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How to Govern is an Unsolved Problem

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 2:04 am by Guest Editorial Team

(…It’s also a loaded question that presupposes governance as a requirement.)

Article by figosdev

Smedley Butler

Summary: “To say the least, we live in uncomfortable times. A damned fool (and frankly, nobody else) will think that the most uncomfortable thing about the times we live in are the words we use.”

When I wrote my previous article, it was in response to some new Android-related threat that Techrights had linked to here and it wasn’t intended as part of a series. When I write articles for Techrights, it’s generally without the knowledge of things that will be published soon.

The way the cycle works in practice, I’ll submit something, and either between the time I checked Techrights previously (quite often, between the time I submit it and the time it is published) other articles will be published as well. Any similarities may be coincidental (or even imaginary) and I’m not really surprised when themes overlap. I pay more attention to overlapping themes than average, it’s a philosophical bent of mine, and things like this can and do happen without other reasons than coincidence.

“It’s impossible to divorce politics from activism — you might even argue it is meaningless to imagine the two being completely separate, but it depends on the meaning of the word “is”.”But occasionally it means another article gets written as a response.

It’s impossible to divorce politics from activism — you might even argue it is meaningless to imagine the two being completely separate, but it depends on the meaning of the word “is”. (I had to look that up, and much to my amusement it is attributed to Mr. DMCA himself, Bill Clinton). More specifically, it depends on the meaning of the word “politics”.

One thing I can state unequivocally is that I have no political party affiliation. If I did, it would probably be the Pirate Party, because I really love what they do. But I am not a member of the Pirate Party. For most of my life I have considered myself “left-leaning”, in the regard that I think humans have a loosely-defined but arguably moral obligation to help each other. This “obligation” translates extremely poorly into laws. Laws are notoriously bad at implementing morality.

If you do write a law, the best place to start in my opinion is by beginning with the concept of completely unfettered liberty for individuals, with zero restrictions imposed by authority and zero authority for anybody to impose restrictions on others. If the law is enforceable by a state, the next step is an excruciatingly minimalist set of “powers” invoked of “necessity”, where any increase of powers is either forbidden or (at worst) invoked only with the greatest scepticism.

“Whether it takes 50 years or 500, eventually people set out to renew the idea of a tolerable number of restrictions — whether it’s “zero” or “very very few”.”And since I’ve witnessed the results of a process not entirely unlike that one (it’s not like it was my idea to begin with) then there have been many times when I thought that would suffice. Perhaps it’s the best possible form of government, though it’s easy to tell that such things have a limited duration (not unlike an application framework) before “mission creep” and feature creep sets in, to make a mess of it. Whether it takes 50 years or 500, eventually people set out to renew the idea of a tolerable number of restrictions — whether it’s “zero” or “very very few”.

I’m not unaware of organisations that exploit this notion — if you are boycotting products produced by the Koch brothers, I get it. Whether I would ever lean An-cap or even An-com, there are terrible examples of any form of government. Ancient Greece had slaves, The United States had (and still has) slavery. If I were a communist, I still would not support a monstrosity like the Chinese government.

There are really bad examples of Democracy, and really bad examples of every alternative. Churchill made a famous statement about Democracy versus all the alternatives in the House of Commons, though he was quoting someone else. But I have often found it curious how Free Software advocates and atheists look at Libertarianism as some kind of blight on the human condition. My plea is not for people to change their affiliation — to what, exactly? I don’t have an answer for that! — but simply to view their opponents as fairly (or reasonably) as possible. That’s going to be tricky without good examples.

