posted on Mon, Sep 14 '20 under tags: free-culture, foss

Using “open source” and ignoring the philosophy of free software is convenient for corporate entities, but not beneficial to the society.

This post has to be read after reading Richard Stallman’s essay titled “Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software”. You may also want to read Abhas Abhinav’s post Why “Open Source” still misses the point.

When user freedoms are mentioned in free software philosophy, it represents a larger cause:

These freedoms are vitally important. They are essential, not just for the individual users’ sake, but for society as a whole because they promote social solidarity—that is, sharing and cooperation. They become even more important as our culture and life activities are increasingly digitized. In a world of digital sounds, images, and words, free software becomes increasingly essential for freedom in general.

Social benefit through sharing and cooperation on software is the core tenet of free software philosophy. “Open source” narrows the focus to sharing the source code, thereby dropping “social benefit” silently.

Over years that translates to social benefit being nobody’s concern.

Not that all benefit is lost. Corporates benefit massively from this. And it is in the best interest of corporates to continue suppressing the idea of social benefit.

When you support the philosophy of free software you are in favour of a just world where equality ensures that every user has the freedom to tinker with their software. The “freedom” here encompasses every social change that is required for a person to freely use software - including economic and social equality, freedom of speech, and freedom against exploitation. Open source misses this point.

The proponents of “open source” do not find an ethical need to fight for any of these social changes.

Open source is self-centred.

Open source takes no responsibility for the consequences of software in the society. Open source is happy when everyone gets to use each other’s software even if the net result of this code sharing is negative on the society.

Open source has no moral fabric. Open source presents no ethical imperative to promote diversity and inclusion in tech communities. Open source has no qualms about taking money from tainted donors. Open source has no social responsibility. Open source doesn’t have the humility to acknowledge its privileges.

Open source fuels capitalism. Open source makes tech behemoths succeed in establishing monopoly and help increase wealth inequities in the society. Open source is a capitalistic invention to corrupt the tech community.

If you really believe in an egalitarian society where software works for every human’s benefit, you should insist on using the term “free software”.

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