David Mamet on conservatismJun 10, 2021
Often called the country's greatest living playwright, he is also, after a recent political conversion, one of its leading conservatives. He doesn't know his usual restaurant in Santa Monica, California. David Mamet uncommon knowledge now welcome to uncommon knowledge I'm Peter Robinson David Mamet has composed screenplays as diverse as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Moves the Dog directed films ranging from the playhouse to phil spector written books ranging from ancient religion a novel to the hero Pony a collection of poems to five cities of refuge a Torah commentary and a composition works that are among the greatest achievements of American theater, including American Buffalo speed-the-plow and Glengarry Glen Ross, 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner Mr.
Mamet published an essay for the Village Voice explaining that he had changed his political views (the title of that essay is Why I'm No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal) in 2011. Mann Mamet expanded on his new political views in a book The Secret Knowledge and the Dismantling of American culture. It should be noted that mr. Mamet has a new book, an e-book that just came out called Three War Stories. Normally, thanks for joining me, but this is your place, so thanks for allowing us to join you. Margaret, thank you for joining me, it is a pleasure for me, the secret knowledge.
My interest in politics began when I realized that I acted differently than how I spoke. Explain to him that David, well, a very fortunate man in my life is Jewish and, having had two magnificent teachers, one of them, Larry Kushner, four was then in Sudbury, is now in San Francisco and the other. one: Leigh here at Oritur in Venice and they talk a lot about the fundamentals of the Torah and about the Talmudic teaching, some teaching, but how one should behave and they say that you have to behave that way. way in which he can express the views of his opponent so that he says yes, those are my views and he has to be able to reaffirm his views to those of Unison.
That way you can say he can say yes those are my views and then when you are both familiar with each other's opinions you have to narrow down the facts that you agree on so do you agree that this is a fact? You agree that it is a fact, so you know that Jews are an issue in dispute with people, right? This is where Western legal history comes from. to us, when Blackstone comes and basically comes out of the Bible, he comes and comes out of the grave, so he's fine, so first we say yes, I understand your points of view.
I understand that these are your views. You understand that those are my views. We agree that. These are the facts and now we are going to reason from the facts on which we agreed to come to a conclusion and this is how an argument can take place because of course all people argue and that is what a democracy gets when the What I had was a dictatorship, so I started trying to apply that to my daily life and I realized that most of what I thought was political thinking was just the reiteration of symbols of recognition, so if you look because I don't think it will happen on the right. but when you look to the left, most of what passes for this course are symbols of recognition, can we agree?
Are you as part of my tribe going wrong with that? But it's just not, it's not, I don't realize that that's not the basis for a life lived according to the principles of Politico, they're going to get Jenny to work, so a token of recognition just to make sure that you I follow. I drive a Prius, yes, and what I'm doing is conveying something about what tribe I belong to by choosing that brand or by choosing an environmental issue, you mean that, of course, but also, um, for example, I was talking to someone about the movie I was going to make and I said I was thinking about John Boyd.
I said, Oh, John Boyd, he's crazy, so I mean. I happen to know John Boy is a friend of mine, he's certainly not crazy and it's not a starter case either, so it's a trade off, his questioning is correct. In other words, Jon Voight is conservative, that's what they really do, we agree that John Boy is crazy. He was giving a lecture in New York on political thought very early in my conversion and a woman said wait a second, do you think the earth is warming? I mean, my goodness, that's fascinating. What I'm seeing is not a request. to obtain information or the desire to participate in an exchange of opinions or even a discussion, what I am seeing is a cultural interrogation: are you part of my tribe or not?
Because if you're part of my tribe we're fine, but if you're not part of my tribe, we can't talk to each other anymore, that's fine, that's what we know. Dennis Prager said we are in the middle of a civil war, thank God it's not violent, but it seems like we have it. We have divided ourselves into two completely opposite camps that can no longer speak to each other, so one aspect of your conversion is to apply this discipline of fresh and critical analytical thinking to the way you lead your life and then, if I read the secret knowledge .
