Sunday, 8 July 2012

David Warren – ‘Our moral software is pre-installed’ (Ottawa Citizen, July 8, 2012)

“For two generations or more, the vanguard of the Left have been working tirelessly, through every government department or other agency they’ve been able to infect, on re-coding our moral software.  They hope to replace the old, back-ward, out-of-date human, through social engineering, with what we might call ‘the new Soviet man’ – collectivist, feminist, multiculturalist, homophile, and so on.” – David Warren       

If I have it straight, the aim of David Warren’s current editorial is to make comparisons between technology and ‘progressive’ politics – both of which are presented as dead end moral vacuums.  What is most disturbing about Warren’s editorial is that he equates what he imagines to be left-wing politics with a virus – something debilitating and corrupting which runs counter to our true natures (as if this innate ‘moral software’ is something we can define and all agree on).  I can’t help but be disturbed by the use of words like ‘infect’, ‘recoding’ and ‘social engineering’– as if the left are unleashing some sort of sinister global disease to corrupt our timeless moral selves.  Blame things on those newfangled ‘homophiles’ – because surely history shows that homosexuality didn’t exist until quite recently.  This is the kind of inflammatory language is latched on to by right-wing extremists who also pine for some sort of imaginary hand-picked past golden era.     

But if the problem is, as Warren suggests, only two generations old, does this mean the ideal historical point of morality (as if such things can be defined by periods) is the Second World War?   If we are undertaking the dubious idea of talking about time periods, this epoch was clearly the worst of the worst.  Was that when technology was ok?  Bombs, poison gas, machine guns?  Not only the era of war, but also the period of pre-civil rights – is this the past Warren would have us return to?  And if those supporting multiculturalism, feminism and collectivism are trying (however unsuccessfully) to prevent the reoccurrence of this dark period I say more power to them.  And if we are talking about environmentalists (the true conservatives out there), again Warren should be embracing the current period rather than thoughtlessly deriding it.  Was everything better two generations back?  Really?  And going even further back, are we to assume churches and ancient regimes knew nothing about ‘social engineering’?  Perhaps Warren isn’t the student of history he claims to be. 

In solidarity with Warren I’m a bit of a technology skeptic myself.  I’m so old-school I actually purchase print newspapers (much to my dismay helping to pay Warren’s salary).  I suspect I’m the last person in my city to not own a cell phone, and I generally question the need for endless development.  I would venture that I trust the endless expansion of capitalism (which is what we are really talking about) even less that our editorialist.  Warren seems to question the uses of technology but not really.  For instance he mocks computers and software but doesn’t seem to question, or analyze, how his own product gets to market.   Perhaps newspapers in their current form have been here since the dawn of time.  Perhaps all newspapers have been benevolent?  From this muted standpoint the technology I use is ok but the stuff other folks employ is bad.  It is just like the right-wing take on immigrants – immigration was ok up until the point when my family got here. 

What is interesting is that Warren always excluded himself from the topics of his editorials.  Yes, he will give personal anecdotes, but somehow he is above the fray of the subject at hand.  This is why he has no need of ‘value judgments’.  Ultimately there is no questioning of his preconceived notions – those ideas he merely considers natural and timeless.  In his worldview there is only black vs. white, right vs. wrong or past vs. present.  If all is ‘pre-installed’ there is no need to question or even think.  From this tidy perspective, in a time of countless church and corporate-related scandals, it is less complex to blame education, technology and the so-called progressives for all of our contemporary ills – a type of automaton logic.  What Warren takes to be moral certainly I take to be simplistic binary positions.   Perhaps I’m merely jealous that I don’t have all the answers – easy or not.  Maybe, when it comes to potential solutions, I’m as skeptical about the past as the present and future.  I guess, knowing a bit about our history, I will lean toward the side of progressive rather than regressive. 

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