everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* oct 2021
*updated:* dec 2021
ive been a critic of leahs plan to save gnu, but also a critic who sincerely hoped they would get around to launching the website.
one aspect of their plan i actually liked was that it had a failsafe-- plan a centred around the fsf hiring them, and plan b was going ahead with as much of plan a as possible without the staff position.
one of the ways in which save gnu might have helped was in getting people to see the things that need bolstering. i dont think that would hurt anything, as much as it would make leah a convenient scapegoat for anything that went wrong. "well, what do you expect? this is what happened ever since #savegnu". but you always risk becoming a scapegoat when you do something risky, and you cant always change the world without taking risks.
but really, people making efforts to prevent disaster go back for years.
if you havent noticed, ill be more explicit: a lot of this post has nothing to do with leah or savegnu at all. its a broader topic than that, its being treated as one. but why waste the example? it isnt to pick on them, though i will voice my disappointment-- i wasnt kidding about hoping they would launch.
Thu 21:26:28 │ leah │ schestowitz-TR: i will not be launching savegnu.org
Thu 21:26:40 │ schestowitz-TR │ that's OK
Thu 21:26:40 │ leah │ i've decided that it is not worth my time. the gnu assembly was all bark and no bite
Thu 21:26:55 │ schestowitz-TR │ keep the domain
Thu 21:27:01 │ schestowitz-TR │ maybe GNU Save is your next project
Thu 21:27:06 │ schestowitz-TR │ alternative to Pocket
Thu 21:27:07 │ leah │ launching it would be pointless, and may actually strengthen our enemies
before i say anything else, i want to mention that i dont think leah is a coward. on the contrary, theyve done countless things that take more guts than the average person has. i think its maybe a cowardly option to give up on this effort, but as to how it jibes with their makeup as a person, i dont think it has anything to do with that-- this isnt damning with faint praise, i think leahs a relatively fearless person. if anything i would sooner blame the company they keep. the movement itself has gotten pretty fucking afraid to do anything bold or meaningful, at least it certainly doesnt.
nor will i say that leah isnt doing enough already, because that isnt true either-- its true that im disappointed in having this new effort dangled out in front of us, and its true that i had several misgivings about the approach specifically, but if it had at least gone forward (even with early missteps) it might have had the potential to change course in a way that i thought was an improvement. we wont know, because it has stalled. im not waiting around for something with FANTASTIC ODDS of working, i was eager to see where this went.
but its not like leah wont be doing anything now. we need more people who understand hardware that care about freedom, and leah is a hardware wizard (compared to most of us at least, and beyond that im not trying to rank the titans, but theyre a level or a few beyond anything i can imagine doing with hardware) and their take on freedom seems pretty sincere. thats also more than i can say for most gnu developers-- you should never assume the blanket statements i make about them apply to leah-- i dont group them in with the others. on the contrary, im certain at least a few are above the rest in still giving a shit. i dont really doubt leah in this regard.
really the misgivings i had are the ones i already stated-- i dont think funding is the key issue, if anything funding should have never been allowed to be the key issue, and it WASNT and that was a feature. nothing has really improved since people took funding more seriously. and probably nothing will. i want an anticapitalist free software movement.
i realise that the free software definition doesnt require (or imply) anticapitalism-- ill even defend the fact that the definition is BROADER than that. rather than change the definition, id rather move support (where possible) to more anticapitalist free software efforts, rather than meddle with the definition (except for adding freedom 4, the freedom to NOT run the software, which has little to do with funding or capitalism or anticapitalism at all).
so in that regard, i figured #savegnu was a nonstarter. and yet i hoped to see it launch, because at least someone was trying.
> launching it would be pointless, and may actually strengthen our enemies
im so tired of hearing this nonsense. i can quote leah saying it, but you cant pin it on leah. this is the new mantra of self-defeat-before-we-even-try that has taken over free software. its not attributable to leah, who is merely repeating something everyone else has said. but its still nonsense.
(dec 2021 note: leah has moved forward with a newer and likely better idea, making a few of these older concerns less relevant).
ive said (maybe even in a book, certainly in an article) that apathy is one of the biggest problems we have. and thats all their statement is expressing. not apathy in general (leah will still work on important free software stuff, i have little doubt of that) but apathy in this opportunity to do even more. it sucks, and its become the new free software marching song.
