The Conversion of David Mamet

The Weekly Standard describes noted playwrite David Mamet’s life-travel from liberalism to conservatism:

“I never questioned my tribal assumption that Capitalism was bad,” he writes now, “although I, simultaneously, never acted upon these feelings.” He was always happy to cash a royalty check and made sure to insist on a licensing fee. “I supported myself, as do all those not on the government dole, through the operation of the Free Market.

The conversion was particularly surprising given his occupation and circle of friends. Implausibly, a conservative rabbi with a liberal congregation provided the catalyst for Mamet’s rather recent change:

“This was after the 2004 election,” he told me in an interview last month. “I’d never met a conservative. I didn’t know what a conservative was. I didn’t know much of anything.”

Like others who came to conservatism, the transition was stimulated and advanced via reading. Books by Tom Sowell, Paul Johnson, Milton Friedman and others often provide a new world view for those unexposed to this comprehension of this other world. Mamet’s epiphany seemed no different:

One of the first was A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution. In it Sowell expands on the difference between the “constrained vision” of human nature—close to the tragic view that infuses Mamet’s greatest plays—and the “unconstrained vision” of man’s endless improvement that suffused Mamet’s politics and the politics of his profession and social class.

For David Mamet fans or conservatives in general, this article provides an interesting read of a path to conservatism for an unlikely convert.

I suppose there are comparable tales of others going the opposite direction, from conservatism to liberalism, although I am not familiar with them. Perhaps some readers might have suggestions of those who travelled the reverse of Mamet’s journey. Do they exist? Likely yes. As one who leans conservative, I would enjoy reading about a reverse metamorphosis.

My bias leads me to prejudge such change as less intellectual and more emotional. I would be interested in testing this prejudgment. Otherwise, I see such movement as a mental regression rather than progression. I am sure others have gone this reverse route. I am just not sure it can be intellectually justified. But I am willing to test my personal prejudice against what others have experienced.

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