[Fsf-friends] Freedom of Knowledge, Accountability and Justice

Krishna Pagadala krishnaact@yahoo.com
Wed Jan 19 14:01:03 IST 2005

Please find a half-finished essay on "Freedom of
Knowledge, Accountability and Justice"
and also at the end of this email.

Criticisms welcome.


  Freedom of Knowledge, Accountability and Justice
    This essay is highly influenced by lessons learnt
from the Free Software Movement, I encourage the
reader to read the companion essay on "Freedom of
Knowledge and Development" before reading this one.

Knowledge: What is it?
  "The sum or range of what has been perceived,
discovered, or learned."
   For the purposes of this essay Knowledge should be
understood to include all forms of knowledge used in
the public sphere, whether or not such knowledge is
considered private. The knowledge not included is the
personal/private/intimate kind of knowledge about
natural persons, which the public has no right to
    Specifically all information in all human
institutions in whether it is technology, accounts,
planning documents, reports, to the minutest detail
excepting knowledge infringing which is personal and
intimate to natural persons.

Freedom of Knowledge

 * The freedom to use knowledge for any purpose.
 * The freedom to learn and adapt it to your need.
 * The freedom to share and help your neighbor.
 * The freedom to improve on existing knowledge and
share your improvements to the public, so that the
whole community benefits.
 * The freedom to use the knowledge no matter its

  Human institutions whether they are in the form of
governments, corporations, trusts etc. must be
accountable to the people. However abuse of power has
been a constant throughout history irrespective of the
outward form the concentrations of power have taken.
  The most important way in which this abuse of power
is sustained is by restricting the flow of
  To make these institutions accountable, knowledge
about their workings needs to be widely avaiable so
that the institutions can be improved by the public in
both adversarial and collaborative manner. In the
absense of such knowledge power, will continue to
be abused. This is the prime reason why there is
enormous resistance to right to information laws
around the world. To help please join a right to
information advocacy group in your home country. Also
do not restrict right to information only to
government entities.

  I have been concerned about Justice in the context
colonialism. The first criteria to acheive justice is
that it must not be vengeful / retributive. It must be
of the healing variety by nursing the sick back to
  One of the immediate responses in this context has
been reparations, usually meaning money. However I see
serious problems with such forms of reparations, given
the history of "AID" by developed countries.
  The problems being
1) AID has not reached the level that the developed
countries have promised.
2) 80% of AID is restricted, in the form of soft
requirements to buy from donor countries corporations
3) Elites in the recipient countries eat the money
4) Money does not have value in itself, it is merely
representation of wealth, it has value because of
socio-economic circumstances, in particular violence
that is required to maintain such violence.
   In light of these problems with money, reparations
in the form of money seem inadvisable.

   Knowledge however represents true wealth that is
independent of violence, increases in utility as it is
shared and leads to increased levels of development.
Knowledge is thus an ideal solution to the problems
brought out by money.
   It has a healing effect in that the developing
world gains real wealth without cost to the developed

There are three pillars that have contributed to my
understanding of the world, and in helping me form my
First I would like to thank Richard M Stallman and
Free Software Foundation, for their important message
of software freedom.
Second Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen's works inspired me
in thinking about solutions to a lot of misery that I
am aware of.
Finally I would like to thank Noam Chomsky for helping
me overcome my blindness and helping me understand how
the world really works.

Freedom of information.

"Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of
Richard Stallman"

Philosophy of free software

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To Reflect, to Inspire and to Empower

Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the next step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to self-reliance for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
-Mahatma Gandhi

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