“The more people misunderstand each other, the better such divisive tactics work — when Free Software has been hijacked by corporations through such divisive tactics, it’s well past time to look at the weaknesses that led to such tactics even working. But better late than never.”But whether it is about affiliation or not, I really do feel that one of the reasons we have such great schisms (and why coups were so successful) in Free Software today, are that people do not understand each other politically. I must emphatically state that I said they don’t “understand” each other, this is not about whether they agree. Being able to disagree is a very important right to preserve. There is a lot of push lately to force people to agree with things, or at least go along with them silently (which really isn’t a lot better) under the guise of avoiding conflict, “rudeness” or even bigotry. By “bigotry” of course I don’t mean actual bigotry, but accusing people of being bigoted based on affiliations (simply supporting rms, as one example was recently made on Techrights) or based on the perceived implications of some idea: Oh you insist on calling it “free software”, you must hate _________ then.

The more people misunderstand each other, the better such divisive tactics work — when Free Software has been hijacked by corporations through such divisive tactics, it’s well past time to look at the weaknesses that led to such tactics even working. But better late than never.

In a similar way to how the Democratic Party in the United States tries to maintain a de facto monopoly on “progress”, leading rms (and fellow contributors to Techrights) to support the Green Party instead, leading people (who I still enjoy reading) in the IRC channel to insist that this is a threat to the nation and the world through the cardinal sin of Naderism — Open Source has enjoyed somewhat of a monopoly on libertarians who are interested in Free Software. ESR of course, is some sort of libertarian.

“But we are also here to challenge assumptions, because if you have too many assumptions (and enough of them are false), then it leads to the sort of misunderstandings that make us all ripe for political manipulation.”As you would expect from something called “Techrights”, the primary theme here is not about parties at all, but about the connections between Technology and the Rights of people. I won’t say “the rights of individuals” even if it’s what I’m thinking, because that wording also presupposes something — just like the title. “The rights of people” is the broader (less one-sided) way to address these issues, even if I personally lean on side or the other. One or more of the staff writers here is vegetarian, so “The rights of people” may not even be broad enough — but let’s at least start somewhere. (I think Pocock made a similar plea in an article a month or so ago).

As I was saying, this article was prompted by another article which I largely agree with; it talks about problems that I find very real and worth trying to solve. Since we are talking about problems, it’s only reasonable to discuss solutions if we are able to do so. So along those lines, one particular angle is covered:

“It’s not about technical excellence; technology here is merely the means by which to gain power (political, not technical) over a lot of people while amassing endless wealth, controlling the lives of so many without democratic oversight.”

I have no problem with Roy’s bias here. It’s not disguised, undisclosed or ambiguous. In fact the statement is a self-contained disclaimer. Like so many people (perhaps the majority of the world, for all I know) Roy simply assumes that “democratic oversight” is the answer to this problem.

For all I know, he could be right. So it would be silly for me to complain that he talks about it as a solution. That’s what I think we are here to do — discuss solutions to problems relevant to a digital age. We all have various biases and solutions and ideas to bring the table.

But we are also here to challenge assumptions, because if you have too many assumptions (and enough of them are false), then it leads to the sort of misunderstandings that make us all ripe for political manipulation. And I already hinted that for example, the Koch brothers (as lobbyists) are willing to exploit the notion of liberation or liberty in order to profit from the exact opposite. It’s not a new trick to me, it’s exactly what Open Source does.

But even if I don’t think ESR is a great example of a libertarian, and even if I question (along with Roy) the wisdom of bringing a pro-gun stance into the forefront as Derek Taylor and ESR do, I also think it’s (in a curious way) unavoidable, and a fool's errand to try to put a bold line between the topics altogether. At face value, I’m sure that seems obtuse.

I know that there are times when it is necessary (to avoid an endless discussion in a limited timeframe) to stick to certain topics like the 4 Freedoms. I am well aware (and have myself complained) of the efforts to use divisive politics to derail important discussions about software freedom. On the question of whether we must guard ourselves against such discussions being derailed — or whether we must stand firmly against efforts to censor all external CONTEXT of software freedom, the correct but less-than-easy answer is we owe it to ourselves to do both. In a 30-minute talk, SOMETIMES we can only afford to deviate so much from the main topic.

