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Shakespeare and driving on the right

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posted on May, 21 2022 @ 08:35 AM
Why is most of the world driving on the right-hand side of the road, with only a few exceptions?

The history of the issue is obscure, because people were taking one side or the other by natural tendency, without talking about it, and the choice only became a legal requirement in comparatively recent times.

But the initiative in making “right-hand drive” a normal requirement seems to have come from two revolutionary regimes. America first. Then Napoleonic France either independently or by imitation, which was enough to influence the rest of Europe and then the rest of the world.

I find that suggestive. It implies that “right-hand drive” was a deliberate change, which concurs with the theory that right-handed men previously tended to keep their weapon-holding or rein-holding hand closer to the people they were encountering.

And it implies that British left-side driving is a simple consequence of never having had a revolution. The case of Japan seems to support that theory. I see no reason why modern Japan should have been more influenced by Britain than by America. So until corrected by someone with more knowledge of Japanese history, I will assume that the Japanese drive on the left because they never had a revolution either.

Why would revolutionary regimes want to make this change, if that’s what they did? I once saw a rather silly argument, that Napoleon was trying to confuse the spies watching his armies into mistaking the direction of his movements. That theory does not work, because the spies of the time were not using aerial stills photography. They would see the army moving “live” and note the direction of travel at the same time. If they watched a battalion leaving their city by the north gate, they could not be confused by lane-switching into thinking that the battalion had been coming in. There must be some other explanation.

In Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus, the aristocrats have a way of describing society which has a bearing on this issue.

On the one hand, Coriolanus himself complains in battle about not getting enough support from “the common file”.

On the other hand, one of his elite friends, complaining about the city demagogues, refers to his own party as “us of the right-hand file”. Which implies, of course, that the ordinary people are “the left-hand file”.

These expressions are obviously a military metaphor, and they have the effect of showing us how the armies of the time were moved around the country. That is, the mass of the army were trudging along on the left side of the road, leaving the other side clear for their well-born leaders to ride up and down the line, passing on messages between commanders, or simply supervising what was happening. No need to leave room for oncoming traffic, because oncoming traffic gets out of the way or gets shot.

Got that?
Common soldiers travelling on the LEFT.
Officers travelling on the RIGHT.

Once we appreciate that image, it should be easy to understand why revolutionary regimes would want to reverse the system, to show that they were no longer servants “We are the masters now. We the people are the new officers. Dammit, from now on WE are going to be the ones taking the officers’ side of the road. “

Hence the three greatly valued and sacred symbols of American democratic liberty.
1 The right to bear arms.
2 The right to pay huge amounts of money for medical treatment instead of getting it for nothing,
3 The right to drive cars on the right-hand side.

posted on May, 21 2022 @ 12:19 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

There are many reason's why we Brit's first rode horses and drove carriages and later motor vehicles on the left hand side of the road.

One of the most obvious is that in the age of the footpad (muggers of the past) and for as long as anyone can recall before that it was convention to walk upon the left side of the road so that your right hand was free to face any attack from the right side of the road or path, the same was true in the age's when it was permissible to wear a sword.

It is also pretty much the same reason that in a GENUINE castle not a reimagined one such as a folly the Spiral Stairs that ascend the towers always wind to the right as you ascend, this was so that since most people are right handed if they were attacking the castle and trying to take the tower there hand and weapon would be blocked by the central pillar around which the spiral star rises but for someone defending there right hand would have far more freedom to defend against the attackers coming from below as the tower stairs would from that perspective descent in a left hand spiral.

In the US it is believed by some that the reason the convention of driving on the Right hand side of the road was taken was because of how old carts used to work and the position of the driver of those carts being to the left of the cart although there are other claim's.

It is interesting to note that most nations originally used the same side that Britain and a few other nations still do, Sweden for example used to also drive on the right hand side until 1967 and there change was perhaps more for administrative reasons than anything else as there is no proven benefit though there are claims of such that either side is better than the other in today's world.

It is more convenient though for international travellers if everyone drove on the same side which is why it is really beastly of the rest of the world to be so awkward and refuse to do the civilized thing haha.

posted on May, 21 2022 @ 01:53 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

And it implies that British left-side driving is a simple consequence of never having had a revolution

We did have a revolution of sorts, The English Civil War Parts 1 & 2, when England became a Republic.

edit on 21-5-2022 by alldaylong because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 21 2022 @ 09:52 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Maritime law is your answer.

When two ships approach each other head on (or side on) the lead ship goes right (assuming the other will go right too).

Now, if only idiots on the sidewalk would obey maritime laws we (Imean me) would be happier!

posted on May, 22 2022 @ 01:48 AM
The writer A.P. Herbert, known for his fake law cases, has a story in which a man claims that a flooded street was temporarily sea, and the collision between his rowing boat and a car was the fault of the car-driver, who should have gone right instead of left.

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