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08.16.20

The Free Software Movement is Falling for Too Many Old Tricks

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 6:43 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Lighthouse
Sentry for Free Software Needed?

Summary: “RMS does a reasonable job of introducing people to the subject of when “Open” is something meaningless.”

Open Source was always a P.R. thing; getting co-opted was its highest ideal.

RMS says that “Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software,” but there is no point to Open Source.

In UHF, the 80s movie starring “Weird Al” Yankovic, Yankovic’s character George Newman creates a number of strange TV shows including “Wheel of Fish,” hosted by his friend and neighbour Kuni.

Contestant Phyllis Weaver spins the wheel, landing on “red snapper” — and is given the chance to take home her own weight in snapper, or she “can go for what’s in the box that Hiro-San is bringing down the aisle right now!”

Kuni leaps forward and says “What’s it gonna be?”

“I’ll take what’s in the box!”

Hiro-San lifts up the box and reveals its contents–

“NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!”

“RMS does a reasonable job of introducing people to the subject of when “Open” is something meaningless.”Kuni’s following catchphrase really isn’t the point of this article, but lately you hear from Nat Friedman that “Open Source has Won”–

And you get what’s in the box.

RMS does a reasonable job of introducing people to the subject of when “Open” is something meaningless.

It does have a definition, of course. And there’s nothing wrong with the OSD, except that it doesn’t matter — not even to Open Source. Bruce Perens wrote the perfectly-alright Open Source Definition based on his own Debian FREE SOFTWARE Guidelines.

The problem is that “Open Source” has nothing to do with the OSD. Nothing.

Open Source was and is more about packaging up the artifacts of Free Software without the philosophical or ethical arguments, so that it could be “sold” (as an idea) to corporations.

The OSD is a list of criteria for whether a license can be called an Open Source license or not, just as the Free Software Definition is a list of criteria for whether a license can be called a Free Software license.

“Open Source, which is built purely on bait-and-switch (philosophically, ethically and otherwise) is a shell game where Free Software is switched with OSS and OSS is switched with Proprietary Software — NOT (by its own definition) Open Source.”The link between whether something is Free Software or whether it Has a Free Software License is a bit stronger than it is with Open Source in practice, though when it comes down to evaluating whether something is “Free” or “Open”, the licenses play a more prominent (if not exclusive) role in determining whether the software itself is “Free” or “Open”.

Open Source, which is built purely on bait-and-switch (philosophically, ethically and otherwise) is a shell game where Free Software is switched with OSS and OSS is switched with Proprietary Software — NOT (by its own definition) Open Source. This has happened with Canonical pushing WSL for Windows and Microsoft, Red Hat teaming up with Microsoft, and both using GitHub instead of Free software for hosting “Open Source” code.

Open Source is built on double standards — its popularity is backed by monopoly-funded marketing and a corporate-friendly tech press, but when their term becomes more popular (by selling out users using the same tactics Microsoft does) they insist that Free Software is just quibbling over a name!

But when you refer to Free Software as Open Source, what you’re actually doing is not letting the Free Software movement represent itself, and instead letting its opponents speak on its behalf.

“But when you refer to Free Software as Open Source, what you’re actually doing is not letting the Free Software movement represent itself, and instead letting its opponents speak on its behalf.”Open Source says it’s the “same thing”, while attacking Free Software year after year. It’s these attacks (which are deeply fallacious and incredibly dishonest) that people are falling for more than ever before.

In that regard certainly, “Open Source has Won.” It has succeeded in co-opting a legitimate movement. It had already done so just one year after OSI was founded, that co-founder Bruce Perens resigned in protest, saying that Free Software had been “overshadowed” and that “this was never fair”.

If you are attacking something you claim is the “same thing” as what you’re doing, what you’re really claiming is to be “The same, only better!”

There was a time, more than a decade ago, when I fell for the “same, only better” scam. But since then I’ve warned people about these tricks.

If you watch videos that show how carnival games (not unlike the old shell game) are rigged to fleece and scam carnival-goers, there are arguments that Open Source is built on (many of them are false dichotomies) that are similarly rigged to fleece advocates of Free and “Open” software alike.

“The effects of these tactics include people being mislead about the importance of freedom — it goes from being a priority to being a fashion accessory.”Perens did a lot to expose the wrongdoings of OSI — including their now-ancient (yet eerily familiar and oh so relevant) plans to oust rms, but he has not spoken out against these tactics themselves — only their use and the overall effect.

The effects of these tactics include people being mislead about the importance of freedom — it goes from being a priority to being a fashion accessory.