If you want to talk about software patents at LibrePlanet, and Mr. Raymond wants to make it about gun rights, I think the speaker should probably avoid the temptation to yield the floor to him. “That’s really outside the topic I intend to discuss!” But I don’t think he’s so terrible for asking, and I don’t think a Code of Conduct is the solution (in practice, it’s more of a problem really).

I think this way that debates become “tainted” can certainly be weaponised by P.R. companies, who use deliberate tactics to unduly influence debate and public sentiment. The problem is very real. But sooner or later if we discuss software freedom, we discuss 3D printing and possibly DRM. Are printers and DRM relevant to software freedom? Without question! Now, what’s the strongest excuse to implement DRM on 3D printers? C’mon, it’s not some nonsense like “Intellectual Property”.

With a smirk (and some disdain) for my old Nemesis, Mike Godwin — who has actually repented of any crime I can really hold him to, though he’s more fun as a Nemesis even if the abuse of his maxim was really the fault of others — I will posit that as a discussion of software freedom grows longer, the probability of a point being made about gun rights approaches 1.

“My biggest concern (relevant to Codes of Conduct and relevant to liberty and free expression itself) with regards to this and Free Software, is that I do not want ANY party or political leaning to have a de facto monopoly on software freedom.”This is for many reasons, including the fact that advocates for each overlap — that 3D printers are a thing, that “GNU” is a single-shift anagram (a typo waiting to happen) of “gun” and perhaps above all else, the most prominent competitor/foil to Free Software was co-founded by Eric S. Raymond. If you censor him now, he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Okay probably not, but I don’t think censoring him does any good to freedom and I can still argue that OSI is even worse than its co-founders. I don’t trust Perens either, but it doesn’t prevent me from genuinely liking some of his recent ideas (remain sceptical, it’s only wise at this point).

The only way to maintain freedom of speech and cover all the bases of “context” for the 4 freedoms is to be, as the old programmer wisdom goes, “conservative in what you send, [and] liberal in what you accept” — this is a recipe for robust protocols, relevant not only to its author (who wrote an early specification for TCP) but also relevant to the “political” landscape with regards to free software. Efforts to impose focus are doing as much harm as good, though setting an example by sticking to your own point is no crime, and it’s what rms (often) does, and it’s what you’ll learn if you do media training — don’t let them change the subject to keep you from making yours. This is just as true when it’s about software freedom — many of the attacks on which are broad and well-funded efforts to change the subject entirely.

My biggest concern (relevant to Codes of Conduct and relevant to liberty and free expression itself) with regards to this and Free Software, is that I do not want ANY party or political leaning to have a de facto monopoly on software freedom. If rms leans Green, that’s fine for him. If Roy leans (I don’t know — labour? Certainly leftish at any rate), then what he brings to the table he does regardless of any “bias” he has (as if others lack one). Another contributor here supports the Green Party, and I consider him a fellow left-libertarian (at least he has a described himself as such). Though sometimes, the broader left will do libertarians a disservice. And what should we do then? Ignore it? Say nothing? Don’t count on it…

“With vigilance as well as the robustness principle, we can maintain both the necessary focus as well as the very important exploration of context and related points, without acting like doormats for those who would co-opt a movement.”It’s going to keep coming up, when the passions that drive us to truly stand for your freedom (amidst conflict and upheaval, and even attempts made on our character — like the misguided efforts to ruin rms and the very movement he started — but quite a few other people as well) are not identical, but sometimes have common themes. Those similarities are going to be discussed, but so are our differences — if we speak frankly, sincerely and for long enough, it is inevitable.

It’s fortunate that we have the Free Software Definition, which includes the 4 Freedoms, because if we get too far away from that basis for the movement anybody can simply point to that and say “but have we forgotten what this is really all about?” With vigilance as well as the robustness principle, we can maintain both the necessary focus as well as the very important exploration of context and related points, without acting like doormats for those who would co-opt a movement. It’s a question of balance and priority, but we can do that while acknowledging the broad scope of software freedom-related issues in a world that runs increasingly on free software. But we also have to know that some people will do this improperly, and deliberately — and dishonestly.

