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GNU is Not Unix Government Politics

Political Leaning and Free Software 629

Posted by kdawson
from the free-as-in-markets dept.
00_NOP writes "HateMyTory is the world's first political rating site and occasionally gets blasted or promoted by British bloggers on either side of the political spectrum. But here's something even more intriguing: when the right come visiting they hate the site but they are disproportionately likely to be users of free software, whether that is just Firefox on top of their Windows box, or all the way with some Linux distro. But when the left rally to the cause they are more likely than not to be proprietary software users, albeit with a big bias towards Apple. If Microsoft's defenders think free software is the road to socialism, why don't the left seem to agree? As a leftie, and a free software advocate, I find this pretty puzzling."
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Political Leaning and Free Software

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  • by Noryungi (70322) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:35PM (#18303576) Homepage Journal
    Most leftie blog (and just plain lefties) are Linux/Free Software users. Most right-wing people I know are Windows users.

    Then again, this is a country where most governement departments are switching to Linux, so...
    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:42PM (#18303654) Homepage

      Then again, this is a country where most governement departments are switching to Linux, so...

      No, I think, it is more likely, that your sample (just the circle of people you know personally, right?) is just too limited to be statistically meaningful.

      Would be interesting to get similar stats from a French site, that's visited by different sides, rather then just a club of people in agreement with each other.

      • by Noryungi (70322)

        Actually, now that you mention it, I was talking about web sites in France.

        I know, I know, RTFA and RTF summary and all that. All my apologies.
      • Agreed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gmail . c om> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @11:37PM (#18305314) Homepage Journal
        Albeit I consider myself left-leaning, a free software user, and a conservative (yes, that is right. I just look back to a different time in history from the right-leaning conservatives).

        Free software is almost the purest expression of "socializing the means of production" I know of. Not in the Soviet sense, but in a different sense. Essentially, those of us who put our effort into the softrware own it. THose who want to use the software get a more limited sense of ownership just by virtue of using the software. But this isn't like soviet communism (what I call Neofeudalism because everything is centrally run by the state) but a real grass-roots communal ownership of the production process (closer in my book to what Marx was talking about anyway).

        At the same time, this form of socialism/communism is actually more right-ward leaning than left-ward leaning in that it supports a sense of independance and self-determinism rather than a sense of obedience to legal frameworks built by large collectives (corporations) that we do not own simply by using their products (purchasing power is not ownership if we are afraid to use it).

        So there you have it. FOSS is a great right-wing communist conspiracy aimed at world domination!
    • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:06PM (#18303870)
      Frankly, I think they're all fucking crazy. I would say that free software, if anything, is the realm of the more libertarian among us. Arguing left versus right is like a normal person listening to an anal retentive obsessive compulsive and a total slob arguing over housecleaning. I'm for free software, because I like not having to pay money for things if I can get them for free. I also like being able to modify them without restriction and I like the community. Frankly, the idea that we have to be subjected by the philosophy of one side or another (who both want to control our lives and restrict our behaviors, but regarding different aspects) is fucking horrifying.
    • by jellomizer (103300) * on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:19PM (#18303982)
      Left wing or Liberals, are by definition a group of people who push change.
      Right wings or Conservative, are by definition a group of people who want to keep the current method.

      Someone who is more left is more willing to use Linux, just because it is an attempt to push change.
      Someone who is more right is more willing to use Windows, just because it is what they used before.

      Before some crazy debate on which side is better. I like to break it down to the following.
      Liberals want to make the world better, Conservative want to prevent the world from getting worse.
      Liberals in the attempt to make the world better could end up making it worse because they push change to fast and make mistakes.
      Conservatives in the attempt to prevent things from getting worse will prevent a new and better idea from continuing.

      Now that is fair and balanced without spin... I hope.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Liberals want to make the world better, Conservatives want to prevent the world from getting worse.
        And libertarians realize that nobody is wise enough to do either using the powers of government.
      • You use the word "by definition" a little too freely.

