everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
=> ten-things-the-friedman-software-foundation-couldve-done-that-would-help-more-than-just-fighting-boardom.html ten-things-the-friedman-software-foundation-couldve-done-that-would-help-more-than-just-fighting-boardom
*originally posted:* dec 2021
those looking here for a defence of the fsf, will have to sift through its condemnation like a search for meat in the worst sort of gristle, but the lesson is that the fsf is no longer the fsf. its a joke to speak of the fsf as though it still exists.
the fsf has been hollowed out like a house by termites, and the people who work to reinforce its present status are the same people who refuse to demonstrate any of the principles that made the fsf what it was. to present this as prelude to a renaissance is not only a farce, but a fraud.
i have no problem with people blaming the fsf for their spinelessness, that much is factual and i completely agree. if you want to say the fsf is a cult, so be it, but not without distinguishing the present fsf from what it was before.
just to be clear at how fully the fsf has betrayed its mission, here is a list of the things the fsf will not do:
* it will not meaningfully define, defend, or act on its own existing definition of YOUR freedom.
* it will not take any responsibility for its countless failures, let alone resolve them except supericially and dishonestly.
* it will not defend stallman, in any way other than to further exploit him. people who hate the man should be rejoicing at his present treatment, but they can only complain it is not terrible enough. such complaints betray an utter lack of humanity, and such people deserve no trust whatsoever.
* it will not stand for any of the things it once stood for, except superficially and dishonestly.
* it will not prevent the crown jewels of the free software movement from falling into the hands of ibm and microsoft.
* it will not make the gnu project sustainable or salvageable by others (any part of gnu that is to be salvaged will have to be done entirely without help from the fsf or the gnu project itself, but that wont stop them from pretending).
* it will not talk about the bulk of the existential threats that have harmed the free software movement over the past 5 to 10 years; in fact stallman himself resolved not to as much as a decade ago, for whatever his reasons were.
* it will not solve the exaggerated crisis of developer funding which is not wholly irrelevant, but is nonetheless the battle cry of those who have stabbed free software in the back (and often shamelessly deny doing so).
* it will not serve any purpose (for freedom) whatsoever but a legacy purpose, much like the copper phone lines which would be far from useless, except for a complete neglect which was preceded by a shift in priorities based on markets, not freedom or user rights.
* it will not even make good recommendations on what to do about any of the above. the chief product of the fsf is denial, and the most common accessories to this product are excuses-- followed by meaningless token concessions to any worthwhile demand.
the fsf in 2021 is closer to a scam than an organisation, and no hope for it exists at all.
with that said, the "cult" of hypocrisy at the fsf comes not from within, but from external tampering. at least, it WAS external initially.
this isnt to deny infiltration at least, only to refute that any meaningful status has changed. the fsf will NOT rebuild, anymore than a tv talk show makeover counts as reconstructive surgery.
i am well aware that the fsf has made some effort to expell those who stood against its mission, though any such effort was a failure: the fsf remains spineless and silent, and clearly intends to abandon the world further while it goes into some sort of restorative cocoon, but this is as much a farce (it is pure theatre) as any other solution to come from the fsf in the past several years.
they would have you believe that those remaining were up against some sort of wall with the people who left-- other than the show being put on for the public, all that would prove is that the fsf consists (even today) entirely of cowards and hostages (i will not call stallman a coward, but he is clearly being "managed" even by people who pretend to care about him-- that too is a fraud, against him and all of his supporters).
meanwhile, those who pretend to be "rebuilding" are in fact, occupying. or a better term would be "wasting space" at the fsf.
i dont (ever) wish to paint a picture where everyone who has tried to do SOMETHING is a traitor by association: there have to be a few good people left there, who are at least trying to do something, i guess. let the best of them enjoy such an excuse, theyre only human after all.
but those who are not cowards are still hostages at least of the incessant bullshit that permeates the fsf of today, and its exactly this sort bullshit that the coup relies on more than any other weapon. and where does this bullshit come from? the true cult in this drama.