Correctly, another facet of conversion is the recognition that is implicit in all your work and all your life, but it is a recognition that you actually like America. I love America. You found what you should. I think a lot of people on the left. I'm not willing to say they don't love America. I don't think they're bad, but I think they're wrong, so the traditional method of political discourse where we have to focus on the center seems to have gone out the window. Especially in the midst of this, Obama's mergers and acquisitions, where we take our opposing views, we realize that we're going to have to find some way to come together because everyone in America loves America differently. you say at one point that liberalism is a religion you just talked about, arriving at a conservative political point of view through the discipline of Judaism, so what will happen to many other things?
Jews remain as a group extremely liberal after African Americans. the most reliable liberal voting bloc in the country, so let me start there, so what makes you not give up some aspect of your Judaism? It is through his Judaism that he came to this point of view, I am a member, which is central. I think so, but it's not that being Jewish makes you liberal or conservative, but it makes you argumentative like the old man, the old man saw he has an opinion about the Jews, the secret knowledge, once again, he cites the good causes of the left .
They are generally compared to NASCAR, they offer the fun of watching things enthusiastically spin in a circle without getting anywhere, yeah okay that's an exaggeration, aren't you going to say that America is a better place because we have social Security? Don't know. It is a better place because we have social security. I think people on the right and people on the web bar are concerned about justice. People on the left are concerned about something else besides justice called social justice. and since I think they were Tom Souls, they could have been inducted Milton Friedman, what does that mean?
It doesn't mean anything, it doesn't mean anything, but a society cannot be just according to the law, as we say where there is law, there is injustice, someone goes. They will hurt you and the law will not be applied, but when you start postulating an entity that is superior to the legal system, that is superior to the judicial system and is capable of correcting all injustices, what you end up with is a good tyranny, so what? What about the great example? It seems to me relatively undisputed even by conservatives, even conservatives concede a lot that in the last 60 70 years there has been one significant achievement that is a specifically liberal achievement and that is civil rights, yes, of course, the of Of course, is granted. so what, then what are you thinking that somehow you grant liberals civil rights, but that's already done and their head can, boss Barry Goldwater, Barry Goldwater opposed civil rights shams like conservative, what do you say you're not a Goldwater, conservative, the liberals were right, but it's no longer relevant, how come you can say I'm a conservative?
I'm done, look, I'll tell you what there was a guy talking to Hugh Hewitt yesterday. His name was Clarence. I forgot his last name. He wrote a surprise wedding for the Chicago Tribune, so I planned the page. I guess he was a very articulate guy and they won the Pulitzer Prize. You know it's good for him. So Hugh Hewitt says, "Well, what would you do?" He says it's Hillary's greatest achievement as secretary of the thing and he can't name anything and he said well, would you say that she was, in effect, she had failed during a period as our country's foreign policy minister and Clarence Page ?
It has more what's up with Bush well, what's up with Bush, well, I see, right? That doesn't answer the question. I thought yes to say, well, what about civil rights? I don't know, civil rights were, they weren't, whoa, it was a liberal virtue, remember they were. talking to Dick the Dixiecrats are right, they were all Democrats right, right, right, civil, civil rights has nothing to do with social justice, it has to do with the Constitution, with people saying: wait a second, are you crazy?, okay, well, we are. you were prepared to tell 50 percent of the human beings in the country that no, of course it's not true, it's true that a higher proportion of Republicans in the Senate voted for civil rights than Democrats in the Senate, yes, civil rights legislation was passed with Republican votes, yes.
It was also about 50 years ago, that's true, okay, the nature of law, secret knowledge, my revelation came from reading Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, was that everything he wrote has a cost, that there are no solutions , just compensations, money spent. about traffic wardens you can't spend on books, both are necessary, but a decision must be made and this is the tragic view of life, sure that's fine, so I guess let me be a bit pedestrian and assume that David Mamet is making older people's vision of life sometimes dim. they get older you are becoming your conservative lawyer because you are less you have lost hope of youth I don't know if I have lost hope of youth I hope I have lost the delay of youth listen every cousin I have a teenage son okay okay it's like living with him devil on steroids okay I forgive my three teenage sons oh I'm so sorry then it's like you know it's like they say that daughters are God's revenge against men, right sons are also God's revenge, so you think she knows that I said everything because he never had to put it into practice, so he doesn't understand that if you are a father, when you are a father, you are always doing wrong. choice that is the definition of being a parent right we are being lenient when we should be strict or being strict we should be lenient or let them go when we should win the middle touch them and we should let them go blah blah blah that's what it's called Being a parent is right, so one hopes that, in general, children who never listen but always observe will be able to absorb something, some central idea from their parents' way of life or how they might improve their minds. and improve the vision of those around them, but they are doing it.
