FSFE and the war in Europe

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Thu Mar 17 18:15:41 UTC 2022

On Thursday, 17 March 2022 10:13:28 CET Vitaly Repin wrote:
> Yes, FSFE is not a polictical organisation. But what happens now is beyond
> any politics. This is a full-scale war which happens now and here, in
> Europe.
> I feel that FSFE MUST issue an official statement about the war and actions
> of Russia.
> I do not know how free software activists and organizations can contribute
> to the peace in a more meaningful way than by issuing statements.
> But I believe that the statement shall be made as a bare minimum and it
> shall be crystal clear.
> Silence is not an option.

I agree. I don't think it is in any way controversial to say that we as human 
beings condemn this war of aggression against the people and sovereign nation 
of Ukraine. And that is a mild statement, in case anyone thinks that it is too 

In responding to another message just now, I happened to be on the Open Source 
Initiative's site looking at things and saw their "response":

"Open Source responds to the Russia-Ukraine war: First thoughts from the 
Executive Director"


I would be personally disappointed if any official response from the FSFE were 
as incoherent as that, which seems to have largely focused on whether "open 
source" software should be subject to restrictions under such circumstances, 
with any condemnation seeming to be as implicit as to be unnoticeable.

I notice that one contributor to this list started a discussion where Richard 
Stallman himself noted that he keeps his political views to his own site, not 
wanting to conflate those with the FSF. One potentially pertinent difference 
is that the FSFE is inherently European, and the war waged against Ukraine 
absolutely affects the very fabric of Europe and the very lives of Europeans.

Over the years, I have known and worked with people of many nationalities 
(including Ukrainians and Russians), as I imagine many others on this list 
also have done. I think that any form of aggression directed by one nation 
towards another would appal us all, particularly between European nations, but 
let it be said that such acts are appalling wherever they may occur on this 
planet, in case I may be accused of overlooking other ongoing conflicts and 

Returning to the European dimension, however, recent introspection in many 
countries including my country of birth, merely serves to demonstrate how 
fragile our societies are with regard to the corruption and subversion of 
democracy and how it has been far too easy for those in power or with 
influence to be bought and to look the other way, as long as the effects serve 
them and not their own societies. The result has been division, polarisation 
and resentment towards others. And it has now tragically facilitated the 
suffering of millions of people.

It is too easy for people to think that other people's problems will not 
become their own eventually. For some, I am sure that Brexit was an 
entertaining sideshow with colourful, ridiculous characters making nonsensical 
decisions with few apparent consequences other than embarrassment. I know US 
citizens who had to endure years of juvenile "Trump - he so funny" remarks 
from people unable to see the same poisonous influences within their own 

But when people warn you of a problem, and when they show you the evidence of 
that problem, you do not belittle their concerns or explain them away: you 
believe them. And then you do what you can to make sure that your own society 
remains robust and tolerant, and that others on this planet may be able to 
experience the same quality of life as you do.

I am sorry if any of the above did not really need to be said.


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