KDE Should Maybe Be Political?

“KDE Should not be political”. I've heard this sentence many times, especially when KDE supports LGBT. But it's wrong. Let me explain.

First of all, let's have a clear definition of what is and what isn't “political”; if we all disagree on the meaning of “political”, it will be hard to continue this discussion, right? Well, the problem is that there's no good, universal definition of what's politics and what isn't (I've heard many different ones and I have my own).

So let's actually not define the word “political”, as we don't actually need to. Rather, let's quickly list some things that go from “clearly political” to “maybe political”.

(1 / 4) Governments and Parties

This is political, and I hope we can all agree here. To support or oppose a particular government or party, or to collaborate with them, is pretty clearly meddling with politics. Just think if KDE supported the Democrats in the 2020 American elections. Feels a bit weird, doesn't it?

(2 / 4) Government Policies

The (maybe proposed) policies or laws from a government are more specific and a bit less “political” compared to parties. This is because a policy/law usually regards a certain topic, whereas a party or government necessarily act on many different topics. Let's make another example here; imagine if KDE decided to speak up against the horrible Polish LGBT-free zones. You might agree, you might disagree.

(3 / 4) Social Movements

This is where we actually find LGBT, amongst many others, such as Fridays For the Future, or Black Lives Matter. These are (international) movements that ask for a change regarding a certain topic, be it the acceptance of all genders and sexuality, preservation of nature, fight against racism, etc. You might call these things political, you might not. I don't really care. But if you are reading this, you are most likely part of at least one social movement I'm also in: Free Software. Yes, it is a social movement!

(4 / 4) Non-Governmental Organizations

Finally, here's a group that interacting with is usually not considered politics. This is about all of the organizations that are not part of a government and that are no-profit. KDE itself is a NGO, as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes NGOs are politic: as an example, in Italy there was a strong anti-NGO right-wing rhetoric because they were saving drowning immigrants in the Mediterranean. Wow, this became political so quickly.

Now we should ask ourselves: should KDE support other NGO? Well, I think it's very much appropriate for KDE to support an organization, when this organization aligns with the values of KDE. I'm pretty sure we have done so in the past; just our tweets in endorsement of new GNOME versions could probably be taken as “supporting another organization”. And GNOME values do align with ours: they also value free software, transparency and so on. Sure, there are disagreements, but the general values are aligned.

So, let's start going back.

(3 / 4) Social Movements

Let's get back to social movements then, and ask the difficult question again. Should KDE support a social movement? Well, KDE is already doing so with Free Software. Again, it makes sense to support a movement when it's aligned with your values and directly impacts you. Free Software is directly aligned with KDE values and directly impacts it. Quick FAQ before going on: what's KDE? it's a community of people working on open source software together. So, should KDE support LGBT? Let's break it down as we've seen: Are LGBT values aligned to KDE's? Is the support of non-cis non-hetero folks aligned to KDE values? Turns out it is, as the KDE CoC clearly states that any form of discrimination (be it based on sex/gender, or sexual orientation) have no place in KDE. Second question: do LGBT values directly impact KDE? The answer is clearly yes: there are many non-cis or non-hetero people in KDE (remember, KDE is the community, not the software). The same logic applies to Black Lives Matter: KDE values do contain “do not discriminate based on sex” and that directly impacts on the community as we are not all white in here. As you can see, KDE has all the rights to support social movements like Free Software, but also those that – just as much as Free Software – are aligned to our values and impact on our community, like LGBT.

(2 / 4) Government Policies

Should KDE support or oppose some specific government policies? Well, of course yes, we've done it in the past with no backlash. Remember the whole “NetNeutrality” thing? Well, that was an (American) government policy that was opposed. I've heard no “stop! this is political!” when KDE spoke up for Net Neutrality. That's because the policy was against KDE values, and it directly impacted KDE. If there was a law that's aligned to KDE values and directly impacts it, KDE should naturally be able to support it as well. As an example, KDE should support a policy that makes all public code open source if there was on. So, KDE should totally be able to support or oppose a particular policy, given the same criteria as before.

(1 / 4) Government and Parties

All nice and fun, but it has to stop here, right? Well, probably. The problem is that Govs and Parties – differently from organizations, policies and movements – do not deal with a particular, specific topic, but rather have values in many different ones. This makes it hard for KDE to be aligned to them. We might be aligned with a party “do not discriminate”, but are we aligned with “we need to tax the rich”? Probably not. Does that disregard the possibility of supporting that party entirely? Well, I think so. This does not mean that we should never, ever do that. If a party (let's say, the Pirate Party) had a declaration of values that's very much aligned with KDE ones, and if those values directly impacted KDE... well, there's no reason why we shouldn't support them. After all, we're already supporting social movements and policies, and we're already very much “political” by many meanings.

My name is Niccolò Venerandi. If you want to support me xor my work for KDE, check out: Liberapay: https://liberapay.com/niccolove Paypal: https://paypal.me/niccolove Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/niccolove