2021-04-02

 02 Apr 2021  notes

Code is not Political

Technology is agnostic of politics inasmuch that the bits and bytes that make up a codebase have no idea for what purpose they are being compiled. Any attempt to brand software as a political tool — without acknowledging that tools are given purpose by the hands that wield them — is simply an attempt to fit technology’s very existence into an ideological worldview.

The spirit of Free & Open-Source Software (FOSS) is designed to provide to the wider world tools that are licensed in such a way that trying to control their usage in a zero-sum manner is an exercise (historically so) in futility.

I think code is just a tool and to a larger degree, so is any and all technology. But some developers posit that software defines the world: I don’t think it does. It’s just one of many tools used to contend with, and bring order to, the chaos of the world.

For example, it’s nothing new that China is using software and technology platforms for the suppressing of democracy, repercussive monitoring of their citizenry, and crimes against humanity  that are being perpetrated against the Uyghur population.

But the tool that will stop China isn’t going to be software in any solitary sense; it will be a gamut of tools ranging from military force, financial sanctions, diplomatic efforts, and fearless journalism (which is a tool that can be used to report both the genuine truth and propaganda).

If you’re a caveman and you see another caveman with an axe, you should make your own axe. What you shouldn’t do is associate the axe with the other caveman’s tribe and claim it’s a political tool even though you also are capable of possessing your own axe (and yes, politics is tribal — and an apt analogy at that).

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