David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'

An election-season essay

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.

To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not "Is everything perfect?" but "How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?" Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.


Do I speak as a member of the "privileged class"? If you will—but classes in the United States are mobile, not static, which is the Marxist view. That is: Immigrants came and continue to come here penniless and can (and do) become rich; the nerd makes a trillion dollars; the single mother, penniless and ignorant of English, sends her two sons to college (my grandmother). On the other hand, the rich and the children of the rich can go belly-up; the hegemony of the railroads is appropriated by the airlines, that of the networks by the Internet; and the individual may and probably will change status more than once within his lifetime.

What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but 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.

But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.

The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute—to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

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58 comments
TrojanHorace
TrojanHorace

It is an awkward truth that totalitarianism can arrive under any kind of banner. It is also an awkward truth that that there are few things more illiberal than a liberal with the bit of truth between their teeth, but it doesn't follow therefore that Milton Friedman makes more sense than say JK Galbraith. This won't do David. The rule of law and the constitution are indeed powerful and vital for our political health and wellbeing and when the rich and powerful stop subverting it for the benefit of their bottom line and when the disparity between rich and poor stops widening, I'll be more inclined to feel persuaded.

With David Mamet's royalties and his ability to feel like the king in his own little fiefdom it's probably easier to believe that life is good, while also confusingly subscribing to the Hobbsian view of nature... He has crawled out of the pit, so ergo it's a fair result? Human nature, is more probably both a biological given and socially conditioned... the one doesn't preclude the other. I suggest that Mr Mamet spends a fortnight living in the same conditions and on the same income and with the same pressures as one of the "undeserving poor" his new friends on the right talk patronizingly about - say, a single parent adjunct professor with two kids, no health insurance, and a wage packet well below the poverty line, and see how long it takes before he reconnects to the idea that social justice is more than just two lazy words uttered by the brain dead. Social Justice does mean something David - but you can't understand what it means while being fitted out by the same tailor that the Emperor who wears invisible clothes, visits. 


 

catz
catz

From one cartoonish perspective to another.  

MAO24
MAO24

I will never watch his movies again the bourgeois pig.

He has lost his mind in his ole age.

No one with at thread of decency could support the capitalist war machine...

He will soon return to the fold in the same way the europeans will embrace Communism again. It is inevitable.

In the mean time discredit this class traitor  at every opportunity.

dave_fullerton
dave_fullerton

Mr Mamet is still trying to figure it out. Perhaps he will now begin to move from the right to the center. The problem is how to define the role of government clearly (this is of course just philosophical - there is no clear path for reform anyway). People seek control of the improvement of their lives. Liberals see government as the means, conservatives the market. Both are correct. The market can work because you can vote with your dollars or start your own business, but not, for example, in the case of a monopoly. Government plays a good role in this case (well, not if campaigns are financed by corporations). It's like a basketball game that is well officiated. The players and spectators all benefit, but do get frustrated at times with the officials. The officials are a small part of the game, yet have a lot of control. They do try to stay out of the way, but if the ball hits them they are considered part of the game and the ball is still in play. This analogy is pretty good for domestic politics in an isolated society. But our society has competition in it, and is in competition with other societies! This is where the role of government becomes fuzzy and where government needs to be a lot more nimble by design (representative democracy is very cludgy). In some cases, under certain circumstances, government can do something more efficiently than the market (at least initially). This should be reserved for cases where the market fails to provide that which is needed for competing with other societies (what is necessary to compete is very hard to say, healthcare and education are on the list). Unfortunately, we can't just follow a clear policy of government does this, market does that, we have to watch out for other societies using government to do something to get the upper hand on us (militarily or economically - same thing really). Government should be small and powerful (Democrats make it bigger, Republicans make it weaker), but unfortunately we are neither good at creating or destroying it in a precise or timely manner. So far, our positions of wealth and power in the world have enabled us to absorb our vast inefficiencies in this area.

alak0926
alak0926

Yeah David, the market will solve everything. So says Milton Friedman, a man who needed to be pimp slapped but never was.