“The philosophy of open source, with its purely practical values, impedes understanding of the deeper ideas of free software; it brings many people into our community, but does not teach them to defend it. That is good, as far as it goes, but it is not enough to make freedom secure.”Richard Stallman

When Roy talks about “democratic oversight”, he presupposes this as the solution to a problem. I have no problem with that, I simply don’t think about it that way — Roy has as much right to think that way as I do to think differently. When I approach such things, it is increasingly as someone who is sceptical of one sort of oversight, but (like Roy) considers SOME sort of oversight completely necessary. We disagree only on the ideal type of oversight.

Another reason that we will inevitably come back to the discussion of matters of arms, is not because it’s a pleasant topic or one I enjoy discussing.

“But if we look at the history of Britain, of Europe, of the United Nations, and the United States, there is simply no more evidence that Democracy will (ever) end war, and if we cannot end it then (for those of us who are anti-war activists) we would then seek of course, to keep it to the barest minimum.”Remember, my personal leaning is that we have a Moral obligation to help each other. It is not absolute — if you’re walking alone at night and someone asks for your help and you assume it’s a trick designed to put you or someone else in danger, I don’t think you have a moral obligation to do the riskiest, stupidest thing — that would be an absolute moral obligation, and in my opinion a foolish one. This “moral obligation” exists in my personal views of the world as one important principle in a collection of several, and you are “allowed” (if not required) to consider your own safety and well-being — in other words, if you think helping someone is dangerous or otherwise foolish, then it’s up to you to make the choice whether to do so or not. This higher obligation to others is something I “feel” probably matters on average — we are ultimately better off helping each other than not doing so. That’s a moral (perhaps ethical) concept. But it’s a principle on average, as opposed to an absolute.

The onus is on the individual to make the decision — that’s where it becomes about liberty. Of course, people are going to judge their decisions accordingly. If you’re choosing who to help (or doing anything) in a manner that is unfair or unjust, people will use their right to address that. And then comes an endless debate that is part of being human in a global society, I suppose. (With that said, micromanaging the world is inefficient and might have no real benefit to society, except to those who do the micromanaging).

Too often, well-meaning people make a caricature of this balance of obligations to others and to themselves. And here is what happens when such caricatures becomes the rule: left-leaning statists will get it into their heads (as well as their rhetoric) that all libertarians are either cowboys or suckers — cowboys who have no regard for human life or human dignity, apologists for slaveowners, or suckers who can’t seem to figure out that every libertarian is really Eric S. Raymond — a supporter of a system that is sociopathic and ultimately exploits others.

I have a problem with that — philosophically, and morally. And it most certainly comes back (somehow) to who is allowed to bear arms — though I really don’t lean on the 2nd Amendment to make the point for me. I’m concerned with a concept much broader than who is armed:

“Who is in authority?”

“The Code of Conduct (in practice, in deed, in reality) is just one prominent example of efforts to control us and limit those discussions.”Who controls their computing? Who is free to do math? These are questions as old as the war between the Church and Science, if not older. The Church did not only obfuscate the scriptures so that people would be forced to “do business” with the clergy; they also managed finance and the calendar itself in a form that was proprietary — that is to say they controlled it, and left the public out of the workings of the system.

Roy is an atheist when it comes to religion, while I am agnostic.

I have long leaned towards being “agnostic” when it comes to government, but I am becoming an atheist towards the same.

