In a year marked by pontification on what it means to be a “Bitcoin Maximalist,” the implosion of many centralized “crypto” projects and the excommunication of interested bitcoin influencersBitcoin Independence Day deserves to be celebrated more than ever.
Bitcoin’s first Independence Day was scheduled for August 1, 2017, when Bitcoin users planned to roll out a software upgrade through a user-activated soft fork (UASF) via BIP148, which they hoped would mark a community victory in the long-running block war by activating SegWit. It was a modification of Bitcoin’s transaction format that was supported by the Bitcoin community at large, but opposed by some large mining entities and other startups in the ecosystem who have instead sought to hard fork the protocol to increase the block size limit.
The idea of celebrating Flag Day on August 1 BIP148 as a public holiday was more or less meme’d into existence by Jan3 CEO Samson Mow, who was a strong supporter of UASF. The Bitcoin mining community capitulated in the days leading up to Bitcoin’s planned inaugural day of independence, signaling their support for BIP91 after the BIP148 UASF applying SegWit was already deployed and inevitable. SegWit activated on the Bitcoin network on August 24, 2017.
The spirit of this original UASF gathering makes the idea of Bitcoin Independence Day worth remembering, even five years later. Meanwhile, questions about how Bitcoin protocol changes are expected to occur and the role of Bitcoin’s most prominent individuals in influencing its future remain very largely unresolved to this day.
Back to SegWit with Luke Dashjr
To think about these questions in the context of this year’s Bitcoin Independence Day, it may help to go back to the start with someone who was there. Prominent Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr was one of the first to suggest the option to deploy SegWit as a soft fork.
Dashjr maintains the spirit that was so visible during block warfare. More recently, this has meant speak out against Speedy Trial path for taproot activation despite its general acceptance among much of the Bitcoin technical community, pointing out that the Ignored Speedy Trial activation method developed consensus around the BIP8 method to activate soft forks.
“We learned some major lessons from enabling SegWit,” Dashjr recalled as he reflected on the process in an interview for this year’s Bitcoin Independence Day. “Unfortunately, some developers seem to have not learned those lessons, and tried to repeat the same mistakes with Taproot, even going so far as to reject the community consensus around BIP8.
Taproot may be considered Bitcoin’s most significant protocol upgrade since SegWit, but its activation has hardly tested the resolve of the Bitcoin community so violently. The Majority of Bitcoin Hash Rate Contributors were quick to signal their support for the popular update.
A “commercial entity versus user” standoff has never occurred around Taproot activation, and the truly existential questions of how consensus can be reached for changes to Bitcoin have not really been answered. . In fact, Dashjr pointed out that, if anything, Bitcoin might now be in a worse position to resist the influence of centralized entities, like those who supported SegWit2x.
“Since 2017, expectations for Bitcoin have increased, but unfortunately Bitcoin itself and its network have diminished, making it much less secure and borderline centralized,” he said. pointing to data showing that the number of Bitcoin nodes has fallen from 200,000 in 2018 to less than 50,000 today. “But at the same time, the need because Bitcoin has also grown tremendously – I like to say “too big to fail” – and I believe that ensuring its success despite these difficulties is essential for the future of humanity”.
Run your own node
As bitcoin’s price has risen from around $4,400 in August 2017 to over $20,000 today, it’s clear that bitcoin’s Independence Day has protected the protocol’s path to mass adoption. But the recent failure of centralized custodial providers like celsius demonstrates that the true independence of Bitcoin does not grow at the same rate as the adoption of this asset.
“It’s not enough to get people to buy bitcoins, or for the price to go up,” as Dashjr put it. “All of Bitcoin’s advantages – including its security against outright theft and the 21 million BTC cap – stem from the assumption that the majority of the economy uses its own full nodes to verify payments to it. Centralized verification and third-party wallets/custodians are a bigger threat to Bitcoin than anything else.
Perhaps the greatest legacy of SegWit and the Blocksize War may be in the reminder that for Bitcoin to truly fulfill its promise, its users must remain as fiercely independent as they proved in 2017.
“This was an important lawsuit in the history of Bitcoin, for the community to overcome what amounted to a hostile takeover attempt by some powerful elites,” Dashjr recalled. “If UASF had failed, it would likely have meant the death of Bitcoin and the concept of decentralized currency as a whole. So an annual celebration like Bitcoin Independence Day seems very appropriate and worth participating in.