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Political Leaning and Free Software

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the free-as-in-markets dept.

GNU is Not Unix 629

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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It's the exact reverse in France... (3, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303576)

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...

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303654)

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.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304176)

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.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (0, Troll)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303756)

I'm a nihilist, and I use Linux. And Windows. Plus a gaming device from each major company.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (5, Interesting)

svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303890)

Nihilism is a political leaning? I find the whole left/right distinction to be fairly empty. Does is mean authoritarian/libertarian, or socialist/capitalist? If I was pro-choice, pro-decriminalisation of heroin, anti-war, economically liberal but anti-welfare, an anarchist and a Randian Objectivist (I *think* I could be all of those at once) would that make me left- or right-wing?

Oh, yeah...and I'd totally be using an Amiga

Disclaimer - I am NOT a Randian anything.

Obligatory Walter Sobchak (3, Funny)

ZaMoose (24734) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304102)


I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (2, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304146)

"Does is mean authoritarian/libertarian, or socialist/capitalist?"

These days it means pretty much fascist/socio-fascist.

Both generalized political leanings have become corrupted with authoritarianism to the extent that neither can be associated with either civil liberties or free market capitalism.

"If I was pro-... make me left- or right-wing?"

It'd make you a dangerous terrorist suspect.

Do not question Authority.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303820)

one person proclaims to have observed a pattern, the rest of us are obliged to accept it.


Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:It's the exact reverse in France... (3, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304202)

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.

Re:It's the exact reverse in France... (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304216)

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:It's the exact reverse in Switzerland (1)

mousse-man (632412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304252)

There are non-lefty bloggers (mostly with libertarian leanings) who will not venture near Windows since they do not trust Gates enough not cooperate with the state and create Windows backdoors.

After all, the whole SNAFU with governments asking antivirus software publishers not to block off espionage trojans coming from the state is just a sign of the times. I'm asking myself how long it will take to have a free and viable Windows open source antivirus software for that matter, which can also keep tabs on Outlook and Firebird/Mozilla.

schools that use free software are full of (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303580)


Easy... (2, Insightful)

solafide (845228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303596)

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:Easy... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303746)

I always found that kind of screwed up. It's like poor people are (economically) right-wing for the same reason poor people play the lottery. I can't think of any other good reason for it.

Re:Easy... (0, Troll)

genrader (563784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304132)

Apparently, sir, you have no fundamental understanding of capitalism whatsoever. While I disagree with many tenants of the "right" and lean far more libertarian (Think more "classic liberal"), it is not the same thing. They understand respect, privacy, work ethic and rights of the individual as opposed to the collective, like the idiot leftists think.

Leftist policies will only lead to socialism, which does not work.

If you want the standard of living in a country to rise, you allow economic freedom to the max. That is how America got where we are today, not the great good Government stepping in, ever.

Self-selection bias (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303876)

Most conservatives (particularly in America) are either too poor or uneducated to use a computer on the Internet (and hence stick to the the TV/radio), or they are too "pure" to surf the "Pornternet." Hence most "conservatives" online are the libertarian types which tend to support and use FOSS.

Case in point, my aunt stopped visiting foxnews.com after she saw a Sprint Break ad banner with a barechested guy holding a bikini-clad girl: "I don't need this filth"

Re:Easy... (2, Insightful)

ereshiere (945922) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304008)

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:Easy... (1, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304056)

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. You have to know somebody who is into Linux to get it running if you aren't very tech-based. People who aren't techies who obtain and try Linux on their own without a support person almost always go back to Windows within a few hours of puzzling over some petty technical detail that the Linux community doesn't even notice. It's a fact of life, so don't mod me down for just pointing it out.

    Actually a more interesting question is the political orientation of those who are using purchased copies of Windows and those who aren't. But the Windows market is so economically distorted that a survey wouldn't reveal any meaningful data. The Windows market is distorted because the price of the included OS is very small when buying a new PC from a major manufacturer when compared to buying Windows as a shrinkwrap product.

