Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael

The Passport as Home: Comfort in Rootlessness w/ Andrei Markovits

October 5, 2021

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On this edition of Parallax Views, Andrei S. Markovits is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and the Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan. For some decades now he has written, with a scholarly verve, about issues such as globalization, antisemitism, soccer and politics, anti-Americanism in European culture, Left politics, and more. Now he's written a memoir entitled The Passport as Home: Comfort in Rootlessness.

In said memoir, Andy Merkovits reflects on how being a marginal figure without a sense of rootedness to one culture has a freedom for him personally rather than a tragedy. The term "rootless cosmopolitan" has been used as an anti-semitic dogwhistle. But in The Passport as Home, Merkovits finds a positive value, at least for himself, in rootlessness and cosmopolitanism. This serves as the launching off point for our conversation as we delve into Andy's sense of rootlessness, his cosmopolitanism, his love for the abstract idea of America, and his complicated relationship with the Left. We also discuss Andy's love of the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead, his experience as a young Jewsih man seeing the Rolling Stones in Vienna (and his father's less-than-enthusiastic reaction to it), the generational divide between his generation and that of his father, the politics of 1968, the struggle against imperialism, Andy's first experience in America, his experiences in academia and specifically at Columbia University, an interesting experience Andy had with a member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Club of Rome and its 1972 Limits of Growth Report (pivotal to questions related to climate change, global development, and environmentalism), the Green Left vs. Social Democrats and Communists in the 1970s, computational models and the debates within the global modeling world in the 1970s, remembering his colleague the political scientist Karl Deutsch, and an even an anecdote about Zbigniew Brzezinski!

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