The personal is political. In the sixties the (american) left redefined what politics are - in the timespan between 1964 and 1974 being black, being a woman, being an american indian became political. Identity politics were born. The left might have faded, but identity politics have remained. How many of us who cheered for Obama know, or even care, what concrete matters he plans to use against the financial crisis? We gladly forgive him for continuing all George Bush's wars, we forgive him because he looks like one of us, because he is saying the words we want to hear - Yes We Can!
What can we? Doesn't matter! We can, we are young, we drink Starbucks coffe and we use Twitter! We want a president who uses Blackberry!
I am an everyday Linux user, who compensate lack of knowledge with passion for the potential impact of free software. As a member of the Linx User Grup Bulgaria's mailing list I got an interesting mail a few days before the EU elections. Bogomil Shopov, the prominent blogger who candidated to the EU elections for Zelenite, asked the group members to support his campaign. As the mailing list is usually about some concrete network management problem, I was more than pleased to read something that actually interested me.
Bogo is also a very prominent figure in the Bulgarian Open Source community. I would guess that zelenite is one of the biggest parties in this community, but within a few hours I got another mail, from a user who politely pointed out that zelenite are very nice, but the Linux User List was not the place for political propaganda.
Which raised the question: What is political? Is Linux political?
On the one hand it is. I think almost any Linux user will try to convince you that the world would be a better place if official institutions applied open source solutions. On the other hand - while you find few Socialdemocrats in the open source community, you do find some. You find even more from the far left, libertarian rights or greens. So whatever is political about Linux doesn't separate thinkers of contrasting ideologies... Just like you will find all political convictions represented in any minority community.
To separate the political from the non-political is an outmost delicate matter. Identities, like being black, are political. Choices, like using Linux, are political. Identity, and values are highly political. But they only might, or might not turn into politics...
To maintain an un-political sphere of life, without falling into apathy, is maybe the greatest challenge of democracy.