Richard Stallman On Having Babies

Browsing the FSFi site, I found an excellent short interview with Richard Stallman, about his general philosophy and work ethic rather than the more usual topics of his work and the free software ethic.

The final question echoed a comment Richard made to me about the 4 hour work week:

I heard you speak of the consumption pattern in the US and you mentioned about how you developed inexpensive habits. That included children. Why?

Which does more good: spreading freedom for millions of computer users, or raising a few extra children in a world that is already suffering from an excess of them? The question answers itself. Why in the world would I do the latter, when I have the chance to do the former?

Human overpopulation is the often-disregarded factor behind many social and environmental problems, including global warming and habitat destruction, which together threaten extinction of a quarter or more of the species of life on Earth in this century. Population growth also makes it harder to end human poverty. In such a situation, social pressure to have children is insane. I encourage everyone who has doubts about wanting children to make the decision to have none.

The first few times I hung out with Richard, I always asked him this question, and he always seemed slightly annoyed at being asked such a dumb question and the answer varied. This is a very good answer, though:

Do you think your movement will be successful in taking the fight of the non-free software movement?

It is a mistake to ask me this because the outcome depends on you. If you join in and help, we will win. So instead of asking me whether we will win, you should be asking yourself, “Will I do my share in the fight?”

I especially liked this part:

I think that the goals worth striving for are truth, beauty and justice. Goals such as success and fun are not bad, but they are not everything. To adopt them as one’s primary goals, as many people do, is a fundamental error: it is to aim too low, to have too small an ambition in life.
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The Richard Stallman On Having Babies by David Crossland, except the quotations and unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


One Response to “Richard Stallman On Having Babies”

  1. James on November 5th, 2007 15:03
    a world that is already suffering from an excess of them

    We don’t have an excess of people; we have an excess of the wrong kind of people :)

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