In the early years of the first decade of this new century, I was watching television, the (socialist democratic) state sponsored channel in India, and there came on the screen an impressive advertisement. It started with a view of a prosperous modern city through the window of a room in a presumably prosperous house. Through the window, overlooking the sea, you could see on the opposite coast (what is for Indians) an iconic view of the dream city of Mumbai. Shining tall buildings in a shining city on the sea coast.
It was a serene view, or may be my adjective is not strong enough. But then the camera slowly started moving closer to the window, in the fashion that it does in horror movies. It was so effective that I still remember the feeling. And as the camera got closer to the window, two more things started happening. The first was a buzzing sound that grew louder in sync with the camera movement. The second was that something like a dust cloud became visible and you noticed that it was also moving closer to the window from the opposite side, again in sync with the camera movement, horror movie fashion. Within a few seconds you realized that this was an invasion of a paradise-like world by hordes (wrong word?) of mosquitoes. A tsunami of mosquitoes, if you like.
In the <=60 seconds advertisement, the prosperous city was saved by the heroic mosquito repellent, but many will agree that there are cities all over the world threatened by similar catastrophes. And these many (in fact, many many) understand that there is a need for strong, effective and heroic mosquito repellents to prevent such catastrophes.
This realization is not a new one. Bertrand Russell, in his History of Western Philosophy, wrote a chapter about Nietzsche. In his summary of the philosopher’s political outlook, Russell took Nietzsche to the task for advocating (in effect) that all the powerful people should unite against the weak. Moreover, they should not allow the weak to get together to challenge the powerful. The world should be dominated by the powerful and it should, so to say, belong to the powerful.
No meek-shall-inherit-the-world business.
Of course, this is my paraphrase of what he wrote, but it is a fairly faithful one. I read this book sometime after I had seen that ad, and this kind of political outlook (against which Russell worked extensively throughout his life) reminded me of that ad. So I called this political philosophy ‘the Mosquito Repellent Philosophy’ and labelled it thus on the margins of the book.
The 21st century is becoming, faster and faster, the century of the Mosquito Repellent Philosophy. The powerful people all over the world are uniting against the weak. They see themselves as something of Nietzsche’s Supermen, the meritorious people, to shift to another terminology. That their claims of being so meritorious may be questionable and that their ‘merit’ or their evidence of merit may be just a sham is a long and different story, worthy of venturing into some other time.
They include the Global Elite and, more importantly, they also include the Aspiring (to be) Global Elite as well as the members of the Global Elite Admiration Society. They employ and are served by huge numbers of somewhat-less-meritorious people who believe that their children (or grand children) may turn out to be meritorious and may some day join the Global Elite.
They work hard to keep the world safe from, you know, mosquitoes and the like.
From people like me, and perhaps those like you. Or are you one of the Knights Repellent?