everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* feb 2022
another silly campaign from the fsf. under the right circumstances (honesty on their part) it might have potential.
theres nothing wrong with the shape of the freedom ladder-- only its material and workmanship. ladders by nature can help you step up or step down, but the trajectory of the fsf for several years has been in a downward direction-- this is where the freedom ladder will truly go.
not unlike the war of terror... wait, sorry-- oh, right! war "ON" terror, the fsf has been on an endless campaign of lies and bullshit for many years. you might think im being anti-american, or dont like free software. ive been disingenuously accused of both for years, and i just finished a book that made me like americans (speaking generally) more than ever before. funnily enough, it was recommended by a european. one american im very fond of is richard stallman, who is also very critical of the war of terror.
my gripe with both the war of terror and the tax-free software foundation, is that they they are complete and utter bullshit. the difference is that the war of terror was always this way, and the tax-free software foundation was actually a real thing some years ago-- not just a way for corporate monopolies to buy (TAX FREE) control of MOSTLY-volunteer-written projects under false pretenses. the fsf helps them do this, and this is completely unforgivable.
on top this are MANY unforgivable things the fsf has done to get away with and even justify all of this. i consider it the theft and exploitation of decades of work, and the near-destruction of stallmans legacy. but open source never planned to do less than this. when they fail, they just keep trying. when the fsf fails, it just keeps bullshitting. here is my assessment of their latest bullshit.
it is the context of the metaphor, and not the content of the metaphor, that i find egregrious. for years free software has had an all-or-nothing image, which is partly justified in that the goal of free software is not for SOME users to be free or for users to have SOME freedom, but for all software to be free so that users have control of their computing.
anything that denies this to the user (that keeps the control for itself-- i.e. anything proprietary) is "non-free" and a problem (a bug, an error, an injustice) to solve.
there is actually nothing wrong with that stance. image-wise of course, it lays a difficult road for users and itself. todays fsf is more concerned with image than substance (i dont begrudge them working on their image, but i do actually begrudge them abandoning the substance) and so we have various examples of increased marketing and lies and bullshit. stallman was, very understandably, against that sort of thing all along.
the real fsf was more honest than this, which makes what we have today the fake (bullshit) fsf. it has ALREADY abandoned its mission. now it continues to act as though it hasnt, and one fine way to do that is to have various image-based campaigns that pretend the fsf still gives a shit about your freedom.
heres the thing-- we can pretty much throw away the idea that the fsf cares about freedom at all. ill get back to the ladder thing, but the context IS the real story. the fsf has "stepped down" their assocation with free speech, their leader "stepped down" for years, and they have routinely "stepped down" (compromised) from their own organisational freedom and their principles.
a ladder can go in at least two directions, and the fsf has been stepping down for so long it has no business telling people how to climb up. first, the fsf needs to climb back up to show the ladder even works.
it doesnt-- this ladder doesnt have anywhere to go, and neither does the fsf.
its funny to note that a ladder, when placed on the ground, looks just like train tracks. funny, because the fsf not too long ago used a train as a symbol for fundraising-- since i insist the fsf only cares about money and not freedom, we could get freudian and say that having the train tracks placed vertically represents a deep-seated desire for the fsf to make more money, as it continues to fail. but then we are only having fun with the idea. we could have more fun with transporation metaphors and talk about how libreplanet threw stallman under the bus, but the fsf really wants to MOVE ON (and get back to fundraising) but lets humour them and pretend this campaign is about freedom, like they claim it is.
just to demonstrate how full of shit (and absurdly hypocritical) the fsf really is, lets talk about the steps on this "ladder":
1. understanding non-free software
2. finding your own reason to use free software
3. free REPLACEMENTS (of non-free software, i presume)
5. mobile phone freedom (at least they admit this one is presently impossible, which is an important thing to admit)
6. learning how to find help
7. trying a free operating system
i know, really this should put the first step at the bottom of the numbered list. they didnt do it that way, so i didnt either. im going to reverse the order later anyway to make a point, so fixing their own list might not really improve clarity that much.
