everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### what-role-did-anarchists-play-in-destroying-free-software *originally posted:* aug 2022 i wanted to call this article "reform-vs-transition-vs-anarchy" and compare these three responses to state and capitalist corruption, because that is a reasonable way to describe my intentions here. the side question, probably isnt too much of a side question, because a lot of why im curious about this is in fact the example of what happened to gnu, the fsf and richard stallman. i also want to say that its NOT my desire to be UNFAIR to anarchists here-- its actually never my desire to be. i want a realistic picture of the world, trying to obtain such a picture is surprisingly difficult when you think about it, and i consider it IMPOSSIBLE to simultaneously ask these questions while also being fair to anarchists AT THIS TIME. if it is impossible to do this fairly now, my "solution" is to put off being entirely fair until later, because i do want to explore some old tropes and even straw men of anarchism, only because i dont consider them ENTIRELY irrelevant. they ARE arguably straw man, im almost certainly (but not deliberately) going to ask some of the wrong questions, but this is where the inquiry begins. by apologising for this and disclaiming it, i dont expect to be instantly forgiven or taken seriously by an-coms. rather, by apologising for this and disclaiming it, i want to point out to anyone who might read this that im letting you in on the process of trying to figure this out-- some of these questions probably WILL be unfair or simply misguided, and some mistakes are likely to be made. you should not (as if anyone would, but nonetheless) base any sort of movement on taking this without a grain of salt. im also not out to "destroy anarchy" here. its only intended as a critique, and it might be a terrible one. with that said, the only reason im exploring (however sloppily) the connection between left anarchism and the destruction of the free software movement is i think there might be one. perhaps the most responsible thing to do is ignore the idea until i have all the necessary tools to go about it in just the right way. instead, im going to press forward and try to figure this out, hoping i can find the right tools as i go. which hopefully will work better for this small effort than it does for replacing governments with the pure will of the people, but im actually making just a little bit of fun of both of us there. this isnt easy for me to do, as ive really enjoyed spending some time watching breadtube (dont worry, one thing i wont do is assume or suggest any reasonable person assume that breadtube properly represents anarcho-communism or anything on that spectrum of ideas) and im now ready to turn against it for the most part. this wont be a full condemnation, in fact i hope to talk about the useful role i think anarchism might play, but i think its even more important to talk about the caveats and risks (as i did with the notion of utopianism, and that article-- which i wrote-- definitely informs my views here). the meanest things i could think to say about breadtube is that theyre inept and... simply marketing. im not sure how inept they actually are, because thats a word id choose if i actually wanted to be mean to them. in reality, i think theres a certain charm and maybe even usefulness to the content ive enjoyed there. in fact one of the concessions most critics seem to make of breadtube is that at least its fun-- so thats not all bad. ill make it a little bit bad somewhere in this response, but i still dont think its entirely a bad thing. for example, comedians are not expected to present scholarly works on stage. they take a number of liberties for entertainment value. if we are really interested in being fair, perhaps we can extend this to breadtube. one of my favourite breadtubers for example, has actually done stand up comedy. so thats absolutely fine. maybe its more fair to blame their audience for taking comedy too seriously-- i dont have the answer to that, its really more of a question. i may even be guilty of taking these things too seriously, but when the topic is a stand up comedians take on socialism in a way that openly and explicitly and literally invites criticism, they shouldnt be too surprised if that part of it at least is taken seriously. id like to see the left succeed in both fixing the world and saving the human race-- whether im even taking that idea seriously ENOUGH is a completely different question, i suppose. just maybe, breadtube doesnt do that? worse still, has binge-watching breadtube made me prone to ending sentences with question marks? am i going to start talking like people from california? even if the capital of breadtube seems to be somewhere between canada and sweden? hopefully that habit doesnt last long. but i think the left has the best chance of fixing the world and saving the human race-- maybe the only chance. so i really, really do want it to succeed. ive seen three major trends in all this as ive researched the internets and the world itself for solutions that i have to some degree supported or shown interest in, in one way or another: reform, transition and anarchy. reform is nice, its (relatively) easy and quick, and it has the advantage of saying "here is what we can do, here is what we should do, here is how we do it, and here is what it will look like when its done-- here is where we are now". people love this, because it gives them a sense of order and progress in a time of chaos and crisis and uncertainty. it should be noted that reform doesnt really solve problems categorically-- it usually makes them more tolerable instead. for example, in everyones favourite cause, which is trans rights, reform has gotten many things done. you cant really knock that, because its helped people so much that if you suggested otherwise (and i have no intention of doing so, for one because i agree that yes, its a good thing) they might beat the shit out of you. but probably it would just cause a great deal of unnecessary pain. maybe some of that would be mine, but the net gains from criticising this would be very very small. it should be noted that the general purpose of (honest) critique is NOT to hurt feelings, but to make things better still. im not here to offer critique of trans rights reform, im actually presenting it as an example of one of the GOOD things reform