Friday, July 1, 2011

Fantastic Review of Mamet's Book

The book consists of 39 relatively short chapters, ranging from "Culture, School Shootings, the Audience, and the Elevator" ("one might ask not why mass shootings are happening, but why they are happening in schools"), to "The Street Sweeper and the Surgeon, or Marxism Examined" ("the money the Government strips from the surgeon to pay the street sweeper, far from ending in the sweeper's pocket, will most likely arrive somewhere else altogether"), to a concluding chapter entitled "The Secret Knowledge" (drawn from an Anna Simons quotation about the "terrible secret" initiates learn after receiving the "shared truths" -- that "beyond the knowledge the initiates have just been given there is no special knowledge"). 
Not every chapter works as well as the others, but it is a sustained argument about the necessity of choosing among imperfect alternatives in an imperfect world, avoiding the easy utopias and siren songs of government, respecting the centrality of human individuality, and testing theoretical arguments against life as actually lived -- all written in a style that personalizes and dramatizes (and sometimes overdramatizes) the issues in a way that should provoke thought even among those who disagree.

I long wondered how a Jew could be liberal in the present meaning of the term.  I sense liberals oppose the idea of Israel but identify with the Palestinians (granted, the suffering of those people is a horror, the relevant question being, who's fault is that?), they support the style of european government which is practiced in anti-semitic parts of the world (Europe), and they of all people should know the brutality of an over-powerful government.  Yet they vote for tyranny, and the pretense of empathy via the coercive power of the State.  Can this congnitive dissoance last?

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