Einstein
Einstein

Wow!  David managed to freak you libs out!  It's just an opinion piece and he doesn't deserve the ad hominem attacks for expressing it.  You're a fairly serious group.  Please lighten up and remember:  Stop searching for perfection--you'll be much happier.  Cheers.

ronco99
ronco99

No, just a plain ole pinhead. Calling any American president a tyrant is so disingenuous.

ronco99
ronco99

No, just a plain ole pinhead. What a putz!

ajshinn
ajshinn

This is perhaps the most self-serving articles I've read in quite a while. The arrogance is dripping from Mamet's words. It's cool that his worldview has changed over ye years. But all he does is resort to the same kind of cheap name-calling, misrepresentation and opinion-as-fact nonsense. No logic and no objective evidence to support his newfound perspective. Just mindless drivel.

occupyconsciousnessn
occupyconsciousnessn

did this !@# wad actually compare bush 2 to jfk??? he has lost his mind.

morrissey11
morrissey11

Mamet's Chicago School "wake-up" call certainly hasn't helped his creative work any, which is perhaps instructive. Presumably he produced, what many regard as, his most insightful and enduring work when he was a "brain-dead" liberal, while his recent work is widely regarded as turgid drivel. The latter we now know was written under the influence of all that Friedman and Sowell ("greatest contemporary philosopher? are you kidding me?"), which is useful to know, and may explain a good deal about an otherwise mystifying decline. Here we have yet more turgid drivel in essay form, in the trademark terse (or is that--now finally revealed to be--banal?) bursts, filled with the sort of whining and humorless "irritable bowel" self-righteousness that so often seems to typify this species of conservatism (Chaney's a classic example, Rumsfeld, definitely Romney and Ryan, the talk jocks Flush Limpdick and Sean Insanity). You need to have a colonoscopy, David, you may have ulcers. Hard to stomach (!) this sort of thing really, post-2008. Where exactly does Mamet live these days? On which particular planet? Can't be close to downtown Manhattan surely? Aside from the monstrous ethical failings of the "Lords of the Free Market" with whom Mamet now aligns himself, those same crooks and buffoons also proved themselves to be just about as "brain dead" as it is possible to imagine (a little like the salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross--ooooh, who stole the leads, boys? That's a really hard one!). Still obscenely rich of course (and saved by a "free-market-interfering" government, no less--funny how they suddenly go all "non laissez-faire" at such times, eh?), but breathtakingly stupid for all that. Driving the whole world economy into the wall like men who got into Ivy League Business Schools because of family connections but really weren't all that bright (no prizes for getting that allusion)--how's that for certifiable "brain death"? And as if to confirm just HOW brain dead these "realists" are, they cling on to the ridiculous notion that the disease is the only cure for, well, the disease. Is it okay to conclude in the proper Mamet-esque style? I will anyway, and risk running foul of the moderator: David, you're starting to sound like a cock-sucking mothe-fucking idiot!  

Chrysippus
Chrysippus

So Mr Mamet is now an economist, and can judge who is 'the greatest contemporary philosopher' to boot, although said philosopher is more of an economist than a philosopher, which I guess makes it easier. Maybe he should devote more of his energies to his plays, seeing as they haven't exactly been wildly successful of late. 

He might also tell us where he has found those liberals who endorse the slogan 'Business Bad, Government Good', and who believe human beings are all basically good at heart. Except for President Assad and his henchmen, plus Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, obviously. And the Nazis. And the Fascists. And Lenin, Stalin and Beria, and a whole bunch of Communists. And King Leopold's administrators in Africa. Oh, and then there were those guys in the Inquisition, whom no-one expects, admittedly. Some of the Roman Emperors too. In fact, there's quite a long list of Really Not Very Nice People, and we've only just got started.

