David Mamet's Conversion Story

The Pulitzer-winning playwright explains his turn to the political right


People of the statist left—and to some extent the statist right—will find much to decry in David Mamet's new book, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, a token of his late-life conversion to conservative political views. In fact, the sound of heads exploding is already being heard throughout the Liberal Village.

Libertarians, on the other hand, may find the book to be an unexceptional checklist of familiar positions—curious, perhaps, in its shout-outs to Glenn Beck and Jon Voight, but admirable in its championing of Friedrich Hayek. Personally, I found the book's most shocking passage to be its characterization of Marilyn Monroe as "the greatest comedienne in the history of the screen." But that's just me. Or, more pertinently, it's just Mamet, a man of famously pugnacious rhetorical postures.

The Secret Knowledge grew out of a bridge-burning 2008 essay that Mamet wrote for the left-wing Village Voice. In it, the Pulitzer-winning playwright boldly walked back his own life-long leftism and described the clinching moment in his political journey as having occurred while he was driving in a car with his wife: "We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up."

Now, his migration complete, Mamet says, "I look back upon my Liberal political beliefs with a sort of wonder—as another exercise in self-involvement—rewarding myself for some superiority I could not logically describe."

The author's full-throated conservatism will give some readers pause. He is sometimes overweening, as in his discussion of such academic phenomena as existentialism, deconstruction, and all-purpose "theory": "Those incapable of recognizing bushwa may assume that someone else surely knows what these things mean. But, sadly, this is not the case." Actually, I have heard people explain these things, and, bullshit or not, their baleful effects in the precincts of higher learning have been (as Mamet knows) substantial. Similarly, we can sympathize with the "shame" the author now feels about his exemption from military service during the Vietnam War; but might he not also have observed that many of the thousands of young soldiers who died in that misbegotten conflict might still be with us if that exemption had been universal?

The Secret Knowledge is clearly the result of much reading and extensive contemplation. Mamet's references range from Tolstoy and Trollope to Friedman and Sowell to Marx and Brecht and the immortally entertaining Susan Sontag. He celebrates his Ashkenazi heritage and, centrally, the Torah, which he sees as a keystone of this country's Judeo-Christian foundation—a font of true justice, as opposed to the fashionable "social justice" he so witheringly reviles. (On hate-crime laws: "[A]s if getting beaten to death were more pleasant if one was not additionally called a greaser.") He adheres to the "tragic view" of human nature—we are all irredeemably flawed, prone to corruption, and incapable of perfect understanding—and is thus deeply skeptical of any attempt at root-and-branch social transformation, however slickly retailed. He is especially eloquent in noting the latest instance of this evergreen political scam: "[S]hould we all simply mass behind a leader so charismatic and well-spoken as to induce in the electorate that state of bliss which, though it may momentarily be indistinguishable from madness or satori, necessitates eventual return to a world made more complicated by our surrender[?]."

Readers on both sides of Mamet's current political stance can take issue with his social conservatism. He is, among other things, an unbending proponent of traditional gender arrangements; and yet who even on the left can deny the miseries that have attended the decline of the two-parent family? Nevertheless, it is exhilarating to hear so much common sense expressed with such forceful eloquence: "The honest man might observe…that no one gets something for nothing; that politicians go in poor and go out rich; that the Government screws up everything it touches; and that the Will to Believe is best confined to the Religious Venue, as to practice it elsewhere is just too damned expensive."

Mamet is not a man with a plan. Neither the right nor the left is to be entirely trusted, and a complete national salvation may remain forever beyond our grasp. "We are a democracy," he writes, "and as such do not generally elect our best people to office. How could we? They weren't running."

Kurt Loder is a writer living in New York. His third book, a collection of film reviews called The Good, the Bad and the Godawful, will be published in November by St. Martin's Press.

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  1. Third place? Third place is the Libertarian Party.