can do. and if you want to critique and improve things for trans people, youre probably much better off listening to them and ignoring what im saying here. but in short, reform is good at some things. some things absolutely should be reformed in part because we DO want immediate results. and if we waited on the BEST solution for EVERY problem, there would just be too much needless and avoidable suffering in "the interim". reform is a reasonable response and solution to that. those are who are most strongly against "reform" as a method, while sharing its goals, are not strictly against reform either. what they are clearly against is an overreliance on reform, on expecting reform to do things it really sucks at doing-- reform SUCKS at fixing the most fundamental problems and especially the root causes of those problems. in reality, reform is better at treating symptoms. there are absolutely symptoms worth treating, even when it takes longer to actually address and solve root causes. all lgbtqetc rights are worth fighting for, and reform seems to be their closest ally. i dont desire to or recommend we try to take that away, not that we could if we wanted to. but the politics of this strategy are worth commenting on, even if you share the goals. i currently see anarcho-communism as something LIKE a farther-left, more serious and certainly more energetic sort of reform. while reform is more about the status quo, anarchism is (absolutely) far less about the status quo and passionately committed to change, perhaps arguably even endless change. endless change, reform without end, should in theory be able to get us towards our goals. maybe. im not ready to write off anarchism entirely-- i dont subscribe to it as a solution personally, but i dont have the tools to DESTROY it as a theory. my goal here is to critique it, not to destroy it. but while reform gradually chips away at the worst of the status quo, anarchy pulls out hammers and axes and pounds that much harder at the same. this is definitely a caricature, and im sorry for that. but i believe-- and we will see-- that when i delve more into the theory and even read "the conquest of bread" and (at the suggestion of some very nice breadtubers) something more contemporary than one of the contemporaries of marx himself, i believe i will still have this view of anarchism. not because i refuse to adjust my views to fit what i know, but because i dont believe what i will learn will actually change this conclusion even as it does evolve with new information. but it goes without saying, i could be way off here. ive spent most of my time focused on other points of view, and i think those points of view are better for changing and fixing the most fundamental root causes of whats wrong with the world. which brings me to transition: reform, when it comes to the worlds biggest, broadest and most existential problems, is obviously inadequate. it is too superficial to get to the root, it even deliberately avoids doing so as a matter of course, its the feel-good, do-it-now, fastest route to progress, but its shallow. the results CAN BE far reaching and very very good, provided that the thing youre trying to change really DOESNT go to the very core of what society is and how it works. trans rights, while very important, really do address a symptom of society having a tendency to do some really dumb things. hate towards trans people, even just trying to deny them the rights everyone else has, is a symptom that reform can treat pretty well. reform will not solve the problems of capitalism-- ever. it will not save us from climate change. i think breadtube already understands that. anarchism, when applied to these problems, has some success across of range of issues, but i still think it works a lot like extra-strength reform in practice. i dont think reform is useless, unless you try to apply it to one of many things it sucks at addressing-- and i think maybe anarchism is less useless, or (put more nicely) more effective, but like other things that are "extra-strength" it comes with bigger risks and sometimes side-effects. the title of the article certainly hints at this. maybe im wrong about anarchism being "extra-strength reform" and this is posited as a question, not a conclusion. like many things on breadtube, this is intended as a starting point. this is a curiosity which im sharing with you. maybe its even bullshit! id really like to learn more about the topic and become more genuinely familiar with what im critiquing. that would be more fair. but im sharing my first impressions anyway. transition is, hopefully, a more complete and holistic approach. thats where we take the things that exist in the world, and truly transform them into the world that we want. and youll note that as a goal, as a point where we consider it a broad success, isnt really different from anarchism at least as i understand (or misunderstand) it. in either scenario, there is a desire to watch the state fail, while humanity flourishes. there is a desire for the people to be in control of their own lives. along with lots of direct democracy. only instead of simply dismantling shit, we take it over-- and transform it, so it may become obsolete and "wither away". at least in the most cited examples of its inspiration and (19th century) philosophical orgins, anarchism was a RESPONSE to this. it was (and is) a competing ideology. and its good at the dismantling shit part. i can relate-- before i was interested in computers, i was interested in electronics. and im way better at taking them apart than i am at putting them together again. what happened to gnu and the fsf was very anarchistic. it took down the leader, for better or worse. it managed to put fuck-all in its place, but a bunch of breadtube-like artsy fartsy marketing videos. its almost like breadtube itself took down richard stallman. but, i like breadtube more than that. even though al sweigart, coincidentally, funds LOADS of the most prominent breadtubers and participated directly in the organisational, hate and hypocrisy driven, fake left coup against stallman-- i dont see this as a condemnation of breadtube itself but as a warning about the effects and theoretical limitations of SMASH NOW! and ASK QUESTIONS LATER! (really, never). stallman was not "held accountable" by any reasonable or fair means-- he was fucking lynched with his intestines hanging out of him on full display. there was no justice, and