[Dev] *URGENT* Proposal to organise Parabola

hellekin hellekin at gnu.org
Fri Dec 5 20:35:41 GMT 2014

Hash: SHA512

On 12/05/2014 11:46 AM, Aurélien DESBRIÈRES wrote:
> Works for money have a cost, this cost is true freedom.
*** Work without money has a cost, this cost is true freedom.

We live in a world where approval economy is not working so well.
People have to pay for their rent, their food, their taxes,
transportation, and all kinds of trade economy stuff that really makes a
huge hole in the realization of software freedom and a fair society.

The GNU project is starting a donations campaign with the objective of
gathering half-a-million dollars.  Do you know why?  Because money is
needed to do a lot of things in our society.

So yes, working *for* money is shit, but we're not talking about that
here.  Instead, the proposal is to enable core people to spend 100% of
their time on Parabola, which they're already doing, and which they've
been doing by personal election.  The alternative is that they have to
work on other things because that is not sustainable.

Sustainability of free software has always been a hard issue, and the
only successful methods found so far have been to abandon independence
and get funding from corporate or government sources.  Look at
successful free software projects and find one that does not accept
money from such sources.  Sometimes it does not even involve abandoning
anything.  The GNU project receives support from Google via the Summer
of Code, but still is able to criticize the corporation's vigilance.
There's no conflict of interest there: Google knows the value of free
software, it's built on it.  Getting money from Apple, Amazon, or
Microsoft would be another issue, but not because the money is "dirty":
such sources would necessarily require visibility, and their ethics are
opposite to the GNU project's.  Consider the Tor project: they get
military funding.  Many criticize Tor for being funding by the same
people who create havoc around the world.  I say: the money that goes
into Tor does not go into bombs.

Accepting money is not bad per se.  Failing to allocate money fairly and
transparently, and treating money as the objective rather than the mean,
are.  Leaving a solidarity perspective behind and entering a trading
mindset is.

For example, considering the issue of fairness: "Why A is being paid
more than me?" won't happen if you consider a complex of factors.  If I
have a paid job, my need for (extra) money is much less than if I don't
have a job.  On the other hand, my available time is much reduced as
well.  Living in Europe in more costly than living in South America, but
relative income in South America is much lower, etc.  There are many
factors that can be considered.

Note that one of the important factors about fairness and free software
relates to the role: it is intuitively normal to consider the highest
valued contributor to be a developer.  Then, an UX designer, a marketer,
or an user are not considered valuable, and that leads to a technical
elite of so-called meritocracy that leaves projects without blood
because they fail to see free software as more than open source: who
cares how brilliant is your code if it doesn't help build community and
solidarity across society?

I understand a lot all those issues, for having spent countless years
believing in the evil of money with regard to software freedom and the
resistance.  But I was wrong.  Software freedom needs money, not loads
of it, but enough to not have to think about it.

Maybe there's a way to invent here.  For example, gather $200,000 and
buy a big house in a cheap country and move a group of people there to
take care of each other and build a fortress of freedom.  That's the way
Calafou was born.  And that's the price Rafael Bonifaz is willing to
sell his house in Ecuador, constrained by his work promoting software
freedom in the Ecuadorean Parliament to leave it behind.  Shall it fall
back into the trade economy, or remain with software freedom advocates?
 Solidarity networks can be created to boost projects up scale and out
of the trade economy.  $200K is a lot, and may be completely out of
proportion: it's simply an example of what could be done.  Lorea thrived
on less than $1000/person/year for three years, and died of not being
able to expand the message to its users, because of the artificial
division of labor between developers and users, and the inability of our
generations educated in the trade economy to understand the power of
cheap solidarity.  What we got out from Lorea is burned out people and
the conviction we can't make it on the long term without solid and
sustainable foundations.


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