'The Secret Knowledge' Review: David Mamet Enters Stage Right

In a celebrated 2008 essay for the Village Voice, David Mamet made the startling announcement that he was “no longer a brain-dead liberal.” I think it only fair to mention here that I rejoiced. Mr. Mamet is a terrific playwright, maybe even a great one (“American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross”) and a screenwriter of the first rank (“The Verdict,” “The Untouchables”). That a writer of such talent and stature had become a conservative seemed to me to promise some relief from the soporific political conformity of the American arts.

So I rejoiced–and I also sympathized. Breaking free of leftism while working in show business is like escaping from “The Matrix” only to find oneself in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” You wake to a risky but bracing new reality of individual liberty, limited government and free markets and are instantly beset by zombified statist dreamers determined either to make you rejoin their ranks or to destroy you. Mr. Mamet reports that a certain prominent left-leaning newspaper actually panned his first openly conservative play not once but twice for good measure. (Libertarian humorist Greg Gutfeld has introduced a “Mamet Attack Clock” on his late-night cable show to measure just how fast critics will now downgrade their opinions of the playwright’s work.)

Under such circumstances, it is natural that Mr. Mamet would develop the urge to cry out, like Kevin McCarthy in the famous last scene of “Body Snatchers”: “Listen to me! Please listen!” From that urge, no doubt, arises Mr. Mamet’s new work of nonfiction, “The Secret Knowledge.” It is his attempt to explain and disseminate the thinking behind his conversion to the right.

“Liberalism is a religion,” he writes. “It affords a feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost. Central to this religion is the assertion that evil does not exist, all conflict being attributed to a lack of understanding between the opposed. Well and good, but this does not accord with the experience of anyone.”

Full article here.

You can purchase “The Secret Knowledge” here.

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