Democracy ? - Was - Re: Information about the Free Software Foundation Europe

Olivier Berger oberger at
Fri Dec 1 23:38:19 UTC 2000

Armin Herbert a écrit :
> Hi all,


> > We are currently looking for people in other countries to become part
> > of the FSF Europe and we have been contacted by a lot of people so
> > far.
> Who's that? Why didn't they contact us (this list), instead of you?
> I don't want to play the role of the nerved guy, but I feel uncomfortable
> with this. In my opinion, you should hurry to found an organizational basis
> where you can speak out the facts, in order to inform us. Be sure that most
> of us trust you and wait and see what happens next. This makes clear that
> *what* happens next is extremely important. That's why I'd like to see the
> foundation of a democratic organization on top of the priority list.

As far as I've understood from the various opinions expressed here, I
see that many people want to see a democratic organization.

But that may not be what we need... 

The FSFE might not be a "federation" of all users/hackers of libre
software, where each one wants to elect / vote / be informed of

Democracy might not be necessary, as long as we trust the people on

The democratic process would be very heavy to undertake for them,
instead of really acting in favor of the libre software users and

And our personnal freedom is not in danger here (I mean the FSFE board
of directors won't decide on laws that apply directly on me and my
thoughts or actions), opposed to what happens with ruling a country, for

So even if democracy is a good thing for general ruling of a society,
this may not be the best organisational model for FSFE.

I made my opinion based on experience from my point of view as a member
of the board of an (not enough) active and efficient libre software
organization (APRIL).
We have a board, but each of it's decisions taking are not necessarily
brought to the wide list of members... even if we have a very strong
commitment on transparency, and real democracy when it's necessary. This
way, we are often more efficient, and don't enter a process of
consulting people that only argue without ever doing something concrete.
We don't loose time and energy each time we can decide by ourselves, and
in the end, members seem pretty satisfied with our decisions. This seems
to be the best policy, for that matter.

I think that a minimum of transparency should be requested though
(particularly on financial aspects), but when it goes with political /
lobby / strategic decisions, I think that a minimum of secret will be
necessary, and that it will be much more efficient.

You'll also note that it's the way that the FSF has run til today (I
mean RMS' one), as far as I kow, and that's OK for me since I trust what
they do based on their public behaviour, speeches and contributions to
the libre software advancement.
Of course sometimes I would like to know things before they are made
public to everybody... but what would that change if I discussed it on
IRC or mailing-lists, with only adding some entropy ? ... only my ego
would be more satisfied ;)

So as a conclusion, I think we have to trust the people in charge and
judge on their acts, and not ask for democracy as a primary goal... it's
not because democracy best supports freedom in general, that we have to
be democratic to best enforce freedom in this particular field of

I hope I made myself clear enough for you to understand my (somehow)
different opinion on this topic...

Best regards, ya all.
Olivier BERGER - Secrétaire de l'association APRIL 
APRIL ( - Vive python (
Pétition contre les brevets logiciels :

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