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POsted October 21, 2020
If you are reading this, then you likely know the origin story of the Bitcoin Citadel concept.
In 2015, a time traveling anon from the year 2025 posted on Reddit (edited in 2019) a vision of the future in which hyperbitcoinization has resulted in a grossly dystopian world. In this future, anyone who obtained bitcoin prior to 2020 through luck, virtuous stacking, or online shitposting became exceedingly rich while the rest of the world was left begging for scraps. Instead of working to solve problems for the world, the few bitcoin rich have cloistered themselves from the many bitcoin poor in walled cities.
This vision of the future was latched onto by many bitcoin hodlers primarily because of its aggressive price predictions which seemed to be playing out – until 2019 came and went. Others were taken in by the idea of protected Bitcoin only communities that would serve as islands of prosperity in the event of societal collapse.
Much like the term Bitcoin Maximalist, the citadel concept was adopted in spite of its negative connotations.
What was once an admonishment of future actions has become a battle cry for hodlers large and small. Many Bitcoiners now believe that it may be essential to either build their own fortified dwellings or join forces with like-minded individuals in larger citadels to protect their physical and digital assets.
At best, the original Reddit post was weak disaster porn, and the idea of a walled city isolated from the world seems like a one dimensional vision for the future. A gradual then sudden collapse of the current global world order is certainly a possibility, but even in this scenario, it is likely that the future will be more nuanced than any dystopian fantasy has imagined.
While preparing for worst case outcomes is important, more can be gained from focusing time, energy, and efforts on building a world that you would want to live in.
If one merely survives a Mad Max style future, or worse yet, thrives at the expense of others, what’s the point?
With these thoughts in mind, a slightly different conception of a Bitcoin citadel can be imagined.
Instead of beginning with a worst case scenario as the foundation, this vision aims to build a circular Bitcoin economy and community from the ground up within the existing system. The concept brings together elements of fraternal organizations, for-profit corporations, intentional communities, and idealistic visions for the maintenance and preservation of the Bitcoin protocol.
What is left out are preconceived notions about how such an organization should be governed or how any of its members will want to live.
The most successful citadels will be those which grow organically and operate with as little centralization as possible.
Respecting the individuality and autonomy of all is how this revolution in personal responsibility, money, culture, and industry will begin. If a Bitcoin Renaissance is on the horizon, it must have some space to take hold and flourish.
The example which follows is a rough proposal for a voluntary association of Hodlers of Last Resort which will ultimately coalesce into a functioning citadel. After beginning as a virtual association it is envisioned that it will eventually morph into a physically based citadel.
This concept, and its formation model, could be applied to virtual citadels, physical citadels, and hybrid models which operate in both the physical and virtual worlds. Likewise, the methods of forming and funding the citadel could be scaled up or down depending on the size and scope each citadel is aiming to achieve.
By sharing this, it is intended for everything that follows to be open source in nature. While I would love to engage with anyone interested in further refining the concept, I would be equally happy to see others run with the idea and make it work for their own locality – let a thousand citadels bloom.
HODLERS OF LAST RESORT
To unite hodlers of last resort and plan for a future where Bitcoin is the standard.
Form a Voluntary Association of Hodlers of Last Resort
In the beginning this will be a voluntary and decentralized membership association comprised of those willing to eventually commit a portion of their bitcoin hodlings to fulfill a common set of goals. The return for each member will be creating something of lasting value and possibly increased personal wealth from the ownership stake. Initiation will be managed via a Lightning Torch which is to be passed to bitcoiners who are viewed by their peers as being “Hodlers of Last Resort”.
The following are some answers to the common questions of Who, What, Why, When, and How. The question of Where will be addressed in Goal 3.
Who is a Hodler of Last Resort (HOLR)
Technically, this determination will be at the discretion of each invitor/invitee in the chain. But the general idea is someone who is committed to advancing the technology and adoption of bitcoin, hodling their bitcoin for the long-haul, and preserving bitcoin for the ages. It is also important that each invitee be respected by other bitcoiners.
What is Required for Membership/Ownership
The first requirement of membership is to be bestowed an invite by a peer. Once the invite has been accepted, the member should work towards refining the concept and furthering the goals of the association. Ultimately, members will be required to commit an agreed upon amount of bitcoin to an association managed Multisig Wallet. These funds will provide the seed capital for future operations. Issues relating to continued membership, governance, and the return of deposited funds should be discussed and agreed upon in advance of the initial funding.
Why Should Anyone Do This
Because we can, because at some point we may need to, and because a physical manifestation of the spirit and ethos of bitcoin which lives online must happen at some point. To my knowledge, there has not been an association of this type previously suggested, and such an organization would ideally be populated with its most ardent and thoughtful users.