And the reason I don’t believe in government is not far from the reasons that atheists tend to give for not believing in religion —

When you care for humanity — even as an ideal (because let’s face it — humanity in practice or daily life is not always as charming as the “idea” of humanity) then it is very difficult to also love endless war. Maybe you can justify a war to overthrow someone trying to enslave large swaths of Europe — even if the real reason people (finally) joined that war was more about profit and political influence. Opportunists do debatably good things, for opportunistic (less than wonderful) reasons. Sometimes that’s okay and a question motive doesn’t really even matter — other times it deserves scrutiny or mockery.

I have been an anti-war activist for longer than I have been a Free Software advocate. I was protesting the invasion of Iraq even before it happened, and I cannot place my advocacy of Free Software (for certain) any earlier than 2007. But I hoped that in a Democracy, it would be possible to end such illegal and endless war.

But if we look at the history of Britain, of Europe, of the United Nations, and the United States, there is simply no more evidence that Democracy will (ever) end war, and if we cannot end it then (for those of us who are anti-war activists) we would then seek of course, to keep it to the barest minimum. Perhaps that is a stated goal of the UN, but one of its hobbies is controlling all expression through copyright and dismantling the Internet, so call me sceptical when you say the UN exists for the betterment of humanity. I’m unconvinced. As with the above-mentioned balance of liberty and moral obligation, being “against war” is not all that matters to me. Freedom and liberty are very important, along with helping other people while minimising very stupid and cynical (if for some, profitable) invasions. The contractors profit, but the world suffers and dies for it. And this is due to all of the following: the state, the corporations, and increases in technology.

We can’t talk comprehensively about freedom and technology without talking about the dangers — whether it is the dangers to liberty, or to life itself. We owe it to ourselves, if not each other to discuss those issues. We thus owe it to ourselves, if not others to stand against the cynical kinds of censorship that stands between ourselves and the ability to discuss things with others. The Code of Conduct (in practice, in deed, in reality) is just one prominent example of efforts to control us and limit those discussions. In the Techrights IRC such things are justified (sometimes, in Devil’s advocate discussions, if not sincere defence) as inevitable given the legal landscape, so back we are to the state again.

“At the end of the day, people have a right to question authority — whether it’s Microsoft, the Koch family, the Church, or President Winnie the Pooh.”You have Randall Munroe pretending in a very glib (frankly, clueless) fashion that Codes of Conduct have nothing to do with government interference, and (thus) have nothing to do with censorship — he (most erroneously) implies that censorship without the state is not even a thing! I have no idea how he he got such a ridiculous idea, but I try to criticise it whenever I find the opportunity, because it’s incredibly stupid. At the same time, you have someone in IRC suggesting a Code of Conduct is necessary, BECAUSE of laws! So this is the sort of thing we (actually) have to deal with, unless of course we intend to simply sign our freedoms away. If we do, we can count on more illegal wars and more pointless deaths. It’s not just rhetoric, people die in (very fucking stupid) wars.

So you have people who basically demand that in order to REALLY CARE about people, you must have the state. It’s the only way — wait for a hurricane, and only the state can (or will bother) to provide aid. This is the very same state that goes to war to support oil contractors. I haven’t even bothered to do the math about whether the hurricane aid adds up to countering the deaths caused by drones and nothing else — I mean we should be doing this math, though that isn’t how war drums are beaten — with precision or public interest in costs and benefits (maybe this is a point for libertarians, I don’t know). I mean they always imply there is precision, but you know how it goes with drone attacks and wedding parties in the real world.

Okay, so this is all explained away by talking of parties. You have one party that “clearly” is just the KKK in an expensive suit and tie, and other which is basically Jesus without the homophobic implications, so it’s implied. But we haven’t really traveled very far from the timeline where Alan Turing was tortured and vaxxed for his sexuality, by the same sorts of people who support the same sorts of people who (begrudgingly, but unquestionably) joined Mr. Bush on his very profitable escapades through the Middle East, whether Mr. Obama (Democrat, American) really intended to “bring the troops home” or Mr. Blair (Labour, British) really thought a “special relationship” necessitated a ridiculous bloodbath for the benefit American Oil cartels. I mean, pull the other one. Again.

