THE COSMOPOLITAN GLOBALISTS
The editors got caught up in conversation with Adam Garfinkle, forgetting that we were recording. Here’s the podcast we never meant to release.
On all sides, the warlike posturing has been intensifying. Throughout the month of August, the United States led six allied nations in one of the biggest naval exercises in the western Pacific in decades. In mid-September, the United States, Britain, and Australia announced a security pact to share cutting-edge defense technologies and equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. The US considered this deal so imperative that it gladly paid the price of offending France, whose own submarine deal with Australia was unceremoniously deep-sixed.
The PLA has been posting minatory videos: Set to thumping soundtracks, they depict amphibious assaults on places that resemble Taiwan. One showed a simulation of the bombing of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
Our guest, Adam Garfinkle, Cosmopolitan Globalist co-editors Vivek Y. Kelkar and Claire Berlinski, and our host, Monique Camarra, hung around for a while longer to chat. We assumed we were done recording, so we were very relaxed. When we realized we’d recorded ourselves, we figured we should just throw it out—but then, when we listened to it, we liked it. So we’ve released it as a bonus.
If you’ve ever wondered what the Cosmopolitan Globalists say when they think no one’s listening, now you can find out.
Claire: Is it really fair, Adam, to say Americans were jackal imperialists in China?
Adam: You bet.
Adam: When you get the Chinese in their cups, they’ll tell you about the days before the nuclear tests at Lop Nur. They were utterly humiliated knowing the US could annihilate them and they could do nothing about it. It still gnaws at them. Vivek, I’d worry if I were you. If China can’t get its hands on Taiwan, it’s apt to take out its frustration on India.
Vivek: I totally agree. India has neglected its military. The problem with India is that it’s like the US. It’s a fractious, querulous democracy where it’s impossible to get a consensus—even about questions like, “Ought we to defend ourselves?”
Adam tells us a terrifying story about things people in the extremities of the American military have said, in private, about China and India. We find it so horrifying we can’t quite believe it, but as Adam remarks, Americans have gone crazy.
All: Oy, vey.
Adam: It’s the Zeitgeist.
Claire: Yeah. The crazy is wafting across the Atlantic. You can smell it. But I still can’t quite believe 75 million Americans voted for more of the crazy.
Adam: I know. And the woke left is absolutely nuts too.
Claire: Out of their everloving gourds! Crazy all around.
Adam: But most Americans are actually still sane. It’s the activist wings of the parties that are stark-staring nuts. It’s our clickbait media that causes everyone believe that everyone else has gone insane.
Claire seizes upon this opportunity to promote the Cosmopolitan Globalist. Adam and Claire explain the phrase garnisht mit garnisht (and the synoptic, syncretic bagel) to Vivek and Monique.
Claire: Is Trump the first Westerner in history to be quite so hallucinogenic in his indignity?
All: Yes, Berlusconi.
Monique: Italian politics are horrifying. But then there’s the pilgrimage route. The Via Francigena runs behind my house. Through the verdant green hills of Sienna. Sometimes I think of going back to Canada, but how could I leave this?
We briefly discuss the relevance of Book VIII of Plato’s Republic to Silvio Berlusconi.
Adam: Let’s have a Cosmopolicast in which we discuss spectacle, literacy, and American dysfunction.
We’re all completely enthusiastic about the idea. We discuss the spread of le cheesecake to Paris. Is there such a thing as boxed French wine? Adam says yes. Claire says no.
Claire: Will the world ever recover from the pandemic?
Adam: Yes, unless there’s another zoonotic epidemic, which is likely, because we keep encroaching on all the places where viruses marinate.
(He has an idea about what to do about this, however.)
Adam: Both parties are a trainwreck …
—Academia’s devolved into a clown show!
—The humanities are in the trash!
—Our think tanks are venal and corrupt!
—No one thinks!
People don’t read anymore, Claire and Adam worry. This is very serious. It’s the root of the rise of the childish, black-and-white thinking, and the inability to grasp nuance. What will happen when people can no longer read at all?
Claire: How do you even have a legal system if people can’t read?
We agree we must devote a whole podcast to this topic. Adam is worried we’re losing the most important ideas of the Enlightenment, including the notion that positive-sum relationships are possible and desirable.
Adam: If we lose the gossamer thread of the positive sum, not one of our institutions is sustainable. Not one …
—It’ll be Lord of the Flies …
Claire Berlinski and Vivek Y. Kelkar are the co-founders and editors of the Cosmopolitan Globalist. Adam Garfinkle is an editorial board member of the Cosmopolitan Globalist. Monique Camarra, a language specialist at the University of Siena, is the co-host of the Kremlin File, a weekly podcast about Putin and the spread of authoritarianism around the world, and the host of the Cosmopolicast.