Posts tagged ‘David Mamet’

Top Down vs. Bottom Up

I have written any number of times on the technocratic-statist urge to overturn emergent order that is created bottom up in favor of imposing their own top-down vision of how society should run.  The following is from David Mamet via Mathew Shaffer (hat tip Maggies Farm) and is a nice synopsis of this mindset

The problem is that “the Left today is essentially an elitist movement, and it has invested a lot of time and money in the idea that they know better.” Elites have been led to think “by getting the grades, and getting into good schools and think-tanks and government positions that they are fit” to reorder society more rationally. But this requires first demolishing the order produced by the organic processes of tradition, democracy, and markets — the culture. Why are some so susceptible to this fatal conceit? “They get out of elite schools being told nothing but, ‘You’re the best.’” Hubris — a dramatist’s area of expertise.

More good stuff, from the same interview

“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.

And here is one more nice quote from Mamet, a while ago in the Village Voice

in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

Upside-Down World

The likely Republican presidential nominee is well to the left of the last Democratic president on economic issues.  And George McGovern sounds Laissez Faire:

Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the
right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating
behavior. Much paternalist scrutiny has recently centered on personal

Since leaving office I've written about public
policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I've come to realize
that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to
maintaining a healthy civil society.

Why do we think we are
helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take
away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state
lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money.
Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't
operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will
misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We
should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for
everyone else.

Really, its that George McGovern.

And David Mamet questions the power of government:

And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations" - the
hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those
goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military"
of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and
women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a
very hostile world"¦

But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the
answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night,
and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower
Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why?
Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute - to throw into the pot
what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as
status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

And so I, like many of the liberal congregation, began, teeth
grinding, to attempt to do so. And in doing so, I recognized that I
held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations,
the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong
and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other - the
world in which I actually functioned day to day - was made up of
people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort
by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace,
the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my
participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that
country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace"¦