the fsf is presently stuck at the bottom of the ladder itself-- the gnu project relying on infrastructure they have no control over is a completely self-defeating move that (existentially) threatens the gnu project. the fsf has had this problem for years, and it has still done nothing about it. in fact, it has effectively censored the topic by dragging it off public mailing lists into the "free speech zone" (a 21st century artifact from the war of terror itself) of private lists. i guess the public doesnt NEED to have that concern addressed in the open. after all, gnu is not about transparency, at least its policies are not-- even if someone asks the question in the open. "shh, come over here, maybe we will tell you the story and maybe we wont..."
this action was endorsed (or at least participated in) by stallman himself, though since i consider him a hostage of the fsf (and of open source, which now runs it) i feel bad that he too is being used this way.
the fsf doesnt understand (or care about) non-free software anymore. it is happy to have people using github for things as critical as coreutils itself. i have seen gnu creep only towards github, not away from it-- as techrights has treacherously downplayed and misrepresented the issue while pretending that a scandal with its ceo would make any kind of difference. that could still happen, though more importantly, it hasnt yet. counting your chickens before they hatch is one thing. when it comes to victory against github, techrights counts its chickens before the eggs are laid; even during a time when there has been a steadily decreasing yield.
if the fsf understood non-free software, it would not be relying on github for anything gnu-related. so join the fsf at the bottom of the ladder they cant figure out how to climb themselves, and help them fight for their funding.
step two is finding your own reasons to use free software. in fact the fsf (even the gnu project) has routinely downplayed the need to do this for years, and they worked to silence the person who was most vocal (and most qualified to speak) about it. so i call bullshit on the second step as much as i call bullshit on the first. maybe you should build your own fucking ladder, and show the fsf how to use it-- they wont, but at least when you know how to climb it you can help your neighbour.
all the fsf can do is sell you out to corporations, and thats a step DOWN. maybe they really should have numbered the ladder they know how to use like this:
-1 depose your own leader with a campaign of lies and censorship of mailing lists
-2 lie to paid members about whether he really left or not (this is a lie whether they really did it to protect stallman or to actually bring him back under false pretenses-- either way members should be offered a refund because the fsf acted in a treacherous and unethical fashion)
-3 abandon the entire mission and replace it with feel-good image bullshit that CONTINUES to gloss over the real situation as much as it did leading up to the "coup" (sorry, occupation)
-4 CONTINUE to drift towards corporate control of everything the organisation built up over decades
-5 create an actual anti-whistleblower policy, and help prop up a corporate regime that oppresses users, all in the name of "freedom"
this is the ladder the fsf has really been using, and talking about this OTHER LADDER (the pretend one that is still about freedom) is really step negative three:
-3 abandon the entire mission and replace it with feel-good image bullshit that CONTINUES to gloss over the real situation...
libreplanet should be DISBANDED. it is a trojan horse for corporate overthrow and sidetracking (co-opting) free software ENTIRELY. the fsf will complain about people sidetracking here and there, while they themselves continue to move as far away from their own mission as they can possibly get away with.
theres the real ladder. watch your step!
one thing about this campaign is true-- if you want every user to be free (and not controlled via their software) you ARE going to have to find your own pace. and there was never anything wrong with that.
but if you follow the fsf and care about freedom. you will find the fsf is only slowing you down-- if not actually taking everything backwards.
later on, someone is bound to talk about some of the good that came out of this campaign.
thats great-- im not interested in feel-good anecdotes, im interested in the trajectory of free software WITH or WITHOUT the fsf.
the past few years (even january of this one) have made it clear where free software is going with the fsf-- on a "fast ladder" down to hell. we can pretend it isnt by design, that they are the victims, and not the engineers of this.
i mean thats partly true-- the REAL fsf was taken over. but when, and by whom? we already know. shouldnt the FIRST ladder the fsf climbs be the one that escapes those arseholes?
the fsf doesnt know how move forward-- or climb up. it cant teach you anything about either.
i wouldnt trust a ladder made from people who endorse gnu/linux anyway. that thing hasnt been stable in years!