This party bickering on which warlord is more Christlike does not interest me in the least.

At the end of the day, people have a right to question authority — whether it’s Microsoft, the Koch family, the Church, or President Winnie the Pooh.

These are all intermediaries, and all have sinned against humanity in very broad terms.

So you look to the individuals, like Mr. Raymond, and you find that they too, are not without sin or vice or some foolish ideas.

“We should be able to mock the stupid, when the stupid are politically destructive, it’s one of the more noble bases for comedy.”Then you look to the history that is available to us — and some of us decide that yes, technology is obviously a factor in all this. Thus, when we speak of technology and human rights, it will be difficult (read: impossible) for us to talk of freedom, and restrict ourselves to discussion of all the amendments (First, Fourth and even 12th are covered here) except that one, because it’s the one that people don’t like. And obviously, that discussion is not forbidden. It’s right here. Though it is discouraged, by means of questioning the character of anybody who brings it up. We keep complaining about other people doing that, maybe it’s unavoidable — but maybe we should be more wary. I don’t know! We should be able to mock the stupid, when the stupid are politically destructive, it’s one of the more noble bases for comedy. But I’ll get back to that point in a moment.

If that person is ESR, I get it — I mean he’s not a shining example of a libertarian by any means. He’s kind of a schmuck. And if I search YouTube for libertarian viewpoints, sadly a lot of those will be schmucks as well. I mean people I like even less than ESR. And while I do that, the United States is exceedingly desperate to replace one fascist with a slightly-less-fascist one — with a person who actually takes credit (perhaps unrealistically) for authoring the Patriot Act which the world blamed not on Biden, but on Bush Jr. After all, it was certainly his regime that passed the bloody fascist thing. And this is “progress”, we are told. No, at the very best it’s fascism-lite and (STILL) more war.

Ryan thinks I could be stupid enough to sign my name to 8 more years of blood and terror, but he’s wrong — I DO NOT VOTE FOR WAR CRIMINALS! — EVER!!!

“To say the least, we live in uncomfortable times. A damned fool (and frankly, nobody else) will think that the most uncomfortable thing about the times we live in are the words we use.”But the big question for me is — are they not ALL war criminals? Is this state that Mr. Schestowitz ultimately believes is salvageable, really going to save us from endless war — or will it perpetuate it instead? If it’s the latter, am I supposed to give a damn if they also make very nice sidewalks and feed or clothe SOME of the people they aren’t bombing for profit? It’s just very difficult to trust people when their humanitarianism is so murdery. But hold on, these crazy people are holding guns and not shooting them — obviously we should stop worrying about how many people are dying to expand the largest (increasingly AI-driven) military on Earth — and LOOK AT THESE CRAZY IDIOTS — THEY HAVE RIFLES! It’s pretty scary stuff… Hurry up and vote for someone to expand the (at best, equally racist) corporate robot laser military, so we can all feel safe from redneck libertarians again. Then we can finally get back to talking about global warming, of which said military is the worst offender. But hey, details!

Of course there was that socialist who wanted to cut military spending (and with it, global warming) but don’t worry, “democracy” took care of him! If by democracy, you mean corporations pre-voting so that by the time the election comes around, there are no actual choices to represent the actual people. But again, that’s just details.

There are few questions (than those about war) more vital to the human existence, let alone the human condition. To call them “side points” is absolutely true in some contexts — but to stifle them is itself is ultimately an act of fascism. I still don’t support these idiotic crayon-scribbled licenses that Mr. Perens (and the FSF) knew better than even 20 years ago, because dumb ideas keep coming back with the fashion and licenses are completely useless for that sort of thing.

“But those who oppose liberty and will not institute hard rules against speech will find other means.”To say the least, we live in uncomfortable times. A damned fool (and frankly, nobody else) will think that the most uncomfortable thing about the times we live in are the words we use. How fucking stupid would you really have to be?