    Actually, everything about this industry is weird to someone with an economics background.

Moding up political items (4, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303600)

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.

Re:Moding up political items (5, Insightful)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Moding up political items (4, Insightful)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Moding up political items (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303830)

Actually, such a moderation system wouldn't require you to identify groups a priori. Just allow your users to tag items (Rep/Dem), and then allow them to set a custom weight to tags which are meaningful to them (love/neutral/hate). Items with lots of points show up on your personalized homepage only if they pass your customized groupthink filters.

We've already got tags on many sites today (e.g. slashot/digg); once the commonly used tags stabilize in each community I wouldn't expect a weighting scheme to be far behind.

this post brought to you by the captcha: warships

Re:Moding up political items (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303948)

"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 (5, Insightful)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303972)

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...

Easy (-1, Troll)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303602)

Liberals are generally your artsy types. Engineers and Mathemeticians are most likely not liberal (its alot of hardwork to be an engineer/math person). As we all know people with real technical ability use Linux/BSD while the very opinionated people who really dont know much, like Mac.


Re:Easy (-1, Troll)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303704)

You got it all wrong. Most people tend to be stupid, so they are not socialists. Most engineers and mathematicians tend to not be stupid or even be smart. So they are socialists. As we all know, Americans are the only people that think liberal is to the left while it in reality is very much to the right. This is why stupid people do not use Linux but smart socialists do.

/the truth

Re:Easy (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303708)

Huh, that's funny, I thought there were a bunch of technical types in, say, Silicon Valley and Boston. I must just not be seeing the rabid conservatism of those places.

As a political moderate I have to say I find that statement of yours pretty idiotic. You say "engineering requires hard work" and imply (but don't have the guts to come out and say) that laziness is a liberal trait.

One could just as easily counter that "innovation requires independent thought" and thus is unlikely to come from conservative types, since conservatism implies adhering to past ideas (that's kind of the whole definition of the word, right?) Equally ridiculous but if you look at the political tendencies of areas where technical innovation is actually happening around the world, it's at least somewhat rooted in actual reality.

Re:Easy (1)

ahodgson (74077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303834)

There are different ways to be liberal. Protecting civil liberties need not be synonymous with promoting a welfare state. Indeed, it seems to me incredulous that proponents of both end up on the "left", when big government is both necessary for the latter and the worst possible enemy of the former.

Re:Easy (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304014)

The worse possible enemy of privacy isn't something that is accountable to me, it's a corperation that isn't. If the goverment doesn't control the accumulation and aggregation of data and kill things like NGSCB then we lose all our privacy.

Re:Easy (1)

DevoPhl (702812) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303922)

Most engineers and mathematicians I know are liberal leaning. I think anyone who is fairly well educated because he or she is intellectually curious is probably more liberal than conservative. Now I do know scientists that are not politically curious and they tend to be conservative. If what you are saying that they spend so much time working in their field of interest that they tend to accept politics rather than challenging it, you are correct to a certain extent.

Tag this one with ha-ha, please (0)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303606)

Illiberal Left using proprietary software. I'm not surprised — I'm surprised, anyone else is surprised, though :-)

It's ... (2, Interesting)

Freshkid (1074210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303632)

...a symptom of the subtle switching of poles that has taken place in politics over the past few decades.

My guess, (3, Insightful)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303636)

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:My guess, (2, Insightful)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303858)

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:My guess, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18304156)

"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."

In your zeal to assign power to corporation or government you forgot us democrats, you remember, the ones who think power should be in the hands of the people. I know it's an unfashionable olde-worldy sentiment and all - government of the people, by the people, for the people, but 'm sticking to it.

Left / Right not relevant to FOSS. (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303638)

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).

Re:Left / Right not relevant to FOSS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303680)

I use a Mac desktop and a Linux laptop. The only political motivations one can ascribe to my choice of OS is "anything but Windows".