  2. I remember David Mamet saying years ago that he was a card-carrying member of both the ACLU and NRA, and figured that he was probably not a capital-L libertarian, but at least a fellow traveler.

  3. the Government screws up everything it touches

    But ROADS!!!

    1. More irritant for liberals – the National Road, aka Route 40, was built before the income tax.

    2. Even this one has an obvious response: But, the potholes!

      1. Touche

    3. But SOMALIA!!!

    4. You havent been to Louisiana……..

  4. Lauding Monroe as the greatest comedienne in screen history is shocking? Who would surpass her? Billy Wilder, who knew a thing or two about comedy and directed her in Some Like It Hot, declared her “absolute genius as a comic actress.”

    1. Thirty seconds of extensive Internet research suggests that Wilder also said this: “Hollywood didn’t kill Marilyn Monroe, it’s the Marilyn Monroes who are killing Hollywood.”

      1. He hated working with her (she was famously mercurial), so a statement like that doesn’t surprise me. But the latter doesn’t invalidate the former.

        1. But what did Jefferson have to say about MM? (No, not George Jefferson.)

        2. She might’ve been a damn fine comic actress but not anywhere near the greatest comedienne in screen history. She was, comically speaking, kind of a one-trick pony. She did that trick very, very well but didn’t have a whole lot of comedic range like a Hepburn, Stanwyck, Dunne, Arthur, Ball, etc.

    2. Barbara Stanwyck
      Katharine Hepburn
      Jean Arthur
      Lucille Ball
      Myrna Loy
      Judy Holliday

      I could go on…

      1. Stanwyck is great. I recently saw Ball Of Fire for the first time and she was just amazing.
        Sugarpuss O’Shea (Stanwyk) (describing the condition of her throat):
        “It’s as red as the Daily Worker and just as sore.”

        1. Indeed – ‘The Lady Eve’ is really worth a watch, too. Great dramatic actress as well.

          1. The Lady Eve is a comic masterpiece; watching it back-to-back with Double Indemnity really allows you to appreciate Stanwyck’s range as am actress.

            1. The Lady Eve is downloading now. Thanks to both of you for the recommendation.

              1. I’m glad you’re watching it! Stanwyck is really underappreciated these days.

                1. To be honest, until seeing Ball Of Fire, I was only familiar with her work on The Big Valley. Now I’m in love with her.

                  1. Was she the female lead in The Fountainhead as well? The movie was not great as I recall.

                    1. Patricia Neal, who was also in The Day the Earth Stood Still, as well as many other fine films.

              2. I also recommend Baby Face, a great pre-Code Stanwyck movie.

                1. Yes to Baby Face. I like Night Nurse too (with Gable!). Meet John Doe, The File on Thelma Jordan, Christmas in Connecticut, Remember the Night, and Clash by Night are all good (as are many others). Incidentally, MM is in Clash by Night.

          2. “I need him like the ax needs the turkey.” Top five best movie lines evah.

        2. howd it get so red and sore?

      2. Madeline Kahn?
        Cloris Leachman?

        1. those were the first two to pop into my head after Ball.

        2. Madeline Kahn was absolutely brilliant. She is not given the credit she deserves.

      3. Jessica Alba.

      4. Meryl Streep

        I’m not crazy about her as a dramatic actress, but in comedies she’s hard to beat.

        1. *PUKE*

      5. Just a shout out for Terri Garr who I had a massive crush on back when she was taking showers on the Letterman show.

        1. me too!

      6. Carole Lombard. I’m surprised no one remembered her.

      7. Out of that list, Judy Holliday hands down.

    3. I am just not a fan of Marilyn Monroe. I’ve never gotten her appeal.

  5. Put that fucking political conversion down. Political conversions are for closers.

    To bad he didn’t go the smart route and become an individualist anarchist. Conservatism is just another form of statism.

    1. But he likes Hayek! (like every other dipshit who love the Beckster)

    2. The real favor would be to fire you fucking ass, because a loser is a loser.

      Conservatism is statism, but it’s less so than liberalism. Hopefully he’ll continue in his evolution, and will soon be joining us in these friendly discussions.

