Richard Stallman Essays

RSS site feed for the most recent political notes and new material.

This is the personal web site of Richard Stallman.
The views expressed here are my personal views, not those of the Free Software Foundation or the GNU Project.

If you want to send me GPG-encrypted mail, do not trust key servers! Some of them have phony keys under my name and email address, made by someone else as a trick. See gpg.html for my real key.

It is absurd to think of fracking as a way to make jobs. Renewable energy supports a lot more jobs than fossil fuels, while not endangering civilization.

The largest part of the site is the political notes, and they are typically updated every day.

graphic by Susan Henson
Americans, you may wish to copy this icon to your own page, as a way of showing what patriotism means to you.

Urgent action items

  • US citizens: call on senators to protect the Tongass National Forest.

  • US citizens: phone your senators to oppose SESTA/FOSTA, the bills to make web sites responsible for what people post on them.

    Here is more information.

    I suggest also saying you oppose the calculated confusion of the term "sex trafficking". Call for any laws directed at ending enslavement to give clear boundaries for what is not allowed, so that they won't treat other activities as enslavement.

  • US citizens: call on the Senate to pass the Preventing Preemptive War in North Korea Act.

    While it's good that the bully said he will talk with North Korea, that doesn't eliminate the danger he will start a war. What if he doesn't like the way the meeting goes?

  • US citizens: call on Congress to reinstate the DACA program and refuse to increase funding for deportation or for the bully's border wall.

    I hate the hokey term "dreamers", but I support the substance so I signed it.

  • Everyone: call for charges against killer thug Mateau.

  • US citizens: call on the Senate to support S.J.Res.54 to end U.S. military involvement in the bombardment and blockade of Yemen.

  • US citizens: Tell Senator Schumer to fight the bank deregulation bill.

  • US citizens: tell Congress not to defend Monsanto by cutting WHO's cancer research funding.

  • Everyone: call on the main investors in gun companies to demand those companies adopt policies to limit who can get guns and how.

  • US citizens: call on the Air Force to leave the Desert National Wildlife Refuge alone.

  • US citizens: phone your senator to oppose the Bank Lobbyist Act.

  • European Union citizens: oppose the plan to impose automatic copyright censorship filters on the European web.

  • US citizens: support banning assault weapons.

    To sign this without running nonfree Javascript code, use the Salsalabs workaround.

  • US citizens: oppose the nomination of anti-LGBT lawyer Gordon Giampietro as a US judge.

  • US citizens: phone your senators to oppose deregulation of banks.

  • US citizens: call on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to support progressive values instead of opposing them.

  • US citizens: call on Congress to reject the bully's budget.

  • US citizens: call on Congress to ban distribution and production of assault weapons and large magazines.

  • US citizens: oppose the bully's budget.

  • Everyone: call on the 2020 Olympics to stop using tropical woods and other products that tend to cause deforestation.

  • Everyone: Call for warnings on clothing that releases plastic microfibers.

  • Everyone: call on Kentucky's senators to help Martin County with its water emergency.

  • US citizens: support changing senate rules to allow for senators that give birth to babies while in office.

  • Canadian citizens: oppose the bill to order ISPs to block access to sites without trial.

    If filing a comment through that page requires nonfree Javascript code, you can email it to .

  • Everyone: call on Google to stop phony abortion clinics from pretending to be real abortion clinics.

  • US citizens: call on your state to reject the Crosscheck voter-suppression program.

  • US citizens: phone certain senators to oppose plans to deregulate banks even more.

  • US citizens: call on Congress to insist that a redesigned NAFTA eliminate the ISDS provision, and other important changes.

  • Recording of Guantanamero

    Listen to the recording of Guantanamero, a protest song written in Spanish. The recording is in Ogg Vorbis format. To install an Ogg Vorbis player, see the FSF's Ogg Players page.

