Mamet: A Conservative in Hollywood

Wednesday, 13 Jul 2011 09:15 AM

By John Stossel

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Hollywood mocks capitalism, which seems odd because the people who make movies are such aggressive capitalists — competing hard to make money. But Hollywood's message is that capitalism is shallow and cruel.

Take the 1992 movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play). It's about cutthroat real-estate salesmen who work for a heartless company. It was written by the celebrated playwright David Mamet, author of "American Buffalo," "Spanish Prisoner," and more than 50 other plays and movies.

I assumed that Mamet was another garden-variety Hollywood lefty, but then a few years ago, I was surprised to see an article he wrote titled, "Why I'm No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." Now he's followed up with a book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture."

What turned a "Hollywood liberal" into a conservative? I invited Mamet on my Fox Business show last week to ask.

Was he a brain-dead liberal? The newspaper, not Mamet, put that headline on his article.

"I referred to myself as one," Mamet told me. "Political decisions I made were foolish."

Foolish because he wasn't really thinking, he said. Since everybody around him was liberal, he just went along.

What changed?

"I met a couple conservatives, and I realized I never met any conservatives in my life . . . One started sending me books. His books . . . made more sense than my books."

Mamet was suddenly exposed to ideas he had never encountered before.

"Shelby Steele's 'White Guilt,'" he said, "led me to the works of Tom Sowell and through them (F.A.) Hayek and Milton Friedman."

Two things hit him especially hard: the benefits of economic competition and the limits of leaders' ability to plan society.

"If you stop licensing taxi cabs, tomorrow you will see guys and women on every street corner saying, 'Who wants to go to XYZ address?' (The cabbie) will put five people in the car and drive them to that address . . .

"When the guy drops them off, if he's smart, he'll say: 'Tomorrow — same thing, right? What do you guys want to drink for breakfast?' There will be cappuccino and ice tea and glass of milk. After X months, he will have three cars; after X months, he will have a fleet. And everyone will be competing to meet the needs of the commuters, which also is going to reduce traffic.

Why are they allowed to compete? Because the government got the hell out of the business."

Mamet also read Hayek's last book, "The Fatal Conceit."

"What Hayek is talking about is that we have to have a constrained vision of the universe. The unconstrained vision, the liberal vision, is that everything can be done, everything is accomplishable," he said. "We don't have the knowledge . . . There is only so much that government can do . . . It would be nice if giving all of our money to the government could cure poverty. Maybe, but giving money to the government causes slavery."

For Hayek, the "fatal conceit" is the premise that politicians and bureaucrats can make the world better — not by leaving people free to coordinate their private individual plans in the marketplace — but by overall social and economic planning.

Imagine trying to plan an economy, Mamet said, when we barely know enough to raise our kids. "The guy in government can't know everything."

As you can imagine, when Mamet went public, he bewildered many of his showbiz peers. A Los Angeles Times critic called his book "a children's crusade with no understanding of real politics." The Nation called Mamet a "great playwright, (but a) moronic political observer."

Mamet said to his wife: 'Isn't it funny? . . . The New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record that has been reviewing my plays for 40 years, isn't even going to review this book.'

"She says: 'Dave, grow up. The purpose of all newspapers is political.'"

Maybe the Times thinks it's insignificant that a celebrated cultural "liberal" now questions his faith in the supposed healing power of government. But as we sit mired in this endless jobless "recovery," with the wreckage of government failure all around, we should ask ourselves which one is out of touch with reality.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at www.johnstossel.com.




© Creators Syndicate Inc.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Nanny-State Health Policies Harm More Than Help

Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014 09:05 AM

Control freaks want to run your life. They call themselves public
servants. . . .

Boston Bombings' Lasting Impact on Liberty

Thursday, 06 Nov 2014 08:51 AM

Yes, most people will give up liberty for security.
 . . .

Don't Expect a Big Shake-Up Tuesday

Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 10:09 AM

A better way to get new blood into politics would be term limits on elected officials. Several states have them, and the . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved