Cuba’s recent coming out to go FOSS lends itself to become a fodder for proprietary software proponents’ smear campaign against FOSS. The country adds to the list of the world’s socialist places embracing FOSS, the other being China and Venezuela. And it has struck the nerve of anti-FOSS giants who would once again associate FOSS to communism, at all cost.
In the Philippines, Cong. Ted Casino representing Bayan Muna has initiated a FOSS Bill, which mandates all government offices to migrate to FOSS. It has received significant support from FOSS advocates, setting aside whatever political and ideological dynamics they may have against Bayan Muna. However, the fact that the bill is proposed by the party-list organization associated to the extreme left, thanks to the State’s propaganda work, there is likely to be a new equation that we need to deal with: (Bayan Muna = FOSS Bill) = (Communism = FOSS).
The bill’s problem is that it will be met with cold shoulders from congresspersons who: a) don’t care about too technical stuff like software, b) are wont to traditional ways like making big deals, which means sucking the public cache for their profit, and c) are anti-communists. Another problem is that it has yet to be proferred to other progressive and almost-progressive groups, either in Congress or outside, so that ownership of the bill goes beyond the proponent. After all, free and open source software is about community. (Don’t take me wrong here. I’m for the bill, period.)
As long as the political and moral hegemony is enjoyed by the elite (which is a bit shaky as of this moment), advocacies for alternatives are an Herculean task and therefore call for creativity and doggedness on the part of the advocates.
FOSS advocacy work should be directed at various levels:
- Grassroots work, meaning working with NGOs with direct services to the marginalized groups;
- Educational institutions, meaning influencing ICT systems of schools, whether formal and non-formal, public or private;
- Small and medium enterprises;
- Government through policies;
- among others.
If we are able to explain FOSS to an average constituent, and that constituent spreads the good word in his/her community, that will weaken the red-scare argument. Likewise, if we are good at convincing schools and enterprises to go FOSS, that will render the anti-communistic software campaign futile.