There's no, there's no guide and there's no guide to a civilization, with the exception of two that are very, very closely related, one of them being the Bible and the other one was kind of driven. like the Constitution, although that's going to be, there's going to be, it's going to be, it's going to look at the liver, it's going to say very correctly, are you sure you want to execute people? Because, what if you're wrong? mhm, that's a defensible position, I get it, well come on look at the facts, there will be a cost to it, it may not be on a call, it may not be deterrence is a good thing, deterrence may not be a bad thing. , I understand, but there may be some.
There are thousands of people in prisons for decades and decades clogging up the courts with their appeals of their right and consuming the time of society at large, so that is a choice that society makes. There is no good choice between doing the right thing. So one of the things that makes a leader a good leader is the ability to say yes, no one makes the decision but me, that's what I'm elected to do and if it's wrong, it's my responsibility to fix it in terms of some overriding goal, If the leader's goal is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution in the United States.
I hope he or she makes decisions based on that if the leader's primary goal is, on the other hand, to substantially transform the nature of leaders. I'm going to make decisions about that's not a person I want to vote for, right? David. I will do that. You're the
conservatismtype. You've come to one more question, investigating your own
conservatism. You mentioned the Bible in the Constitution and said that the Constitution derives. Of the Bible there are, speaking in very general terms, a couple of conservative positions. A conservative position is that theConservatism is nothing more than a recognition of reality as you can perceive it through your five senses.
It is pure empiricism. You don't need to bring God. In the image I don't know if he is an atheist, but there is a famous sociologist Lionel Tiger who says that humans have evolved in a certain way, that is why families are important, it is sociology, it is anthropology, you don't need to provide any meaning. of a general divine order in that, the other is that in one way or another, in some way or another, the human being responds bears the imprint of a divine order and that responding to this divine order is central to conservatism, yes, Well, look, I didn't mention God, I just mentioned the Bible, which as far as I know is just a book, but there are some people who believe that the book is just as divine or divinely inspired.
I am one of them, but there are some people who believe that the star. The Wars series is divinely inspired and they dress up as Wookiees, you know, and they go out on a Saturday night, so to me the Bible is not a book about God because if you read the Bible, all God does is ruin God . does everything wrong in the Bible why does God do everything wrong in the Bible because he has a problem what is his problem human beings are right, so to me the Bible is not a book about God, the Bible is magnificent, I mean we can say that the Mona Lisa's divinely inspired weakened serpents in the Bible's divinely inspired book on human nature and is a compilation of thousands and thousands of years of folk tales, parables and fables about human nature that were called and gathered together in a certain order to Try to try to convey a message to posterity and it seems that they have done it because that message that people deserve to be free, that people are created equal or that their creator grants them certain inalienable rights, is the basis of the western civilization.
So where else does it come from? Is it caused by the Bible? No, but it is caused by the same thing that is caused by the Bible, which is a divine or human appreciation of human nature. That's the way you look at it, what you just described. The Bible essentially being a collection of the greatest dramas of a couple of millennia is that the way you look at the drama you are simply trying to represent human beings as they are. I do not know what I'm doing. we sit together like my wife buys expensive shoes, I just try to choose, she calls, calls money, shoe coupons and I just try to pay her a little, okay, some issues, family, secret knowledge;
I quote the long millennial evolution of the human family as my generation of Fanta cysts discarded a means of dealing with the environment in favor of freedom freedom here is in quotes here whose pursuit has led to misery what do you mean by that ? Well, look around you, I mean the other side of my parents. divorced long as tar 1957-58 nobody got divorced nobody knew nobody got divorced it's a big tragedy right now everyone but not everyone is divorced and the mothers and the boys are fighting and you see them picking up and exchanging their children on a Friday night, everyone they are miserable, so your conversion to conserve attacks, I shouldn't say conversion, because it is often a religious term, you are reaching for a conservative point of view, it means that you look askance at the whole sexual revolution, of course you do, I mean that there was one of them, you know, one of their first participants and I even made everyone go crazy, everyone was miserable, they made AB seem like a good idea at the time and the interesting thing to me is not that in 1960 in 1965 a penny will be shot. to college when it's actually a sex camp, we'll call it college, no, don't bother learning, they can see how many STDs you can get, wink, wink, not that we've done that, because if you tell that to a group. from Randi, 18 year olds, of course they're going to do that, but that's the greatest generation, Tom Brokaw's words said, go away, I'm these people who were immigrants primarily or at least in my community, we'll look through from the depression he lived poverty he lived through the immense Second World War and that's it, don't bother doing anything, so here we are, you know, at 60 years old, baby boo is getting ready to go to Buffalo and seems to have dismantled the country of a lack of deprivation prevails for lack of other idleness, in effect, the secret knowledge that a man whose income is taxed has less incentive for monogamy.
