“Why don’t you move to Russia?”

“Why Don’t You Move to Russia?”

In the United States, any advocate of other than the most extreme form of laissezfaire selfishness has often heard this accusation. For example, it is leveled against the supporters of a national health care system, such as is found in all the other industrialized nations of the free world. It is leveled against the advocates of public support for the arts, also universal in advanced nations. The idea that citizens have any obligation to the public good is identified in America with Communism. But how similar are these ideas?

Communism as was practiced in the Soviet Union was a system of central control
where all activity was regimented, supposedly for the common good, but actually for the sake of the members of the Communist party. And where copying equipment was closely guarded to prevent illegal copying.

The American system of software copyright exercises central control over distribution of a program, and guards copying equipment with automatic copyingprotection schemes to prevent illegal copying.

By contrast, I am working to build a system where people are free to decide their own actions; in particular, free to help their neighbors, and free to alter and improve the tools that they use in their daily lives. A system based on voluntary cooperation and on decentralization.

Thus, if we are to judge views by their resemblance to Russian Communism, it is the software owners who are the Communists.

This is a part of RMS’s article “Why software should be free”. A friend of mine asked me the very same question- “Why don’t you move to Russia?” – when I was talking to him one day about Big Bazaar and Walmart and their broader impact on the society. I’ve also been accused of being a communist.

The fact is that aggressive selfishness has now become a common aspect of human behaviour (especially in urban areas, where you couldn’t survive without a lot of it), and whenever one mentions anything related to the general good of the public, or that one has a responsibilty towards the society, you meet with surprise and scepticism and suspicion. Such is the extent of moral degradation that’s took place in our society. It’s not just in America.

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