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03.25.20

Microsoft Continues to Attack and Steal From the Open Source/Free Software Communities

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law-breakers won’t change their ways; they only optimise their PR strategy (and bribe more of the media to play along)

Microsoft Loved Linux.

Summary: Microsoft cannot be trusted and there’s no “new Microsoft,” as another fairly new story serves to show

“Shocked, Roy!”

So said a reader of ours, who used to work for Microsoft.

“Microsoft copies/steals lerna,” our reader summarised, pointing to this archived copy/snapshot of a page that’s now gone (although the Web site is still there).

We are gratified to see that more people from inside Microsoft are starting to see just how evil the company really us. I know of several such people, some of whom I speak to regularly. They have inside information and leads/tips.

It will be good for Techrights to make a copy anyone can find by searching. The original was removed. Sometimes Microsoft bribes or threatens to make this happen (e.g. threatening through one’s boss/customers). We covered examples of that in past years.

With the original deleted we think it would only be fair to reproduce the full message (the emphasis below is ours for the “tl;dr” crowd):

I think it’s time I publicly shared about how Microsoft stole my code and then spit on it.

I’d been waiting for them to do something about it, but that is clearly never happening.

When we were working on Babel 6, one of the big changes was to split everything up in to nice little plugin packages. However, this created a need to manage dozens of packages. Thus @lernajs was born
I picked up Lerna a little while later and focused on making it work well for design systems. I rewrote it like 5 times to try and get the architecture right.
Lerna then started getting picked up by others who also contributed back and added features. I enjoyed watching it grow and so I started looking out for users.
One day I came across a new design system from a team at Microsoft. I saw that it was made up of lots of small packages. I was excited and wondered “ooh is MS using Lerna?”
It turns out, no they were not. They were using this other thing called “Rush”. I hadn’t heard of it, but I was interested in seeing how it differed from Lerna.
I found the repo and started exploring. The first thing I noticed was how familiar all the code was. I could navigate the file structure very easily. I realised that it was almost a mirror of Lerna’s code base.
Files and directories were named the same things, it had many of the same core functions with code that I distinctly remembered writing.
But no big deal right? It must be a fork. I was actually flattered at first. So I went back in the git history.
I got all the way back to the first commit, and looked at the date. Turns out Rush was created a couple weeks after Lerna was announced.
I continued working through the commit history and looked at commits that added features, it all felt so familiar and now I was getting suspicious.
Comparing dates of commits, it looked like Rush kept copying changes from Lerna days after they were made. Rewritten using this weird event system they added.
It left a bad taste in my mouth, I could tell this was my code. I looked at the license, no mention. I looked at the readme… Oh wait
In the readme they acknowledge the fact that there are “other solutions” and say that they are bad. No mention of the fact that Rush was taken directly from one of these bad other solutions.
You know if it were anyone else, I would have been mildly annoyed and ignored it. But Microsoft is a multi billion dollar corporation. If they are going to steal code without crediting the original author I’m gonna be pissed.
So I reached out to people I knew at Microsoft. This was probably a year ago now. They were shocked and apologized. But since then nothing has happened.
Oh wait yeah, something did happen. The commit history of Rush was messed with and a lot of the code was moved around, functions renamed, rewritten. It still feels familiar, but it’s more scrambled.
Instead of just updating a license or even just adding a footnote, they went through all that trouble.
Anyways, it’s really annoyed me to listen to all these people give Microsoft free good press about open source when clearly their product org is still happy to be dicks to open source communities
I don’t trust Microsoft (or Google or Facebook or Amazon) to be good shepherds of open source communities
.

Just because we’ve made it impossible to compete with their old closed source stacks doesn’t mean they’ll act in the best interest of open source
And just because there are great people at Microsoft who love open source and want to do the right thing does not mean that they’ll be able to stop Microsoft from doing shitty things when there’s money involved.
I know plenty of people at big corporations who want to change things but can’t because millions of dollars are in the way.
A few years back we were able to petition GitHub to start improving the tools the offered to open source maintainers.

later on at a @maintainerati event, GitHub acknowledged that this letter had a huge impact on how they worked with open source communities
Imagine a couple hundred people signing a letter to try and change things at Microsoft/Google/Facebook and it actually working. These companies deal with stuff like that on a daily basis and it doesn’t make them trip up for even a second
The consolidation of our infrastructure is dangerous. Having lots of small companies or even medium sized corporations forces them to work together without much effort which prevents any one of them from ever totally fucking us over
The tech industry has so many monopolies right now. Building more everyday. It’s only going to hurt consumers more and more. And when it comes to infrastructure, we’re going to be those fucked over consumers
If you trust a handful of corporations with your entire toolchain and expect them not to fuck you over I’ve got a bridge to sell you

As recently as this year we wrote about another such example. People, watch out. The warnings are there.

03.24.20

If We Weren’t Silencing Founders, Critics and People We Just Don’t Like

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 1:22 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

A crisis

Summary: “In the long run, history is rarely very kind to tyrants, especially the ones who did little more than lie to people and demand things that served no real purpose.”

I don’t suffer under the illusion that everybody has a right to your attention span. In fact I’m absolutely in favour of you having all sorts of tools for ignoring people you don’t like, where such tools are practical. They aren’t practical when it comes to working in a team, and they can’t (and shouldn’t) create a world where everybody hears exactly what they want all of the time.

“A world where everybody hears exactly what they want, all the time, would be like a world full of only children.”I’m starting out with a side point or two, sort of as a disclaimer, but a world where everybody hears exactly what they want would be an emotionally and psychologically stunting world to live in. Although population growth will likely prove to be a greater concern, people have long argued that having an only child will rob them of many opportunities to grow and learn to get along with other people in their formative years. A world where everybody hears exactly what they want, all the time, would be like a world full of only children. It would be like a world full of Donalds.

In the future, if — and likely when it becomes crucial for people to have only one child or fewer, we don’t want to compound that with a world where everybody walks around with augmented earplugs and augmented VR headsets, immersed in a narcissist’s dreamworld. Those people will never grow. We are already living that way now, to some degree — having our reality constantly mediated by 5 (until recently, 6) corporations that own 90% of the media. The dreamworld we are constantly tied into is the dreamworld of whatever these corporate assholes want us to feed from. We can all help to build the pyramids for these CEOs and “extraordinary” middle managers.

Still it’s precisely because of those media companies, along with the simple fact that it’s our right — that I’m in favour of you having all sorts of tools to mediate the media on your own behalf; to decide how much control or influence you do and don’t let them have over you.

“Plenty of people are aware of the fact that “content” moderation itself is out of balance, that our bastions of “freedom” and once at-least-superficially-grassroots activism are becoming more corporate, and for that sort of takeover to work our “activism” needs to be moderated just like everything else owned by media monopolies.”What I’m against is you taking too much control on “behalf” of others. Giving that power to the sort of people who would want very much of it is a recipe for more than disaster, but for a world where people are more often controlled, misled and lied to. We’ve heard the excuses, and we’ve witnessed the results. And while some of us made predictions along these lines (and hoped to be mistaken) there are more and more people who know what we’re talking about now. We see the real world effects, versus the alleged benefits of this sort of control.

It’s really beside the point to say that this sort of control always existed; the problem isn’t that some people are moderators, the problem is that we do better with everything in moderation — including moderation. Plenty of people are aware of the fact that “content” moderation itself is out of balance, that our bastions of “freedom” and once at-least-superficially-grassroots activism are becoming more corporate, and for that sort of takeover to work our “activism” needs to be moderated just like everything else owned by media monopolies.

“It’s the job of every propaganda marshal to make everything bad sound like something good — and everything good sound like something bad: Censorship is good, unfettered speech is a plague, wasn’t it always this way?”Monopolies and grassroots do not mix — grassroots means we all make our decisions, monopoly means those in power make the decisions. And those talking about “consequences” are pulling a fast one, because in many instances they really mean “consequences” even for us making the right decisions — the ones that favour people over monopolies. It’s the job of every propaganda marshal to make everything bad sound like something good — and everything good sound like something bad: Censorship is good, unfettered speech is a plague, wasn’t it always this way?

Well, no. But it typically is that way, when things are very, very wrong.

So next they say it isn’t censorship, but we know they’re just redefining censorship to exclude their own acts — that’s convenient. Then they claim ownership of the communities they are put in charge of — before, it was our community collectively. Now, it is less ours, because a “community leader” or “volunteer” comes in to decide who gets to keep their community and who is excluded in the name of inclusion. You start with the most obvious annoyances first, and build a rapport over it. This isn’t censorship, it isn’t restructuring free, grassroots association — this is “community building,” you say.

But we know it isn’t really about the community you think you own, because you don’t just drive people out of the community. You also penalise people for simply associating with the people you’ve driven out. And that’s exactly the moment when you’ve built a cult, by the way. A community can only control what happens inside the community.

“…it is about selling off communities and about changes in ownership — ownership of people, their associations, and their spare time.”A reasonable amount of “control” is not a prescription to be forced into people 3 times a day, but only in situations where it is absolutely needed. Moving from exception to rule is dismissed as “it was always this way,” but moving from exception to rule actually proves that it wasn’t. It’s much closer to a 180 degree turnaround in the way things are done. And it’s no accident — because again, it is about selling off communities and about changes in ownership — ownership of people, their associations, and their spare time. Which is a nice way of saying “indentured servitude.”

A community takes charge of its own events when it has no other means of moving forward, but communities don’t lean on heavy campaigns of propaganda, trying to control everyone’s thinking and trying to control what people inside the community do, even when they are outside its borders.

Once a community lays claim to things that happen on the outside, they have reached a cult status. We’ve known for years, it’s public knowledge that these cult tactics are used in corporations — Apple, with their extreme levels of secrecy (beyond simple trade secrets) to the point of absurdity (we’ve talked about how that makes it easier to own and control the tech press), Google with their surveillance of workers when not on the campus, and Microsoft, with their heavy-handed harassment of critics. All of these tactics are used by cults, and increasingly these cult tactics are being used by so-called (former) “communities.”

“So I advise everyone to consider relabeling “apathy” altogether. Call it “despair” instead.”But all of this has already been said, and none of this is the point of this article. The reason these things are worth repeating, is because all of these things are connected to, relevant to the actual point — which is the apathy we find everyday in the world around us. Why do so few people care about the things that matter most?

This is my theory about that: a lot more people care than we realise.

We wouldn’t know — because when somebody does care, they are frequently made unwelcome. They are smeared by these cults, and they are kicked out of their communities. Straw men are trotted out like thought militias, to find every possible reason to minimise, dismiss and distort the critiques, complaints and even the solutions proposed even (and especially) by people we have long respected.

“Because we are kicking out and silencing the very people who would inspire them, the very people they would understand and relate to.”But many of these people were respected for sticking their neck out, for their unconventional thinking, for being unafraid of the “consequences” of being unconventional — or for not suffering to bend over backwards to please unreasonable and demanding (narcissistic, controlling) people.

If this really is a campaign of silence like we suggest, then you may have a whole world of people who are waiting for a sign — waiting for a leader — waiting for the inspiration to be better than they are. And it’s a shame that not everybody feels they have, or even does have it in them to be the leader or the inspiration that they want to see in the world.

But the truth is that most people do not stick their neck out. By definition — most people are not unconventional. And many who do have the dedication to a cause, necessary to become that person, are exactly the sort of person we keep kicking out of the little cults we used to call “home.”

So everyone we think of as apathetic, are they really? Or are they simply missing the catalyst that would drive them to be part of the global efforts we need to stand against hegemony? We’ve taken away — stifled, worked to eliminate the very thing that would drive them to do more.

So I advise everyone to consider relabeling “apathy” altogether. Call it “despair” instead. Why do so many people have it? Because we are kicking out and silencing the very people who would inspire them, the very people they would understand and relate to.

“…you can’t moderate everything all the time, because if you do, then you create a dictatorship.”You can run your community however you want, really. But you can’t run people’s lives everywhere they go, and call yourself a community. You can’t split up families and tell people who they’re allowed to be friends with. And you can’t moderate everything all the time, because if you do, then you create a dictatorship.

There isn’t any real way around this. If you do what a dictatorship does, then you are a dictatorship. No place on earth was a dictatorship from day one; dictatorships are established as people gain more control over every action of the people underneath them. So it’s worth pointing out that all dictatorships started out as non-dictatorships. The fact that what you call a “community” actually used to be one is irrelevant — you aren’t running it like one anymore, so it no longer is one.

People aren’t apathetic, they’re stifled. And to the so-called “community manager” corporate shills doing this — it’s your attitude, your excuses, and your straw men and dishonest attacks that are stifling everybody who stays under your thumb. They know they won’t be allowed to lead, won’t be allowed to speak freely, won’t be allowed to choose their own friends, without you trying to punish them and steal their work with your lying. You’ve taken ownership of all of that “on their behalf.”

“People aren’t apathetic, they’re stifled. And to the so-called “community manager” corporate shills doing this — it’s your attitude, your excuses, and your straw men and dishonest attacks that are stifling everybody who stays under your thumb.”Some of them do believe you, when you say it’s for their own good. But even if they don’t, they won’t show it. So how would we know?

We call that apathy, but I’m beginning to doubt it. Once there are enough people who stand against that, once there are enough people to build something stronger than the Great Big Lie you perpetrate, gradually more and more people care again — more and more people stand up, and shed this so-called “apathy” you worked to instill in them.

History shows this in many instances, but everytime a new regime crops up, it seems like the worst one ever — and the resulting apathy appears more complete than ever before.

You’re not stopping them, not ultimately. Eventually people will lead them out of this, and you’re only slowing them down for a time.

“…communities take longer to build than they take for you to destroy them.”In the long run, history is rarely very kind to tyrants, especially the ones who did little more than lie to people and demand things that served no real purpose. There’s always a reason given, of course! And it’s generally based on some kernel of truth to make it easier to believe. We read these old stories, and tut and say that we’re too wise to let that sort of thing happen on our watch, and then someone like you comes along.