But those who oppose liberty and will not institute hard rules against speech will find other means. On the one hand, I see great value in mocking the tyrants of the world. I have stated that I enjoy George Carlin, Russell Peters, Eddie Izzard, Dave Chappelle. Gabriel Iglesias is another good one.

But importantly, these are all intelligent comedians, who I think are more about being honest than encouraging stupidity or thoughtlessness in the name of laughter. They make people laugh to make people think.

“What do you think an artist is? …he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”
― Pablo Picasso (who painted “one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history,” Guernica)

If you want to understand humanity, try to understand the world.

If you want to understand the world, try to understand the universe.

If you want to understand the universe, be fair (at least) to all the viewpoints you can stomach. This does not mean you will find yourself in agreement with everything — it means that every idea you pass judgement on will (to the best of your ability) get a fair hearing and a fair trial.

I don’t think it’s fair (or reasonable) to think that all who are “atheists” towards government are also (by necessity) sociopaths, when nothing is more historically bloody than the Church and State. Of course blood was shed long before either of those things existed, and it would continue to be shed if both ever ceased to exist.

The question is, would a future society without a state be more bloody, or less?

I don’t know, I don’t pretend to know (for certain). But I’ll at least try to be fair to the question, because the question is that important. It’s nothing less than an existential debate.

I want (far) less war. You’ll forgive me if I ignore any promises you make that completely ignore this, or perpetually delegate it to the backburner because it’s easy to bullshit people.

You don’t have to change your licenses, that’s a stupid idea. But if I’m sometimes ambivalent about your GPL (it helps keep software free, I’m pretty sure of that — how much it helps is still up for debate, but it’s an interesting and important topic) you should note that I’m pretty ambivalent (and ultimately sceptical) about the copyright that it depends on. In the big picture, I don’t think a world without copyright is such a terrible thing.

And world without the legal basis for copyright? I’m not sure that’s such a terrible thing either. What if it increased liberty and saved lives — is that really a sociopathic question?

But even I use the GPL sometimes. Why? Exploration. Science. Maybe there is some way to make copyleft better than permissive licenses, even in a (hypothetical) libertarian “utopia” that has contracts, but no actual laws. I know that’s far outside the credulity of statists in general. But the world is a very strange place. Maybe as long as copyright exists, GPL is the best foil. I don’t know, but I’m willing to consider the possibility — others are.

For a fictional socialist utopia everybody can love, I do really love Star Trek. Even if it’s silly. I’ve been a fan for too long to say exactly when. For a fictional libertarian utopia (or Libertarianism at its best) I’ve never been able to stomach Ayn Rand. There is a webcomic called Quantum Vibe which is probably derivative, but sometimes as entertaining and interesting as Star Trek in my opinion.

It probably won’t change your mind, but that’s not the goal. The goal is for more ideas to get a fair trial, or to be dismissed without judgment and without comparing everyone to some schmuck like Eric S. Raymond. I mean I think he’s a lousy person, but I can’t say I disagree with him on EVERYTHING. What would the odds of that be? Who would I be be trying to impress?

I don’t assume that libertarians are sociopaths. I don’t assume that other leftists aren’t.

Either way, there’s far too much death in the world, and not nearly enough liberty — Just saying.

As for the farce to take place in a few weeks, I can tell you this much: it’s a fake government consisting of fake parties having a fake election, that will invariably screw over voters and the world alike.

It isn’t just CNN that’s fake news — all the giant multinational media companies are fake, and they have as much influence over elections as Mark Zuckerberg, who is trying very hard (with some success and certainly a great deal of help) to steal their thunder. I don’t even follow the business going on with Twitter, but what Roy says about them probably isn’t wrong.

As for what voters can do, the answer is “not very much”. Vote if you vote, don’t vote if you don’t. You’re probably better off re-reading the Constitution, or just throwing your hands up and saying “Fuck it, whatever”. Why? For the same reason as reading the Free Software Definition — it shows you just how far we’ve strayed as a society from the original idea.

