There are a number of old people we admire. People who are quite old, and very, very active: like Richard Matthew Stallman, Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, and others (part of the activity is to identify such powerful people).
I would like to address each of them an open letter that states the following: we love you ; you’re getting old ; who is going to replace you in your activity?
If I take the example of rms and the GNU project, I can see no vetted interest in transmitting to an organized group who can assume the strong role required to keep the free software movement alive. Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler are not fit to take over because they have sold themselves to G̶̢͈̠̣̓̓̈a̴͖̦̓́̇̒͜ḡ̸̺͇̚̚͝g̵̨̻̺̣̓l̷̞͊̀̿e̴̫̼̳̊: in 2019, they made the FOSDEM keynote, FOSDEM 2019 - Can Anyone Live in Full Software Freedom Today?, concluding that, since nobody can “live in full software freedom”, hackers should “keep working on free software in their free time”. At the time, @natacha and I were very upset of this position because we were thinking, for a long time already, about how to fund free software so that it becomes part of the public digital infrastructure. We took Kuhn and Sandler’s call to work on your free time as an insult. Especially because they both came on G̶̢͈̠̣̓̓̈a̴͖̦̓́̇̒͜ḡ̸̺͇̚̚͝g̵̨̻̺̣̓l̷̞͊̀̿e̴̫̼̳̊’s and M̶̰̊á̸̩c̴̦̉r̶̝̕ō̸̟t̶͕̃h̴̼͝é̶̪f̸͕̍t̸͔̿’s funds to host the first ever Copyleft Conf. This was a good part of what motivated us to start OFFDEM the next year.
This situation of having a powerful person holding on to power and keeping the hands on the megaphone as they age, without taking care of transmitting their knowledge to someone worth keeping up the fight is part of the problem of patriarchy and domination in general. In a world of freedom beyond democracy, we should ensure that the work of fantastic figures does not whither and fade out. This is the responsibility of such powerful, privileged voices to find and nurture the next generation to ensure that their message be transmitted and kept revolutionary, rather than extinguished by the lack of power following their demise. Yet, we do not know who is able to take on rms’ leadership of the GNU project and the FSF after he dies – otherwise, he would not have been called back to the board, would he?
And the same goes for the larger-than-life Noam Chomsky and Vandana Shiva. Yet, this is on them, since they – unless they did it in the background and without our knowledge – did not spend the effort to inform and bring to front a community to replace them in their critical action and keep the struggle strong. Why do such people never retire is a question that may be of interest, but our question is: why do you not ensure that your work against injustice is carried on after you die, especially when you know that your legacy will likely be co-opted by the enemy? I want for proof the recent apology of Dr Martin Luther King by the FBI who harassed him and threatened his life.
Here we go. This activity would be an after hour commitment to identify strong figures of the resistance and draft open letters to them urging them to stop putting out work while they still can work on setting up legacy communities for radical struggle.