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Sovereign Full Node

Bitcoin is an electronic peer-to-peer cash system.[1] The important aspect is peer-to-peer, that is that the individual user has full control over the system, and doesn’t delegate the power to a centralized party. However, the system is truly trust less, if and only if the individual user runs a full node. This is a piece of software that can be installed on any hardware, [computer, laptop, RaspberryPi,[2] smartphone[3] etc.] and by anyone who wants to. UltimatelyUltimately, the end user could write this software from scratch, but this is of course very complex and not reasonable to assume. There are several different clients already, that can be used in order to communicate with the rest of the network, the most advanced of these software is the Bitcoin Core client.[4] It is 100% open source, each and every line code can be seen, copied, changed and improved by anyone, without asking for permission, thus everyone can verify the entire software.

When downloading the Bitcoin clients, Alice can set any kind of individual rule that she wants. She could increase the number of Bitcoin in existence, change the proof-of-work algorithm, change the network routing, or take away control from another UTXO and give herself the control over these coins. There are literally no restrictions on the individual user, he can change anything and everything he wants.

Once the rules are set, the node introduces itself to the network and queries for other nodes to communicate with. Alice’s node will receive lots of information from many different participants, and she herself will verify the adherence to her rules authoritatively. When the incoming block is valid, for example the coin base reward is 50 bitcoin, halving every 210.000 blocks, she will store it on her drive. However, if according to Alice’s rules, the transaction proposed is invalid, for example a double spend, her node will reject it, block the sending node, and tell her peers about the malicious actor. Alice does not need to trust anyone in the validation process, as she has full access and control of the source code rule set. This is a self sovereign node, a monarch[5], a single Ruler who rules only The Kingdom of Self. Sovereignty is a state in which one controls one’s own thoughts [individual rules], emotions [verification of these rules], and actions [enforcement of these rules].

Of course, as soon as one person changes some of the rules, he might violate the rules of other individual nodes, those will recognize him as an aggressor against their individual rules. Because money is a network good, it increases its value exponentially with any additional participants. As soon as someone has different rules in the system, he is excluded from the network. The users with the minority rule change, thus diminish the value of their money drastically. Therefore, there is a natural incentive for the individual, to use the same rules in his money as the majority of the economy does. Thus, one node software might be used by the vast majority of the network. The Bitcoin Core implementation is very well maintained by the most reputable developers and testers, thus it is running on over 95% of public full nodes.[6] Regardless, the individual user has full control over which rules he wants to comply with, and there is no coercion whatsoever. By definition, anyone who runs a full node thus voluntarily agrees to the rules of the network, nobody is forced to use this software as is. Bitcoin Core is the shelling point of Bitcoin, a solution that people will tend to use in the absence of communication, because it seems natural, special, or relevant to them.[7]

Not only does the individual user set his own consensus rules, he also verifies each and every single transaction that occurs on this network. If an incoming transaction complies with all the rules the individual set, he will accept the transaction. However, if another node propagates a transaction which the individual node deems wrong, he can and will ignore this transaction and possibly block the node that sent it. A user with a full node neither has to trust that someone is verifying if the rules are complied with, nor does he have to trust anyone to enforce the rules for him, he does this by himself without anyone’s permission.

A user who runs a full node thus chooses which rules he likes, verifies if they are uphold, and if not, punishes the nodes that don’t comply. He thus is the judge, jury and executioner. He is the king of his money, the sovereign of his money. And nobody can take this away from him. ThisThis is per definition anarchy, the absence of coersive rule and masters, but only free sovereign individuals in voluntary coorporation.

This is why Bitcoin is unique and so innovative. Anyone and everyone has 100% ownership and control over his money, nobody can force him to do anything. This is further why closed source and permissions blockchain projects are simply boring and not innovative. They retain the control by the trusted centralized party and don’t give the power to the user. It’s the intranet, filled with stale, boring and old content; to the internet, a network of freedom, ideas and without any censorship.

"The reason why Bitcoin works at all is because users validate blocks and make sure the rules are being followed; every rule that you aren’t validating and the economic majority is validating is a potential attack."[8]

"[T]he truth that most of the current developers are interested in Bitcoin as a decentralized consensus system existing outside and above the realm of human affairs. Lose that property, and it ceases to be an interesting system. I’m passionate about Bitcoin. I have zero passion for majority-vote to change the rules [of the] system. We have one of those already - it’s called fiat."[9]


1. Satoshi Nakamoto 2008, Bitcoin Whitepaper
2. Tutorial to install Bitcoin Core on a RaspberryPi available at http://www.raspberrypifullnode.com/
3. ABCore by Blockstream
4. Bitcoin Core Client, latest version available at https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin
5. derived from Greek "mon-": "one", and "archon": "ruler"
6. see Bitcoin network, visualized at https://coin.dance/nodes
7. Schelling, Thomas C. (1960). The strategy of conflict(First ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-84031-3.
8. Peter Todd, Jan 2016, Soft Forks are Safer than Hard Forks
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