07.19.20

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RMS Probably Isn’t Fit to Lead — Here’s the Rest of That Picture

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 1:33 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Stallman Good and Bad: O no, O libre

Summary: “RMS lost his position as FSF president to deception, as well as his position on the board. When his website was tampered with to make it look like he was also stepping down from the GNU Project, I couldn’t help being reminded of Fox running the false segment that made it look like Bush had won when not enough votes weren’t counted to tell.”

RMS probably isn’t fit to lead anymore. Most of the people saying this are even less fit to. I’m not sure that anybody is fit.

There was a time when I considered Alex Oliva, Ben Mako Hill, Kat Walsh, Denis Roio.

It wasn’t too bad a list; I picked at least one person that I’m told rms would have picked himself. Note that when I considered rms stepping down, it had nothing to do with the sort of corporate-led, immoral backstabbing that actually happened. It wasn’t a secret plan, but out in the open — it wasn’t based on lies or misrepresentation or double standards.

And it was based on the idea that someone could do better, at least rms could have someone worthwhile to hand over the reins to, which obviously has yet to happen in nearly a year since he was ousted as well.

“There was a time when I considered Alex Oliva, Ben Mako Hill, Kat Walsh, Denis Roio.”The FSF has a vested interest, now that they’ve usurped rms, in making things as shiny and new-looking as possible. They’ve gone all-out on graphics and propaganda, really laying it on thick with positive soundbites. They deserve to be called soundbites because they’re empty and ignore the reality of the situation, but you can’t expect people behind a dirty coup to just say “Yes, that was dirty. It was dishonest. Now buck up, it’s fun times from now on!”

They have to act like it didn't happen. They have to accentuate the positive.

Getting back to the negative disrupts their entire narrative. They can only bullshit you for so long before they accidentally start telling you what they really think, and what they really think is bullshit.

Funnily enough, when Techrights talks about organisations going on a giant “Charm Offensive” (like “Microsoft ♥ Linux”, even as they refuse to call it by its real name, which is GNU) they are usually talking about GIAFAM and Microsoft especially. They’re not generally talking about the “new” FSF.

“No one was betrayed more than rms of course, but I compare the whole thing to the 2000 United States Presidential election — of which Microsoft was a sponsor, I might add (on Bush’s side.)”The FSF has been on a charm offensive ever since they ousted rms, for the same reason that Microsoft goes on them. There are people at the FSF that I’m told are “really not like that” — I’m willing to believe it, up to a point. Then there are people who I actually believe are “really not like that” — in other words, they’re sincere. And I’m obviously willing to believe that up to a point, or I wouldn’t suggest that such people exist.

Some people are sincere, but there’s nothing wrong with saying they’re naive — when they really believe everything is alright. Others do know better, and there’s nothing wrong with calling them liars for it.

Either way, the move the FSF is executing right now is “FSF ♥ Freedom.” But like Microsoft, they have a funny way of showing it.

At one point, rms was asking us to continue supporting the FSF. I did that for as long as I could stand it, but the more I learned the more I realised the extent to which we were all betrayed. No one was betrayed more than rms of course, but I compare the whole thing to the 2000 United States Presidential election — of which Microsoft was a sponsor, I might add (on Bush’s side.)

“People who care about freedom did try to warn both rms and the FSF, which fell on deaf ears.”The election was so close, Al Gore may have actually won. Fox aired a segment that made it look like Bush won, before the votes were done being counted — even when Gore was ahead. Making it look like Bush won at such a critical point had a profound effect on the election.

Instead of drawing out the counting process too much, Gore decided to hand over the office to Bush. For a game of checkers, this might make plenty of sense. Less than a year later, Planes flew into the Twin Towers, and the Constitution itself took a major hit via the extremely Un-American PAT-RIOT act.

Al Gore acted like the most important thing to do was get on with the business of people running the country. I won’t say that he’s the worst President in history for basically stepping down and letting a corrupt administration take his place — but that’s what he did, and the cost to the country makes him one arguably one of the worst presidents ever.

Years afterwords, during a presentation about the environment, Gore would complain that he was supposed to be flying in Air Force One, and now he has to take his shoes when he goes to the air — Shut The Fuck Up, Al — we ALL have to take our shoes off. You’re not on Air Force One because you walked away and left your country in terrible hands.

