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Re: One word label for someone who rejects proprietary software

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: Re: One word label for someone who rejects proprietary software
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2020 16:13:09 -0800
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   It seems to me that the root of the free software movement is not "the
   four freedoms" - although they are critically important.   Rather, the
   free software movement originates in the observation that proprietary
   software is a form of social domination.

   First, in a proprietary software world, while programmers cooperate to
   create software, nevertheless that software is alienated from them.
   The social order prohibits them from using the product of their own
   work as they see fit.   What first suggested this to RMS, the stories
   go, was that a world of proprietary software sometimes arbitrarily
   compelled programmers not to cooperate among themselves or with
   others.   A move to proprietary software divided and conquered the
   community of Lisp hackers.  A move to a proprietary software prevented
   RMS from fixing a bug that interfered with the use of a printer at the
   AI Lab.    Voluntary cooperation is one of the cornerstones of society,
   but a system of proprietary software vigorously suppresses voluntary

   Second, in the proprietary software world of the 21st century, we have
   seen that software has become a means of technological domination.
   Software systems perform fully automated mass surveillance.  Software
   systems increasingly engage in involuntary behavioral modification on a
   massive scale.   These systems (for example the entirety of commercial
   social media and on-line advertising) serve a variety of brutal social
   practices, with no end in sight.   In this way, the alienated product
   of programmer labor has come not only to dominate they themselves, but
   the whole of global society.

   The four freedoms, if they were to be fully realized, would represent a
   tactic of resistance - an attempt to take down the abstract, out of
   control, system of social domination that software has become.   As the
   movement goes forward, it seems unlikely these will be the only tactics
   we need.   As a community of activists, we have yet to really discover
   an effective strategy to combat proprietary software in social media,
   the internet of things, and so on.   Yet the drive for software freedom
   - freedom from the domination of software systems alienated from us and
   semi-autonomously propelling us to an unfree society - remains the root
   of the movement.

   "Freegan" is not a good choice of word to describe those of us who
   struggle for software freedom.  The word "freegan" describes a pattern
   of personal consumption.  A freegan might  mean someone who themselves
   declines to use proprietary software (when they have a choice at
   all).   A freegan might mean someone who suggests others make the same
   choice.   But because "freegan" expresses what is fundamentally a
   personal preference, it fails to convey that the free software movement
   is about liberating all people from the abstract social domination of
   computing systems.    All power to the people, not to the firms and
   formations holding copyrights, patents,  trade-secret server software,
   and surveillance platforms embedded throughout our environment.

   To find a better word, let's consider how software - which seems like
   an innately useful thing! - comes to dominate us through this process
   of alienation.   In the world in which we live, a person whose most
   developed work skill is programming, is likely to have very little
   choice in how they earn their subsistence other than by developing
   software that is either formally proprietary (like Microsoft software
   or Google services), or that is formally libre (e.g. under a suitable
   license) but practically an element of a proprietary systems (e.g.
   Ubuntu or Red Hat).

   When people (with little choice) work for such systems of production,
   they produce the software that is then alienated from them and that
   then is integrated into a quasi-autonomous system of social
   domination.  A fundamental demand of the free software movement,
   therefore, is a labor demand:   that nobody who develops software
   should have to suffer that alienation from what they produce.  We
   demand that when we write software, the software is for everyone
   equally - not for the private appropriation of some firm or government
   or other formation.

   When we put teeth behind our demand, it becomes a demand that takes
   control back of our own labor:  We work as programmers for everyone, or
   we don't work.    Yes, we might "selfishly" direct our efforts towards
   our own desires as programmers - but we never yield our right to share
   and cooperate freely, or to deprive others of these freedoms -- and we
   demand the same of all society.

   So, software freedom is about the right of programmers to their own
   time, and their own efforts.  We reject prohibitions on cooperation.
   We reserve the right to use our work to help anyone, anywhere, as we
   see fit.   We strive to construct a world in which these demands are
   Are such demands only for programmers?  Of course not.  We make
   tactical moves specific to programming, but we do not demand that other
   types of producers accept the kind of domination we reject for
   There is a name for this already.   We demand freedom in how we spend
   our time.   We reject others being deprived of that self-same freedom.
     We are communists.


   On 2020-02-13 14:57, Bob Jonkman wrote:

   I knew I'd heard the word Freegan before.
   "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it
   Although I expect there is still a lot of overlap between that group
   and out brand of Freegans.
   Bob Jonkman <[1]>          Phone: +1-519-635-9413
   SOBAC Microcomputer Services             [2]
   Software   ---   Office & Business Automation   ---   Consulting
   GnuPG Fngrprnt:04F7 742B 8F54 C40A E115 26C2 B912 89B0 D2CC E5EA
   On February 13, 2020 5:12:26 PM EST, Roberto Beltran
   <[3]> wrote:

     I've heard "freegan", which carries with it all the work vegans have

     done to market their cause, so that "freegan" gives an instant
     recognition to our cause too.
     That would be great if not for "freegan" already being in use for
     something else:

     I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot of overlap between the

     I really think there might be too. I should go to vegan events to
     promote hahah

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