But of course liberals don't read Thomas Sowell, so they have these crazy ideas that, just as one branch of government should not be given all the political power, so government needs to let businesses do their thing, but, given that the sole purpose of businesses is to make money, they need to be regulated, to some extent, by all three branches of government, because otherwise—and this may come as a shock to Mr Mamet—they will, like Grünenthal, Enron, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros., the BCCI, or Koch Enterprises, not come to a nice negotiated arrangement with us, though they might do so with each other, producing, not a compromise, but a cabal. No: they will  capture government regulatory bodies and (as Mr Mamet might put it) exploit the f•ck out of the rest of us.

blowmelibs
blowmelibs

Seems like Mr Mamet has lived long enough to start seeing some truth. Good to hear and good to read about this conversion from fantasy to reality. I wish more on the left would stop for a moment and examine their belief systems as he has. Moreover, I would like to see some on the left pick up a book by Sowell, Friedman, or Steele and see how the other half lives and breathes. For them it may prove to be a breath of fresh air. 

leslieann
leslieann

This editorial was incredibly ponderous. I wonder what a free market playwright reads into the fact that his latest play, The Anarchist, closed only one day after the official opening. Your time is past, David. Accept it.

workmanbackup
workmanbackup

His name escapes me, but I recall hearing a liberal publicly say that on one thing he had to admit, and that is from his observations, "Conservatives have a better understanding of human behavior". Coming to that conclusion makes me think that he too, may be at the beginning of his journey to becoming more of a conservative. The deeper you think about it and the more you observe mankind the more you understand how much of liberal philosophy undermines the very hard wired subconscious essence of who and what we are. Humans don't only need to be fed and kept warm. We have a certain pecking order that we establish subconsciously with each other just like other animals do. We need purpose in our lives and we have through tens of thousands of years developed transactional skills between us. We instinctively have give and take attitude and each of us has something we can take away or offer to the other that usually keeps things in balance. We al have egos, and we all have roles to play.

 

Related to all of this, while watching Book TV this morning, a very liberal author was plugging her new book titled "The End of Men: And the Rise of Women".  I thought about how different I interpret the same information. Much of what she discusses is true, but she can't see how big a role our government now has in our lives and the impact this has. The government has not only become the elephant in the room in every household in America, but in truth it's now the Alpha Male in every home. It has separated us all into groups and it, not the husband and father is the one who has to be negotiated with. I first saw this happening when the state got more and more involved in separation and divorces. There was no longer the balance of power that keeps both parties reasonable and sane with each other. This argument goes on and on, and and the consequences manifest themselves in many ways to each and every group we are divided into. None of them service our needs as free individuals with hopes and dreams and aspirations nor our need to work and love and be loved and simply do our job as a free human being. 

 

 

ronbr2
ronbr2

If you're not  a liberal at twenty you don't have a heart . If you're not a conservative by 40 you don't have a brain..........Churchil.

clive.younger
clive.younger

If Mr. Mamet at one time truly believed that “everything is always wrong” then indeed he truly deserved the self-imposed title of “brain dead liberal”.  He goes on to illustrate that Washington politicians who are perfect beings willing to work tirelessly and perfectly for the common good are an abstraction (which of course, such beings are) without admitting that the Constitutional provisions for checks and balances to promote stasis don’t amount to much more than a historical abstraction when taken from the modern perspective.  His viewpoint is a gross over-simplification, and as abstract to the modern reality of politics as an airplane made out of donut holes; so simplistic in fact that I find it difficult to locate a single opportunity to acknowledge any of his claims.  He even throws in the term “Marxist” as if that term has any sort of functional value to anyone except for some babble-mouthed, McCarthyist pundit looking to use emotionally laden catchphrases to scare up some ratings.  “Marxist” is as anachronistic a term as “Whig”; it has absolutely zero bearing on modern policy, and as soon as someone utters the word, I have to wonder what they are up to.  Static vs. mobile class systems? In stating that most Americans “probably will change status more than once within [their] lifetime” Mamet is dead wrong.  The reality is that Americans think of themselves as far more mobile than they factually are. Research shows that most people start life in a specific income bracket and then stay there, the single biggest determinant of one’s class identity as an adult being his father’s occupation and income, not their education level or job.  This isn’t to connotatively suggest that “everything is always wrong”—the connotation here is simply that relevant and complex social factors are at play and it is worthwhile to examine them in order to find solutions that fit the complexity of the problem.  The solutions do not always call upon ever more zealous government interventions any more than they always call upon ever freer markets, and a real solution likely lies somewhere cooperatively in between the two.  Mamet is “hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow”?  Do the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution mean anything to him?  The Social Security Act?  The intervention of US military in fascist Italy and Germany (and the subsequent massive government trade deficits that bore us out of the Great Depression)?  To hear Mr. Mamet make such base generalizations is truly disappointing to me since I have such a great deal of respect for him as an intellectual and consider his social commentary to be typically peerless. Unfortunately, in this instance, Mamet gives himself exactly enough rope to hang himself with—marking himself as out of touch in the process—but what is even more egregious and counter-intuitive given his history is that he isn’t even slightly sophisticated, original, or deeply critical in his approach to being out of touch, which is why I label him a “brain dead conservative”.  All this Paul on the road to Damascus, scales falling away from the eyes, sudden conversion story leaves me with is the impression that Mamet is politically naïve and should stick to what he knows best; crafting socially relevant stage productions with snappy dialogue—which apparently would sell more tickets if it weren’t for that pesky director fouling everything up…