Besides, I think we live in a three-party system nowadays anyways. We've got the Dems, the old-school balance the budget Republicans, and the neo-con Republicans. The last two are as different from each other as they are from the Dems.

Re:Left / Right not relevant to FOSS. (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303766)

Besides, I think we live in a three-party system nowadays anyways. We've got the Dems, the old-school balance the budget Republicans, and the neo-con Republicans

Interesting. Can you tell the rest of the house how you can possibly vote for the fiscal conservative Repubs? Looks to me like you're still on a two party system, but the neocons have taken over the formerly sensible GOP.

Re:Left / Right not relevant to FOSS. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304094)

the old-school balance the budget Republicans, and the neo-con Republicans.

The problem is that the two look exactly alike to me. Same problem with the Libertarian Party: some of them are libertarians, the rest are corporatist nutters, but until the respective parties purge their nutters, I can't vote for either based simply on name alone (which, really, is a good thing).

Now, if I could convince everyone else of that, then we might be on our way to being back in control of our government rather than leaving it in the hands of whoever happens to be wearing the party mask.

You're reading too much into this. (1)

AlzaF (963971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303974)

I agree, FOSS has nothing to do with mainstream politics and to suggest so through this article is reading too much into things.

In the blogging sphere there is a growing movement of the left and right that transgresses nationality whereby support is mobilised to browse sites that have features like voting to promote their agenda. It would be interesting to see the nationality of the voters as well as the browser and operating system they use.

Although I'm not from US, I have read enough comments on websites to know that Americans have this irrational fear of anything socialist. If you want the average American to think negative about something you label it socialist.

I'll agree (1)

FoamingToad (904595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304060)

To be honest, I don't think I want to see software engineers working on political problems - the respective arenas are too different.

What I'd like to think is that the reason why left wing users are using Windows based products is that they are a hell of a lot more accessible than your equivalent *nix; in the UK , illicit copies of windows are far more easy to find, and have supported than a linux distro, and your kids [possibly the motivators for families buying a PC] can play on it.

There's theoretically little to interfere with your real motivation: voicing your opinions and attempting to influence political thought.

Disclaimer - I work with BSD/Linux/Solaris and have a reasonably liberal viewpoint, and am just asked occasionally to support lefties with children.

Why indeed. (4, Insightful)

truckaxle (883149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303642)

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....

Re:Why indeed. (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303930)

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 than willing to use their power to line their wallets with more money even if it gets other people killed. They aren't concerned with the ethical dilemma or the hypocrisy, as the public won't ask too many questions so long as enough propaganda is produced.

Re:Why indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18304038)

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

Mostly gun laws. It's the Democrats' job to ban guns, while the Republicans simply neglect to repeal the bans while in power. This way, the NRA members are still suckered into voting for The Party, instead of fielding their own candidate or voting for one of the other parties with a more Constitutional bent.

Re:Why indeed. (2, Insightful)

0123456789 (467085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304112)

I think most liberals (and most non-liberals) want the liberty of not being shot? Personally, I value that liberty more highly than the liberty to carry a gun.

Re:Why indeed. (1)

quietlysubversive (132179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304150)

hmmmm in that case, i desire the liberty to not have the chance of ever seeing a liberal point of view expressed in public.

Re:Why indeed. (1)

0123456789 (467085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304234)

While I desire to only read posts with basic grammar intact, such as capital letters at the start of sentences. Sadly, we're both going to be disappointed.

Re:Why indeed. (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304218)

Strange, I value the liberty to defend myself, with deadly force if necessary, against a group of people attacking me or a criminal carrying a gun (which they will still do if you make them illegal).

Re:Why indeed. (0)

quietlysubversive (132179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304126)

hello gun bans, smoking bans, socialized health care (banning free choice in health care), etc. etc. etc.

ban prayer, ban video games (hello tipper gore et al), etc.

want more explanation?

*roll* i like how you were able to understand all the other zingers but when it came to liberals you're all like, "huh??"

whatever - partisan.

