09.17.19

Why I Once Called for Richard Stallman to Step Down

Posted in FSF at 1:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest post by figosdev

Steps

Summary: Guest post from the developer who recently authored "Getting Stallman Wrong Means Getting The 21st Century Wrong"

In December 2018 and earlier this year, I called for Richard Stallman to voluntarily resign.

The reasons for this call were entirely different from the reasons he just resigned.

Here were the reasons:

1. What I believe (and many others believe) are systemic attacks on Free software, are being largely ignored — even by the FSF.

Some progress was actually made in this regard recently.

2. Users are losing freedom faster than they gain it, due to these attacks.

3. Once-strong and popular distros are falling apart — too many to ignore.

4. “the fsf needs a president who stands up to these new challenges that threaten Free software. and i dont think stallman is doing that anymore.”

However, this was not the whole story, and I added other points:

“most people who declare a lowered confidence in rms as the leader of his own movement, are declaring it for political reasons that benefit corporations and monopolies — monopolies are the very problem that Free software exists to provide alternatives to.”

That is the problem we are witnessing today, as Stallman has actually resigned.

“we dont need another smarmy corporate sycophant yes man to take over the fsf, as open source would propose.”

“and someone asked me this morning about my call to ‘impeach’ stallman.”

“theres a very important distinction to be made. im not asking for anyone to be impeached. even if that were possible, thats not what the call is for!”

Apparently, it is possible. I do not believe Stallman stepped down out of choice (as was my wish) but instead was asked (or forced) to by the Board.

I was very clear, that was not the outcome I desired:

“impeachment is a process of forcing a leader out. hopefully if youre going to force someone out of a position (think back to the 2003 invasion of iraq) you have someone better to take their place.”

“and if youre going to ask someone to step down, there need to be reasons. my reason is simple and straightforward, and obviously controversial”

I do not think Stallman stepped down for a good reason this week. This was about image, not truth — it was not about renewing the fight for Free software.

The largest threat I did not think the FSF was taking seriously enough, was the adaptation of EEE tactics to software under a free licence:

“i am not suggesting that rms should ‘just go home’ and disappear from the public sphere.”

Stepping down as President would have likely protected him from what happened today. I can’t prove that, I can only guess.

“i am not suggesting he should leave the fsf! he should certainly be on the board.”

Tragically, he has resigned from the Board as well.

Let me say immediately after hearing it: that particular decision is an enormous mistake on the part of the FSF. I hope you’re all aware that you just lost your most important member. Anyone who does not realise this, really does not belong on the board themselves.

“i am not suggesting that rms is any less the father of the Free software movement, than albert einstein is the author of the theory of relativity.”

“and i think that ben mako hill is the best possible replacement”

Ben Mako Hill and Alexandre Oliva (who just joined the Board, for better or worse — I believe for better, though it is deeply unfortunate that this is what his first year on the Board looks like) tend to occupy the top spot on my “Who should be a stand-in for rms” list and alternate from time to time. I have always discounted Oliva primarily over geographical issues — plus a hint of a no-longer-relevant connection to Red Hat — which isn’t entirely fair but either way, he doesn’t work there anymore.

“and i feel confident that ben mako hill would have a great deal of respect in how he dealt with the problems ahead.”

The number one concern for Free software supporters today, should be who the FSF replaces Stallman with.

“its got to be said that i dont think anybody is ready to fill the important role that stallman filled in 1984, and 1991, and 2005, and 2010 — the role that stallman filled when we learned about prism. im not knocking his career or brilliance or legacy, only the past 4 years of his presidency. the fsf needs him on the board, at a minimum.”

“there is no one that is ‘like stallman, only more like him.’ that wont ever happen.”

“there are only people who are different. they would have to have enough in common that they filled the role, but we all know there will never be another president rms.”

