The reaction from the liberal-left to David Mamet's confession that he is no longer a "brain-dead liberal" has been strangely muted -- and often hilariously ludicrous. The most priceless piece of bien pensant thinking comes, naturally, from Michael Billington, the Guardian's tedious, right-on theatre critic.
"I am depressed to read that David Mamet has swung to the right," says the poor dear. "What worries me is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position."
Let's just unravel the massive self-regarding hypocrisy behind that statement. As long as Mamet was writing plays from Billington's liberal-left perspective, he was a beacon of free-thinking insight and judgement. Now that he's thrown off his liberal-left ideological blinkers, he's "locking himself into a rigid ideological position".
With that sort of logic you wonder why Billington has survived for three decades as a theatre critic -- but then you remember it is The Guardian he writes for. His remarks are all the more absurd because, if you read Mamet's Damascene conversion in The Village Voice it is clear that he's not swapping his left-wing ideological straitjacket for a right-wing one -- he's just moved more to the free-thinking centre.
But for Billington et al, that constitutes a "rigid ideological position". Consider this from The Independent (yes, it still exists, though nobody much notices): it worries that "so complex and profound and gifted playwright should now seek to reduce his own work and his own politics to simple concepts". It's another Billingtonism: write from a left-wing perspective and you're profound, complex, gifted. Move to the centre or centre-right and you're the village idiot.
It is only one more sign of the solipsistic bankruptcy of today's pseudo-intellectual Left, in which ego has replaced brain. But we knew that already. What Mamet is about the find out the hard way is that when you renege on the Left, they hate you with all the venom and fury of an Islamist chasing an apostate. He should expect some very, very bad reviews from now on.