Explain that one of the reasons people lose men when they get married is because they want to get laid, but could you say? I mean, I'm going ahead with the reason why men get married or wear them because they wanted the Utley, then the woman says yeah, okay, I know you're going to tell me you love me, you're going to write a lot of poetry. rotten and you can give me some stupid flowers, right? I understand I understand that all you want to do is have sex with me. I understand that you will have to feed me first, so if you look at the children even today, say: oh. no, no, it's somehow sexist for the kid to pay for coke, you know, where's the bottled water, where the hell are they drinking now, it's taking part in the many thousands of years of understanding that predators the way They are right and that the woman herself should not have it, it is called freedom for women, but in reality it is depriving her of one of the rituals, she is going to test the boy, so if the boy says, we said if I am in love with this woman or want. to get her panties or whatever I'm going to have to show some ability to support myself I have to do great she's entitled to it I'm going to do it so he has to get a job if not Isn't that so the birth control pill really ruined the economy?
Because now only when he says oh, when he says old birth control pill, I'm not getting Beckham, yay, that must mean I have complete sexual freedom, well, yes and no. because she may have complete sexual freedom, but she doesn't, she doesn't have complete sexual freedom to get pregnant and then abandon herself, only guys are going to do that, so if he has to get a job, he's going to be ambitious, you know? and if he loves the girl who wants to have children then the house will be more ambitious if you bring everyone up to par no matter how hard you work you are not going to make more money why should I? married economy secret knowledge government intervention private enterprise the death of private enterprise compare, for example, East Germany versus West Germany Havana versus Miami Palestine versus Israel the case has not yet been resolved close quote block or repeal Obamacare cut taxes repeal the regulations that you would sign Get ready for the whole Tea Party agenda, of course, I mean, what did the Tea Party separate your housewives from Chicago, Illinois, my hometown?
I said, wait a second, I don't understand why taxes keep going up, we don't get anything except poverty. and I have many friends with doctors of my generation who learned on the edge of a stopwatch, they are all heartbroken because they say that children are no longer going to study medicine, right? Why should I say why should they? Because what they have to be whether or not they needed money, they had to be the doctor, you know, the most respected woman or man in the community and the heir to the highest title of respect in every place they go, now there is a purpose , hahaha, it's another one, a supplier and they were employees, they spent. all your time and money filling out forms and some idiot on the phone in India will tell you what medicine to give you why would they make that career the secret knowledge one of the great mistakes of our democracy was the Dred Scott decision Here, the highest court in the land He stated that there were two classes of human beings, black and white, how is that different from affirmative action?
Close quote, okay, I'll tell you how it's different and I'll quote Lyndon Johnson. Take a man who for years has been in chains, free him, take him to the starting line of a race and tell him that he is free to compete with everyone else and you still believe that he has been completely fair. Closed quote Lyndon Johnson was right. he is wrong here he is absolutely wrong and the fact that he was wrong was proven by Thomas Sol and in several of his books, oh he, who at that time worked as an economist in the United States government demographer and tracks many black variables . black family unit right black man-woman important employment parents' homes in them, etc. that arise from the end of the civil war to the introduction of affirmative action and then plummet foreign policy it was me, I move on here is the question the question is are Black people stupid and the answer is that they are not stupider than whites, but blacks do not need whites of good will to help them and that white is paternalism, it is said, it says "I." I'll tell you what guys, if you make me feel good, I'll be happy to put you back on the Taoiseach plane.