Grab your accolades, while you can. People who need real progress, not the mere trappings, will eventually get wise to it and put you behind them. Some might even say that’s already started — but both you and I know that you’ve got a while yet. Another historical fact, one of the few on your side, actually — is that communities take longer to build than they take for you to destroy them. So enjoy!

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

03.19.20

You May Never Find a Better Time Than Now to Start a Freedom Lab

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:32 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

A computer lab

A freedom lab establishes a project or (typically small) group of people, similar to an organisation, devoted to research or a task related to software freedom.

It can be about promoting, improving, documenting or designing Free software. It can be about studying aspects of the community or about activism. It can be political, such as promoting Free software from an anti-capitalist software; or apolitical, such as an umbrella organisation designed to help coordinate different groups.

Cooperation between labs is ad-hoc and voluntary, though the Freelabs Federation is one organisation (you can create others) that can assist other labs — yours could as well. There aren’t by-laws for collaboration, leaving that up to each lab to make their own decisions in this regard, but the thrive guidelines are still recommended as a place to start.

These voluntary guidelines are more about working together despite differences than they are about conformity or “conduct” and are simply suggestions for making things easier.

It’s worth pointing out that if you feel passionate about a Free software (or free culture) related cause, you are encouraged to pursue it via such a lab. Be sure to let us know about your work; freedom labs do not need to exist in social isolation. One of the overarching purposes of these labs is to create more nodes for software freedom as a federated network. This is “federation” in an ad-hoc sense, and does not refer to a single mode of communication or a particular protocol. This is a grassroots effort; a community of communities that is harder to knock down, take over with corporate interference, or pay off.

But since it is still a fairly new idea, some “seed ideas” to get started are recommended here.

A Lab to Develop New Ideas for Labs

Might as well start with recursion; if your only interest is in ideas, a simple lab like this could help people collaborate on more ideas for labs. There is no rule that a lab has to be single-purpose, even if it has an area of focus. This article is about ideas for labs, but who knows was such a group could come up with?

A Free Software Watchdog Lab

Techrights calls its feed the “Free software Sentry” — it has no monopoly on the concept, and has welcomed collaboration from other groups, such as the now defunct Free Media Alliance, the Free software Fellowship and Debian.community. When these groups work together, it is without any formal ties. What ties together these groups is simply a common interest in Free software.

Personally, if we are to become even partly independent of the largest Free software groups, it’s my opinion that the Free software Definition is something that governs what we do. Of course it’s only my opinion, but I don’t wish to redefine Free software. I do think the definition could benefit from a fifth freedom, though I also think everybody should be very careful and even wary of such an effort (even my own.) I consider the FSD akin to a constitution for the Free software movement, and nothing to take more lightly than that. There is no way to enforce this, but if you feel similarly, the thrive guidelines do provide suggestions on how you can collaborate with groups without abandoning your own principles.

Note that joining an existing freedom lab is also meant to be an option, though starting one can be as simple as having one or two people spending time on an issue, and documenting their ideas, efforts and outcomes.

Freeing Projects from Gitjail

This is a major crisis in our community, and someone who argues that it’s the worst thing happening to Free software right now may not be exaggerating. I can certainly think of other Free software crises that vie for that ranking.

If you have ideas for how to liberate Free software from Github — please, please either start a lab or keep talking about your ideas. At least send an article to Techrights about it (it will go a little farther if the article is under a free licence. Techrights makes extensive use of CC By 3.0 for example.)

Increasing Free Speech for Free Software

We are also in the middle of a cancel crisis, and the freedom lab movement is in part a response to that. But it isn’t only about free speech, it is about partial autonomy. Joining the freedom lab movement does not require abandoning any other project or organisation.

If you have other ideas about standing up for “Free as in Speech”, please consider this.

Web Browser Alternatives

Not just alternative Web browsers! I wrote recently (and really for years now) about how much I loathe what the Web browser has turned into. Blame the Web — blame the companies responsible for giving it the scope it has.

If you’re happy with the state of the browser, this probably won’t interest you at all. If you’re not, let’s talk about how we could make more alternatives to Web browsing. This would involve creating interesting tools, whether they use HTTP/HTML or gopher or something closer to gopher than HTML5 — they can be multipurpose, but so was the Web before it got “too corporate.”

Nobody believes this is going to kill the Web. But some of us have grown to loathe it, so at least this would give us some things to try (just like some of us already think gopher is “kind of cool”) and even if some things required (or even offered) JavaScript functionality, these tools may or may not — and would not have to. As far as Free software, the Web is sort of dead-ish anyway. DRM is now part of the Web standard, rendering the standard “worthless” and subjugated. How do you think that’s going to get fixed? Clearly we need more ideas.

Free software and Anti-Capitalism

I am primarily anti-monopoly, and don’t consider myself anti-capitalist. However, this is an important movement that already associates with Free software through certain people. I have encouraged the formation of an organisation — or at least a broad project — which promotes Free software specifically for and by anti-capitalists. I think this would be positive for Free software, but more to the point — it’s the right of anti-capitalists to create their own Free software organisation if they think it’s a good idea.

Some people might wonder what the point of such an organisation would be. Personally, I think if this group existed, it could provide a multitude of useful ideas, some of which would not only help anti-capitalists. But it would also be a community where anti-capitalists could freely and openly discuss their politics in relation to Free software, and this would not prevent anybody else from joining the Free software movement, though it might help draw more anti-capitalists into Free software.

The Freedom NOT to Run the Software

UNIX at least, and by extension GNU/Linux, already had modularity as a “feature” when Richard Stallman decided to start the GNU Project.

Free software has always benefit from modularity, in terms of autonomy, ease of development and benefits (and relative freedom) for users.

Though it is a matter of debate and discussion, there are people (including myself) who have spent years advocating for more modularity, who also argue that as software has gotten less modular and gained “gratuitously interdependency” we have actually lost a degree of autonomy, ease of development and (relative) freedom for users. A lab (even mostly) devoted to this idea could help save Free software from full corporate takeover.

For Free Software Users

While it isn’t possible to make developers do anything at all, that’s no reason that people can’t advocate for users more. The fact that many developers are volunteers (some are even paid by corporations) doesn’t change the right of users to speak up about what they want, but lately a lot of organsations have floated or stood by the idea that users should just shut up or do everything themselves. Code or GTFO?

Adding to the disingenuous nature of this idea is when people do volunteer to make something work better for users, they are often told they’re holding up development or just interfering. So the idea that users need advocacy is probably more true than ever.

Note that advocacy need not the sole purpose — strategy and coding (and education) are all possible aspects of such a group. This idea for a lab was offered to me with the possibility of me being president of such an organisation. I declined, but I support the idea and might lend a hand to such an effort, without leading it.

Transforming the Distro Concept

A distro is hardly a bad thing itself. But in the hands of a co-opted organisation (apparently several!) the distro can be a tool for bundling software in a way that gradually diminishes software freedom. This is certainly related to modularity. So how can the distro be transformed into something more freedom respecting?

I know very well that distros are not all the same, and a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem isn’t the answer. Even if it WERE one-size-fits-all, we want a solution that itself is easier to fork than a distro — otherwise, it simply puts the same problem (difficulty forking) onto another level. How to create solutions to non-forkablity that don’t result in “now you have two problems” is a fun problem to try to solve (a challenge) and one I worked on from at least 2016 to 2018.

I would likely be inclined to assist such an effort. Of course if people would rather “steal” my ideas about that and set off on their own with them, then by all means, Steal This Idea!

I am no fan of systemd and the goal is not to create conformity but to make it easier for SMALLER groups of people to “take over” their own distribution, starting with someone else’s. (Forking.) Distros are becoming more unwieldy, and far from wanting every distro to be the same, I would rather make it easier for people to enjoy freedom. So easy to fork tools to make it easier for more people (not just large corporate cults like /Debian II: Doing It All For The G-Money/) to take software in the direction that matters to them — to me, this is what software freedom is about.

The distro can be a tool for freedom (it has helped in the past) or for package deals and lock-in. Help us strategise code against the corporate monopolist paradigm.

Your Ideas

Your lab is about your ideas. Even if you start with these (even if you don’t) greater autonomy is likely necessary to keep the Free software movement alive.

What we aren’t doing is asking people to abandon Free software. We are asking people to defend it. A few more lifeboats on hand would not be a bad thing. We live in a world where the conventions of everyday life have proven themselves dangerously inadequate.

I have long believed that greater freedom means greater opportunity. Here is yours. If not now, when? If you find yourself bored with streaming videos and eating takeout (the new norm?) Here’s a great excuse for more people to connect — no matter how corporate culture tries to act as our gatekeepers. Organisations rarely bite the hand that feeds them! As long as that hand is big and corporate enough, and doesn’t belong to lowly users and independent developers…

Long live Stallman, and Happy Hacking!

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Against All Superficiality — Cancel Culture is About Assassination, Not Empathy or Love

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, OSI at 4:27 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Assassination: Founder ousted

Summary: “Everybody wants this to be treated like a small picture and minor details when it’s actually very similar across the board, and the latter is something even Stallman needs to wake up to (if he hasn’t already.)”

IF I write an autobiography, some people will say that it’s all about me. When I’ve read biographies, it’s usually about lots more than the person on the cover. Reading a biography, you can learn about relationships, ideas, philosophy, events — biography is a window into history, and history is a window to the world around us. History often tells us something about the future.

“History often tells us something about the future.”If people read about my life, I want them to share in the lessons and experiences I’ve encountered. But it is simply easier (and more personal) to do this in the first person. Some people find that loathsome — they could probably train a machine-learning algorithm to reword everything in the 3rd person if they want to. But autobiographies are awkward in the 3rd person, as is pretending that my experiences have nothing to do with me.

I am the person that ties my experiences together — just as you are the person that is among many things, a collection of your experiences. People are thus not only books, but they are volumes in the story of humankind. Each person is a window into the human experience, and society is increasingly obsessed with shuttering those windows. I find that very interesting, and I spend a good deal of time thinking about it and exploring ideas around it. I love to code, I’ve managed to find various ways of still enjoying it decades later — but sometimes I can’t sit down to code because there are other things I feel the need to write.

“A more likely scenario, from personal experience and from the experiences of other people that this story is about, is that people will quote things out of context and try to do exactly the sort of thing that this story warns against.”In the early days of the Web, the solution to that was simple — if you wanted to write, you would write. For a glimpse into those days, I recommend “Code” by Lawrence Lessig, one of my favourite people on Earth. Of course there are many quick bios on textfiles.com as well, though for this purpose more people might find Lessig’s writings easier to relate to.

I grew up as an Atheist in the Bible Belt. I fell in love with science, and while that relationship has grown more complex and nuanced, I don’t think I’ve ever walked away. My dreams were to become a scientist (turns out, it’s got more math than I could ever fall in love with — but I was 4 at the time) and then an engineer (nope, still loads of math there).

If you want to know the pinnacle of my math abilities, anybody who made it through 4 years of college will find it sad. You can iterate through a range of numbers from -pi to pi (I use 3.14159, it’s easy to remember and works acceptably up to a certain resolution) and the cosine of your set times the radius will let you plot the x coordinates of a circle, while the sine of that set times the radius will give you the y coordinates. You can do wonderful and amazing things with circles. You can use this to plot other equilateral polygons, with 3 vertices to a thousand. You can plot spheres.

I’ve never used (or written) a shading algorithm. There are 12-year-olds who can outcode my fun geometric designs. But I’m okay with that. For 5 minutes, I might have known how to solve a quadratic equation. Plenty of highschoolers know more about math than I do. I did make it to college at least. I left shortly after that, and have no college debts.

“People who hate corporations always talk about greed, cults, sociopaths, dictators, destruction, slavemasters, as well as cattle and sheep.”I’m agnostic now, and sometimes even theist. But I don’t believe in religion per se, because I think the lines between religions are misleading. I learned in primary school that the continents were once part of a landmass called Pangaea. It wasn’t for many years though, that I realised how the present shapes of the continents actually fit together like a puzzle. I feel the same way about religion — and philosophy.

Of course you want to talk about experience with religion if you’re going to delve into cults. Here’s a fun fact that I’ll remain vague about — do you know there was an organisation designed to help people recover from cults, which was systematically infiltrated and taken over by one of the more famous cults known about today? They obtained the personal information of everyone that had joined the anti-cult organisation, and the name of that organisation is Github–

I’m only kidding about the name, but the rest of the paragraph is factual. Fortunately I don’t need to name the organisation and draw harassment from the cult in question, because Wikipedia is a thing. But I do really think of Github when I think of that takeover.

There are lots of points to tie together here, and lots of impatient people who will complain that I’m taking too long to get to them. I hope they stop reading on this line, and go learn how to skim text and assess what they’ve read with integrity. Skimming is okay — bullshit a bit less okay. I’ve dealt with plenty of complaints in that regard, but this is my story, nonetheless — you’re free to tell your own.

What I lack in brevity, I’ll make up for in my own way. But remember that you don’t have to read this. This is a journey, not a tweet designed to whisk you teleport-like to a single point. A best scenario would be for someone to take something useful away from it, and retell it in their own voice and style of prose. But you are also free to take the entire thing.

“Not everyone who uses religious cults as a metaphor has actually joined one, or left one — they may not realise when they make the comparison how right they are.”A more likely scenario, from personal experience and from the experiences of other people that this story is about, is that people will quote things out of context and try to do exactly the sort of thing that this story warns against. But that sort of response is pretty obvious and commonplace these days. One of the reasons I’m taking you on the scenic route, is to let some people know how familiar an experience that really is.

I know a lot of people play fast and loose with metaphors, and they’re easy to find fault with. People who hate corporations always talk about greed, cults, sociopaths, dictators, destruction, slavemasters, as well as cattle and sheep. We are encouraged to treat these as tired cliches, and I don’t deny that sometimes this imagery is overused, in a way.

