Free Software is About Software Ownership

“Free software” is a confusing name/term. The “free” here means freedom. So it is freedom software. But to exercise freedom you need something more. What is that? You have to own the software. Therefore, free software is about ownership of software.

All software is free software for its owners

Take any software. Who owns that software? User, seller, developer, lawyer or whoever it is, if they have the ownership of some software, then that software is a free software for him/her/them. Majority of software/programs used nowadays are owned by software companies. So we can say majority of software/programs are free software for those companies.

Private software

These companies can sell software, modify software, share, or ‘open’ their software. They can have or exercise full rights over it. Others — including users — have limited ownership; only things which are allowed by the owner/company. In other words, these software programs are privately-owned software. So let’s call them private software.

Problems with private software

There are lots of issues with private software. As a user, you can only run the software if you’ve paid the license fee. You cannot use it in a different way from what they they allowed (for example, a 10-user licensed software cannot be used by 11 users). You cannot give it to a friend. You cannot modify anything in there. You cannot know what the software does behind the scenes. The list goes on.

Public software

Because of all these issues, in 1983 a person named Richard Stallman began a movement. Its aim was to give full control, full rights and full ownership of software to the person who uses it. That was the Free Software Movement. At that time it was an Utopian idea. Nobody cared for it. But because of his and his group’s persistence and commitment they could made it a reality. So software got public ownership. That is Free software. Let us call it public software.

Impact of public software

What will happen if the public gains ownership of software? Then, no private person can control software.

– Cannot sell copies of software.
– Companies can charge a price for software (maximum) only one time.

In effect, companies will lose control and profit. Will they accept that?

No way. Anything that that is publicly owned will cause reduction in profits of companies. Look around and learn about the idea of public education, public health care, public housing, public utilities etc. So, they will find ways to destroy the idea of public ownership. If anything publicly owned is still existing, they will make it corrupt and finally dismantle it, because people don’t understand their value when they exist and they are always distracted.

They know that if you attack anything directly, that will always strengthen that. Understand please, they have 10,000 years of history in ruling humankind. So to attack public software they’ve created decoys. Then they attribute some ideas of public software to those decoys and they’ve slanted the game.

For all these games there’s no need for any secret conspiracy or anything like that. The system is self-sustaining. So it will work automatically. Whatever we do in this system, it only strengthen the system unless we’re consciously and purposefully doing something against it. Still, that also not 100% effective.

So instead of dealing with public software, i.e. Free software, they are playing with decoys. There are lots them now. Open Source (OSS), FOSS etc. are among the notable examples.

What do OSS and FOSS do?

They imitate the Free Software Movement. They turned the idea of public ownership of software upside down by ignoring the user or removing the user from the picture. They marked users as dumb and passive actors. (They appear only when talking about their dumbness, which means “user friendliness”.[joke]) Now, who is in the picture? It’s the software providers. Who are they? Programmers and mostly companies.

They hide companies as next twist. They put the spotlight on a poor, intelligent, isolated, expert programmer who is trying to save the world from some “xyz”. With these two twists they completely changed the narrative.

Then again, they introduced another twist. That is changing the objective. Instead of user’s ownership they use “Opening” of source code. Does software closed in some container? What you mean by open? What a stupid idea. Source code is always open. Problem is whether you have rights or not. They are just fooling all the people, who should get full ownership of software in the first place.

By hiding the user they removed the politics of ownership and rights of users. By hiding the companies as the main actors, they concealed the profit motives and vested interests of companies. By hiding the objective of free software, they reduced it to nothing. Now there is nothing left in free software. What a perfect decoy!

From 1998 onwards they not only started but exacerbated this. Since companies are backing them they have had huge funds, they could literally buy all media, pundits and of course the developers. Now all these developers are doing Gig 2.0, which means unpaid voluntary work for companies, dreaming that their code is saving the planet (which actually is destroyed it by the same masters themselves). Media is flooded with their narcissistic “success” stories. These high-end organised works may have completely destroyed the Free Software Movement within its founder’s lifetime.

