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Mamet vs. Edgar

Did any of y’all actually read David Mamet’s now-famous essay in the Village Voice called Why I Am No Longer a ’Brain-Dead Liberal’: An election-season essay? If so, I am sorry. I know you are stupider now for having read it, but there’s an antidote: David Edgar’s essay in the Guarniad called With friends like these . . .

Aside from the fact that Mr. Edgar is, on the whole, on the same side of the political spectrum as YHB, which makes my recommendation suspect, it should be obvious on a moment’s scanning of the two articles that Mr. Edgar knows his political and cultural history, and that Mr. Mamet doesn’t. Furthermore, Mr. Edgar knows that conservative and liberal are not just nice little labels but are alliances with political goals and political effects. Mr. Mamet, despite writing for an election season, doesn't talk about actual politicians and actual policies. He simply makes the argument that “tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow.” Mr. Edgar responds, “Whether they like it or not, the current defectors are seeking to provide a vocabulary for the progressive intelligentsia to abandon the poor.”

Well, and Mr. Edgar is placing Mr. Mamet’s defection into a cultural and historical context of which Mr. Mamet appears to be unaware. Mr. Mamet may, however, by faking that ignorance. It’s hard to tell. A thing I find particularly disingenuous about Mr. Mamet’s essay is that although he mentions his rabbi and congregation (and jokes about calling NPR ‘National Palestinian Radio), he doesn’t connect his new conservatism with the support for conservative politicians and positions among other Orthodox Jews. Considering that much of Mr. Mamet’s time and energy over the last decade has gone into writing about Judaism, I think it’s misleading for him to say that he hasn’t thought about politics until starting to write November. Perhaps he is, himself, misled. It seems likely.

Mr. Edgar seems to understand something that I think should have been brought ought more clearly: a person’s opinions are not simply his own, self-built and independent. That’s crap. Your opinions, my opinions, are inventions of the community. You have volition, sure, in choosing what opinions to have, but that is in no way a separate matter from choosing your community. It’s part of the same business. Mr. Mamet may think that his narrow view of acceptable Judaism has nothing to do with his new-found appreciation for market-based solutions for the ills of the nation, but I doubt it.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Wow, first Orson Scott Card, now David Mamet has joined the oddball ranks of the Fox News Democrat. Pity, that.

Well, and with all due respect to Mr. Mamet, I don't think we on the left will miss him much, when it comes to political insight. Or Mr. Card, for that matter.


Probably why they defected.

"You don't appreciate me! I'm taking my opinions and playing with THEM! They want me around! They're not choosy like YOU LIBERALS!"


Actually, Matt, that's sort of the impression I got from Mr. Edgar's article. These fellers gave up their ideals, but kept their indignation in some kind of high yield fund that allowed that feeling to just grow exponentially. How nice for them.

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