Much scholarly effort over the last two to three decades has been spent debating cosmopolitanism and attacking or refurbishing its older understanding as something owned by the West and a marker of civilization that others should strive for. The criticisms, however, have tended to emphasize the Eurocentric origins and constitutive cultural exclusionism of cosmopolitanism more than anything else. A second and newer origin of cosmopolitanism that is more commonly referenced today as cosmopolitanism’s modern foundation is one in which we find an inextricable imbrication of three Cs: conquest, commerce, and cosmopolitanism. Global commerce was the condition of possibility of cosmopolitanism, but what had long structured global commerce was a composite of rapacity, enslavement, violence, domination, and some good. The author proposes that the contemporary study of cosmopolitanism reacquaint itself with what continues to make it possible as aspiration, if not reality for all: global commerce and its conditions. To make commerce legible in cosmopolitanism, he asserts, is to accommodate the talk of profit, loss, assets, accumulation, interests, interest rates, and the likes in our theorizations. Using this analogy, the author speculates on what sort of “cosmopolitan interest rates” might be assigned to the social and economic debts owed to the descendants of slaves who suffered great loss at the hands of cosmopolitan global commerce. He concludes that it is a rate of interest that says to live as a social being is to be obligated in any number of ways to one another and the overall optimal health of that sociality.

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