My feelings for rms are warmer than this, for one because Gore was President-elect for about 5 minutes and completely and utterly useless, while rms gave us about 4 decades (nearly half a century, you bastards) of service to Free software — which you’ve somehow managed to brush aside like it was nothing. For two of those decades, Open Source has worked to co-opt everything. Very nice, very nice — and you’ve done well with that.

“When his website was tampered with to make it look like he was also stepping down from the GNU Project, I couldn’t help being reminded of Fox running the false segment that made it look like Bush had won when not enough votes weren’t counted to tell.”Although we owe rms for liberating software development far more than we own Open Source for packing it back up and selling it off to the same corporations we worked so hard to be free from, (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle — who now collectively own Red Hat, GitHub and enough of what used to be Sun Microsystems) the truth is that for the past 5 years, free software has spent more of its time slipping out of our hands.

People who care about freedom did try to warn both rms and the FSF, which fell on deaf ears. We even predicted rms getting ousted by bad people — nobody listened.

RMS was certainly a better president than Al Gore, but like Al Gore he has failed to defend everyone below him from what happened. To be certain, I blame the people leading the coup (and perhaps in a better position than rms right now, as far as the FSF goes) more than I blame its most prominent victim. Though the fact that rms chose to trust his betrayers over his defenders is a fact that can’t be ignored. He has since asked his defenders to support his betrayers.

RMS lost his position as FSF president to deception, as well as his position on the board. When his website was tampered with to make it look like he was also stepping down from the GNU Project, I couldn’t help being reminded of Fox running the false segment that made it look like Bush had won when not enough votes weren’t counted to tell. It made it look like he wasn’t leading the GNU Project anymore — and he hasn’t been treated like the leader since then.

“Along with this petition, the people moderating the FSF mailing lists were manipulating public opinion by censoring the mailing lists of messages supporting and defending him.”Instead, a petition not unlike the one to remove him from LibrePlanet (helping us to predict his ousting from the FSF itself) was launched against his leadership of GNU as well. Along with this petition, the people moderating the FSF mailing lists were manipulating public opinion by censoring the mailing lists of messages supporting and defending him. And this is the (now) corrupt organisation rms wants us to support!

When he got control of his website back, and made it clear that he was not stepping down, and the petition failed to gain support, the coup did not end there. Since May or earlier, there has been a page on the GNU wiki to basically continue the effort to nullify his leadership, and replace it with a consortium of corporate developers who don’t care about your freedom.

This reminds me too much of the effort to further “democratise” the Open Source Initiative, which enabled corporate sponsors to basically overthrow and self-deputise themselves into the organisational structure of OSI. At this point it might as well be called the Bill and Melinda Open Source Foundation, although as far as I know it’s Microsoft, not the Gates Foundation that controls OSI now.

“What will most likely happen with your money instead, is these organisations will be used to channel money from corporations to (relatively) smaller things like the Python Foundation, where more free software projects are essentially bribed to become a symbolic part of Microsoft.”This it the future of the FSF, if nobody stops the coup. Since rms is not stopping it, but asking people like you and me to throw money at it (I believe he does this in good faith — but far too much faith) I believe you are probably wasting your money — bootstrapping the next Open Source coup with funds accepted under false pretenses.

The new FSF betrays your freedom, it will not fight for it any more than OSI will fight for the few causes they actually stood for — as Roy has said on various occasions, OSI has stopped fighting since the takeover.

What will most likely happen with your money instead, is these organisations will be used to channel money from corporations to (relatively) smaller things like the Python Foundation, where more free software projects are essentially bribed to become a symbolic part of Microsoft.

The Linux Foundation is an even better example of what the FSF stands to become than OSI.

The organisations that have betrayed us, lied to us, and betrayed rms include the Software Freedom Conservancy, the Free Software Foundation Europe, the FSF itself as well as GNOME, several times over.

If you are “supporting” the FSF now, you are not only supporting the coup that ousted rms and continues to work (even now) to oust him further, but you are paying them to oust YOU and replace any say you have via exactly the same tactics that turned OSI into a Microsoft puppet organisation and Torvalds into Microsoft’s gimp boy.