      1. Conservatism is statism, but it’s less so than liberalism.

        It’s weird, on these boards my experience is as you put it, but in real life I have experienced the opposite with people I know.

        Also, I have noticed that the party that is out of power is the more libertarian leaning at any point in time; the right people not being in charge and all.

        1. I think I see it that way from experience – I can’t dodge the income tax or the housing bubble or the depression of 2008 to present, but I can still smoke weed and gamble and see as much porn as I want. The Left has been far more successful at fucking with me than the Right.

          1. Yeeeee-up.

          2. ‘still smoke weed…’

            Explains your idiotic posts, dipshit.

            1. If my exercise in personal freedom offends you, feel free to go fuck yourself.

          3. Yup.

            Economic freedom is more important than social freedom.

            You can buy social freedom with money (prostitutes, drugs, favorable legal treatment, censored materials, etc.), but you can rarely do the opposite.

            Who cares if drugs are legal if you can’t buy them because you have no money?

            1. Plus economic freedom preserves at least some semblance of the balance of power between the individual and the state…

              If you are dependent on government, there is no shield against it.

          4. When exactly were Conservatives against income taxes? They just talk a lot and never make any meaningful cuts. The Left wants to tax the rich, the Right wants to tax the poor (mostly via sales taxes, corporate subsidies and inflation) . Libertarianism doesn’t have a real voice anywhere

        2. the right people not being in charge and all.

          Some day, saying “but the right people weren’t in charge” will be an invitation to a completely legal ass-whupping. The law may even go so far as to make that ass-whupping compulsory on the part of the person(s) who hear that.

          I long for that day.

          1. That day will only come when we get the right people in charge.

        3. Also, I have noticed that the party that is out of power is the more libertarian leaning at any point in time; the right people not being in charge and all.

          I disagree with this.

          When democrats are out of power, they bitch that the government beast is being starved and shout “privitization r killing us!” while the GOP ramps up regulation, spending and invasions into privacy.

          When republicans are out of power, they discover their small government roots.

          The Democrats, love it or hate it, are the generally more consistent party. They never don’t like the government. The GOP occasionally lies to us every 8 years or so.

          1. While I agree with your general sentiment, I was speaking of my liberal friends. Though the left leaning people that I know are more in the mold of Greenwald than Obama, and value civil rights/liberties more than so-called social justice.

            A couple of my friends were even excited to “discovered” this awesome politician named Ron Paul last presidential election. I told them that Ron Paul had been there all along.

            While most of the self-professed conservatives that I know are boot licking control freaks, contrary to my experience here on h&r.

            Again, this is only my personal anecdotal evidence, and should not be regarded as all-encompassing truth.

            1. Unlike libertarians, who are so insignificant yet so certain of their own virtue.

              1. Your freedom to spout nonsense was codified in the 1st Amendment by a bunch of radical, extremist, libertarians. Suck it, suck it hard.

                1. Other than Tom Paine, the Founding Fathers were very far from being radical extremists for their time. They were mostly just normal property owners who didn’t want to be pushed around by people from across the ocean. Maybe that shows you how statist the world has become. Even George III would probably be shocked at the role of modern government.

    3. How are those steak knives working out for you?

      1. F U, I just sold 8 units, Mountainview, to the Nyborgs.

        1. Get back to me when the check clears.

          1. What? The check’s no good?

  6. You know who else was an artist and had a political conversion?

    1. Robert Downey Jr.?

      1. Erte’

        Okay not really.

  7. “We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up.”

    Oh, pshaw. That’s everyday with me.

    Welcome to the beginning of your enlightenment, David!

    1. Yes, but he may listen to Bill O’Reilly and the words begin to form in his mind: “Right the fuck On!”.

      1. Hey, back when I listened to Limbaugh on an irregular basis, even he would have some decent insights from time to time, but eventually they would run up against the wall of conservative, control-freak moralizing and they’d fall to the ground, twitching like poisoned pigeons.

