Adjacent to the Embassy of the Republic of India and across from the Gandhi monument on Massachusetts Avenue is a mansion ensconced quietly in the corner. Not many know about it. It is called the Cosmos Club, a club good and until now a natural monopoly of conservative American intellectuals.
Monopolists, in their privacy, like to maintain power through the secrecy of knowledge, an oxymoron of a phrase to describe a pure public good with no satiation as long as the species homo sapiens is extant, assuming no extra terrestrials of higher order intelligence exist in the cosmos.
Established by a geologist, John Wesley Powell, about two decades after oil was discovered in Pennsylvania, to safeguard the natural riches of the United States, the ambition of the Cosmos Club, under the like-minded leadership of individuals such as Theodore Roosevelt, is to be in sync with America similar to most other exclusive private clubs of influence in the United States (the members of the Bohemian Club, another institution patronized by Teddy Roosevelt, worship the owl), all variations of homage to the Knights Templar of Avignon, France and Friday the 13th, beginning with the American Freemasons – a group to which George Washington belonged, whom I see as the progenitors of the European Renaissance.
As its emblem, the club has the eye of providence, also found on the back of the dollar bill, overseeing a bald eagle, the emblem of power and the national bird of the United States, holding the planet in its claws with other heavenly bodies laying below it, in a throwback to Pythagoras and Ptolemy, projecting the meager and barely evanescent power of anthropocentricity, as the luck of evolution would have it, ironically onto an unfathomable Copernican and non-Hoylean expanding universe.
Knowledge when contaminated by social and political power diminishes in its utility over time, as both Benjamin Franklin and John Harsanyi knew. Cosmos Club, with its roster of presidents, vice presidents and Nobel Laureates should, therefore, know this as well.