Do not make free software as your source of income, it will make you weak, politically

When Richard Stallman began Free Software Foundation in 1984 there was nobody to help him. There is no money. So he cannot recruit anybody to work for the foundation. So he volunteered for that work saying himself “Stallman dont need any money so recruit him!”. Rest of the 2 decades nobody cared about free software. So there was no job opportunity was there with free software. Most of the work happening was voluntary work. Nobody has issues with politics of free software.

After 1990s when the first running free system became alive then people started noticing the movement. Gradually more are more systems became free software and employment opportunity with free software increased. It became part of mainstream economy. Now there is a whole lot of people find their living on free software.

That became a problem to free software politics. Now if you say something open, then you may loose job, or project or removed from group. Dont worry, its happens diplomatically that you yourself never going to notice it. Everybody knows this. So people keep quite. Do the work and go home.

Those who are confident on their skills may have independent opinion and they express that too. But there is a catch. How you get confidence in your skill? You have to work hard on the technical side. If spend more time on technical stuff you tries to avoid or ignore the ‘other’ things, means the politics. “Oh politics is a mean thing. We have more important real work there”. So you end in as a follower of your boss or puppet of corporate media who spreads all pseudo issues like identity politics.

For example, I talked about the issue of Stallman’s resignation. I think its wrong. FSF should not accept his resignation. But people I talked dont care these issues. They says people come and go, what they are interested is to find technical solutions of the problems.

I can see the pressure in their life. In this 21st century after 2008 crash and with this gig economy etc finding a living is very difficult. So people are taking the easiest paths. So do the FSF.

To be with strong backbone, you need courage. Meas other source of income or determination to live your life as you wish. So if you are an activist, then you must find other source of income. Otherwise eventually you will betray your politics.

I am not saying all are like that. But to be stick to your ideas you need Stallman kind of power. Thats why he was removed from the same organization he built.

A way forward

I dont know how to make a person political for common good. Actually all are political. But its for the profit for the few. You can make a living only if you stick to that model. (Exceptions are there including me. But generally its different.) That is not good for the society. In the case free software I think there is a chance. We have to organize the beneficiaries of free software.

Who are the beneficiaries. Its the users. Free software defends freedom of the user. The software developers, companies etc are just facilitators. Its the users have to be organized. They can tell that we want software with such and such features will full copyleft rights. Then all the problems we are facing now will end.

If users want software that chains them lets give them that. If they want free software lets give them that. Software engineers and companies dont have a say in that. What ever the demand they just provides that.

In this case users are driving the system. Only users need to be educated about their rights. I knows its a difficult thing. But in this case money cannot corrupt the system.

Lets work for that.


Written by: Jagadees.S

Nullius in verba

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