Before The Beatles became the most popular band of all time, they were mainstays at a hole-in-the-wall club in Liverpool called The Cavern. Between 1961 and 1963, the boys would play rock-n-roll nightly to a small but dedicated audience of fans. Those lucky enough to see The Beatles during this period understood they were witnessing something special and spread word of the band to their friends. Over time, the crowds grew bigger and The Beatles eventually became too popular for their hometown venue. Not six months after playing their last show at the Cavern, they had a number one record and were playing to millions on the Ed Sullivan show. That’s hyper-Beatlization for you.
This post is part of CoinDesk’s 2020 Year in Review – a collection of op-eds, essays and interviews about the year in crypto and beyond. Justin Wales is a lawyer and the co-chair of Carlton Fields’ national blockchain and virtual currency practice. He is the author of “Bitcoin is Speech Notes Toward Developing the Conceptual Contours of Its Protection Under the First Amendment.”
I assure you this article is about Bitcoin.
For those lucky enough to see The Beatles in Liverpool, watching them go on to become “bigger than Jesus” must have been a mixed bag. Seeing something you loved first become accepted by the entire world is validating, but it also means that thing is no longer just for you. You now have to share it with the world and that risks it losing the qualities that attracted you to it in the first place. Before you know it, your favorite band is just a corporate brand used to sell socks.
Thinking about what it was like to watch The Beatles play some grimy bar is a good analogy to what many bitcoiners are going through at this very moment. In the last few months, it feels like the venue has gotten crowded and that it’s time for Bitcoin to leave to conquer the world.
New voices have entered the space and have changed the way we talk about the Bitcoin network. The conversation is dominated by those speculating about the bitcoin cryptocurrency’s use as an investment vehicle for the already wealthy. Fewer and fewer people preach its role as a tool for democratizing finance. It is essential that throughout this bull run, as we celebrate the rewards that come with being at the right place at the right time, that we remember what makes Bitcoin unique and fight like hell to keep it that way.
Bitcoin is a network. That’s its magic. It isn’t like a stock or a bond or even like gold. It is just a powerful system that allows people all over the world to privately interact with one another in a manner that is wholly unconcerned with whether any institution or government likes it or not.
That is the revolution.
Bitcoin is not large PayMent [trademarked] processors allowing its customers to purchase, but never hold, bitcoin directly or the marginal efficiencies available to those wishing to transfer millions of dollars between corporate treasuries….