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Re: Support for RMS and criticism of the "bottom-up"/"social contract" p

From: Alexandre François Garreau
Subject: Re: Support for RMS and criticism of the "bottom-up"/"social contract" power grab attempt.
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2019 17:30:14 +0100

Le mercredi 30 octobre 2019, 15:00:16 CET Marcel a écrit :
> Having read through the long "Turning GNU into a bottom-up organization"
> thread, I have decided to join this mailing list and express support for
> GNU (as it has evolved over the past 35 years) and its chief GNUisance,
> RMS, as well as criticism of what I perceive as this latest iteration in
> the power grab within GNU.
> *First, my reasons for supporting RMS:*
> * I support RMS because he has spent a lifetime selflessly and
> successfully championing the Free Software Movement and GNU, which he
> created.
> * I support RMS because he is intransigent and blunt when it comes to
> his principles and ethics, and his principles and ethics in the area of
> free software intersect with my own. I have not met many others I would
> want in such an important and difficult position, except perhaps Eben
> Moglen.
> * I support RMS because he does not thirst for power and because he
> takes no visible pleasure in being a "leader"; it is partly because of
> this, I believe, that his project has survived all attempts to coopt it
> for 35 years.
> * I support RMS because in his personal and professional life, he takes
> the consequences of his ethical principles as regards to free software
> to their logical conclusions; this requires a very clear mind; much
> fortitude; and either extreme discipline, a rare natural predisposition,
> or both.
> * I support RMS because, having followed the Emacs and Org Mode mailing
> lists for years, I have witnessed first hand some of his timely and
> measured interactions to keep those programs true to the free software
> philosophy, and then I have watched him step back.
> * I support RMS because _every single time_ I have communicated with him
> over the years he has treated me seriously and responded in a thoughtful
> and timely manner. Not only do I feel that RMS does not exclude people,
> I feel that he goes out of his way to be extremely inclusive.
> *Now, to express my criticism of the "buttom-up" thread:*
> The main arguments I hear from those in favor of changes within GNU are
> being made under the auspices of care for the continued success of GNU
> and the Free Software Movement. One of the detractors complained things
> were amiss since he joined GNU eight years ago, yet he voluntarily
> joined then, and continued to be a part of it until today.
> I hear proposals for GNU to emulate Debian's social contract because it
> worked so well for Debian, yet Debian is not an FSF endorsed free
> distribution because it creates space for proprietary software to
> coesist with free software by splintering the inconvenient
> non-free-software packages into a separate repository while making them
> accessible and promoting them in their documentation and installer. I
> would prefer for Debian to fully follow the GNU philosophy instead, and
> I would expect that anyone who understands and adheres to the philosophy
> of GNU would also prefer this.
> Above all else though, there is one thing that baffles me about this
> thread, proposing fundamental changes in the governance of GNU, while
> posing as defenders of GNU: I don't see anybody including RMS in the
> conversations and I don't read anything written by RMS for this thread.
> What I do see are some of the same names that signed the "joint
> statement on the GNU project", which was posted when RMS was being
> defamed and is still up at the Guix subdomain of GNU: shame on you.
> What I do see are volunteers trying to opportunistically derail the Free
> Software Movement at a moment of perceived weakness for RMS. I read
> concerns about the eventual death of RMS to the survival of GNU, yet RMS
> is not dead yet, and these detractors are trying to push him out while
> he's still alive. I have deep concerns about the day RMS stops being
> involved in the Free Software Movement, but that is hardly an argument
> to push him out while he's still active and involved.
> What I also see is a list of thirty men pretending that the leader of
> the movement they volunteer for excludes women, yet I cannot find the
> name of a single woman (forgive me if I missed it) in your list. I know
> there are women participating in GNU, so the question is, were none of
> them willing to participate in your power grab?

This might be a good point.  However, for the sake of correctness, note this 
is a joint statement of GNU *maintainers*.  Though women participate in GNU, 
are any of them fortunately software package maintainer? Unfortunately, I’m 
not sure about this :/  That might explain the absence of women in the 
signatories list.

Yet, to better restate what you pointed, you might note that for a statement 
claiming GNU is too exclusive, it would have been then relevant to include 
non-maintainers, people who would certainly benefit from a change of status 
quo, instead of excluding them and just including already included men, for 
the sake of credit (if that’s a political problem (not a psychological one) 
they might pretend women participating are no less legitimate to speak than 
them, and if they’re not maintainer it’s for political reasons (I doubt it)).

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