This is not unlike what happened to mid-20th century counter-culture movements, as they shifted from being about philosophy to books, to music, to drugs, to just statements made with clothes and hairstyles.

“This is not unlike what happened to mid-20th century counter-culture movements, as they shifted from being about philosophy to books, to music, to drugs, to just statements made with clothes and hairstyles.”Note that the counter-culture movements of that time were co-opted with all the force of government agencies and propaganda:

“FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed subversive,[5] including feminist organizations,[6] the Communist Party USA,[7] anti–Vietnam War organizers, activists of the civil rights movement or Black Power movement (e.g. Martin Luther King Jr., the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party), environmentalist and animal rights organizations, the American Indian Movement (AIM), independence movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups like the Young Lords), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left.”Wikipedia on COINTELPRO

Although their methods were anti-freedom, at least some of their targets had nothing to do with progress:

“The program also targeted the Ku Klux Klan in 1964.[8]“

I wouldn’t call myself a supporter of the Communist Party USA, either. Any just society will surely have some elements of socialism (voluntary at least) the question for me is how to do that with the most insignificant impacts to freedom.

“The only freedom Microsoft wants is for itself. They want you to think THEIR freedom is YOUR freedom, but they also want the freedom to control what you do.”But you should know that my feelings about Open Source (and what it really is) and my feelings about COINTELPRO are not far apart. They’re both attacks on freedom, using misinformation with the goal of sustaining and even contributing further to a corrupt status quo.

The only freedom Microsoft wants is for itself. They want you to think THEIR freedom is YOUR freedom, but they also want the freedom to control what you do. Call it “Trickle-down Freedom theory,” because that’s basically what it is. As long as THEY can do whatever they want, so can you — if you believe that.

That’s practically the single lie at the core of all of this. Not that it sours me in the least on the idea of true freedom for everybody — it clearly has for some people, who insist that freedom without a progressive thumb placed forever on the scale is nothing more then privilege. I do believe in (human/ecological) progress, I simply don’t believe in SOME of the thumb-on-the-scale methods advocated.

But it is a fact that Microsoft has their own thumb on the scale, and that thumb weighs more than many of us (certainly not all of us) put together. The original thumb Microsoft put on the scale was that they could sell code they got out of a skip, but people who share code are thieves.

“The original thumb Microsoft put on the scale was that they could sell code they got out of a skip, but people who share code are thieves.”Corporate theft is good business, collaboration without corporations is theft (now discrimination). That whole corporations-are-people-too nonsense is so strong, that if you say “corporations aren’t real people” it almost sounds racist these days. HEY! Corporations have RIGHTS!

Anything you do is spun as taking something away from the richest and most powerful. If you don’t want Microsoft running updates that give them complete control of your computer (and limit your own control of your own physical property), then you’re basically a terrorist. The other OSI Co-founder, Eric S. Raymond, even said this more than 15 years ago:

“I also expect a serious effort, backed by several billion dollars in bribe money (oops, excuse me, campaign contributions), to get open-source software outlawed on some kind of theory that it aids terrorists.”

“As I’ve said many times, Open Source is an attack on Free Software. It attacks rms, it attacks anybody outspoken…”(That article has the ESR quote and links to the Halloween Documents mirror on slated.org — it is also itself a relevant article.)

Controlling your own computer? Anarchy and Theft.

These are the people propping up “Open Source” with millions or billions spent on it. But it isn’t just the fact that Open Source is backed PRIMARILY by corporate thugs. It’s also the endless, smarmy dishonesty of the whole thing.

As I’ve said many times, Open Source is an attack on Free Software. It attacks rms, it attacks anybody outspoken:

CoC images/memes by figosdev

CoC images/memes by figosdev - second part

It attacks computer nerds for being nerdy, it pretends to care about “ableism” while former presidents of OSI (plural — maybe not Perens) made ad hom remarks (to me personally) about other people being “autistic” (Perens is unlikely to do so, having been born with cerebral palsy), and it attacks philosophers and advocates for having ideals different than corporate ones, calling them “extremists.”