        The terms mean very different things in different contexts; they can refer to personality types as much as political positions, and they "play" differently depending on class, nationality and other factors.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by WhiplashII (542766)
        How I see it is a little different:

        Conservatives want to make the pie bigger, without regard to how the pie is divided.

        Liberals want to divide the pie equally, without regard to how big the pie is.

        The reason I can not vote for a liberal is that they are saying that they will act against their own best interest - they say that they will act to move money from themselves to the poor. I doubt them when they say that...

        On the other hand, a conservative says they will act to make the total available bigger. I
  • Easy... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solafide (845228)
    Left people _tend_ to be richer, so they go for Macs. The far Right (the kind that read the American Conservative) tend to be practically libertarian anyway, so they go for privacy and freedom, which happens to come best with Linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ereshiere (945922)
      Where did you get the idea that readers of the American Conservative are "libertarian"? The magazine was founded by Pat Buchanan, a nativist culture warrior who has expressed admiration for pre-WWII America Firsters. Privacy and freedom are not in his vocabulary; far right yes, libertarian no.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Simonetta (207550)
      This is half correct. It is more the difference between (in the USA) between the liberal arts oriented and the science/business oriented. Liberal arts majors and graduates who have the time and inclination to post on political blog sites tend to be willing to pay the extra money to get a Mac, while business/science/technology types either can or know people who can set up a Linux system for them.

      I believe that the knowledge barrier keeps the far Right and libertarians away from Linux
    • Lefty != Libertarian (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:19PM (#18304424)
      Left vs Right is orthogonal from Libertarianism. Some of the most libertarian organisations are the most right wing. eg. the survivalists in USA.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#18303600) Journal
    Some items a Democrat will mod up are generally the things a Republican will mod down. If you wanted to run a Slashdot style mod system and invite both Reps and Dems to your site, you should have moderation based on their political styles instead of an additive approach. For example: Dems mod an article up 77 points, while Reps mod it down 20. For Democrats, it will be a prime article to read. For Republicans it won't even show up. I think this may be the future of moderation on websites. It doesn't have to stop with just Democrats and Republicans, there are tons of groups that are at odds, or simply different than mainstream.
    • by stevedcc (1000313) * on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:44PM (#18303678)

      I think you're forgetting something.

      This article is about UK politics. Remember that by British standards, American politics is right wing, or far-right. You need to be very careful when just talking "right" and "left" or "Republican" and "Democrat" if you're comparing UK and US politics.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        By most of the worlds standards of political 'left' and 'right', the US is Far far right wing (embracing much of fascism), when fascism is defined as not just a dictatorship, but 'politics by corporation'. When lobbyists hold much sway over elected public officials (read MPAA, RIAA over senators), patent laws that allow and encourage submarine patents, lawyers that create nothing being able to sue those that do create things (hampering development of new products for 50 or 100 years), corporations dictati
      • by meringuoid (568297) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:23PM (#18304440)
        Remember that by British standards, American politics is right wing, or far-right.

        Peter Cook put it best:

        "American politics is very simple. They have the Republican Party, which is basically like our Conservative Party, and the Democratic Party, which is basically like our Conservative Party."

        What you call a far-left bleeding-heart liberal we call a filthy Tory.

    • by Kandenshi (832555) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:55PM (#18303774)
      Sounds rather disheartening to me. The internet already makes it really easy to see only the arguements that you want to read, and ignore the points of views that Other People have. It makes for much easier reading/viewing(no need to strain myself to understand another's POV since what I'm reading supports my thoughts). But it seems like a recipe for laz(y/ier) people, who don't have the ability or interest to critically examine a line of thinking.

      If I'm reading only the leftist/communist/*nixist side of things then I'll stagnate right? And be less likely to understand how anyone could have any alternate point of view? ewww =(
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "It doesn't have to stop with just Democrats and Republicans, there are tons of groups that are at odds, or simply different than mainstream."

