Did George Orwell predict the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork back in 1945? No. However, that hasn’t stopped members of the bitcoin community from using Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm as an allegory for the bitcoin community.
It started with a post from Derek Magill in March 2018 called “Animal Farm and Bitcoin Core”. The story took new life on June 9 when John Blocke published his own article called “Bitcoin Farm: An Allegory.”
Both of these stories make similar arguments. Blocke expands on the argument initially proposed by Magill.
For those out of the loop, Animal Farm is an allegorical novel where animals on a farm are used to represent various figures in the history of Communist Russia. A group of farm animals, led by pigs, take over control of a farm. They oust the human owner of the farm and create their own society where all animals are equal.
Now, Magill and Blocke have re-imagined Animal Farm as an allegory for the bitcoin community. Both stories, however, revolve around this idea as their core:
“The leaders of Animal Farm maintain thought control by obscuring the facts with smokescreens, rewriting history, creating conspiracy theories about pending attacks, faking victims, slander, scapegoating, murdering opposition, outrageous public works projects to keep the animals busy, and through a large group of useful idiots — sheep — that spread their message unthinkingly and distract dissenters. By the end of the book, Animal Farm has been renamed Manor Farm and the ruling pigs are walking on two legs like the humans they overthrew. All pretenses of the original egalitarian utopianism are gone and the animals are weak, starving and downtrodden.
In these ways, the allegory to Bitcoin Core is almost perfect. “
In this situation, the “pigs” of the bitcoin community are Bitcoin Core developers who stole Gavin Andresen’s commit access on the false grounds that his account was “compromised”, then created the narrative that he was out to destroy bitcoin.
Meanwhile, figures like Mike Hearn, Roger Ver, and the thousands of users on /r/btc are the dissent that is outed from the farm.
“Instead of egalitarian codes, they rewrote the bitcoin code and pretended that 1mb blocks were a core features, not a temporary measure, and that bitcoin was always meant to be slow, expensive digital gold.”
Bitcoin Core has even discussed “updating” the whitepaper written by Satoshi Nakamoto, something that would permanently alter the foundation on which bitcoin was built:
“They even discuss “updating” the white paper and changing the Proof-of-Work, similar to how the pigs in the novel regularly repaint their public list of “commandments.” At one point, the pigs claim that dissent is an attack on the entire farm instead of reasonable attempts to preserve the original goals of the farm. Core sees criticism of their agenda as an attack on the idea of Bitcoin itself.”
Meanwhile, the pigs galvanize the farm by convincing the animals that other farms are “about to attack” – just like hard forks are “attacking” bitcoin today.
Then, when everything inevitably goes wrong, the pigs blame the animal community for not working hard enough:
“When things don’t go well with their farming methods and their public works projects, the pigs claim the animals need to work harder towards salvation. They demand they give more of themselves instead of questioning the system itself, which is uncomfortably similar to Core’s constant admonitions that people be more patient with Segwit and Lightning Network, and their years of promises that the fix is right around the corner. They say to put more work into it instead of opting out for the obviously easier solution of raising the block sizes.”
The two authors also bring up the idea of a scapegoat. Soviet Russia famously had Trotsky as a scapegoat: a rising leader who was exiled because he challenged the ruler’s throne. In Animal Farm, “Trotsky” is represented by Snowball, one of two pig leaders who never agrees with Napoleon. Snowball is eventually chased off the farm by a pack of dogs trained by Napoleon.
In the bitcoin community, the enemy is represented by Roger Ver, Jihan Wu, “or the evil companies who signed the New York Agreement,” explains Blocke.
“When the BTC network is congested and fees rise, it’s not because Bitcoin Core failed to scale the network amid growing popularity for cryptocurrencies, it’s because Roger Ver has been sneaking around the farm at night spamming the network to drive up fees!”
These people are declared enemies of bitcoin. The bitcoin community claims they were always enemies and that they’ve always tried to sabotage the community. Whether it’s Roger Ver, Jihan Wu, Mike Hearn, Gavin Andresen, Bitpay, Coinbase, or even Bitcoin.com, we’ve seen this behavior against multiple participants of the bitcoin community.
Blocke sums up his allegory with the following quip,
“All transactions are equal, but some transactions are more equal than others.”
Wherever you stand in the bitcoin community, you have to admit there are clever similarities between Animal Farm and bitcoin. We’ve seen it in the way /r/bitcoin censors non-confirming opinions. We’ve seen it in the way BTC maximalists react to debate online. We’ve seen it in the attempts to alter the original bitcoin whitepaper or discount Satoshi’s vison for bitcoin.
In Animal Farm, the pigs eventually walk on two legs and turn into the humans they sought to replace. Bitcoin Core, as some argue, is turning bitcoin into a centralized payment platform with high-fees – like the banks bitcoin originally tried to replace. We’ll see if this allegory continues to be true – or if the other farm animals eventually overthrow the pigs.