It’s funny that ESR thought people would be bribed to conflate open source with terrorism, when that’s basically what Open Source proponents have done to Free Software advocates for years:

“I also expect a serious effort, backed by several billion dollars in bribe money (oops, excuse me, campaign contributions), to get open-source software outlawed on some kind of theory that it aids terrorists.” – OSI Co-founder ESR

“It’s funny that ESR thought people would be bribed to conflate open source with terrorism, when that’s basically what Open Source proponents have done to Free Software advocates for years…”“There are ‘extremists’ in the free software world, but that’s one major reason why I don’t call what I do ‘free software’ any more. I don’t want to be associated with the people for whom it’s about exclusion and hatred.” – Open Source proponent / Linux kernel author Linus Torvalds

“I think we just don’t care that much [about Microsoft] anymore… They used to be our big rival, but now it’s kind of like kicking a puppy.” – Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation‘s chief

Just so you know, Jim, most puppies don’t have 10-billion-dollar defense contracts.

“Just so you know, Jim, most puppies don’t have 10-billion-dollar defense contracts.”If you have principles of any kind, you’re an extremist and driven by “hate”. This is nice and vague, because you may hate the abuse a corporation doles out against its customers and the human race itself, but Linus Torvalds will make it sound like bigotry if you don’t love Microsoft.

“This is nice and vague, because you may hate the abuse a corporation doles out against its customers and the human race itself, but Linus Torvalds will make it sound like bigotry if you don’t love Microsoft.”You know it’s pure narcissism when someone expects you to love them, just because they (allegedly) love you? Like if I go up to you and say “You’re wonderful — I LOVE you–” nearly any expectation of reciprocation I have is unreasonable. It would be very nice if it’s mutual, it would be nice if you don’t take it the wrong way or reject me in a mean way, but demanding that someone love you back despite years of abuse is just NUTS.

THAT’S Microsoft. It’s also everybody who attacks YOU for disliking Microsoft.

But that’s exactly what Open Source expects you to do — love being lied to, love being abused by corporations, or you’re some kind of bigot.

“But that’s exactly what Open Source expects you to do — love being lied to, love being abused by corporations, or you’re some kind of bigot.”I have a serious problem with this sort of emotional blackmail being used to co-opt a movement that actually stood for something. Stood — because what the Free Software movement (a bit too much of it) wants me to do now is support an FSF President who supports and promotes Microsoft.

No.

I will not support Microsoft, because they are extremely bad people. It isn’t extremely relevant that there are other bad people — Microsoft are among the very worst. It isn’t extremely relevant that history has a handful of people that are arguably worse than Microsoft — Microsoft are still among the very worst. They have co-opted our movement, our software and even Love Itself.

“I will not support Microsoft, because they are extremely bad people. It isn’t extremely relevant that there are other bad people — Microsoft are among the very worst.”I will not support ANY of this!

I will not support your lies, your bullshit, your dishonesty, your narcissism, your abuse or your greed. I’m not going to support shills so you do more fundraising. No.

I will not support your double standards, your attacks on the best people (and anybody who defends those people) only to have you turn around and ask me to support someone lesser in importance or integrity.

I will not let a predominately corporate movement speak for people they don’t care about — then twist what people say around into “bigotry” so they can be silenced and never get to speak for themselves again!

“Today, people are falling for so many well-documented fallacies and false-dichotomies, long used by Open Source to drive wedges between advocates.”But unfortunately, most people will. At least for now.

Today, people are falling for so many well-documented fallacies and false-dichotomies, long used by Open Source to drive wedges between advocates.

The User / Developer dichotomy is one of the most powerful.

A developer is someone who makes software. Software is produced by coding.

When computers first existed, using them and coding them were basically the same act. When you use a pocket calculator, you are punching simple instructions into the processor:

ZERO VALUE

2

ADD

2

DISPLAY VALUE

“So as computer use has become more abstracted, now we separate people into “users” and “developers” — like there is some magic in it.”When you write a computer program, you are punching simple instructions into the processor.

What’s changed is the complexity of the processor, and the fact that most code is now higher-level than the processor codes themselves. But that’s true for the vast majority of developers, because people mostly code in machine code when they have to — not when they can help it.

So as computer use has become more abstracted, now we separate people into “users” and “developers” — like there is some magic in it. Now instead of writing a function, it gets called when you click a button.

Hey, when you bootstrapped a PDP-11, that was also a click of a button. Followed by another one. Followed by another one.

“But either way, the point of constantly emphasising the user/developer dichotomy is to create a peasant class called “users”, who are supposed to basically shut up and take whatever they’re given, or learn how to code.”Of course the demonstrable difference now between a user and developer is that developers produce new code, while users simply call it. Unless they call it by issuing commands on the command line, until they gradually build up into routines. The command line isn’t a programming language, it’s a user environment. But you can still develop useful code on it, even in the course of “using” the command line.