      Star Trek vs. Star Wars, for example. Hmm... I dig that idea.
    • groupthink (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BertieBaggio (944287) * <bob@@@manics...eu> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:17PM (#18303972) Homepage

      While I think your idea would be interesting to try, and would probably even be helpful on a mainstream political news site, I think moderating that way is a Bad Thing in disguise. Such a system would very powerfully promote groupthink, which is a phenomenon that occurs quite easily even without "affiliation moderation" / "bias moderation" (for want of better terms).

      Consider Slashdot, for example. There are occasions when groupthink can be particularly bad - take any article critical of Linux. What generally happens is that the points of the article (or points that other people raise) are refuted (sometimes not systematically, but even one line rejoinders), then modded up. Then someone disputes the refutations, and will be either modded down troll/flamebait, left as they are, and occasionally modded up. Then you typically have another round of refutations that get auto-modded up and the cycle continues.

      It's discussion, Jim, but not as we know it. Now, to be fair, this doesn't happen on every story here; and it has been getting better in recent years, though it can be variable. In fact, the discussion is primarily the reason I spend so much time on /. - despite the trolls, frist psots, and Soviet Russia posts, there will be a good deal of genuinely intelligent discourse.

      To get back to the parent's moderation idea. I think it could be useful in a couple of cases:

      Case 1: Generic Political News Site - delivers headlines and articles based on party affiliation. Mainly there as a story aggregator, with little / no discussion. Maybe spits out a custom RSS feed based on a combination of the moderation and your preferences.

      Case 2: Political News Discussion Site - hybridise /.-style editorial selection with moderation. Most stories will be those that the group wants, but editors can most stories that are important despite making a group uncomfortable.

      Admittedly those scenarios are fairly similar, but someone could take them and spin them into a service a good few folk would use. Of course it depends on your objective - do you want to provide a selection of interesting stories that folk can read over lunch (case 1), or do you want to provide stories while promoting discussion (case 2). I'm firmly in the discussion camp. In fact, here on /. I recently friended a former foe because a post of his made me realise that he was making posts that went against the groupthink, but had 'truthiness' and were valid counterpoints. Note that I don't agree with all of his opinions, but I do think his expressing them is important. I might even just try and find the post that made me foe him in the first place...

    • The two party system (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jesterzog (189797)

      If you wanted to run a Slashdot style mod system and invite both Reps and Dems to your site, you should have moderation based on their political styles instead of an additive approach. For example: Dems mod an article up 77 points, while Reps mod it down 20. For Democrats, it will be a prime article to read. For Republicans it won't even show up. I think this may be the future of moderation on websites. It doesn't have to stop with just Democrats and Republicans, there are tons of groups that are at odds,

  • It's ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Freshkid (1074210)
    ...a symptom of the subtle switching of poles that has taken place in politics over the past few decades.
  • My guess, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by isotope23 (210590) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:40PM (#18303636) Homepage Journal
    Your "right" leaning folks are probably more independent/market minded. I.E. if free software does the job then why would I pay for something that may not be as good?

    Your "left" leaning folks will probably (IMO) be more willing to follow the "alternative crowd" I.E. Apple. To my line of thought, many on the "left" are just as intolerable of individuality as those on the "right". The difference being one
    side wants power in the hands of corporations and the government while the other just wants government to have the power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LGagnon (762015)

      while the other just wants government to have the power.
      Apperantly you've forgotten about anarchists, who are on the far end of the left. Trust me, not everyone on the left trusts the government.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The_Quinn (748261)

        Anyone who cites Ayn Rand or Michael Crichton as a valid source of knowledge has proven they lack a decent education.