 

MysticMan
MysticMan

I am also late to the conversation which I found mentioned in one of the online conservative magazines. I was looking for an enlightened reaction to Obama's victory and not the "God sucks" response that babbled out of Glenn Beck's blazing mouth or other similar belches. However, after reading Mamet's epiphany, I realized I just stumbled upon another simplistic,  historical moron. Over-simplification and blatant generalizations make me wonder, about the depth of his transformation. Milton Friedman!!??? Paul Johnson? Mamet must be hanging with too many American buffaloes and  growing fat with lucre.  You don't have to be a liberal to realize Mamet is looking through the large end of the telescope.

miltonb1
miltonb1

1. This is what happens to many young liberals as they grow older and become wealthy.  

 

2. I don't know many liberals who believe everything is wrong.

 

3. Most people do not have the opportunity to experience more then one class in a life time.  

 

4. This article is a severe case of projection as generalization for a whole society.

g_love
g_love

Great article, David. I made a similar journey, but it focused more on liberty vs. tyranny as I studied Constitutional Law in law school. I originally felt the government could help those who needed help and I believed capitalism was inherently immoral. I still hold those opinions (ideologically) but you can't truly analyze the situation without thinking about freedom or liberty. If we support the government getting more involved in our lives then we accept that the government is going to take more of our money and, more importantly, our freedom. If the government weren't corruptible then I would be okay with that, but it is not. Risking our freedom is not worth any government program. Capitalism, on the other hand, leaves people behind - regardless of the reason - some people just can't or won't compete at a basic level. That is sad and to support a system that "allows" that seems wrong. But, after life, liberty is our greatest right and Capitalism - with its problems - allows the most liberty of any system of government or economics. So, while I am still not a huge fan of Capitalism, I support it as the most appropriate and beneficial system available by fallible men and women.

Frediano
Frediano

@dave_fullerton Sure. What's not to love about forced association in a mob of unfettered naked sweaty apes?   The concept of pure democracy works so well at a gang rape, why shouldn't we target a small and powerful government?


Democrats make it bigger and stronger.   Republicans also make it bigger and stronger.   No idea what nation you are talking about since JFK's mere $100B, over half of which was for defense, paid for by 180M people.  Today, 320M poney up close to $4000B soon enough.   JFK's $100B only population and inflation adjusts to maybe $1500B/yr today(productivity gains over 50 yrs should lower that adjusted number, but feel free.)    That isn't a little more spending, that is a huge amount of additional public spending, and yet it was JFKs America with the economies that roared.   Feel stimulated yet?   Any day now....$2.5T/yr in 'stimulus' over JFK's America, and ... yikes.   There is no comparison in the optimism and pride of the graduating class of 2012 and 1962 in what its nation was doing.   The class of 2012 must shake its head at this hot mess it was delivered into, and rightly so.


Nobody grew government more than Nixon, Reagan and Bush 43, though Obama is giving them a run for other people's money.    That optimistic class of 1962 totally failed at fettering its federal government, which found a way to burden the class of 2012 long before it was even born.


