Do you believe in a fixed set of universal principles?
Do you think it is important to have a strong belief in right and wrong? Do you believe that having such a stance contributes to preserving a healthy society?
If you answer YES to these questions, you would be considered a conservative, at least in the mind of famous political theorist Russell Kirk.
Before his death in 1994, Kirk listed ten principles of the conservative mind. His first and maybe most important principle was that “the conservative believes that there is an enduring moral order.”
Enduring Moral Order
For many of us, this principle was taught and reinforced in the churches we attended.
I grew up believing that an enduring moral order was primary among the principles I held. It was up there with, “There is a God, and He watches over us.”
This principle was the foundation of almost everything I believed, including my political philosophy.
For example, I believed that at the opposite end of this principle was liberal political philosophy. In my mind liberals were permissive and decadent. I thought that civilization would deteriorate if liberal practices and policies prevailed. I voted for conservative candidates I thought held the political philosophy I did. I felt I was in a battle with political liberals for the soul of America.
Time For A New Idea
I no longer believe this. That is, I no longer believe that liberal political philosophy is a threat to the conservative principle of maintaining an enduring moral order.
Something else has replaced this conservative principle in my thinking.
I believe that the idea of digitized information is more fundamentally important than the idea of an enduring moral order. I call it, Digital Information Morality.
Comprised of an alphabet of two symbols (1and 0) nothing in my lifetime has been so profound as digital information unleashed on mass culture.
Appealing To The Mind
At heart is a simple reality. Access to immediate information of one’s choosing has an inexhaustible appeal to the human mind.
Small decisions are made every second using digital information devices.
If you were to count up all the decisions that are made in a single day using digital information, you would be surprised at how helpful digital information is to living in the modern world.
From finding something as innocuous as where a movie is playing to locating an address on your GPS, digital information consistently guides the mind to satisfactory and worthwhile results.
Consequently, trust has been building in digital information, not just as a technology, but as a philosophy. It has become an end unto itself. It is an indivisible truth by which the world can be comprehended, interpreted and managed.
Somewhere in the past few years a line has been crossed. In place of the idea of an enduring moral order, a digital information morality has been created. That’s where people like myself have started to invest our trust. That’s what makes sense to many of us.
Digital Information Morality
People involved with digital information, and that is just about all of us, behave and believe that “information” is indispensable to the good life. I doubt most people think about an enduring moral order most of the time.
Information is the primary value most people choose to deal with. If they are loyal to anything it is to the constant flow of information they receive.
Our behavior is not dictated by an abstract model of right and wrong, rather it is based on the best information we can possess at the very moment we need it in order to make the most practical decisions possible.
We seldom have to choose, if ever, between good and evil. Our decisions are almost always based on very practical matters. We choose between better and best, good and good, affordable or not affordable, etc. For that we strive to obtain the fastest, cheapest, and most abundant information possible. And, today, that is information delivered to us in digitized form.
My suspicion is that the elites of society use the idea of an enduring moral order to further their aims. Whether that be religious, political or business, those who support the idea of an enduring moral order are those who are trying to preserve their particular moral order. So, over the years, I’ve grown cautious of those who are “enduring moral order” advocates.
On the other hand, I trust the process where the greatest amount of information is made available to the greatest number of people possible, letting them make as many decisions as possible, as the most prudent route to the best outcome possible. That to me is the surest way to reach the most moral point possible.
In an age where digital information is accepted and supported, the result is nothing less than an infinite amount of new information pouring out continuously on any subject or situation.
I think the time has passed where people believe in the principle of an enduring moral order, as articulated, taught, and reinforced by traditional institutions. Hence, the traditional conservative mind is lapsing.
In its place is a growing trust in the creation and dispensation of digital information. If anything is worthy of moral value it is access to all the information which exists. Fortunately, information is inexhaustible.
Hand And Glove Fit
We are discovering that there is a hand and glove fit between how our mind works and how the universe works. Our minds function digitally and so does the universe. And the product of that process is information.
Think of the brain as a grid. Imagine electrical impulses traveling through the grid. Think of those electrical impulses as bits of information. Now think of the universe as a grid with electrical impulses traveling through it. That too is information.
That’s also how computers function. Think of the computer as a grid that has electrical impulses traveling through it. Those impulses are turned into information that finds itself onto the screen. Not only is there a hand and glove fit between the brain and the universe, but between the computer, brain and universe. It is a hand and glove and glove fit.
The brain and the universe and the computer function similarly. At the end of the day the three interact simultaneously.
At the fundamental core of all things is the exchange of information between the brain, the universe, and the computer. There’s nothing more fundamental. Thus, at a minimum this process is worthy of being represented as the mechanics of existence.
How these three work together to produce information determines what does or does not become a principle. A principle does not exist independent of the interaction of these three.
Survival and progress are worked out as the brain, universe, and computer interact. Different principles will emerge depending on what information is created by the simultaneous interaction of these three in one entities.
Research is pointing us in this direction. For example, a recent PEW study found that when asked to declare their religious affiliation, almost 20%, as compared to 8% two decades ago, put NONE down. This compares favorably with recent trends which show dramatic drop offs in church attendance of persons 18-34.
It appears that those religious institutions which traditionally have been the purveyors of the idea of an enduring moral order have significantly fewer followers to purvey that truth to. Whereas, on the other hand, the purchase and use of digital information technology has grown exponentially among this same group.
Actions show larger than words. You might say you are conservative because you believe that there is an enduring moral order. But your actions show you to be anything but that. You love the devices that give you digital information. You want information how you want it, when you want it, and how much of it you want. It appears you do not want anything to supersede that process, no matter how you argue to the contrary. Let’s face it, there are very few truly conservative thinkers remaining. These days you have come to believe in a digital information morality, haven’t you?