        Actually, I have a decent education and I have quoted one or the other of these figures as sources of knowledge from time to time. In anticipation of your weak response, I will remind you:

        (From http://www.logicalfallacies.info/notruescotsman.ht ml [logicalfallacies.info]):

        The No True Scotsman fallacy is a way of reinterpreting evidence in order to prevent the refutation of one's position. Proposed counter-exam

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, when Democrats are in office, plenty of Republicans distrust government too. When Clinton was in office I saw that stupid Jefferson "tree of liberty" quote on blogs all the time. It was only after Bush's election (so to speak) that they decided that it was treason to question the executive branch. Strangely, their understanding of the role of Congress in deciding on whether or not the nation wages war also changed with the recent election. When Clinton was in office, Republicans were quite adama
  • Left / Right leanings are utterly irrelevant to Free software - reasons for choosing free software vary enormously from person to person & are frequently based on traits shared by individuals with widely varying political leanings.

    As a leftie, and a free software advocate, I find this pretty puzzling.

    As a person, and a free software advocate, I'd be wary of anyone labelling something as left or right. Debate issues for what they are, instead of trying to categorise them as left or right.

    than not to be proprietary software users, albeit with a big bias towards Apple.

    Interesting. I wrote recently in my journal about Apple's support for the democrats [slashdot.org]. The funny thing is, from where I'm sitting, the Dems look right (it's just that the repubs look righter).
  • Why indeed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truckaxle (883149) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:41PM (#18303642) Homepage
    Why do conservatives disregard conservation?

    Why do right-to-lifer's support the death penalty?

    Why do liberals promote loss of liberty?

    Why do those who dodge military service advocate preemptive war?

    A few more conundrums to ponder....

    • Can god make a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?
      • by digitig (1056110)

        Can god make a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?
        And has she got better things to worry about anyway?
    • by LGagnon (762015)

      Why do conservatives disregard conservation?

      Because big corporations that will lose money if we protect the environment (ExxonMobil, etc) fund their campaigns.

      Why do right-to-lifer's support the death penalty?

      Because they believe in moral absolutism, which always breeds hypocrisy.

      Why do liberals promote loss of liberty?

      You left this one too vague. Honestly, this question makes no sense.

      Why do those who dodge military service advocate preemptive war?

      Because rich kids who become president are more

      • by MBCook (132727)

        Why do conservatives disregard conservation?

        We don't deny all conservation. But are you talking about saving the bald eagle when there were few left, or are you talking about saving a couple dozen acres worth of area in ANOIR that make up less than 0.5% of the total area? Some conservation makes sense, some doesn't. If some group decided to push a ban on lawn-mowing because it hurts dandelions, would you support it or would you think it goes too far and the price is too high? Just a difference of opinion o

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fotbr (855184)
      I'm a conservative (NOT a Republican -- I can't stand our current batch of crooks, or the party that has produced crook after crook after crook).

      There's a difference between conservation and what the environmentalists stand for. I support conservation. I do NOT support the extremist policies the green party wants to enforce. Protecting wildlife, good. Transplanting endangered plants to stop something you don't like, bad. Drilling in Alaska, bad with current tech -- I'm open to the idea of drilling in t
    • Re:Why indeed. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:53PM (#18305064)
      As a preface, I am mostly libertarian.

      Why do conservatives disregard conservation?

      Most conservatives I have met are just as fond of the envronment as you or I. They are avid hikers or fishmen or hunters (you want to see an environmentalist who means business? Just look for hunting organizations...). In fact most people that really don't seem to help the environment much live in big cities - which are predominantly liberal. I think that any one group is for or against the environment is a large myth propogated by those wishing to demonize others.

      Why do right-to-lifer's support the death penalty?

      That's pretty easy to discern - some people have more than worn out thier welcome on earth. Infants being, well, infants all have an equal shot at being productive. I personally believe in abortions (up to a certain point, where the majorty of the populace thinks it's OK) but like Guliani think it's a sucky choice for a mother to make. It's better to give that mother real options instead of abortion or a baby they cannot support.

      That questions cuts both ways you know. How could you be for abortion yet anything but the stanchest supporter of the death penalty? It's just an abortion that generally comes too late to help out someone else.

      Why do liberals promote loss of liberty?

