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Posts Tagged ‘Liberalism’
March 7th, 2014 at 8:39 am
Why It’s Getting Harder to be a Liberal
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Robert Knight, Senior Fellow at the American Civil Rights Union, discusses the growing list of issues and failures liberals are trying to spin for the Obama Administration, from ObamaCare to foreign policy, and why it’s getting harder every day to be a liberal.

Listen to the interview here.

August 30th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
On the Shamelessness of Teacher Unions
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I’ve posted here on the blog before about the ongoing fight over Governor Bobby Jindal’s bold education reforms in Louisiana, which have left the Pelican State’s teachers unions incensed. And in my column this week, I discussed the relentless tendency of liberals to rhetorically exploit African-Americans while supporting policies that harm black communities. Yet even though these two trends are not new, I’m still gobsmacked that it has come to this shameful nadir. From the Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry:

A major state-level teachers union accused a group promoting school choice for African-American families of supporting the notorious white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan in a series of statements on Thursday.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers accused the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) of advancing a “pro-KKK agenda,” in the words of one tweet sent from the union’s official Twitter account. Another claimed that the group “endorses teaching that the KKK is good.”

The BAEO works to “increase access to high-quality educational options for Black children by actively supporting parental choice policies and programs that empower low-income and working-class Black families,” according to its website.

In response to this filth, the head of the BAEO put out a statement reading, in part:

BAEO and its allies fight every single day to give children from low-income families access to the best educational options possible. We fight to overcome the institutional bigotry that has sentenced thousands of black children across the country to a substandard education. It’s a sad day when an organization like the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, which says it cares about kids, is among the organizations using degrading, race-baiting tactics to demean the very people who are doing their best to give kids hope.

Unfortunately, we’re well past the point when the teachers unions’ arguments were about the kids. These days, it’s about nothing more than holding on to power. The children are little more than collateral damage.

July 30th, 2012 at 1:39 pm
California’s Surging Exports … of People
Posted by Troy Senik Print

We’ve made a bit of a cottage industry here at CFIF of chronicling the downfall of California, a truly great state where metastasizing liberalism threatens to kill its host. Over the weekend, the Daily Caller’s Angelica Malik put the results into sharp relief:

The California Manufacturing and Technology Association found in a recent study that 82 percent of companies surveyed did not consider California when expanding or opening a new facility.

The study also noted that companies looking to expand their operations favored states with proximity to their customers, generous tax incentives, low cost labor, proximity to suppliers and a comprehensible and a favorable tax system.

California ranked last or bottom tier in all of those categories.

This comes on top of the recent news that the Golden State ranked last in CEO magazine’s ratings of state business climates for the eighth straight year.

The upshot: billions in lost revenues, millions in lost citizens, and hundreds of fleeing businesses (with scores more downsizing or dismissing the prospect of heading to California in the first place).

There’s little here in the way of silver linings, except for this: there’s a fair bit of education here for the rest of the nation. If the Lilliputians of liberalism can tie down even mighty California, they can wreak untold havoc anywhere. No one is immune. It’s just a shame that it requires such a significant casualty to convey this point.

May 14th, 2012 at 12:12 pm
Another Big Labor Failure: America’s Only Unionized Strip Club Likely to Close
Posted by Troy Senik Print

One can only imagine the emotional travails of being a devoted liberal; of being completely seduced by the philosophical purity of your ideals, only to so regularly see them falsified by practical experience.

One area where this regularly plays out is with labor unions, where the dream of worker empowerment often yields to the reality that the high costs imposed by big labor weaken businesses and frequently undermine the jobs of the very workers the union is supposed to be defending (see “Automobile Industry, American”).

Based on a recent story in Northern California’s Bay Citizen — about a strip club on the verge of closing down — it seems that there’s no industry free from the corrosive union influence:

Most strip club dancers are “independent contractors” who earn money dancing for tips. Often they have to pay the clubs for stage time, a system that can make the dancers vulnerable to exploitative business practices.

When the Lusty Lady’s dancers voted to unionize in 1997, they wanted to protect themselves from such practices. In 2003, the workers bought the business and turned it into a cooperative, making it perhaps the most San Francisco strip club in San Francisco. The club’s employees receive hourly salaries and those who are part of the co-op also share in its revenue (when there is revenue.)

… Tempest, another Lusty Lady dancer, told the pro-labor newsmagazine “In These Times,” that she has had second thoughts about unionizing, a move she once supported. She questioned whether unionization “is conducive to strip club profits.”