First-generation Free software activists retired. Second-generation Free software activists are in the OSS/FOSS trap. Third-generation Free software activists actually don’t know what Free software is. These people think that the OSS/FOSS things are the movement. The bad things these companies are doing stomped/stepped on the movement, too. They fired the founder from his own organisation. But there is a complete silence from these kids. They are busy writing gratis code for the masters. This is the situation now.

Wake up, Free software friends

This is nothing new. Think about the Great Depression. People suffered a lot. They politically organised and forced the person in charge to implement their demands. The New Deal era began. Then what happened to it? Gradually it got destroyed, causing another great depression in 2008. So, if we loosen our attention a little bit, they will turn things upside down in their own favor. Same thing has happened to the Free Software Movement, too.

Software freedom is like democracy. Initially it was just ‘there’, albeit only for white land-owning men. There were other people and they protested to get representation. With a long struggle — one by one — new groups got chances in democracy.

Like the above, nowadays software is only free for the private owners. We cannot let this current status quo continue. We have to fight to get the ownership and rights. We have to end this rebranding of Free software by OSS/FOSS kind of ‘corporate pimps’. So let’s work for a strong software freedom movement that empowers users as well as developers.

Long live the GPL.

Note: This is part of the software freedom series. To see all posts please go to FSM category.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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OSS, FOSS are diluted propitiatory software

IN 1983 the Free software movement began to free users from the chains of propitiatory software. At that time nobody gave or ascribed much importance to it. Companies and developers thought it was some Utopian idea and one that’s never going to fulfill its goals. So none cared about ‘the ethics’ at that time. Only the leader, Richard Stallman, was there. Later on lots of people got motivated by Stallman’s reason, commitment, and with their own political values they joined the movement. To everyone’s surprise, against the odds, a fully functional and complete “freedom software” stack appeared in the early 1990s.

Attack from inside

As usual, for-profit entities realised its value and jumped onto new opportunities. But they didn’t like the idea of users’ freedom. They only wanted their own profit. So they created a decoy for this great movement, mostly as a distraction. It was called the Open Source movement. Stallman called them freedom subtracted software. (Actually he is wrong. We should not relate to OSS with respect to Free software.)

They joined in with the Free software movement and started collaborating with Free software activists. New collaborations of this kind may be called Free and Open Source software (FOSS). Since they had support from businesses, further development became faster and more people joined the movement. They also had support from the media and re-branded the entire Free software movement to their name.

Because of these tricks Free software politics vanished from the public discourse and even Free software activists don’t like to talk about Free software politics. This happened not as a natural thing. It was created for the corporations by this apolitical Trojan horse called OSS.

There is no conspiracy. It is the way the system works.

Nothing new

If you look at human history, you can see lots of similar ideas, movements, intellectuals who are affected by the power of the ruling class like this. A very good example is democracy. 60 years ago people died to get elections or to earn voting rights. But now, who cares enough to go out and vote? What is the voting percentage in the US? Even if they go, will they get a chance to vote? Whether their votes actually get counted is another issue.

Think about the media. It has a very important role in society. But now, what does it do? It’s just a stenographer for the ruling class.

OSS, FOSS are diluted propitiatory software

You can either be with Free software or with propitiatory software. This is clear. No confusion. But when an amorphous group appears this gets messy. Messy for the Free software movement. Because the propitiatory for-profit software idea is clear; they have money, media and political power.

The idea of Free software is new and complicated for the ordinary person. So this diluted Free software group is actually an attack on Free software itself. Their vicious attack had grown into such a level that they forced the founder out of the movement.

But a lot of Free software activists are working with this so-called FOSS without knowing the damage it is causing to the Free software movement. Please consider OSS as on the propitiatory software side. If they produce anything which is compatible with the GPL, then they take it and leave everything else behind. Never saying the words OSS or FOSS…

The purpose of Open Source is to move the frame away from users’ freedom and destroy the Free software movement. OSS, FOSS and all other kinds of these PR phrases work similarly; they are the same. So why are you still saying FOSS? Please end that relationship.

