Monday, May 21, 2012

Nietzsche for President

Nietzsche 2012
It is with an astronomical degree of certainty that I can say I am not inspired by our politicians. The reasons why this is the case are less clear to me. It is not that I feel they are lazy or unintelligent, which are the two things that typically prevent me from really admiring a person. Rather, I believe that to succeed in contemporary politics you need to be extremely ambitious and, at least at the level of the U.S. president, somewhat intelligent. Perhaps then it is because I don't see our politicians as genuine, authentic, honest people. So who do I think would be? For one, Friedrich Nietzsche.

An issue that I think politicians are particularly inauthentic about is the space program. I won't claim that a Nietzsche administration would support human exploration of the cosmos. What I will say is that Nietzsche would see our current manned space program as almost entirely pointless because we are not accepting significant risks. It was the risk of failure and death for astronauts that made the Apollo landings so incredible. These risks are what galvanized thousands of people in this glorious effort.

We can keep telling ourselves that we are doing ambitious things in space even though our astronauts are exposed to a fraction of the risk accepted by the early pioneers. We can tell ourselves it is possible to be both bold and risk-averse at the same time, but inspiration is hard to fake. It seems the only risk in space we are willing to accept is the risk of wasting vast sums of money on very little inspiration.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you about manned space exploration and risk. There are many angles to this. One for instance is our reaction when there are deaths involved with space-flight. The initial reaction of many, including politicians is to call foe the end of the program due to the risk. Yet, how many people die on water skis every year? Or on bicycles? Does anyone call for the banning of these thing? It is not only risk aversion, it is utterly irrational thinking involved.