Off the list – The Pied Piper of MIT

Richard Matthew Stallman is a prolific writter and thinker. Mails he send these days start with:

[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden’s example. ]]]

Freedom matter a lot of him. So that makes sense.

But as the same time, RMS is an autocrat. He was in 2003 when he wrote:

I’d like people to understand that we are not still considering the question. It is a final decision to do this.

I will give a brief explanation. We cannot continue doing that because we have no one to maintain it properly.
This is maintained seriously. Therefore we will switch to This.

That was something he was never involved with, into he never spent a dime or a second. But as it relates to GNU, he thought he had the right not only to state his mind but to override any other opinion and ultimately decide. Because he thinks he’s right and know better, he thinks he can just have private talks with some parties and decides on his own. Well, This that he promoted turned into a proprietary software a few years later: he definitely should have know even better.

More than 12 years later, he’s still the same when he writes:

For now, please do NOT install this change.

I will talk with ThisDude about this, off the list, to find out more about the situation.

He still thinks himself entitled to make things go, begin or end. He still thinks he will find out what to do solely on his own after consulting people privately.

So although he values his freedom and values freedom in general, working with him, even in a very distant way, is just a matter of subordination. He’d make a credible science-fiction character: distopian guru, the Pied Piper of MIT.


3 thoughts on “Off the list – The Pied Piper of MIT

  1. I dont not think this topic deserve another article. This (french) thread is quite illustrative, though

    It relates to a feature disabled in Emacs because it does not work on GNU/Linux.

    From the changelog “On the OS X Cocoa (“Nextstep”) port, multicolor font (such as color emoji) display is disabled. This feature was accidentally added when Emacs 24.4 included the new Core Text based font backend code that was originally implemented for a non-mainline port. This will be enabled again once it is also implemented in Emacs on free operating systems”

    There is a mail from RMS that just gives the same language elements

    ” > We should aim to provide the best possible Emacs experience on every
    > platform,

    Usually, but not always. The purpose of GNU Emacs is to be a good
    part of the GNU system and thus to make the GNU system better; other
    platforms are secondary. GNU Emacs should never offer people a
    practical reason to use some other system instead of GNU.

    Therefore, when someone implements a useful new feature but only for a
    non-GNU system, we do not accept it that form. Instead we say, “Make
    it work equally well on GNU, and we will accept it.”

    > many friends
    > of mine who were long-time GNU/Linux users work on OS X today, me
    > included

    This is a VERY bad thing. Can we find ways to discourage this?

    In principle, adding nice features to Emacs that work on GNU/Linux and
    do not work on MacOS could help. But I don’t see much scope for
    success that way. I think our principal hope of influencing people is
    through influencing the way they think about the choice of system.
    For instance, by teaching them to value freedom (which MacOS denies)
    more and convenience (which Apple might offer them) less.

    If we took the attitude that we aim to “serve the users” wherever they
    happen to be, that would convey the message, “Sure, switch to MacOS —
    we will make it easier for you.” For us, a self-defeating approach.

    Thus our stance is that a person who moves from GNU/Linux to MacOS is
    being self-destructively foolish. We take this seriously and we must
    speak and act in accord with it. This way, we can influence some

    Poster writes We as us, as group (we should do… sentences that suggest collaborative we). RMS use We as royal us, himself, since he defines alone (we do not accept, we aim – instructions). Once again, it is good that people like him are around to suggest and starts project that would have died early without a strong will. Once again, I pity people working for him, because there is no working with him. It is not even a matter of right or wrong, it is just this patronizing approach that would be a joke if it werent so sad.


    Why GNU `su’ does not support the `wheel’ group

    (This section is by Richard Stallman.)

    Sometimes a few of the users try to hold total power over all the
    rest. For example, in 1984, a few users at the MIT AI lab decided to
    seize power by changing the operator password on the Twenex system and
    keeping it secret from everyone else. (I was able to thwart this coup
    and give power back to the users by patching the kernel, but I wouldn’t
    know how to do that in Unix.)

    However, occasionally the rulers do tell someone. Under the usual
    `su’ mechanism, once someone learns the root password who sympathizes
    with the ordinary users, he or she can tell the rest. The “wheel
    group” feature would make this impossible, and thus cement the power of
    the rulers.

    I’m on the side of the masses, not that of the rulers. If you are
    used to supporting the bosses and sysadmins in whatever they do, you
    might find this idea strange at first.

  3. […] Six years ago, I posted an article related to my (limited) direct experience with Richard Matthew Stallman, which I concluded by: although he values his freedom and values freedom in general, working with him, even in a very distant way, is just a matter of subordination; he’d make a credible science-fiction character: distopian guru, the Pied Piper of MIT. […]

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