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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] FSF's communication, ethical discussion in con


From: Pen-Yuan Hsing
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] FSF's communication, ethical discussion in consumerism, why software freedom matters
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2015 16:43:40 +0100
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Thank you very much for those great readings/resources! I love your IBM and VW examples as well, will use when I talk to others about the subject. It'll be great if some one has tied all of this into Free Software, perhaps as a book or documentary!

On 23/09/15 03:56, J.B. Nicholson-Owens wrote:
address@hidden wrote:
I suspect the same thing. Can you elaborate a bit more on why you think
this is the case? Is there academic discussion on the definition of
consumerism and the ethics (or lack thereof) behind it?? I'd love to
read about this.

I suggest the work of Noam Chomsky, specifically Chomsky & Herman's
"Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media" and the
1992 documentary "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media"
based on the Chomsky & Herman book.

I also recommend "The Corporation", a 2003 documentary. Chomsky is among
the interviewees in "The Corporation" but there are plenty of other
people who are featured more. The 2-disc DVD of "The Corporation" has
many extras you will want to see. And the commentary track is also worth
hearing, particularly when Joel Bakan explains how limited CEO Ray
Anderson (from Interface carpet and fabric) is in what he can say and
do. The extras add to the information you'll get from the documentary.
Each time I see "The Corporation" I'm reminded of how well put-together
it is and how many great stories there are to learn from. I think you'll
find each story is worth digging into on its own.

I'll get into some details on one story as an example: The details of
one story are the subject of a book, "IBM and the Holocaust" describe
the details of how one of IBM's earliest customers, the Nazis, dealt
with what was referred to as a "traffic management" problem -- keeping
track of each prisoner's reason for being in the Nazi death camps
(gypsy, jew, homosexual, communist, etc.), what fate had been assigned
to them (a bullet to the head/the gas chambers, manual labor, suicide,
etc.). And IBM had a solution: a device that used punch cards (Hollerith
cards) and a custom-designed code that would allow fast and accurate
tabulation of the cards to keep track of the data describing all of
these prisoners. And back then the tabulation devices were huge and
immobile; any maintenance work of any kind required an on-site visit. So
IBM sent out technicians to program the system, and IBM was the
exclusive provider of the cards (by the millions). The consultation
profits were recovered by IBM after the war. IBM, of course, wants us to
believe they didn't know what their customers were doing with the IBM
equipment. But back then, as Peter Drucker points out, IBM only had very
few customers. It's not hard to know what each customer is doing with so
few units in the field. Keep these details in mind when you hear the IBM
rep talk about how "these particular accusations have been discredited".
I've used a clip of this documentary in a post commenting on a recent
"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" segment in
http://www.digitalcitizen.info/2015/03/10/coca-colas-fanta-history-is-no-mistake-corporations-have-propped-up-fascists-for-a-long-time/.
You can see Howard Zinn, Chomsky, Edwin Black (author of "IBM and the
Holocaust"), and Michael Moore talking about collusion between states,
corporations, and fascist dictatorships.

And Volkswagen seems to do nothing but exist on the wrong side of
history: allying with Nazi Germany in the '40's, cheating environmental
regulations since at least 2009. Who knows what else they do that we're
not yet wise to. But that's another story. I get into how free software
fits into this in
http://www.digitalcitizen.info/2015/09/20/vws-fraudulent-software-points-to-need-for-copylefted-free-software/

I find these stories very telling about how business wants consumers to
be quiet, paying (with money and/or freedom), and docile. As Drucker
says of Tom Watson Sr. (founding CEO of IBM), Watson probably did know
what Hitler was doing with the IBM equipment but "Watson didn't want to
do it not because it was immoral or not, but because Watson has a very
keen sense of public relations, thought it risky".

I confess I didn't know about this person, but reading your message, and
reading his Wikipedia page, I think I should really check out his work.
Do you have specific recommendations on which of his talks to listen to
first?

I recommend his multipart lecture called "Snowden and the Future" at
http://snowdenandthefuture.info/ (transcripts and recordings are all
there). All parts of the lecture are worth your time in repeated
listenings or readings. But I draw your attention particularly to the
segment about the difference between transactional law between two
parties and environmental law where acceptable minimum standards are
established and defended. This plays a critical distinction when
considering services such as outsourcing one's email to another party
versus running one's own email server. This also helps us understand why
Moglen is a backer of the FreedomBox project. Moglen brings his 'A' game
all the time.



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