any calls for justice are condescendingly, inanely dismissed as "hero worship". getting history right and standing up to those who would rewrite it, stalin-like, is not "hero worship". ivermectin, whether dosed for horses (not recommended) or people (still has major undesirable side effects, which is why a fucking doctor should be involved) is useful against parasites; its useful when used in a way thats proven to actually work-- against the things its good at treating. it is NOT a demonstrated cure against other things people have used it for, or died in the process of using it for. reform and anarchy, when applied to certain diseases, may be the ivermectin of political philosophy. okay, this is a lot meaner than i what i said was the meanest thing i could say. and im not sure i really mean it. its honestly just a right-tool-for-the-job argument, an "is this the right tool for this job?" argument, and by the way, they fucking destroyed the fsf and the gnu project, setting back the movement for ages. when anarchy "pivots", or moves on to its next target, corporations swoop in to capitalise on the ruins, too. that happened with the fsf and gnu, it dovetailed very nicely with open source and its fake (very corporate) bullshit, anarchism is very susceptible to being co-opted and countered by capitalism itself. che guevara shirts-- im SO tempted to print and wear a che tshirt with a picture of richard stallman on it, just to show what a farce all this has become. what i mean is that when anarchy fails as a philosophy, it turns into just another product. what anarchists (whether fake/wannabe/politically illiterate or legit) did to the fsf is effectively like what the 2003 invasion of iraq did, which created chaos, political vacuum, and paved the way for a corporate takeover/"rebuilding" of iraq. yes, the fsf is being rebuilt-- but its being rebuilt as osi ii, an outpost for the corporate rule over users. there was no real plan after the destruction of the fsf, except for sfc (already a seedy corporate brothel, not enough unlike the linux foundation) to take over. this happened to the free software movement not because the fsf was anarchist, but because it was DISMANTLED using anarchist and corporate takeover techniques-- at the same time. usually i frame this (because its what i actually think) as the "fake left" being "tricked" into supporting corporate bullshit in tandem. and im not going to throw that out entirely, because even if its a slightly different theory and im more attracted to this one-- id give the theory due consideration even if it wasnt mine, and im going to continue to give it consideration (for completeness) even if my pet theory morphs just slightly. suppose "real" anarchists (i think im giving too much credit there honestly) took down richard stallman? only the corporations would benefit, and only the corporations did. but either way, the "swoop" of capitalism to fill the void of what anarchy DISMANTLED! was quick and complete. speaking broadly again, this is the biggest risk of anarchism over transitioning the state, of SMASHING instead of carefully taking things down piece by piece. im certainly not calling for reform. i want the state to fuck off too. but whats left after the fact, i want PEOPLE to control, not corporations. i dont think the anarchists really know what theyre doing in that regard. and i think history will demonstrate this, and continue to demonstrate this. not only out of fairness, but out of a simple and scientific preference for getting this right, i will continue to look both for reasons i may be right and reasons i may be wrong about this portrayal, this non-conclusion about anarcho-communism. at the very least, we should probably not put breadtube in charge of any revolutions. but they may (not sarcastically stated) serve SOME good purpose yet. be careful, because some of the people who claim to be anti-authoritarian simply want a mob instead. by no means is that a good summary of what anarchy really means... yet it remains to be seen if anarchy can RELIABLY do better than this when we try to make it scale. so far, it is not enough to say im unimpressed. for someone who has spent years thoroughly disgusted and horrified with the outcome, i am being extremely charitable here. hopefully not too much. sweigart is a fascinating anomaly, which is why he is mentioned here. you will find him as a patreon supporter of several breadtubers, in the credits-- including even the credits of the video natalie wynn did on a cancel culture, a feature-film-length BRILLIANT explanation of everything that happened to take down stallman, as well as torvalds and tso. she describes it flawlessly, scientifically, perfectly. and sweigart not only found his money used to make this, but belongs to both the crowd that crowdfunds breadtube AND the "fake left" mob that took down stallman. by no means does this prove that breadtube is the same thing-- but it does raise questions: does the fact that sweigart supported both cancel culture and the video against it mean that he has second thoughts or feelings of guilt about the mob injustice he participated in? i dont know! its just as possible that breadtube fans are so COMPLETELY divorced from their own theory, their own actions and responsibility or even reality itself, that one can pay money to condemn themselves in a video with high production value, while feeling no remorse or sense of irony at all. isnt that exactly what the fsf is doing with THEIR OWN stupid videos? this is not just about one person in 3,000 and several fake progressive (corporate brothel) organisations like fuckzilla, the dick-ument foundation or debibm. rather, im seriously asking the question: is anarchism really just this fucked? maybe the question is bullshit, or maybe anarchy itself is. i intend to give more, and sincere, consideration here. first impressions? anarchy sucks, MOSTLY. if we treat it with appropriate caution and stop using it to try to change the big problems in the world and use it more responsibly for smaller changes, maybe it wont be the horse pills of political theory and actually become good medicine used (more exclusively) for good things. but i dont pretend to know what the cure is. like you, im still figuring it out. we still have to do something, and for the most part, anarchy (at least some brands of it) looks like a great example of what NOT to do. => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org