When Will the Torch Begin Its Journey
Member 0 will begin the process by sending the first formal invite via a Lighting Torch. From then on, the timing will depend on the continued acceptance and passing of the torch. (NOTE: It is expected that each prospective member will have unique criticisms and ideas for improvement of the proposal. As such, the passing of the torch is likely to be a time consuming process.)
How are HOLRs Invited
Member 0 will invite the first prospective HOLR by initiating a Lightning Torch carrying a balance of 6,102,000 sats. This torch is intended to survive 20 passes and result in an initial membership of 21. Outside of the symbolic purpose (see note below) this amount was chosen for three primary reasons.
The balance of 0.06102 BTC represents enough value that it will signal some measure of validity of intent for both the inviter and invitee.
Allowing for the possible theft of the balance will provide a way to root out dishonest invitees. In the long-run, it’s a small price to pay for that type of information.
Due to the relative value, the amount will serve as a way to ensure that membership is carefully considered and only passed along those most likely to accept and successfully pass the Torch.
Initial membership will be limited to 21. I.e. Member 0 will invite Member 1 via a DM and Lightning Torch carrying 0.06102 BTC. The process will repeat until the first 20 invitees have accepted and the 20th invitee has returned the torch to Member 0.
Once there are 21 members, and the association has sufficiently coalesced, each member will initiate their own Lightning Torch and begin the selection of 9 additional members. This will result in a total membership of 210.
Upon acceptance of the 9th pass in each new chain, the 10th person in each chain will return the funds to the first member in their respective chain. At this point, no member will be out any funds, and the group can decide upon the initial funding requirements of the citadel. Funding by members could be managed in infinite ways, but for the sake of example, let’s assume that the initial funding results in each member contributing 10,000,000 Sats for a total of 21 BTC. This amount will be managed in a Multisig Wallet under predetermined and agreed upon procedures.
The dual purposes of collecting these funds are to create skin in the game for each member/owner of the citadel and to establish the seed funding for the citadel. This is meant to be a low time preference endeavor, and its ultimate success will be tied to that of Bitcoin’s success. By the time the citadel has moved from virtual space to meatspace these funds could provide more than adequate initial funding.
(NOTE: The Torch amount of 0.06102 has been chosen to symbolically represent bitcoin’s effective revocation of Executive Order 6102 which gave the US Government the ability to confiscate citizens gold and ultimately remove the gold backing of US currency. These actions paved the way for a fiat based central banking system, and bitcoin has given the power of money creation back to the people. A distributed network of Citadels may provide protections against future seizure attempts in ways that are not possible without organizations of this type.)
Create Online Repository for Association & Organize Virtual and IRL Meetups
These are short-term goals which can begin simultaneously to the invite process. The purpose is to clarify and harden the goals of the association, develop protocols for furthering association work, and begin the process of engaging with other members.
Those members with the deepest experience in setting up decentralized projects can hopefully arrange the establishment and maintenance of an online repository. This space can be used to refine the goals, governance protocols, and project development for the citadel.
Establishing a rapport with other members will be essential. It is envisioned that members will likely meet in virtual and real world spaces throughout all phases of the citadel project. Virtual meetings could begin at any time, and in-person meetups could take place in conjunction with larger bitcoin events at first. This would allow members to gather without attracting too much additional attention (if that is desirable). As time goes on, dedicated meetups could be held regionally on a regular basis. Larger and more global meetups could be organized less frequently.
Establish Real World Presence
Once the virtual citadel has reached maturity, the goal will be to establish a formal legal structure, formulate and vet business plans, obtain property, and build physical structures that embody the spirit and ethos of bitcoin.
Creating a legal entity presents numerous potential problems for a bitcoin focused organization. This is especially true for organizations that want to maintain as much member privacy as possible. As such, it will be imperative to carefully consider the jurisdictions and entity types that will be chosen. Despite these challenges, the efforts will be necessary as venturing into meatspace will require a legal structure and its accompanying protections.
It is likely that a corporate structure of some form will be most desirable. The state of Wyoming has some of the most privacy focused laws in regards to LLC and C Corporations, and it happens to be the most Bitcoin friendly US state at this time. LLCs may work in some cases, but the requirements to issue K-1s and pass-through income to the owners is likely a nonstarter for an organization like this. As such, a C Corporation is the most likely entity choice. This will allow for more anonymity of members, a diverse stream of income, and will allow for the accumulation of assets without directly resulting in tax reporting requirements and liabilities for its owners. If members desire to maintain a relatively high level of anonymity, a Wyoming based business attorney can be retained to manage the issuance of shares among other matters which may require identity disclosure.
Formulate and Vet Business Plans
This step may be taking place from the beginning of the organization; however, any realization of these plans will not come to fruition until there is a consensus on their feasibility and ways to ensure their ability to operate and obtain funding.
