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Roger L. Simon

David Mamet’s Progress

May 23rd, 2011 - 10:19 pm

Mamet clearly has a polemical intention here with a very specific target. The book says to his former friends on the left, the ones who might pay attention anyway, I woke up — what about you? That makes it different from your normal run of conservative books that largely preach to the choir. Ann Coulter writes of the left to mock them. David Mamet’s intention is to convert them, a far more ambitious enterprise.

He does this in a deliberately Talmudic style with footnotes at the bottom of many pages that are often as interesting as the text itself. Sometimes the various chapters turn in on themselves, repeating themes with variations. But all of them seem to echo the famous words attributed to the great rabbi Hillel: “If not now, when?”

If not now, when, indeed. It remains to be seen to the degree Mamet will be successful, but his work could not appear at a more pivotal moment. Western civilization is approaching bankruptcy, literally and spiritually. The welfare state has been revealed to be a self-destructive farce with no long-term benefit to anyone but a small group of quasi-totalitarian elites. Spain, Greece and Portugal are on the brink of economic catastrophe. Other countries are sure to follow. The optimism of the “Arab Spring” barely lasted longer than Warhol’s fifteen minutes. Israel, the proverbial canary in the coal mine, stands surrounded as never before. And America, in Mark Steyn’s epochal phrase, is definitely alone… and sinking.

How did this all come to pass? There are many reasons, obviously. But David Mamet places much of the blame squarely on my generation and his:

We were self-taught in the sixties to award ourselves merit for membership in a superior group–irrespective of our group’s accomplishments. We continue to do so, irrespective of accomplishments, individual or communal, having told each other we were special. We learned that all one need do is refrain from trusting anybody over thirty; that all people are alike, and to judge their behavior was “judgmental”; that property is theft. As we did not investigate these assertions or their implications, we could not act upon them and felt no need to do so. For we were the culmination of history, superior to all those misguided who had come before, which is to say all humanity.

The Secret Knowledge is a cry of “Basta!” Buy this book. But, more importantly, buy another copy for your liberal friends, the ones you may still have. They may even read it. And then… who knows?

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