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We're No Angels


David Mamet has written a piece in the Village Voice entitled "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'". Mamet describes a philosophical and spiritual shift in his worldview. As a result, he is no longer a slave to the "perfectionist" impulse of American liberalism. One may be slightly surprised to find him quoting John Maynard Keynes in his introduction, or to hear that he has found succor in the writings of Milton Friedman and Shelby Steele, especially in contrast to his frequent contributions to the Huffington Post over the last several years.Surprising as it may be, however, the article is a beautiful account of a brilliant man's struggle to reconcile the urge to make the world a better place with the "tragic" view that maybe things are as good as they can be right now. Maybe, he dares to say, they're not quite as bad as we make them out to be.Depending on where you stand, the piece can come across as a liberal turning 60 and losing touch with the passion and idealism that drives positive change, or as a once-reluctant conservative realizing the folly of measuring the world-and the United States-by a utopian standard. To be sure, he makes some problematic arguments: "I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow". Mamet may be more hard-pressed to argue that his comparison of George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy withstands even the slightest application of historical context.The piece is a great read for anyone wishing to better understand some of the fundamental underpinnings of the partisan divide between conservatism and liberalism, or reason and faith. At the very least it's a glimpse at the personal politics of the guy who wrote "Revenge of the Space Pandas".
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