The first plot of land that is purchased must be located somewhere. While there are many enchanting locations to choose from in the world, Wyoming feels appropriate for three reasons in particular:
Bitcoin Friendly - The state is the first in the US to aggressively incorporate laws which are friendly to bitcoin based businesses.
Bitcoin Spirit & Ethos - Wyoming is known as the “Equality State” and the “Cowboy State”. The state is sparsely populated while being rich in agriculture, energy, rugged individuals, and natural beauty. The list could go on, but these anecdotes seem to be the most relevant and in line with the ideals of individualism and self-sovereignty espoused by many Bitcoiners.
Natural Resources & Community - A citadel formed in Wyoming could be home to innumerable businesses due to its rich natural resources and business friendly environment. It’s wide open spaces are also an inviting opportunity to create communities from scratch. Some of the more obvious businesses would include energy production, Bitcoin mining operations, ranching and farming. It may also make sense to invest in an ASIC foundry and other hardware production facilities. Education and art are likely other key enterprises to founding a successful citadel as these are the best ways to communicate values and reinforce a culture. Establishing studios, workshops, and meeting venues for Bitcoin educators and artists would help spread ideas to a wider audience. Creating a thriving community requires nourishing its inhabitants and providing outlets to interact with the outside world. Having a robust culture built around sustainable businesses, arts, and education will be the foundation of the citadel.
Build a Ranch of Last Resort
This step seems self-explanatory. Why purchase land if you do not plan to build on it (conservation aside)? The purpose here is to build something of lasting utilitarian and aesthetic value. Ideally this would be a set of structures which bridge the ancient and modern and will be rugged enough to hold up for centuries and provide for the protection of its inhabitants if the need arises. Imagine giving someone like @wrathofgnon the opportunity to consult on designs for an entire community from scratch. Just as the medieval Renaissance produced beautiful and enduring architecture built to enhance its environment, the Bitcoin Renaissance will no doubt provide similar opportunities.
While it’s possible that the citadel could be a place for physically protecting life, liberty, and property, a citadel’s primary purpose need not be as a place to cloister oneself and family from the world. Some may choose to live within or near the citadel, but physical autonomy of citadel members should be a primary goal. For those who seek to live in or near a citadel, security would obviously be a primary consideration as it is for all Bitcoin projects.
Let Them Come
If all of this is done thoughtfully, others will come. The space will be a “home” for citadel members, but it is also envisioned to serve as a public meeting space to further bitcoin adoption and citadel goals.
Assuming the goals to this point have been achieved, the citadel should begin the process of establishing additional operational bases throughout the world. It’s possible that sister associations will begin this process as well which would be a welcomed development. In a world of competing and cooperating citadel projects, it’s likely that many people would become members/owners in multiple citadels. Like owning bitcoin, it might make sense to join citadels in case they catch on.
It would not be a Bitcoin project if a shot at the moon, and ultimately the stars, were not imagined. In this case, Bitcoin will literally be brought to the stars.
Bitcoin Seed Vault
Before reaching for the stars, the citadel will seek to preserve the bitcoin protocol on Earth in as robust a way as is possible. Imagine creating multiple physical locations to mine and preserve bitcoin in facilities that are analogous to, but more resilient than, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The mining operations could be a source of additional income, but they would primarily finance the ongoing maintenance of the facilities to ensure that the citadel can safeguard literal rock solid copies of bitcoin’s protocol and history. The protocol code and transaction ledger could be backed up to various physical media including gold discs.
Bitcoin Node Space Probes
Once appropriate resources and technologies have been acquired, the citadel could develop Voyager style space probes to carry and record bitcoin’s protocol and ledger to the stars. This node will batch sync and record the ledger to gold discs. The options for bringing bitcoin to space are likely endless, but the analogy to Voyager seems fitting.
Being the Change
A common theme running through cypherpunk ideology, and the emerging ideologies connected to Bitcoin itself, is creating the things you want to see in the world. Passivity is a cancer and expunging its influence is likely going to be most complete by removing the host from its current environment.
There is nothing novel about claiming new lands or creating communities from scratch - this urge has been a primary driver of human history. Instead, the novelty comes from providing spaces which allow for new forms of cooperation to emerge.
Any future worth living in will require real work and coordination. Despite advances in telecommunications technology, it is not likely that humans will so easily give up their need for personal and physical interaction.
So, while the idea of intentionally forming a “Bitcoin community” may seem abhorrent to some, it seems like a necessary and logical outcome. Such a community does not have to be organized in the traditional sense, and certainly not in the modern political sense, but I do believe that being grounded in a physical community is both desirable and necessary in order to further worthy causes.
Whether you choose to join forces with other Bitcoiners in physical community, build your own fortress of solitude, or take on the life of a techno-nomad, it may be wise to