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There’s an old saying about the rock band The Velvet Underground — their first album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.
For Mircea Popescu’s writing, the same logic holds true. Only 10,000 people may have read his blog Trilema, but everyone who did started a Bitcoin Twitter account.
Still, due to the controversy surrounding Popescu (and there was no shortage during his life), his legacy had been obscured until his recent death by drowning and related reports that he (very likely) had personal holdings that were among the world’s largest.
As I mentioned in his Bitcoin Magazine obituary, Popescu remains lesser-known in no small part because of his history of verbally abusing and (on one occasion) encouraging violence against a Bitcoin Core developer, as well as the frequency with which he used hateful speech.
There is also the problem of Popescu’s writing itself — so raw at times it could be indiscernible from raving, his points were often made not through argument, but through sheer impulse, a kind of nuclear waste resulting from his own combustive reaction to real-time events.
But as an overview of his most remembered work shows, his ideas would prove influential to the Bitcoin philosophy, helping shape author Saifedean Ammous’s seminal “The Bitcoin Standard” and, in the process, popularizing tenets that are so mainstream in Bitcoin today it can be hard to see them with the same outsider energy with which they entered the conversation.
And it’s true, a generation of writers have since expanded on all the ideas Popescu developed — why Bitcoin is sovereign, the need for conservatism in its software changes and why altcoins won’t successfully compete against its monetization.
Yet, iconoclastic works they were, almost lone howls at the fringes of an industry then defined by Dudley Do-Rights perhaps too willing to defer to authorities.