We have to understand that anything other than Free software is propitiatory software. There is no middle ground. There is no friendship. There is no cooperation. Just take whatever is under GPL from wherever possible. That’s all.

Be with users’ freedom

You can’t keep your legs in 2 different boats. You have to choose. There is nothing wrong about being with propitiatory software. If you want to make a profit, then do it that way. No problem. With Free software, if you cannot find a way to make a living, then join a proprietary company. Then, in your free time, contribute to Free software. Nothing wrong with that. That is far better than the OSS kind of half ethics. Half ethics end up with no ethics. You have to be either a person supporting users’ freedom or you’re with for-profits. (Remember you are not going to end capitalism with few lines of code. Profit is a reality. And these companies are not evil. The system is evil.)

If you are not mixing the issues, then there will be more clarity in the public sphere. More discussion in terms of users’ freedom will happen. More people will support Free software. Sure, it’s a hard path. But that is the right path. So be with the movement that respects users’ freedom. After all, that was the initial purpose of the movement.

Note: For this to happen you have to be economically independent as I mentioned in the post. Its not a FS movement issue. All the social movements have this problem. : 2019-10-05 Do not make free software as your source of income, it will make you weak, politically


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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The ‘Software Ethics’ Decoy

Nowadays I am seeing a lot of articles which talk about ethics of/in software. That made me wonder, what happened to the world? Does everyone become saints and angels except Saint IGNUcius? Most of these are coming from the OEM/open source software world. It is not a surprise to me. They will do anything to make “the system” happy.

Their “ethics” are so vast that you may wonder how many “ethics” exist in this world. They worry about a lot of things in this world — things like slavery, indentured servitude, gambling, tobacco, adversely addictive behaviors, nuclear energy, warfare, weapons manufacturing, and war crimes. The list goes on. I appreciate their wide-open minds or the ability to see all these (un)ethical issues. Have they ever asked a question about why these many (un)ethical issues are occurring in this small world of humans in few millennia compared to life on Earth?

Does/should software have any ethics?

Before answering this question you first have to ask/answer, “why software?” Software programs are required for the people to run their computers or to do their computing. Software is also a product in the market. It serves its customers (called “users”). (Somebody told me that there are only two industries that call their customers “users”; one is technology companies the other are drug dealers.) Whatever. As per the market rules, sellers should be trustworthy and a seller respectful to its users. Don’t cheat. So the first level of ethics in software is how you treat your customer/user.

Now tell me, “open source” people, where do you stand on this? Tell me who respects users at an ultimate level? What is your level of care about users?

Computerised hotel

Initially, at a time when computers came into our society in India, there was lot of business adaption to it. Mostly for record-keeping, account-keeping etc. but they advertised that their firm is computerised. Since back then computers were something like an advanced ‘sci-fi’ thing. Nobody had seen it. So buying an computer and put its picture ad gave the firms a ‘selling point’.. Computerised hairdressing, computerised tea shop, computerised hospital, computerised hotel etc. Some shiny computer will be there, but all other things will be old. Customers will have to suffer from an old system, but they may get a bill from some computer. Great, right? But you may have to pay more. But they don’t tell that. You will not notice also.

From this perspective, a customer is getting very little extra benefit. So from the customer’s viewpoint it doesn’t matter whether you use computerised billing or not. Important things for a customer are what he/she gets from the product. But customers are ignorant and are easy for manipulation experts to fool. They will fall into the trap created by corporate PR. Good example for this may be soft drinks. It destroys one’s gut/intestinal health and even dental/tooth health; entire bodies might also get ruined/decayed by drinking that. Still, people are so fond of it. Cigarette, fossil fuels etc. — those kinds of things are extreme. Exxon knew that CO2 makes global warming worse and climate change faster even in the 1960s. Check what they did after that.

