everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
=> mo-money-mo-problems.html mo-money-mo-problems
*originally posted:* jan 2022
if youre wondering what this article has to do with the rest of the website, youll probably find out if you keep reading.
im not going to (deliberately) convert anyone to christianity with this article, it is mostly a primer on how evil works and how to accomplish it-- being evil is not actually recommended here.
the jesus security model is a metaphor, and will probably piss off more christians than it impresses. it is written for the reader, more than it is written for them. a few christians may enjoy it anyway.
if youre thinking about true evil, youre probably thinking about a lot of things that evil does or the effects it has on other people-- a lot of that stuff is already obvious, so this is going to cover the part that is possibly less so. i mean, if you know the right thing to do, it isnt exactly rocket science to do the other thing instead.
this article was going to be called "the-magic-open-source-attack", but that turned into how state propaganda works, and how state propaganda works turned into this. hopefully, this answers the question you may have had since reading the title and the first paragraph.
although i refer to it as a "magic attack", it is incredibly common and especially in the tech industry. i dont mean to single out the tech industry-- this trick is very common in industry in general.
the first step of being evil of course, is to do evil things. but thats very mundane, and what this will try to explain is not how to lie, cheat and steal-- but how to get away with it. many people do, and this article will explain one simple trick to become more invincible against truth and your own humanity using simple, worldly wisdom.
my favourite example is free software, so we are going to talk about how open source works. the actual lesson is quite a lot broader, and you can imagine this applying to (and defeating) all sorts of good causes.
as i said, the first step is to do evil things-- but to make it truly evil, we are going to tap into the power of serious (one might say "industrial") bullshit. you can (im not saying you should) try this at home, though making a habit of it would be tragic.
industry caters more to self-serving people than it does to people who want to actually save the world. industry itself is self-serving, and people with the "best" mindset for giving it what it wants are people who think "like" industry itself.
eventually this orgy of selfish thoughtlessness (or "optimisation" of the shallow at all costs) causes enough problems that good people try to FIX it-- they try to save the world. for a good example of this, i give you richard stallman-- but there are many others in many contexts.
every crisis is an opportunity-- this is true whether youre on the side of good or evil. on the side of evil, people will actually try to create crises and chaos so they can benefit. on the side of good, people rebel. the goal for evil then becomes to win those people "back", like when vader tells luke (i blame dr farnell for the recent spate of star wars references) to join him and rule the universe.
and this is exactly how you do it:
1. first, conflate good with evil under the banner of "peace". fighting the rebels head-on is costly, if there are enough people standing against you they even have a chance of bringing you down. dont fight them harder, fight smarter-- fool them into changing sides, make it look like peace and cooperation (even collaboration) instead. this isnt survival of the fittest, its a new era of lion and hyena together, living side by side!
2. reduce the message of the rebels to something vapid, empty and meaningless-- above all, something neutered and powerless that depends on you for it to work in the first place. make everyone think that this neutered version of the rebel goals is the REAL version. plaster it everywhere (this has been referred to as a "charm offensive" but also it replaces the urge to fight for something good with the urge to give up power again).
^ note: originally i was going to provide examples of step 2. reading about edward bernays will help here (he wrote one of the pioneering works on this) but basically you twist everything nasty and horrible you do into some kind of positive. then you say "lets not be so negative about these things", so only the EXPERT, PROFESSIONAL bullshitters will have any real say in anything. it isnt an accident when this happens, it is absolutely deliberate and by design. but industry uses the same tactics as a police state. bullshit is an actual weapon, used to oppress and control and (most generally) fuck with people.
3. once youve built your new ranks, pretend the rebels are just outliers who havent "joined" this greater cause. of course this cause isnt greater, its a bullshit (co-opted) version of the one designed to stop you from being evil and corrupt. but thats just pedantry, the outliers (however many) are unreasonable and refuse to compromise. by compromise, you mean surrender to manipulation and bullshit-- obviously you leave that fact out.
4. finally, once practically everyone is committed to peace, attack with full force and destroy the opposition once and for all. its not your fault that they chose to surrender. blame everything you ever stood for on them, point out that they helped you, take everything theyve given in the spirit of collaboration and peace and remind the world that (as a monopoly, as an empire) it belonged to you anyway. you have the forged documents and appeals to your own authority to prove it.
dont knock it-- it works!
for the past few years, open source has pulled on every single one of these levers, realising a mission that goes all the way back to the 1990s. helping open source is destroying the fight for freedom. even the fsf continues to destroy itself, with stallman exiled in place. techrights downplays this and serves the corrupted fsf. theres no telling if greg will save it, but im guessing they wont-- either because theyre on the wrong side, or because theyre actually loyal to the real cause and dont have the forces left to win. the fsf is lost, and pretending it isnt allows the occupying forces to continue to use it as a base of operations.
im not against people fighting to win back the fsf per se, its just that the odds are more likely that it will remain a cover (a perfect disguise) for open source, not unlike when the fsfe turned traitor to its own mission. who are you to question their will? im against people serving something corrupted and im against them fighting on the wrong side, but im not against them fighting to win back the fsf (even if it wont work). hopefully it wont be the only thing theyre fighting for on behalf of user freedom.