        1. Gov’t should be limited to having jurisdiction over everyone’s bloodstream. Except mine.

          1. That’s a prime example. I can recall a long rant of his about how the gummint couldn’t even keep drugs out of prisons, but yet couldn’t bring himself to denounce the folly that is the WoD.

        2. Fucking tides…

        3. Limbaugh was fine until he became an insider. It was shortly after Bush #1 got elected. Something of import happened over a weekend, so I tuned to Limbaugh Monday to see what the buzz was, and the first hour was a tedious, name-dropping exercise of him talking about his stay at the White House.

          I never listened again.

  8. Every time I read about one of these left -> right conversions, I think of something Simon Hoggart wrote about Peter Hitchens. Please forgive me for quoting at length:

    “Nobody sees more red plots than a former leftie, and Peter used to belong to the Socialist Workers Party. The story of his Pauline conversion has no doubt been elaborated over the years, but as told by a generation of hacks it goes as follows: invited to speak to a SWP groupuscule in Surbiton, Peter was told to look out at the station for a comrade carrying a copy of Socialist Worker. He spotted her, and was suddenly overwhelmed with revulsion against people who looked, thought and acted like she did. So he went to the nearest pub, ordered a large gin and tonic, and realised that he agreed almost with everything Norman Tebbit said.

    I’ve often thought that the far left and the far right have a lot in common. Both are intolerant of others, and loudly contemptuous of those who disagree with whatever they think this week. They both believe in a perfectly structured ideal society, which in the case of Trots and communists never could exist, and in the case of the romantic fogey right, never did. They are like football hooligans solemnly announcing that they will now be beating people up on behalf of West Ham instead of Millwall, and wondering why this great philosophical change makes the rest of us snigger.”

    You must admit there are parallels between PH and DM.

    1. “They are like football hooligans solemnly announcing that they will now be beating people up on behalf of West Ham instead of Millwall, and wondering why this great philosophical change makes the rest of us snigger.”

      That is pure gold.

    2. Does hitchens fit your mould of a post-leftie?

      1. Note he is talking about Peter, not his more lefty brother Christopher.

  9. Wonder how much the Koch brothers are investing in his next play?

    What famous conversions have gone the other way? Off hand, I can only think of Ted Turner, who used to give copies of “Atlas Shrugged” to business friends.

    1. does ariana huffington count?

      1. I am told yes. All the way up to 4.

        1. She can count all the way to potatoe.

      2. Going from RINO to Democrat isn’t that much of a stretch. Of course, neither is going from Republican in general to Dem.

    2. David Brock
      Arianna Huffington?
      David Frum?
      Or their conversions might more accurately be described as team switches.

    3. It’s all just another religious war. The right believes in the more traditional deity and attempts to force “His will” upon others (usually while exempting themselves).

      The left believes in the deity of “Society” and attempts to force others to bow to its “needs” (usually while exempting themselves…See Al Gore, as he flies to his mansion in his private jet scolding others for driving SUVs).

      1. And they all, right and left, would have opposed the Founding Fathers.

        1. I think Alexander Hamilton would have been reasonably confortable in today’s GOP.

          1. I think he might have managed to draft some of the “bipartisan consensus” legislation that makes us all cringe.

  10. My powers were strong!

    1. and no doubt your twat as well after all those years of working out.

  11. It’s an easier way to get attention than having to churn out another “killer” script when you are old, tired and over-the-hill. Seems like these “conversions” are one of the favored closing gambits of many an aging narcissist, publicity hound, and self-involved aesthete.

    Y’know what? I never had a Road-to-Damascus moment in my life. I never was a commie, or a Mormon, or a drug addict, or a John Bircher, or a hustler, or a Birther, or a Truther. I just stayed in school, got a job, paid my taxes, ate my vegetables, and stayed away from illegal downloads.

