Free software and priorities?

Alexander Braun fsf at
Tue Sep 25 07:42:04 UTC 2007

> So is software freedom the
> wrong place to put the emphasis in the light of all the other problems
> we might fight, or might it be?

definitely not assuming that the meaning of "we" is the people on this
mailinglist and similar mailinglist - this depends on the personal
talents like Ben emphasized.

I'd like to  contribute a further review on the term "freedom" to your
mail. In my opinion it is not as subordinate as the interviewer on zdnet
put it in his questions.

On the one hand all the grievances he introduces are means to minimize
the personal freedom of the victims in a very existential way.
Poverty diminishes the life to a search for food and triggers envy, that
can lead to hate. Furthermore it most often leads to starvation and
death - which is the ultimate loss of freedom - the freedom to live.
The same is valid for war, invasion and occupation which almost
necessarily leads to death (see above) and cuts the freedom of the
occupied in almost any respect.

So in a way the target in the fight for free software is the same:
helping people keep their freedom.

Now - this comparison between death and starvation on the one hand and
software on the other might appear cynical. Propably this is what the
interviewer meant to say.

But it is not: We live in a world of technology - and strictly speaking
alway have. People don't owning the technology and the knowledge suffer
from discrimination. 

This is exactly, what we can observe in the so called developing world.
Depending on the country it is necessary to teach the children reading
and writing first of course. You can not use a computer if you can not

But there also exist lots of countries that are still discriminated
against, because they can not afford the enormous prices the producers
of proprietary software tend to take for their software and whats worse:
they don't have a chance to develop this software for themself, because
the proprietary software is closed source in the most cases. And if it
is not they would be violate the licenses and copyrights of the software
companies, if they start developing using that source.

So free software is not only a "nice to have" for the rich countries and
their engineers. It's a necessity to let people in countries with a
worse infrastructure to catch up the progress and by catching up
improving their living conditions.

Free software is more than a toy. It's also more than a nice philosophy
of people rich enough to afford philosophizing.
Free software is a social necessity for globalized world. And therefore
it has the same meaning for the society on this planet like the fight
against the inequity and the suffering.

And by having set free software in this context the people working on it
in their sparetime, the companies supporting it, and as a matter of
course the people fighting for it like the fsf in the different
countries earn the same respect like anybody else on earth, who tries to
improve the world - or at least tiny bits of it.

Everything else is only a question of talents.


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that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters 
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