> when too much trust is put in a broken organisation, people neglect to rebuild and reform what has been attacked and corrupted. apathy and superficiality are terrible responses to attacks on freedom. thats not what the free software movement is for.
me, in march of this year
in august, i (re)posted something written by someone in gnu (at least the mailing lists, but i think hes listed as a gnu contributor) about this very thing:
> Although Boxer could prevent the terrible events that fall on the animal farm, he worked hard and had nothing to do with others. He was busy with its own work and only found out about the incidents around itself when Napoleon, the dictator pig, sold it to a butcher.
this isnt really lazy apathy, its hardworking apathy-- you work hard and if people are selling everybody out, you just ignore it and work harder. and that kind of apathy is the ripest for exploitation. people begin to assume that only fighting will make things worse. work hard, and youll only be rewarded!
but exploitation works the opposite way-- yes, if you fight then people will try harder, but if you can fight hard enough they will start to lose eventually. if you simply give up and work for them, they will exploit you MORE, not less. apathy breeds FURTHER exploitation for most people. it only leads to lighter exploitation for what malcolm x referred to as "house negroes"-- people who gained privileges and lighter work for selling out.
note im using the same term that malcolm x used, letter for letter. show me a "politically correct" way to say "house negroes", and...
better yet, dont miss the fucking point. there is no pc way to quote malcolm x, and i dont care-- because he was right about this, and thats the important part.
my point is not (simply) to insult those who arent fighting, though thats one obvious interpretation. the really important thing here is that ceding to oppressors doesnt win anything, except for a select few. and its not that im trying to single out the sellouts (not today at least) but that the sellouts DONT WIN ANYTHING FOR THE MOVEMENT.
in other words, THIS IS NOT A VIABLE PLAN. it never was, and it never will be. selling out DOES NOT WIN. it loses. it INCREASES exploitation. thats why "selling out" is BAD. not just because its wrong, or leads to a privileged "subclass" of sellouts-- IT ALSO DOESNT WORK!
its not just a bad road to progress-- its not any sort of road there. it goes somewhere else.
thats another reason (besides the fact that theyre dishonest) that i call out techrights for telling people not to bother with their plans to improve things. most of the "solutions" techrights proposes end up like bonos take on poverty (and i fucking hate bono. i wish i hated his music too).
bonos take on civil rights really boils down to making an album or doing a concert to raise "awareness" of an issue, then doing absolutely fuck-all as a followup. ever. like there are no serious efforts to make the world better that hes really "behind" except to showcase his work on "raising awareness" and then-- awareness of what?
awareness of bono raising awareness, and basically fuck-all else. you see how naked and bottomless this narcissism is?
and id LOVE to blame bono for all the worlds ills (it would be good fun for sure) but the stupidly pointless thing hes doing is SO COMMON among the fake left. and when i say fake left, i mean most of the left is fake. most of the right is fake too, theyre not libertarians, theyre (mostly) authoritarians and sociopaths. same on both sides! fake, fake, fake.
MOST POLITICS are fake. so im not picking on just the left here, i am picking on the fake part of the left. the real part of the left? theyre doing what people ought to be doing. but there are so many fake left that MOST people dont know what left even is anymore.
anyway, i digress. the bullshit that bono pulls is superficial twaddle, fake progress for NOTHING.
and the bullshit that free software pulls these days, is ALSO superficial twaddle, fake progress for what? theyre only making labour cheaper for giafam to exploit. theyre doing THE SAME THING that malcolm x was complaining about certain people doing.
this is the state of free software (and with open source, its even worse). we are seeing the wholesale REPLACEMENT of the free software movement with the empty nonsense of open source. and the more it happens, the less free and more corporate we are-- until free software completely disappears.
or rather, until it is rebuilt. so when leah says:
> launching it would be pointless, and may actually strengthen our enemies
are you fucking kidding me? NOTHING has made our enemies stronger in the past 6 or 7 years than people doing nothing. even stallman doing nothing (CITATION INCLUDED) has done incredible harm:
> I've chosen not to have any preferences among those ethical distros. But I am not in a position to judge them on other criteria: even to try them all would be a lot work that I have no need to do.