    I figure we can legalize pot without everybody becoming a meth zombie overnight. I figure we can make sure everybody gets food, shelter and medicine without nationalizing the banks or the farms or the hospitals. I figure we can have a millionaire ball players, CEOs, rock stars, investment bankers and movie directors without driving our democracy off a cliff.

    I’m not crying for school teachers who have to add another five bucks to their co-pay at the doctors office. I’m not crying for the Monsanto executive who has to pay an estate tax on his Wyoming mustang ranch. I ain’t down with Ayn, and I ain’t down with Mao. In the future, I’d be content to see things like they are now, only better. It’s a good life overall in this country. We don’t have to blow it all up to fix what’s wrong with it.

    1. We don’t have to blow it all up to fix what’s wrong with it.

      Sorry Sparky, but nothing else is going to do it. The fiscal train wreck known as “other people’s money” is coming to a town near you real soon now, and there is zero political will to do anything about it until it’s too late.

      Lots of political will to keep up the wealth transfers and whistle past the graveyard, but nothing of any substance. It’s like our entire leadership came in 3rd place on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Oh well, sometime you do get the gummint you deserve.

      1. I said we don’t HAVE TO.
        Doesn’t mean we won’t.

        1. Oh our masters never HAVE TO do any of the power-grabbing and control freak things that they do, but they do them anyway.

          Every day that I read the news, I’m less and less a minarchist and more and more an anarchist. Fuck these people that claim to be our betters and fuck the people that vote them in time and again.

    2. “It’s a good life overall in this country.

      That’s because for the past several decades we’ve been living on borrowed money. That spigot is about to get turned off. The party is over, time to clean up.

      1. Sad but true. We have been living well beyond our means for quite some time. Now we are going to have to live below our means to get out of the hole that we have dug.

    3. Ah yes, the ol’ “play centrist to seem intelligent” ploy.

      1. Does he realize that you can’t be an American centrist without an America and you wouldn’t have an America without the radical extremists who overthrew the most powerful country in the world in order to found a new country based on radical, extreme principles? That to be a centrist then meant to be opposed to an independant America? What lazy nonsense to think that being “moderate” is a virtue in itself which doesn’t depend on the principles involved.

        1. This. It’s the Dannies of the world that are like lubricant in the great Statist Machine.

      2. Middle of the road usually translates to wrong on everything.

    4. Meth Zombies would be a great name for a rock band.

    5. I had a few epiphanic moments in my life. Coming out of six years of military school at age 19 and into a co-ed university in 1966 was GREAT! But I wound up smoking ‘way too much pot and dropping ‘way too much acid, and became a revolutionary (anti-Stalinist) socialist.

      Then I read The Gulag Archipelago. That changed me forever. I still feel the ripples of that rock in the water 35 years later.

  12. I’m not sure why everyone assumes that someone is going to be more insightful coming from the left. He doesn’t strike me as even as intelligent as George Will or any other conservative I don’t particularly care for. He’s just a relatively smart guy who was skilled in the craft of using emotional blackmail to present himself as a serious thinker without having to put any serious thought into anything, but who traded that method for the method of using traditionalism for the same purpose. With the added credit of having forsaken one for the other, making him an extra special team red player. I wouldn’t be any less impressed if Mike Gallagher switched from huffing and puffing about the “gay agenda” to doing the same about “the corporations” and wrote a book about it.

    1. ^This, to my snaggle toothed friend.

  13. “…who even on the left can deny the miseries that have attended the decline of the two-parent family?”

    I’m definitely not on the left, but women having more options available–in terms of what’s socially acceptable among other things–is not something I would characterize as “misery”.

    Speaking as a raging heterosexual male, I’m looking for a lot more than just someone to do the laundry, cook and rear children…and I think too much of myself to squander my life away trying to be the solution to some woman’s problems.