She’s got a point, although the words “strip club” in that last sentence are extraneous. It’s hardly a shame that these young women will likely have to find a more edifying line of work. That being said, the Lusty Lady’s travails are representative of the plight of union shops throughout the nation. It turns out that profits, when ignored, tend to evaporate — no matter the industry.

Most strip club dancers are “independent contractors” who earn money dancing for tips. Often they have to pay the clubs for stage time, a system that can make the dancers vulnerable to exploitative business practices.

When the Lusty Lady’s dancers voted to unionize in 1997, they wanted to protect themselves from such practices. In 2003, the workers bought the business and turned it into a cooperative, making it perhaps the most San Francisco strip club in San Francisco. The club’s employees receive hourly salaries and those who are part of the co-op also share in its revenue (when there is revenue.)

Source: The Bay Citizen (http://s.tt/1bfiB)

May 10th, 2012 at 1:27 pm
Ezra Klein and the Cult of Youth
Posted by Troy Senik Print

With spring quickly turning to summer, it’s graduation season throughout the nation. This is a time of year where rubbish masquerading as good advice is rampant, and the same holds true in the Twitterverse, where liberal uber-pundit Ezra Klein offered up this half-baked idea:

Ezra-Klein_lightboxUm, Ezra … nothing. There’s a thread in modern liberalism — going all the way back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau — which esteems the callow and untutored as morally superior to the experienced and wise. Unfortunately, since the 1960s, that belief has increasingly come to be shared by society at large.

There’s been a lot of ink spilled on this topic in highfalutin journals and serious publications — much of it worthwhile. But for my (admittedly demotic) tastes, late night comic Craig Ferguson really hit the nail on the head in a monologue a few years ago:

May 8th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
First Lady Blows Off Free Market, Fails as a Result
Posted by Troy Senik Print

We here at CFIF have always cast a jaundiced eye on First Lady Michelle Obama’s nanny state attempts to hector Americans about how they eat. Whether it’s Ashton pointing out that the program consistently fails in public schools because kids don’t actually like the food or my observing that this trend has actually led to black markets in the cafeteria, we’ve primarily focused on the initiative’s shortcomings for America’s children. It turns, out however, that it’s just as robustly failing adults. From Bloomberg:

After vowing to open more than 1,000 stores selling fresh fruit and vegetables in underserved urban neighborhoods, or “food deserts,” grocers have opened a fraction of them, putting in jeopardy Michelle Obama’s effort to improve food choices for low-income Americans.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which said last July it would have 300 food-desert stores nationwide by 2016, has opened 23 and delayed opening some locations after a backlash from activists. Supervalu Inc., which pledged to double to 2,376 its Save-A-Lot stores, has slowed the pace of openings amid declining sales and scarce financing for its licensees. Meanwhile, grocers are opening stores in wealthier urban enclaves.

Food desert locations, by definition, aren’t profitable, according to Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“The whole phrase ‘food desert’ sort of implies the weather created it,” said Lichtenstein. “It’s not the weather — it’s because people don’t have any money.”

Shoppers who live in low-income city neighborhoods “don’t fill up a basket and spend $100, they buy $10,” said Lichtenstein, who wrote “The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business.”

There’s a couple of worthwhile takeaways here. The first is how often politicians and corporations earn praise from press releases and hollow promises. Wal-Mart undoubtedly got more fanfare for announcing the “food desert” stores than it will get scrutiny for failing to build them.

The second is the pervasiveness of the liberal creed that undesirable outcomes must be the product of systemic oppression. Mrs. Obama has long suggested, at least implicitly, that a neglect of urban communities is to blame for the absence of fresh produce in the inner city. It seemingly never occurred to her that the absence of a service in a given market might owe to the fact that there’s not enough demand to make it profitable. The First Lady’s real problem isn’t that corporations aren’t producing what people want; it’s that consumers don’t want what she thinks they should.

That gets to the core of the Obama Administration’s problem. They don’t simply want to change public policy or see corporate practices altered. They want to see human behavior reengineered — whether in the form of the food we eat, the cars we drive, or the doctors we visit. Sooner or later, however, reality will catch up with the White House, as it has in the case of the “food deserts.” No government edict can make straight the crooked timber of humanity.

April 30th, 2012 at 12:54 pm
Massachusetts Liberals Opposed to Bottled Water, Fine with Welfare Fraud
Posted by Troy Senik Print

There was a time when the New England town meeting was the ultimate example of civic-mindedness; of small town democracy in action. These days, given the political complexion of much of the Northeast, the gatherings tend to be more representative of just how divorced from reality life can become in the fever swamps of the left. Consider this, from Michael Graham in the Boston Herald:

[The city of] Concord voted 403-364 to make it illegal to sell bottled water. Uh, wait. That’s not right. You can still sell bottled water, it just has to be in larger bottles.