To a certain point, I’ll defend those critics, simply because they happen to be right. Not everyone who uses religious cults as a metaphor has actually joined one, or left one — they may not realise when they make the comparison how right they are. They may only assume. What’s funny is how little that changes just how apt the comparison is.

I did actually join a cult. I was cancelled from it — the old-fashioned way. I can tell you a bit about it. My first experience in an actual cult, my first experience with shunning in that cult, was not for being an asshole, but for being open-minded. I’ve seen this happen many times since then in the Free software world, but there are plenty of people to tell that story if you just listen.

My learning didn’t stop with my personal experience. Being interested, I’ve spent countless hours reading about cult tactics and corporate tactics, I joined and identified with “open source” before I left that for the Free software movement — I’ve watched open source proponents project their own behaviour onto Free software (Microsoft literally calls their salespeople “evangelists,” for crying out loud) and I can tell you that Free software isn’t a cult. But that could change, if it loses any further ground to open source.

I thought of several titles for this very long article, which I’ve encouraged Roy to split into a series. One of the titles was a warning about the danger of Free software becoming a cult if open source wins. We keep inching closer to that reality.

“My learning didn’t stop with my personal experience. Being interested, I’ve spent countless hours reading about cult tactics and corporate tactics, I joined and identified with “open source” before I left that for the Free software movement — I’ve watched open source proponents project their own behaviour onto Free software (Microsoft literally calls their salespeople “evangelists,” for crying out loud) and I can tell you that Free software isn’t a cult.”I won’t present you with a formal definition of a cult, for one because there are several definitions and criteria that will vie for your approval. I will tell you, in a roundabout way — how I arrive at the label of “cult” — a cult relies heavily on cult tactics. This is an important distinction, because it is far easier to talk about what cult tactics are than what cults are.

Once you have an organisation with hundreds of thousands of people in it, or even more, it gets more challenging to separate religions from cults. A handful of people from your church may try to interfere with your family or attack you in some way. How those individuals behave may actually be more cult-like than the larger organisation itself. And I’m happy to let other people worry about sorting out those details.

I’m actually okay with religion. I don’t equate religious beliefs with cult tactics, but I am aware of the fact that they are common bedfellows. That much certainly is a problem. The thing is, not everybody with a belief system supports those tactics — or belongs to an organisation that uses them.

So let’s start with the most likely reason someone will get drawn into a cult, because from the beginning, this is where the similarities begin. Who gets sucked into these things?

My teen years were difficult. I was living in a great deal of isolation, only a fraction of which was self-imposed. I had no family to speak of, but I did live with a complete tyrant. What’s really, really nice about this monster is that he’s dead. I mean this is someone who systematically led me through my entire childhood at metaphorical and emotional gunpoint, and wouldn’t you know? One day he just got cancer and started dying.

I talked to him on the phone a couple times, and it was like trying to have a conversation about universal healthcare with Donald Trump — a conversation with a narcissist and a sociopath. A person who is void of compassion and understanding. And I know that cancer is a terrible thing that takes lots of wonderful people from us. God forbid, it could take you or me or someone we love. But in this single instance if none other, it really did the world a favour.

“I’d spent my life rejecting religion, so without anything better to do, I made lots of inquiries.”Somewhere, rotting in the ground is the body of half a human — someone who I gave hundreds and hundreds of chances to — someone who used to violently kick in the door when we were kids, yanking me off the ground and into the air, regularly behaving in a way that would literally give some people a heart attack. Over what? We tried, you know — we tried our damnedest. But we weren’t perfect, and he knew it, and so we were tortured for year after year until we got it right.

The first cult I experienced was living at home, with God and the Devil. It was God that demanded we live without any fault or sin — the details of the law to be announced upon sentencing. It was the Devil that we knew could show himself at any time, to drag us into Hell for our sins. Of course this was all the same person — everything was about this person, literally nothing else mattered or was supposed to matter.

Of course I was Atheist. I knew God and the Devil were both full of shit, because I lived with them. It was a joy that he traveled so often, because even with our scars we sometimes had peace.

When I was a teenager, living alone with this tribute to absolute tyranny, some nice people came by. At first they didn’t have anything special to offer, but if I found a way to believe in their fantasies, they offered a caring, surrogate family — themselves.

I’d spent my life rejecting religion, so without anything better to do, I made lots of inquiries. I wanted to make certain they had nothing vehemently against science. They made their justifications and exceptions along the way, but it turned out that as long as I believed their overarching narrative, I could cling to practically any science I wanted. Evolution? Not a problem! After all, Darwin had a theistic bent himself. Evolution was the scientific perspective on how God created everything.

“Evolution was the scientific perspective on how God created everything.”As time would prove, my real salvation was that I had grown up among gay men. Unlike these new people, gays never tried to convert me. Not even once! Obviously a lot of it is that I was a kid, but even as an adult practically nobody has tried to get me to stray from any sort of heterosexuality that I may have — almost to the point where it’s a little insulting. But growing up around gay men was thoroughly unthreatening and sometimes fun, and the open-mindedness about homosexuality doomed my most highly-religious phase from the beginning (my heartfelt thanks to the most fabulous people that I knew back then.)

Of course I’d made inquiries about that as well. During our introductions, I was assured that I did not have to hate gay people to be part of this new surrogate family. Even if I was gay (I wasn’t), God would totally forgive me and still love me. Okay, sure, I guess.

It turns out (so to speak) that I really didn’t have to hate gay people, which is nice, but I did have to be uncomfortable with them. And I wasn’t. And I didn’t understand why anybody would need to be. And the moment I failed to understand that, was the first time someone slid in their seat away from me. C’mon, that’s very funny — what? Guys?

(Hello?)

I mean that could be an isolated incident, a stupid joke from another teenager. I wasn’t going to judge my entire religion on that. After all, the primary goal of these people was to become forgiving, understanding — and love and care about each other. Oh, yes! I’ve heard that one before!

Eventually the veneer of bullshit wore away, the truth began to shine through, and it became clear that yes — being open-minded really is a problem for a cult. The only way to be forgiven is to not screw up in the first place, the brand for life is as often as subtle as it is explicit, and people will swear to you that you’ll be forgiven if you just learn to do things their way.

Give up your identity, your personality, your philosophy, your personal morals — and these people will love you — just like they promised all along.

Spend your life pleasing them, and they will control you until you’re the best person they can make you into. I’d heard that one before as well…

“Spend your life pleasing them, and they will control you until you’re the best person they can make you into.”I spent years being very gently shunned everywhere I went — it continued when I moved to other cities, other states, when I moved other regions, where my religion didn’t change and the the so-called love they gave didn’t improve. The pattern was universal. The “brand” on my head was me — who I am as a person; not a complete lack of conformity, but still my lack of complete conformity. They weren’t looking up my name in a database, they were simply judging me as “this one is obviously different” everywhere I went. That behaviour was already ingrained and enforced in this “family.” They were doing the “right thing” by enforcing their expectations.

I went directly from being violently abused to being systematically shunned, but I was lucky in one regard — they had made plenty of promises to be my family, they had said the words, but they never did follow through.

I wasn’t trying to pretend to be anything, so I really never made it past the hurdles to where I had a real family. Instead of stealing my surrogate family from me, they only stole years of my time, a fair bit of missed opportunities for happiness, and a fantasy based on false promises. (Yes, that’s all.) There was one other thing, of course.

When you spend years being conditioned into a belief system, it does make it harder to leave. Even after you’ve left, you can be nagged (by your own thoughts) for years into thinking maybe you made the wrong choice. It’s silly and on an intellectual, scientific level — you already know better! But the back of your brain takes priority on these matters, and it takes years — decades, to tell that part of your brain “All is well, all is well — it’s okay, it’s okay.”

Cults exploit fear and loneliness, and they enslave people who have no family (or not much family).

“Aha!” the backstabber exclaims! “So that’s why you’re such an asshole — you’ve never had a nurturing relationship! Raised by sociopaths, you have no empathy!”

Oh, boy… Where to start?

“Cults exploit fear and loneliness, and they enslave people who have no family (or not much family).”As a philosopher, I’ve spent my entire life thinking about humanity and how to improve life on Earth. As someone who would have died (several times now) without fighting depression and crippling PTSD, and as someone with a deep love of science and truth, I’ve tried my utmost to understand humanity and its foibles. And yes — as someone who spent their youth being systematically tortured and terrorised for being imperfect, I’ve met few people who know more about the words “anger management.”

I know that Steve Ballmer knows what anger is like, because he throws chairs at Google. I know that Steve Jobs knew what anger is like, because of the way he treated people at Apple. And I know what autistic tantrums look like as well — when they’re similar, and when they’re different. And I would much rather be surrounded by panicked autists than narcissists and sociopaths. Autists aren’t sociopaths, and psychologists worth their salt already know this and have written the papers that provide evidence.

People who don’t know the difference between sociopathic, narcissistic rage, an autistic meltdown which is the physio-emotional equivalent of having a seizure, and simply yelling at a crowd full of bullies don’t know shit about anger. PTSD is also in there somewhere, but to my informal experience, it seems more complicated.

After being raised by a violent and terrifying overt narcissist, and a covert narcissist who relied on years of lying, projection and dragging me into one dangerous and damaging relationship after another, what do I know about healing?

For one, you need role models. You need inspiration from upstanding people. I don’t know anybody who was ever more greatly blessed than I was in this regard.

“Martin Luther King though — anti-war, awesome. Anti-racism. Anti-prejudice. But all built on true love — patience, understanding, and yes — anger about injustice.”Early on, I had the geniuses, Einstein, Edison; I thought highly of Thomas Edison, read books about him, turns out he was kind of an asshole — basically the Steve Jobs of his day. Take half-baked gizmos, make them marketable, claim to have invented them. I’m not saying he was useless, but like so many of today’s “luminaries” in technology, they got where they are by exploiting legitimate geniuses — like Tesla, who I knew nothing about except some big coil of wire, until I was in high school.

Also Tesla was a bigot and supposedly hated Einstein, but I’m not mad at him. I don’t think Tesla was an asshole. He was a bit weird though, and certainly wrong about some things.

I’ve actually always admired Martin Luther King. I’m mostly over Gandhi, but he has his moments. I like his style, at least. Martin Luther King though — anti-war, awesome. Anti-racism. Anti-prejudice. But all built on true love — patience, understanding, and yes — anger about injustice.

It really is okay to use your anger against true injustice. But it isn’t free — you can be angry without any right, and lots of people are — but to earn the right to be angry and use your anger, you absolutely must devote yourself to introspection, a fierce and endless quest for the whole truth, and a broad and fair perspective. This is a lifelong effort, and nobody in the world is so enlightened that they can shirk this. Many claim to be!

But Martin Luther King proclaimed things loudly, he shook his fist, he decried the true slavery that is War For Profit. And he told people — and this is the best part — to judge people “by the content of [their] character.”

Not by skin, not by words, not by religious membership, not by wealth, not by their dress, not by political party — but by character. Are you righteous enough to judge someone’s true character without being superficial? Only by devoting your life to getting past the superficial crap about a person can you even begin to try. Of course if you care about justice — and King most certainly did — then such an effort is not easy to avoid.

“Are you righteous enough to judge someone’s true character without being superficial?”We judge. We categorise. We protest. And if King was a good example, then we probably ought to do so. But King was a religious preacher, as well as a political activist. Growing up atheist, I only cared about (and deeply admired) his politics. His religion wasn’t important to me at all — only his character. Still when he preached, it was with a love of mankind, and a firm religious background to judge not superficially, but fairly and mercifully. His mercy was towards humanity, and individuals. But he didn’t suffer liars and warmongers and corporate thuggery — he fought those with his life.

I’m just as inspired by George Carlin as Martin Luther King. I’m still inspired by Einstein: “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.”

That’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s just make this perfectly clear: he’s saying that even if you’re a great person — because you’re a great person — you’re likely to be attacked for it. This is not presented as an anecdote, but a universal and (“always”) unchanging truth about humanity. That sucks!

So being attacked proves — absolutely nothing. But there is a survival bias at work — it’s one of our cognitive foibles as a society proven in various psychological experiments, that if you encounter someone who is being attacked, there’s a good chance you probably deserve it. Uh-oh. That makes it a hell of a lot harder to fight for people that need our help and probably deserve our help. It’s a cognitive foible that lends itself to authoritarianism, sadly.

I’ve really never paid attention to the rest of the quote before, but it’s actually a gem:

“The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”

I’ve pretty much always thought it was more courageous for a single person to stand up to a vicious mob than the other way around, but perhaps I’m sentimental.

“In their own lifetimes, and sometimes for a while thereafter, we are encouraged to give our tyrants more credit than is due.”There’s a theme here that just won’t go away. And it lies at the root of authoritarianism, at the root of empire, the root of monopoly, the root of narcissism — the-cult like enslavement of too many of humanity’s individuals. You have to understand that some people — George Carlin included — are going to devote their entire lives to standing up to such nonsense.

Carlin isn’t alone. John Cleese, Dave Chappelle, Russell Peters, Stephen Fry — all have stood against the madness. All have my admiration and respect — and laughter. The joke of the narcissist, at the expense of whomever and for whatever reason, cannot compete with the pure irony torn asunder and exposed as bullshit by the genius of frank and honest comedy. Real artists suffer for their art, comedians for their jokes, and narcissists for their cramped and stunted psyche that never grows, never learns and never strives for true betterness — only status and the trappings of success, but not personal growth.

I love comedy, and I love the stories of imperfect people who struggled to do things not for fame but for a legacy of honest goodness — Saint Nicholas, Oskar Schindler, Akiva ben Yosef, and as mentioned — Martin Luther King, Jr. These were all people who bowed to something greater than mere authority — but to the greatest sort of authority: that which does more to encourage personal greatness by example and by deed, than by all the words and notions and false promises in the world. Those who follow the authority of the magnification of the human spirit.