    There Ought to Be a Law

    • We need a law requiring the immigration agency to publish all its data about a particular person's interrogation or exclusion, if that person publicly asks. We must not allow the agency to hide its refusal to explain itself to the victim behind a facade of concern for the victim's own privacy.
    • To treat a payment to a foreign company as a tax-deductable business expense, that company should have to disclose its true owners, and whatever other information is needed to prevent tax dodging.
    • Fine government contractors for hiring ex-officials.
    • Businesses should be heavily fined if they use subcontracted workers to do any given kind of work for more than 120 hours in each of 4 successive months. If a business steadily needs that much work of a given kind, it should hire regular staff to do the work and give them regular benefits.
    More items where there ought to be a law.


    Here are some quotations that I particularly like.

    The four causes of the apocalypse:
       global heating, global hating,
       global eating, global mating.

    [More Cartoons]

    Copy this button (courtesy of R.Siddharth) to express your rejection of Facebook.

    Support the Green Party

    Republican Election Rigging Tactics


    The Olympics

    Why everyone has a reason to fear massive surveillance


    Non-oppressive Commercial E-books

    Don't use Facebook

    Facebook's face recognition demonstrates a threat to everyone's privacy. I therefore ask people not to put photos of me on Facebook; you can do likewise.

    Of course, Facebook is bad for many other reasons as well.

    Boycott Harry Potter Books, Movies, etc.

    Internet Music EULAS

    Business Supremacy Treaties

    Countries to Stay Away From

    No national identity cards

    I'd like to make a list of countries that do not require a national identity card, and have no plans to adopt one. If you live in or have confirmed knowledge of such a country, please send email to rms at

    Here's my list of countries with no national ID cards and no plans for one: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, the Philippines. Australia's previous government tried to institute national ID cards, but the Labor government dropped the plan.

    India has mostly finished imposing a national biometric ID number in a grand act of oppression.

    Switzerland has national ID cards which are optional, but they or some other government ID card are needed for some purposes.

    Iceland doesn't have ID cards as such, but they have ID numbers that citizens are forced to use frequently. For example, the national ID number is often required to rent a video or use a gym.

    Denmark issues non-photo ID cards with a "person number", and many services use this card to identify people.

    Norway will impose a national biometric ID card.

    Ireland - national ID card by stealth.

    ACLU: the five dangers of national ID cards.

    Wikipedia has a list of identity card policies by country.


    Stay away from certain countries because of their bad immigration policies.

    Flight connections

    Avoid flight connections in these airports because of their treatment of passengers.

    The Lifelong Activist

    People often ask how I manage to continue devoting myself to progressive activism (such as the free software movement) for years without burning out. The best way I can answer is by recommending a book, The Lifelong Activist by Hillary Rettig.

    I disagree with the book on one theoretical point in the last part of the book: we shouldn't think of political activism as being marketing and sales, because those terms refer to business, and politics is something much more important than mere business. However, this doesn't diminish the value of the book's practical advice about borrowing techniques from marketing and sales.

    Disclosure: I am friends with the author.

    Bob Chassell

    Writing (mostly science fiction) by my friend Bob Chassell who recently died.

    Mimi and Eunice

    The Mimi and Eunice book by Nina Paley is great.

    Solidarity Economy and Free Software

    Personal Declaration of Richard Stallman and Euclides Mance on Solidarity Economy and Free Software.

    Falkvinge articles

    I have reposted some of Rick Falkvinge's articles. As posted on his site, you can't see them in a browser without running some nonfree Javascript code which is apparently non-free. These versions show the same text, without the obstacle.

    Long-term action items

    Political Articles

    These are my political articles that are not related to the GNU operating system or free software. For GNU-related articles, see the GNU philosophy directory. You can also order copies of my book, 'Free Software, Free Society, 3rd edition', signed or not signed.

    Political notes

    "Those who profess to favor freedom, yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

    Frederick Douglass, American Abolitionist, Letter to an associate, 1849

    Here are notes about various issues I care about, usually with links to more information. The current notes are here. For all previous notes, see this page.