“The Linux Foundation is an even better example of what the FSF stands to become than OSI.”Any money you give to the FSF will likely be used to tear it down and weaken free software further.

What I’ve done for the past half year is try to find reasons this might not be so. Unfortunately, the more I look for good news, the more bad news I find.

Most of the good news you’ll hear right now (including the outcome of the GNOME battle with/for bogus software patents) is either hypothetical, about something in the future, or just spin from the same P.R. firms that probably figured out how to attack rms in the first place.

But no matter what toilet you decide to flush your money down, the FSF is still falling apart and rms (who still runs the GNU Project) has very little say in anything that happens. That’s why the GNU Project continues to move closer to Microsoft and IBM/Red Hat, as Debian did years ago.

So who is really leading the FSF?

Nobody. For nearly a year, the FSF has had no real leader, anymore than Bush Jr. was leading the country when he was reading his favourite Hungry Caterpillar book when the planes hit the Twin Towers. Cheney, along with various companies who stood to benefit from a new sort of global warfare initiative, seized a historical amount of power.

As tech companies have done to the Linux Foundation and OSI, the FSF is next — the FSF takeover is happening, right now. You can send money to fund their corporate puppet show, while they “unite” with the corporations eager to fill the power vacuum created by the departure of rms. Of course I would argue that vacuum started forming half a decade ago, but officially nothing changed until more recently.

“GNU continues to slip into the wrong hands, and replacing its leader with a fake democratic process run by traitors won’t lead GNU to fair better than Debian.”One thing I haven’t talked about, except in retrospect, is who would make a better leader than rms. The answer is nobody — nobody has stepped up, everybody in place now (whether they intend to be or are simply being used) is part of the same 20-year-long shell game that replaced RMS with Torvalds and Torvalds with monopoly corporations. Not everybody keeping his seat warm is necessarily a traitor or intentional puppet, but they’re still only holding it for more corporate takeover.

RMS won’t stop this, he will only be used to beg for money for this. The puppets in charge certainly won’t stop this. The corporations taking over won’t stop this, and the shills apologising for all this will only keep this going.

I certainly don’t expect people to rise up and take Free software back. I mean, I hope very strongly they will do this eventually — but I don’t expect them to right now. People are still smarting from what happened to rms, they’re being hopeful and agreeable (and some are simply a bit naive) and others just don’t give a shit at all — and never did.

Shills will say (as OSI has for years) that the FSF really doesn’t matter anymore, though they’re lying, because (like with Nokia handset) you have to devalue your target before you take control of it. They’ve spent years glorifying these corporations and speaking of the people who originally made Free software happen in diminutive terms — that’s happened as long as Open Source has existed. Open Source treats corporations like idols.

But the people voting to oust rms from GNU do not care about you or me. They are dishonest, conniving backstabbers, some of whom rms did not trust in the first place.

“Only a true grassroots movement, not a 501(c)3 corporation, will save free software now.”GNU continues to slip into the wrong hands, and replacing its leader with a fake democratic process run by traitors won’t lead GNU to fair better than Debian. If you want GNU to be Free-as-in-Freedom, rather than Open-Because-Free-Offends-Corporations, the only people who will ever be able to fill the shoes of rms will be the ones who still want software to be Free-as-in-Speech, not Free-as-in-GitHub-accounts.

Hope is a long way off, but the FSF will never fight for you again. As in the days when these people pretended to support rms — they will pretend to support you, as well.

Only a true grassroots movement, not a 501(c)3 corporation, will save free software now. A 501(c)3 can be leaned on for financial reasons and infrastructure, but becoming overdependent on incorporation is exactly what tied the puppet strings.

A few years ago, at LibrePlanet no less, Ben Mako Hill said “we should probably distance ourselves from Open Source.” Now that Open Source and the like has taken over the FSF, we should probably distance ourselves from the corporations causing the very same problems that Mako was referring to — they’re the ones running the show at the FSF. It does no justice to democracy or true advocacy, to pretend that either had anything to do with the state of things now.

Long live rms, nobody is better — and (like Digit says) keep the FAIF.

“The freedom to NOT run the software, to be free to avoid vendor lock-in through appropriate modularization/encapsulation and minimized dependencies; meaning any Free software can be replaced with a user’s preferred alternatives (freedom 4).” — Peter Boughton

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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