      Now that is a mystery. Next to the things Bush has done we can contrast stuff like the Clipper Chip from the current liberal darling, Al Gore. Government monitoring of all encrypted communications? Al Gore really did invent that.

      Why do those who dodge military service advocate preemptive war?

      Pretty unfair dig I think at a lot of people that get smarter as they grow up. I think very few of us should be judged heavily by actions taken when young.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jmv (93421)
        In fact most people that really don't seem to help the environment much live in big cities

        If you look at it carefully, big cities are *good* for the environment. That is, it's much environment-friendly to put millions of people into a few square km than having each of them build a house in the country. Not only do cities require less land per inhabitant (cut less trees), but they tend to also require less energy per inhabitant (at least if public transportation is half-decent). Saying cities are bad for the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BeBoxer (14448)
        Next to the things Bush has done we can contrast stuff like the Clipper Chip from the current liberal darling, Al Gore. Government monitoring of all encrypted communications? Al Gore really did invent that.

        I'm wondering, do you have a source for that? Because from what I can tell, the Clipper Chip was in full swing in 1992. Which was, ahem, before Gore was in the White House.

        FOIA Document from the FBI dated December 1992. [epic.org] Curiously, this document suggests that the FBI did not seek explicit approval from the
  • Maybe those to the right using Free Software appreciate its "solve-it-yourself" ethic, or the spirit of individuality and control of one's own property. Can't really say. I use in the majority Free Software, but I refuse to have my views put on some one-dimensional scale. People are complex, there's no reason to suspect a priori a correlation between politics and choice of software. Why assume that Free Software evokes communism and socialism, when it's driven by such a vibrant and diverse community of indi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:43PM (#18303660)
    are technically inept. They can only use the software that came on their computers; they stand no chance of getting even Ubuntu installed (even if they knew about it).

    Darn, my tongue seems to be embedded in my cheek. My mother warned me that might happen.
  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:48PM (#18303716) Homepage Journal
    Education level correlates with leftward politics, and college students tend to be more liberal.

    Guess who gets cheap Apple products, and who's exposed to the Apple brand every day through iPods, iTunes, and computers in educational settings? That's right, college students.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Indoctrination leads more towards leftward politics than education.
    • by ductonius (705942) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:13PM (#18303936) Homepage

      Education level correlates with leftward politics,

      *Theoretical* education correlates leftward with politics. *Practical* education correlates rightward in politics.

      Try telling a Class A nuclear welder that he's uneducated. You won't get very far. It's also very likely that he and all his buddies vote to the right. They're also very likely to vote the same way as the engineering, business and finance faculties of any university, that is, those university people who have to produce ideas of practical value.

      Higher education does indeed correlate to the left, but that's only because trades programs aren't counted and there are far more theoretical subjects in universities than practical ones.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      I think your comment would have been about perfect without this line: "Education level correlates with leftward politics...". I agree college students get cheaper Macs, buy a larger percentage of Macs vs PCs compared to the general public, have more free time than 9-5ers, and are more likely to be politically active than an average person.

      But education level does not necessarily correlate with education. What about all the "rich republican business leaders" people are always stereotyping with? Don't you th

  • by eddy (18759) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @07:54PM (#18303758) Homepage Journal

    Separation of Tech and Politics is as important as Separation of Politics and Religion.

  • My experiences (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZakuSage (874456) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:03PM (#18303850)
    As a libertarian who is often confused as a right-winger, I've been a Mozilla/Firefox user for 5 years and a Linux user for 3 years now. Maybe it has something to do with "rightys" and libertarians prefering less restrictions in every day life and this carrying over into the software realm.
    • Well, as conservative, right wing, war monger, I have been using Linux since 1996 and other kinds of UNIX before that, so get off my cloud!
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:12PM (#18303926) Homepage
    Linux/OSS users represent a sense personal and social accountability.

    Apple users represent a desire for change and improvement but expect to get that by switching to a popular alternative.

    Windows users represent people who just use their computers and don't think about anything else around them. These are the same people who get pissed off when news of a new terrorist threat or attack is on TV... not because they feel a connection with the rest of the world, but because it interrupted their favorite sitcom.