So it’s illegal to sell drinks in bottles smaller than 1 liter. No, that’s not it, either. You can still sell Mountain Dew or mango juice in small, plastic bottles. Just not water.

So the new law boils down to “It’s illegal to sell stuff we Concordians don’t like, and right now we don’t like bottled water . . . except when we buy it ourselves. So there.”

What makes this vote on unflavored liquid so deliciously ironic is that it happened around the same time the Massachusetts House was voting against EBT [Electronic Benefit Transfer -- essentially debit cards for those receiving public benefits] fraud — a vote that Concord liberals and their fellow travelers oppose.

While the EBT fraud amendment passed overwhelmingly 122-33, all the “no” votes came from the far left. Liberals like Reps. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) and Ruth Balser (D-Newton) voted to keep letting EBT cards pay for “firearms, cosmetics . . . strip clubs, travel services, health clubs, tattoo parlors, jewelry, payment of restitution or bail, and gambling,” according to the Associated Press.

The ideological battle lines of 21st century politics are becoming increasingly clear. Conservatives are those who think you should be able to do nearly anything you like with your own money. Liberals are those who think you should be able to do nearly anything you like with someone else’s.

March 6th, 2012 at 6:43 pm
‘Occupy’ Protesters Charged with Hate Crimes
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Yes, well, the revolution always eats its own after all. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Attorneys for three Occupy Oakland protesters charged with hate crimes for allegedly using a gay slur during a skirmish with a counterprotester said Monday that police were smearing the activists to try to discredit their movement.

Police said the protesters – Michael Davis, 32, Nneka Crawford, 23, and Randolph Wilkins, 24 – stole the woman’s purse during a confrontation last month outside a Wells Fargo bank on Piedmont Avenue and called her a “dyke” during the incident. But attorneys for two of the defendants said the exchange had turned ugly only after the counterprotester used a racist epithet against their clients.

Well, what do you know? It turns out that enlightened left-wing activists can be just as bigoted and ugly as they imagine conservatives are. And now they’ll be prosecuted under the hate crimes laws that are their legacy.

This case underscores how ludicrous those laws are. What makes this trio of miscreants reprehensible is that they stole a woman’s purse — not that they stole a gay woman’s purse. Does their victim deserve more protection under than law than a middle-aged white man would have if this same group had stolen his wallet? Of course not. But the left has attempted to systematically disassemble those principles of equality before the law over the past several decades. Don’t look now, but that boomerang is spinning back around.

March 18th, 2011 at 1:03 pm
House GOP Votes to Defund Pro-Government Propaganda Outlet

One of the many important votes the new House Republican caucus has taken includes yesterday’s vote to defund National Public Radio (NPR).

While the bill is expected to die in a Democrat-controlled Senate, the measure puts a majority of House members on record as supporting the complete defunding of a government agency that unabashedly promotes pro-state liberalism.  One of the hardest things to do in politics is get a majority of legislators to vote “Yes” on something – especially when the bill has little chance of becoming law.

But this group of House Republicans is different.  These votes and others are setting out clear distinctions between conservative and liberal spending priorities.  In 2012, voters will know exactly how candidates prioritize taxpayer money.

January 20th, 2011 at 1:47 am
Telling Gaffe of the Week — Harry Reid Edition
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In an interview in Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid let fly with the following gem:

“I’m going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have.”

One almost wishes to congratulate Reid for the frankness of “dictator”. That’s obviated by the seeming admiration of “he can do a lot of things”, however.

If Reid is truly sweet on Chinese authoritarianism, he’s in good company on the left. Tom Friedman and James Hansen are already at the party. A group not quite as enthusiastic? The Chinese people.

January 11th, 2011 at 10:49 pm
Paul Krugman Officially Departs Polite Society
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In the world of punditry, the difference between an ideological hack and a graceful partisan can be granular. On a daily or weekly basis, it may be nearly impossible to discriminate between the two. After all, even the most vapid political mercenary can summon reasonable talking points through a Google search and even the most discriminating scribes can at times fall prey to intellectual tribalism.

The acid test usually comes in moments that require grace and restraint. The tragic shootings in Tucson over the weekend presented such a moment. And Princeton economist, New York Times columnist, and liberal paragon Paul Krugman failed the test.