Government should be small and fettered by a governing principle: the defense of free association, the inhibition of forced association, especially by itself as an agent of forced association.   A properly sized and missioned definition of government would fall from that.   


When seen through the filter of forced association, the proper role of government is easy to discern.   Clean Air laws are a justified example of inhibiting forced association(with the consequences of the commerce of others.)   As well, the total lack of justification for fatfingering the mortgage market, or ACA, is also readily seen.  We've allowed the pure courting of power via pandering to be the only guiding principle fettering our state.  It is an unsightly mess.

TheMouse
TheMouse

@applemask83  Goes to show you even liberals break their own rules by using demeaning terms that are considered un-PC by the Left and calling those who are mentally challenged "retards". Not even me, as a former Liberal, would use that word. Then again, I've met plenty of socialist pigs who used "fag" and "homo" in my company. 

Antisthenes
Antisthenes

@occupyconsciousnessn Amazing how open and logical the knee jerk liberal is? No? George Orwell warned us of creatures like you.

alak0926
alak0926

Well said. I wont try to top it.

alabastard
alabastard

@morrissey11 I think the entire array of juvenile, scatological huffing and puffing in your own unhinged rant pretty much establishes you as being unworthy of bringing any reasonable criticism to Mamet's essay.   The fact that you've barely created a single cogent point in all of those words confirms it.  

leavenart
leavenart

@leslieann If a failed attempt means so much to you, who do you listen too?  Look up the list of great playwrights and count their failures,.......if you can count that high.

wizardwerdna
wizardwerdna

@leslieann Antisthenes, you seem to be making it up as you go along.

His popularity waned after the late-90s.  His Pulitzer was awarded for his works in the 80s, which he rode to get work until the late 20th century.  His only 21st century work of note, Anarchist almost closed out of town, but absolutely came down for good in its first week.

No doubt his early work was pimp, and his associations with his first wife, Lindsay Crouse, William Macy and Joe Mantegna led to some amazing synergies.  His unique approach to dialogue inspired many modern screenwriters and playwrights.  That was then.  No doubt he wrote a bit in this century, but nothing approaching the level of critical appraisal of his earlier works.  Indeed, his most popular writing of recent note was the 2011 screed announcing the history of his early 21st century discovery of conservatism.

Unless you mean that his earlier classic works, like Glen, remain popular, there is no support for your proposition that HE is popular as ever.

Can you provide any evidence to the contrary?

Antisthenes
Antisthenes

@leslieann I guess Mamet will get the last laugh, he's as popular as ever. You best get your hand out for your government cheque! 

TrojanHorace
TrojanHorace

@ronbr2 two Ls in Churchill... who was a reactionary at twenty and a closet liberal at 60

leavenart
leavenart

@clive.younger If you needed to impress, you could have used fewer words, but people of liberal bent need many words to allow for the nuance when challenged with actual events or facts.

This was simply about a man who sees things more practically as he ages.  You seem either young or attached to your need to seem relevant.  All liberals experience this, and some come to see how elitist is really is. 

leavenart
leavenart

@MysticMan Oh, yes you do.  ("have to be a liberal)  But like all liberals you have this need to think every one actually agrees with you.  We don't.

jguild3
jguild3

 @MysticMan If you are really looking for enlightenment, then you would do well to re-read or at least review and understand all of the "great" or notable economists from Adam Smith to Marx, Keynes, Hayak, and yes, Friedman.  There are others as well, and they have engaged in an ongoing dialogue, each building on the works that their predecessors left behind.  Dismissing Friedman without logic or explanation makes you look as foolish as Phil Donohue did when he thought he had trapped Friedman in a logic corner, and then Friedman deftly sidestepped the trap and turned the trap on Donohue -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76frHHpoNFs

 

In fact, find a youtube clip of Friedman that you can logically or factually disprove, if you can; I've watched over 20 clips and have yet to find one that I have a serious problem with.