    It must have been incredibly constricting when men assumed responsibility for the well-being and happiness of the women they married by convention–because women were assumed to be incapable of that responsibility themselves.

    Women assuming responsibility for their own well-being and happiness–does not equal “misery”.

    1. But the feral children of the ‘hood are an incredible problem. As William
      F. Buckley Jr., once said, a man who doesn’t raise the children he has produced is a second class citizen. There is nothing more important than two parents raising their children, and nothing more tragic than when that doesn’t happen.

      1. “There is nothing more important than two parents raising their children, and nothing more tragic than when that doesn’t happen.”

        I worked my way through prep school, and I’m doing just fine, thank you.

        Believe me, there are a lot of things more tragic than a woman leaving an inept man. Staying with an inept man can be even more tragic–and I’ve seen that happen.

        1. I’m happy for you. I was referring to the women who have children in order to get a larger gov’t check. Their children grow up illiterate, join gangs, and cause most, if not all of the mayhem in cities. I’ve seen them carrying their loot out of my neighbor’s homes.

          1. I’m not sure that’s attributable to the break down of the two-parent family.

            I think that’s probably attributable to the government shielding people from the consequences of their choices.

            1. “the government shielding people from the consequences of their choices…[led]…to the break down of the two-parent family”

              There we go.

          2. Must have been an interesting interview.

            CC: Hey! That’s not your TV!

            Kid: So?

            CC: Don’t I know you? Your mom lives the next street over, Right? Fifteen years ago, she gave birth to you. I remember at the time her saying something about how her government check was too small, but it would get bigger after you were born.

            Kid: What’s it to you, man?

            CC: Can you read? What does this sticker on my window say?

            Kid: Ummm … “Act.”

            CC: No! It says “ADT.” You can’t even read, can you?

            Kid: So? I joined the Crips just last week. I still count for something. Watch me shoot this car’s windshield out. (Blam! Blam!)

            CC: Grrr!!! Are you happy now, Lyndon Johnson?

    2. “Women assuming responsibility for their own well-being and happiness–does not equal “misery”.”

      In the few cases where that’s occurred, you’re right,
      but that’s not what’s happening. Government is assuming responsibility for inept women’s happiness. Whereas a potential mate can reject a woman based on her “neediness” (which would put pressure on said woman to correct her behavior), government has made it business as usual to accept all levels of neediness and dependency, effectively reversing the incentive for women to correct their behavior.

      1. “…who even on the left can deny the miseries that have attended the decline of the two-parent family?”

        The reason the two-parent family has declined is because women have more choices available to them. And as more choices became available, more women chose not to relegate themselves to domestic life.

        Women having more choices isn’t the problem.

        The government continuing to inappropriately shield people from the consequences of their choices is a big problem–but that’s hardly applicable uniquely to women.

        That’s the problem with the government keeping deadbeats in the homes they couldn’t afford; that’s the problem with the government bailing out Wall Street for bad behavior; that’s the problem with the government keeping the price of oil artificially low through foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere; that’s the problem with crop subsidies; that’s the problem with the reasoning behind the Drug War–because the government needs to save us from the consequences of smoking marijuana!

        The list goes on…

        Point being, there’s no need to scapegoat women here. People having more choices isn’t the problem–the government inappropriately shielding people from the consequences of their choices is the problem.

        1. Well put.

        2. No one is blaming the single moms. In the 60’s a single mom got more ADC than a married mom. Hence, she threw the guy out, and tried to get along. Soon the guy wasn’t around at all to help, and the kids suffered. Irresponsible fathers, are the villains. But the govt facilitated their behavior. In 1960 the illegitimacy rate in the hood was ~25%, now it’s ~70%. thanks LBJ and the War on Poverty.

