Bonum Certa Men Certa

Alexandre Oliva: Happier GNU Year!

Original blog post

Since about 2019-09-11, the FSF (the largely autonomous staff body that was supposed to be supervised by, and to follow directions given by the board of directors) has asked me to leave FSF public communications to them, even while I was acting president, and preferred to distance themselves from myself and from Richard Stallman's leadership.



When they make as urgent an exception as they have yesterday, I might as well take it.



The FSF has been running its end-of-year fundraiser for several weeks, and at the time of this writing it's 175 new members short of its goal of 500 new members by the year's end, with less than 24 hours to go.



If I were to explain this shortcoming, as I often have, I'd point out that, over the past 15 months, to a significant number of Free Software and former FSF supporters, the FSF has come across as betraying its founder, lifetime leader, and founding-father of the social movement it belongs in.



In this timeframe, the FSF has notably often written Richard out of Free Software history, and instead promoted others who took very vocal stances against him.



All these Free Software supporters have, in my candid opinion, quite legitimate reasons for suspicion of what the FSF is really up to. More so given the limited amount of information available to them.



But don't get me wrong. The FSF keeps on doing a lot of very important work for Free Software in general, and for the GNU Project specifically. A lot of it is not enjoyable or exciting to do, and it's often not even noticed, but it's there, solid and constant as ever!



What the FSF is missing, in my still candid opinion, is the kind of inspiring (if often controversial) leadership and vision that Richard provided.



No offense to Geoff, he's a fine and kind person, and a strong and long-time supporter of Free Software, of the FSF, and of Richard's. But, well, he's no Richard Stallman. Not when it comes to living the values of Free Software, not when it comes to inspiring others to do so, not when it comes to foreseeing freedom problems and invariably being Stallmanly right about them. Geoff surely knows all that, and everyone probably realizes by now how worse off the FSF has been since Richard resigned.



Now, unhappy as I've been for the ways in which the FSF leadership has mistreated me, Richard Stallman has been mistreated far worse. And yet, when people emailed him expressing disapproval for the FSF, even right after his resignation, he has asking them to keep on supporting the FSF (see the Oct 1st, 2019 followup in the link; it has Richard's response to that post. He's such a kind [of] person.



Having seen what I've seen, faced the resistance I have, and noticed how biased the regard for community opinions and board directions seemed to be, I'm afraid I can't comfortably get myself to join Richard in asking for blanket support for the FSF. Some close friends would say I'm too honest, too transparent, and they'd be right: I have my reservations and concerns indeed.



But, besides recognizing the work the FSF keeps on doing, I am also hopeful because I perceive some things turning for the better. Because of this hope, there is something else that I am reasonably comfortable recommending and asking of those who'd trust the FSF better with Richard Stallman back in the board of directors:



Would you make a pledge to become a new member, or to renew your membership, if the FSF gets Richard back in the board of directors? Please email it to the FSF contact address (info), copying myself (oliva, at fsf or gnu).



Past communications in his favor have generally failed to reach the board of directors, and I believe this would be valuable information for the directors and voting members to have.



Would you do that for me, for Richard, for the FSF, for the Free Software Movement? That would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!



Now, if you trust Richard enough to go by his recommendation rather than mine, I'm sure your new or renewed membership before the deadline will be much appreciated. Even in this case, I'd welcome a copy of an email to the FSF expressing that you've joined or renewed following Richard's recommendation.



Regardless, may you have a much happier GNU year!



So blong,






Copyright 2007-2020 Alexandre Oliva

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this entire document worldwide without royalty, provided the copyright notice, the document's official URL, and this permission notice are preserved.

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