workmanbackup
workmanbackup

 @miltonb1 I am 65 years old, and while I don't know of and studies to confirm this or prove otherwise, from what I've seen I'd have to say it has always been common in America to experience more than one class in one's lifetime. I will agree with you this may be far less common now and in America's future. It's very difficult to leave the plantation.

bflake
bflake

@miltonb1 RE: 3:) and under socialism no people will have any oportunity to experience more than one class.

michaeljsouth
michaeljsouth

 @miltonb1 you know your number 3 item there?  That kind of emo/tragic sounding lament about something high-falutin'ly called "lack of class mobility" or whatever?  I would bet that THAT is precisely what Mamet was referring to in your item 2, how there's always some systemic problem that's forcing people into the status quo.

 

Actually your 1 is probably also an example.  This tragic thing where people start out young and liberal and then they get old and wealthy.  This is Something Wrong.  and then you follow it up with your number three how it's bad that that doesn't happen.

 

Everything is wrong.  See?

mmsands
mmsands

 @miltonb1 This is what happens when young liberals try to join a conversation beyond their years and experience.

Incidentally, I'm not wealthy and yet feel exactly the same way Mr. Mamet does. As for having the opportunity to experience more than one class in a lifetime: in this country you have the option of making your own opportunities -- or at least, you did up until now.

When you're as good a writer and thinker as Mr. Mamet, try again.

 

jguild3
jguild3

 @g_love Capitalism isn't immoral, it;'s amoral.  That's why John Adams said, "we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. "  The founders understood that we must have a moral guide separate from the Constitution and the laws created under it, if our citizens were to be truly free.  And that is why they prevented the government from being able to establish an official religion, so that the choice of moral guide would also be free and not compulsory.

michaeljsouth
michaeljsouth

 @g_love That's a very thoughtful analysis.  In my opinion, capitalism--real, free-market capitalism, not the crony capitalism that the robber barons were participating in with their sweetheart government deals, etc--is the best system we are going to be abel to come up with given that we have fallible human beings.  The *best* system, in my opinion, might be described as voluntary communism, where people of their own free will have agreed to truly give to the best of their ability and only receive according to their needs.  You need virtuous people for this to work.

 

The benefit that capitalism provides is that if a person is not virtuous, they still have a motivation to make the best product they can--perform to the best of their ability, and be productive--simply to enjoy the benefits of the profits that can be made from that.

 

Similarly, customers can be entirely selfish--refuse to pay any more than they absolutely have to for something, mercilessly switch to a competitor if they offer something better at a lower price--and it encourages virtuous behavior on the other side, offering customers more for less, etc.

 

There is, of course, the question of what happens to people who don't have a marketable skill, etc.  The only answer for that (besides the fact that the market is going to be the most efficient way of providing _something_ for people to do, so there might be, under a complete free market, a lot more opportunity than we see now where we take these people out of the equations by giving them alternate streams of support), in the end, is compassion.  No system is going to work well if people are, generally, bad.

 

You have to have at least partly good people, or at least part of your people have to be good, or you won't have a good system.  There is no way around it.  The beauty of capitalism is that it _can_ work without completely virtuous people.  That makes it an incredible system, one to be celebrated.

But as human beings we should realize that we have the capability of being more than animals, and not just taking the shortest path to pleasure every time it is presented.  We should choose this, because, in the end:

 

There is no virtuous way to force people to be virtuous.

 

Again, thanks, g_love, for your thoughtful exploration of this idea.

dave_fullerton
dave_fullerton

@Frediano I agree it is an unsightly mess.  


Would wikipedia's definition of free association be the one you would recommend?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_association_(communism_and_anarchism)


I did not mean to imply that pure democracy would be better than representative democracy.  My apologies if it came across that way.  I intended not to suggest any particular changes to our democratic system.  I don't have any answers for fixing that.