Sometimes it’s the link between use and development that’s tenuous, sometimes it’s the distinction that is. But either way, the point of constantly emphasising the user/developer dichotomy is to create a peasant class called “users”, who are supposed to basically shut up and take whatever they’re given, or learn how to code.

Of course I do recommend making it as easy to code as possible, so more people can learn. I recommend people learn, so they can have more control over their computing. A little ability goes a long way — I have no formal training, my own simple programming language, which I used to create my own GNU/Assholex distro. (Like comparing people who disagree with your corporate shilling to terrorists is any less offensive — Piss Off, Linus).

“And creating this division between Users and Developers is political — all developers are users, but (these days) not all users are developers.”Everything I try to do, I try to do the easy way — whether it’s coding, or creating a language or creating a distro. Yeah, I want DIY — but I still want to take advantage of the fact that computers can abstract things, while also giving me control of my own computer. The Free Software movement is by definition mostly about portable, reusable code — even if native CPU code is ultimately required underneath that. Otherwise rms would say:

“The only way to have control of your computing is via machine code and mnemonics” — he never said that. But I have great admiration for people who can toggle in a program on switches or write the lower-level code that makes our higher-level code work. Basically all of us accept various levels of abstraction.

But it should be our decision, not one Microsoft (or the rest of GIAFAM) makes for us.

And creating this division between Users and Developers is political — all developers are users, but (these days) not all users are developers. So while it’s alright (possibly even necessary) to say “We need a more user-centric Free software movement” I’m aware, as a developer, that people can’t generally demand I do something and expect me to just code it for them.

I’ve always known that, but how this fact is used in the way large projects like Debian are managed is both dishonest and condescending. That’s the goal of the user/developer dichotomy — SHUT UP USERS, there are GROWN-UPS talking!

“If we don’t care about users at all, we are no better than Microsoft.”“But this erased my home directory every time I ran grub2-update”

“IT’S PROBABLY YOUR FAULT! QUIT SPREADING FUD!”

If we don’t care about users at all, we are no better than Microsoft. That doesn’t mean that you are obligated to maintain your software. You can write it and put it online and go Amish, it’s not a crime. The idea that it’s not really “free” unless there’s a “community” around it is one of those wedges from Open Source, they used to push this a lot harder (check ancient OSI blogs).

“Then there is the good old Freedom / Pragmatism dichotomy!”The truth? A community is a bonus- Free software itself is a contribution to society. You can let someone else create a community around the software, but that can go horribly wrong. Free software without a community is like a public refrigerator. It just sits there, waiting for someone to come and make it into a meal. But it provides a clear benefit for those who can make use of the contribution it provides.

Then there is the good old Freedom / Pragmatism dichotomy! I don’t care about whether software is free or not, I want it to “just work!” This is great, because Free Software often does (or often did — bowing to Open Source has reduced long-term reliability, for reasons easy enough to explain) “just work”, but with this dichotomy you’re creating a circular argument where if non-free stuff “just works” and free stuff doesn’t. It’s either/or, you know (it’s not) but this non-argument is a staple of Open Source B.S. (OSBSS).

Open Source has long had different goals and different trade-offs than Free Software, but it has always worked to muddy the waters so that it can bring you to its own pro-corporate side.

Once you’re where their grass is always greener (it should be, an awful lot of it’s made out of American money and corporate AstroTurfing) you’ll find that far from the laid-back, anything-goes narcissistic love-bombing stage that is so much better than free software “extremism” and “hate” — Open Source holds corporate hegemony as sacred, all while pretending to be rebellious and “Open” to anything.

“Open Source has long had different goals and different trade-offs than Free Software, but it has always worked to muddy the waters so that it can bring you to its own pro-corporate side.”Microsoft: “Help people. Help people as much as you can, because then they owe you a favor. One of the first things I did when I started doing evangelism to the Mac community is, I started giving stuff away like crazy. Sending them the compiler; sending them the STK, sending them documentation. I had this thing that got to be known as the Plamondon Love Kit. It was this big, heavy box full of books and compilers and goodies, and Mac developers started talking about the Plamondon Love Kit, and how, you know, if you sent off to James and said that you were going to do something on Windows, he’d send you this Plamondon Love Kit. And Apple was just—arrggh, like that, because they couldn’t afford to give stuff away like that.”

They have just as many (if not more) sacred cows, but they include Bill Gates (you conspiracy theorist) and IBM (no Nazis on earth are less racist or more diverse than IBM) and Microsoft (you neckbeards!)…

Microsoft: “I mean, all through this presentation previously I talked about how you’re using the pawns you’re going to screw them if they don’t do what they want, and da-da-dah. You can’t let them feel like that. If they feel like that, you’ve lost from the beginning.”

