by Matthew Shaffer

I had the privilege of interviewing David Mamet on Sunday, about his latest book, The Secret Knowledge, and his newfound conservatism more generally. You can read about it here. The center of Mamet’s conservatism is a focus on the importance of culture and disaggregated knowledge, as embodied in traditional practices.

What’s the book all about? Toward the end, he hints at the meaning of his title. “There is no secret knowledge. The Federal Government is really the zoning board writ large,” he writes. What does that mean? He explains to me: “Mark Twain famously said, ‘God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.’ The zoning board is like that — they’re just a bunch of people with power. Some are good, some are bad. But they gotta be watched like hawks, because power corrupts.” So “secret knowledge” is a Hayekian insight wrapped up like a Talmudic paradox. The secret is there is no secret — no special caste has the knowledge or goodness, inaccessible to the rest of us, to order society. Hence Mamet’s skepticism of technocracy and his preference for order created from the democratic and disaggregated processes of the marketplace.

But — and this may please NR readers — he’s no milquetoast, effete litterateur. He likes conservative red meat as much as he likes Friedrich Hayek:

He is aggressive — even rude. He calls multiculturalism “garbage, pure nonsense.” He says “many liberals” have a “preverbal mind,” which, “when confronted with arguments it can’t refute, just sees red.” He says “the Obama administration is the perfect example of the Europeanization of America in the nanny state.” He celebrates America as a “Christian country,” and feels no need to dissociate from the dreaded “Christian Right.” He condemns “elites” repeatedly. He says “the State of Israel wants peace within its borders, and its enemies want to kill all the Jews — both parties are clear about that.” He approvingly acknowledges “Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and Glenn Beck.” He exalts Sarah Palin…

Whole thing here

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