Krugman immediately took to his blog at the Times to decry the environment of hate created by conservatives, despite the fact that no tangible aspect of the Arizona story supported his thesis. It was an utterly revolting spectacle that revealed a man whose optic for all of life is partisan politics. But don’t just take my word for it. The Economist, a magazine which prides itself as the publication of note amongst the brandy and cigars class, comes down as follows:

In a blog item on Saturday, before any significant details about Mr Loughner’s motivations had come to light, Paul Krugman wrote:

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

This struck me as irresponsibly premature, and one might have thought that, given a little more time and information, Mr Krugman would change his tune, or at least turn down the volume. Nope. In today’s column on America’s alleged “climate of hate”, Mr Krugman reports that he’s been “expecting something like this atrocity to happen” since 2008, conjures in his fevered imagination a “rising tide of violence”, and spots his hated political foes behind it all:

[I]t’s the saturation of our political discourse—and especially our airwaves—with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right.

What’s more, unless the ranting right reins in the kind of talk that leaves Mr Krugman “with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach”, “Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.” Welcome to crazytown, my friends, where it does not seem crazy to disgorge toxic, entirely evidence-free rhetoric about the mortal threat of toxic rhetoric. Does the man honestly think he’s helping?

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:05 pm
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest … and Into the Washington Post’s Offices
Posted by Troy Senik Print

File E.J. Dionne’s new column paying nominal tribute to the incoming Republican class of congressmen under articles we didn’t finish. The reason? This passage:

There is already a standard line of advice to Speaker-to-be John Boehner and his colleagues that goes like this: Democrats overreached in the last Congress by doing too much and ignoring “the center.” Republicans should be careful not to make the same mistake, lest they lose their majority, too.

This counsel is wrong, partly because the premise is faulty. Democrats did not overreach in the 111th Congress. On the contrary, they compromised regularly. Compromise made the health-care bill far more complicated than it had to be and the original stimulus bill too small. Democrats would have been better off getting more done more quickly and more coherently.

Seriously, folks … he gets paid for this.

November 1st, 2010 at 11:17 pm
Barack Obama is the Second Coming … of Woodrow Wilson
Posted by Troy Senik Print

So says John Steele Gordon in a characteristically insightful post on Commentary’s Contentions Blog. Per the G-man:

Wilson was, at heart, an academic, the author of several books, (including Congressional Government, still in print after 125 years). He thought and acted like a professor even after he entered politics. Wilson always took it for granted, for instance, that he was the smartest guy in the room and acted accordingly. Does that sound familiar? Wilson was a remarkably powerful orator. (It was he who revived the custom of delivering the State of the Union message in person, a custom that had been dropped by Thomas Jefferson, a poor and most reluctant public speaker.)

… Both Wilson and Obama were the subjects of remarkable public adulation, and both won the Nobel Peace Prize for their aspirations rather than their accomplishments. In Wilson’s case, at least, it only increased his sense of being God’s instrument on earth. Although the Republicans had won majorities just before Armistice Day in November 1918, in both houses of Congress — and the Senate’s consent by a two-thirds majority would be necessary to ratify any treaty — Wilson shut them out of any say in the treaty he went to Paris to negotiate with the other victorious powers. Obama, of course, shut the Republicans out of any say in both the stimulus bill and ObamaCare.

Lest conservatives get too excited, we should remember that Wilson was a two-term president. Lest liberals get too cocky, his name has also been something of a political epithet ever since.

October 19th, 2010 at 1:20 am
Texas Still Thumping California on Economic Policy
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Last month, we profiled how federalism is alive and well in economic policy — as exemplified most explicitly in the sharp contrast between California and Texas (a topic we’ve been exploring for nearly a year).

As John Steele Gordon points out in the Contentions blog over at Commentary’s website:

It is often pointed out that the states make great laboratories for political-science experiments. And an experiment has been underway for quite a while testing the liberal model — high taxes, extensive regulation, many government-provided social services, union-friendly laws — against the conservative model — low taxes, limited regulation and social services, right-to-work laws. The results are increasingly in. As Rich Lowry reports in National Review Online, the differences between California and Texas are striking. Between August 2009 and August 2010, the nation created a net of 214,000 jobs. Texas created more than half of them, 119,000. California lost 112,000 jobs in that period.

California has always prided itself on being a leading indicator for the rest of the nation. We’ll see how well they like that designation when it turns out to mean being the canary in the coal mine.

September 11th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
Obama More Hoover Than Carter?