But I’ve written about all of these things many times, and I could go on (and on, and on) about the many lies of Open Source.

But that wasn’t the point of this article.

“I mean everybody’s using Linux, right? Well, no — the leader of the Linux Foundation doesn’t use it, Linux itself is a brand that’s been use to fight against our freedom (and against copyleft) and it’s been used to steal control via bogus patent agreements and organisations literally overthrown via disputes over codes of conduct.”The point was that even my closest allies in the Free Software world are starting to buy into the same old arguments they used to not be fooled by. So Nat Friedman was right — Open Source has Won. It’s won at overshadowing Free Software.

But they’ve claimed to be the same thing for so long, we are expected and encouraged to think Free Software won? I mean everybody’s using Linux, right? Well, no — the leader of the Linux Foundation doesn’t use it, Linux itself is a brand that’s been use to fight against our freedom (and against copyleft) and it’s been used to steal control via bogus patent agreements and organisations literally overthrown via disputes over codes of conduct.

So “just be nice to each other” becomes “let a corporation control your movement for user freedom”.

“Alessandro, who inspired the name for my most recent book, was telling me that it’s more about compatibility and interoperability (I can’t quote it, I’m paraphrasing) than it’s about freedom.”HMM… Free Software advocates should be able to not fall for that. But a year without RMS (he was never immortal; I was against the way he was ousted, I STILL AM — though we were going to have to find our way without him eventually) and Free software advocates are pushing more of the old “Open Source” bullshit than I’ve ever seen.

Alessandro, who inspired the name for my most recent book, was telling me that it’s more about compatibility and interoperability (I can’t quote it, I’m paraphrasing) than it’s about freedom. He probably didn’t even mean it, but this is classic, textbook OSBS.

Milo, who is one of the truest Free Software advocates I know, is getting caught up in Luke Smith videos. Luke Smith says a lot of things that need to be said right now, but what I’m hearing is a lot of stuff about being “more openminded” (as if Free Software having principles meant they were closed-minded) — this is more textbook OSBS, although I have myself criticised “Free Software parrots” who can’t make their own arguments and just quote rms exclusively.

We need more people like rms — idealists, people who don’t want false compromise, but rms thinks for himself. If you cloned him, I like to think the clones would think for themselves. That’s how genetic clones most likely work.

But when Open Source talks about being “open minded,” they typically mean “more open to our arguments, less open to Free Software advocacy” — that isn’t the least bit honest. But it is narcissistic. If someone’s definition of being “open-minded” is that you agree with them — there’s a word for that. Being open-minded is about giving ideas a fair chance, not about agreement or going along with scammers.

“But when Open Source talks about being “open minded,” they typically mean “more open to our arguments, less open to Free Software advocacy” — that isn’t the least bit honest.”So I’ve taken Luke Smith’s statements individually, and as a sum. He certainly says some things that need to be said right now. But he says a lot of things that are questionable, which makes me think he’s really more like the next Lunduke — things like how Free Software “won” and the movement is dying, but “It doesn’t really matter” because everybody uses Free Software now anyway.

I think on the whole, Luke Smith is going to drag people closer to being Open than being Free.

Does that mean we should ban him? No, but if he’s being dishonest and encouraging people to shut up and not worry, Free Software doesn’t matter — I have a problem with the dishonesty of that.

Another thing I noticed today:

Freedom is not simple

When people say “GPL[1] increases freedom” then they’re right. When others say “GPL limits freedom compared to MIT” then they’re right too. It’s just a matter about which freedoms exactly we’re talking about, and for who. Indeed, the entire Free Software movement seems like a typical failure of appreciating these kind of trade-offs when it comes to freedom.

My reply was: HILARIOUS… First recognise that there are trade-offs either way, then blame your opponent for their trade-offs, as if they’re inherently worse than yours. This is a very funny double standard. It’s even funnier as a lot of bullshit.

This kind of sophistry is insidious, P.R. experts make a fortune on it, Open Source is built on little else (except corporate backers) and if we aren’t careful we will continue to be taken over by it.

“We should probably distance ourselves further from Open Source” — Ben Mako Hill, LibrePlanet

Being leaderless makes movements vulnerable to this sort of thing — that's by design, it’s exactly why Free Software is leaderless right now. It doesn’t mean we have to accept shills or puppets as our leaders.

