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.
Our guest Henry Hill signed off after the Cosmopolitan Globalists finished recording the China Cosmopolicast. (If you haven’t yet listened to that, we highly recommend it; it’s the best so far, except maybe for the Russia Cosmopolicast.)
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 …
In “The Darkening Mind,” Adam expands upon the points he makes in the podcast. It’s outstanding. If you found the aftercast interesting, do read it.
Here’s Adam’s article about the loss of deep literacy.
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.
I don’t think that Donald Trump says things that other people never even think. Merely, he gives voice to thoughts that many people entertain but are afraid to speak of. It was kind of the same thing with Rush Limbaugh when he first burst upon the scene. This is not necessarily a bad trait, but it is one of the ingredients of political demagoguery. As Hitler well knew, the appeal to people’s worst instincts is one key to power. That’s why democratic self-government and individual liberty depend upon institutions, checks and balances, the rule of law and so on: The better angels of our nature are all too corruptible. Pure 50% +1 democracy would be nothing more than the dictatorship of base instincts.
Both history and literature provide us with evidence of this—I think of Dostoevsky’s terrifying vision—and their decline as academic disciplines is a worrying trend indeed.
Great listen, thank you.
Having now read Adam’s piece in National Affair, I’m really trying to work my head around the historical role of Protestantism in deep literacy, versus the modern, very loud, Protestant voices who seem to be resistant of it. How have we gone from Luther’s theological study to the shrieking Christian nationalists of January 6th? Adam’s piece seems to suggest that a failure to engage with books could have dragged the American South to this dreadful place, stripping away the intellectual bravery of the early movement, leaving us with the trappings and baggage of religion but none of Luther’s ingenuity and commitment to the individual. It sounds like this generation might be lost already, if these neural pathways have their foundations placed early. And God help you if you try to improve education in Alabama.
(I am also alarmed by the left fringe and their attempts to destroy books and subsume the individual as well.)
My head was swimming enough that I neglected to answer the question posed. I think value is going to be dictated by the consumer. I have the luxury of both time in my car to listen AND time in a chair to read, so I have the capacity to enjoy both. Without the podcast, I might have missed the articles, so they’re interdependent. The greater value is that these conversations are taking place and being made available, regardless of format.
I want to suggest another interview Monique did on her site with a Member of the European Parliament named Sophie In’t Veld a few weeks back. In full disclosure, I have done some work with Sophie’s office on and off over the years-long before the Cosmopolitan Globalist was even started. What I found intriguing about the interview as I always pictured Sophie as someone who like, myself wouldn’t necessarily get along with some of the Cosmopolitan Globalists. Sophie is very a much a Euro-enthusiast and I think that is often viewed as being in conflict with trans-atlanticism. She also knows all of the ends and outs of the European Union in a way that few others do.
Anyways when I suggested this to Monique on Twitter she thought I was completely wrong and Sophie would get along fine with the political philosophies of people like Claire and Jon Nighswander but you can decide for yourself at the link below.
Hi Everyone, actually I had written that I thought Claire and Sophie would have a great conversation owing to the fact that both are highly articulate intelligent people. Whether they agreed on anything at all remains to be seen.
I’m very much in favour of the EU, and the changes uniform legislation in certain areas has brought to my own country were highly effective. If Italy is lagging behind in key sectors, it’s due to historic problems within Italy and its inability to reform these inadequacies as well as a lack of vision, or rather, it’s still a democratic state grappling with democracy. That we are a haven for populism on the radical right and left is no secret or a surprise.
Thanks for the response, Monique. Some of this ties back to an article I myself have been trying to write for the past few months which is basically about what are the impacts of Brexit and who has been helped and who has been hurt. At the moment I don’t think we have enough evidence to come to that strong of conclusions which is why I have kept putting off writing my own article on the subject. However, I do think Brexit has damaged the idea of a more trans-Atlanticist Anglo-Saxon EU that is fairly deferential to the United States. Simply put post Brexit I do think the US in terms of pure power politics in Europe has had its interests hurt by Brexit. For example, I don’t have the smoking gun evidence to prove it but I have strong reasons to believe that Britain’s exit from the EU has made it more difficult to stop the NordStream 2 pipeline in Brussels. Another example that is fairly complex to explain but I think Deutsche Bank would have been in a lot more trouble over its ties to Trump and Russia if Britain had remained an EU member state.
On the other hand in the medium term, Brexit has probably made the idea of a more Federal EU one that takes on the characteristics of a nation-state or even a superpower more plausible(i.e. the type of Europe someone like Sophie In’t Veld has long campaigned for). So I guess the question what type of Europe do you want or do you think the world should want.