(original source, further commentary at "the-bullet-points-that-killed-free-software")
stallman had already half-resigned as chief gnuisance in 2011. no one has taken his place in the decade that has followed. note that the 15 year anniversary of techrights is coming up on the 13th, just nine days (fewer, if roy goes by the dns registration-- but why wouldnt he go by the date of the first post? perhaps because he didnt write it?) after the 10 year anniversary of stallman deciding that any distro that is freely licensed does not need to be judged on any other merit.
this wasnt something he said on a whim, this is the evidence (confirmed this year) that he never cared about systemd. anybody who says he did is LYING, and MAKING UP something he NEVER SAID. it cannot be put down to a mistake, or some other context. ask him yourself. techrights lied about this more than once.
and did any of this prevent our enemies from becoming stronger? ON THE CONTRARY! seeing that they could get away with anything, THEY TRIED-- and they were not stopped!
and pray tell me leah (this isnt about you, i am picking on your argument-- i dont blame you for any of this personally, but this argument has to go) when you say:
> launching it would be pointless, and may actually strengthen our enemies
how does that possibly jibe with the other statement you made:
> i've decided that it is not worth my time. the gnu assembly was all bark and no bite
YOU CANT POSSIBLY BE SERIOUS. they actually got stallman to go into hiding for more than a year-- and it wasnt just one group of people. it was SEVERAL. including FOUNDERS OF DEBIAN. including MAJOR corporations.
gnu.fools was a faction of a much larger corporate war. and they still are holding part of gnu hostage-- a part that nobody is going to get back.
at least stallman was defended (finally, after years of COORDINATED censorship at the fsf, STILL ONGOING) and thats good, but its not like the fsf has actually recovered. its not like stallman is kicking arses and taking names. hes doing what i said he would do-- playing nice and rehashing old bullet points. nothing big. not that his november 2011 announcement should leave people expecting more anyway. (i dont blame stallman for this per se, but its still fucking inexplicable).
and the RIGHT THING for people to do is, if stallman refuses to judge the freedom of various distros based on anything but the license, OTHER PEOPLE should have stepped up to do that. just because he wont, doesnt mean we shouldnt. but thats the difference between cloning and parroting stallman again: a CLONE would think for himself, but think like stallman. a PARROT just regurgitates whatever he says. what a shame.
and i blame his followers for not stepping up to defend free software. its GOOD that they defended stallman-- attacking stallman was an attack on free software, and every single user. but theres yet more to defending free software than defending stallman and checking the license. that used to be obvious. what happened? (its not free software, its just open source now).
but again-- how can you say theyre "all bark and no bite" as a reason #savegnu isnt worth your time, AND SAY that #savegnu would only make them stronger?
doing nothing is what let them get this far. dont you think they will continue to get stronger, if people continue to do nothing?
why has everyone turned into bono? yeah, i like his music. other than as a lyric author though, hes one of the dumbest cunts in the history of our species.
please... dont be bono. doing nothing means youre just letting them win, only now they barely have to try. they can just take their time and continue to erode everything we do at whatever pace they like-- knowing they will be unopposed in all they do.
oh, but after theyve caused a leader to go into hiding, after theyve made people sign a loyalty oath to participate in projects, after theyve defrauded the public via trademark abuse and MANY lies against both stallman and everyone who supports them--
THEN, we will REALLY do...
free software my fucking arse, torvalds was right about one thing and only one thing.
this is just a corporate-dick-sucking contest. and torvalds would know, since he was the first contestant (now former champion).
but theres so much competition these days.
in the event this isnt perfectly clear, im not accusing them of any of this. on leahs worst day i dont think theyre a shill.
but when SO MANY people are, how can they say thats not a problem worth trying to solve?
or that trying to solve it will only make it worse? or maybe im a step ahead, and simply thinking that if their current plan doesnt work that it can easily be tweaked into one that does?
once again, i would maybe feel alright blaming leah for it, if almost everyone else hadnt said it first. so like i said-- this really wasnt much about leah. its about how fucking ridiculous and apathetic free software has gotten.
if leah said "you know this is fucking pointless, i mean, i dont think free software even cares about free software anymore" and THATS why they dont think #savegnu is a good use of their time...
i mean, if THAT was their argument, i would almost agree! at least, almost.
if all they needed was an excuse to not work on #savegnu, i think they could have easily found a good one. really, its not that hard. no #savegnu really is a disappointment. why compound that with such a flimsy excuse?
its not a waste if they goes back to their breadboards, in fact we would probably be better off if more of us owned one (and used it). but it would be alright if there was still a free software movement to go with that. instead, we get another fucking tour for "awareness", and everybody says (fucking straight-faced, like it isnt the most ridiculous fucking bullshit theyve said since they learned how to talk) that DOING NOTHING is the REAL route to progress!
theres a hashtag, eh? #fakegnu
not you, leah. but fucking nearly everybody at this point. maybe youre right that its not worth your time, but i was still hoping you were going to try.
(dec 2021: they are still trying, which is probably a good thing).