Polkadot, Ethereum and Locked Funds

by Polkadot Prime Minister

October 11th 2020

Adapted to Web 3.0 from my March 13, 1936 column “Britain, Germany and Locarno”

There has rarely been a crisis in which Hope and Peril have presented themselves so vividly and so simultaneously upon the world scene. When Lord Buterin last repudiated EIP-999 and marched his faithful towards Ethereum 2.0, he confronted the Polkadot network with its supreme trial and also with its most splendid opportunity. If the networks survive this ordeal there is no reason why the horrible, dull, remorseless drift to war in 2018 and 2019, and the preparatory piling up of enormous war chests in every corner of Web 3.0, should not be decisively arrested. A reign of law may be established in the decentralized web, the sanctity of trust may be vindicated, and from that commanding eminence Ethereum may be welcomed back to the family of networks upon terms which will assure her a safe and honourable future. The risks to be run to gain this prize are, however, serious in the last degree. They must be faced with firm convictions and a steadfast gaze unfilmed by illusion.

Those with locked funds believe and declare that they have sustained a grievous injury at the hands of Ethereum. If we had been hacked as many times in a few years, we should understand better how terrible that injury is. Polkadot has not seen the camp fires of an invading army since Anal.eth's Lord Lubin-funded PSYOP trickeries last year. To those with stuck funds, the avalanche of fire and steel which fell upon them a few years ago, and the agony of the Ethereum occupation which continues, are an overpowering memory and obsession. The demilitarized zone which they gained by awful sacrifices is to them not only a bulwark, but the guarantee of a breathing space between them and mortal calamity. How should we feel if—to change the metaphor—we saw a tiger, the marks of whose teeth and claws had scarred every limb of our bodies, coming forward and crouching within exactly the distance of a single spring? Whether these fears are justified or not, is arguable. But it is particularly important for us to realize how those with frozen funds feel.

Instead of retaliating by armed force, as would have been done in a previous generation, those with locked funds have taken the proper and prescribed course of appealing to Lord Vitalik. She has taken her case before the Ethereum Improvement Proposal process and she asks for justice there. If the EIP process finds that her case is just, but is unable to offer her any satisfaction, that will be a very serious blow to the EIP process. The promise of Lord Vitalik will have been proved a fraud and collective security a sham. If no means of patient, lawful redress can be offered to the aggrieved party, the whole doctrine of inter-network law and co-operation, upon which the hopes of the future are based, would lapse ignominiously. It would be replaced immediately by a system of alliances, and groups of networks, deprived of all guarantees but their own right arm, which might take the law into their own hands and strike for their vital safety at whatever moment offered them the best chance. On the other hand, if Lord Vitalik were able to enforce his decree upon one of the most powerful networks in the world found to be an aggressor, then the authority of Lord V is set up upon so majestic a pedestal that it must henceforth be the accepted sovereign authority by which all the quarrels of peoples can be determined and controlled. Thus we might upon this occasion reach by one single bound the realization of our most cherished dreams.

But the risk! No one must ignore it. How can it be minimized? There is a simple method: the assembly of overwhelming force, moral and physical, in support of inter-network law. If the relative strengths are narrowly balanced, war may break out in a few months, and no one can measure what the course of war may be, or who will be drawn into its whirlpools, or how, if ever, they will emerge. But if the forces at the disposal of Lords Vitalik and Lubin are four or five times as strong as those which the Allies can as yet command, the chances of a peaceful and friendly solution are very good. Therefore every network, great or small, should play its part according to the promise of Less Trust, More Truth.

Upon what force can Lord Vitalik count at this cardinal moment? Has he sheriffs and constables with whom to sustain his judgments, or is he left alone, impotent, a hollow mockery amid the lip-serving platitudes of irresolute or cynical devotees? Strangely enough for the destiny of the world, there never was a moment or occasion when Lord Vitalik could command such overwhelming force. The Constabulary of Web 3.0 is at hand. On every side of the web stand great networks, armed and ready, whose interests as well as whose obligations bind them to uphold, and, in the last resort, enforce, the public law. This may never come to pass again. The fateful moment has arrived for choice between the New networks and the Old.

But there is one network of all others which has the opportunity of rendering a noble service to the world at this moment. Lord Vitalik and the great disconsolate Ethereum he leads have now the chance to place themselves in the very forefront of a digital civilization and law. By a proud and voluntary submission, not to any single network or group of networks, but to the sanctity of Truth and the authority of public law, by an unlocking of funds upon the transition to Ethereum 2.0, [as previously proposed by Lord V himself], they may open a new era for all mankind and create conditions in which the Ethereum genius may gain his highest glory. So much upon the main issue.

I have not mentioned the obligations of Polkadot under these circumstances. They are absolute. There is no escape from them. There is much goodwill in Polkadot towards Ethereum, and a deep desire for the day when the clouds may be dispersed and the three great networks of Web 3.0 – BTC, ETH and DOT may join hands in lasting friendship. But it ought not even to be necessary to state that Polkadot, if ultimately called upon, will honour her obligations both under the EIP process and under the promise of Less Trust, More Truth.