Some of the people I think the FSF have not paid enough attention to, in terms of problems related to the state of the Free software ecosystem include:

(This is mostly, not exclusively, about systemd)

1. Denis Roio, who already worked on dyne:bolic, an FSF-approved GNU distribution
2. Emulatorman, who heads Hyperbola, an FSF-approved GNU distribution
3. Ian Jackson, who joined Debian in its first year, and has spent the past 4 years fighting this problem
4. Some Debian developers who have left Debian to fight this problem elsewhere
5. The Veteran Unix Admins, who created Devuan along with Roio
6. fsmithred, maintainer of Devuan Live, Refracta and the refracta-tools remastering programs
7. Various bloggers and software developers who have spent years talking about these problems
8. Most of the Puppy Linux community, at least those who would even notice the changes happening outside the distro
9. anticapitalista, GNU-based distro developer
10. Aitor, developer of Gnuinos
11. Eric Vidal, developer of Obarun

This critique will not fall entirely on the FSF — note some progress was made recently in this regard:

“i believe stallman is more focused on hardware-related threats and license-related threats, while the software ecosystem is constantly getting dragged backwards into windows-esque software lock-in and instability. the core Free software ecosystem is no place for these problems.”

“indeed, these are the sorts of problems we fled to rely on gnu/linux as a solution to in the first place. we still have the freedom per se, but we have not for years now, enjoyed the full benefits of that freedom.”

“the effects are real, the problems are real — the denial that happens year after year is shocking.”

“whatever is preventing the fsf from addressing this — now (if not 4 years ago) is the time for that to end.”

Now that Stallman is gone, it is more important than ever to hold the FSF to its mission. Were Stallman to remain on the Board, he could do a lot in that regard. Instead, now we have to do it without him.

I have for years, watched for a good replacement for Stallman. The list of candidates is very short.

I’m not at all impressed with the SFC, who appear to assume there is someone “better” than Stallman out there.

Anybody who can do better than Stallman is going to have to grow into that role, and they’re going to have to be a pretty outstanding person to begin with as well.

Where are these outstanding people?

Torvalds for example, could not do anything more for the FSF than sell them off to Jim Zemlin and Microsoft — that’s not very useful.

Perhaps we should consider asking Bruce Perens, now that the position is actually open.

I feel I’ve already given this far more thought than the SFC — I don’t even think their reasoning was very detail-oriented, it was simply accusatory and knee-jerk and destructive. In my opinion there was no obvious consideration of consequences, just “get on with the Inquisition” and somehow we will clean up later.

The world is a dumber place today, for the father of Free software being removed over an opinion.

That was never a good idea, nor was it my idea.

Further, I believe September 16th (or October 1st) is a good day for a Political Incorrectness Day. Political correctness has wronged one of the greatest and most valuable minds of our century, without anything remotely like due process (or sufficient deliberation).

To the Board of the FSF: You acted hastily. I’m not saying you made the wrong decision altogether (I disagree strongly with his ejection from the Board, obviously) but you made it too quickly.

This is about the founder of Free software, and the founder of your organisation — the real one, not the others.

You could have (or should have) taken at least a week to decide, for more evidence to come out.

Doing this based on a poll and several hours of deliberation was completely insufficient!

The Free Media Alliance has never lobbied the FSF to make such important decisions with such enormous haste — only to carefully reconsider certain dismissals of things people have complained about for years.

I’m sure there were people who were careful. Maybe there was even a dissenter on the Board.

Whoever you are, if you dissented or took the greatest care among the members, you have my gratitude.

Mr. Stallman, this is not what I wanted. You should still be on the Board. This should have been entirely voluntary, and only for freedom — not for image.

A great man was done an injustice and disservice today, not for the first time. Stallman created the GNU Operating System — and too many people want to ship the credit off to corporations that don’t care about the freedom it was created to give you, the user.

This ought to be the final injustice to his legacy, but it probably won’t be. Today, ingrates and opportunists have won a great victory.

Let’s give them, I hope, as little of what they want as possible.

Also, there is nothing wrong with critiquing Stallman. He is being held to a bizarre standard, one we reserve for people who remind us of inconvenient truths. But there is nothing wrong with critiquing him.

