Notes on David Mamet
Three notes on three dates
13 October 2013
I stumbled upon a good brisk read the other day by David Mamet in the genre, How I finally saw the light and stopped being a benighted leftist. The title is The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (Sentinel, 2011). Here is a taste, from a footnote on p. 10:
*The Left and the Right, I saw, differ not about programs, but about goals — the goal of the Left is a government-run country and that of the Right the freedom of the individual from Government. These goals are difficult to reconcile, as the Left cannot be brought to actually state its intentions, nor to honestly evaluate the results of its actions.
In his second sentence, Mamet makes two extremely important points. The first is that leftists employ a stealth strategy.* They are not open about their ultimate goals. The gun-grabbers among them, for example, will rarely state openly that one of their goals is the banning of the private ownership of handguns. They know full well that an open espousal of their totalitarian agenda would incite the opposition of the 'tea-baggers' as they derisively call Tea Party members as well as that of the rest of the rubes of fly-over country. The second point is that leftists, as adherents of a quasi-religion, are committed to its nostrums whether or not they work out in reality. Are the public schools better than they were in '65? Obviously not. So throw more money at them while harassing homeschoolers and blocking voucher programs.
But I must object to Mamet's first sentence. It is simply not the case that the goal of the Right is freedom of the individual from government. That is a goal of anarchists, but conservatism is twice-removed from anarchism. Twice removed, because between anarchism and conservatism lies libertarianism. Conservatives are neither anarchists nor libertarians. They are not anarchists because they accept the moral legitimacy of the State. Conservatives are law and order types, but there can be no law and order without a coercive state of apparatus that forces people to do what they are often uninclined to do. Conservatives believe in a strong national defense. They want the nation's borders to be secure. All of this requires local, state, and Federal government. Conservatives are not libertarians because they understand that culture matters and that not every question is an economic one.
When leftists say as they repeatedly do that conservatives are anti-government, that is a lie and they know it. It is a mistake for Mamet to give aid and comfort to this lie. Conservatives are for limited government. It takes no great logical acumen to see that if one is for limited government, then one is for government. And even a liberal should be able to understand that it is a false alternative to suppose that the choice is between no government and totalitarian government.
14 October 2013
Christopher Hitchens' NYT review of Mamet begins thusly: "This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason."
And as I read more of it, I am becoming irritated myself. Consider Mamet’s answers to the questions put to him in an interview. The questions are serious, but he returns frivolous answers, e.g.:
You also wrote about hating “every wasted, hard-earned cent I spent in taxes.” What cent did you hate the most?
All of them gall me the most.
Only a lunatic extremist would think every cent paid in taxes was wasted. And surely no conservative would maintain such an absurd position. We need government, and government needs to be funded. You might say that such fnding does notr require taxation of any sort. If you believe that, I invite you to work out such a funding scheme.
We don't need more extremists. Contemporary liberalism is a set of extreme positions. The answer, however, is not some opposite form of extremism. I believe it was Goethe who said that no one is more hostile to a position than one who once espoused it but has come to reject it. I paraphrase.
23 October 2023
Why do Jews vote Democrat? In How the Democrats betrayed the Jews, Mamet addresses the question. An excerpt:
Still, today, Jews vote Democratic: electing Presidents who refused to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister (Obama and Biden) in times of “peace”, who gave and give aid to the terrorist state of Iran in exchange for some semi-specified “deal”. American “Aid” to Iran pays for the equipment and ordnance, which is, at this moment, eradicating Jews.
Why do Jews vote Democratic? Partly from tradition — conservatives have heard a Liberal Jew, when asked to defend or explain various absurd or inconsistent Democratic positions, shrug and joke: “I’m a Congenital Democrat.” I understand, for I was one, too.
But there is no more cosy mystery in the antisemitism of the Democratic Party; Representatives are affiliated with the Democratic Socialists and pro-Palestinians, calling for the end of the state of Israel — that is, for the death of the Jews. And Democrat Representatives repeat and refuse to retract the libel that Israel bombed a hospital, in spite of absolute proof to the contrary, and will not call out the unutterable atrocities of Hamas. The writing is on the wall. In blood.
*This was much truer in 2013 than now. The scumbags have become emboldened by their success.