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Support for RMS and criticism of the "bottom-up"/"social contract" power

From: Marcel
Subject: Support for RMS and criticism of the "bottom-up"/"social contract" power grab attempt.
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2019 21:00:16 +0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.1.1

Having read through the long "Turning GNU into a bottom-up organization"
thread, I have decided to join this mailing list and express support for
GNU (as it has evolved over the past 35 years) and its chief GNUisance,
RMS, as well as criticism of what I perceive as this latest iteration in
the power grab within GNU.

*First, my reasons for supporting RMS:*

* I support RMS because he has spent a lifetime selflessly and
successfully championing the Free Software Movement and GNU, which he

* I support RMS because he is intransigent and blunt when it comes to
his principles and ethics, and his principles and ethics in the area of
free software intersect with my own. I have not met many others I would
want in such an important and difficult position, except perhaps Eben

* I support RMS because he does not thirst for power and because he
takes no visible pleasure in being a "leader"; it is partly because of
this, I believe, that his project has survived all attempts to coopt it
for 35 years.

* I support RMS because in his personal and professional life, he takes
the consequences of his ethical principles as regards to free software
to their logical conclusions; this requires a very clear mind; much
fortitude; and either extreme discipline, a rare natural predisposition,
or both.

* I support RMS because, having followed the Emacs and Org Mode mailing
lists for years, I have witnessed first hand some of his timely and
measured interactions to keep those programs true to the free software
philosophy, and then I have watched him step back.

* I support RMS because _every single time_ I have communicated with him
over the years he has treated me seriously and responded in a thoughtful
and timely manner. Not only do I feel that RMS does not exclude people,
I feel that he goes out of his way to be extremely inclusive.

*Now, to express my criticism of the "buttom-up" thread:*

The main arguments I hear from those in favor of changes within GNU are
being made under the auspices of care for the continued success of GNU
and the Free Software Movement. One of the detractors complained things
were amiss since he joined GNU eight years ago, yet he voluntarily
joined then, and continued to be a part of it until today.

I hear proposals for GNU to emulate Debian's social contract because it
worked so well for Debian, yet Debian is not an FSF endorsed free
distribution because it creates space for proprietary software to
coesist with free software by splintering the inconvenient
non-free-software packages into a separate repository while making them
accessible and promoting them in their documentation and installer. I
would prefer for Debian to fully follow the GNU philosophy instead, and
I would expect that anyone who understands and adheres to the philosophy
of GNU would also prefer this.

Above all else though, there is one thing that baffles me about this
thread, proposing fundamental changes in the governance of GNU, while
posing as defenders of GNU: I don't see anybody including RMS in the
conversations and I don't read anything written by RMS for this thread.
What I do see are some of the same names that signed the "joint
statement on the GNU project", which was posted when RMS was being
defamed and is still up at the Guix subdomain of GNU: shame on you.

What I do see are volunteers trying to opportunistically derail the Free
Software Movement at a moment of perceived weakness for RMS. I read
concerns about the eventual death of RMS to the survival of GNU, yet RMS
is not dead yet, and these detractors are trying to push him out while
he's still alive. I have deep concerns about the day RMS stops being
involved in the Free Software Movement, but that is hardly an argument
to push him out while he's still active and involved.

What I also see is a list of thirty men pretending that the leader of
the movement they volunteer for excludes women, yet I cannot find the
name of a single woman (forgive me if I missed it) in your list. I know
there are women participating in GNU, so the question is, were none of
them willing to participate in your power grab?

What I also see is a disingenuous statement saying RMS's role as founder
and leader of the Free Software movement for the past 35 years
undermined the empowerment of all computer users, hyperlinking to the
GNU Manifesto, without explaining how this is so. From where I sit, it
was precisely RMS's creation and continuous leadership of the Free
Software Movement that gave us a free software alternative at all. From
where I sit I do not see that Free Software excludes anyone from using
it freely. Am I missing something?


To conclude, I would like to thank the detractors from the "bottom-up"
thread and other recent oafish efforts to oust RMS; you have caused me
to take a more active role in supporting GNU; you have awoken in me a
desire to defend GNU, RMS, and the Free Software Movement from
derailment; and I thank you for that. I hope your actions help to
activate many other silent supporters.

I would like to reiterate my support for the way that RMS leads GNU, and
I would like to publicly thank him for his extraordinary continued
dedication to his life long project, without which our world would be a
darker place today: Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip, hooray! Hip, hip, hooray!

Saludos libres,

Marcel Ventosa

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