“That’s bad enough when we are talking about the funding. When we are talking about the messaging, it poses a true existential threat to the movement.”The trajectory of OSI over 20 years was to become increasingly (relatively) leaderless, letting corporate sponsors take over.

The trajectory of the Linux kernel close to 30 years was to become increasingly (relatively) leaderless, letting corporate sponsors take over.

The trajectory of the FSF over close to 40 years is to become increasingly (relatively) leaderless, letting corporate sponsors take over.

“You’re letting liars speak for you, and rewrite your philosophy with bullshit.”The trajectory of the NPR over many decades is to become increasingly run by corporate sponsors, while repeating lip service like “Supported by Listeners like You”.

No, it’s run by corporate sponsors, and subsidised by Suckers Like You.

That’s bad enough when we are talking about the funding. When we are talking about the messaging, it poses a true existential threat to the movement.

You’re letting liars speak for you, and rewrite your philosophy with bullshit.

Be careful, everybody. It’s your RIGHT to say what you want — it’s their JOB to use you for their purposes, against even your own interests.

I have mixed feelings about Derek Taylor (DistroTube) and I believe he uses the phrase “Open Source” a lot, but the points he makes I feel are more honest than Luke Smith’s. He also (despite thinking I read or heard him say “Open Source”) puts a lot of GNU in his GNU/Linux. I would sooner recommend DistroTube (the video he did about the Free Software movement was good) than Smith, even though I think Smith is right about a bunch of things regarding the future of the software we use.

You don’t have to be honest or reasonable to say something factual, and I’m not sure I trust Smith’s intentions or integrity at all. But he has made SOME reasonable points, among others I find extremely suspect. So has Lunduke, but I don’t care for him in the least (I think he’s dishonest and opportunistic).

“Be careful, everybody. It’s your RIGHT to say what you want — it’s their JOB to use you for their purposes, against even your own interests.”The stage is set for many people to rise to prominence now — we do need Leaders, PLURAL — the single-leader thing could only work for so long. We need more advocates who act like leaders. I think on the advocacy side, Roy now (for a couple years) does as good a job as any single person.

I don’t say this because I think of Roy as a friend, or because we are associates. On the contrary, I associate with Roy BECAUSE I think he does a good job on the advocacy side. The only reasons I’ve contributed to Techrights as much as I have, is that I believe Techrights is predominantly on our side. I don’t happen to agree with Roy (or other authors here) on everything, and I know Roy doesn’t agree with me on everything. What matters is what matters — and the most important stuff, I believe we are (unlike Open Source) part of the same cause here.

What you may not know is that a number of us were encouraged to join the FSF board. I believe Roy was at one point, I was invited (that is not the same as being accepted, that is a formal process I never participated in — I actually recommended someone else I thought would be better for the Board) and I think that person I recommended had just as good a chance (or better) at being able to join as I did. I believe he was considered (I think he withdrew though).

But we need leaders, plural. It’s definitely NOT just about the people “Up Top” — I don’t think Free Software is inherently elitist, but I do think there is corruption and the “Top” is something I now find suspect. I think rms is a victim of that as well. But I still believe leadership is the answer — just not single leadership.

“Leadership is not about awards. It’s not about sponsors. It is OCCASIONALLY about celebrity and admiration.”Here is, in my (idealistic — I certainly have a more cynical side, or you don’t know me at all) opinion, what leadership is NOT about:

Leadership is not about awards. It’s not about sponsors. It is OCCASIONALLY about celebrity and admiration. I wish it wasn’t, and this aspect is overrated (which is why I list it under what it’s NOT about) but many of us ARE inspired by rms — including former FSF board member Lawrence Lessig, who also inspires me a great deal (about as much as any person on Earth, really).

RMS was a great inspiration to Lessig, rms helped inspire BOTH Creative Commons AND Wikipedia — and whether Linus admits it or not, oh whatever. F — Linus. In the future we won’t even able to use his sellout kernel, it will be infested with DRM and all other kinds of corporate crap. The pieces are already in the right places. [Editor's note: Tim B-L, who started the World Wide Web, was also inspired by RMS.]

True leadership is about standing for the thing you lead — it’s about standing up to bullies as well as bullshit — you can see there are a lot of puppet leaders like Jim Zemlin, who do not stand for anything but simply do what they’re told. I think Bradley Kuhn is turning into such a puppet, from his dishonest attacks on rms to the takeover of SFC by enemies of Free Software and copyleft alike.

