Playwright David Mamet visited sites affected by suicide attacks in Israel with Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert (left) on July 21, 2002. (MAYA VIDON/AFP)

In 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet — the reliably leftist author of anti-capitalist dramaturgy such as “American Buffalo” and “Glengarry Glen Ross” — broke right, publishing an op-ed titled “Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal’ ” in the Village Voice. “I took the liberal view for many decades,” Mamet wrote, “but I believe I have changed my mind.”

Three years later, he’s sure of it. Mamet’s “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” released this month, is unrelenting in its criticism of socialism, President Obama, taxes, Fidel Castro, affirmative action, the United Nations, the liberal arts, Jews who defend Palestine, MoveOn.org and Jane Fonda. “The Left thinks the Right (America) is ruining the world,” Mamet writes, with his recurring affection for capital letters. “The Right thinks the Left is ruining the country. I endorse the latter view.”

No time to read a political screed by a lauded director and screenwriter? Here’s a synopsis:

On free markets: Mamet loves conservative economists such as Friedrich Hayek, Thomas Sowell and the late Milton Friedman. “Milton Friedman pointed out that the cavil, ‘It would seem that a country that could put a man on the moon could provide free lunches for its schoolchildren,’ missed the point,” he writes. “The country could not supply the free lunches because it put the man on the moon.” What about, say, Karl Marx? According to Mamet, he “lived as a parasite upon [Friedrich] Engels, and never worked a day in his life.”

On Israel: Though suspicious of “the French” as well as “Existentialism, Deconstruction, Theory”and “social studies, multiculturalism, and other moot topics,” some of Mamet’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are straight out of Critical Theory 101. “Many in the West enjoy not the suffering, but the contemplation of the suffering of the Palestinians,” he writes. “For a film one buys a ticket. What is the ticket one buys to enjoy this other spectacle? Its price is the indictment of the State of Israel, in contravention of history, of facts, reason, international law, and affinities, national, cultural, and traditional.”

On the New Deal: Mamet contends that FDR’s tinkering with the American economy actually worsened the Great Depression. “In an attempt to Do Good for All, he dismantled the free market, and, so, the economy and saddled our country not only with ‘social programs,’ but with the deeper, unconscious legacy of belief in Social Programs, irrespective of their effectiveness,” he writes. “Roosevelt’s great domestic bequest was this syllogism: If anything called a Social Program fails, expand it.”

On fashion: Like fellow conservative George F. Will , Mamet isn’t a fan of denim. “The young on the Westside of Los Angeles dress themselves in jeans worn, sanded, and razored to resemble something a six-month castaway might crawl ashore in,” he writes. “Why? They are trying to purchase a charade of victimization, as the ethos of the Liberal West holds that these victims are the only ones of worth.”

On radio: Mamet gives big ups to Stanford University conservative Shelby Steele, “Midnight Cowboy”-turned-John McCain supporter Jon Voight and right-wing talk radio in general. “I discovered that my radio had an AM band, and that the news and commentary on KCLA from Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and Glenn Beck made more sense to me than the bemused and sad paternalism” — a reference to NPR, which Mamet called “National Palestinian Radio” in his Village Voice op-ed — “which had previously filled my drivetime.”

moyerj@washpost.com

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