Survival bias, again — encourage people to look upon the giving, the generous but undemanding, the gentle, and above all, the honest — as suckers, amateurs, as naive — as overly idealistic. But if you compare the legacies of true sages with those of most megalomaniacs, history usually reveals the foolishness of the latter. In their own lifetimes, and sometimes for a while thereafter, we are encouraged to give our tyrants more credit than is due. When we entrust history to librarians and unfettered research, not to small groups acting on self-serving agendas, we learn more about tyrants and their failures than we would otherwise be allowed.

“It’s actually very telling that the cliche about lonely reformers is in fact a cliche — because it represents the wishful thinking of controlling and abusive people.”But you’ll see the theme of the lonely, miserable giver — the sucker, the martyr, the simple fool. If they only had the good sense to look out for themselves, they would be happy. They would have nothing to whinge about!

Not all reformers are lonely. Many have known love, and among the fight for freedom have experienced being understood — being held, cherished, caressed, needed in someone’s life. All without needing to hold their loved ones captive in a system of control, fear and manipulation. But there is a stereotype you are warned against — do not be loud, or people will know that you’re bitter and miserable. Do not be rude, or people will know you have no morals and lack empathy. Don’t learn the difference — just let us sort it all out for you!

It’s actually very telling that the cliche about lonely reformers is in fact a cliche — because it represents the wishful thinking of controlling and abusive people. To a narcissist, every person that doesn’t kowtow deserves to be lonely, and the way this is enforced in an abusive, narcissistic relationship is by something called “poisoning the well.” Some cults do it, really bad aunties do it, and controlling abusers will go around and tell lies about you to make you sorry and further isolated so they can abuse you further. And while I think cancel culture is probably different than this in some ways, sometimes — the two have a lot in common.

Have these conventional prejudices, and do not choose instead to express your opinions courageously and honestly. Be afraid of your anger, and let us control you. You will flourish only when we say you have flourished, and only when we decide we are pleased with your growth as a person — and other stuff that great people never said.

There are too many similarities between narcissistic abuse and cult tactics and the behaviour of corporate monopolies to mention — but you have conversations with top salesmen where they tell you to do favours so people “owe you” — to make people feel loved so that they “owe you”. And when they are always owed, they’re really talking about ownership. They’re talking about owning people, they’re talking about emotional and practical slavery.

“There are too many similarities between narcissistic abuse and cult tactics and the behaviour of corporate monopolies to mention — but you have conversations with top salesmen where they tell you to do favours so people “owe you” — to make people feel loved so that they “owe you”.”Ponzi schemes do this as well — you move higher up by getting people under you, doing the same thing you were doing. But they will never get anywhere doing what you tell them directly. The business itself is absolutely worthless — and even irrelevant. The real business is getting people into the business. Don’t think it’s lost on me that religion often works this way: first you convert people — then what? Then you get them to convert people. Then what? Salvation, of course!

I think that’s false religion, and I’m well aware that it’s common. So what’s true? For Hillel and many people after him — it was love and nothing else (except learning more) that he strove for in life. The learning more was key though, because in life you are always encouraged to become superficial — to become careless, greedy, afraid. To love is natural, to build a life on that requires a commitment to truth, which is a commitment to move past the limited knowledge that each person has — by building on it, by growing, by questioning what you know and finding the bigger picture — a lifelong journey.

You can’t do that when your judgement is superficial, when it’s final, when it’s excessive and overly punitive. You can’t lead people to have a better life when everyone is sentenced to death for shoplifting, or to lifelong exile for the first sin someone can throw a stone at you for. It’s incredible to me how many people are against the death penalty, but in favour of cancel culture. They’re the same thing for different aspects of the human condition, and I’m against both.

And today you have people throwing stones at you just because you call them out for throwing stones without a proper look at the person they’re stoning. It’s happening more, and we said it would happen, and now they’re throwing stones at us for it. You know who else predicted that? Besides Einstein, Bob Dylan and John Lennon made it perfectly clear that sort of thing will happen. This is not a new problem, though it’s still getting worse.

“It’s incredible to me how many people are against the death penalty, but in favour of cancel culture. They’re the same thing for different aspects of the human condition, and I’m against both.”Narcissists idolise, lack true love of self (despite appearances) and project every fault and aspiration onto an idol, which they then destroy. In every instance of this there is monopoly — there is one possible truth, one possible way to do things, only one real solution to a problem — there is no room for science or rebellion or “playful cleverness” or even joking around, when too many things (that is, whatever the leader or abuser says) become ever-increasingly sacred. And all else becomes profane. Soon the pedestal becomes a stake to burn someone on.

What nuance, what introspection, what accountability (because nobody loves to talk about accountability and consequences more than authoritarians) leads to such grave error and terrible (and unnecessary) fates? How can simply disappointing a community lead people to build an entire Ministry of Truth and a Ministry of Love? To be propped up by for-profit media that cheers on the destruction like the Salem trials never ended?

But I’ve watched these people for my entire life, and I didn’t stop there. I read 1984, where the government was built on such behaviour. I watched Babylon 5 and the rise of interstellar fascism under total surveillance. I’ve spent years arguing against censorship in the form of extreme copyright, and watched as librarians — more than Free software advocates who say “Free as in Speech” fought tooth and nail against creeping surveillance and censorship. (Babylon 5 is fictional of course, as is 1984 — but I’m not sure it’s that much a lesser work than Orwell’s most notable fiction. It’s certainly relevant to modern life.)

Which isn’t to say that Free software isn’t just as important as libraries. The American Library Association largely get censorship and surveillance right, but the Free software movement largely gets computing right. These two wonderful things are both lacking in certain areas and need each other; or libraries will fall further prey to non-free software and DRM, which poses an existential threat to libraries — while Free software will fall further prey to censorship, authoritarianism and a crowdsourced social inquisition, that poses a completely existential threat to the Free software movement. Techrights has talked about this for years — what do you suppose Roy’s reward is? (I’ll give you a hint…)

I don’t think you really understand the lengths that I’ve gone to in this exploration of life and and the human condition. I’ve traveled and talked to people about their experiences in different countries, in different time periods (young and old, that is) and in different industries. I don’t just take Daniel Pocock’s exposure of corruption simply at his word — nor Roy’s. With every new bit of information that seems important, I’ve gone everywhere I can and talked with people, gotten second, third and fourth opinions when possible.

“Cancel culture is Careless culture, but I’m interested in the truth, not just what someone says is so.”When I found the Free Software Fellowship and Debian community, I read all of it. A little bit was skimmed, and I eventually stopped paying attention to “ahilter” and “garfield” when a clear pattern established itself at length. But I paid close attention to the replies, the accusations, the rebuttals, the official narrative. I talked to people I know, people I trust, I talked to strangers who might know something the rest do not — finding leads and following up. And it’s still possible that I’m wrong, but there is further evidence to the contrary.

Cancel culture is Careless culture, but I’m interested in the truth, not just what someone says is so. Thus before I decided that most likely, Pocock is telling the truth about FSFE; which certainly brings a lot of other parallel things into perspective — that was around the time Bruce Perens left OSI (again) and its other co-founder was cancelled (here’s a fun fact — supposedly he was cancelled from a list he just recently started participating in.)

Everybody wants this to be treated like a small picture and minor details when it’s actually very similar across the board, and the latter is something even Stallman needs to wake up to (if he hasn’t already.)

Still, open source is clearly one of the cults I joined and got out of. And since I shared one cult story, I’ll share that one as well. This is what I actually hate, Linus: people who bully other people with lies and fake agendas.

Being old-fashioned, I have a concept that my physical property is my physical property — upon purchase, ownership changes hands. That’s what “purchase” means. It does not mean “lease”. I also started with computers that didn’t have a hard drive. Software goes on the floppy, hardware runs the stuff on the floppy. I knew the BIOS existed, but it was part of the machine — it wasn’t software and I didn’t have any means to copy it anyway.

“Still, open source is clearly one of the cults I joined and got out of.”I would probably still be using DOS if USB hadn’t been invented. (Yes, I know about the Panasonic driver.)

But before FreeDOS was a thing, I sometimes dreamed of making my own DOS-like operating system that people could share freely. Fortunately someone else did this, although you still need non-free software to compile it. Darn you, 16-bit compilation. I don’t do lower-level coding anyway, so this really was just a dream.

I did become quite intrigued with what I commonly heard of as “Linux” and eventually got a floppy with tomsrtbt on it. I would gradually learn the commands and — oh, too many differences. Look at these lucky bastards running xwindows and I cant even copy this thing, because it isn’t a standard format. I didn’t know fsck or dd yet. I still don’t know if I could copy tomsrtbt, though I only have one floppy drive and I don’t have any media for it.

I bought Red Hat for $30, with a box and a CD in a jewel case — and a manual! And surely this thing will help (What the hell is this?) I tried installing it, I don’t think I had the right CPU for it. (Or the right graphics hardware. I know more about installing these things now.)

I got Mandrake for $5 and it came with a case — no big friendly cardboard box or manual, just shrinkwrap. And it installed! But a lot of good it did me; I didn’t understand user accounts, root or permissions, and I couldn’t do anything with it except open and close applications. It had IceWM and I still use that today.

A couple of years later, I got Ubuntu for free, but I didn’t have any hardware that would boot it at a reasonable speed. It took something like 5 to 10 minutes to start up. It’s okay if you don’t believe that, I didn’t either. But I was finally making progress and it was only a couple of years after this that I was installing my 12th or 15th distro and removing my last copy of Windows.

“It seems a lot of this was started by a guy called Richard Stallman, who a lot of people were speaking of as an unreasonable has-been (sigh) and blah blah blah…”I’d grown tired of Windows — I actually resisted Windows 95 until about 1999, and 98 until 2002 when everybody was using XP. 95 was useless and fugly, 98 was unstable, but XP was simply customer abuse. Call us and activate your copy of Windows? Piss off! I’m done with Microsoft, I’ve always hated Apple and their condescension towards everyone who can actually use a computer, but what are my options? I know, I’ll run OpenDOS and do everything from there. (I did this for a while.)

But by 2007 I was Windows-free at last, and I’d spent a long time replacing 98 piecemeal with free (as in freedom) alternatives. Not until 2005 did I have a real alternative, so here I was in the beginning of my journey with “open source.” I was running my DOS programs in DosBox and dosemu, I was experimenting with Windows programs in Wine, I was trying new programming languages — eventually JavaScript and Python, and of course I wanted to share all this stuff with other people — how do you do that?

It seems a lot of this was started by a guy called Richard Stallman, who a lot of people were speaking of as an unreasonable has-been (sigh) and blah blah blah, he made a bunch of utilities but like Eddie Izzard explains about World War II history, open source came along and said “Hey, need a kernel?” and Free software said “Where the f- — have you guys been?” “Having breakfast!” “Oh, alright then, here, just take all the credit for everything we’ve done!” Like you do…

Being the incredible sucker that I am, I fell for it. And I should have known better by now, but the truth is that even by 2007, I hadn’t read as much about cults or looked at as much of that part of my life yet. I’d certainly looked a lot at my childhood, though the tools I had for that were still pretty crude. I didn’t have names for most of the experiences I’d had or behaviours I’d encountered. But I had some idea about them.

“Being the incredible sucker that I am, I fell for it. And I should have known better by now, but the truth is that even by 2007, I hadn’t read as much about cults or looked at as much of that part of my life yet.”I hadn’t even learned nearly enough about the history of Microsoft. I did know about making it so early versions of Windows were tied to Microsoft DOS only. I knew about the Internet Explorer bundling. I knew I hated Microsoft as a company for the way it screws over customers, but mainly I wanted to help people get this new operating system — if I could only figure enough of it out myself.

For years now, there was this new version of Free software called “open source”. Open source is just like Free software — but it’s more reasonable (haha… good one guys) and unlike Richard Stallman, who is a pedantic, sanctimonious old fart, Linus Torvalds is like “Buddy Christ” in Dogma and he’s cool and doesn’t care if you use Free software or “open source” or whatever — and so on…

I did learn, not through trial and error so much as daily life, what open source did hold sacred though.

First, people started treating me like crap if I put a dollar sign in Micro$oft. (And Heaven Forbid that you call it Microsuck or Microshit!) I thought that was a bit of an overreaction — you have a problem with me poking fun at monopoly and greed? Just as with the guy who slid away from me in his seat because I’m not a big homophobe, I put it down to “some people just don’t get it” and continued to not associate the movement with this peculiar reaction.

The best was yet to come, of course. And it was long ago that I decided I’d have enough of GNOME spewing bloat into my operating system (to clarify: the operating system on my computer — which GNOME was a guest on, not the boss of me…) though it was also early that I heard developers and fanboys gloating that I would “have no choice” or way to get rid of GNOME, while other people bragged that everything was optional in the Linux world.

The bullshit was getting thicker and harder to ignore, and the fact that it’s bullshit (sustained campaigns of lying and conditioning are bullying) is half the problem. If these are isolated incidents — if you think of GNOME as a project or software group entirely separate from everybody else (if only, eh?) then it’s natural to dismiss this. Not until you meet countless people with this attitude does it become truly worrisome — merely annoying and obnoxious and arrogant.

“It turns out that Torvalds (PBUH) is the very final word on Earth between what we can like and dislike after all.”Enter his holiness the Dalai Torvalds. (Sorry Mr. Gyatso, I really do find you likeable.)

It turns out that Torvalds (PBUH) is the very final word on Earth between what we can like and dislike after all. NVidia? F- — You! Facebook and Twitter? Hateful and horrible, perhaps. (I wouldn’t disagree with that…)

Microsoft? Hold the phone!

You don’t just go around bashing Microsoft, you little terrorist snots! This is why Free software is about hate, and open source is about loooooove! Just like Microsoft loooooooves Linux.

Here we go again…

So Torvalds spends years getting (and begrudgingly of course, accepting) the unofficial title of god of open source, don’t call it GNU, don’t put dollar signs in Micro$oft, if you criticise a giant corporation that’s “hate” and oh ho ho, I found the Sacred Cow!