Re:Why indeed. (1)

bheer (633842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304190)

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

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

Hypocrisy is the gap between normative and practised behavior. It might reduce ones credibility in some cases (e.g. Gore's jet-setting and his carbon-reduction message, or the Republican party's gay bashing and their own members' gay peccadillos), but in itself hypocrisy it's not a crime. You might find Neal Stephenson's thoughts on this [pastiche.org] illuminating.

As for right-to-lifers and the death penalty, there really is no dichotomy in arguing for the rights of the unborn on the one hand and arguing for stringent punishments for those convicted of heinous crimes. Anyone who says otherwise is playing with words (as are, to be fair, all those who reduce an abortion -- an emotionally scarring experience any way you look at it -- to glib phrases like "pro-life" and "pro-choice").

Re:Why indeed. (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304206)

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 on where the line of value is drawn.

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

I support both. My justification? The child is innocent, it hasn't even been born. The guy getting the death penalty did something that we as a society have deemed worth of death and been convicted by a jury of his peers. Probably through 5 appeals. They are not the same thing. That's people who don't support abortion are often also against murder: we don't like innocent people being killed.

Why do liberals promote loss of liberty?

I would say this one is simple. It's hard to make it illegal to make racist remarks and such when you have complete free speech. But if you speech isn't quite so free... then you can restrict it. Just like it's hard to ban guns (D.C, I'm looking at you) when they are a right (they argue that point, which I see as a loss of liberty compared to the view held for the past 200+ years that owning a gun is a right of an American citizen).

Why do those who dodge military service advocate preemptive war?

Cheap shot. Why do those who say we should intervene in a civil war/genoicde in Rowanda think we should get out of a "civil war" in Iraq which could easily turn into a Shi'ite/Suni genocide if we leave?

Just thought I'd give you my answers/views. The answers of a conservative, as opposed to the snarky responses from someone who seems liberal but mostly disgusted with politics (which I can agree with completely).

Why is this (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303644)

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 individuals — as opposed to commercial software, which often feels like the product of a po-faced corporate monolith?

Bleeding heart pinko commies ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Nonsense (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303710)

> If Microsoft's defenders think free software is the road to socialism, why don't the left
> seem to agree?

You'd have to show that most of `Microsoft's defenders` think something, then describe who "the left" are and how you'd know what they agree on. Finally, you'd have to find a group of people who find the discussion interesting. This must be a blog thing. Frankly I have better things to do with my time that read such ill-informed typing, but whatever floats your boat.

People use/develop Open Source software for different reasons, but I doubt their political leanings are of any consequence.

The education connection (2, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303716)

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:The education connection (0, Troll)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303856)

college students tend to be more liberal


"All" the college-educate conservatives (like me, of course) are the doers, who have productive non-academy jobs, whereas the left-wing activists, who Can't, teach University, valiantly attempting[*] (and mostly succeeding) to brain-washing young skulls full of mush.

[*] The only way for me to get a decent grade in Uni PolySci was to write a report parroting the Professor's beliefs.

Re:The education connection (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303884)

Indoctrination leads more towards leftward politics than education.

Re:The education connection (5, Interesting)

ductonius (705942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303936)

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.

Re:The education connection (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18304116)

Or to put it a little more bluntly - many college students have not grown up and become conservatives yet. Some college kids never grow up. We call those professors...

Re:The education connection (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303946)

Not where I'm studying. Common use labs here are all Windows XP Dells (or at least they were, I think they're Compaqs now), ICT labs are the same. We've had to jump through extra hoops in our lab to get Apple hardware.

Got any stats on Apple branding in colleges?

I'm beginning to think that... (4, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303758)

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

It's not puzzling, are you people or sheeple? (-1, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303796)

The right are more individualistic, generally brighter and capable of making decisions for themselves. The left are more sheep like, followers of fashion, happier to do what they're told and conform to the norm in order to fit in.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Re:It's not puzzling, are you people or sheeple? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303892)

Also markets heavily to the homosexual community. (See http://www.angryfrozenhead.com/articles/Summer2006 /applereally.html [angryfrozenhead.com] for a great example of how they do it.)