But if you do believe in voting, I recommend not a party, but a principle:

A vote based on fear is a vote you were conned into. It is guaranteed to not represent you. It’s a trick.

If you do vote, do it for liberty — stop signing your name to illegal wars, bailouts of the same corporations that bribe your politicians to make voting meaningless and inconsequential — in the words of the infamous right-libertarian (nahhhhh) Lawrence Lessig: Reboot Democracy (if you truly need it at all).

Seriously, it’s worse than leaving Windows XP running for 200 years. CTRL-ALT-DELETE is the LEAST you can do.

You may think this is call to revolution, but that would mostly be a (lost) war to replace those at the top with someone else, doing something (a state) that I have little to no faith in personally. Why would I call for that? Instead, people should decide whether they are really in the business of armed conflict, or in the business of humanity. How they manage to defend themselves from aggressors, slaveowners and war criminals is not my concern nor my area of expertise. They will figure that out as it is necessary. But even I trust a backstabber like ESR more than fascists like Biden or Trump. You wouldn’t vote for ESR, but you would consider either of the two main candidates in the next election? That makes no sense at all! They’re so much worse than Eric S. Raymond. And there, perhaps — is something to think about.

Since I don’t believe in the lesser of two evils, ESR couldn’t count on my vote. If I believed in the lesser of three evils, I would surely try to elect him over anybody with a chance of winning in November.

Why wouldn’t you?

It’s a side point of course, because the system is utterly bought and paid for — your vote is piss in the wind, or as Paul Simon once said “Laugh about it, shout about it, when you’ve got to choose / Every way you look at it, you lose.” But it’s your right. Do as you see fit, consider all your choices. It’s the latter that I think we have abandoned. And that’s a vote based on fear — a con, a swindle, a racket — no thanks.

If we don’t fall for it this time, they will be sure that next time, we are even more afraid. Important decisions like who to sign over the foreseeable future to are best made with the amygdala? That’s the party which rules today — the corporate amygdala two-party party, who will only make you fear the things that you NEED to fear and only condition you to vote for the things that are best for you — we promise! (And if you don’t, you’re obviously a sociopath!)

Above all, bring Democracy to Jonestown, so we can vote for the Blue Kool-Aid, NOT the Red — the Blue is slightly less poison you know, it makes all the difference in the world. Boy gee, imagine what would happen if we don’t! (And this time it’s really absolutely true for once…) They put the fate of the whole world in a simple lever pull — like American Idol, imagine just how bored they would have to be. Oh wait no, it’s a trolley problem!

“Get the tanks out!” “We haven’t got any!” “Get that ice cream van out, then… Orange Fruities and Zooms, throw the Zooms! Fuck off, you bastard!”

I know that few people are destined to find the point of all this, but when you say “Free as in speech” or talk about freedom for all users, from tyrants — what do you think you’re really saying? Vote for the lesser tyrant, (or else?) Elect your favourite liar? The hurricane aid is lovely, thank you — but the people who signed off on it are still very mass-murdery compared to most people. War is a racket, yeah sure, but the government cares For Realsies, honest!

“Free Software, Free Society”. That’s a nice job if you can get it. Who do you think they’re going to give it to? Where on Earth is the Free Software party? And do they seriously give a damn about your freedom — EVEN the famous 4? Who is in authority? Why are we calling that “Liberty?” Aww, fuck it! Whatever.

Best of luck.

“In its report to the House, the committee stated that, while ‘no evidence was presented… to show a connection… with any fascist activity of any European country… [t]here was no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution…’ and that ‘your committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made by General Butler, with the exception of the direct statement about the creation of the organisation. This, however, was corroborated in the correspondence of MacGuire with his principal, Robert Sterling Clark…” –Smedley Butler’s Business Plot

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