    Windows does not represent a choice, but rather, the lack of one.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      I agree about Windows. Most Windows users don't know enough to make the choice even if they know the choice exists. They want a computer, so they bought a Dell or HP or what the guy at Best Buy was selling.

      Linux... your statement is a stretch. I used Linux for a while but not because of "personal or social accountability." Many people may do that, but I think many more do it because of the reasons I did: to learn, or because it was not Windows but it was cheaper than a Mac (free, after all).

      Your Apple ide

  • As a leftie, and a free software advocate, I find this pretty puzzling.

    There is a big, big difference between being a free software "advocate" and a free software "user." Those who take a personal stand to advocate free software usually tend to be on the left. But unless you're someone who believes that "stupid Republicans are too dumb to use Linux," then it shouldn't surprise you that the users of free software -- the ones who find it to be useful them -- tend to split right down the middle, like you wo

  • by J'raxis (248192) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:16PM (#18303962) Homepage

    When a political label like right groups together everything from libertarians to fascists, and left everything from anarchists to communists (and in the U.S., what with our power-mad government generally being identified as right-wing, a lot of libertarians too), this shouldn't surprise people.

    And it shouldn't surprise people that someone can be on the "right" but at the same time oppose capitalist businesses in favor of collectively-written Free Software. "Capitalism" is an ideological abstract that virtually all people identifying as "right" or "libertarian" support: It's an economic system based on free markets, free trade, freedom of choice in whom you do business with, competition, and so on.

    But a lot of purportedly capitalist businesses aren't very capitalist at all -- they use their power to dominate markets, limit choice, get laws passed favoring them, lock in consumers, destroy competition through anti-competitive practices, and so on. And things like Free Software may be collectively-written and therefore, to a lot of people, smack of socialism, but they offer a lot more choice to people, and there's little force that the author of any given OSS package could exert if everyone one day decided to up and go use something else.

    So you end up with some people who can call themselves "capitalist" or "libertarian" (and hence they fall under the "right-wing" label) and yet not at all support corporations like Microsoft nor use their products -- people who see through the language and look at what the companies like this are actually doing.

  • I would imagine that free software users are more likely to reject right-left politics altogether. Political "debate" these days sounds like crips vs. bloods - a disinction without a difference.

    An R-tard like George W. Bush would be just as bad if he were from the Democratic party.

  • The US Left and FOSS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by carolsim (221998) <cartoonwork.carolsim@com> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:32PM (#18304104) Homepage
    I find that here in the USA, many leftwing groups use FOSS, but are strangely silent about advocating its use or understanding how FOSS has evolved as a social movement. As a longtime socialist and FOSS user/advocate I find this strange and disconcerting.

    We do a fair amount of work for the labor movement: graphic design, satirical cartoons, illustration,and websites. FOSS is barely on its radar. I explained FOSS to a District Council President and her take was that it sounded like socialism and solidarity, two ideas she was strongly in favor of. Local union websites tend to be static sites built in MS Frontpage with very little in the way of interactivity.

    That is starting to change. The Service Employees International Union has done some interesting work with Drupal. We're slowly introducing Joomla to the unions we work with.

    We are also working with a feminist-oriented women in technology group and have introduced them to Joomla with positive results. They had heard of Drupal, but knew very little about it.

    When we try to explain FOSS to Left groups and social advocacy organizations we use the example of how the Howard Dean campaign was able to use Drupal to quickly build websites around the country. That gets their attention.

    I'd like to see some real reporting and analysis of the FOSS movement from a leftwing perspective. It's weird to see the "progressive" movement so behind the technological times.
  • Not political. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bm_luethke (253362)
    Because most "right side" people do not really consider software as a political tool but simply as a tool. As such, many of us (myself included) choose based on which allows me to do my work the best. My guess is that the lefties mostly do the same thing and Apple is the trendy thing in many of those circles right now. Over time I rather suspect it shifts around.

