Monday, March 17, 2008

David Mamet Turns

David Mamet has an essay in the Village Voice, "Why I am No Longer 'a Brain Dead Liberal'." The blogosphere is abuzz about Mamet's "turn to the right."

I've seen many "turns to the right" in my day, and some are turns for the better while others are for the worse. Some (eg., Irving Kristol and the neocons) are simply turns from one sort of coercive authoritarianism to another.

To me, Mamet's "turn" seems fundamentally goodhearted and wise. I would describe it as libertarian rather than conservative.

(Uh-oh. I noticed I just said he's so good-hearted and wise ... he's becoming more like me. Oh, well, let it stand. Let him who is without self-serving bias cast the first aspersion!)

My favorite passage from his essay:
But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.

The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.

So he is putting his trust in the ability of individual humans to solve their problems, without the dubious guidance of morally superior masterminds. Good for him!
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