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Vitalik Buterin Explains Why it’s Difficult to be the “Good Guy” in Crypto

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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has said that the era of “good-guy” teams is fading, with much more conflict surfacing in today’s climate.

In a thread on Twitter, Buterin began by saying “a big difference between the “new idealistic movement” scene 10-15 years ago vs today is that back then it felt possible to be on all the good-guy teams at the same time. Today, much more adversarial thinking and conflict.”

“I’ve been trying to understand.. where to from here?” he questioned.

Democracy dismantled

For Buterin, the drive for “direct democracy” was key for libertarians with “blockchain people” and “open source community people” regarding each other as allies.

However, with voices from the crypto world advocating harsher regulations, the community has become more divisive.

Using Cory Doctorow’s letter calling for crypto regulation as an example, Buterin said it “is upsetting and confusing a lot of crypto advocates because many looked up to his vision and saw themselves as fellow travelers.”

Buterin didn’t stop there. “The crypto vs tech-left divide is not the only divide; all the teams are divided,” he said, giving examples such as “maximilaism in crypto, libertarians turning against democracy, woke vs rationalist wars and hostile responses.

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He went on to say how the division has made him “feel very sad” because his “natural temperament has always been that I want to be part of all the good-guy teams and bring them together.”

“But now many of these teams that I’ve grown up loving are attacking each other and considering each other harmful,” he stated.

But why Buterin, why?

Conceding that “complaining about the phenomenon won’t fix it”, Buterin offered further insight about how early movements have become much bigger.

“When something is small, even if you don’t like it, it’s not a threat, so it’s easy to live-and-let-live. When everything is big, more competition, so more incentive to point out problems,” he said.

He also proposed that “idealistic small movements easily lose their idealism and become mixed in with other energies once they become big, and those other energies more easily lead to negative stuff.”

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Money is the ultimate corrupter as well, Buterin argues. “Crypto was at first just decentralization enthusiasts, but now there’s also various types of “money people”.”

Furthermore, we live in a time of “dystopian fear” rather than “excitement about positive visions” compounded with social media rewarding negativity.

Vitalik’s vital solutions

Buterin encourages the community to “focus more on the newer and smaller sub-movements, that are more opinionated about their values.”

“These smaller spaces can help create new optimistic visions for the future *and* create something that people can be part of without also being part of the financialized cruft,” he suggested.

Additionally, Buterin warned that the peace between big groups must be maintained too. “Many of these movements really do contain, in their worst versions, threats to each other’s visions of a bright future for humanity,” he said.

“I do think that many people disagree less than they think,” he said. “Eg. @glenweyl @balajis fight a lot, but when I talk to them, both have a strong “we’re all in this together” attitude: this century either all of humanity rises or all of humanity falls.”

Buterin concluded with: “peacekeeping and cooperation-seeking needs to be an explicit effort rather than peace being an assumed default.”