A conflict of crypto visions?

The nascent blockchain ecosystem has already seen many fierce debates characterized by two well-defined camps in each case. Whether it is a good idea to increase the Bitcoin block size, whether there should be only one base-layer blockchain, whether the cryptocurrency supply should be fixed in the long run, whether the basic protocol should allow extensive computational (smart-contract capabilities) and so on.

Prominent blockchain space thought leaders Yassine Elmandjra and Arjun Balaji suggest in a recent thought-provoking new Medium article that there is a much deeper intellectual disagreement behind those divides. According to them, much of the bickering can be traced to the dichotomy proposed by American social philosopher Thomas Sowell between the “constrained” and “unconstrained” visions of society.

The former is based on the idea that there are some fundamental limitations to the ways social goals can be achieved that have to be respected. In the blockchain context, this position is roughly synonymous with the views of the Bitcoin maximalist camp, whose most prominent representatives are thinkers like Nick Szabo and Adam Black (as well as, arguably, Elmandjra and Balaji themselves). Whereas the unconstrained vision is purportedly championed by the supposed wide-eyed blockchain experimenters like Vitalik Buterin.

While the article is certainly significantly biased in favor of the Bitcoin maximalist view, many readers will probably find it insightful and thought-provoking.


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