    Political notes about the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, Italy are being archived on their own page


    Richard Stallman's bio and publicity photos, and other things of interest to the press, have been moved to a separate page.

    Travel experiences

    Photos about my travels

    Scientific Links

    Some humor

    Earth under attack from planet Koch.

    On doxing, and how to spell it.

    Futon Physics

    A Spanish cartoon: La Ruleta Española.

    The Night before M-x-mas

    Here I am wearing my "power tie".

    Here I am struggling to open a bottle of water.

    My application to an join Marian Henley's Ex Boyfriends List

    My funny poetry and song parodies

    New song (06/2016) - Si la face ay pale.

    My Cartoons

    My Puns in English (10**-5 dollars, March 2018).

    My Puns in Spanish (New pun: nata June 2017)

    My Puns in French (New pun: Évaluation du diner Jan 2018)

    My Puns in Portuguese

    My Puns in Italian (New 09/2014)

    My Puns in German (New 02/2016)

    Linguistic Swifties (Now with: Wintu, Penutian, Cochiti, Taos, and Towa.)

    What Republicans Believe.

    --Saint IGNUcius-- The Church of Emacs will soon be officially listed by at least one person as his religion for census purposes.

    There are no godfathers in the Church of Emacs, since there are no gods, but you can be someone's editorfather.

    Stallman Does Dallas: "I have to warn you that Texans have been known to have an adverse reaction to my personality . . . "

    The Dalai Lama today announced the official release of Yellow Hat GNU/Linux.

    Pre-Zen Studies.

    I found A funny song about the Mickey Mouse Copyright Act (officially the Sonny Bono Copyright Act) which extended copyright retroactively by 20 years on works made as early as the 1920s.

    If you are a geek and read Spanish, you will love Raulito el Friki, who said "Hello, world!" immediately after he was born. Here's an archive of this now-defunct comic strip.

    Sleeping with Stallman at MIT.

    Un malentendido gracioso.

    ESR's favorite programming language: Objectivist C.

    American Extremists

    My Small Mouth

    The huns and the writs. I don't know who wrote this, but I hope he does not object to sharing it here.

    No Kludges in Cluj (June 2014)


    A science fiction story: Jinnetic Engineering (in Portuguese, Farsi, Spanish, Armenian, Russian, French, and Italian).

    The Right to Read

    Made for You (December 2012) (local copy)


    My book of essays about the philosophy of Software Freedom, is available from the GNU Press.

    Non-Political Articles

    Avec des chapeaux French song parody.

    My radio program of Music from Georgia, originally broadcast on WUOG in Athens, Georgia on Oct 13, 2014.

    Resolving the trolley problem

    Quantum Theory and Abortion Rights

    A proposal for gender neutrality in Spanish, suitable for both speech and writing.

    Origin of the POSIX name.

    On Hacking: In June 2000, while visiting Korea, I did a fun hack that clearly illustrates the original and true meaning of the word "hacker".

    My Childhood Sweetheart

    Love and Dance

    Predicting the attack on Pearl Harbor



    I would like to thank:

    • Positive Internet for sponsoring this web site.
    • Pawel Bokota, Lake Denman, Mark Eriksen, Eduardo Freitas, and Joe P. Lee for installing new text.
    • Mark Eriksen for providing the new search feature.
    • Craig Metrolis for working on making pages valid html.
    • John C. Vernaleo for helping to run the site.
    • Graziano Sorbaioli for improving the layout of the main page.

    Please send comments on these web pages to rms at gnu period org.

    Copyright (c) 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Richard Stallman
    Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.
    Verbatim copying and redistribution of any of the photos in the photos subdirectory is permitted under the Creative Commons Noderivs license version 3.0 or later. You can copy and redistribute the photo of me playing music to the butterfly under the Creative Commons Noderivs Nocommercial license version 3.0 or later. Any other photos of me in this (the toplevel) directory may be copied and redistributed under the Creative Commons Noderivs license version 3.0

    Essays and Articles

    This page lists a series of articles describing the philosophy of the free software movement, which is the motivation for our development of the free software operating system GNU.

