As a citizen, Mamet is free to do as he likes. What worries me is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position.It's true, we conservatives are all talentless dolts with rigid unyielding positions.
In Glengarry Glen Ross - arguably his finest play - he depicts the way a group of salesmen are demeaned by a cruelly competitive, capitalist ethic. At the same time, Mamet shows a wary admiration for these guys who, unlike the desk-wallahs, have to venture out into the jungle of the hard sell. Given his new-found conservatism, I doubt he could ever write a play riddled with such moral ambiguity.Which tells me that Billington hasn't actually read the Mamet's self outing, the conservatism of the writers Mamet praises such as Thomas Sowell and Paul Johnson is rooted deeply in an awareness of the human condition. It is because all humans are so riddled with flaws and conflicting motivations that the utopianism of the left falls short.
Only last week I also found myself defending Mamet from the charge, levelled by the wife of an American playwright-friend, that he was a misogynist.Yes I see the problem, now that you know he is conservative isn't it obvious that he secretly wants to chain women to the kitchen sink?
Already in his last but one play, Romance, seen here in 2005, there were tell-tale signs of his talent going off the boil. And the precedents for a shift to the right on the part of creative artists are not exactly encouraging. Would anyone seriously argue that, in Britain, Kingsley Amis and John Osborne became better writers as they endorsed right-wing views?Whereas Harold Pinter's later work improved massively as he hardened his left wing ideology as he got older.
This would all be more convincing if Billington didn't give the impression that he was about as open minded as Mullah Omar.