Now tell me, if the software engineers developing a software program respect women, does the customer get any benefits? It’s OK. No… No… It’s a great thing. It’s great that you respect women and consider all humans as equal. Thank you very much. But what user will get from it?

I want my software to serve me. So whatever ethics these “open source” people tell me about are just a PR piece of work (like cigarette and fossil fuels).

GPL as the ultimate ethical thing a software program ever gets

In 1983 a person with high ethical values asked some genuine questions about software. The result was a silent revolution in many aspects of human thought and in many disciplines. (That is his contribution to humanity. Not a few coded lines.) He made it reality — whatever he preached with great personal sacrifices.

He and his movement defined 4 rules for software. It’s commonly called the GNU General Public License (or copyleft). It gives its users full power — full control over what they buy/get. Users’ rights are the most important ethical thing for a piece of software.

So, the ultimate “ethics” of software is something like the GPL. Dear ethics preachers, tell me your ethics with respect to your own users

Your ethics are punishing people

It is not a surprise that your ethics are punitive in nature. You are just sadists. You serve only the bosses. You target individual persons and isolate them, applying/imposing your ethics on them (him/her). You create a villain out of them and ask the community to lynch them. This is classic fascist tactics.

Political problems need a political solution. It’s not about an individual person’s set of ethics. Unethical system forces unethical behaviors. So work for system change. For that you have think and work together with all the people. You cannot solve it individually. You cannot solve it by ‘cancel culture’.

Your ethics are just a decoy

1. User friendly

For supposed care about users, people who use software, you’ve created another decoy called user friendliness. You assume that the customer is dumb, and you will do all the things that are good for the so-called ‘dumb’ users. Of course software should do its work as perfectly as possible. But that is not the only thing. You use it distract the users from their rights and also to loot them like the colonialists in the name of ‘civilising’ (as colonists did in the past centuries).

2. User rights

Like priests you are shouting a lot of “ethics”. We know that it’s a just a decoy. Just to divert away from the real ethical issues. Really ethical software empowers its users. You want to hide real ethics. Because it’s damaging your bosses’ profits. It ends your bosses’ control over users. It stops surveillance capabilities long exploited by your bosses. It destroys psychological manipulation capabilities of your bosses.

So you created a decoy. With all your media power you made it a central issue. But we know that you are frauds. You are just diverting attention of people, using these phony issues related to software. I am not saying there are no other issues in our society. But users’ freedom is the number one issue in software. Because it’s not like many other products. All other issues come only after that. Once you free the users, then you can think about other issues. So stop playing games. Stop your ‘ethicswash’.

First try to accept GPL-like licensing. Then add more ethics on top of it, if so you’ve needed.

Rulers have no right to define ethics

The same government and politicians who lynched innocent people in unending wars cannot be considered as a custodian of ethics. It is the society that ought to make a decision on what is ethical or not. Remember that the government was against freeing slaves. So no government, no companies, no organisations should define ethics and press/impose that on people. If they do it, it’ll be just a CoC, a code of censorship. Revenge, punishment and ‘cancel culture’ are themselves unethical. It’s a fascist programme.

So we have to realize these corporate tactics. Please do not be fooled those tactics. Let us unite together and fight for user’s freedom and user’s rights.

Note: This has nothing to do with Stallman’s case. It is a completely different issue. All he did (or ‘committed’) was a thought crime. He did nothing wrong. Your ‘thought police’ punished him, in oder to destroy the software freedom movement, for your bosses’ profit and power.

Appendix: Free software is not an ethical issue, it’s a users’ rights issue


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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Social Justice Warriors Are Like Policemen With Guns on the Street

American police is killing about 1,000 black people every year. Those are innocent unarmed black people. You may be wondering why police is killing these poor people. You may think that American policeman are bad, brutal criminals. Please don’t think like that. American police is brave, it is patriotic. They cannot kill people without any reason. There is reason for these killings. It is the “fear for one’s life.”