    3. But you can’t deny that children of single parent homes suffer poverty and drop out more than their peers from two parent homes. With only one parent, there’s less of a chance to keep an eye on things. Boys without fathers often don’t pick up the key clues about being a man in terms of self reliance and responsibility. Girls without fathers often seek men to fill that void. While women assuming responsibility doesn’t necessarily equate to misery, it doesn’t guarantee success either. It’s time for men to stop seeing the babies they make as notches on a scoreboard. In short, the celebrity push for acceptance of single parenthood needs to end. And the way to end that is to not tolerate it.

    4. Too bad that today’s women with all these increased liberties are no happier than they were before. As a woman, I was seduced by the “you can have it all” mantra. In reality, we are limited and are better off focusing on a few things and goals for life instead of trying to have it all.

  14. I should add that…from a commercial real estate guy like me…

    If he was still a self-described “brain-dead liberal” when he wrote “Glengarry Glen Ross”?

    It shows that “brain-dead liberals” can be great playwrights.

    …no matter what Ayn Rand says.

    1. This is why I try really hard not to learn about the political views of any writer/musician/actor whose work I really enjoy; it’s just part of trying to judge the art, not the artist. The problem is that nowadays most actors and musicians won’t STFU long enough to let me ignore their opinion. Writers aren’t as obnoxious. Yet.

  15. “We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up.”

    As a long-time listener of NPR, this is a common reaction. It doesn’t necessarily make you ‘conservative’ though. It usually just makes you observant.

    1. I think that was just his “a-ha!” moment.

      Some people define themselves against certain stereotypes. A lot of red state conservatives are conservatives for the same reason they’re fans of whatever football team. It’s where they grew up and it’s just what they identify with.

      I think Mamet was like that too–just on the left. He was a liberal for the same reason somebody might be a Red Sox fan–and that NPR moment was just when it first hit him.

      That should give us all hope in terms of libertarianism catching on. It should also give us pause for attacking people who come here with liberal views…

      The liberals who come here are probably easier to reach than your average liberal, and the people who parrot liberal politics aren’t necessarily the enemy–so much as they’re the battlefield.

  16. Libertarian and conservative are not the same thing. Why exactly are we supposed to gloat that some celebrity switched from The Nation leftism to Fox News rightism?

    1. If I’d seen your post first, rather than responding to Paul, I’d have addressed my response to you instead.

  17. Can we expect Mamet to come up with a sequel to “Glengarry Glen Ross,” where all the salesmen get down on their knees to thank God for capitalism?

    I gave “American Buffalo” the boot here:


  18. The shift from two-parent to single-parent homes has virtually guaranteed an ever-expanding role of government.

    It fundamentally altered the relationship of government and individuals. American voters won’t let children suffer because of their parents’ horrendous decisions.

    I don’t know if it’s taboo around here to take a stance on a social issue, but if the status quo persists, government growth and wealth redistribution will have to increase.

    The move away from two-parent homes was arguably the most significant domestic development of the 20th century (if poverty, crime, education and childhood development matter.) It has made libertarianism and any real attempt at smaller government politically impossible.

  19. books that turned my wig around =

    The True Believer – Eric Hoffer
    The Closing of the American Mind – Allan Bloom
    Capitalism and Democracy – Milton Friedman

    I get the feeling mamet might be trying something in the range of the first two. Has anyone else read his thing? Loder sounded pretty positive overall. I’d be interested in opinions on it, especially how it compares to any of the above.

  20. The rich get richer, that’s the law of the land.

  21. Mr. Loder should pay a little more attention to what the wordsmith David Mamet is saying: Mamet is saying that you can’t look to others (presumably teachers or advisors, or soi-disant “experts”) and assume safely that they know what existentialism, deconstruction or “theory” are. Frequently, those who spend the most time talking about such ideas have only the foggiest notions of what they’re talking about, and making assumptions that they have a respectable grasp of the subject-matter is intellectually risky.

    1. What he seems to me to be saying is that no one knows: “…may assume that someone else surely knows what these things mean. But, sadly, this is not the case.” I could be wrong….

  22. ‘but might he not also have observed that many of the thousands of young soldiers who died in that misbegotten conflict might still be with us if that exemption had been universal?’

