You and Whose Army? The Many Maxi Militias of the Crypto World
The cryptocurrency space is divided into dozens of niche subgroups. Every digital asset spawns its own devout community of investors, evangelists, and shills, all working to increase the value of their chosen token and pave the way for mass adoption.
When it comes to the large-cap coins and tokens, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Chainlink (LINK), communities can grow to such a scale that they use their collective power to mobilize and influence the development and politics of the asset. In the process, they take on distinct group identifiers: clubs, maximalists, armies. Below are a few of the most prominent, with a brief description of the tactics they use to achieve their goals.
These are the loudest, most militant and (somehow) most geopolitically influential of all the crypto groups. Maximalists typically believe that is the only worthwhile asset in the crypto sphere (it was the first, after all) and that everything else is a scam and should be ignored.
Jack Dorsey is one. So is Michael Saylor. El Salvador President Nayib Bukele is another. For the maximalist, Bitcoin is a genuinely transformative and revolutionary asset that functions as an un-censorable “store of value” for people who have seen their wealth destroyed by hyperinflationary government policy or regimes (such as the U.S. Fed) that preside over print-by-decree “fiat” currency.
Like gold, Bitcoin is supply-limited and cannot be manipulated by any intermediary, and the Bitcoin Maximalists, known also as “maxis,” believe it is a digital expression of the ur-libertarian Friedrich Hayek’s “hard money” theory of economics. They treat Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto with a religious reverence and argue for a new “Bitcoin standard” (also the name of a book written by maximalist academic Saifedean Ammous), sometimes in tandem with a way of life that is ascetic and frugal and, supposedly, a counterpoint to the reckless consumption of the Fiat World: No carbs, no seed oils, no transient short-term goals, no promiscuity—only the endless and steady accumulation of Bitcoin.
Many Bitcoin Maximalists are the oldest of the OG Bitcoin investors and see it as their God-given duty to strenuously disparage every other segment of the crypto world, believing it to be a harmful distraction to the Bitcoin cause.
They regularly work to expose scams and criticize what they perceive as flaws with other major cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, and you will often see them crowding the Twitter comments of any public figure, most notably Donald Trump and JK Rowling, who makes any mention of Bitcoin—praising them if they support it, castigating or attempting to “educate” them if they criticize it.
Much of their advocacy takes the form of affirmative, epigrammatic tweets (“Fiat Is Spending Money, Bitcoin Is Saving Money”) and memes signaling membership of the in-group, most famously the laser eyes seen on many Twitter profile pictures. They recently helped persuade Bukele to adopt Bitcoin in his country as legal tender.
Call to arms:
“Stack sats;” “Have fun staying poor;” “digital gold;” “don’t trust, verify”
The XRP Army is the original vast-scale Twitter collective, the one that spawned a thousand imitators. It is centered around the cryptocurrency (just don’t call it “ripple,” says Ripple), the once third-largest cryptocurrency whose developers’ densely technical plan to replace the international bank payment system won a huge cohort of admirers.
XRP was, and is, controversial, having reached a peak in 2017 before a long, slow crash and a long-winded securities fraud case brought by the SEC. The XRP Army saw its goal as combating the endless streams of what it believed to be disinformation about its chosen asset, thus affirming XRP’s value. As XRP’s ranking among crypto assets has declined over the years, many of its followers have moved on. Thus, the Army’s mobilizations are less prominent and frequent.
The Army was primarily based on Twitter and Reddit and coalesced around a coterie of wildly popular influencers like Tiffany Hayden (who later deserted) and XRP_Trump, who would materialize in the comments of literally anyone who questioned XRP’s value (or omitted to mention XRP in a given article or blogpost) and reel off endless stats and hyperlinks, as well as announcements of high-profile partnerships and clips of their primary thought leader, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, who was treated with a quasi-religious deference.
The Army was also known for its strategy of “brigading” adversaries in a social media argument, which involves tagging well-followed comrades who then draw in hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters to harangue, and even harass, the target. That often led to controversy, such as doxxing (exposing private details of a person) and death threats. So vast was the scale of the XRP Army’s response to any criticism that many suspected its members to be bots paid for by Ripple itself; this was never proved.
Call to arms:
Shouting “FUD!” (short for “fear, uncertainty and doubt”) at any comment questioning XRP’s value
The LINK Marines are a more successful and, to an extent, more sophisticated successor to the XRP Army. As with the XRP Army, they are a group of fanatics who have invested in a technically complex asset, this time the Ethereum-based oracle service , which connects blockchains with real-world, off-chain data.
They have something of a sense of humor about themselves, ironically using military titles like “brigadier” and “field marshal,” and their most popular representative is the “brigadier-general” Chainlink_God, an anonymous U.S. computer science student.
The Marines have their roots on the notoriously savage /biz/ forum on 4chan, where a mysterious anonymous poster known only as “Assblaster” and claiming to be a Chainlink insider would post long descriptions of the company’s tech. Legend has it that the /biz/ forum denizens, known for being able to dissect any highfalutin tech project, could come up with no valid criticism of Chainlink’s tech. In 2020 Ethereum-based decentralized finance grew wildly popular, and Chainlink, along with its token, LINK, became widely used, increasing the value of the token and the prominence of the Chainlink Army.
While the LINK Marines have been known to engage in the same below-the-belt tactics deployed by the XRP Army, such as brigading and doxxing, the success of Chainlink has over the years made them calmer and more comfortable. Many of them prefer to engage with the outside world in an informative way, writing long Medium articles on, say, Chainlink’s path to wide-scale adoption, or workarounds for various technical difficulties. The Marines have become more generally integrated into the crypto/Ethereum community, unlike the XRP Army members, who were often treated like pariahs.
Call to arms:
“Didn’t read; never selling”
Holders of the ubiquitous and now insanely expensive NFTs (or ApeCoin) and members of various associated decentralized autonomous organizations like ApeDAO, who can generally be found Discord groups accessible only to them.
Affirmative posting about the perks of being part of the Bored Apes community, as well as the rooting out of scammy Bored Ape knockoffs commanding returns perceived as deceptively high.
Investors in the Cardano cryptocurrency ADA an Ethereum rival developed by peer review.
Defending the reputation of the prickly founder (and Ethereum co-founder) Charles Hoskinson, a garrulous and outspoken character who is often under scrutiny and on the defensive.
Followers of the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist who claims his fork-of-a-fork, , is the only Bitcoin that fulfills the protocol’s original purpose. The group coalesces around the pro-BSV publication CoinGeek and communes on Twetch, a Twitter-esque social network built on the BSV blockchain.
Clashing with Bitcoin Maximalists over which is the “true” Bitcoin; building apps in the BSV ecosystem; sourcing and relaying counterpoints to news stories on Wright’s many legal proceedings.