After watching Torvalds smear the very movement he spent years dishonestly co-opting, I gave Free software a more thorough examination. I stopped listening to open source rewrite history. I’d actually already grown curious about the two distinct narratives — only one of which claims to be “The same, but better than the original” while the other claims to be about things that are “Free, as in speech.”

“Differences aside, I’ve believed in Free software ever since that revelation. And I’ve watched people try to paint Free software as a cult, just because it’s built on actual principles which it strongly recommends adhering to.”And I realised I’d been had. I can tell you from experience, when you leave a cult or an abusive relationship, one of the first things you might be tempted to do is hold a press conference, warning everybody to “Stay The F- — Away from these people!” It doesn’t work, because people who are inclined to be taken advantage of are going to be taken advantage of — sometimes. I didn’t know the first thing about how open source had managed to bullshit everybody, only that they’d done it. And that history was an important subject after all. (Thanks, Linus!)

I stopped reflexively ignoring people who “added” the word “GNU” to the name, as suddenly it seemed they had a pretty good reason for doing so (not being entirely co-opted and spoken over) and I started learning more about Richard Stallman — not just the sort of stuff you get from first impressions, you know. Turns out, he’s a lot more admirable when you judge him on the content of his character, rather than trusting opportunistic corporate assholes.

I started giving money to Free software supporters instead of open source people, and I started getting FSF newsletters in the mail, which I still hate even though I no longer get them (only because I don’t agree with Stallman on what licence they should have.)

You might think that’s unreasonable, but I had years of open source telling me it was foolish to judge a program by its license. “Same thing, only better” indeed! (What? A newsletter isn’t a computer program? Who knew?)

Differences aside, I’ve believed in Free software ever since that revelation. And I’ve watched people try to paint Free software as a cult, just because it’s built on actual principles which it strongly recommends adhering to. Sorry guys, principles and cults are two different things. Most of Stallman’s faults are a straw man, and compromise doesn’t always make you more reasonable. At a certain point, it becomes synonymous with loss of integrity or security.

In fact, if you’re in a narcissistic abusive relationship, your “owner” will frequently say you’re being “unreasonable” and “uncompromising” if you don’t yield to them on every single thing they want.

“In fact, if you’re in a narcissistic abusive relationship, your “owner” will frequently say you’re being “unreasonable” and “uncompromising” if you don’t yield to them on every single thing they want.”It’s not that unreasonable and uncompromising aren’t things that actually exist — they exist, but the idea is being exploited to gaslight, manipulate you and enforce double standards, which is why I’ve said that Torvalds is a schmuck ever since he unfairly smeared Free software. And I’ve also defended him practically every time I’ve said that with “at least he’s better than the guy that will take over for him.” That’s also true. It doesn’t make him great, but it’s an important point for the future.

I note with amusement that Torvalds is never shown except from the waist up, so anybody’s hand could be up there to make him talk — Gates, Ballmer, Nadella — even Raymond! Only joking guys, we know that Torvalds was outsmarted and outschmucked by Zemlin. Though I find it extraordinary that Raymond (who as I’ve said, should not be cancelled because that serves these corporations more than it hurts Raymond) claims to be a friend of Stallman’s when he planned to cancel him so many years ago. Instead, he just completely co-opted Free software.

Bruce Perens himself says that open source overshadowed it — and that “this was never fair.” I agree! When I talk about how corrupt open source has been for years, note that Perens said the worst of what I’m saying all the way back in 1999 (he’s also the person that revealed the plan to cancel Stallman years earlier.) And he said it on the now-heavily-censored Debian mailing lists of all places, only a snail’s hop away from where the Open Source Definition itself was invented!

So you know, fine — steal the Free software movement and then say “it’s about hate” when you’ve lied to literally millions of people about it for decades. Whatever, asshole.

“And you can tell from his face that the abuse he has been through as a pawn (convinced he’s a star) amounts to torture, and torture is f—ed up.”But do I agree with cancelling Torvalds? No, I think it’s too bad we no longer live in a world where it’s safe to pie Bill Gates (is the guy that did that still alive?) because Torvalds deserves such honour. I do note, and not with actual glee (because the truth is it’s seriously f—ed up even if it’s karma) that he is now in a controlling, narcissistic relationship with the foundation named after the kernel named after his own freaking name! (Even for karma, that’s pretty wicked. I don’t think he’s that bad…)

And you can tell from his face that the abuse he has been through as a pawn (convinced he’s a star) amounts to torture, and torture is f—ed up. When they talk about what Assange has gone through and they show Torvalds’ face, you can tell there are similarities (in the intent, not the degree.) Every time I’ve mentioned this, I’ve pointed out that I don’t support Torvalds’ torture by the corporations exploiting him. Not even if he exploited us. Why? Because it’s always wrong! You aren’t going to save the human race by doing that. In fact that’s the whole point of this (so far) 227-paragraph story!

Yes Torvalds, you’re a schmuck. What your owners are doing is even worse, and you don’t deserve it, nor does anybody else.

Torture is like the death penalty. The risk of doing it to the wrong person is too unacceptable, so you can’t do it to even to those who almost certainly deserve it because what if you’re wrong?

“You think it’s unhelpful to call for a stop to crucifying basically innocent people and to start looking at the actual terrible people, who are trying to control us and ruin the lives of people we respect and admire?”But do you really still think it’s unhelpful? To put history back in context? To expose corruption, to call out liars, to defend good people, to tell people to be less superficial, to insist they use their skills and perspective and freedom to obtain information from multiple sources, over some dubious Grand-Inquisitor-like authority?

You think it’s unhelpful to call for a stop to crucifying basically innocent people and to start looking at the actual terrible people, who are trying to control us and ruin the lives of people we respect and admire? — So you can be in charge of who we choose to be led by instead? You think it’s unhelpful to criticise the worst sorts of hypocrisy?

Who are you helping then?

Who do you want us to believe you’re helping? Narcissism and cult tactics are all about worlds full of promises, mountains of lies, and endless excuses why those promises weren’t delivered — when they were all just a carrot to make people do something they didn’t ever need to do.

When in doubt, just rewrite history. And don’t be surprised when your regime falls down under the weight of its own bullshit.

Until then, false authority under false pretense gets parodied. Thank you Mr. Carlin, thank you Mr. Peters, thank you Mr. Cleese, thank you Mr. Chappelle.

“…shall we continue to throw out the old rulebooks, along with more of our own founders, and continue to rewrite history to serve the all-benevolent, all-powerful corporation?”And thank you, Your Holiness. You went on F–x News and made a joke at the clueless fraud trying to get one over on you. It wasn’t even a mean joke — but it was absolutely and elegantly fair play.

The rest of us are just human, though some people are begging you to give that up and do things their way instead. Politeness is hardly a cause worth enslaving people for. Why do we choose to entertain these people? Harsher control is not really justice, but leaders (the ones calling for harsher control that looks a lot like good old cult tactics) serving as good examples would help far more.

Can they set a good example? Or shall we continue to throw out the old rulebooks, along with more of our own founders, and continue to rewrite history to serve the all-benevolent, all-powerful corporation?

You’ve Changed — Billie Holiday

You Got It — Roy Orbison

Long Train Running — Doobie Brothers

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

03.18.20

[ES] Culture Cancel

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 2:43 am by Guest Editorial Team

English: Cancel Culture and the Handbook for Destroying the Free Software Movement (Spanish translation by maslinux.es)

Bad food culture

La anulación de Richard Stallman aún no ha terminado. Él sigue ahogado, el público sigue siendo engañado.

Junto con otras personas que contribuyen a Techrights, predijimos algo de esto, meses antes de que ocurriera. ¿Cómo? La forma más fácil de predecir el futuro es notar los patrones y procesos en curso que se repiten. Luego buscar los comienzos de esos patrones en el presente.

En el peor de los casos, esto es una falacia de pendiente resbaladiza. Pero el argumento de la falacia es en sí mismo una falacia, y sólo porque algo sea una pendiente resbaladiza no significa que su conclusión sea falsa – sólo que asume erróneamente que la conclusión es necesariamente verdadera.

Muchas veces, las cosas que se mueven en una cierta dirección continúan moviéndose en esa dirección – una de las leyes más famosas de la física dice más o menos lo mismo. A veces una fuerza actúa sobre algo y cambia, pero hay mucha inercia en muchas cosas.

La revocación de Stallman no está completa, y ya estaba sucediendo cuando se predijo en junio. Recientemente, alguien en línea se refirió a un punto futuro en el que Torvalds está totalmente eliminado. La verdad es que ya está “lo suficientemente anulado” como para que no pueda y no impida que ocurra ninguna de las cosas malas que le sucederán al núcleo de Linux. La antorcha no ha pasado, pero ahora está fuera de sus manos. Es demasiado tarde, y está cansado, apático o asustado.

Es probable que nadie bifurque en el núcleo de Linux, porque si lo hace, será alguien que se preocupe por la libertad del software – y si preguntas a la comunidad de gente que se preocupa por la libertad del software, no hay nadie que la bifurque. Alexandre Oliva, siendo el autor de linux-libre, probablemente debería saberlo.

Si alguien fuera capaz de hacer un fork verdaderamente libre de Linux para contrarrestar el cada vez más corporativo, cada vez más infestado de DRM, cada vez más inseguro de mantenerlo limpio (ya que Microsoft, a través de la antigua Fundación Linux estará a cargo de la de la licencia) – Oliva probablemente los conocería, o al menos sabría de ellos. Estas personas (probablemente) no existen. Es maravilloso que a veces el futuro más probable no sea el que tenemos. En eso, siempre hay un poco de esperanza – pero no es motivo de arrogancia.

También puedes ver lo que los desarrolladores más afinados en el futuro de la libertad están haciendo. Están cambiando hacia BSD – probablemente no porque BSD sea mejor para todos, sino porque es menos trabajo para liberarlo. Si no hay nadie que bifurque a Linux, y no parece haberlo, entonces menos trabajo significa que es más probable que no suceda. No es necesariamente ideal, pero eso no lo convierte en una idea tonta. Por supuesto, es una posibilidad de que después de destruir Linux, se vuelvan a BSD. Con suerte, para entonces, la gente estará lista para la lucha.

El Manual para la destrucción del movimiento de software libre podría haberse llamado “La historia de la destrucción del software libre”. Excepto que no es sólo historia, está pasando ahora mismo al menos tanto como se describió hace 20 años. Las tácticas ya fueron pulidas por IBM – una compañía con una historia tan tóxica como cualquiera que pudiera ser anulada hoy en día – cuando Microsoft las adoptó y las adaptó a la lucha contra el software libre. Su campaña “ama a Linux” no es diferente de las campañas de bombardeo de amor que los narcisistas usan para atraer a las víctimas para campañas sostenidas de abuso. Estas también son a menudo llamadas “ofensivas de encanto”.

Hablan de consorcios de patentes (el capítulo 7 del manual trata de la guerra de patentes, que no ha terminado nunca) pero siguen actuando como si fueran los dueños de Android, al seguir exigiendo regalías (búsqueda de rentas) y al mantener acuerdos escritos de que “son dueños” del software que hemos creado, con empresas que se limitan a redistribuirlo. Tanto los narcisistas como las grandes corporaciones gastan una enorme energía tratando de mantener sus propios monopolios, y reclutan a otros narcisistas (y a corporaciones más pequeñas) para atacar a cualquiera que se oponga a sus abusos.

Esto ha sido usado tanto contra Richard Stallman como contra Alexandre Oliva. Se ha usado contra Linus Torvalds y Eric S. Raymond. Se ha utilizado por el gobierno – o las empresas que lo ejecutan – contra Julian Assange y Chelsea Manning. Las lineas entre el narcisismo clinico, las tacticas de culto y los monopolios corporativos son menores y tecnicas. Primero explotan, luego utilizan la intimidacion, las mentiras y otros abusos para “defender” la explotacion de cualquiera que se enfrente a ella.

El manual aborda la forma en que el código abierto se armó desde el principio contra la libertad del software. Toca la forma de aislar a los activistas de su causa, algo que sigue ocurriendo cada vez más. Habla de cómo el marketing y la propaganda pueden ser utilizados para pulir los zurullos corporativos y socavar, luego controlar gradualmente el software desarrollado por las bases y apoderarse de las comunidades.

Y nada de esto es realmente nuevo, ni obsoleto. Simplemente sigue adelante. Las premisas del libro sólo han empeorado en los 8 o más meses desde que fue escrito – más gente canceló, y de repente cada proyecto clave necesita “nuevas políticas de gobierno”. Aquí hay algunas citas sobre eso, del pasado junio:

“Al estar más cerca de las corporaciones, el Código Abierto tiene más cultura corporativa en sus procesos. Aunque la ‘manera de la fuente abierta’ puede parecer mejor para permitir que todos sean contribuyentes, conlleva requisitos adicionales y razones adicionales para excluir proyectos de la consideración o personas de los proyectos”.

“El código abierto trae consigo gastos generales de organización y cultura corporativa en cada proyecto – puedes ser el líder de tu propio proyecto y hacer lo que quieras con él, pero ahora no deberías – cada proyecto debe tener una comunidad, un código de conducta que en última instancia puede amenazar la estructura del liderazgo en un futuro lejano, y un sitio web dedicado”.

“Afortunadamente, el Código Abierto aporta todos estos gastos generales a un proyecto de una manera que hace más fácil dirigir o influenciar (o comprar) la dirección de un proyecto. Y como durante 20 años, compañías como Microsoft han buscado comprar, cobrar regalías por, influenciar o eliminar el trabajo hecho por los competidores, el Código Abierto nos da (e incluso lucha por) el pie en la puerta que necesitamos para hacerlo”.