    A list of the latest published articles is also available.

    Wealso keep a list of Organizations that Work for Freedom in Computer Development and Electronic Communications.

    About Free Software

    Free software is a matter of freedom: people should be free to use software in all the ways that are socially useful. Software differs from material objects—such as chairs, sandwiches, and gasoline—in that it can be copied and changed much more easily. These possibilities make software as useful as it is; we believe software users should be able to make use of them.

    About the GNU Operating System

    Licensing Free Software

    Laws and Issues

    Stallman's Law


    • Giving the Software Field Protection from Patents
    • FSF's Position on W3 Consortium “Royalty-Free” Patent Policy rewritten
    • How to Protect the Right to Write Software (whether it's free or not).
    • In Felten v. RIAA, scientists are asking a court to rule that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) does not prohibit them from publishing their research.
    • EFF “Intellectual Property”: MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) DVD Cases Archive
    • Patent Reform Is Not Enough
    • Saving Europe from Software Patents
    • Europe's “unitary patent” could mean unlimited software patents
    • Boycott Amazon!
    • Amazon Boycott Success!, a letter from Nat Friedman to Richard Stallman.
    • Letter from RMS to Tim O'Reilly in regard to a statement by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, on the duration of software patents.
    • Amazon's patent on a system for placing a purchase order over the internet, with notes by Richard Stallman.
    • Sequential Innovation, Patents, and Imitation is a paper that presents a mathematical model showing how patents can impede progress in fields like software.
    • Harm from the Hague.
    • Opposing The European Software Patent Directive, a slightly modified version of the article originally published in The Guardian of London, by Richard Stallman and Nick Hill.
    • Soft sell. Richard Stallman's comments on the defeat of the EU software patenting directive. Published in The Guardian in 2005.
    • Patent absurdity, an article by Richard M. Stallman published in The Guardian in 2005.
    • Bill Gates and Other Communists. An article by Richard Stallman published in CNET in 2005.
    • The Anatomy of a Trivial Patent, by Richard M. Stallman.
    • Fighting Software Patents - Singly and Together
    • Software patents — Obstacles to software development
    • Software Patents and Literary Patents, by Richard M. Stallman. Speaking of patenting artistic techniques, US patent (6,935,954) covers making game characters start to hallucinate when (according to the game) they are being driven insane. That is getting pretty close to the hypothetical examples cited in this article.
    • Why there are no GIF files on GNU web pages. While this story is a historical illustration of the danger of software patents, these particular patents are now no longer a concern. For details of our website policies regarding GIFs, see our web guidelines.


    Digital Restrictions Management

    The propaganda term “Intellectual Property”

    Network Services

    Cultural and Social Issues


    • Clearly established cases of proprietary software that does nasty things to the users.
    • The advantages of free software.
    • The Bug Nobody is Allowed to Understand, By Richard Stallman.
    • The Curious Incident of Sun in the Night-Time, by Richard M. Stallman.
    • SCO, GNU, and Linux, by Richard Stallman, discusses how SCO's lawsuit against IBM pertains to the work of the GNU project. Please see the FSF SCO Response Page for more details on this subject.
    • FSF's Statement in Response to Proposed Revised Final Judgment in Microsoft vs. United States, submitted to the US Department of Justice under the Tunney Act.
    • U.S. Congress Threatens to Establish a New Kind of Monopoly, an attempt of the Congress to create a private monopoly over repeating publicly known information.
    • The Right Way to Tax DAT
    • Censoring My Software, by Richard Stallman.
    • Funding Art vs Funding Software, by Richard Stallman.
    • Android and Users' Freedom
    • Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?
    • What's Wrong with YouTube
    • Netscape and Free Software, an old article that clarifies some misunderstandings about an announcement by Netscape.
    • Comments on Roderick Long's Article.

    Terminology and Definitions

    Upholding Software Freedom

    Philosophical humor


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