Sunday, November 28, 2010

Road Signs and Nietzsche

I was always attracted to the idea of a benign dictator. The platonic ideal of a philosopher king seemed to me to be both romantically and politically imperative. Nietzsche's more recent voicing of the need for the 'overman', whilst probably not free of gender bias, echoed Plato's dream without recourse to nationalism or class consciousness. An objective, authoritarian, easily understood provider of the 'right' direction for all to follow and achieve their goals.

And so, it does seem to me, that in road signs, the inanimate embodiment of a way of thinking to realise our societal aims has been achieved. Indeed, who would argue with, ''SLOW DOWN' or 'SLIPPERY WHEN WET' and who would want to? Advice of this quality and prescience would come at a fairly sharp premium if dispensed by a doctor or a lawyer - those middle-class but egregious symbols of the platonic ideal. But we are all able to benefit from these worldly and succinct suggestions without any draining of the domestic exchequer. They are freely given and if they seem a little, well, didactic - then compliance is its own reward and obviates the need for later reproof.

Removing the need for the elusive 'third way' will remove uncertainty from our lives and significantly reduce the unhappy prospect of an accident. Not wanting to get in line and move in the right direction is only an attractive option for anarchists and the intellectually impaired. Moving forward with the majority, maximises our ability be on time and under budget. It's worth remembering, too, that 'Bolshevik' means 'majority party.'

This comprehensive approach to providing a template for behaviour, extends into the animal kingdom and evidences an ecological awareness that reflects the truly benign nature of the 'overman'.  Road Signs serve us in many ways, from gently reminding us to have adequate rest when driving long distances to urgently insisting we reduce speed immediately on dangerous roads. But whether it is a suggestion or a command, it's always in our best communal interests to follow the dictates of our Road Signs.  That way, we'll arrive safely and  have contributed to the common good. You know it makes sense.

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