Se trata de la propiedad, como sinónimo de control del software que hemos creado específicamente para ser independiente de los monopolios. Su objetivo: al igual que con los narcisistas clínicos, es hacernos dependientes de ellos, de sus decisiones, de su infraestructura. Luchamos tanto para poder hacer lo nuestro, para devolver las riendas a IBM y Microsoft.

Predijimos la venta de Red Hat – la anulación de Stallman-. Y es realmente como predecir cómo se verá un rompecabezas, cuando la mayoría de las piezas ya están en su lugar. También puedes aprender a hacerlo: mira la imagen, encuentra el lugar donde falta el siguiente paso y adivina qué es lo más probable que encaje con el resto. No siempre puedes tener razón, pero agradécelo: vivimos en un mundo que parece querer desesperadamente iniciar una nueva era oscura, cuando el objetivo de los intelectuales y los defensores de la libertad es evitar que la luz muera.

La informática es cada vez más la base de la comunicación moderna, la publicación de libros, la educación, el entretenimiento, la búsqueda de nuevas medicinas, el descubrimiento del universo fuera de nuestro sistema solar – por no hablar de la defensa que hacemos de todas las causas políticas que puedas imaginar. Cuanto más controlan estos monopolios nuestra computación, más controlan todo lo demás. La sociedad no puede permitirse eso – la propia raza humana (en estos días) puede no ser capaz de permitirse eso.

Dependiendo de si está controlada por la mayor cantidad de gente posible (de base, no de astroturf) – que el software libre apoya, pero el “código abierto” se vende al mejor postor (¿No? ¿Quién es el dueño de GitHub? ¿Quién es el dueño de Red Hat?) la computación se convierte en un gran poder en todas nuestras manos – o en un gran poder contra todos nosotros. Al darse cuenta de que todas las empresas quieren poner “IA”, reconocimiento facial y micrófonos permanentes a nuestro alrededor en todos los lugares a los que vamos (nuestros teléfonos, nuestros coches, nuestras casas – incluso hoteles, tiendas y restaurantes) nuestras vidas se parecen más a las del ganado con cada año de “progreso” que hace la tecnología.

Ser budistas no ayudará mucho. Para evitar que este cambio en la existencia humana continúe, tendríamos que ir al espacio para sacar todos los cubesats. Vivimos en un mundo futurista donde los robots están volando, asesinando a niños yemeníes inocentes – civiles. Ya estamos rodeados y nuestras vidas están inundadas de esta tecnología en nuestras vidas personales, y en la tierra, en el mar y en el cielo. No hay ningún lugar a donde correr, y convertirse en Amish no eliminará la red en la que estamos metidos.

Nuestra única libertad vendrá de transformar (y sí, en un grado sano y relativamente pequeño, de limitar) esta vasta gama de tecnología humana para que exista en nuestros propios términos – tener la tecnología que consentimos, en lugar de que nuestra tecnología actúe como un cheque en blanco para que las más grandes corporaciones hagan prácticamente lo que quieran con nosotros. Porque ya lo están haciendo, y durante años han trabajado para controlar incluso el activismo al que dedicamos décadas, para liberarse de su asfixiante control electrónico.

Para recuperar el control de lo que construimos para estar libres de los suyos, han tenido que usar la manipulación social, las tácticas políticas y de marketing para arrancarnos nuestras propias comunidades y nuestras propias organizaciones. Lo que una vez fueron patrocinadores ahora son miembros de la junta directiva y líderes de proyectos. Los Estados Unidos ciertamente tienen su cuota de problemas políticos; aunque para hacer verdadera justicia al nivel de absurdo que se ha apoderado del mundo del software libre, los Estados Unidos tendrían que elegir a la reina de Inglaterra como su presidenta – o simplemente unirse al Reino Unido.

Los restos del movimiento de software libre son lo que los monopolios se sientan cómodos, menos nuestros fundadores, menos cualquiera que pueda causarles problemas reales. Luchamos por la independencia, le dimos el voto a la gente – y la gente fue manipulada para votar por la supresión y ser controlada. No hay forma de deshacer eso, pero sí de luchar por una nueva era de independencia digital. Mientras que las masas sin lavar gritan que todo está bien, sabemos que eso no suena cierto. Y conocemos sus tácticas, porque la historia demuestra que esas raramente cambian.

El manual fue escrito recordando, de improviso, todos los actos más sucios, todas las mentiras más inteligentes, todas las pequeñas reescrituras de lo que realmente sucedió – Torvalds realmente hizo un núcleo. Le dimos un sistema operativo y dejamos que los idiotas fingieran que era suyo. ¿Por qué fue eso estúpido? Porque el sistema operativo en realidad representaba algo.

¿Qué representaba Linus? Lo estás viendo hoy en día – la toma de posesión y la entrega de la libertad de software a las corporaciones. Eso es todo lo que el “código abierto” es ahora. Míralo usando la camiseta, en “Revolution OS” – casi 20 años después todavía fingimos que a Linus le importaba un bledo nuestra libertad digital. Oh, claro, él es mejor que Greg. Por eso lo anularon, sabían que elegiría un mejor sucesor. Sabían que al menos le importaba no romper el espacio de usuario – esa fue el área donde Linus mostró integridad: como ingeniero.

¿Pero como persona? Él combinó el hecho de que tuviéramos integridad, de que estuviéramos a favor de algo, con el extremismo. Eso fue extremadamente egoísta, deshonesto, y un completo movimiento de mierda. Linus, eres un vendido – y siempre lo fuiste. Pero podíamos contar con Torvalds para golpear a la mayoría de las malas compañías. Microsoft también hace eso, antes de comprarlas.

La anulación de Torvalds sigue siendo una mala idea, sin embargo, ayuda a los monopolios más de lo que perjudica a Torvalds. Su carrera (la parte que nos importa al menos) está prácticamente acabada, y no sería sorprendente que estuviera contento con eso. Lo que esperaba conseguir, ya ha ocurrido más o menos. Como George Harrison después de la ruptura de los Beatles, Torvalds puede hacer prácticamente lo que quiera, excepto lo que hacía antes. Y con él fuera del camino, la toma de posesión a la que usted aún ayuda atribuyendo a GNU a las ventas corporativas y otros individuos dudosos, puede continuar sin preocuparse de quién podría hacerle frente.

¿No es sorprendente que todos hayamos encontrado buenas razones para deshacernos de todos en esa categoría, todo en el espacio de un año?

No fue difícil relacionar los acontecimientos recientes – hasta junio de 2019 – con las citas de los documentos de Halloween de 1998. Las tácticas son las mismas, pero las mentiras para justificar las tácticas han evolucionado.

La gestión de una marca es una cuestión de narración de historias. Cuando la gente dice “Ya he escuchado esa”, las corporaciones sólo cuentan otra. Los efectos especiales mejoran, las líneas se actualizan aquí y allá, pero las diferencias entre la vieja y la nueva historia son superficiales.

Nuestro trabajo es ser libres. Su trabajo es controlar. Si dejamos que manejen nuestra lucha contra ellos, ¿qué crees que pasará realmente?

¿Pendiente resbaladiza? Es más bien una caída muy larga y recta. Bienvenidos al infierno, defensores del software libre.

¿Y ahora qué?

Dado que la cultura de la cancelación está en el centro de este cambio de propiedad – de hecho es la excusa para el cambio – lo que sigue son algunas ideas de todos los lugares, Youtube. Muchas de estas ideas sobre la cultura de la cancelación son anteriores a la cancelación de Stallman. Como tiene más integridad que Torvalds, y más integridad que Raymond, su cancelación es la más preocupante. Aunque cada cancelación injusta da a nuestros aspirantes a amos más control, y por eso debemos seguir luchando por Torvalds y Raymond sin importar lo que pensemos de ellos como individuos.

Ni siquiera se trata de “el enemigo de mi enemigo” – es simplemente sobre los objetivos de control contra los objetivos de libertad. Si quieres luchar contra los cultos corporativos, tienes que entender los cultos corporativos. Es por eso que el manual fue (realmente) escrito, y por qué la cultura de la cancelación es un tema que todo defensor del software libre debe entender, ahora.

Pero primero, la EFF publicó recientemente una maravillosa y relevante entrevista con Ada Palmer. Palmer habla de cómo la censura equivale a falsificar la historia – y cómo los actos de censura sirven para recordar (y ayudar a convencer) a la gente quién está realmente “a cargo”. En este sentido, la censura es un acto de colonialismo.

Se le anima, por cierto, a referirse al colonialismo – la ocupación y el control de una cultura humana por una fuerza exterior (colonizadora), como colonialismo o como explotación, en lugar de “tribalismo”. Este último pone en pie de igualdad tanto a las grandes fuerzas de ocupación como a las personas que legítimamente se oponen a ellas, reduciendo cada una de ellas a disputas mezquinas o arbitrarias.

Esa falta de comunicación sólo ayuda a los colonizadores y disminuye a los que luchan contra la ocupación. El código abierto ha instigado abiertamente esta falta de comunicación y categorización errónea durante muchos años, actuando como si la falta de voluntad del software libre para abandonar su propia misión por su libro de cartas de amor a Microsoft y Apple no se debiera a nada más significativo que una actitud petulante e infantil.

Dirigiéndose a Youtube, Ayishat Akanbi habla de por qué la cultura de la cancelación es la cultura de la mafia.

Emily Katherine hace una síntesis de 15 minutos, extremadamente inteligente, sobre la psicología de la cultura de la cancelación, incluyendo sus efectos.

Dave Chappelle, en “Sticks and Stones”, hace una impresión de la cultura de la cancelación. Para él, la cultura de la cancelación somos todos nosotros: “el público”. Probablemente tenga razón.

Hafeez destaca el narcisismo y la arrogancia de la cultura de la cancelación.

Mientras que Viva Frei explica (definitivamente empieza a 5:28 si quieres llegar a lo que realmente está hablando) que la cultura de la cancelación induce miedo en gente inocente e inteligente, y cómo es asfixiante, supresiva e increíblemente exigente.

Un par de citas que valen la pena:

“Creo que la probabilidad de tomar las decisiones correctas frente a la supresión [de las opiniones opuestas] es de hecho menor”.

“El libre intercambio de ideas es la moneda intelectual más valiosa” – dijo durante la charla, esta cita se muestra de nuevo al final del vídeo.

Christina Red explica que la cultura de la cancelación carece de matices, y suprime el activismo – que como hemos dicho varias veces, es exactamente para lo que los monopolios lo están usando.

Por último, Andrew Yang dice que la cultura de la cancelación es “excesivamente punitiva y vengativa” y continúa insinuando que es poco probable que una comunidad diversa esté de acuerdo en todo. La comunidad a la que se refiere es la comunidad asiático-americana, que según él es muy diversa, por lo que es poco probable que todos estén de acuerdo con él.

La noción de que la verdadera diversidad dará lugar naturalmente a la diversidad de opiniones es quizá el elemento central de los argumentos contra la legitimidad de la cultura de la cancelación. Si se censuran las opiniones para proteger a los asiático-americanos como Yang, o para proteger a las mujeres como Christina Red, ¿cómo se garantiza que en última instancia no se censurará a las mismas personas que se intenta proteger? En la práctica, esta no es una preocupación infundada.

La cultura de la cancelación es una de esas ideologías que es tan extrema, que aplicándola de manera justa acabará perjudicando a todas las personas que dice proteger, ya sea directa o indirectamente. Cuando los autoritarios buscan el control, normalmente mienten y convencen a cada persona “esto sólo afectará a aquellos que lo merecen”. Sin embargo, controla a quién se le permite escuchar, a qué se le permite asistir, de quién se le permite ser amigo – y a veces incluso a quién se le permite citar.

Busca controlar nuestras ideas, o la comunicación, nuestra asociación. Y está siendo usado con demasiado éxito contra nuestra libertad. Si todavía estás cayendo en esta táctica de culto absoluto – da un paso atrás, y reconsidera esto.

¿Cuánto tiempo pasará hasta que tú también seas cancelado? ¿Realmente crees que esta cultura corporativa te seguirá tolerando, en el momento en que dejes de ejercer su autoridad sobre tu propia búsqueda de conocimiento y una sociedad mejor? Simplemente no hay ninguna evidencia de eso en absoluto.

Las organizaciones que están llevando esta táctica de control monopolístico a su gobierno, están acabando con cualquier libertad que tengas para desarrollar el software – a menos que puedas crear tu propia versión, como el fork de Linux que probablemente no existirá.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

03.17.20

Biggest Threats to Software Freedom (Which Almost Nobody Talks About)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN at 9:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Destroying the movement by buying it piece-wise, then using patent traps inside it to assert that it’s indebted to ‘generous’ Microsoft

...and then we pay LF, then OSI, then OIN... Don't forget to grab the repos (Github) and then NPM... You think it wasn't planned already?... Wait, how do we bribe or destroy the FSF?

Summary: The assault on Free software carries on, as various building blocks are hijacked by Microsoft (to spy, censor and generally control) whilst illegal software patents are being advanced using meaningless buzzwords that any programmer would laugh at

THE world of software development — not necessarily just Free/libre software — hardly speaks of the dangers associated with GitHub.

In quick succession Microsoft attacks many pillars of software and its supply/development chain. This is overlooked by those who are bribed by Microsoft to “stay in line”. The Linux Foundation now actively promotes GitHub, which is proprietary software designed to entrap users of Git. Look at the Board of the Linux Foundation; Microsoft is all over it (and top management of the Linux Foundation too).

Today, as of this morning, many people spoke about Microsoft’s move against NPM, which is an act of all-out aggression. Make no mistake about it. Also see who’s behind it. Those are people who have attacked the Free software world for decades. Conde Nast (which ‘ousted’ Torvalds for a month) welcomed this with a number of very recent puff pieces, pretending that a land grab by a proprietary software behemoth is a gesture of “love”. Microsoft loves Open Source? No. Microsoft is attacking it. While smiling at us.

We’re going to leave that aside at the moment and instead return to it in a separate, dedicated article.

We also remain concerned about total apathy towards the patent aspect. When did OSI and Linux Foundation (both in Microsoft’s pocket) last speak about it?