I was talking to Shelby Steele, a friend of mine who works on something for my synagogue, actually a nice group of synagogue people. white woman the background says mr. steel, what can white America do for black America? It's a very long pause and the saddest voice ever heard will be in Sugar's head, she said, leave us alone, you know, I had lunch the other day with Tom Soul and that, leave us alone, is Frederick's quote. Douglass, Rizza, yeah, okay, so there's a way, so there's a question, right? Because what you're saying is that black people, even though they have been enslaved because they had been enslaved for 400 years and they were so damn stupid. that they didn't realize they were enslaved so we have freed them now and they don't have any skills, they weren't stupid they were just slaves.
It's like going to the concentration camps and saying, "Oh, Jews, here." You have been on the verge of death and your entire civilization has been wiped out. Guess what we are going to help you with now. They need help. They just need someone to open the doors of the constant concentration camps. Then the other guy arches. Where did he take us? You know all this affirmative action. Almost oh, this book, or it's letters. Alright. Politics is politics. Self-interest is self-interest. Well, I don't know, I don't know the problem, look and I think Hayek and Milton Friedman really got to the root of the problem and it's not simplistic to say that the root of all evil is taxes, because if you take a wing and listen to Mark Twain said, suppose I were a congressman, suppose I were a thief, but I would do it.
I hate myself, don't you? You take away taxes. There's less mischief those idiots can get into. Snitching on David Foreign policy conservative George W. Bush invaded Iraq Conservative Sen. Rand Paul says it was a mistake. Where are you coming from with that? Don't know. I think it was probably a mistake. I think he caught it. your strength and you have to gather your energy because the whole conservative idea is the tragic view is IX says that there is a limited amount of energy, you know that if you have too much energy you will come up with good ideas and you will ruin everything and also the good ideas will end up taking you bankrupt, David, your new life, a few days before the 2012 presidential election, you published an essay in the Jewish Journal titled A Note to a Stubborn People.
Here's an excerpt for planning Jews. to vote for Obama, could you explain to your children that tax-funded institutions will require them to absorb and repeat the slogans of the left and that, if they differ, they cannot have a career in education, medicine or television unless they maintain the Closed mouth? If you find anything objectionable about that, well, what I want to know is whether you've paid a price for your new policy. I could have done it. I mean, a lot of people didn't talk, don't talk to me anymore, but I bet you know that's there. see, you know, it's like calling them Hemingway, what to say, when the hell, have you made new friends, and if you're sure, well, what I've gained is like Ruth was with Weiss, said someone said there, you know, I can't.
I can't say I'm a professor at Harvard, what will happen to me if I tell the truth, but what I feel, she said, you will be free, during the Reagan years, the singing boy said, yes, yes, I'm going to chase. The truth is, the Tea Party here is a group of incredibly brave women on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois, that was X years ago, so you know, suddenly, the Tea Party is the first word legitimate grassroots movement since when was last. the Sons of Liberty, you know, and 1772 Hollywood and Broadway, so during the Reagan years, my friend Rob Long, I mentioned the tea to you before we started filming, he wrote the following history shows, this is during the decade 1980, history shows that one in three conservatives in Hollywood becomes president of the United States, that's great, that's a good phrase, right?
It's common, but Moses, you could literally date Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart and Ronald Reagan, and that seemed to be it. Now you're conservative. an important figure in this city, do you get phone calls from people saying David, have you done it? I'm going to... do you feel like there's a radical change or are you one of three, four or five? Are there still single digits? In this city it's a liberal business, you know, why is it a liberal business? Good becauseit has always been a Jewish business and the Jews had always been liberal because the Jews believed in justice and sometimes we get it wrong on the question of the whole question of the Talmud is what is justice what is justice is simply giving money to a man something that never gets a job maybe yes and maybe not who is going to decide well there are several courts and they used to go down to the individual conscience and to organizations dedicated to that purpose those organizations were in the main religious organization when the government is put in charge From that, the government is only interested in exchanging favors, leave that and raise taxes and get more power. work, let's watch a clip from Glengarry Glen Ross set in a real estate office Glengarry Glen Ross tells the story of sellers desperate to sell parcels of land to unwilling buyers, watch this clip if you don't mind because we are adding something for this month's sales contest, as you all know the first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, does anyone want to see the second prize, the second prize, a set of steak knives, third prize, you're fired, they get the idea, you're laughing, now you have potential clients.