    For home, that is currently a windows XP system because of gaming and "free" software for nearly everything else. At work, Linux for real work (bei
  • Labels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:46PM (#18304214) Homepage
    Simple: "Left" and "Right", even when coupled with adjectives such as "Extreme", "Far", "Moderate", "Center-" etc., offer a very limited set of labels to describe political positions. The political landscape isn't a line, it's more of a multidimensional entity. You have a line that goes from "Anarchism" to "Totalitarianism", another that goes from "Individualism" to "Collectivism", another that goes from "Progressism" to "Conservatism", another that goes from "Monarchism" to "Republicanism", another that goes from "Federalism" to "Centralism", another that goes from "Authoritarianism" to "Democratism", another that goes from "Theocracism" to "Secularism", another that goes from "Realism" to "Idealism" (this one is usually tied to International Relations), and so on and so forth. Any single individual can be at any point in each and every of these lines, and any attempt to group all these differing positionings into a mere two overly-broad categories is by definition bound to ultimately fail. Human beings, thus human politics, are and will always be a complex phenomenon.
  • by AirLace (86148) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @08:48PM (#18304222)
    BBC News: Tories want open source Whitehall [bbc.co.uk]

    The government could save more than £600 million a year if it used more open source software, the shadow chancellor has estimated.

    George Osborne said the savings would cut 5% off Whitehall's annual IT bill.

    What I found inspiring about the talk by a leading Conservative MP [conservatives.com] was that it emphasised not so much the savings of going Open Source, but that it embraced the idealogogy as a philosophy to run an entire government. I am not a Conservative, but this talk inspired my faith in UK politics as a whole.
  • If Microsoft's defenders think free software is the road to socialism, why don't the left seem to agree?

    Duh. If Bush's opponents think the Iraq war is the road to fascism, why don't the right seem to agree?

    Perhaps because the left and the right are diametrically opposed? Perhaps the Republicans love Microsoft, the Democrats love Apple, and people with more than ten brain cells like Linux?

    Fuck it, mod me troll and flamebait, I'm drunk and have karma to burn. But I'm right nonetheless. And I'm done with the R
  • There are mirrors of this in Spain. The outspoken 'Neocons' see no disparity between Free Software, Free Market Capitalism and personal liberty and really, what is the contradiction? In fact the most aggressive amongst them seem to be pro BSD users. If you look closely at it there's a fair bit of compatible rhetoric between iron-fisted Libertarianism and the FSF..

    Then of course there's ESR, he's about as gun-toting redneck as it gets. Free Software, there's plenty for everyone, from nuclear subs to anti-
  • Left-wingers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@@@omnifarious...org> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:09PM (#18304376) Homepage Journal

    I'm not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. But neither am I a liberal. I actually find the fact that so many liberatarians seem to think the Republicans are the party to vote for to be quite puzzling and leads me to believe that the libertarian party members don't believe their own rhetoric.

    But whenever I talk to a left-winger the attitude I get is that this software stuff just isn't very important compared to the hunger and suffering of everybody. I really wonder at this attitude as it seems that most of them don't seem very pragmatic or even interested in realistic attempts to end this situation. They all seem to think that the rich folks should naturally realize that their gains are ill-gotten and find it in their hearts to give up their money to feed the poor souls who don't have food, clothing, medical care or whatever other thing it is they feel people deserve as a matter of course.

    So, truly, software doesn't matter to them. And they see no benefit to free software as they just see it as yet another way for rich people to get richer. The idea that people who don't have money could use the software and perhaps make some doesn't seem to occur to them. They are too wrapped up in their little world in which everybody is taken care of by somebody to think that way.

    BTW, if you want to flame me... I think the income distribution in the United States is whacked. I also think we may be the first generation to be giving up the freedoms necessary for class mobility. I think intellectual property is one road by which this might happen. If we ever lose class mobility, we are royally screwed as a nation, especially with the income distribution being so totally whacked.

