07.03.20

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Free Software Tackles Political Issues. Political Tactics Are Also Being Weaponised Against Free Software.

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 11:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog… until you start barking.”

Banner: A social art

Summary: Divide-and-rule tactics seem to have been exploited to weaken collaborative work on Free/libre software; the response to these tactics needs to start with realisation that this is going on (even if it’s done in a somewhat clandestine nature)

BACK in 2008 we wrote about how Microsoft had attempted to weaken the Free software community by playing off BSDs against the GNUs (and Linuxes). Internal documents from Microsoft revealed that it was on the agenda. The cult tactics of Microsoft aren’t new to us; we’ve covered those for many years and we provided evidence, too.

Society worldwide is being increasingly divided. It was always divided, sure, but the ferociousness of the division was never this bad in my lifetime. People are willing to kill one another over political differences and national leaders egg them on. They like it when people are divided, combating one another on a horizontal level rather than vertical level (things like gender/race, not class/finance).

“When the Free software movement began — and even in the UNIX/BSD camp — gender and class weren’t an issue; people had come from many parts of the world, from various ethnic backgrounds albeit usually from richer countries (where access to technology was possible back then).”Software freedom was, since inception, inherently political but also technical. The concept of sharing had an associated “justice” to it; people wanted to share with their neighbours things that were free to copy anyway; why should anyone stand in their way (except barons looking at the prospect of privateering and domination over culture/knowledge)?

When the Free software movement began — and even in the UNIX/BSD camp — gender and class weren’t an issue; people had come from many parts of the world, from various ethnic backgrounds albeit usually from richer countries (where access to technology was possible back then). There was nothting inherently racist and sexist about it, certainly not by design. Back then countries like Switzerland were only starting to consider granting women the right to vote!

Frankly, the interjection of all this “Free software is racist/sexist” thing seems to have come about more than a decade ago, metastacising in media in the pockets of corporations like Microsoft. They sought to shame us and to cause guilt, stigmatising geeks as a bunch of bigots and zealots who shout at the little girl, “THESE ARE MY TOYS! GO GET YOUR GIRLY TOYS!”

“In Free software everybody can participate, irrespective of race and gender, and in that sense it’s far more inclusive than the Oracles and Microsofts of the world.”I have never in my entire life witnessed someone (firsthand) mistreating a geeky female for being female. I didn’t actually hear people say things like, “computers are for guys!” I did, however, see code scrutinised and sometimes the code was crafted by a female. Equality means that code can be criticised irrespective of gender, right? That’s what Linus Torvalds did.

I generally reject the concept that Free software is any more racist or sexist than proprietary software companies. Maybe it’s not as good at hiding it (because of transparency, which is bolted into the workflow). It’s easy to accept that some malicious individuals exist among Free software developers; there’s no hiring process and there’s no discrimination. In Free software everybody can participate, irrespective of race and gender, and in that sense it’s far more inclusive than the Oracles and Microsofts of the world. How many people know about the racist agenda of Bill Gates and Microsoft's many Conservative/nationalist employees? They hide it from us. Because that’s what they’re good at: they hide things, not only code and bribes and back doors.

“A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me… It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this…”

Andrew S Tanenbaum, father on MINIX

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