A short post on internet civilizations

Going into 2016, here is my thesis on the macro matters affecting the Bitcoin experiment:

Bitcoin is an amazing attempt to create an internet-based civilization. It was formed as a republic but has devolved into a state of democracy. 

The Bitcoin society focuses primarily on monetary policy (ie. issuing a currency) but it has a lot of the typical symptoms of a civilization. It involves people engaging in commerce -- with policies, enforcement, and property. It has figureheads, castes, enterprise, voting, a writing system, specialization of labor, taxation, and looming debates of public policy and social issues.

I classify Bitcoin as being initialized as a republic but having devolved to democracy (like so many republics before it).

Some background on why I think the hypothesis is valid:

The story of republic->democracy->oligarchy is not new in the history of human civilizations. It is a pattern spoken about by such greats as Plato himself, albeit with older terminology. A well-read statesmen more recently described the concept of civilizations requiring repetitive turnover to reset after the inevitable transition to oligarchy:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants
— Thomas Jefferson 1787

Mr. Jefferson even paid homage to the Christian bible in the longer version of that quote. He paraphrased; that God forbids man from a lack of revolution.

Perhaps some Bitcoiners would agree that Bitcoin society is on the verge of schism with such discussions as the blocksize debate. It is certainly one of the more polarizing contentious issues. I would even venture to say that the debate is before officials as a matter of public outcry requiring legislative action at present.

There are still many other unresolved matters of civil unrest: fungibility, privacy, identity, mining centralization, and 51% attack to name a few. Often times the Bitcoin law (or protocol) requires unanimous agreement with the dooming possibility of a rouge nation if all parties do not compromise.

I could go on writing and probably should elaborate on why I equate tx fees to a tax, the scripting language to a written language, mining pools to the bureaucracy, developers to the legislative branch, and mining clients to law enforcement. But this is supposed to be a short post.

Conclusion and predictions:

The problem is that Bitcoin is the cutting edge and I am a concerned citizen. Fortunately I'm not yet worried about bandits or other civilizations pillaging my land because I would venture to say that Bitcoin is the first true civilization on the internet. I say this due to its robust design with thoughtful separation of powers, currency, and other civil infrastructure -- to which I see no rivals.

It was initially setup with rules, founding principles, and the separate powers (users, miners, developers) having relatively effective checks and balances against each other. Those checks and balances have failed in that mining centralization and corporate interests have allowed an oligarchy to develop. The oligarchy naturally has special interests and we can expect to see the decisions about policies like the blocksize debate factoring in those special interests. It should be self-evident that those special interests go against the wishes and best interests of the general public, to which the checks and balances were initially designed to protect. My preferred "One CPU one vote" de jure has been undermined by centralized mining and corporate interest de facto.

I see two possible outcomes: revolution or the furtherance of the oligarchy. Unfortunately there is traditionally a lot of resources held by an oligarchy which tends to try to preserve itself for as long as possible -- resulting in a possibly lengthy period of public suffering.

Now this is all a bit silly. We're talking about magic internet money and it's unlikely that the tech-savvy Bitcoin public will suffer real-world destruction due to the bitnocrats. But as blockchains begin to replace the infrastructure of the traditional offline civilizations - should we be paying more attention to how this all plays out? 

Maybe it's not too crazy to get a 3D printed toga for the quadcopter races. You can find me on the soap box at the forum. What a time to be an internet pleb waiting for a triumph!