    And I do not think being poor is necessarily the fault of the poor person. But the best way for them to become not poor is by finding something they can do or be that others find valuable. It will do them and everybody else a whole ton of good and is more effective than any handout program anybody ever thought of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brandybuck (704397)
      I'm not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. But neither am I a liberal. I actually find the fact that so many liberatarians seem to think the Republicans are the party to vote for to be quite puzzling and leads me to believe that the libertarian party members don't believe their own rhetoric.

      That one is easy to answer. Libertarians believe in small government. The Republican Party at least talks about small government. It may not actually believe it, and is certainly not doing a damned thing t
  • I was going to... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:36PM (#18304552) Homepage Journal
    I was going to write a post about the political leanings of operating systems, but stopped myself just in time. Because it's stupid.

    Stop obsessing with what other people are doing. Stop obsessing with who they vote for, what football team they rally behind, and what desktop they use. It's no one's business but their own what brand of automobile they drive.

    So what if I don't use the same software license as you? What business could it possibly be of yours?
  • by TobascoKid (82629) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:57PM (#18304718) Homepage
    There's an article at the BBC [bbc.co.uk] about how the Conservative party is advocating the use of FOSS in government.
  • of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bitspotter (455598) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @11:06PM (#18305132) Journal
    Makes sense to me.

    Open Source advocates are people who understand that OSS is a functional adaptation of the software marketplace to concentrated market control. For those interested in advocating free markets (in which competition is better for everyone than monopolization), using OSS to break abusive monopolies is a good deal.

    So, to clarify, OSS advocates are actually free-market libertarians; Microsoft and Apple apologists are actually the commie fascists. I realize that's the opposite of the convention, but think about it.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @03:03AM (#18306208) Homepage
    The attitude to free software does not correlate well to the left-right axes of politics, but rather to the libertarian-authoritarian axes [politicalcompass.org].

    RMS and ESR are on opposite ends of the left-right axes, but they are both extreme libertarians on the libertarian-authoritarian axes.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @11:03AM (#18307946) Homepage Journal

    The values of Free Software are such that it views a programmers' labor -- his act of creation -- is his economic contribution, rather than the software itself. The economic cost/value of software is measured in hours, not copies. (Which makes sense to me, because additional "units" of software can be copied for free; don't try to look at automobile manufacturing that way! ;-)

    Another aspect of Free Software is that the software can be modified by the user or anyone he chooses to designation. Users can't ever get "locked in" to something they don't want.

    The consequences of all this, is that use of Free Software results in a free market for software and the labor used to create it.

    Proprietary software doesn't really work very well with a free market. As a user, if you want a feature or bugfix for MS Windows, for example, you'll find you have very few options available to you. Furthermore, to some extent, the prevention of the free market from coming about, isn't merely due to the user not having the source code (though that is, no doubt, the biggest reason); it's also due to copyright law. Even if a MS Windows user somehow obtains the source code to the software he runs, it's unlawful for him to take advantage of that and maintain it, sell his maintenance labor to others, etc. Government enforcement of the monopoly, done for the "common good" (encouraging copyright holders to create products), keeps market forces from deciding who gets the job of maintaining a piece of software.

    Free Software is about a free market in programming labor; proprietary software is about centralized planning of software products and the use of force to keep it centralized. A Free-For-All versus Father-Knows-Best.

    Why wouldn't these two different ways of looking at software and the free-vs-planned approach, correlate with a person's other political views?

    I don't know much about British politics, but in the American system, I would expect Free Software advocates to be generally roughly conservative and proprietary advocates to be liberal. You probably wouldn't see that map onto the major parties though, since the two major parties have nearly identical stands on economic freedom, government management of the economy, etc. It's hard to look at the Republicans and Democrats and say one party is more liberal or conservative than the other, in that way.

    There might be some correlation between advocates of each system, and representation of "fringe" parties such as Libertarian or Communist; those parties' platforms have something to say about government's role in the economy, central planning, etc.

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