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg makes a good case that the real analogue to President Barack Obama’s increasingly inept tenure in office is Herbert Hoover.  As political scientist Gordon Lloyd makes clear in his anthology, The Two Faces of Liberalism, Hoover was not the ‘market fundamentalist’ FDR and other liberals like to claim.  He, like Obama, meddled relentlessly in the market causing it to stagnate.  When FDR’s frenetic policymaking was mistaken for good economics, Hoover got the blame while his successor got the credit.

Goldberg sees a similarity in the offing:

For reasons fair and unfair, the Great Depression discredited laissez-faire economics for a generation or more. Hoover, who was hardly the “market fundamentalist” FDR made him out to be, suffered largely from the (bad) luck of the draw, giving Democrats a chance to argue for a new deal of the cards. For reasons fair and unfair, Obama, who inherited a bad recession and made it worse, every day looks more like a modern-day Hoover, whining about his problems, rather than an FDR cheerily getting things done. Inadequate to the task, Obama is discrediting the statism he was elected to restore.

The punch line? When the economy finally rebounds, it might be just in time for Obama’s replacement to get all the credit.

September 7th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
The Problem with American Education? Not Enough Liberalism
Posted by Troy Senik Print

That’s the breathtaking conclusion of our liberal friends over at The Nation, a publication that answers the question “What would Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book have been like with ad space?”

According to a report by Chris Moody at the Daily Caller, The Nation is revamping its Educators Program, which provides curriculum materials for schools who think that the three Rs should be redistribution, relativism, and radicalism. According to the report:

“In this year of economic uncertainty and critical mid-term elections, the corporate-owned media will not be offering lessons about: our rigged political system; the conservative crusade against Muslims; the phony ‘panic’ over debt; vets abandoned by the VA; taxes and the Tea Party and much, much more,” read the magazine’s announcement for the new school year, which begins today for many students around the country.

Yes, that’s the problem. America’s educational institutions, run by the teachers’ unions that run the Democratic Party, have insufficiently inculcated liberalism in America’s tenderest minds. Remember that the next time you have to sit through your child’s “Thanksgiving is Just the White Man’s Word for Genocide” school production during holiday season.

August 22nd, 2010 at 2:57 pm
Baby Boomerism, Reexamined

In a fascinating article published in today’s Guardian (UK), British newsman Will Hutton gives an eyewitness account of how the free love socialism of the 1960s ultimately led to the unfettering of the Western financial industry.  Faced with the decision of managing capitalism or destroying its constraints, Baby Boomers chose chaos over order.

It was an inevitable victory, but it meant that the movements of the 1960s no longer had a political champion for industrial and economic change from below. The liberalism of the great social movements would transmute into economic liberalism – and when Labour lost the 1992 general election the rout was complete. Capitalism had lost every check and balance. There was no Labour movement and no idea of socialism. There was no political party committed to reforming capitalism. There was not even the cultural acceptance of restraint, the need for rules and proportion. (Emphasis mine)

The result has not been pretty.  Short-sighted policies in the housing and derivatives markets fueled the excessive tendencies of an entire generation.  The spike in paper wealth ushered in the kind of largesse only a self-defining rich nation thinks it can afford: lavish public pensions; diversity czars; a McMansion for every college graduate.

Though he ends his article with the wistful hope of a purer form of new socialism, Hutton strikes upon the deeper current driving the waves of voter discontent in the Western world.  The collapse of the economic order was the tipping point that made people aware of how much the rise in wealth over the last twenty years papered over the decline of Western culture.  No nation is immune.  After two decades of enjoying money for nothing, citizens of the West are finding that what they really have is nothing to show for all their money.

August 17th, 2010 at 2:02 pm
The Tea Party Movement’s Cliff’s Notes
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Nearly 25 years ago, Thomas Sowell wrote “A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles”, perhaps the single best volume on the fundamental philosophical differences between modern liberals and classical liberals (the progenitors of today’s libertarians and most conservatives). If your summer schedule doesn’t allow time for Sowell’s 350-page treatise (and it should), then you could do worse than turning to today’s Wall Street Journal.

Today’s edition of the Journal’s opinion section carries a piece entitled “A Tea Party Manifesto” by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe (authors of the new book “Give us Liberty”). Contained therein is the best concise distillation of how Sowell’s conflict is playing out in Tea Party America:

The many branches of the tea party movement have created a virtual marketplace for new ideas, effective innovations and creative tactics. Best practices come from the ground up, around kitchen tables, from Facebook friends, at weekly book clubs, or on Twitter feeds. This is beautiful chaos—or, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek put it, “spontaneous order.”