People who promote the homosexual agenda tend to be left-wing sheeple. (Not only that, but very susceptable to left-wing marketing. For example, even though under the law of the Palestinean Authority homosexuals are sentenced to death, homosexuals in the SF "gay rights parade" can be seen carrying banners for Israel to "end its occupation.")

Re:It's not puzzling, are you people or sheeple? (-1, Offtopic)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304000)

The whole Palestine thing is just latent anti-semitism, something not even the left is immune to.

Re:It's not puzzling, are you people or sheeple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18304100)

The whole Palestine thing is just latent anti-semitism...

Sort of. It's actually latent racism more generally. There are still a lot of people who want the world to be racially segregated - the whole "ethnic homeland" thing. Until peopl are willing to take stand for the right of every person in the world to live where they want regardless of their race, there will continue to be, what you call, Palestine things.

Re:It's not puzzling, are you people or sheeple? (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303954)

Thanks for showing how much your bias has blinded you, but that's not the case.

Both sides I would say have equal percentages of people following "just because". You have on the right the bigoted, religious, militaristic types that are trained from a young age to be that way. Then you have on the left you have artsy, bleeding heart type people who think it's "cool" to be left-wing and jump on board.

Both sets are equally brainwashed, though at least in the fake-left's case they still have to stand out to some people (parents, church etc) while the right doesn't have to, but that is minimal.

Re:It's not puzzling, are you people or sheeple? (1, Offtopic)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303978)

Actually, I think you have it somewhat reversed. The right wish contol and contort human behavior to their narrow definitions of morality. They are hip to invasive privacy violating behavior as well as forced disemination of their favored religious principles. The right has no real interest in fiscal responsibility, but is hell bent in distributing tax dollars to their cronies.

The lefties are also hell bent on their own social agenda, and though it has privacy and freedom implications, it is not so invasive as the right's. The lefties are about distributing tax dollars in their own way and definitely have an anti-business bent to them. They suck too.

What this country needs more than anything else, is some red blooded moderation. A party that would let people make their personal life choices, and won't go around trying to distribute as many tax dollars as possible. Rather republican style welfare for the rich, or democratic style welfare for the poor, they'd just back off, let people be, and focus on essential services.

I suppose such parties exist, but in our current system, they aren't viable. Given the choice between a rightist theocracy, and some annoying PC BS, that leaves me voting for the lesser evil, Cthulhu be damned.

Copyright law IS socialism,remember. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303800)

Granting the artist a temporary monopoly to "help them out" - because they couldn't compete in a true free market. So they say, anyway.

Anyone who *claims* to support the free market and copyright and patent in one breath is simply a lying hypocrite (e.g. Bill Gates, Charlie McGreevy), and their rhetorical trickery about intellectual "property" is designed to confuse.


My experiences (2, Interesting)

ZakuSage (874456) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:My experiences (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303920)

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!

The Right Values Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303880)

I'm a Canadian right-winger (without a ./ account). I use free software because I want more freedom and control over my own life. After all, patents and copyrights are government created monopolies: they do serve certain useful purposes, but they are also inherent infringements of individual liberty. Milton Friedman himself believed that patent terms should be reduced... back in 1962.

I don't know any other right-wingers who use free software, so I shouldn't draw any more general conclusions.

What thinking the groups represent (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303926)

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.

Why bring politics into this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303928)

Why do we need to bring politics into this? Why do we need to correlate the users of free/open source software with whichever side they 'belong' to politically?

Some use the best tool for the job and some just use out of their preference. I used to use windows-only software but the day windows refused to boot up for some reason and I had a tough time trying to get back certain data from my NTFS drive (used puppy linux in the end( , I decided to use more linux and the open-source software so that my data can be retrieved easily no matter what happens.

