I probably complain too much about my fellow Lefties. But really, one does encounter some of the oddest attitudes.
It was recently reported that the US military is going to shitcan the supposedly "secure" Windoze operating system that has been running the drone fleet -- which turns out to be infested with all kinds of malware, surprise surprise -- and run the drones on Linux. Of course I'm sorry that now the drones will work better, and mildly surprised that the military brass were intelligent enough to take this obviously reasonable course.
But one of my red-hot Lefty correspondents is... indignant:
I would feel ashamed if I were a Linux developer, to allow the use of my work to drive those terrorist`s weapons, the drones. There should be clause in Linux license to not let it use it for weapons. That`s utterly disgusting. I`d instantly quit any link with Linux.I've always thought I had a pretty good imagination and felt that I could come to understand a lot of attitudes and behavior that I don't actually share, but this really baffles me. Gotta admit, it made me mad, too, since I'm a big fan of open-source software and have even participated, in a small way, in some open-source projects.
Is my correspondent just ignorant? The open-source world never attempts to place any restrictions on what the software is used for -- not that you could ever enforce any such restrictions, or get consensus among the developer community as to what uses should be restricted. It's like asking a rotisserie football league to take a political stand.
More broadly it raises the question of a neutral instrumentality. Lefties in general don't regard technology as an autonomous domain, standing over against the social dialectic. Quite right too. But on the other hand -- is there a capitalist technology, and a proletarian technology? A revolutionary technology, and a reactionary technology? To which does fire belong? The wheel? The transistor? The Fourier transform? Was Linux a Good Thing before the Pentagon started using it, and a Bad Thing now?
Terence, this is stupid stuff. I can't quite say why it's stupid. But I know stupid when I see it. Blaming Linus Torvalds for the depradations of the drone fleet seems a lot like blaming Ogg the caveman -- the inventor of fire -- for the burning of Giordano Bruno.