    Sheesh, did the Reason editors force you to write that? When will libertarians stopped bitching about how ‘statist mistakes’ of the past ruined everything and work with what’s handed to them instead. They sound like Communists who think the Soviet Union failed because it wasn’t real Communism.

    1. Not sure what you mean, but I guess it’s a question of whether you believe that people own their own lives — or that the state does. Is there anyone still defending our involvement in Vietnam? Are they the same people defending our continuing involvement in Afghanistan? Libya? (Oops — that’s not a “war.” Sorry…)

  23. Haven’t read the book, but I have read several interviews/profiles of him promoting it and a number of things strike me over and over.

    He tends to speak in simplistic cliches–more than once I read he say something like “… and once you do that, you are on the road to serfdom.”

    OK, it was a great book title–but cribbing it over and over is not a substitute for thought. It reminds me of when Dylan found Jesus. The relentless, simplistic harping was very off-putting.

    Also, his love of the worst of the idiot scaremonger radio crowd–really embarrassing.

    Also, I don’t know how you can meaningfully discuss this “conversion” without noting the years he has spent traveling to the farthest reach of hardcore Zionism. The guy isn’t just fond of Israel–he became a maniac about it. This is not an uncommon pattern–militant Zionists have way of ending up as far to the right as they can get without bumping into actual Nazis.

    1. Uh, “as far to the right without actually bumping into Nazis”? Seriously? The Nazis were not on the right. Nazism was all about statism. they believed the state should control everything. We on the right are all about freedom not control by the state.

      1. Well, no. Libertarianism is not even on the left right spectrum and those on the right are no less anti-liberty than those on the left. They just have different agendas. Each end of the accepted political spectrum is indistinguishable from the other. Both the left and the right are authoritarian statists who wish to use the force of government to make society in their own images and to compel others to live in ways that they approve of.

  24. Loved to read your website. I would like to suggest an individual that traffic program most people read internet sites on Mondays. Thus should encourage folks to write new write ups over the weekend for the most part.

  25. Read the book. Mamet has become much much less libertarian with his conversion. He is merely a religious fanatic.

  26. —Has the ‘daring’ Mamet EVER mentioned, let alone examined and exposed, our 4 decades of Globalist
    RED China sellout, set up and TREASON?

    NOTE –Hollywood, media et al have
    ‘mysteriously overlooked’ the astoundingly relevant (EUGENICS/betrayal/Globalism) 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, and last year 60th
    Anniversaries of the KOREAN WAR—–

    Remember kiddies, in the 1930’s
    people could hoestly claim they
    ‘didn’t know’. That is no longer

    ———HOW monstrous is that?

  27. Hmmm, is this a surprise? Isn’t this the guy who had really retro Mad Men type views of women?

  28. As a former student at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School, started by Mamet and William H Macy, it is refreshing to see that Mamet finally made the right hand turn I made while a student at ATC. Welcome home David.

  29. Kurt Loder, your writing style is so pretentious I wanted to puke reading it.

  30. Isn’t it funny how people can remain in liberal bastions like New York or Washington and congratulate each other on their liberal stances UNTIL they happen to move outside their nests. They see that the rest of America is not thriving. They see that the rhetoric is nothing but a tissue of lies. If they are honest brokers, they realize in a type of Paulian epiphany that they’ve been misled. But if they are the run of the mill liberal, they blame it on Bush.

  31. Welcome to the reason.com jungle Mr. Mamet.

    This is why libertarians can best be described as a barrel full of monkeys with their hands cut off. There is no “uniting” going on around here. Everyone for his or herself!

    Yes, a self-defeating bunch of monkeys who would forfeit a great potential ally in the name of ideological perfection.

  32. Obviously Janeane Garofalo is the greatest commedienne. After Lawrence O’Donnell anyway.

  33. ty rights, etc. seem like a more accurate measure of freedom than democracy.

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