The day that people start chanting 'only uses proprietary software. Are you a ? Prove it by using F/OSS' is the day there'll be another movement called Free/Open-source/Non-political software where people can just use whatever the hell they want without being branded anything.


"Advocate" versus "User" (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303938)

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 would expect from pretty much any random sample of the population.

Depends on your definition of "right" and "left" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303956)

My father didn't like to spend money and he really didn't like to be forced to spend money (e.g. paying taxes and buying Microsoft products). He also really didn't like the war in Iraq.

My father loved Linux. The question is: was my father on "the right" or on "the left". Well, based on his views on taxes he would be on "the right" but based on his views on the Iraq war he would be on "the left".

Fundamentally, conservatives are not in favor of wars of aggression and liberals are not in favor of inefficient government bureaucracy. But that seems to be the definition that most people have. I doubt that either your right-wing creationist bible thumpers or your left-wing back-to-nature hippies are going to be sufficiently technologically savvy enough to like Linux.

When it comes down to it, if you want meaningful correlation with open source use you're going to have a more precise definition of what you mean by "right" and "left".

Not really surprising because... (2, Insightful)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303962)

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.

Left vs Right arguments are so insipid (1)

pyite69 (463042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303964)

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.

It's simple... (1, Flamebait)

knisa (209732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303970)

It's really simple (generalizations coming - yes, there are exceptions):

Leftists/Socialists tend to:
a) follow the herd
b) not rock the boat
c) not have enough independent thought to try something new.
d) be unwilling to work on something that's "too hard"; that's why they want the gov't to do everything for them.

Moderate rightists/Republicans tend to:
a) be more independent, but still follow the herd to a large extend.
b) don't care what anyone thinks but other "conservatives"
c) be market-minded; cost would be one reason they might switch to linux.

"far-right" people/Constitutionalists and Libertarians tend to:
a) value privacy
b) appreciate fiscal value
c) distrust the republicans and the socialists and government in general.
d) like control of themselves and their environment.

When you put all of this together you can see why "right" people would be more likely to use Linux. I know that on the whole more conservative types that I know are open to alternative computing than liberals.

Yay, generalizations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303990)

I'm gonna let this topic fester for a bit, and then I'm gonna grep for 'generally', 'tend to', 'most', 'I think', 'probably' and 'maybe'.
I will then have divided the posts into three broad categories: unfounded generalizations based on wild speculation, the same but confidently stated as absolute facts, and this post.

Intellectual Rigor (1)

DoctorRock (1042940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304042)

I saw Whoopee Goldberg on O'Reilly - "I don't have to support my opinions, it's just how I feel". I also saw Bernie Goldberg (no relation) on CNN - "The conservatives are watching O'Reilly, the liberals are watching "Friends"." To me it makes perfect sense. Rugged individualism or something. A lot of people would be perfectly happy to have the government wipe their ass for them, and God bless them. Then there are those of us who will wipe their own bottoms, thank you very much. I'm been using Linux Mint since last December, and I can't say enough good things about them, but if you don't like to think, Linux is not for you. I learned today that Rudy Giuliani voted for George McGovern in '72, and that makes perfect sense to me as well. If you're willing to think, and learn, there's no telling where you'll end up. Then again, if that's not your cup of tea, I've heard Windows Vista has this "Wow factor"...

its not that easy (1)

ichwillauchwassagen (1074216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304052)

