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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] fork with better wording, perha

From: Riley Baird
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] fork with better wording, perhaps ?
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:01:38 +1000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/24.6.0

On 20/08/14 08:05, hellekin wrote:
> On 08/19/2014 06:09 PM, Riley Baird wrote:
>> freedom to murder
> *** Wait, what?  Look, you need to learn about ethics.  Specifically,
> you need to understand the difference between positive freedom and
> negative freedom.  Software freedom is about positive freedom, i.e. not
> about "restrictions".  Neoliberal, neocon, libertarian-Randian
> propagandas are all about negative freedom, i.e. the freedom of an
> individual to do anything they like, including, e.g. to terminate other
> people's freedom (as in your example: murder).  As long as you can't
> make this difference, you cannot grasp the concept of software freedom.

Negative freedom, if not restricted in parts, defeats itself quickly
because people abuse the freedom to take other people's freedom away.
That is why many people who are in favour of negative freedom are
willing to concede some of their freedoms (such as murder) so that the
majority of their freedoms will be preserved. This is often stated as
some variation on the non-aggression principle, and while there are
definitely some problems with this, by and large it gives the most
negative freedom while making sure that everyone has an equal amount of
negative freedom.

As I said, however, it does not always work well. A person that is
constantly being watched by their employer lacks freedom in practice, as
they are only able to do activities which their employer approves of,
lest they get fired. It is reasonable to restrict the employers freedom
such that the employee is able to enjoy positive freedom. (Until there
is a basic income, at which point the employee is no longer dependent on

On the other hand, consider a person who has joined a cult. While there
are no restrictions on their leaving, they lose the ability to think
independently and thus cannot easily come to the decision of leaving.
The cult may be seen as having power over the individual, albeit a power
obtained by words, not force, and then maintained by fear.

Forcing people out of these cults leads to authoritarianism, though -
imagine if opposition parties/atheism were deemed to be a cult. People
can be trained to think again through voluntary deprogramming; if you
appeal to rationality, you don't need to use force. If force were used,
as it often is used to stop protesters, then free speech, and hence
freedom, would be diminished.

Now consider copyright. If I were to write a book, and the government
were to stop me from publishing it, that would be taking away my free
speech. No-one has the right to tell me what I can and cannot publish,
as that would be interfering with my free speech. So why should I be
able to stop you from publishing the book I wrote? It doesn't matter the
origin of the words, so long as I am allowed to say them.

But when we consider reality, we are in a society where the institution
of copyright exists. If we put our software into the public domain, then
others can take them and then deprive others of their freedom. So we
need a copyleft that gets us closer to this ideal of no copyright.

A license which guaranteed everyone the right to give away, sell and
modify a work provided that any derivative software remained under the
same license would do a much better job than the permissive licenses do
at guaranteeing freedom, whilst not requiring the redistributor to give
away the source. If people are granted the right to give away copies for
free, then it becomes difficult for an industry to form around this
sourceless software, and without the profit motive, then most
contributors would be inclined to think "Why not publish the source?".

That being said, there is unfortunately no license that I know of which
is like that. If I ever do make one, I will probably release software
under a dual license with that and the GPL. The GPL is by far less open
to abuse than permissive licenses. (I'd probably waive 2a, though.)

(Note that I have tried not to use economic concerns in the above, as I
do not believe that property is necessarily a part of freedom.)

> Objectivity is itself propaganda: it supposes an objective subject,
> which is a contradiction.  One can tend to objectivity, but since the
> XXth Century and the Theory of Relativity, science knows that the
> observer influences the observation.  So in any case, what you tell
> about licensing is necessarily propaganda.  "Journalist objectivity" is
> said to tell the facts.  But how you tell the facts, and what facts you
> tell (and therefore, what facts you omit) frame a discourse in a certain
> way.  If you want to make an objective account of free software
> licenses, you must start with understanding the underlying concepts.
> You can't be objective about something if you can't understand it.  When
> some people reject Evolution, they can't be objective.  They simply
> reject Evolution.  Now, one can prefer Lynn Margulis' Theory of
> Evolution to Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and that's a
> different matter.  But you can't say "objectively" something like: "Man
> comes from monkey who comes from a tree."  That's misunderstanding
> Darwin's Theory of Evolution.  In the same way, you can't say that the
> GPL "restricts" people's freedom-to-restrict-other-people's-freedom:
> that's not objective, and that's non-sense.

Objectivity does not suppose an objective subject - in fact, it does not
suppose a subject at all. If there were no conscious beings, an
objective reality could still exist.

However, you are correct that all writing is, to some degree,
propaganda, and the person writing it will still insert bias even if
they are actively trying not to. That is why I suggested that two people
with opposite bias write their respective parts of the guide.

"Man comes from monkey who comes from a tree" would never be said by a
person arguing for evolution. They would go to the effort to explain the
process of natural selection and how it occurs gradually. Eventually, it
would be possible to understand that man *did* come from a monkey, and
not see this as stupidity.

Similarly, when presenting copyleft to someone for the first time, it is
not a good idea to simply state it is a restriction and leave it at
that. Explain that copyright law is broken, and then explain that
normally the law would make restrictions for the good of humanity (like
how it restricts murder), but since the law isn't fair, you have to
restrict people from making other restrictions yourself.

> That said, I do think that the user interface of is a
> good way for someone to choose a license, and
> license-recommendations.html is a different thing entirely, not only
> content-wise, but primarily at the level of user experience.  Maybe the
> FSF should "fork" the site and rectify the propaganda to lean on the
> side of positive freedom.

After your argument in the previous paragraph, I am certainly leaning
towards a fork now, as seem like they would be
unwilling to include an explanation of why the copyleft restriction is a
different type of restriction to the others.

> Another note on "freedom to murder": that's the kind of propaganda that
> is pervasive in our globalizing civilization to justify all kinds of
> dumbass bullying corporate agenda.  It's like saying: in order to allow
> the construction industry to increase their profit--and support their
> "freedom to profit", we should bomb a city or two once in a while.  It's
> obviously wrong, and confusing ends and means, and reversing the purpose
> of anything: let's kill people to solve the unemployment issue. WTF.

That sounds horrible. Please tell me that no-one is seriously thinking
of bombing cities to help the construction industry. In any case, like I
mentioned before, I am vehemently opposed to people being given the
freedom to murder. Seriously. Fear of being murdered would prevent me
from using my freedoms, and for that matter, so would actually being
murdered. But anyway, and I'm being entirely serious, is anyone actually
blowing up cities purely for the construction industry's profit? If so,
is there a campaign to raise awareness of this?

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