Free software and politics. A mix as unnecessary as it is dangerous

Software and politics: an unnecessary mix

This tweet would be the cause of the non-invitation to a developer to KubeCon

Free software and politics. There are two things that they should not mix. However, this week there were two cases of this combination as indigestible as whiskey and oysters or watermelon and wine. First the "Disinvitation" from the Linux Foundation to a developer for no other reason than be a Trump supporter. Then was the statement on Twitter from an entity promoting free software giving his convincing interpretation of the facts what are happening in Chile and Bolivia.

Important clarification

This article deals with whether it is convenient for entities linked to the creation and promotion of free software to be linked to political issues that have nothing to do with the activities for which they were created.

All comment that sticks to the topic will be welcome. Any comment that deal with issues that have nothing to do in a blog about technology, will be erased by me, by any of the other authors who see it before or by the editors.

Free software and politics. Is it really a good idea to mix them up?

All cats are felines. But not all felines are cats. It is true that creating, using and disseminating free software is a way of doing politics. However not all forms of politics have to do with creating, using and disseminating free software.

Let's clarify this a bit. Thursday night, Twitter saw fit to show me a statement of an association that carries the words GNU and Linux in his name, giving his strong opinion about the events of Bolivia and Chile. Avoiding objections, they were justified in that the GNU / Linux movement is a social movement and that therefore it is an obligation to be on the side of the people.

I take this opportunity to apologize for not including screenshots. I was too busy cleaning up the coffee that I spit on the keyboard while reading such nonsense. (I mean the justification for mixing Linux with your political ideas, not your political ideas themselves, which are respectable). Of course, Murphy's Law of bloggers determined that he could no longer find it again.

The "disinvitation" of the Linux Foundation

Let's explain a little the chronology of the events.

1) Programmer Charles Wood wrote a tweet trying to mediate between a friend of his and other people in a discussion on social networks.

@ KimCrayton1 and friends…. Would you be willing to have an open call and talk? I am happy to record it and publish it without modifications.

You can probably get @simpleprogrammr to come as well. All I ask is that everyone be civilized during the discussion.

2) The quoted @ KimCrayton1 answered:


The capital letters are in the original tweet.

3) Then write to KubeCon (Conference organized by the Linux Foundation.

@KubeCon I am beyond disappointed to learn that after the last 2 weeks of community engagement with Charles Wood, you have not made the decision to discontinue your partnership with him.
This is what we mean when we say that 1 or 2 degrees of separation can cause harm.

(Attached photo of Wood wearing a Trump campaign support hat.

4) Days later, the Linux Foundation, embracing Crayton and two other users, reply on Twitter.

Hello everyone, we have reviewed the videos and post on social networks and we have determined that the Code of Conduct of the Event was violated and therefore your registration for the event (that of Charles Wood) has been revoked. Our events must and will be a safe space.

Robert Martin, one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, led an open letter to the president and other authorities of the entity.

First of all, let me say that I find it very problematic that the complaint and the decision were public. In fact, I am surprised that LF accepted a publicly submitted complaint about the code of conduct. I am far beyond surprised that LF is considering responding publicly to such a complaint. In fact, it seems to me that the public complaint, and perhaps even the LF's public response, could be seen as public harassment - which is explicitly prohibited by the FL Code of Conduct.

It seems to me that complaints about the Code of Conduct made in public must be rejected immediately and considered as violations of the Code of Conduct themselves. Complaints about the Code of Conduct should be made private and remain private and confidential to avoid its use as a means of harassment. It also seems to me that, although the process of acceptance, review and resolution of such complaints should be public, the procedures and the decision of each individual case must be private and confidential to protect the parties from any harm. Making them a public showcase is simply horrible.

After reiterating the request for explanations about what Wood's alleged misconduct was and about the procedures by which the conduct violations are determined, it ends with:

In short, it seems to this humble observer that the process of applying the Code of Conduct at the Linux Foundation got out of control regarding Charles Max Wood. What lf le owes Mr. Wood, and the software community in general, a profound apology. That the lf you must keep all future complaints and decisions from the Code of Conduct personal and confidential. That the LF must establish a procedure to accept, review and adjudicate future complaints about the Code of Conduct. And that some form of reparation be provided to Mr. Wood for the public damage that was done to him by the careless and unprofessional behavior from the Linux Foundation

And personally, it seems to me that we have to keep out those who intend to use to free software entities as a means of spreading their political ideas. Whatever these are.

