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Re: Richard Stallman should be reinstated to President of the FSF

From: faiflabs
Subject: Re: Richard Stallman should be reinstated to President of the FSF
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2022 18:23:23 -0000

* Jean Louis [Mon, 21 Feb 2022 13:47:30 +0300]:

> And free software is accepted and demanded in society today. This may
be because it offers benefits to corporations.

Although the position of Free software is not partisan or anti-capitalist
itself, I believe the situation is comparable to the success of the East
India Company-- their goal was to secure trade, not to overthrow India,
but their success was in part to their goals furthering the ambitions of
British rule. I see open source as the exploitation of this corporate

I'm not in favour of redefining Free Software. The FSD is an important
cornerstone, I've even compared the GNU Manifesto and the FSD to the
Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

But I see the corporate participation as becoming increasingly intrusive
and interfering with the goals of Free Software to give all users control
of their computing, trying to exploit Free Software (if the license is
copyleft they still insert themselves into the organisations that maintain
it, if they license is permissive they still do this) to regain control of
users. You see this in mounting levels of anti-features that users hate--
this is a different issue than "it doesn't do everything I want" or
"insufficient features."

In theory, they can just remove the features. That's what Freedom 3 is all
about and the license grants this freedom very explicitly. It's
technically there in writing.

In practice, the larger (particularly larger, and more elaborate) and more
mainstream software gets, the less forkable it becomes. Theoretically,
Freedom 3 is Freedom 3 and code has no mass. In practice, communities
gravitate towards larger projects which then even pull corporations
towards them.

If the project resists corporate interference (it won't, larger projects
also attract financial support if intially small interference is bowed to,
and this becomes a habit in time) then users can remain the priority.

All users are equal, but in practice corporate users are more equal than
others and slowly regain control of the software people use. Freedom 3 (in
practice) gets warped along this mutual gravitational force.

Free Software is not anti-capitalist, and the FSD is CERTAINLY not. The
GNU Manifesto was unsympathetic to corporations that wanted to control
users, and the Free Software Movement (the bulk of it) is unsympathetic in
theory, but in practice seems alarmingly neutral.

If Free Software is not anti-capitalist, it is not capitalist either. The
FSD is neutral. Free Software (the movement) too could afford to be,
without the interference. The usual protest to this of course is "it's not
interference"; the problem has to be denied and re-framed to continue
interfering and this routinely takes place-- sometimes even on these
mailing lists.

Since Free Software is neither capitalist nor anti-capitalist (the FSD is
neutral-- I have no problem with that) and since the corporations have
interfered so substantially, I (routinely) call for the support of the
anti-capitalist subset of Free Software. Projects that rely on funding
won't care for it, but corporations are not the only source of funding--
just the easiest (1. Press Buttons. 2. Kiss Ring. 3. Receive bacon.)

"If your business is selling an operating system, you will not like GNU,
but that's tough on you. If your business is something else, GNU can save
you from being pushed into the expensive business of selling operating
systems." --

It's not that I won't touch software that had corporate funding, I think
many projects have received funding over the years without bowing to
anyone. Many sponsors then chose to move on. This is possible.

That's what an anti-capitalist subset of Free Software is capable of. As a
subset, it redefines nothing-- no non-free (non-commercial) licenses, no
new FSD, no unofficial redefinition of Free Software either-- the
cornerstones are kept.

The corporate interference is left behind-- and with it, some of those
much-wanted, sometimes-needed funds.

Microsoft and other companies also need to make money, of course. As long
as it's at the expense of users controlling their computing (regardless of
license, in practice) I have no sympathy. Yes, hopefully they can keep the
lights on and continue developing. But throwing more money at projects
that put user control of computing second isn't likely to improve anything

Users who can't afford to buy out freedom must come first, or freedom will
simply be bought out. Audacity is one of the finest recent examples.

I expect none of the present GNU developers to agree, by the way. I
consider GNU already lost-- not for technical reasons, but for the
years-running decay in its politics.

It's not just GNU. Since 2011, rms has refused to judge distributions on
anything but the FSDG. If the FSDG is sufficient in bolstering freedom
this is no problem. If people other than rms pick up the slack this policy
leaves, this is no problem.

Otherwise, this policy leaves the distribution itself to become a testing
ground for strategies that weaponise freely-licensed software against
users. This happened, only a few years after rms stated this new policy on
his website in 2011.

Non-free finds a way. The licenses are a vital tool for freedom, but it
takes more than this to defend the user having control of computing. I
refuse to support or bow to the companies who have instigated this.
Calling what they do "free software" is cynical in my opinion, and only
accurate as a technicality.

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