Yes, a policeman often says “I feared for my life.” Who on Earth can execute a suicidal mission apart from the CIA-funded religious fools? So you have to understand the situation of the policeman. He may be peacefully laying on his mother’s lap and drinking breast milk. Immediately a phone from his office rings and asks him to attend a situation. He jumps from his mother’s lap and puts on his uniform, armed to his teeth (and nails). Drives to the place. There he sees a ‘monstrous’ man, right on the street. He gets frightened and within seconds fires 40-50 shots at that very scary ‘thing’. Just like that; only this ‘thing’ has happened. So you cannot blame policemen. They are frightened. (Those who planning to visit the US, please don’t scare them.)

A similar situation has been happening to and affecting our social lives too. We have lot of social justice warriors. I don’t know what exactly makes the criteria for this title. Maybe you have to post something in social control media and feed the monstrous surveillance engine. Then they may give you the title of “SJW”.

Anyway, these social justice warriors are like American policemen in the street with military-style assault weapons. They may be studying mechanical engineering at a slave owner-founded company, US military and foreign brutal dictator-funded elite college.

Like the American police, these people are so tender and sensitive. They cannot even bear the sound of tree leaves in the wind. So wind stopped blowing in the US. (If it happens, it will be a hurricane. Thank global warming.) So these people are very sensitive and are always inspecting things around them. As soon as they see something that they don’t like, they get frightened. They start shouting, crying and immediately want to eliminate the unpleasant things that scare them.

There is no option for that scary thing. All it has to do is to cancel itself. Once that happens these SJWs move on and start waiting for the next scary thing (scary to them).

Since the dollar is ruling this world this kind of behavior is spreading to other countries too. So beware if you are grown-ups.

Note: This has nothing to do the with a girl who asked for Richard Stallman’s resignation. She just became a random spark. If she did not do that, the system would find somebody else for that task. So don’t blame her.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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Why Users Must Dictate the Free Software Movement?

For a capitalistic market to work all the things should be available in scarcity. Then, only those things get a selling value. Supply and demand rules decide that. If there is more of something or a greater quantity, you will get less per item (lower price). If a thing is abundant, then it will not have any value. Example that’s common is air. (I cannot write water because we’ve polluted it so much that nowadays clean water is scarce. Soon, air will also become like that).

Selling abundant things

We cannot copy physical things. But software is not physical. It’s a digital, virtual thing. You can create it once, then it is there. Copying makes it abundant. Because it costs nothing to copy software. So it has no intrinsic value.

But software programs are very important and a critical creation. How can a capitalist leave it as free/commodity when, as the whole, the nature of capitalism is all about putting a price tag on everything possible and trying to expand to make a profit? With surveillance capitalism they are selling our private experiences and emotions too.

So, to put a price on software you need to stop copying. Naturally you can’t quite do that since laws of physics don’t allow it. Copying is natural. What else they can do? They made laws that made copying a criminal act. Simple. People will have to go to jail if they copy. Recently, a person named Eric Lundgren completed his jail sentence just for copying and distributing Microsoft software which is available for free in their website. So copying is a very big political issue.

Free software politics

This is the place where Free software begins. It is a political movement to defend the right of a user to own and control the software.

Free software is not too bothered about how software is produced at the first time/in the first place. You can do it with one hand, or with two hands, or while blindfolded or with a single individual or with a larger group, or with a 100% women group, or with a 50% women group, or with old management or without new management, or with object-oriented methods, or with structured programming methods, or with waterfall model, or with agile model, or with 500 while loops, or with 159 if conditions… you name whatever way suits you. It doesn’t matter. Free software doesn’t care.

The Free software movement is only focuses on things done after the production of software. It’s about how software reacts to the users or to society in general; only after the production. All other issues (happening before its release) are general issues specific to that particular person or a group or a company. It should be and will be addressed by the government and the society.

Citizens’ role in Democracy

There are lots of definitions for democracy. Most popular one may be Lincoln’s – that democracy means the government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a system that’s supposed to work for the people. Is it like that anywhere in the world? Can you tell where or give an example of a country? None. Nowhere is it working for the people fully.