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  1.   Richard MZ said

    Well, I completely agree with both positions, as social movements you have to position yourself and you cannot be in favor of Trump because you are in favor of the monopolies, or the coup in Bolivia, it's that easy.

    1.    Dovi said

      Very great Richard, telling it like it is.

  2.   Light creator said

    In my opinion, given that the free software movement is primarily political, it is entirely correct that it has a say in other political issues. Otherwise, it would only be open source software for commercial purposes and nothing else, without any political or social orientation, benefiting anyone, even if it were a negative person or entity but with power.
    I am trying to understand the author of this strange article who is absolutely convinced that this should not be the case and goes so far as to say that the free software movement should only attend to the issues for which it was created. Certainly, any organization can create software, but I wonder why the author is now unaware of the political origin of the free software movement?

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      That answer needs another article.

  3.   Pauet said

    I am of the opinion of Robert Martin, it would be a serious mistake to confuse politician and partisan.

    As Light Creator says, the free software movement is primarily political, but quite contrary to what he believes, that political origin as conceived by Stallman is also deeply nonpartisan.

  4.   Common Sense said

    It no longer surprises me, but that does not stop me from being repulsive, as already from the same comments the supporters of Cancel Culture are suggesting that the author and / or the article have "something strange" just because they do not adhere to their ideology in all possible levels, despite the fact that the same author claims to be politically inclined towards the same side as them.

    As you can see, the problem is no longer about discussing political differences, both for the type of people who canceled the invitation to Wood and in general for those who are already complaining about how bad it is that someone thinks that free software and politics is not they must be mixed. For them it is about crushing all dissent. These people do not want debate or discussion at all, because they know well that their ideas would never be sustained in any fair debate, that is why they seek by all means and excuses to appeal to the emotional to justify their thirst for censorship and to silence all voices in against.

    They do not seek to win the debate, they directly seek that those who do not think exactly like them are left without a voice, without space, without rights, without work, without a home if that is also possible. The next step in a completely totalitarian state, you know what it is: Lifeless.

    Those who say that free software is a political idea in itself and therefore should not be detached from other "related" ideas or ideologies (according to them, of course), are the same ones who want to inject politics into all other spaces: TV, cinema, video games, art, kindergarten gatherings, etc. Of course, only THEIR political ideas are what they want to be injected, the others must be eradicated from the face of the earth for them.

    To get people to agree they start with the (in principle) fairly acceptable argument that "everything is political" to justify themselves. Sure, of course, everything is political. Having a glass of milk and eating a ham sandwich is also political from the moment someone comes out to say that to fight against global warming, avoid the abuse of animals, and not offend certain cultures, we must give up milk and the pig and go on to eat only insects. It is not an exaggeration, look, it is already happening.

    Therefore, do not get carried away by such a childish and malicious argument. That basically everything is political does not mean that all policies are the same. We must accept and tolerate policies that allow room for debate in order to see which ideas are the best. We must ignore and not give power to those ideologies or policies that seek, sooner or later, to suppress all voice, vote, freedom. Those who seek to inject their propaganda in everyone, absolutely everywhere. Because that's exactly what they start to do as soon as they get a little bit of power, eliminate all dissent and freedom of thought or expression.

    There is still time to reverse things if there are many of us who become aware of what is happening, before it is too late, and there is no room even to express an opinion like the one expressed by the author of this article without later be punished with expulsions, bans, dismissals, etc.

    They wanted to kick out Linus Torvalds, they managed to kick Richard Stallman out halfway, and they're going to keep pushing and oppressing until only the obedient and helpful to their purposes remain, even if only donkeys remain. They do not care for that to fire and annul the most talented people the world has seen, the ones who have made free software what it is. Because to them, "meritocracy" is a cursed word.

    The future of free software, as well as that of humanity, depends on as many as possible realizing these realities and others.

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      Your comment is very good, I only have two objections.
      1) I did not say that I share certain political ideas. I said they are respectable.
      2) That of expressing the ideas of the author of the article in a clearer and better written way is not done.
      A abrazo.

      1.    Common Sense said

        Ha, it's true. I assumed you would think the same because I have already seen a number of people in the free software realm do it, for reasons that go beyond the topic at hand. Or is it louder? Another off-topic

        Nice to comment, I don't usually do it a lot but it seemed appropriate. The article seemed very relevant to me, and the news of what happened to this developer was not seen elsewhere. It is good to be exposed to make people think

  5.   Charlie Brown said

    After Common Sense's comment, there is very little left to say, I just invite you to think about the possible scenario, quite probable by the way, of continuing the "politically correct" drift of the free software community:

    - That algorithm does not work, we have to eliminate it.
    - We can not, we would offend is (e / a / o) developer, also do not even think about it, look that it belongs to the LGTBIQZÑW collective and they are going to label us literatephobes.
    - But it does NOT work! Why don't we give Alex the task?
    - You're crazy! This morning they fired him, yesterday he had the idea of ​​eating a hamburger in front of the vegans and they said that they would either expel him or they were going to boycott us.