Left and right are what remains from cold war propaganda. Today the political world is much more complicated. (i don't know how it is in Britain but thats my impression when watching the world from germany) First, there are 3 Basic dimensions: left, conservative, liberal. Second there are many ways to combine them. If someone thinks people should help each other instead of just trying to make money, he might be a leftist as well as a conservative christian refering to the bible. If a socialist dreams of the russian revolution and the fight of the working class, id say hes conservative. Many groups, which are seen as "left" today, are only traditionally "leftists" regarding economics (they want rich people to be forced to share). But most are pretty liberal when personal freedom is concerned (privacy, etc.). (I for example would consider myself an anticapitalist ,so you might say im left, but i definetly do NOT follow the idea of a traditional communist STASI-state where there is no room for individuality, so you might as well say im liberal). Free software does indeed fit well into the traditional left spectrum as it is built on colaboration instead of competition (as the "normal" free market is). The free software movement is all about "freedom", so thats a reason for liberals to like it. A conservative person might chose free software because he doesn like the big companies, as he might have the impression, they are not following traditional values. What i want to say is: the world of political attitudes is far too complicated for your experiences having any statitical significance. I think whether or not someone uses free software rather depends on a level of technical education. The more computer-geekerish someone is, the more likely he is using free software (normal users take whatever comes preinstalled on their box). Now maybe there is some indirect dependency (like: left people are less likely to study an IT subject, because they want to do something that involves smoking joints, like philosophy => less leftists use free software) but you definetly need more elaborate studies of that field to draw a conclusion in that subject.

Re:its not that easy (1)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304128)

If someone thinks people should help each other instead of just trying to make money, he might be a leftist as well as a conservative christian refering to the bible.>/i>

Unlikely. The conservative christian movement has no use for 'feed the hungry, heal the sick'. It's all gay marriage and abortion with them. Which is why the christian church has abdicated its moral leadership in the USA.

Re:its not that easy (1)

ichwillauchwassagen (1074216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304182)

... well, sfjoe, I was not talking about THE conservative christian movement that plagues the USA... in my innocent and naive heart, I hope that there are still some of those good jesus fans left that indeed want to "feed the hungry" and all that stuff...

The US Left and FOSS (3, Interesting)

carolsim (221998) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304104)

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.

Religious Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18304120)

Since when is Linux and FOSS in general not a religion?

Not political. (2, Insightful)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304124)

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 (being able to access source has *really* helped in many cases) and windows when I have to interface with something like the secretaries end of the world.

My guess is that is a fairly common attitude once people know the technical ends. I know quite a few people who use firefox/thunderbird, gimp, and other "free license" software that have absolutely no idea that it has a political side. They are just happy to get great software, even better for no cost.

Those that feel Linux is the path to socialism are, well, gonna be quite disappointed as few people even think of software as a political tool (and both Microsoft defenders and many Open Source advocates feel that way). People generally choose tools based on how well the solve their problems, not to make a political statement. Thus it is nearly as impossible for software to pave the way for socialism as it is for a screwdriver to sway minds - if licensing gets too restrictive it - and software that uses it - just will not be used and that is true for *both* sides (closed source and GPL type licenses)

left right up down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18304168)

For those that are saying the right/Libertarian = individual freedom and left = big government control, i think that is wrong.

I consider myself a libertarian socialist (anarchist). I have much passion for individual freedoms myself. As a socialist, I only want to see socialism created by the free association of individuals, not by an all powerful state forcing it upon its subjects.

So there is more than left/right - there is authoritarian/libertarian (or fascism v. anarchy).

I would say I have more beliefs in common with a Libertarian (of the right) than a Leninist or Stalinist (of the left).

oh, and 'big L' Libertarin refers to the capitalist libertarians. 'Small l' libertarian refers to anyone on the bottom of the spectrum, both left and right, opposing authoritarianism.

Labels (3, Insightful)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304214)

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.

"Tories want open source Whitehall" (5, Informative)

AirLace (86148) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

social facism? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304226)

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 Republicans AND Democrats; I'm splitting my vote between the Greens and the Libertarians, i.e. "none of the above". Both the right and left are morally and intellectually bankrupt.

Yes, I'm aware this is a UK thing but I can't vote there, and my vote here is meaningless. We (US) need more parties, we need for it to be against the law to bribe (contribute to) more than one candidate in any given race, and if I or my union or xorporation isn't eligible to vote for a candidate I (or my union or corporation) shouldn't be eligible to contribute.

And copyright should only last twenty years dammit!!!

Yes, I'm drunk. mod me -1, incohenernt.
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