For example, there is this study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Princeton University. They found that 70% of all the decisions taken by the American government are against ordinary citizens, which means means the 99%. So, we can say that the government is working for the top 1% and people are voting against their self-interest. WHY?

Simple answer may be, the people are not in power. They are distracted and divided and fighting each other over silly issues. So the minority took power and controls everything. WHY?

People are not dictating or exercising their power over the government. Sometimes you can see people coming to the street and chanting “this is what democracy looks like!” But this happens when they become too frustrated about the situation. They are not united. They easily get caught in the traps the ruling class puts. Anti-Iraq war movement, Occupy Wall Street movement etc. are just some of the examples.

Users must dictate the Free software movement

Free software freedom is for its users. They should be in power. They should dictate. But our system does not let it happen so easily. You always have to fight for freedom. You have to be vigilant. Otherwise the rich minority will take it (since it’s profitable for them). They are not bad people. It’s happening like that because the system is designed in that way.

So, in order to make the software users-subservient (serving its users), users must act; they have to demand that. But there will a time when all the people in this world might live in peace, harmony and enjoy cooperation. At that stage nobody will need to do any extra activism. But ’till that time, users must dictate Free software’s agenda/movement. It is the duty of Free software activists to empower the users to feel involved at such a level.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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Free Software Freedom Is Not A Freedom Of Choice

Freedom of choice is a popular idea. Mostly it is associated with markets. Usually when we hear the word “freedom” market automatically comes into our minds. We distribute things through the market. We, the consumer, buy things by paying money to the sellers in the market. If you want soap, you can go to the market and ask for a soap. Shopkeepers give you one when you pay money.

What’s in a market

Let’s say that initially there is only one company that produces one type of soap which is available in the market. For you it doesn’t matter. After all, the purpose of soap is clean your body. Sometimes it causes you skin allergy or some other issues. You may stop or reduce its use or you may find a workaround to fix/address the issue. Life goes on. Then, after some time, a new company comes up with a new kind of soap. You will be happy to test it and will have found it’s better than the first one. So now you have the ‘freedom’ to choose the new product that’s in the market.

Later a 3rd company comes into the picture. Now there is competition in the market. More and more products appear in the market. Companies are using advertisement to promote their product. Initially they were telling the properties of the product. But now they are selling a lifestyle. You buy a product that has your favorite star as brand ambassador. You want to be with that specific class of people. It’s beautifully mentioned in the book No Logo.

But in some communities people don’t have the ability to choose products as they’re absent from the market. There, the government is distributing goods as a ration, or limited bases. Sometimes it may be with good intentions that with limited resources they are trying to provide maximum utilization, with intended justice to all. Sometime the rulers may be looting and nothing will be left for people.

Whatever the reason, you see 2 types of market. That makes you think, “which is better?” Market with choice or market without choice? That becomes the million-dollar question to most. Of course all people will support a market with choice. Problem solved. Everything is fine. All of you people, go home.

Reality of Market Freedom

This is the propaganda of the ruling class, intended to hide the facts and distract us from the real freedom. They always do this. Invert ideas that empower people. Lot of things happen when you say “freedom” to mean freedom to choose.

First of all, your action is only a choice between a number of things. You don’t have a say. Just choose whatever is available. That makes you just a passive subject. For that you have to pay. That part, most of the time, will not be visible in the PR work. Those who provide the choices become more important than others. You worship them. You believe that protecting the integrity of them becomes a responsibility for you. They can exert pressure on you. These things all happen invisibly. You will not realise it.

If you consider “freedom” the ability to choose or opportunity to choose a product in the market, then you are undermining the very meaning of freedom. It makes us old passive slaves who just obey the rulers. There is no question about the product, there are no questions about its content, no questions about its price, no questions about the market. All we can do is choose one or another. It’s a dictatorship.

So freedom is not an ability to choose.

What is Freedom?

