Gary Gensler is utterly unimportant
SEC Chair Gary Gensler has gotten the villain edit from the crypto community, and it’s getting really boring
LightField Studios/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks
You know when you have that feeling in your gut that you are so right and you see something so clearly, it just baffles you that everyone else seems to be totally oblivious?
This is how I feel about how YOU feel about Gary Gensler.
The way that crypto talks about Gary Gensler is as though he is some combination of Voldemort, Hitler, Putin and Trump (or Biden, if you swing that way).
I can’t even count how many op-eds Blockworks has run on the subject of how bad this one person is — it seems to be nine, actually, just this year. We’ve even had several pieces that directly address Gary Gensler in the headline itself. That’s how much people want to yell at this man.
There’s nothing else that even comes close to bringing all of crypto together. Hell, Gensler has even brought the market around to actually supporting XRP — a cryptocurrency previously widely mocked for its perceived lack of decentralization.
But Gary Gensler does not actually matter. Not even a little bit. He’s nothing, a blip in crypto’s history, a passing fart in the wind.
Every time I hear him speak, every time he releases another statement about crypto regulation, how it’s “so clear” and easy to follow if you’d only just try; it’s instead “so clear” to me that this appointed official is grandstanding for the sake of grandstanding. He grandstands in widely quotable ways, effectively gulling the crypto media into giving him coverage. He grandstands in the way that so many career politicians grandstand, by saying nothing at all, but saying it quite loudly and with seriously considered intonation of every word.
He grandstands so well you could sit on him at Yankee Stadium.
Directing this much vitriol at one individual who is so clearly putting on a performance for the sake of his career makes crypto seem like the stereotype that many already think it is — insular, out-of-touch, obsessive.
As a sanity check, ask your friends who don’t work in crypto who Gary Gensler is. Do any of them know? Do any of them care?
There’s no reason to give anyone like Gensler more than a single thought, even if — especially if — you are a hardcore crypto believer who genuinely wants to see the industry develop in the right direction.
Because, and I can’t say this more strongly: Gary Gensler is not the monster you think he is.
He’s a fictionalized version of a bad guy, dreamt up by the collective crypto consciousness to put a face to the unspoken fears that crypto lovers must deal with: the fear that they are working toward a goal that will never be met, the fear that the traditional financial system and the government will end up destroying the technology they so truly believe could change the world for the better.
It helps you focus your anger when you have a target that you can hit. And Gary Gensler has become that target — but it’s not because he’s actually a villain, impeding real progress. It’s because crypto needs someone to blame, and he’s made himself the perfect scapegoat.
Because if you think Gensler is bumbling his way into the top role as crypto’s most hated gentleman by accident, you’d also be wrong.
We know from the crypto internet sleuths that before his appointment to SEC chair, Gary was actually quite reasonable about crypto: He taught blockchain courses at MIT, he may have offered to advise Binance back in the day, he was chill about Ethereum.
Gary knows what he’s doing when he makes inflammatory statements about securities and brings on lawsuits that send Crypto Twitter into a tizzy. Not only is he most definitely okay with his position as crypto’s public enemy number one, it probably suits some complicated political strategy that may or may not have anything to do with crypto for him.
(No, this is NOT an argument for the existence of Operation Chokepoint 2.0. I’m trying to introduce you to my own, totally different conspiracy theory.)
Crypto’s obsession with Gary Gensler is like the Streisand effect. If everyone had just agreed the first time that his speeches and actions were gestures to promote his own agenda, and written him off as a silly man — an annoyance, to be sure, but just a temporarily appointed official who would eventually move on to another post — we could have avoided this Gensler-mania.
As readers of my column should know, I have no skin in the game when it comes to crypto — my interest revolves around writing about the fascinating people building unusual things in this weird tech space.
So I beg of you, crypto community, please pull yourselves out of this Gensler-hole and talk about something else. There are only so many stories to be written about how crypto is being destroyed by this random politician. It’s not based on reality, it’s embarrassingly close to hysteria, and frankly, it’s boring me to death.
I can’t even believe that I just spent 800 words on this man myself!
Never again. It’s time to change the subject.
I don’t care much about tech, I don’t care a whole lot about finance, either. I care about writing stories and watching weird things unfold. And that’s why I’ve ended up in crypto.
But because I’m missing that passion for what crypto and blockchain are all about — finance, tech, privacy, yadda yadda — I’m going to write instead about what I am actually interested in. Everything about crypto that has very little to do with crypto.
That’s what this column will be about. All the tangential stories that come out of the blockchain and crypto space, what I think about them, and how I navigate it all as a skeptical former Russian literature major.
It’s precisely my perch as an outsider that lets me do what I do: Opine on all sides of any crypto issue, no strings attached, no skin in the game.
If you want to talk crypto with me, let’s go off topic.