Don't be a Maxi
Thanks to prateek for discussions and feedback which led to this post
The History of Maxi
In the land of crypto, the term “Bitcoin maxi” was termed in 2014 to describe those who think that “an environment of multiple competing cryptocurrencies is undesirable, that it is wrong to launch ‘yet another coin’, and that it is both righteous and inevitable that the Bitcoin currency comes to take a monopoly position in the cryptocurrency scene”.
At the time the term wasn’t meant so much as a pejorative, but instead as a way of categorizing someone’s beliefs. The idea at the time was that bitcoin maxis had a rational thought process for believing as such.
Since then, however, the term has become a pejorative. The term “bitcoin maxi” has come to be used to describe those who believe, with a certain closed-mindedness or lack of imagination, that bitcoin is the most superior cryptocurrency. It’s used to describe those who are incapable of changing their mind on the subject.
Some other ways to think about the change in meaning are:
- The term went from describing those who “believe in” bitcoin maximalism to describing those who “believe in believing” in bitcoin maximalism.
- The term went from describing those who believe in bitcoin maximalism as a means to an end, to those who believe in bitcoin maximalism as an end in itself.
In the former case, the bitcoin maximalism was something grounded in reality. Bitcoin maximalism was thought to make sense because it would mean a better outcome for the world in one way or another.
In the latter case, the end is no longer grounded in reality. It is completely cyclical! Bitcoin maxi because bitcoin maxi because bitcoin maxi because… You get the idea.
Zooming in on the Transformation
This transformation of meaning is pretty interesting. A natural thought is to wonder, why did it take place?
My thinking is that originally the term was used with the former less pejorative meaning because people thought there was a chance that bitcoin maximalism was a rationally defensible position.
Then, over time as the bitcoin maxi position fell to more and more faults, the term came to be used with the latter more pejorative meaning. People no longer saw bitcoin maximalism as a defensible position, and thus came to see bitcoin maxis thinking illogically and with a closed mind.
Why would people stick around with an indefensible position? Well, humans aren’t exactly the best at changing their minds; they like to stick to cached thoughts whether it be because of ties to their identity, community, sunk costs, etc.
This phenomenon is not specific to bitcoin. What is the general pattern here?
Looking at the transformation that took place for bitcoin and the term’s current usage, we can generalize “maxi” to be a label for something which while typically supported as a means to an end, is instead supported as an end in itself.
An example of usage outside of crypto could be to describe a “vegan maxi”:
- A vegan is somebody who is plant-based as a means to an end. That end is typically some combination of animal ethics, environment, and health reasons. They are plant-based to the extent that it serves these goals.
- A vegan maxi is somebody who is vegan as an end in itself. They are vegan in order to be vegan. Their actions become disconnected from their impacts on animals, the environment, and health. Hypothetically, were it discovered that being vegan is worse for animals and the environment, vegan maxis would continue to be vegan.
The Problem With Being a Maxi
The issue with being a maxi is self-evident. It implies irrational thinking which has lost its tethering to reality.
While one originally took on a belief to serve some purpose, it has since (for one reason or another) lost its connection to that purpose. And yet they continue to hold the belief!
The other day I was discussing the idea that “code is law” with a friend and we had to remind ourselves that the point of “code is law” should be something greater than itself. This helped us to frame our discussion in a lens more conducive to thinking.
All this to say that when evaluating beliefs, it’s worth thinking about whether they are maxi beliefs that no longer serve their original purpose. If so, you’d be best to rid yourself of them.