“…you can see there are a lot of puppet leaders like Jim Zemlin, who do not stand for anything but simply do what they’re told. I think Bradley Kuhn is turning into such a puppet, from his dishonest attacks on rms to the takeover of SFC by enemies of Free Software and copyleft alike.”True leaders inspire, sometimes teach, they warn people against moves that will compromise what THOSE PEOPLE stand for, and rms has withstood decades of criticism for doing all of these things — but above all, for warning people against the very things that would compromise their freedom. For this, he is labeled a zealot. As if pretending that things that compromise your freedom won’t really do so would make him more reasonable. It would make him less honest, is all.

True leaders have words put in their mouths, then they (sometimes) have to say “no, that’s not what I said nor what I meant” because people like Beatles lyrics to mean whatever they think they mean. To say that Charles Manson misinterpreted the words to “Helter Skelter” is an understatement, though other people interpret song lyrics to hilarious ends. People misinterpret rms for political reasons.

The point of course is NOT that rms was a true leader, though he was. I firmly believe and advocate that rms be treated with the respect and legacy due a great person, I don’t think we should plug our ears when he speaks, though I doubt he has a great deal more to say. I am against treating him as a has-been, even as an old man. RMS founded this movement and IMO is still the most relevant person (not the only relevant person) in it.

But even if the heavens opened, and a shaft of light shined down (this imagery could very mildly offend both rms and maybe ultimately even Roy, and that amuses me — I was a strong atheist too when I was younger and I’m agnostic now) and suddenly rms was FSF President again and all the backstabbers who betrayed ALL OF US (they didn’t care about us, at best they intended to use us) fell over in agony and resigned next week — I don’t think rms could save the FSF now.

“You do that by standing up to this LIMITLESS compromise, by saying “No” to lies and “No” to corporate takeover.”That ship has sunk, it no longer fulfils its mission, the board itself is useless (but I don’t necessarily think all its members are useless individually, they serve no real purpose on the board) and a free software movement that ignores this is a free software movement that will fail.

We need STRONGER leaders but smaller leaders — leaders of slightly smaller domains, working voluntarily and when possible and reasonable, collectively as part of a larger movement. How do you do that? You do that by standing up to this LIMITLESS compromise, by saying “No” to lies and “No” to corporate takeover.

But gone forever is the day when a monolithic organisation can (or will) represent the movement. Not every spin-off deserves support — SFC does not. OSI does not. It is the job of a leader to lead whatever (a project, a group of people, sometimes an organisation) in a way that deserves the movement’s support — that is up to the integrity of the leader and the wisdom (FINGERS CROSSED!) of the movement that rms himself founded.

“There was a time that I admired Linus, he rewarded that by selling us all out in so many ways — though I know the people who will replace him will sell us out even more.”If you need a cornerstone (and quite possibly we do) I still think the FSD is more fundamental than the FSF. The GNU Manifesto has very important historical value, at the very least. The Manifesto and the FSD may even be the closest the movement has to a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution. If that’s exaggerating a bit, whatever. I’ve never paid as much attention to the Declaration (there are some dodgy bits, I know) or the GNU Manifesto, though I still recognise their importance. These things let us know how far we go astray, if we move away from our beginnings.

History is the tool I used to discover (as an Open Source advocate) just how full of crap Open Source really is. Having cared so much less about history as a subject (okay, old computers were already awesome) until I found its value as a Bullshit Detector, I can say with some confidence that History is more about the present than it is about the past, and people who don’t get that don’t really understand the point of history.

Which is why Open Source wants to you to ignore history as much and soon as possible — it’s old, it’s outdated, we have a new product for you. It’s brown and it’s sticky, and if you hold your nose you’re going to love it more than all the hatred, impracticality and close-mindedness those neckbeards ever gave you.

New and Improved! And perhaps most importantly, fully outside of your control.

Meanwhile I offer you rms and Roy as examples of, whether or not you consider them (or they consider themselves) true leaders. I know rms is aware of his role in the movement he founded. I know Roy does whatever he does for whatever reasons he does — I know he considers himself an activist.

By no means will you find anybody perfect in this entire movement — only people. But if you go looking for the best, the most honest, the ones that inspire you to grow as a user (or developer) or advocate — those are the true leaders we need.

And more than I want you to bow to them or give them endless respect, I want you to learn from them. Try to be more like the best people you know. I still think it helps to (more than not) be like rms. But if for some reason you can’t find the wisdom in that, be more like Lessig or Roy (both of whom rms has inspired).