Initially all are free within the limits of nature. Then human institutions like slavery and religion impose restrictions and limits upon humans. After that the word “freedom” comes into existence. People want to break that chain, as everyone wishes to be an independent person who can do whatever s/he wants, just like the ruling class. Meaning, all should get the same opportunity to define the society.

Freedom is not a buying process. It’s the ability, for example, to define what buying is, define what the market is, define what the product is, even define what money is. But the reality is that we are living in times where we don’t even have the right to know what these things are. We don’t even have the right to know content in the foods we eat.

So please don’t get so easily fooled by these games — or words created by the ruling class. Freedom is about people’s power in the society. Not the 1%. It’s about who is in charge.

Fight for freedom is a never-ending task

Why?

Because the ruling class will always try and perpetually tries to undermine it for their self interest.

They already came in 100s of groups and companies with 100s of different tactics. Most of the time a freedom-loving majority could not understand these attacks. This is true for the Free software movement as well as other freedom movements experienced. In the case of the Free Software Foundation, it reached to a next level by firing their own founder based on some lies.

So, we should understand that our freedom is not somebody else’s charity or favour. It’s a result of our painful struggle for it. To keep the freedom as it is we need always be vigilant and active. Do not get fooled by the tricks they play to enslave us. Free software’s freedom is not a freedom of choice. It’s the freedom of users to take control of software. Let’s unite to defend software users’ freedom. Long live the 4 freedoms of software.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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In the Absence of Richard Stallman OEM Source Software (‘Open Source’) is Trying to Hijack Even Emacs

In 1983 an unknown (at the time) person began the Free software movement — a movement by which to free users from the software chaining them with corrupt copyright laws. He and his group, the Free Software Foundation, worked for decades to turn the idea into reality. Now millions of people are using their software without knowing it or while wrongly naming it.

The idea or the concept of users’ freedom is a dangerous one to the ruling class, the 1%. So they want the users controlled; they should be contained. They came up with a new name for an old idea. That was the OEM Source Software (“Open Source”). Of course they got more media coverage, that’s because of some rather obvious reasons.

It’s like old child labour or a slavery issue. When there were protests to end child labour or slavery the businesspeople were crying that the economy would crash etc. But now if you ask them, they will scratch their heads and ask, “what is slavery or child labour?” Now they are advocates of slavery-free, child labour-free workplace. At the same time they’ve implemented the 13th amendment and offshored the work to Bangladesh.

So, coming to our issue, you have the original team, the Free software team, which is for users’ freedom and the new team, OSS, which is for… I don’t know… they say words like “community” and “open” etc but actually it’s for the corporate profits.

For 2 decades things went on as they did. But now a major blow/misfortune happened to the Free software movement. Its founder is charged with a thought-crime. The thought-police initiated a digital lynch mob to justify his firing from his own organisation. So he is out.

At the same time this OSS bunch thinks that they are the only people with a voice. All others will be silent because of fear of thought-crime charges, an effective censorship mechanism. So the empire is ready. Now they have to create some fictional history. No need to worry. Lots of existing successful achievements of Free software are there. So take it and rebrand it, right?

Yes, that’s already happening. On 4 Oct 2019 Joshua Allen Holm (Community Moderator), Mike Bursell (Red Hat, Community Moderator), Lauren Pritchett (Red Hat) and Don Watkins (Community Moderator) wrote an article. In that article they rebranded a lot of Free software as theirs. The worst thing in their list was some software called emacs — the first true Free software that appeared on this planet and was written by the same Richard Stallman.

This is how history is created by the ruling class. the question is whether you accept it or not. Will you let it happen? Let all freedom-loving people be united and end this crazy unethical takeover of Free software.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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Techies Should Not Dictate the Free Software Movement

In 1983 Richard Stallman, a great thinker and technologist of our time, began the Free software movement. Its purpose was to produce software that respected users’ rights. Stallman did this because he saw the injustice proprietary software was doing to users. He could not bear that injustice and therefore he started the Free Software movement and formulated the idea called copyleft — and along with it a licence called the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Nobody cared about this in the beginning.

