Why “fellowship”?

Carsten Agger agger at modspil.dk
Mon Jan 16 10:07:05 UTC 2012

Den 16-01-2012 10:12, Matthias Kirschner skrev:

> I agree with this.
> What I meant with my statement is, that the word "democracy" makes no
> sense for something else than states. (I need to search for an old
> e-mail where I explained that.)
> For organisation we should not waste our time to think about "is it
> democratic, or not", but talk about participation (who can participate
> how), decision making (who can influence decisions, how are they made),
> transparency (how are decisions and structures documented/communicated),
> ...

There is one good reason for not running a political organization or NGO 
as an association with free membership, and that's the risk of "coups".

Suppose an association is really successful and attract a lot of 
donations. Come next general assembly, some group who is hostile to the 
association's goals, organize a lot of people to join just in time to be 
able to vote at the next general assembly.

In the case of the FSFE, that could be some Microsoft astroturfing group 
(like an SCO ...) or it could be an "open source" group who wants to 
sincerely warn governments against switching to free software if the 
commercial alternatives are technically superior (we have previously 
discussed a Norwegian "free software" group with that attitude).

Whenever you have an NGO with a clear political message and strong 
influence, there's that risk of "co-optation by coup". This risk can be 
averted by not running it formally as an association with free 
membership. If this is why the FSFE is structured as it is, that may be 
a good thing.

What's important is that the *community* is democratic, i.e. 
collaborative and with an open spirit.



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