“I don’t think rms sold us out (he was sold out) but I do think it is past time for this movement to pick the reins and do SOMETHING — otherwise we won’t be a movement anymore.”And if for some reason that doesn’t appeal to you either, find the best people you can, and emulate those. There was a time that I admired Linus, he rewarded that by selling us all out in so many ways — though I know the people who will replace him will sell us out even more. I don’t think rms sold us out (he was sold out) but I do think it is past time for this movement to pick the reins and do SOMETHING — otherwise we won’t be a movement anymore.

We should do so with (I will continue to stand for) proper recognition of the place rms has in all of this, both for the rest of his life, as well as a place in history. No single living person has done more for your computing freedom than rms, and the people who are most likely to be leaders in this movement (not in Open Source) already know this — or eventually will realise it.

I still think FACIL with their Free Computing advocacy sets a great example for organisations [1, 2].

“That’s where the Free Software movement, if it continues — will find its true leadership. By enough people doing just that; by emulating the very best qualities of the very people, and thus becoming something that others can eventually emulate.”We still need true iconoclasts like rms and Denis Roio, not corporate shills with blue hair dye. (I like blue hair, I don’t like shills.)

So first, be You.

And then find your best qualities, in the best people who stand for the right things.

You may find that includes politically-incorrect people like George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Russell Peters and Bill Hicks — don’t let crybullies, liars and paid shills shame you for that.

None of those four people were or are bad people. They just really hate/d bullshit and have taught people how to spot it and make fun of it. That’s comedy — as a political weapon of The People. They typically don’t call it that, because it isn’t as funny.

Then after all of that — be more like the best You. Only as much as you can.

“Do you get what Carlin did though? It’s (often) funny to say words you can’t say, but more importantly, you can’t say those things on the radio. What Carlin was doing was giving the finger to the federal authority on broadcasting, and their own code of conduct.”That’s where the Free Software movement, if it continues — will find its true leadership. By enough people doing just that; by emulating the very best qualities of the very people, and thus becoming something that others can eventually emulate.

But be careful, because there’s an awful lot of bullshit out there for you to emulate and propagate as well. And it too, is a weapon — but not for or by The People.

Pure bullshit is a weapon that works predominantly against freedom, no matter who wields it. Temporarily and in the short term, it can be focused against someone we don’t like. As it spreads throughout society and becomes the norm, the only thing it leads to is Mutually Assured Corruption. And that will only ever truly serve the corrupt.

Long live George Carlin, and happy S.P.F.C.C.M.F.A.T. — I thought I’d go easy on Roy here — though if you (the reader) republish this, you are neither required to include this line or to replace the acronym with the actual words, but it would be appreciated!

Do you get what Carlin did though? It’s (often) funny to say words you can’t say, but more importantly, you can’t say those things on the radio. What Carlin was doing was giving the finger to the federal authority on broadcasting, and their own code of conduct.

“Some people, like Carlin, are the comedic equivalent of Tank Man. RMS was the software world’s version of Tank Man, and today, we need lots more people to stand in that place.”The code of conduct itself is never the real problem — it’s the double standards and dishonesty and creeping corporate authoritarianism — though without all of that, what is the code of conduct really needed for? Nobody who ever pushed one was doing it for good reasons, unless they were agreeing unwittingly with someone who was already pushing it (in the same event or project) for the wrong reasons.

Some people, like Carlin, are the comedic equivalent of Tank Man. RMS was the software world’s version of Tank Man, and today, we need lots more people to stand in that place.

Just being an outspoken douchebag isn’t quite enough — you have to actually be standing for something. You have to really mean it, and the reasons ultimately have to be the right reasons. That’s the difference between someone like Dave Chappelle, and someone like Lunduke. (Surprise! It’s not that he’s black! — it’s that Chappelle is a vertebrate.) Sure, one of them is also more talented, but this is an area where Heart still outweighs talent sometimes.

“Good people make fun of bad people, bad people make fun of good people — and almost EVERYBODY makes fun of almost everybody else, sometimes.”I don’t know if Chappelle or Carlin “won”, really. But I know they’re more important than all the shills in history of the world. Do you care more about the movies, or more about the Oscars? More about the music, or more about the Grammys? More about who Won? Or more about what we stand for?

I guess it always depends who you ask, but I think the right questions and good (honest, fair, reasonable) answers are even more important than that. Also, if someone is a lying, scumbag asshole — it’s STILL okay to say they are! Good people make fun of bad people, bad people make fun of good people — and almost EVERYBODY makes fun of almost everybody else, sometimes.

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