I get your point about government getting bigger under Republicans and Democrats.  They do it in different ways, and as power passes from hand to hand, each hand weakens the work that was done before by the other.  You are correct, through the lens of spending, government has been getting bigger and bigger no matter which party has had control.  I was aiming mainly at the domestic side of political policy and perhaps over generalizing a bit to make my writing palatable.  The main  gist is that a completely free market won't work.  It must be very well regulated.  Perhaps you are suggesting that neither of those options will work.

wizardwerdna
wizardwerdna

@alabastard I agree that his remarks were not written with balanced advocacy, but to say he didn't make a cogent point (without a single specific argument on your side, I will observe) isn't true.  Still you shouldn't dismiss them:

1) Mamet's most widely acclaimed works were written at the outset of his career, and were indictments of the cynicism and consequences of naked capitalism.  For those, he earned his Pulitzer.  His more recent works, inspired in part by his new conservative faith, have not been well-received.

2) Considering Sowell 'the greatest contemporary philosopher' is a clear ideology smell -- there is no serious way this point can be sustained.   Sowell is not a serious philosopher, and while he writes about philosophers' ideologies (the book on Marx being a keen example), his writings are not even serious philosophical criticism, let alone independent works of philosophy.  Sowell is a brilliant, well-educated and articulate man, a widely acclaimed columnist and economist.  But he is at best a wannabe as a philoospher.

3) The use of the phrase "brain dead" is unfortunate, and not an adequate substitute for non-argument whether by Mamet or the OP.  I believe the OP was trying to make that point.

miltonb1
miltonb1

 @bflake  You're right.  So let's make sure that the middle class starts to grow again and people in poverty are given a better opportunity to rise out of poverty. 

balzarfriesen
balzarfriesen

@michaeljsouth @miltonb1 another confused southoner won't surprise many. Class, as in bucks and politics be two different things, Bubba.

miltonb1
miltonb1

 @mmsands  @miltonb1

 If I understand your reply to my comment you are under the impression that I am a young liberal.  Your reply is exactly the projection I'm talking about.  Hoping to not reveal too much of my identity I will give you some idea as to how off base your assumptions are.  I am 64 years old and the son of immigrants who came here in 1947 penniless.  I have spent my entire adult life in the corporate world, most of it as a highly paid senior executive.  As far as being a good writer is concerned, I am a published writer who has won a few awards but gave up writing many, many years ago.  I certainly did not get close to the success of Mamet.  I never tried.   But I'm sure we can agree that today's successful artist could very well be forgotten tomorrow.   So if you are going to comment at least cut out the assumptions and insults.

clive.younger
clive.younger

 @michaeljsouth  @g_love Yes, capitalism motivates people to make the best product they can so that they can enjoy profits--just ask the guys at JP Morgan who put together the Timberwolf package...capitalism, like government, isn't the problem, the problem is capitalists.

 

nanunanu
nanunanu

@w96ladypilot A lot of the economic data indicates that the best way to help people out of poverty is to raise taxes on the rich... not for the sake of adding that money to government coffers, but because if a rich person has a choice between paying a sum of taxes to the government or using it to grow his business in a manner that functions as a tax write-off, he will generally grow his business, and that will create jobs that can put people in poverty to work. 

jmacdougall
jmacdougall

@w96ladypilot  People who rise out of poverty become taxpayers. It's called investing in the nation.

w96ladypilot
w96ladypilot

people in poverty will never rise out of poverty on the backs of the taxpayers, no matter how much they are taxed.

michaeljsouth
michaeljsouth

 @miltonb1  @bflake Really, it would be just as good a title to say "cold hearted liberal" as it is to have "brain-dead liberal" [I realize, though, that the context in the article is a phrase Mamet jokingly applied to himself in the first place, and I don't know at all whether he came to the same conclusion I'm pointing out here].  My main objection to what liberals advocate politically is the profound and long lasting damage it does to the people they think they are trying to help.

leavenart
leavenart

@clive.younger@michaeljsouth@g_love Clive, you just can't accept that something is both the best thing that ever happened to civilization, and the worse thing that ever happened.  But it is truth.  We are imperfect creatures and the Founders, guided by the Almighty came up with a system that could unite and turn a small nation of desperate people into the greatest nation the world has known.

Just shows you that education doesn't work on some people.

If you want Heaven, you have to believe.  No amount of tinkering, or changing the meaning of words will do.  The meaning of is, is what it is.

 
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