Ethereum, Opinion

The Crypto Revolution

Are you a loyalist or a revolutionary? You get to decide.
David Hoffman David Hoffman Jul 5, 20224 min read
The Crypto Revolution

Dear Bankless Nation,

Just over a year ago: DeFi Summer 2020 had cooled off, and the energy rotated into NFT mania of 2021.

This struck a parallel with the European Renaissance, which started all the way back in the 1400’s. First double-entry bookkeeping democratized access to finance, and that triggered a revolution in the arts and cultural expression.

First finance, then art.

In May of last year, we brought historian Josh Rosenthal on to the podcast to help us explore these parallels of history. Turns out: the parallels between what’s happening in crypto and what happened in the 1400’s renaissance are way stronger than what most realize.

That’s why Episode 63 - The Crypto Renaissance has become the #1 beloved Bankless podcast episode of all time.

Like we say on Bankless, crypto is speedrunning the history of money and finance. But it’s also speedrunning the history of human coordination structures.

This week, we brought Josh back on to the podcast. It was another firework of an episode. Josh dropped a lot of knowledge, and one line that really struck me.

The American Revolution is the logical downstream effect of the European Renaissance.


Let’s discuss what that means from a crypto perspective…

1. Live Free or Die!

The revolutionaries of early America were ready to go down with the ship. This grand experiment in decentralized governance was either going to work, or they would die trying to make it work.

Sound familiar? We are going to make crypto work, or we will ride it all down to $0 trying. That’s the same reason an invading force can never truly dominate a rebelling population that is deeply committed to an idea.

2. A Grand Experiment in Decentralized Governance

At its core, the American Revolution was an experiment in new forms of governance. The old governance structures of the world were antiquated and not reflective of the people that they were meant to represent. Monarchy sucked! Much like our corporate oligarchy of today sucks. Both systems to not represent or benefit the majority population.

The new American democracy was about producing a bottom-up system of governance that was composed of its own people. This seems normal now, but that was crazy back then. No group of people had ever governed over themselves before; it was all top-down authoritarianism prior to that.

Now, the state structure of the USA is no longer reflective of the people that compose it. You can taste the scent of revolution in the air. Every year, the level of agitation ratchets up in the public discourse, and more and more people become disillusioned with the status quo. Then they get activated when they learn there’s a better way.

3. The Incumbents vs the Crazies

The ‘Loyalists’ of the American Revolution are the ‘Statists’ of today. The Warren Buffets, Jamie Dimons, Larry Finks, and career politicians are the fiat maximalists who want to preserve the incumbent state structure, even when there is so much demand for a new form of governance.

To go against the state structure is considered lunacy by many. Falling in line with the current status quo is easy and comfortable. Being a revolutionary is difficult!

But there is so much demand for something new, that people are now willing to take the hard road to get this. Now that we’ve had a chance to build our own worlds, we’ve confirmed we can do it better than the dinosaurs running the meatspace.

At our core, crypto is comprised of Nation-Builders. It’s just that our Nations are digital.

4. In Pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness

The Renaissance introduced choice.

The American Revolution made it a right.

We hold these truths to be self-evident… certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

The most revolutionary thing that the American Revolution brought was this idea of pursuing what was simultaneously meaningful, and economically viable. People were free to escape the shackles of feudalism, and attempt to build something that was useful — for oneself, one’s neighbors, and that provided sustenance and opportunity for our families.

In order to pursue these goals, many chose to leave their homes, voyage across oceans, and start anew. The American Debate is about how best to do this, to govern oneself and ‘others’ and allow each to pursue their economic interests.

“How do we enable build to permissionlessly build businesses and ventures that would improve oneself and their community?”

People are enabled by crypto towards their calling. They pursue what is meaningful to them.

Crypto can be so consuming — not just because of the money — but because people find themselves through the freedom that crypto offers. Come to crypto, build your business, find your community, and settle in for the long haul.

Once you do, you never go back to tyranny.

5. Endless Debates in Governance Structures

How should a blockchain be organized?

Should we have one highly secure L1 chain, with a flourishing ecosystem of L2s that live on top?

Should we have many app chains that are allowed to coalesce together?

Maybe there should be a maximally reductive chain that just focuses on being money, and let things build around that?

Debate in blockchain designs are debates in governance structures, and the beginnings of the American Revolution was full of these debates.

We had the Federalists, who proposed a strong coordinating government (Ethereans?).

We had the Anti-Federalists who wanted no central government and only wanted independent states (Cosmos?).

There were also straight-up anarchists who just wanted to be left alone (Bitcoiners?).

Over a decade in since this revolution got started, the lines are drawn. Now you get to choose.

I’ll let a message from Ryan send you off to the fireworks. Happy Independence Day!

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