The decentralized consensus of bitcoin is unlike any other kind of decentralization that existed before.
In life for example, decentralization leads to antifragility through mutation which leads to species that are in essence hard forks and wherein each specimen of a species is not precisely identical to any others. Life relies on differences between specimens of individuals to achieve antifragility.
In bitcoin, however, decentralization doesn’t tamper with the fidelity of the DNA (the blockchain and the rules by which blocks can be added). Any node waking up at any time reaches out to others to copy all the others with perfect fidelity. And through cumulative proof of work, that node knows which is the true copy should it encounter a mutated one out there in cyberspace.
Bitcoin is the only antifragile thing we know of where every specimen is identical to every other.
In fact, the immutability and decentralization of bitcoin are two things that had never before been combined, even in nature. This makes bitcoin an indestructible species since each specimen is perfectly identical to all the others (or gets to be identical over a short time in the case of temporary splits at the tip of the chain).
And taking this a little further, all the bitcoiners are themselves almost inseparable and indivisible for this very reason. We all know what we are fighting for, which is our node’s recording of the truth. But because each of our nodes is identical we are united in our fight. You, dear reader, and I violently agree on every single bit of data in the entire Bitcoin blockchain. And we will for the rest of our lives. And so will every other bitcoiner. No wonder we feel such brotherhood with our fellow bitcoiners. We are carrying not just the same idea, but the identical record of history: A record of history that looks all the way back from the dawn of time itself (the genesis block) to the exact present (the chain tip) — at least from the perspective of Bitcoin.
In this sense, because of the nature of bitcoin to always be identical everywhere once we spin up a node, it is not that we are “running Bitcoin”, as Hal Finney said, but rather that we are entering into a symbiotic relationship with Bitcoin, in which we will carry, care for and maintain a specimen identical to all others, everywhere and always. This helps bitcoin thrive. And in return, Bitcoin provides us with an entire system of property rights we can trust to the end of time.