Picking Your Allies

Jul. 27, 2022 [technology] [politics] [books]

The fragmentation of an already small ideological alignment can be devestating for those trying to set and achieve even modest goals for the wider group. It is even likely that the divisive flames are fanned by common enemies all too eager to see it induce infighting. When one finds oneself being viciously baited into despising another group for not being ideologically similar enough, one must contemplate why this might be. At what point do the smaller differences get shelved, at least temporarily, in order for like groups to secure ground in their own figurative Battle of Castle Itter?

In my article Asymmetry of Digital Literacy Between the Political Divide I highlight some things that the LibLeft and LibRight might benefit from cross pollination between one another’s strengths. In fact, I would argue that ancoms/LibLeft, ancaps/LibRight, minarchists, constitutionalists and even the Alt-Left/Right share more common ground than otherwise thought. Stripped down to its essence, the demarcation line forms between those who seek power to wield over others, and those who simply wish to go about their lives unmolested.

Parallels can be drawn through the same fracturing found between open source, free software, public domain and the various other instantiations of source-available software. If you’re an organization or institution looking to deploy or sell a software, then it might matter which type of licensing is at play. But at the individual scale all that really matters is whether you, and/or others, have access to view and modify the code. In this way, I would consider leaked, stolen and reverse engineered code under the same umbrella of other liberated software even though one cannot legally sell such software. You either have the code, or you don’t.

Even Richard Stallman concedes that there is significant overlap between what counts as free/libre and what counts as open source in Why Open Source Software Misses the Point of Free Software:

Another misunderstanding of “open source” is the idea that it means “not using the GNU GPL.” This tends to accompany another misunderstanding that “free software” means “GPL-covered software.” These are both mistaken, since the GNU GPL qualifies as an open source license and most of the open source licenses qualify as free software licenses. There are many free software licenses aside from the GNU GPL.

Cory Doctorow painted it clearly with the wisdom that one should care both about the motives and outcomes of software freedom efforts and to take allies wherever one can get them. If another group would overlap even partially on an ideological Venn diagram, it is time to consider building some bridges. Let’s try to make a conscious effort not to allow much larger adversaries, be they software monopolies or violence monopolies, to sow division among our already diminutive communities.