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10.20.19

Guest Post: Free Software Freedom is Not a Freedom of Choice

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article by Jagadees.S

Some freedom rocks

Summary: The concept of “Freedom of Choice” and how the ruling class uses it to give a false impression of “Freedom”

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. Those who provide the choices become more important than others. You worship them. 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 content is 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 came to such a low level that they fired 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.

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