the cult of the fsf is the cult of corporate freedom, the most cynical, oxymoronic mythology to ever be created within miles of silicon valley. you can call it "open source" for short, but it still exists even if you call it something else.
incidentally, you can thank this cult for the rise of what some call "osps" or "open source proprietary software", but i think this is an injustice that distinguishes the mythological, freedom co-opting "open source" from proprietary software, when really it is misleading to distinguish them: open source is exactly what gave us "osps", and "osps" can simply be called "open source" as they are one in the same.
i proposed we use "free in license only" as an alternative to "osps", and thats still better, but if we are going to use terminology that people actually use, perhaps it would be better to simply reprogram a foolish umbrella like "floss":
this even describes what "osps" is, better than the term "osps" does.
but the purpose of mentioning this is really to make a point about the fsf: what it promotes today is NOT freedom, but formerly libre and openly sleazy software.
of course any organisation that preaches freedom and baits people for shackles on their computing is going to get charged with hypocrisy until the word "cult" makes perfect sense. its unlikely that jesus would have started most of the cults that borrow his name, and its just as unlikely that stallman would have started anything like the fsf we see today.
rather, when you call the fsf a "cult" i hope that youll also make note of the fact that it was infiltrated and turned into the farce it is today. i dont blame people for feeling betrayed-- thats exactly what they are. the fsf never bothered to apologise for this betrayal either. this should come as no surprise, when the fsf today is more concerned with image and marketing (and its wealthy cousin, whom we call "funding") than freedom. the fsf is a shell of its former self, and cults often arise out of such things.
but then, there is a long history of referring to the fsf as a "cult" or a religion, and this was from lobbyists and paid shills who sometimes referred even to themselves as "evangelists" for a company that has devastated the tech landscape for users and businesses alike, for decades at a time.
i still think its entirely unfair to side with open source, which has made the fsf the insipid farce it is today, and call the historical fsf a cult, simply because it demonstrated having actual principles. this is the "moral crime" for which it was targeted for destruction, the destruction is complete, and the fsf (the real one, the one that failed) deserves to be remembered not only fairly, but proudly.
it is all the more this memory of an organisation that ACTUALLY fought for freedom which condemns the fsf of today, and stands in stark contrast to the bullshit from the traitors who lie to us on a regular basis-- while refusing to do a damned thing and siding with the same companies who engineered the destruction of the organisation.
i refuse, as the fsf should have refused, to stand WITH this great abuse of its own mission instead of against it. the fsf deserves all the condemnation it gets, but if it was always this way, it would not matter.
and we know it would not matter, as open source has (at least since the very late 1990s) always been this way, and it seems nobody (including the fsf) actually gives a fuck about this. blaming the fsf for being corporate cult open source, while the corporate cult of open source goes free, is just as hypocritical as any hypocrisy from the fsf in recent years (or ever before). if you join me in condemning one, i think you must also condemn the other.
there was never a real choice between these options: one was a scam (at best a lie), while the other was a cause. now neither is any sort of cause (except a lie or a scam) and there is still no choice here, except a third option.
the third option is the hardest, which is "rebuild the movement without the fsf" but to "rebuild" is to build again-- it would be pointless to build anything with exactly the same flaws in place, but just as pointless to call it "rebuilding" if we abandoned the most important values of the thing being rebuilt.
most people will prefer we "build over", rather than rebuild. they didnt want a new fsf, or a restored fsf, only a conquered and meaningless fsf. there is hardly a need to rebuild that, we already have exactly that today.
those people who wanted to conquer and "build over" the fsf are the problem, they will never be the solution, and the goals of free software have not changed-- only the goals of the fake and present-day fsf have altered from the original. let those inside and outside the fsf who engineered and deliberately executed this have the "honour" and the credit. they will never be friends or allies to free software, they are only traitors who sold us off to floss-- the cult of openly sleazy software.