There is something wrong with the idea that he was treated fairly this week. The FSF has traitors, just look at those who received awards. LibrePlanet has done as much harm as good to the organisation — it was a battleground for superficial, political correctness and ways to limit Free software, as much as promote it.

Freedom does not come from witch hunts and witch trials. The Code of Conduct should be called the Malleus Hackerum. Who among us is safe from its spiteful hypocrisy?

As with the Board, I do not wish to blame everyone who participated in LibrePlanet. But there are clearly traitors in your midst.

What I recommend we do as a result — is Speak Up for Free software, treat Stallman’s legacy with the well-earned respect and consideration that goes beyond the superficiality of headlines and paid shills (at least!) –and keep Free software alive.

I don’t blame you if the feeling isn’t mutual Mr. Stallman, but if you ever need anything at all, I hope you’ll ask and I hope I can help in some way. That hope is sincere, but if I can’t do that myself I would ask the same of anybody who takes me even a little bit seriously.

To all who care: please send rms your condolences and support, as soon as we find out what his new email address is.

When you inevitably read people from the Open Source movement gloating about this, think about all the times they’ve criticised the very idea of being fully free (as in not having your life controlled by big tech corporations.) This is a great day for them — it is not a great day for us.

Long Live Stallman —

Long live GNU–

And bring back “Free as in Speech” — what a complete farce that phrase was made today.

License: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2019/09/17/rms-witch-hunt/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 2/8/2021: XEyes 1.2 and Fwupd 1.6.2 Released

    Links for the day



  2. Freenode is IRC... in Collapse

    Freenode is now down to just 13,194 online users, which makes it the 6th biggest IRC network. Months ago it was #1 with almost 6 times as many users as those below it. The graph above shows what the latest blunder has done (another massive drop in less than a week, with a poem and the all-time chart at the very bottom).



  3. Barrier and Synergy Can Work Together, Connecting Lots of Different Machines

    Barrier and Synergy can be configured to work properly in conjunction, though only provided different port numbers (non-default) are specified; in my current setup I have two computers to my right, working over Barrier, and two older ones on the left, working over Synergy; the video explains the setup and the underlying concepts



  4. Links 2/8/2021: Open Science in France and Zoom Pays to Settle Privacy Violations

    Links for the day



  5. It Almost Feels Like Battistelli Still Runs the EPO (by Extension/Proxy)

    The "Mafia" that destroyed the EPO is still being put in charge and is using the EPO for shameless self-promotion; it is never being held accountable, not even when courts demand remediatory action and staff seeks reparations



  6. [Meme] Vichyite Battistelli Committed Crimes and His Buddy António Snubs Courts That Confirm These Are Crimes

    Staff of the EPO is coming to realise (or reaching acceptance of the fact) that the spirit of Battistelli — not just people he left in charge of the EPO — dooms the Office and there’s no way out of this mess



  7. Links 2/8/2021: Linux 5.14 RC4 and 20% Growth in Steam

    Links for the day



  8. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, August 01, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, August 01, 2021



  9. Links 1/8/2021: LibreOffice 7.2 RC2 and Lakka 3.3

    Links for the day



  10. Was Microsoft Ever First in the Market?

    Confronting the false belief that Microsoft ever innovates anything of significance or is "first" in some market/s



  11. Links 1/8/2021: 4MLinux 37.0, IBM Fluff, and USMCA Update

    Links for the day



  12. Microsoft Knows That When Shareholders Realise Azure Has Failed the Whole Boat Will Sink

    The paranoia at Microsoft is well justified; they've been lying to shareholders to inflate share prices and they don't really deliver the goods, just false hopes and unfulfilled promises



  13. [Meme] Nobody and Nothing Harms Europe's Reputation Like the EPO Does

    Europe’s second-largest institution, the EPO, has caused severe harm/damage to Europe’s economy and reputation; its attacks on the courts and on justice itself (even on constitutions in the case of UPC — another attempt to override the law and introduce European software patents) won’t be easily forgotten; SUEPO has meanwhile (on Saturday, link at the bottom in German) reminded people that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos have driven away the EPO’s most valuable workers or moral compass



