The World According to David Mamet

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At the risk of biting the hand that feeds him, acclaimed playwright David Mamet has written a new book likely to enflame the liberal audience that has embraced him since his rise to fame with 1984's "Glengarry Glen Ross."

On the cover of "The Secret Knowledge On the Dismantling of American Culture," Mamet proclaims: "The struggle of the Left to rationalize its positions is an intolerable Sisyphean burden. I speak as a reformed Liberal."

Mamet, 63, who grew up the son of liberal Jewish immigrants in Chicago, came to his conversion late in life -- he says he spoke to his first conservatives at age 60 -- and got his schooling from folks like Shelby Steele and Glenn Beck.

"I didn't think about the world before," Mamet told ABC "I just didn't and I started to think about it. Where does money come from? What's free trade? Capitalism? How do people do business? The understanding that I came up with is we get money from fulfilling the needs of others."

For years, Mamet has entertained us. After earning a place as one of the country's top dramatists for plays "American Buffalo," "Speed the Plow" and the Pulitizer-Prize-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross," Mamet began writing screenplays ("The Untouchables," "The Verdict") and directing features ("Homicide," "State and Main") for Hollywood.

Now he's taking on Hollywood in his new book. "Less and less movies are made every year," he said. "California has taxed the movie businesses away. And it's a damn shame. It's a great biz."

Mamet isn't worried about alienating some of his audience with his new beliefs.

"My responsiblity is to entertain them," he said. "It's not my job to manipulate them, even if I knew how by catering to a political belief."

And his friends are sticking by him. They simply don't talk politics.

"I have no intention of reading his new book," comedian Jonathan Katz, who's known Mamet since college and co-wrote "House of Games" with him, told "It's not really my thing. If he put it to music, maybe."

Katz jokingly calls Mamet's conservative conversion a "stage he's going through."

Mamet's book, which is getting glowing reviews from conservatives and not so glowing ones from liberals, seems to say otherwise.

Mamet penned the book's essays after The New York Times panned his 2008 play "November" and he defended it in an article in the Village Voice. He wrote about political civility and referred to himself as a "brain-dead liberal," admitting he hadn't really taken the time to examine the other side. The Voice titled the piece "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal," and it "enraged a lot of people on the left," Mamet said.

It also got him thinking about where his beliefs come from. Mamet spent the next few years reading economics and philosophy and listening to popular conservatives and formulating his thoughts in the essays which make up the book.

In "The Secret Knowledge," the "newly minted conservative," as he refers to himself, takes on everything from a liberal arts education to "Obamacare" to race and the film industry.

Here, the world according to Mamet:


"I never questioned my tribal assumption that Capitalism was bad, although I, simultaneously, never acted upon these feelings. ... I supported myself, as do all those not on the government dole, through the operation of the Free Market."

Film Schools

Mamet calls film schools "the refuge of the Leisure Class."

"Now we see the Liberal Young not flocking but stampeding into film schools. Why the stampede? The movie industry is bust, television has gone to the dogs (reality programming), and no one has yet figured out the transition to Internet distribution. There are, in short, no jobs at the end of this exhaustive four-year course of watching movies. There is, however, protection. The film school student is protected, by his community, in his election not to work."

Actors, Writers and Directors

"Actors, thriving on publicity, have historically claimed for themselves the right to champion 'causes' ... But it is the nature and profession of the actor to see himself as the Hero."

"We writers, similarly, are professional fantasists. But, rather than imagining ourselves as heroes, we live through delineating the struggle between Good and Bad."

"More importantly, a director (I speak as one who has directed ten features, and quite a bit of television) is exposed to something of which the actors and writers may not have taken notice: the genius of America, and the American system of Free Enterprise."

Baby Boomers (of which he's one)

"For mine is a generation which never grew up. And we have in our short lives, dismantled the necessarily imperfect system of industry and government for which our parents lived and died."

Al Sharpton

"Al Sharpton and those calling (under whatever name) for reparations for ancient crimes are, in effect, suing for crumbs from those they, by that suit, designate as their (somehow) superiors. But they have no superiors. There is no one home. The slave owners, along with the robber barons, and 'the interests' have left the building."


"I would rather deal with a crooked cop than a bureaucrat, and I've had the experience of both. And I loved the rough, matter-of-fact Chicago of my youth, and preferred it to the clean, orderly, self-packaged city of today. When the streets' nicknames go up on the lampposts, the city is dead."

Health care

"Nothing is free. All human interactions are tradeoffs. One may figure out a way to (theoretically) offer cheap health insurance to the twenty million supposedly uninsured members of our society. But at what cost -- the dismantling of the health care system of the remaining three-hundred-million plus?"


"American Liberals do not wish to surrender their particular country, but many wish Israel to surrender hers. ... The Liberal West would like the citizens of Israel to take the only course which would bring about the end of the disturbing 'cycle of violence' which they hear of in the Liberal press. That course is abandoning their homes and country, leaving, with their lives, if possible, but leaving in any case. Is this desire anti-Semitism? You bet your life it is."

Political Correctness

"This is the state of the contemporary Liberal world -- the fear of giving offense has been self-inculcated in a group which must, now, consider literally every word and action, for potential violation of the New Norms."

Global Warming

"Carbon dioxide is not harmful to the atmosphere. There have, in the past, been periods, much colder than today, when the CO2 in the atmosphere was twenty-five times what it is today. Carbon emissions offer no threat whatever to the planet. And, as the Left is opposed to nuclear energy, how are we to provide power?"