although this is (was from the beginning) mostly about the open source takeover of free software, this is also how state propaganda works. when you bring charges of human rights abuses against a regime for years at a time and it threatens their standing in the world, they play a similar rhetorical and political game as a response. "the policy is not like that", "we are only taking care of our people", and my personal favourite: "its a matter of national security". tell people to support us, so we can continue to exploit and protect them (and send them the bill).
that segues not very neatly into what i call the jesus model of security. i am interested in many different religions from a philosophical standpoint, and i tend to get bored with christianity (its not very original, but sometimes it can be nuanced, sophisticated and interesting-- not all christians are boring) but it has its moments. theres probably a similar metaphor i could use from several other sources, but they wont be quite as familiar in the west-- and i didnt think of one anyway.
the purpose of explaining the jesus model of security is simple-- ive told you how to make the poison of the world, now ill explain the antidote.
the poison of course, is selfishness and lying-- its to protect the status quo and defend conquest and takeover at all costs. you cannot have monopoly (a purely self-serving way of doing things) without conquest and takeover. supporting monopoly means that you are (you will be) helping another takeover. monopolies NEED to be supported, or they lose power. to protect themselves, they find all sorts of efficient (soft) tactics for keeping their strings attached to people. this is the sort of evil described in this article, and make no mistake-- this is the sort of evil that is relied on MOST for monopolies, cults and regimes to stay in power at all costs. people are constantly being "re-educated."
by no means am i suggesting that simply by being a better person (or being more vulnerable) will you bring down the empire. the empire LOVES a doormat, it prefers to turn as many people into doormats as possible. i dont recommend compliance, indeed i encourage the very opposite of complying. dont support the empire.
on an ethical level however, one of the things monopolies do is exploit the self-serving tendencies that everyone has in SOME amount. not everyone is a fundamentally selfish person, nor is everyone (fundamentally) full of shit. rather, the goal is to make people more selfish and more full of shit, which makes them primed for service. (by the way, if you own a television, you should really pull out the antenna and disconnect any cable television service).
the reason im describing this alternative, rather than it being a means of ending the empire, is to prevent exploitation-- of you, and by you. in other words, this second part isnt about how to stop evil, but to stop yourself from becoming evil. it seems to me like a worthwhile thing to cover here. its also relevant to the national security mantra, and maybe it can breed some resistance to that mantra.
the story of jesus is a fun one, from a logical standpoint. obviously if you love jesus (and i think he was probably alright) then the story of jesus ends in tragedy. but then it doesnt. im not saying this just to be cynical, but as a geek there are some amusing facets to the whole thing.
the actual moral of this is a simple one: MOST immortals DONT die just because they dangle from a stick for a few days. this is a fact, although i think gathering statistics to support it would be tricky at least. hold on a minute salem, it wasnt a request.
but lets assume jesus was actually immortal-- the entire metaphor rests on this premise, so i really suggest we do.
if anyone had tried to kill jesus during his life, he could have simply healed himself. if we accept the premise of immortality, then his execution was obviously voluntary. this probably isnt a huge revelation to christians, but its still an important point.
monopolies too, try to be immortal and invincible. the more they try to do this, the more worthy they become of a global effort to take them down.
on a considerably smaller scale, people who act like monopolies are primed to serve them. their self-service becomes a form of ignorance that makes them ripe for exploitation. this ignorance even scales back up to companies like microsoft, who expend vast resources on maintaining what theyve selfishly and politically built for themselves. there is always a maniacal and self-serving idiot at the helm.
the goal of monopoly on a personal level, is immortality and invincibility-- to control and maintain (like the national security model) every possible contingency. it is exactly on this front that mike godwin (sorry, running joke) is one of the most useless people in the history of the planet.
but it is our (scientific) acceptance of ignorance that makes us truly strive to know more-- when we stop accepting that, we stop being scientific and we stop learning useful (and important) things. it is our acceptance of faults that make us strive to be better people. the less we accept these things, the harder we will (ultimately, demonstrably) work to bullshit ourselves and everyone around us.
its not enough to be invincible-- we must have (short of actual literal martyrdom perhaps) SOME form of vulnerability. because vulnerability is (not only with regards to technology, but regarding other human interactions which are not mediated by transistors or 1s and 0s) related to security, i call this the jesus model of security.
no matter how strong you are, how good your defences, how great your own power-- you must have some kind of way for facts, wisdom and even scepticism to get in. if it sounds like im arguing for backdoors, im not-- a backdoor (the sort this might sound like at first) is a reliable, fixed means for certain entities to gain access, regardless of other defences. it is an invitation for people to find and exploit these backdoors-- although any vulnerability of any sort is an invitation for people to exploit it. if you are good-natured, that will certainly invite some bad people to try to exploit your good nature.
i recommend having defences (NOT a backdoor) AGAINST such attackers. the alternative is to be a doormat, and the security+backdoor model could be called the doormat model of security. (or the key under the doormat model of security, which someone is likely to have called it already).
with that said, no matter how well-defended (immortal) you are or become, you must be willing to volunteer to lower your defences under some important circumstance. it is this very sort of vulnerability that makes a god into a human, or as close to human as a god can possibly get.
with all the people in industry trying to become (and remain) our lords and masters, this lesson at least may help you stay farther away from becoming one of these arseholes. and if that leads you to christianity it wasnt my fault or my intention, although (no attempt is made here to imply these are your only choices) i would still prefer it to you working for microsoft.