Playwright and filmmaker David Mamet changed his politics from liberal to conservative, and has a book coming out on the subject.
What changed his mind is an interesting story. But he was lucky to have a Republican rabbi who introduced him to the writing of Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Friedrich Hayek and others.
…â€œHis [Bertholt Brecht] protestations [against capitalism] were not borne out by his actions, nor could they be,â€ Mamet writes. â€œWhy, then, did he profess Communism? Because it sold. .â€‰â€‰.â€‰â€‰. The publicâ€™s endorsement of his plays kept him alive; as Marx was kept alive by the fortune Engelsâ€™s family had made selling furniture; as universities, established and funded by the Free Enterprise system .â€‰â€‰.â€‰â€‰. support and coddle generations of the young in their dissertations on the evils of America.â€
As the accelerating sequence of that last sentence suggestsâ€”from Brecht to Marx to the entire system of American higher educationâ€”one wispy aha! leads the convert to a larger revelation and then to one even broader and more comprehensive. Thatâ€™s the way it is with conversion experiences: The scales fall in a cascade. One light bulb tends to set off another, until itâ€™s pop-pop-pop like paparazzi on Oscar night.
And then Mamet thought some more, and looked in the mirror.
â€œI never questioned my tribal assumption that Capitalism was bad,â€ he writes now, â€œalthough I, simultaneously, never acted upon these feelings.â€ He was always happy to cash a royalty check and made sure to insist on a licensing fee. â€œI supported myself, as do all those not on the government dole, through the operation of the Free Market.â€
He saw he was Talking Left and Living Right, a condition common among American liberals, particularly the wealthy among them, who can, for instance, want to impose diversity requirements on private companies while living in monochromatic neighborhoods, or vote against school vouchers while sending their kids to prep school, or shelter their income while advocating higher tax rates. The widening gap between liberal politics and liberal life became real to him when, paradoxically enough, he decided at last to write a political play, or rather a play about politics. It was the first time he thought about partisan politics for any sustained period.