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The Sharp Ninja
The Sharp Ninja

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IT Toolbox: Free (as in libre)

I am constantly challenged on why I do not agree with Richard Stallman and the whole Free Software movement. I am accused of all sorts of malicious intentions for challenging the beliefs of Stallman and his Free Software Foundation (FSF). The statement above pretty much sums up why I disagree with him as I do not believe that the collective world around me has more ownership of my own personal thoughts and inventions than I do. It is not my duty to freely share my creativity with the world. It is not my duty to freely share my ideas with the world. It is not my duty to work for the world.

"Don't programmers deserve a reward for their creativity?"

If anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution. Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as society is free to use the results. If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.

  • Richard Stallman, The GNU Manifesto.

Stallman the Communist

Another topic that I get pounded on by readers of this blog centers around my assertion that Stallman is a communist and that the FSF is a political organization for the advancement of a communist agenda. The quotes above from Stallman dovetail right into the "10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto."

10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto

  • Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  • A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  • Abolition of all right of inheritance.
  • Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  • Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  • Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
  • Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  • Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  • Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
  • Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c., &c..wikipedia

In the case of the FSF, we can see direct relationships between the above quotes concerning programming as a wealth building profession, and the ideals of the Communists. The most obvious is "Equal liability of all to labor." Stallman basically says exactly this when he states that it is unethical for a programmer to not give his works to society. Less obvious, but even more dangerous is "Abolition of all right of inheritance" which means that I should not be able to pass copyright on my works to my family when I die. One of the areas where the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) movement gets very confused quickly is the assertion that they are anti-patent but pro-copyright. This is patently false when presented with the facts about their movement and how much it parallels that of the Communist Manifesto. Anyone who believes that copyright is acceptable, while patents are bad is not in tune with Stallman and the FSF who "require copyright assignment papers from each contributor to GNU packages"

Some more of the aspects of the Communist Manifesto which has surfaced in the behavior of the FSF centers on the confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. What?? Yes, the confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. This is achieved through the GPL itself. If a software company wants to immigrate into the world of the GPL, it must surrender all proprietary rights to any software that becomes part of the GPL ecosystem. Any company that tries to make a proprietary product by rebelling from the GPL ecosystem will similarly find themselves the victim of the GPL as the FSF's "GNU License Enforcement" staff sets out to enforce this communistic tenant through the power that the GPL gives them.

This is a warning to all software companies: Do not use any GPL or LGPL licensed library in your product. It's worse than joining the mob because you will never, ever escape!

Stallman and the FSF try to use buzzwords like Free (as in libre) to describe their philosophy, but the truth is that they only want the freedom to force their ideals and politics on you. The FSF does not want you to be able to take your own copyrighted work that is infected with GPL'ed code and use it to create a new or derivative work that is no longer under the purvey of the GPL. However, there is another path to take on the road to Free Software: the path of "permissive" licenses. Fortunately, the GPL isn't the only free software license available, although it is probably the most common. The BSD style licenses are known as permissive licenses because not only do they support the idea of libre, but they give people the libre to retract their code from public disclosure and allow them to make their code proprietary at the desire of the copyright holder. This is true freedom, and not the kind of freedom that forces individuals to labor for society and not for themselves.

A great example of the BSD license being used effectively is Apple's Mac OS X, which started life as an offshoot of BSD Unix, which was of course available through the BSD license. Apple was able to reuse the code under the BSD license to create Mac OS X, and then release it as a proprietary product and not have to share the changes that Apple has made, thus protecting the Mac OS X from the ravages of dozens of companies reusing Apple's capital investment against them. Realistically, if Apple had not been able to reuse BSD, then the Macs you buy today would still have the horrible OS that nearly bankrupted Apple during the 1990's.

Conclusion

For over 150 years, Marxists around the world have been railing for the end of capitalism and the rise of the labor society. The Soviet Union was the first of the major Marxists revolutions and it was crushed under the weight of trying to compete with capitalism on a global level. Other Marxist governments have had to abandon much of the Marxist philosophy and take on more of the capitalistic behaviors of the majority of western civilization in order to compete. During the times of the Soviet Union, communism was enforced through the elimination of the "kulaks", the minority of which were people who had excelled at agriculture and became independently wealthy. The majority of the people labeled as "kulaks" were the 60% of the people who were capable of providing a better existence for themselves without the need for the communist agenda. These people were treated horribly and in massive numbers in favor of empowering the government through the forced work of the peasantry. Today, the FSF is implementing the same philosophies, and though they can't send people to the gulags, they can ruin economies and make people believe the only way out is through the communistic ideals of equality in labor and establishment of industrial armies. Programming has replaced agriculture as the fertile ground for the communists and unless the world wakes up, we could all be longing for the days when visionaries could help make millions wealthy instead of the days when visionaries are punished for having the nerve to realize that there is value in their discoveries.

If it can happen to the technology industry, it can happen in your industry too.

References

1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software_Foundation
2 – http://www.gnu.org/gnu/manifesto.html
3 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto
4 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software
5 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kulak

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Copyright

These articles are owned and copyrighted by IT Toolbox as I was a paid writer in their employ. Please do not copy them. If you cite them, please cite the originals.

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