Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Secret Knowledge by David Mamet

To say that I LOVE this book is an understatement! David Mamet as a reformed liberal knows better than just about anyone else of whence he speaks. Having come out of the art world and being a rather successful writer, his book, with its metaphors and analogies and lyrical language, delights the reader.

Throughout the book, I wondered, "What is 'The Secret Knowledge'?" As I told others I was reading this book, I was at a loss to explain its title. He finally gives us the answer on the last page: There is no Secret Knowledge. Time and again, he paints the left as Utopian, seeking the elites who will finally unlock the door and lead us into nirvana using the vast resources of the government. With this one sentence, he bursts the bubble of their fantasy. There is no Secret Knowledge. No one has all the answers and can solve all our problems. The One we have been waiting for isn't coming. (Which is why we look to Christ and not man as our Savior!)

"The essence of Leftist thought. It is a devolution from reason to 'belief,' in an effort to stave off a feeling of powerlessness. And if Government is Good, it is a logical elaboration that more government power is Better." The left, despairing of ever solving complex, seemingly intractable problems, suffers a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, identifying with its captors and begging for answers at the hand of the benevolent and all-knowing Government.

Never having spoke to or read from a Conservative for the first 60 years of his life, David Mamet sees Conservatism like a new-born baby sees the world and wonders. He brilliantly explains and dissects beliefs both liberals and conservatives take for granted. Diving into the thought processes (or lack thereof) of the left exposes a group motivated by fear and desperate to belong. Any belief or thought that goes against the accepted grain, qualifies one for expulsion. In their fear and anger, they react disproportionately harshly and unreasonably.

Put succinctly, the Right views mankind as flawed and the earth as fallen. This is the Tragic View. Perfection is impossible with an imperfect people. The only thing the government can do is offer to treat everyone equally under the law. It cannot equalize a group with disparate talents, abilities, drives, passions, influences, DNA, desires, and dreams. It can only clarify the rules and adjudicate when someone steps outside the boundaries. And it must do this IMPARTIALLY! Further, the Right recognizes there are no solutions, only trade-offs. Everything has a cost. If you spend all your money on A, you cannot buy B.

The Left believes not only that man is basically good, but perfectible. A Perfect Society can exist if the right people are available to lead it. Equality of outcome is achievable. Government's job is to do the impossible - create Utopia. The absolute subjectiveness of "utopia" does not give the Left pause, because the Left never stops to ask questions. Questions may get you disbarred. Whose utopia exactly are we to create? What of those that disagree? What of the consequences of the destruction of the individual and free will? "Fairness" is their rallying cry, despite the fact that any kind of "fairness" they advocate is inherently unfair. This "first-stage thinking," as Thomas Sowell calls it, leads to all manner of contradictions and no real plans (see "Occupy Wall Street"). To the Left, "there are not hard choices," (Obama says). Everything is possible. They "dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'" according to Ted Kennedy.

To achieve this Utopia, the Left must necessarily devolve into Totalitarianism. They must achieve outside the law what cannot be achieved under it. They must undermine their own supposed ideals to achieve them. (i.e. race-blindness is the ideal and to achieve it, we will implement Affirmative Action.) They must destroy the culture to rid it of its evils. What it will be replaced with is one of those unasked questions. Mamet likens it to sleeping in a new house every night of your life. You are never sure if the noise you heard is an intruder or the settling of the house. You are constantly unsure, constantly offended, constantly in fear, constantly lashing out. The world is always in a constant state of flux if you are on the Left.

To the world, the Left is a scary place. To the Right, its a place full of individuals, each working together, laboring under millennium-old traditions, knowing what is expected of themselves and others. It's a place of freedom, ancient wisdom, comforting traditions,  chaos, and in the end, consensus is reached and beauty is produced.

In the notes at the end, he quotes his son's understanding of the Left and Right: Then, basically, it's the difference between the Heavenly Dream and the God-Awful Reality.

As good a summation as any.

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