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To the Free Software Movement

This is an open letter to all the people who, in their good faith, are concerned about events that are shaking the long-standing leadership of the Free Software Movement.

Italian translation: Lettera aperta al movimento del software libero

glitch art variant of Aurélio A. Heckert’s “Bold GNU Head” by Arantxa Serantes (2018)

Dear hackers, first and foremost let us say that, as a collective and in the true uncompromising spirit of the teachings of Free/Libre Software/Society, we are capable of doing much better than what has just happened.

Many of us work every day towards ensuring that everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender, or neurotypicality, can participate, learn and share in our communities. We do not claim we are perfect, we sometimes make mistakes, some of them guided by systemic patterns and structures of power still entangling us, and some of them just due to our human nature . But we claim our right to learn every day how to become better at including all contributions and opinions, and this implies the ability of making mistakes without being destroyed by them.

In the past years it has become clear that our movement and our ethos has transformed the world as we know it, with all the courage and all the mistakes considered; some of us rose to fame, some others wore masks as a protection from the regime of global espionage. In any case, many of us have sacrificed a great deal of comfort in life to change what needed to be changed.

Let us not be mistaken about the cause that brought us here and let us not forget where the injustice comes from.

Levitating GNU by Nevrax Design Team, copyright © 2001 Free Software Foundation

Let us not forget what we, the people, have successfully built to resist the incredible pressure of corporate corruption and military regimes. Let us not forget that the quest for software freedom is still open and we may lose focus and positioning.

Economic models based on proprietary knowledge and data extraction are the problem.

Free/Libre Software, as an uncompromising philosophy and ethics focused on knowledge sharing and participation, is an important part of the solution.

We need to honor the pride of the people of India who had the courage to stand up against the “free basics” campaign. We need to support the courage of all those defending network neutrality from attacks capable of putting under control the political integrity of entire continents. We need to help communities like those in Oaxaca and Kobanê to liberate themselves using software written by activists all around the World. We need to defeat attempts to impose software patents as the “stronger” patent act in USA and the “unitary patent court” in EU. We need to de-colonialize entire populations in an age in which computing is as pervasive as our own social relationships.

We need to reclaim our freedom from an ever-watching system of control and prediction that judges us from the algorithmic projection of our own intentions. We need to defend our freedom to be able to denounce all of this and speak freely by means that connect us, all over the world, without borders, intermediaries and censorship.

We need to be conscious of where we are standing in this fight.

As a trans-national movement, united by solidarity, awareness and ethics, we shall not negotiate our history and the motivations we fight for.

We are not the problem, we are part of the solution.

The Free World needs the Free Software Movement.

League of Programming Freedom, logo by Etienne Suvasa (1997)

See also:

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Dyne.org is a non-profit foundation and free software foundry established in 1999 with the mission of increasing environmental sustainability, inter-disciplinarity and freedom of expression. It connects an online community in which art, science and technology meet open source.

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