  14. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 31, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 31, 2021



  15. [Meme] When it Comes to Server Share, Microsoft Azure is Minuscule (But Faking It)

    Don't believe the lies told by Microsoft's charlatans and frauds; Azure has been a total failure and that's why there are layoffs as well



  16. [Meme] Mozilla Has Turned From Technical to Marketing

    Way back, long before Mozilla and Firefox got hijacked by politics (turning Mozilla into a VPN reseller that lies about its stance on privacy), geeks were driving the company, not corporate lawyers and spying/marketing people



  17. Over 1,500 (Known/Unorphaned) Gemini Capsules and Over 160,000 Page Requests in gemini.techrights.org During July

    Techrights is expanding at gemini:// (Gemini space) and over 1,500 capsules are reported to have been found (less than 4 months ago it was about 1,000)



  18. Links 31/7/2021: Kernel Additions and Linux Mint 20.3 Release Date

    Links for the day



  19. Microsoft Azure Stagnating

    Reprinted with permission from Mitchel Lewis, former Microsoft employee



  20. For 17 Days (and Counting) António Campinos Has Failed to Respond to Call for Compliance With the Law

    Team Campinos has been so arrogant and so evasive that there’s no indication (yet) that it will follow court orders (Willy ‘Guillaume’ Minnoye openly bragged about ignoring court orders and he's still cheering for the EPO's abuses); therefore, staff of the EPO takes collective action



  21. Raw: Elodie Bergot Breaking the Law by Threatening Against the Exercise of Fundamental Rights

    Over the years we saw a number of rude letters from Elodie Bergot, the grossly under-qualified spouse of a friend of Vichyite Benoît Battistelli; most of these we never published (we already have these and can always publish if the need arises), but those paranoid and insecure “Mafia”-like ‘cabal’ need to be exposed for the mobsters they are; for nearly a decade they’ve illegally bullied EPO staff in clear violation of the law (and for over 3 years António Campinos has kept those bullies on board); why does Europe do nothing and why is it never holding high-profile abusers accountable (only low-level facilitators)? Is it because the EU too is being infiltrated by them?



  22. Linspire Should Be Avoided in 2021 Just Like It Was Avoided 14 Years Ago

    The brand "Linspire" was brought back, but the agenda seems to be more or less the same, namely pushing proprietary software and serving Microsoft's commercial agenda (in 'Linux' clothing)



  23. The Death of Freenode Would Be Freenode's Own Fault

    Freenode is going dark and now it’s asking people to create accounts at IRC.com (just to get back into the network that they may have already occupied for decades) as if Freenode owns “IRC” as a whole



  24. Links 31/7/2021: KDE Progress and Activision Catastrophe

    Links for the day



  25. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 30, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, July 30, 2021



  26. The Smartest Meter of All

    Yesterday a lady came over to take our power readings (electric/gas meter); secure these people's jobs as they help protect people's privacy (dignity) at home



  27. [Meme] A Web of False Dichotomies

    A reminder that Techrights is fully available (all blog posts and wiki pages) in gemini://



  28. Freenode Shrinks by Another Quarter and Gemini Continues to Grow (For Techrights at Least)

    Freenode continues to perish faster than we've imagined; it's a good thing that we've had contingencies set up; regarding the monopolised and increasingly centralised Web, we're still making baby steps towards weaning ourselves off it



  29. Links 31/7/2021: Wine 6.14 and Chrome 93 Beta

    Links for the day



  30. European Media Does Not Care About Europe's Second-Largest Institution Crushing Basic Laws and Fundamental Rights

    New video about the latest publication from SUEPO (the EPO’s staff union); it was published yesterday, seeing that the “Mafia” (what EPO staff actually calls the management!) hasn’t done anything to comply with a wide-ranging set of court rulings from ILO-AT; why has the media said nothing about this and what does that say about today’s media? The material is all in the public domain, in widely understood languages, and SUEPO spoke about it more than 3 weeks ago.


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts