
- tithe. Buy Satoshi every two weeks even if you are losing money. You are still doing good because it works for the benefit of the Bitcoin Church;
- eschatology. A fiat apocalypse/hyperinflation/big debt bubble is coming and there will be no financial asset left other than bitcoin. After ascension, bitcoiners will inherit the land, and a handful of Satoshi can buy entire blocks. Today you are a simple plebeian, but tomorrow you are a baron;
- rituals. Make a pilgrimage to El Salvador to make a Lightning Network payment at McDonald’s; attend a bitcoin conference in Miami; listen to the same podcasts with the same guests week after week; troll nocoiners and shitcoiners on Twitter; tell your story of acquaintance with bitcoin; recruit new followers of the cult.
How does this relate to Binance and Coinbase? While both platforms have done more for the adoption and availability of bitcoin than other companies in the industry, they are “unclean” due to their support for other cryptocurrencies.
The position of bitcoin maximalists, Carter believes, brings to mind the early tweets of the head of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong. He did not realize then that to survive in the market, you need to create what people need, and not a minority consisting of fanatics.
“That’s why you won’t find maxi’s making real companies. Being a founder means accepting market realities, and not imposing your ideology on the world,” says Carter.
Binance and Coinbase may have made questionable listing and product offering decisions. However, it was they who contributed to the mass adoption of bitcoin:
“Laser eyes see the world differently. They are not focused on the success of bitcoin, but want to live in a “clean world”, where the first cryptocurrency is marginal and niche, and all competitors have failed.
In a “fallen world” where other cryptocurrencies also thrive, one has to admit: Bitcoin was not Special, but just one of many tools. And some of them turned out to be more successful and adaptive. Their god was false: the foreordained future has not come and will never come.”
Carter invites readers to imagine a Christian who “stands in front of the gates of heaven and realizes that God turned out to be Allah, Krishna, Zeus or Thor.” He sees sinners and pagans climbing the stairs to the holy gates. This, Carter believes, is similar to the moment of realizing that the maxi bet on the wrong horse:
“In the ‘fallen world’, it will become clear that laser eyes never had much knowledge. Their revelations were shadows and illusions, and their gurus were false prophets. This crisis of faith is too painful, so maximalists pray and hope for the collapse of all shitcoins and impure competitors.”
It turns out, adds Carter, that Binance and Coinbase increased the market capitalization of the first cryptocurrency by tens or hundreds of billions, but did it wrong. They sinned by adding support for other coins, allowing Ethereum, Solana and XRP to flourish:
“The biggest sin of crypto exchanges is to be polytheistic in a monotheistic world. For this they deserve destruction. Even if Binance runs the largest P2P marketplace in the Global South. Even if Coinbase has been battling bitcoin with US regulators for over a decade. Even if these companies hold more bitcoin for their users than anyone else. It doesn’t matter, because they are unclean.”
Carter notes that the reaction of laser eyes to the Coinbase and Binance attack is significant: they do not care about the progress of the industry and the adoption of bitcoin, they do not care about 100 million users of these exchanges. Maximalists ostensibly despise state power, but are happy to use it against their enemies.
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