Why Microsoft is a Threat to Freedom

Arjen Kamphuis (mountain@knoware.nl)
Tue, 4 Nov 1997 00:32:36 +0100

This is the current lead article from the 'Boycott Microsoft Website'.
There's much more. Make sure to check their monopoly clock, it's now 11:54,
at midnight consumer choice will be gone.


Why Microsoft is a Threat to Freedom

It's bad enough to have a company
sell shoddy products, stuff that should
never have seen the light of day, or that should
have been permanently recalled. It's bad enough
to have a company get away with this for years,
even making billions of dollars in immoral profits from
its defective merchandise. Further, it's bad enough to
have this company held in high esteem by its clever
manipulation of the press, the educational system, and
the politicians.

But what really hurts is that this company,
Microsoft, will never be satisfied no matter how much power,
influence, and money it accumulates. This is because the head
honchos at Microsoft exhibit a compulsive need for control that
is the epitome of megalomania, a paranoid approach to all of
life's challenges. This is a company whose stated goal is 100%
control of every market it enters, and it enters a new market
every time it finishes devouring the previous one.

What, you may say, is the harm in such "success?" Well, do we
feel good that Russia has only Aeroflot? Are we complacent
when a single religion holds sway over a state or a country?
Don't we feel a sense of urgency, a fear of loss of freedom, if
one political party begins to have too much power in congress
or other branches of government?

Ah, but this is just business, you may say. Microsoft is not some
kind of cult or party with an agenda, is it? It's just about making
money and increasing its market share, right? That's the
American way!!

Except the market for information is not supposed to be for
sale. The market for information is supposed to be the ultimate
free market, and the very design of government in the U.S. has
always been about ensuring some degree of "free press" and a
diversity of opinions. Will that freedom be maintained if one
company controls the tools by which the press, the media, the
information channels we depend upon, get their job done?
Would we accept the notion that we would be guaranteed
freedom of choice if these tools were owned by a Jerry Falwell
or a Richard Nixon?

America's great blind spot today is its affection for commercial
giants, big business wheeler-dealers like Ted Turner, Steve
Jobs, Bill Gates, and other public figures. It seems like these
folks have free pass to control as much of the media and the
educational system as they want, because they don't profess
any particular ideology. Maybe that's the key: they have an
ideology of nothingness, of emptiness, of merely the voracious
desire to accumulate power for its own sake. This is an
ideology of codependency, a dependency upon marketplace
acceptance. A single holdout who decides he or she does not
want what this person offers is viewed, not as an open mind, but
as a stain, a spot to be removed, a defective element in an
otherwise perfect demographic monolith.

It is this ideology of squashing freedom of choice at all costs --
because freedom to choose something else means rejection is
always possible -- which is the heart and soul of not just
Microsoft, but the entire business world today. The difference
between Microsoft and other companies, though, is that the
tools used to control public perception, the tools of information
exchange that corporations need to regulate the markets they
control, are increasingly being held by Microsoft: digital
television, Internet software, PC systems, and more and more
educational products and toys. If Big Business is a boss,
Microsoft is the Boss of All Bosses.

The threat to freedom is not merely that a religious cult or a
band of political whackos will take control; rather, it is just as
probable that a band of ruthless, greedy control freaks who use
commerce instead of crime, who use information instead of
guns, will exert a cultural influence that will produce a
made up exclusively of morally impotent wimps. Greed and
powerlust are agendas just as religious in their nature as any
form of theology, and even more dangerous to freedom.

The threat is real; the solution, a bitter pill to swallow: like a
junkie going cold turkey, businesses who have invested deeply
in the Microsoft agenda must pull out. Now. Completely. At all
costs. Short-term results may be troublesome, but the long-term
results of freedom of choice have always been greater than the
short-term benefits of appeasement and immediate
gratification. A little lesson from history explains why.

First they came for the DOS users, but I laughed at DOS. So the
DOS users were consumed. Then they came for the OS/2
users, but I never tried OS/2. So the OS/2 users were
consumed. Then they came for the Apple users, but I wasn't an
Apple user. So the Apple users were consumed. Then they
came for the UNIX users, but I didn't understand UNIX. So the
UNIX users were consumed.

Then they came for me, but there was nobody to stand up for
me. So I was consumed as well.

There's a whealth of juicy stories on the company and it's 'products'
If you worrie about having choices and some control about the technology
you will use to access all kinds of info between now and the singularity,
inform yourself.

Arjen Kamphuis | "Don't be afraid to go out on a limb...
mountain@knoware.nl | that's where the fruit is."