Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Faketoshi Circus: Even Bitcoin Can’t Escape the Politics of Money

by Michael J Caseychairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor for blockchain research at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative

In case you missed it, a new self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto came out of the woodwork last week, this one brandishing a “proof” based on numerology and an obsession with BCCI, the scandal-ridden bank that collapsed in 1991.

The widely debunked “reveal” from Bilal Khalid, aka James Caan – Khalid officially changed his name to that of the American actor – followed a host of equally absurd developments in a Florida court case against the other “Faketoshi,” Craig S. Wright. These included a hand-written note to the judge in which yet another person, one Debo Jurgen Etienne Guido, also laid claim to being bitcoin’s secret progenitor.

Sensible minds in the crypto community remind us that this is all a sideshow, that these competing claims to bitcoin’s creation ultimately mean nothing to its value proposition.

Still, it begs the question: why does it keep happening? Why do the scammers emerge so readily? What is about the crypto community that attracts a parade of false prophets?

Let’s take the question further: why does crypto generate so much drama generally? Bitter feuds over software forks; relentless conspiracy theories; disputes between maximalists, altcoiners, nocoiners and shitcoiners; competing social media memes; token “armies;” Twitter trolls; fraudsters of all kinds – it’s the crypto circus, and many of us secretly love it, at least in doses.

But why? How did a technology spawned by the most math-driven, nerdy and precision-obsessed fields of computer science give rise to Mexican telenovela-like stream of plot twists?

Other open-source tech communities generate their fair share of drama too, of course. (Type in “Linux community” into a Google search and it auto-completes to “Linux community toxic.”) The leaderless structure of open-source projects means there’s no central authority or pooled profit interest policing behavior or managing the external messaging.

Still, the crypto soap opera takes things to another level of madness. Why?

Learning from ancient history
My attempt at an explanation begins with the fact that, unlike other technologies, this is one is fundamentally about money.

“Money has historically been a political process, a process through which people or states or some kind of entity consolidates authority over others,” says Bill Maurer, Dean of Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, an anthropologist who has studied the culture and history of money, adding:

“So, you have this big paradox with something like bitcoin, where its very idea is that there shouldn’t be any one person or authority in control…But because of that, you get this cacophony of voices, each claiming to have some kind of truth and striving to be the one in control.”

For the full story, please visit https://www.coindesk.com/the-faketoshi-circus-why-even-bitcoin-cant-escape-the-politics-of-money

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