    And so dear friends, free software went to shit ...

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      Great description !!
      Luckily there are people who agree with me. I could already see myself buying a Mac.
      Thank you all for your comments

  6.   Carlos Mardones-Sepulveda said

    This issue is complex, in the case of Chile there are many who say they are in favor of free software, and of massing its use in a transversal way, but in practice it is a cheap discourse to be able to captivate the mass, especially in schools and universities, since in reality they use 100% proprietary software, as an example a couple of years ago in Chile a project was presented in our congress for the Government to use free software, and that the commercial houses that provide computer equipment to The population will offer the same team with different OS and that is the final client if they want to pay for a Windows license or take the team with another system, this project was put in the congress by a political figure from the broad front, curiously Microsoft staff arrived And after shamelessly lobbying the project was rejected even by the same deputy who voted against it, with this example we can say that the software is against politics andagainst political sectors such as that character,

  7.   feijoo jimenez said

    I think that the interference of politics within the Free Software Movement is inevitable, we can start from “the beginning” that the big proprietary monopolistic companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Oracle and a long list make big investments on actors and institutions in dollars, big data, etc. to manipulate trends, implement Fake News, purchase and sale of information in exchange for large contracts of proprietary Software, a mechanism that is only carried out by these corporations, Free Software movements, even companies, to influence those spaces come exclusively at the call of conscience, economy, transparency, granting and giving the possibility of reusing without licensing costs, and they try to convince those who can support politically, we all here know that without political support it would not have been possible to have advanced within the institutions in many countries, and whoever knows about state institutions knows that this is where a large amount of investment dollars in technologies is run; We cannot forget the advances that Free Software had in Latin America thanks to social movements (such as the Free Software communities), which managed to penetrate the consciousness of progressive political leaders in the region, as happened with Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay among others, and in exchange for what? Perhaps they were exchanges for commissions? We all know that it was not the reason, Presidents of republics came out to defend Free Software supporting it in a clear way, when this happened, Free Software automatically became “politicized”, remember? “Free Software synonymous with Communism ”, And the fight was on the battlefield of politics, spaces and positions had to be taken because otherwise the battles would have been lost due to corruption; In Venezuela the first public battle was within the very "National Congress" (now National Assembly), the event was called "Free Software Vs Private Software", there the communities participated and gave "a fight" to Private Software, I'm not going to give details.

    What this opinion article expresses (valid the opinion of each one) reminds me of the famous argument (trap) of the proprietary monopolistic companies of a supposed “technological neutrality”, that is, the proprietary monopolistic companies will have interference within politics using their old tricks, supporting with "resources" capitalist right-wing groups that once in political power cancel with large contracts, on the other hand Free Software movements cannot support or comment on the situation in countries where that "SAME RIGHT" wins space at the point of coups, repression, deception and lies, that same right that, for example, when deceiving the former president of Ecuador and seized political spaces, hands over Julian Assange to the American mafia and retains Ola Bini without evidence for alleged reasons. hacks, Free Software activists. The same right that when it regains political power "wipes off the map" everything that has to do with the 4 software freedoms as they have done in each of the countries where there were significant advances; It is also valid that monopolistic companies such as ORACLE that for political reasons closes their services in Venezuela for supporting the "US sanctions" and where despite subsequent changes they made evidence of their political participation supporting the right-wing governments that are in the end. "Themselves", it will also be allowed in the US that Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, etc. if they are part of the action of intervention laws against freedom such as the Patriot Act among others.

    I understand perhaps the "innocence" of some who believe that it is necessary to depoliticize the Free Software social movements using that flag, what they do not take into account is that the conscience of NOT ACTION can not be separated from such attacks, if someone He convinced them that "politics" should not be binding with "the struggle to raise awareness" is because they seek the same formula of "neutrality" in withdrawing support from social movements, separating the forces from the causes that are being attacked For the same enemy, the people, the community, let us remember who our true allies are and give the moral and communicational support they so badly need. I think that we must "learn from the right" to be implacable in our position and give them without compassion when attacking or defending ourselves from it. It is my opinion. Feijoo Jimenez