On the structure of the FSF Europe

Xavier Drudis Ferran xdrudis at tinet.org
Thu May 17 22:31:22 UTC 2001

El Wed, May 16, 2001 at 10:17:50AM +0100, MJ Ray deia:
> Xavier Drudis Ferran <xdrudis at tinet.org> writes:
> > I'm sorry but I don't understand you and many other people wanting 
> > to decide what the FSFE says or does. 
> You misrepresent me.  I was merely trying to highlight *why* people
> may consider FSFE undemocratic, rather than the motive which you are
> trying to assign to me here.
It is possible that I have misrepresented you. If so I apologise. 
In fact I wasn't reacting to you personally but to a large thread
of posts. Yours was just the last one. Sorry if I made it look 
as if it went with you.
> Of course, how FSFE decides to organise itself is a matter for FSFE.
> To the best of my knowledge, though, there is no obvious way for me to
> become a member at present.  The core is the entirety of FSFE by your
> definition.
To try to have a defined policy, goals and views and gather people 
who agree with that is something that would attract me to join an 
association. I don't think an association that includes everybody 
has any meaning, any sense. There is a difference between not discriminating
people for joining and accepting people with opposite ideas. 
People with different enough ideas should be free to found a different 
organisation, and possibly be more successful than FSFE if they 
convince more people. There is nothing wrong with that. But I'm not 
for dissolving any association by embracing any possible view on a 

Some things must include everyone, and that are the things that 
directly impact everyone, such as goverments that must be elected 
by universal election (is that the English term?). But worker unions,
political parties and other ideological organisations necessarily 
must maintain an identity by keeping decisions internal. That is 
the only way you can choose among them.  
> Digressing slightly, I do believe that FSFE has a power over all of
> us: a stated aim is to use the power of its campaigns to lobby for
> better terms for Free Software in Europe.  This is something that
> affects me and probably many others.  It is only natural to desire the
> ability to express our wishes by some formal route.
Your formal route may be either to join the FSFE if your views 
are close enough to theirs, you are prepared to work enough with them,
and they want to work with you, or to join or start some other lobbying 
group, or lobby on your own. The fact that FSFE lobbies the goverments
does not preclude anyone else to lobby whenever they don't agree with 
the FSFE. What I mean is that your formal route must go to the goverments
not to the FSFE.

Having people express their ideas (either individually or in groups), 
is no power over other people if the other has an equal chance of talking. 
And we all do have that equal chance. If the FSFE ever claims to talk 
in my name I'll ask for a vote in the FSFE (or I ask them to stop 
claiming it). But as long as they talk for themselves, I don't need 
to influence their decisions. I believe they'll only claim to talk in 
my name if I sign some petition they set up. 

> I also have no problem with Bill Gates having a vote on FSFE, as long
> as he pays his dues.  It's only one vote and not the many million
> dollars of influence he currently has over many governments.
I don't understand. What do you mean by paying his dues?. 
He has only one vote in the governments (and then only in some, he has 
no vote in my town). But you are right that his money give him more 
power than those goverments have. That is a serious problem of our 
society, but I can't see the relation with what we're talking about. 
Maybe it's just late and I'm tired ?.
In any case I don't want to be in the same association as Bill Gates, 
at least if the association is about free software. That does not mean 
I don't want to listen to him, or I want to prohibit him to set up 
an association about free software, but I have the right not to join 
in it, and I have the right not to let him join an association I 
am in (usually I'd exercise that right by voting inside that association 
and if I lose, leaving the association).

> On a real aside, *why* is the web site in American English?  Not the
> best way to appeal to a British audience ;-)

No idea. I hadn't realised, provably due to my poor English. Is that 
really important if the Bristish audience can still understand the site?. 
I certainly 
would not mind if English was my native language, I think. I mean 
it would be aesthetically nicer to use an English dialect used in Europe, 
but that is not more serious than a slight detail, I'd say. 
I understand volunteers are welcome to help out with the site, maybe 
you could submit your version if you feel like "fixing" it.  

Xavier Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at tinet.org

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