Lane Rettig, an leading member of the Ethereum Foundation, argues that Ethereum governance has failed and that the challenges that the project faces today are increasingly non-technical. Moreover, he argues that neither the core devs nor the Ethereum Foundation want the burden of governing these decisions:
Core devs don’t want to make these decisions because they feel unqualified, fear legal liability, are conflict avoidant, and prefer just to write code.
EF will not make these decisions for fear of taking sides. EF has also lost legitimacy for failing to deliver a new http://ethereum.org , for failing to pay its developers, for failing to reply to grant applications, etc.
He then goes on to propose the following 3 options for how to solve the governance issue:
- No governance
Give up on governance entirely, and be like Bitcoin. Hard decisions will not get made, the protocol will not evolve, progress will slow, and other projects will eat Ethereum’s lunch.
Replace technocracy with plutocracy. Ether holders would be all too happy to take control of decision making. (Democracy is not even on the table as long as we don’t have formalized, unique identity.)
Double down on the tyranny of structurelessness that we’re in today. Give up on technocracy, embrace capture by the elites, the well-connected, the already-powerful.
- Give up decentralized governance
Admit that decentralized governance just does not work, give up on Ethereum, and find something better to work on.
- Keep working towards decentralized governance
Admit that decentralized governance does not work yet, but that we might someday figure it out. Fall back on centralized governance for the time being. Introduce transparency, accountability, the best tools we have for clean governance. Try our best to avoid capture.
He argues that options 1, 2, 3, and 4 essentially mean Ethereum is a failed project. And that if option 5 is all we can do right now, then perhaps it means that there is no point to even trying because if the solution to decentralized governance was obvious, we should have figured it out by now.
There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s use this thread to write down arguments for why we agree or disagree with Lane’s claim about Ethereum’s governance being on the brink of failure.