The European Patent Office (EPO) under today’s leadership illegally grants patents that (GNU/)Linux would certainly be in infringement of. And those patents aren’t even legal patents!!!

Where’s the outrage?

Upcoming ‘events’ promoting illegal software patents in Europe are again being advertised today. This new press release says: “An intensive update on patent protection for software-related inventions covering all the major developments in European patent law in particular GUI inventions and mixed’ inventions with both patentable and non-patentable subject matter…”

“We also remain concerned about total apathy towards the patent aspect. When did OSI and Linux Foundation (both in Microsoft’s pocket) last speak about it?”Also, behind IAM‘s paywall this week there’s this scoop about Microsoft’s patent blackmail and extortion chief moving to Marconi. To quote IAM on Twitter: “Another big hire for Marconi as it adds former Microsoft patent chief…”

Microsoft’s patent chief is a thug, but Microsoft is also IAM’s financial backer, so they will not ‘insult’ this Mafia, will they? Money talks, says the famous idiom. Microsoft buys a lot of “talk” and the “talking points” are passed on.

One can imagine what will happen next. HTIA (best known for advocacy of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs)) has meanwhile published this letter and tweet, stating: “The single most important thing the USPTO should do in the context of AI is improve the technical training given to examiners who plan to examine AI-related technologies.” Read more in our joint comments on patenting AI inventions…”

We’ve looked into the underlying ‘letter’ [PDF] and found it rather void of substance if not dreary. They suggest some amendments, but they play along with the buzzwords and the accompanying hype.

“Microsoft buys a lot of “talk” and the “talking points” are passed on.”The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) likes finding tricks to work around restrictions on software patents (limitations such as 35 U.S.C. § 101/Section 101/Alice) and just calling everything “HEY HI!!” (AI) is one of the more popular tricks these days. Out of nowhere they suddenly use these buzzwords all the time.

Suffice to say, the USPTO merely does here what the EPO did before it. They try to make it acceptable for patent offices to grant patents that courts later reject.

“The EPO Board of Appeal lacks independence; there are ongoing and outstanding complains about it. Already, as of months ago, Campinos threatens those same judges to permit software patents.”How about patents granted in defiance of Mayo (the other high-profile SCOTUS decision alluding to naturally-recurring things in nature).

Perhaps not minding the underlying law, Emma Longland (HGF) has just published this piece about the EPO granting likely illegal European Patents on life, as the EPO is totally out of control and even its own judges are besieged by António Campinos and his boss. To quote:

The much-watched validity dispute over the Broad Institute’s patent for fundamental CRISPR-Cas9 technology – recently revoked by the EPO Board of Appeal – is not the only CRISPR-related IP issue to watch out for in Europe this year, explains HGF’s Dr Emma Longland.

The EPO Board of Appeal’s recent revocation of the CRISPR-Cas9 patent, EP2771468 – belonging to the Broad Institute, Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – has garnered a great deal of attention since January. However, IP professionals interested in keeping up to speed with the technology’s patent landscape should also pay attention to several other important CRISPR applications going through the EPO opposition and appeals process this year.

The Broad Institute and its collaborators were among the innovators working on CRISPR gene editing during its early development in 2012 and 2013. Thanks to a strategy of accelerating the prosecution of their related patent applications at the EPO, they were the first to get granted foundational CRISPR patents in Europe. And several patents other than EP2771468 are now at various stages of the opposition and appeal process.

The EPO Board of Appeal lacks independence; there are ongoing and outstanding complaints about it. Already, as of months ago, Campinos threatens those same judges to permit software patents. This is a gross abuse of the EPC.

Free software is in a bad position as long as this carries on. There are already several troll lawsuits against it (GNOME, Mycroft etc.) based upon ridiculous software patents. What did OIN do about it? It's shocking. OIN works for Microsoft now. As for IBM with a Red Hat CEO as President? It is still suing companies using software patents, so we know nothing has changed.

A “Homemade” Software Movement

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 3:17 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest article by figosdev

Homemade lemon cut

Summary: We are routinely encouraged to give up our identity — our software and our goals and even our communities get rebranded, as it were

If you are happy with the trajectory of Free software over the past year to 5 years, this article isn’t for you. If you think the Web isn’t bloated, broken and overly corporate — this article probably isn’t for you.

But if you are one of the many people I know who don’t feel great about the route Free software has taken, then here are some things to think about.

“If you think the Web isn’t bloated, broken and overly corporate — this article probably isn’t for you.”This article is inspired by Web browsers; They have a simple task when you think about it — they get files and either download or parse them. The more complex they are to parse, the more complex the browser becomes.

We have all kinds of complex plugins — whether they’re the old sort that stick a corporate blob in the middle of a page, or whether you can simply load a pdf with pdf.js, the functionality of the browser continues to pile on — and if you want to fork it, you have to compile the thing. But more than that, you just have this insanely complex application to fork.

I don’t think its necessary to rid ourselves of corporate software — it’s not at all as simple as that — corporations still control hardware, keeping up with any sort of compatibility will probably rely on working with them. Ridding ourselves of corporate software isn’t the goal here.

“I think we are routinely encouraged to give up our identity — our software and our goals and even our communities get rebranded, as it were.”Over time, we’ve given up too much of our identity, values and goals to someone else. Call it the developer cloud — because it’s just someone else’s company. Cooperation is great, but this is more about giving up the identity or goals of a project to something that has nothing to do with our software, or the reasons some of us create it — or like using it.

I think we are routinely encouraged to give up our identity — our software and our goals and even our communities get rebranded, as it were. We retain the same logos but everything else gets tweaked and fit to a more commercial purpose; sometimes to a purpose more aligned with a single company or organisation. Again, if you’re happy with that happening, you’ve got very little to complain about. But what about the rest of us? We get painted as impossible to please, but we were happy not that long ago.

Maybe 80% of the people using the software built up over the years are happy. 80% is my rough estimate of how much of our software is not now controlled by GitHub. If you can prove that it’s lower, please do! I’ve measured a few important repositories, and the ratio of about 4/5 keeps coming up. I’m pretty sure this article is going to speak to far fewer than 1 in 5 people. But it still matters — just maybe not to you.

When I think of software, I don’t think of the “Steve Jobs” point in its evolution; where some CEO takes it and makes it famous — and different. And shiny. And helicopter-parented by a company. I think of software in the stage where a few people are working together to create it, when its potential is still limitless.

“When I think of software, I don’t think of the “Steve Jobs” point in its evolution; where some CEO takes it and makes it famous — and different.”Some tools do gain sponsors and continue to evolve of the years — curl for example, has a long, interesting story. Given the enormous sponsorship it received recently, it’s probably going to be wrested away eventually. Like so many things, it’s on Microsoft’s GitHub; and has received so much money that the author didn’t know what to do with it.

It’s almost as if someone attached a note that said “Good luck — now you’ll have to make a foundation around this, whether you want one or not”. Will that foundation be like the one built for (then against) Linus Torvalds? Who can say? But if your project gets so much money that you don’t know what to do — pretty soon, you’re likely to meet people who are going to be helping you make decisions. And eventually, the decisions you make together may take you away from your own work, and your own work away from you.

Most of us don’t have to worry about that of course — curl is already famous. I am actually thinking about using it for a project that helped inspire this article. But now that so much of our software is mired within a single, ravenous leviathan, I thought it would be a good idea to make curl optional. My favourite feature (over GNU wget) is that curl can do the Gopher protocol. That used to be a feature of Mozilla too — then they removed it when somebody created a plugin. Then they probably dropped support for the plugin. Its the sort of thing that Mozilla does.

“There was a time when you could write a small Web browser.”And the Web! There was a time when you could write a small Web browser. Why can’t you now? Because so few of its features are really “optional” anymore. Gopher support? Yes. That’s optional. DRM? Aha… The web was vested with a yearning for freedom, but at one point Sir Tim decided that DRM was something we could tolerate. Sure, in the future of the Web, snippets of text could be as locked down as that damned ebook reader from Amazon. That’s not the Web anybody I know wants.

There are people trying to bring back Gopher, because it has less nonsense than the Web. They’re not going to replace the Web of course — but the biggest feature of Gopher (besides how easy it is to write your own client for the protocol) is that there is no DRM in the standard.

I’m aware of how few people are going to fall in love with Gopher. And personally, having given Gopher a good run (I even ran a server for a while) even I want more than that out of my online experience.

“I don’t like how ridiculous NoScript is getting (its design used the be very straightforward and text based) and I want it to be easier to create “plugins.””I know I have to use a Web browser — unfortunately. But what could homemade software do to make me happier? It could give me something that I could use for both Gopher, and other online access, that would make it so I don’t need the Web for as much of what I do online.

Yes, I use JavaScript. I also use NoScript, so for a lot of the stuff I do online, I don’t even want JavaScript. I don’t like how ridiculous NoScript is getting (its design used the be very straightforward and text based) and I want it to be easier to create “plugins.”

It’s not impossible to bolt JavaScript capabilities on to a new browser project. But none of the tools out there interest me really. All of them depend on me taking very complex pieces and trying to put them together in a complex way, only for the authors to abandon them or for them to change in some way that makes them useless to me.

Imagine that you have a glass, and a soft drink. Whatever the soft drink, it’s your favourite one. One day they stop selling bottles of your soft drink — now you still have a glass, but you can’t get the drink in a bottle anymore. You can only get glasses of your drink with ice.

“We aren’t ever going to make a browser “at home” that duplicates the functionality of Mozilla — and we don’t even want to.”You say “no ice” but the person isn’t listening. You bring a bottle but you have to funnel the drink into the bottle, and the ice tries to go everywhere when you do. Sure, you can eventually come up with a perfect solution to this problem — that doesn’t change the fact that last week, you simply bought a bottle. Then you poured it into the glass you wanted. Ice was not a problem.

To have to solve this problem again and again, keeping track of your new invention to deal with ice in a glass seems kind of ridiculous, when you never had to do that before. If you’re really the only person who hated this, that would be one thing. But you keep meeting people who also hate it, and point out that yes, these people are being unreasonable. We all know that they were never obligated to offer their drink in a bottle in the first place — and you have the recipe! You can just make your own.

But the fact that you’re now being called a “whiner” when you bring this up, and “a vocal minority” when one of the original goals of the drink was in fact to be available in a bottle — and none of this changed until the bottlers started receiving large donations from the people making the ice. Man, this just feels rotten.

“They just bundle too many things together — which leaves us relatively helpless.”But getting back to the browser. We aren’t ever going to make a browser “at home” that duplicates the functionality of Mozilla — and we don’t even want to.

But it would be fun to create software again, without a mandatory, top-heavy (and ever increasingly profit-driven, not really community-based but hijacked, co-opted community) process to decide whether you should be able to get a drink without ice, or in a bottle, or whether your browser must actually implement DRM to have that stupid, but coveted logo that says its compliant with whatever Sir Tim thinks is a good idea. Piss off, Sir Tim. Take your damned DRM and shove it.

The Web is far too important to just walk away. But we can make clients that parse the parts of it we want — clients that let us write plugins the way we want to — clients that are fully programmable and let us more easily filter whatever we like (yes, that’s going to turn into a legal problem sometimes, in some countries — as some plugin authors have revealed. But at least we don’t have to rely on some guy from Mozilla to maintain NoScript for this.)

“It’s increasingly impossible to change.”They just bundle too many things together — which leaves us relatively helpless. We have a community, but it’s run by corporate sponsors. We have the source code, we have the four freedoms, but the new design is increasingly difficult to study. It’s increasingly impossible to change. And there’s not much point in sharing software that we suddenly hate to use.

They won, but we can’t prove they won.

But it’s also a trick, an illusion of a sort. Because we rely on so much of what they now control, we can’t just walk away from what they have rebranded and reconfigured to make it increasingly not ours — and increasingly theirs instead.

Instead of forking our software, they’ve forked the user — and the user is us.

If we want control of our computing back, we will have to take it back piece by piece. Install their stupid client that uses more resources than the rest of our operating system (and application software) combined — but use it only for that JavaScript-only webmail, or even for that horrid video streaming platform. Maybe you can find or create a different client for that federated social network you use that doesn’t require a Web browser.

And instead of doing everything with a browser, maybe you can have a client that only loads what you want — that filters everything you want to filter — and that separates stuff to plugins when you want it to.

“All homemade software should be Free software, but not all Free software needs to be homemade software.”If it’s homemade, it’s going to have fewer features. But if it’s made for a small community — and the next time some corporation stops by and starts to take over your software, you can just pick it up — just like the Document Foundation did — and say “alright people, there are a few of us that aren’t going to let this happen. We’re leaving — feel free to join us.”

And that’s that. At least it means that your version of the software will stay true to its goals. And not the goals of some company you want nothing to do with, who would successfully hijack your project (like so many others) if you stayed. Only for the new version to drop features you love, add features you hate that aren’t trivial to remove — and for your project to move to Microsoft GitHub.

No, it’s better that those of us who want to — do something, even if it’s just a little bit. Even if it’s just a few of us.

Alexandre Oliva did this article very recently and I think it stands alright on its own. For some people, maybe this article adds to it.

“Not every bicycle needs to become a thorium-reactor-powered, 18-wheeler ice cream van. Most of the web didn’t need to become that either.”All homemade software should be Free software, but not all Free software needs to be homemade software. With that said, a Free software ecosystem where all software is as corporate as it is these days — sucks, frankly. Its more difficult to love than what we had a few years ago. Part of that is because we are sentimental and don’t want to change. But its also because the way we got here is largely dishonest, narcissistic and very, very corporate.

