everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* feb 2022
technically the fsf would be "kingdom hall", but lets not worry about that.
people are welcome to assume (falsely) that im picking on jw members. whether we are talking about that religion or talking about the fsf, im picking on a fucked up organisation that exploits its members. witnesses come from all walks of life and retain a high degree of individuality, at least SOME ASPECTS of individuality. talking to them about other subjects can be a lot like talking to anyone else. talking to them about religion gets... interesting.
as to why im singling out witnesses over other arguably similar groups, im not-- on the surface they bear the strongest resemblance to the fsf. its the actual way the organisation works that im complaining about. the surface characteristics simply make it a better metaphor.
youll see them out in the streets with their one or two people and their little carts full of pamphlets. here are symptoms-- not the fact that they do canvassing or stand around, and we havent gotten to the cause yet either-- but here are first impressions: just people standing around literally selling an idea. okay, theyre certainly free to do that. im not making a big deal just for that, at all.
ive known a number of jws personally, so weve talked about religion before. theres also a documentary (i want to say bbc panorama, i think) that talks about some of their more hideous policies. behind the people standing out in the open there is a culture of secrecy more pervasive than the curtain theyve stuck stallman behind. hes allowed to come out and read from a script, indeed hes free to talk to people about a number of things, but with regards to the fsf itself hes clearly on a tight leash. ive seen horrific snippets of email that verify his virtual hostage status. he may feel comfortable, but then many forms of abuse are intended to fool people into thinking everything is okay.
if this were just about stallman, i wouldnt have anything else (anything new) to say about it. the way stallman only gets "let out" under controlled circumstances is only the most egregious, unethical and appalling aspect of all this. it gets worse, at least in terms of scale.
not too long ago, leah said on their blog that the fsf is a cult. my response (out of fairness and perspective regarding what the fsf once was, and also to blame the real culprits in all this) was that it was a cult not of free software, stallman or itself, but of open source:
i meant that, and i still think its true. it might even be more true than i assumed.
abusive families and cults alike use isolation tactics as a means of control. since lieplanet did this to stallman and the fsf acted as the great enabler (accomplice) and since theyve amended policies (like jehovahs witnesses and other cults) that reflect this as being something deliberate and institutional, i have no trouble saying that the fsf is not about freedom-- its actually turned into something evil.
the steps in this direction were known. each step along the way, everyone said its nothing-- it just got worse and worse. it hasnt improved since stallman got back. he isnt running anything, but im sure they tell him he is. as dwight says at the fake wheel he thinks actually steers anything: "dont worry, michael! im taking us to shore!"
stallman is being gaslighted, and people who think theyre supporting him are paying money to have people lie to him. techrights is so fond of quoting the microsoft exec that said they have to smile (at novell) while they "pull the trigger", but roy has done nothing about these fake, manipulative people pretending stallman is a friend. stallman said of open source years ago "they treated me like shit". how much more evidence of an open source takeover of free software is really needed? this has been going on blatantly for years.
but again, ive said all that before.
of course we can look at the policies, the oaths, the new anti-whistleblower shit-- a lot of this is new, and as a demand this sort of thing goes back to 2018, nearly a year before it was used to oust him.
these policies (i said the new board policies had been used to turn the board into a cheerleading squad) are actually turning the fsf into something that reminds me more of the prison colony in the famous "dagger of the mind" episode of star trek.
that too was a cult of weaponised isolation, where kirks visit was met with glassy stares from people who repeatedly say "...i love my work..." (this episode was also parodied in an episode of south park where people were being forced to work in a planetarium).
this is what lieplanet and open source have turned the fsf into: a sickly, saccharine, empty and glassy stared cheerleading competition-- commonly referred to less politely as a "circle jerk".
but regardless of what you think of such a name, a "circle jerk" isnt nearly as creepy and cult-like as this. i know trisquel was very uniform, even made stallmans "words to avoid" into actual policy, but its gotten worse than that.
whatever leahs intentions are-- good or selfish (i think leah is sincere, what im waiting to see is how they fare with other influences that are hanging around) they were probably on the money about the cult thing.
its an old trope, im well aware, with critics of the fsf-- particularly open source.
what im trying to say is-- this is not like anything ive seen in the fsf before.
first impressions: theyre really turning it into something closer to an actual cult.
microsoft did the same to their people, and those who leave sometimes act like survivors. im no fan of softies, but the term "corporate cult" is not an exaggeration-- and if the employees are unethical, the company is worse.
i realise some will wonder (or criticise) about me possibly mixing metaphor with hyperbole with miscategorisation.
what im actually trying to do is be clear about this: the shoe fits.
and it may not have before (i even argued that it didnt, many times) but it DOES NOW.
i dont think leah was exaggerating. this sort of thing is exactly what happens as a result of the sort of authoritarian abuse thats going on there. not BY stallman-- to him. and to everyone there, by enough people there to make it happen.
consider the horrible things these people did to stallman. how much does it mean to the suckers still giving money to these people that a man who was psychologically beaten and gangbanged by thousands of people (and numerous organisations) that he forgave them?
has nobody heard of stockholm syndrome, or has that just gone out of style? did nobody notice that the same thing happened to torvalds? why is everybody okay with this?
> are you sure it was a good idea to broadcast that RMS still has a strong voice in the FSF?
> it seemed to me that RMS didn't want this out there
> he wanted to pull strings from the shadows
> beacuse he sees that he doesn't have a "presentable" character
> in his eyes
that was beaten into him. and now it really looks like this is the culture that everyone is swearing to uphold-- not of freedom, closer to blackmail, isolation and persuasion.
the fsf is (almost certainly) under occupation. but it is nothing like the fsf anymore. the fsf was about ethics and standards-- this is just corruption and abuse. the psychological effects of the fsf arent even better than facebook now. this is not a defence of facebook. the free software foundation isnt free, and it certainly cant talk about freedom.
i dont recommend beaming down.