Mitch and Murray paid good money, they get their names to sell them, you can't close the leads they give you, you can't push, you hit the bricks, man, and you beat it because you're going out, the leads are weak, the customers potentials are weak. the leads are weak you are weak I've been in this business 15 years what's your name that's my name you know why sir because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight I drove an $80,000 BMW that's my name dark capitalism , underhanded, cruel, could I? I wrote that scene today I don't know um it's I don't know it's a play about capitalism it's a play about um first and babbling said Dave said business said success in business comes from blurring the line between fraud and sharp practice so any business does what they tell you that's what they're doing it's like they say when you cut the sugar cane all the profits in the last quarter inch so Glengarry Glen Ross it's about us a situation I lived in for a while and he was out of the water living hand to mouth and I'm trying to move from one day to the next so the question that would be would be whether his new political perspective affected his work.
Here's the thing, I mean you. I have written this in this book of essays, but has it affected your dramatic work, your poetry or not? I don't think so because I never wrote political things, that the theater is not the place for politics, I mean a lot of people you know understand. Many people nod in agreement at his work because it reaffirms their belief in the essential goodness of the left and the essential evil of the right, but that doesn't mean that's not the point of the drama. The drama is about human nature, it is not about politics.
So, like this, David, what? What are you saying? What do you say to your because you mentioned that you have a teenager a century and a half ago and the area of settlement in Eastern Europe? A Jew would tell his children: "Be a good Jew, take care of your family, but we are." indeed, well, in those where we are confused, we are ghetto, we are, we are not part of a larger culture, just stay in this world and do the best you can. Now, what do you tell your teenager about America here so deeply? optimist if you see the culture as so hostile to your own values, do you say something like just take care of your own, do it?
I don't care that culture costs my own values, as cultures hostile to the United States did, but that's what democracy is about, I mean, I just read, it's a great book by Yosi Halevi about Israel following to five paratroopers who liberated Jerusalem in 1967 and follows them until they are 70 years old and one of them becomes a leader of the Senate movement, one of them becomes a traitor and goes to Damascus; one of them becomes a leader of privatization and one of them later becomes the kibbutz movement and all these guys and they keep talking to each other, we have to keep talking to each other here, we know that we have come a long way towards socialism and the launch of this Obamacare, as one member of the crowd said today, said it's a wonderful thing because every person is going to see, in fact, every person sees.
It's just that it doesn't work, it just works the question is who is in charge and the answer has to be that the American people are in charge, not Obama and don't push, and not all of these people who spent have to raise a million dollars. a day and they throw their coat over their shoulder and they smile and laugh at the camera as if they were a human being, but America, the American people, that's what the Constitution says and if you go back and read the Declaration of Independence, you read the abuses . from King George it seems like they were written today about our government, taxes, yes David, would you do me a favor?
Could you close this interview by reading a passage from your book? Maybe I would like David Mamet to read David. Mamet, okay, so the set of rules refers to the movie set, the rules of behavior on the movie set are largely the unwritten law, who shows deference, who you should talk to, you should have , one must remain silent, how to evaluate what is less than perfect, The set is imbued with a sense of community and dedication. This perception. This insight was the beginning of my love story. Let me say an acknowledgment of my love affair with America.
We do things differently. Here we were in our country of workers and as such we got along well. well, and we became the preeminent power in the world, this did not come about through a need for power, nor through colonialism or exploitation, but as a result of our spirit and cohesion, it begins with the notion that everyone is Created equal, the definition of everyone has expanded over time. time and this expansion was the essence of our republic we, in the process of devotion to the essentially religious objective, the self-evident truth we managed to shape our industry and through our art a new and better world essayist playwright screenwriter poet director and curator David Mamet thanks, you're welcome, guru of the Wall Street Journal and the Hoover Institution.
I'm Peter Robinson.
If you have any copyright issue, please Contact