We should implement some of these features in smaller, simpler software. Let’s have some easy-to-maintain, easier-to-fork software tools again. Not every bicycle needs to become a thorium-reactor-powered, 18-wheeler ice cream van. Most of the web didn’t need to become that either. And hi to John Goerzen — forg is still nifty. Debian was nifty for many years as well.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

03.14.20

Cancel Culture and the Handbook for Destroying the Free Software Movement

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest article by Ted MacReilly and figosdev

Bad food culture

Summary: Roasting leaders and luminaries as a strategy of choice

THE cancellation of Richard Stallman has yet to end. He remains stifled, the public remains lied to, the liars (unlike their victims) are not held accountable, and the Free software movement is still weakened.

Along with other people who contribute to Techrights, we predicted some of this, months prior to it happening. How? The easiest way to predict the future is to notice ongoing patterns and processes that repeat. Then look for the beginnings of those patterns in the present.

At worst, this is slippery slope fallacy. But argument from fallacy is itself a fallacy, and just because something is a slippery slope doesn’t mean that its conclusion is false — only that it wrongly assumes the conclusion is necessarily true.

A lot of the time, things that are moving in a certain direction continue to move in that direction — one of the most famous laws of physics says more or less the same. Sometimes a force acts upon something and it changes, but there is a great deal of inertia in many things.

Stallman’s cancellation isn’t complete, and was already happening when it was predicted in June. Recently, someone online referred to a future point when Torvalds is fully cancelled. The truth is that he is already “cancelled enough” that he likely can’t and likely won’t stop any of the bad things that will happen to the Linux kernel from happening. The torch isn’t passed, but it’s now out of his hands. It’s too late, and he’s either tired, apathetic or afraid.

No one is likely to fork the Linux kernel, because if they do, it will be someone who cares about software freedom — and if you ask around the community of people who care about software freedom, there is nobody who will fork it. Alexandre Oliva, being the author of linux-libre, should probably know.

If someone was capable of making a truly libre fork of Linux to counter the increasingly corporate, increasingly DRM-infested, increasingly unlikely-to-remain-copylefted (as Microsoft, via the former Linux Foundation will be in charge of license enforcement) — Oliva would probably know them, or at least know of them. These people (probably) don’t exist. It’s wonderful that sometimes the most likely future isn’t the one we get. In that, there is always a little bit of hope — but it’s no cause for Hubris.

You can also look at what the developers most tuned into the future of freedom are doing. They’re shifting towards BSD — probably not because BSD is better for everybody, but because it’s less work to liberate it. If there isn’t anybody to fork Linux, and there doesn’t seem to be — then less work means it is more likely to happen. It isn’t necessarily ideal, but that doesn’t make it a dumb idea. Of course, it’s a possibility that after destroying Linux, they will turn to BSD. Hopefully by that time, people will be ready for the struggle.

The Handbook for Destroying the Free Software Movement could have been called “The History of destroying Free software.” Except it isn’t just history, it is going on right now at least as much as it was described 20 years ago. The tactics were already polished up by IBM — a company with a history as over-the-top toxic as anybody who might get cancelled today — when Microsoft adopted them and adapted them to fighting against Free software. Their “loves Linux” campaign is no different than the love bombing campaigns narcissists use to lure victims for sustained campaigns of abuse. These are also often called “charm offensives”.

They talk of patent pools (chapter 7 of the handbook is about the patent war, which has never ended) but continue to act as if they own Android — by continuing to demand royalties (rent seeking) and holding onto written agreements that they “own” the software we’ve created, with companies who merely redistribute it. Both narcissists and large corporations expend enormous energy trying to sustain their own monopolies, and recruit other narcissists (and smaller corporations) to attack anybody who stands against their abuse.

This has been used against both Richard Stallman and Alexandre Oliva. It has been used against Linus Torvalds and Eric S. Raymond. It has been used by the government — or the corporations that run it — against Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The lines between clinical narcissism, cult tactics and corporate monopolies are minor and technical. First they exploit, then they use bullying, lies and other abuse to “defend” the exploitation from anybody who stands up to it.

The handbook touches on how open source was weaponised early on against software freedom. It touches on how to isolate activists from their cause — something that continues to happen more and more. It talks about how marketing and propaganda can be used to polish corporate turds and undermine, then gradually control grassroots-developed software, and take over communities.

And none of it is really new, or obsolete. It just keeps going. The premises of the book have only gotten worse in the 8 or so months since it was written — more people cancelled, and suddenly every key project needs “new governance policies.” Here are a few quotes about that, from last June:

“Being closer to corporations, Open Source has more corporate culture in its processes. While the ‘Open source way’ may look better for letting everyone be a contributor, it carries with it extra requirements and additional reasons to exclude projects from consideration or people from projects.”

“Open Source brings organizational overhead and corporate culture into every project- you can be the leader of your own project and do what you want to with it, but now you shouldn’t- every project should have a community, a code of conduct that may ultimately threaten the structure of the leadership in the distant future, and a dedicated website.”

“Fortunately, Open Source brings all this overhead to a project in a way that makes it easier to steer or influence (or purchase) the direction of a project. And since for 20 years, companies like Microsoft have sought to buy, charge royalties for, influence or eliminate the work done by competitors, Open Source gives us (and even fights for) the foot in the door that we need to do so.”

This is all about ownership — as a synonym for control of the software we created specifically to be independent of monopolies. Their goal: as with clinical narcissists, is to make us dependent on them, their decisions, their infrastructure. We fought so hard to be able to do our own thing, just to hand the reins back to IBM and Microsoft.

We predicted the sale of Red Hat — the cancellation of Stallman — some of us even predicted USB drives and (compressed audio) music libraries. And it’s really like predicting what a puzzle will look like, when most of the pieces are already in place. You can learn to do it too — look at the picture, find the spot where the next step is missing, and guess what is most likely to fit the rest. You can’t always be right, but be grateful for that — we live in a world that seems to want very badly to kick off a new dark age, when the goal of intellectuals and advocates of freedom is to keep the enlightenment from dying.

Computing is increasingly the basis for modern communication, book publishing, education, entertainment, finding new medicines, discovering the universe outside our solar system — not to mention the advocacy we do for every political cause you can imagine. The more these monopolies control our computing, they more they control everything else. Society can’t afford that — the human race itself (these days) may not be able to afford that.

Depending on whether it is controlled by as many everyday (grassroots, not astroturfed) people as possible — which Free software supports, but “open source” sells off to the highest bidder (No? Who owns GitHub? Who owns Red Hat?) computing becomes either great power in all our hands — or great power against all of us. With the realisation that every company wants to put “AI”, facial-recognition and always-on microphones around us everywhere we go (our phones, our cars, our homes — even hotels, stores and restaurants) our lives are more like those of cattle with every year of “progress” that technology makes.

Being Luddites won’t likely help much. To actually prevent this shift in the human existence from continuing, we would have to go to space to take out all the cubesats. We live in a futuristic world where robots are flying around, murdering innocent Yemeni children — civilians. We are already surrounded and our lives are inundated with this technology in our personal lives, and on the land, in the sea and the sky. There is nowhere left to run, and becoming Amish won’t take down the network that we are enmeshed with.

Our only freedom will come from transforming (and yes, to a sane and relatively small degree, limiting) this vast array of human technology so that it exists on our own terms — to have the technology that we consent to, rather than have our technology act as a blank cheque for the largest corporations to do practically whatever they want with us. Because they’re already doing it, and for years they’ve worked to control even the activism we devoted decades to — to wriggle free from their stifling electronic grasp.

To regain control of what we built to be free of theirs, they’ve had to use social manipulation, political and marketing tactics to wrest our own communities and our own organisations from us. What once were sponsors are now board members and project leaders. The United States certainly has its share of political problems; though to do real justice to the level of absurdity that has taken over the Free software world, the USA would have to elect the Queen of England as its president — or simply join the United Kingdom.

The remnants of the Free software movement are whatever the monopolies are comfortable with — minus our founders, minus anybody who might make real trouble for them. We fought for independence, we gave people the vote — and the people were manipulated into voting for suppression and being controlled. There is no way to undo that but to struggle for a new era of digital independence. While the unwashed masses cry out that everything is alright, we know that doesn’t ring true. And we know their tactics, because history proves those rarely change.

The handbook was written by recalling, off the cuff, all the dirtiest deeds, all the smarmiest lies, all the little rewrites of what actually happened — Torvalds actually made a kernel. We gave him an operating system and let idiots pretend it was his own. Why was that stupid? Because the operating system actually stood for something.

What did Linus stand for? You’re looking at it today — the takeover and surrender of software freedom to corporations. That’s all “open source” is now. Watch him wearing the t-shirt, in “Revolution OS” — nearly 20 years later we still pretend that Linus ever gave a damn about our digital freedom at all. Oh sure, he’s better than Greg. That’s why they cancelled him — they knew he would choose a better successor. They knew he at least cared about not breaking userspace — that was the area where Linus showed integrity: as an engineer.

But as a person? He conflated our having integrity, of actually standing for something, with extremism. That was extremely self-serving, dishonest, and a complete scumbag move. Linus, you’re a sellout — and you always were. But we could count on Torvalds to bash most of the bad companies. Microsoft does that too — before buying them.

Cancelling Torvalds is still a bad idea though; it helps the monopolies more than it hurts Torvalds. His career (the part of it we care about at least) is practically over, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he were happy with that. Whatever he hoped to achieve, has more or less happened already. Like George Harrison after the breakup of the Beatles, Torvalds can do pretty much whatever he wants — except what he was doing before. And with him out of the way, the takeover you still assist by attributing GNU to corporate sellouts and other dubious individuals, can continue without worrying about who might stand up to it.

Isn’t it amazing that we all found good reasons to get rid of everyone in that category — all in the space of a year?

It wasn’t difficult to tie recent happenings — up to June 2019 — to quotes from the Halloween documents from 1998. The tactics are the same, but the lies to justify the tactics have evolved.

Managing a brand is a matter of storytelling. When people say “I’ve heard that one already”, corporations just tell another one. The special effects get better, the lines get updated here and there, but the differences between the old story and the new are superficial.

Our job is to be free. Their job is to control. If we let them manage our struggle against them, what do you actually think will happen?

Slippery slope? It’s more like a very long, straight drop. Welcome to hell, Free software advocates.

Now what?

Since cancel culture is at the centre of this change of ownership — indeed it is the excuse for the change — what follows are some insights from of all places, Youtube. Many of these insights about cancel culture predate Stallman’s cancellation. Since he has more integrity than Torvalds, and more integrity then Raymond, his cancellation is the one to worry about most. Though every unfair cancellation gives our would-be masters more control, and that’s why we should still fight for Torvalds and Raymond regardless of what we think of them as individuals.

It’s not even about “the enemy of my enemy” — it’s simply about the objectives of control vs the objectives of freedom. If you want to fight the corporate cults, you have to understand the corporate cults. That’s why the handbook was (really) written, and why cancel culture is a topic every Free software advocate needs to understand, now.

But first, the EFF recently posted a wonderful and relevant interview with Ada Palmer. Palmer talks about how censorship amounts to falsifying history — and how acts of censorship serve to remind (and help convince) people who is really “in charge.” In this sense, censorship is an act of colonialism.

You are encouraged, by the way, to refer to colonialism — the occupation and control of a human culture by an outside (colonising) force, as colonialism or as exploitation, rather than “tribalism”. The latter puts both the great occupying forces, and the people who rightfully stand against them, on equal ground — reducing each to petty or arbitrary disputes.

That miscommunication only assists the colonisers and diminishes those who are fighting against occupation. Open source has openly instigated this miscommunication and miscategorisation for many years, acting as if the unwillingness of Free software to abandon its own mission for their book of love letters to Microsoft and Apple is due to nothing more significant than a petulant and childish attitude.

Heading for Youtube, Ayishat Akanbi talks about why cancel culture is mob culture.

Emily Katherine delivers a 15-minute, extremely intelligent rant-slash-thesis on the psychology of cancel culture, including its effects.

Dave Chappelle, in Sticks and Stones, does an impression of cancel culture — the twist? As far as he’s concerned, cancel culture is all of us: “the audience.” He’s probably right.

Hafeez highlights the narcissism and arrogance of cancel culture.

While Viva Frei explains (definitely start at 5:28 if you want to get to what he’s really talking about) that cancel culture induces fear in innocent and intelligent people, and how it is stifling, suppressive and incredibly demanding.

A couple of worthwhile quotes:

“I believe that the likelihood of coming to the right decisions in the face of suppression [suppressed opposing opinions] are in fact decreased.” (11:13)

“The free exchange of ideas is the most valuable intellectual currency” — said during the talk, this quote is displayed again at the end of the video.

Christina Red explains that cancel culture lacks nuance, and suppresses activism — which as we have said several times, is exactly what monopolies are using it for.

Finally, Andrew Yang says that cancel culture is “excessively punitive and vindictive” and goes on to imply that a diverse community is unlikely to agree on everything. The community he is referring to is the Asian-American community; which he says is very diverse — thus unlikely to all agree with him.

The notion that true diversity will naturally result in diversity of opinion is perhaps central to arguments against the legitimacy of cancel culture. If you censor opinions to protect Asian-Americans like Yang, or to protect women like Christina Red, how do you ensure you won’t ultimately censor the same people you are trying to protect? In practice, this is not a baseless concern.

Cancel culture is one of those ideologies that is so extreme, that applying it fairly will ultimately hurt every person it claims to protect — either directly or indirectly. When authoritarians seek control, they usually lie and convince each person “this will only affect those who deserve it.” Yet it controls who you are allowed to listen to, what you are allowed to attend, who you are allowed to be friends with — and sometimes who you are even allowed to quote.

It seeks to control our ideas, or communication, our association. And it is being used a little too successfully against our freedom. If you’re still falling for this absolute cult tactic — take a step back, and rethink this.

How long until you’re cancelled too? Do you really believe this corporate culture will still tolerate you, the moment you cease to entertain its authority over your own quest for knowledge and a better society? There’s simply no evidence of that at all.

The organisations that are bringing this monopolistic control tactic into their governance, are ending any freedom you have to develop the software — unless you can create your own version, like the Linux fork that probably won’t exist.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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