Do I speak as a member of the "privileged class"? If you will—but classes in the United States are mobile, not static, which is the Marxist view. That is: Immigrants came and continue to come here penniless and can (and do) become rich; the nerd makes a trillion dollars; the single mother, penniless and ignorant of English, sends her two sons to college (my grandmother). On the other hand, the rich and the children of the rich can go belly-up; the hegemony of the railroads is appropriated by the airlines, that of the networks by the Internet; and the individual may and probably will change status more than once within his lifetime.
The title of the article, in this week's Village Voice, is Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'
Welcome to the party, pal! The last thing we progressives have needed is brain dead zombies.
Essentially what Mamet's piece gets to is the role of government in society is too big. In other words, he's become a libertarian.
This is not inconsistent with being a liberal, Mr. Mamet, or progressive or what have you.
See, big government interferes in lots of ways. Liberal libertarians would like to see government out of our private lives, but more, we'd like to see government stick to the job it really needs to do: referee society.
Government should be like the referee in a hockey game: enforce the rules fairly, and take no part in either side.
Who are the opponents? I'd suggest that the opponents are the commercial sector versus the citizenry, since this is where the bulk of America's problems stem.
Business' job is to maximize profit at the expense of the public weal, to take that which belongs to all of us, resources, and turn them into products or services.
In a fair economy, that's fine. But when business exploits the public for its own selfishness, when business can socialize losses while privatizing profits, when business can pay for government to look the other way while its rapaciousness is snowballing, that's when government is failing.
Like it is now.
There's nothing wrong with free markets, so long as they are fair markets. Even Adam Smith, you know, the original Free Marketeer, said that government is duty-bound to monitor business, to prevent an unbalancing of this fairness by the use of monopolies and other contraventions of the essential free market.
Conceivably, if Adam Smith knew about multinational corporations or megacompanies like ExxonMobil, he'd likely have included those in his warnings that "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."
When he wrote those words, I would venture to guess, the largest company around was probably some trading company, or perhaps Lloyds of London or some bank somewhere. None of these would have been offshored business operating out of the Cayman Islands while drawing the bulk of their income from the United States by selling goods manufactured in Taiwan.
It has been in the past thirty years or so that the rise of the corporate-government alliance has picked up steam (the "military-industrial complex" that Eisenhower so famously warned of was not JUST about warfare), as corporations have been given equal legal status to individual citizens (again, unlikely that Smith foresaw that) and allowed to have not only corporate rights under contracts, but Consitutional rights under the law.
Worse, the very thing Mamet claims happens in American society, a drift in and out of both poverty and wealth, has slowed substantially, particularly in the past seven years of very distinct government NONintervention! There are more Americans in poverty today than in 2000, and the number of wealthy has not only not gone down proportionately, THEY'VE BECOME EVEN RICHER!
This is an unhealthy situation, Mr. Mamet. I do hope you can understand why I will remain a (not-so) "brain dead liberal."
The more I think about this ridiculous screed, the more angry I become.
The reason government programs were put into place in the first instance was that private & charitable attempts to deal with poverty, hunger, the elderly dropping dead in our streets, pollution, food processing standards and so on...WERE FUCKING MISERABLE FAILURES, you fuckin' a-hole, Mamet!
Just ask Sinclair Lewis, or Rachel Carson, or John Steinbeck! You know...real WRITERS????????