March 13, 2008

Mamet, Heracletus and Me

Filed under: Politics — Bob Gifford @ 9:00 pm

Heracletus, a friend and arch-libertarian, emailed me (and the rest of his address book) with the following:

If you don’t know (and shame on you if you do not), David Mamet is a U.S. national treasure – a terrific playwright whose plays have been made into movies like “House Of Games”, “The Spanish Prisoner”, and “Things Change”.

There is some naughty language in this piece so if you don’t like cussin’, don’t read this. It is tremendous, though, and well worth your time:,374064,374064,1.html/full

Mamet’s conversion from “brain-dead liberal” to conservative has generated glee from conservatives, I gather. I don’t get what the fuss is about. Here is my reply to Heracletus (lightly edited):


[Actually, I addressed him by his real name, which as you might have guessed, is not Heracletus.]

Well, I read this, and I have to say that I don’t know what he’s talking about. He says:

As a child of the ’60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

I’ve never believed the first two, as a rule, but do believe the third, as a rule. But exceptions always arise. Frequently. The dividing line between good and evil cuts through each and every human heart.

Now that he’s had an epiphany, he says:

I’d observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

Well, yeah. Of course. I totally agree.

And I began to question my hatred for “the Corporations”—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

I’ve never hated “the Corporations”. I have an MBA, I’m a management consultant, I’ve worked for and consulted to corporations my whole life.

And I began to question my distrust of the “Bad, Bad Military” of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world.

I don’t distrust the military, but I do doubt the ability of the military to solve non-military problems, and for avowedly militaristic civilian leaders with no combat experience to understand the difference. But I respect and admire the military just the same.

And yet I’m still liberal, or at least left-of-center. I don’t get Mamet’s “before” beliefs, and I don’t get what the big deal is about his “after” beliefs, and why they are incompatible with being left-of-center. The whole thing left me scratching my head.


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