He is a great programmer. So, he recruited himself; since — as he says — “no need to pay Stallman”. He began writing Free software programs which respected users’ freedom. He inspired and mobilised lot of programmers. They also joined and worked with him. So, Stallman and his whole team were the creators of Free software.

Even though Stallman dedicated his life to Free software development he always says there are lots of more important and urgent issues in this world. Since he is a programmer he is working to solve injustice in the software realm. So there is nothing special about software. He’s a programmer; that’s why he focuses on it.

How you joined the movement

But what if you joined the movement because the software is fast? Faaaaaast, or beautiful or secure etc. You cannot really understand what this community is for. You see it as just a company. Then you put yourself at the center. You see millions of people using your software for free. You feel something greater than yourself.

Or, alternatively, you may have joined this movement after hearing Stallman’s speech or writing. You accepted the politics of Free software. Great. Years or decades of writing programs. Fixing lot of issues. You focused more on making your software better. You forget about the politics. You see it as old, boring. Also, you see that even proprietary software companies have joined the team. They may be donating millions of dollars. Nobody is against Free software even though some call it by a crazy name like “OEM Source Software” (Open Source). So everything is fine. Then you think that Free software politics have become obsolete.

Most of the time you may have been a student (at that time when you first heard Stallman’s speech). As you grow up your responsibility to a family increases. You have to meet or reach the so-called “American Dream”. But by now years have passed and you cannot reach it with your activism. So all of a sudden you see the group of innocent corporate donors, even Epsteins. You will be happy with them and thank them for their support. Also, you might support their beliefs (in making money). This is the beginning of the conflict of interest.

In the meantime you may also be bombarded with lots of “real” political issues such as the freedom to use incandescent bulbs, Right to Work, new #metoo etc in social control media. (Whereas society ignored Tarana Burke for more than a decade, #metoo became viral in just the last 2 years. There is a very big difference between those 2. Homework for you.)

Corporate interests

Decades ago the ‘corporates’ ignored the Free software movement. Because they thought it was a Utopian dream that will never realise or fulfill or reach its objective. Finally they saw the success of the movement. It had direct consequences for their corporate profits. For example, a lot of educational institutions now use GNU, eliminating the proprietary software market.

So these ‘corporates’ cannot ignore the movement as they did earlier. Instead they want the same model of development without its politics. Model of development in this context means volunteers developing software. So they don’t have to pay for anything. Maybe once in a while they’ll give some trip to a foreign country or a podium position. Even better than the gig economy!

Breaking a system from the outside is a tough job. It may backfire and strengthen the system. But it will be very easy to break things from inside. Ruling classes know and have known this for centuries. What they have to do is entryism — just act like they’re supporting people’s movements. And then later they become the whole movement. At the end everybody will forget what the movement was for.

Techies’ conflict of interest

If you consider the movement keeping you at the center, what do you see? You see yourself or a group of people without selfish motives doing work and providing their work/output to the users. Meaning, you’re giving something to others. It’s kind of like charity.

In all of these circumstances you see the user as a charity taker. And yourself as a charity provider. Sometimes you don’t even think about users. All you care is about the software you work on with a narcissistic viewpoint.

This is completely wrong. It’s a myth. We have to end this myth. This movement is formed only to give full rights to users. But the techies’ self interest is betraying the movement.

You, dear techie, are just a worker. You have a conflict of interest. Whoever pays you, you are biased and think that you are obliged to them. So we cannot trust you. So do your work, take the money and go home. Don’t talk about your shallow sectarian politics here.

Free software as a people’s movement

This is a community for the user. We should start a second phase of the Free software movement that’s making good software and putting users at the center. There will be user communities. They will raise resources and fund things. They will recruit workers. Workers will develop software. Once a project is completed workers will be ‘fired’. User communities will own the software with all 4 freedoms. It’s not an easy task. But we have to work towards that. And techies should not dictate the Free software movement. The Free software movement is for Free software users. Not developers, nor managers.


Written by: Jagadees.S
India

Nullius in verba


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