Decentralization, not top-down hierarchy, is the best way to maximize the contributions of people and their personal knowledge. Let the leaders be the activists who have the best knowledge of local personalities and issues. In the real world, this is common sense. In Washington, D.C., this is considered radical.

The big-government crowd is drawn to the compulsory nature of centralized authority. They can’t imagine an undirected social order. Someone needs to be in charge—someone who knows better. Big government is audacious and conceited.

It’s a war of voluntarism and freedom on one side against coercion and statism on the other. The Tea Party crowd should prepare for battle. Armey and Kibbe will provide the ammunition (as will other Tea Party authors, like CFIF’s own Ashton Ellis). Come November, it will  be time to take to the field.

July 30th, 2010 at 11:09 am
David Mamet: A Free Market Voice in the Artistic Wilderness

Robert Kennedy once described himself thus: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask ‘Why?’  I dream of things that never were and ask ‘Why not?’”  Perhaps the strongest criticism against liberalism is the charge that too many of its prescriptions for achieving the good life begin from premises in a world that doesn’t exist.

For cold-eyed realists like playwright David Mamet, the answer to Kennedy’s second question is easy: people are tempted to pride and selfishness.  And after a lifetime spent in the intellectual employ of liberalism’s ‘why not’ ethos, Mamet rejected his former worldview in an essay for the Village Voice, and followed up his rejection of state control in favor of free markets in his new book Theatre.

A review of the book by Commentary’s Terry Teachout reveals Mamet’s stinging rejections of the liberal mindset in favor of conservative-libertarian explanations for how the world actually works.  For Mamet, his conversion is a matter of his personal philosophy catching up with his art, which is characterized by dark struggles for power in an unfair world.

But lest readers think the notion of realism is code for worst case scenario of the human condition, don’t worry.  Instead, Teachout describes Mamet’s reading of conservative luminaries like Thomas Sowell, Paul Johnson, Milton Friedman and Shelby Steele as persuading him that “a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than the idealistic vision I called liberalism.”

For the moment, Mamet stands alone as a free market supporter in the playhouses of elite theater.  Taking a cue from his characters in Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow, Mamet probably doesn’t care what others think.

Admittedly, there is a certain attraction to dreaming of a world that doesn’t – and probably can’t – exist.  It explains the popularity of fantasy tales for which Hollywood studios make hundreds of millions of dollars selling as a form of escape.  For artists like Mamet, though, the real world in all its imperfect complexity provides a much richer source of inspiration.

In an era where politicians are challenging playwrights for creating the most compelling drama, it’s good to know of at least one professional artist who prefers reality to fantasy.

July 19th, 2010 at 2:21 pm
More Wisdom from Across the Pond
Posted by Troy Senik Print

As CFIF’s own Ashton Ellis chronicled last week, we’re living in an era where developments in British politics hold many salient lessons for those of us slogging it out in the new world.

But whereas Brother Ellis found inspiration for the Tea Party Movement in the Cameron-Clegg coalition, the UK Telegraph’s Janet Daley sees a more insidious trend heading stateside: the unity of liberalism with class snobbery. In a few brilliant passages:

What is [startling] is the growth in America of precisely the sort of political alignment which we have known for many years in Britain: an electoral alliance of the educated, self-consciously (or self-deceivingly, depending on your point of view) “enlightened” class with the poor and deprived.

America, in other words, has discovered bourgeois guilt. A country without a hereditary nobility has embraced noblesse oblige. Now, there is nothing inherently strange or perverse about people who lead successful, secure lives feeling a sense of responsibility toward those who are disadvantaged. What is peculiar in American terms is that this sentiment is taking on precisely the pseudo-aristocratic tone of disdain for the aspiring, struggling middle class that is such a familiar part of the British scene.

Liberal politics is now – over there as much as here – a form of social snobbery. To express concern about mass immigration, or reservations about the Obama healthcare plan, is unacceptable in bien-pensant circles because this is simply not the way educated people are supposed to think. It follows that those who do think (and talk) this way are small-minded bigots, rednecks, oiks, or whatever your local code word is for “not the right sort”.

Ms. Daley’s analysis is as accurate as it is insightful. Among the many lessons Barack Obama has failed to take from Bill Clinton, this may be among the most politically relevant: alienate the middle class, scoff at its sensibilities, and kiss your mandate goodbye. And that’s what will happen if the Democrats don’t manage to break free of the grip of the Berkeley-Cambridge wing of their party.