The great irony that arrived on my iPad (via Kindle) with David Mamet's excellent book is that, as the dramatic authority of confidence games (e.g., House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner), for most of his life he was taken in by the confidence game of modern Liberalism. (Born and raised in Chicago, he still got conned.) Mamet is erudite, literary, and incisive in this set of linked essays. I rarely use the Kindle's highlight function, but I found myself highlighting more passages in the first third of his book than all 260 of the other books I have read on Kindle. His writing is that great. He resides in that specialized domain of an H. L. Mencken, or a Richard Mitchell (whose Underground Grammarian and several books are available free on the Web). He draws from Hayek and Sowell, among others, but is more fun to read. Here are some of my favorite highlights:
Chap. 1: "We cannot live without trade. A society can neither advance nor improve without excess of disposable income. This excess can only be amassed through the production of goods and services necessary or attractive to the mass. A financial system which allows this leads to inequality; one that does not leads to mass starvation."
Chap 2: "I will now quote two Chicago writers on the subject, the first, William Shakespeare, who wrote 'Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink'; the second, Ernest Hemingway, 'Call 'em like you see'em and to hell with it.'"
Chap 3: "The grave error of multiculturalism is the assumption that reason can modify a process which has taken place without reason, and with inputs astronomically greater than those reason might provide."
Chap 4: "College, while it may theoretically teach skills, also serves to delay the matriculation of the adolescent into society."
Chap 5: "No, the luckless product of our Liberal Universities, skill-less, will not touch that item his culture named taboo: work. So we see the proliferation, in the Liberal Communities, of counselors, advisors, life coaches, consultants, feng shui 'experts,' as the undereducated chickens come home to roost."
Chap 6: "A subjective system can never be shown to have failed. If its goals are indeterminate, general, and its progress incapable of measurement, how can its performance be faulted?"
Chap 7: "From the Left's point of view one need not work, and may not only Hope to be provided for, by this government, but may insist upon it."
Chap 8: "A Slave is not permitted to make these distinctions. Al of his behavior is circumscribed by the will of his master. The necessity of making distinctions is the essence of freedom, where one not only can but must choose...The essence of freedom was and is choice."
Chap 9: "...I was from Chicago. It was a rough city, ruled by Machine Politics, which ruled the state, and currently rules the country."
And that's just the first nine essays, in which I've highlighted many paragraphs. Mamet is essential reading for thoughtful conservatives and libertarians, and anyone else willing to stand the challenge of examining unchallenged assumptions. A tour de force. Thank you, David.