|American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury
|List Price: $26.95
Our Price: $10.80
You Save: $16.15 (60%)
A generation ago Phillips wrote "The Emerging Republican Majority" which Newsweek described as the "political bible of the Nixon administration." Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Phillips was viewed as one of the GOP's top theoreticians and electoral analysts.
But no more.
Phillips is now warning that the party - and the country as a whole - is headed for potential disaster. Phillips sums up his concerns in the title of his new book: "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century."
- The story needs to be told!
I heartily recommend this book to American citizens, and also to others trying to understand Americans. There being at least one cabal intending to take over this country sneakily with a theological conceit as pretext, why should one doubt that there may be others? American science is losing its world-wide pre-eminence, thanks to being disparaged and hobbled by Bible-banging charlatans in home territory. That figment of a fevered theological imagination called "American Exceptionalism" has clouded the judgment of our elected officials, tempting them into hubris and rashness that we will long regret. Meanwhile, the novel notion of an imminent "rapture," with the inevitably concomitant smug presumption that when it occurs, oneself will be deservedly whisked away from all trouble, gives them an excuse not to care about the future of the rest of us or of the world as a whole.
These alarum bells so urgently need to be rung that the author can be forgiven for rushing his book into print. But one gets the impression that his theological insight sometimes has the texture of cramming for an exam, or the feel of new clothes not worn long enough to be comfortable. With a little deeper acquaintance, he could have been more eloquent still.
His ample discussion of the Southern Baptist Convention, for instance, might have included a page or two on the irony whereby within a single generation, this ecclesial community been transformed from one that especially proclaims the sovereignty of the individual into one that expects the lowly flock humbly to take orders from a central authority on high (and I'm not talking about God in heaven). The authentic Baptist doctrine of soul competency ought to have made this body among the most immune to such a denouement, yet it has occurred. For details, please turn to "Stealing Jesus" by Bruce Bawer. You won't get them from Phillips.
He also disappoints in his promised treatment of Christian reconstructionism, AKA dominion theology. With a little more systematic exposition of the subject, readers could better appreciate both this movement's novelty and its rigor. It is not just a mentality or meme, but a tight intellectual edifice, the brain child of one Rousas J. Rushdooney dating only from 1970. We should know the full horrors of this movement: its followers have no actual loyalty to the Constitution of the United States whatsoever, nor to the status of their fellow citizens. They seek office with the dream of overthrowing our form of government and substituting the strictures of the Old Testament Law, literally and unrelieved. They hold that legitimate power of any kind resides solely in Christians (as they define the word, of course) and that all others must be reduced to subservient status if not executed outright. And they don't mind dissembling to achieve their objectives. The end justifies the means.
Now, in my history book, any officeholder found to meet such a description would once have been impeached and hanged for treason. But even Phillips fails to blow the whistle adequately. The name "Rushdooney" is missing from both text and index.
At one point he refers to the "gospel of Paul." He might have something metaphorical in mind here, but since anyone with a few years of Sunday school should know that Saint Paul wrote epistles, not gospels, the phrase is comically inapt at best.
The author quotes the English headmaster Matthew Arnold. Hmm. The great headmaster of Rugby was Thomas Arnold, and Matthew was his son. One is therefore left in doubt as to who originated the quote, and hence (since it dealt with schooling) its relevance and applicability.
In comparison to the urgency of the case Phillips presents, however, all the above are merely quibbles to explain why I can't give the book a full 5 stars. His repenting of his earlier associations takes guts and only adds to his credibility. I repeat: we should all listen to him if we love our country.
- The Policy That Dare Not Speak Its Name
I read this book at the behest of a quasi-lefty friend of mine, who worries that the evangelical right (of whom I am an equally quasi-member) has unparalleled power and influence in the current administration. You know the feeling when you sit through a stupid movie to the end, hoping it will get better, only to finally you say "Darn, sure wish I had those two hours back?" Well, I have that feeling. This book is quite possibly the dumbest book I have ever read.
If the evil backroom dealers of Dobson, Falwell, Robertson et al had the power Phillips believes they do, I know what they would want. Not an invasion of Iraq. Nope, without a doubt, they would end abortion as it exists. After that, they would tinker with other policies that they see as anti-God or family, but I doubt any invasion anywhere would incite much passion. These power-brokers have been able to get nothing they want, and yet they have all this power? Don't they wish......Even when they are so secret, and no one admits to be at their beck and call? Even then?
Phillips is clearly a well-read man, but he reads the wrong people. Spending too much time in the wacked out paranoia of a left that checks its closet before going to bed at night, he has fashioned a tale about me and my friends that is so silly it's almost amusing, if it weren't so dangerous. He tosses the insults fast and furious, hoping to get, as he says approvingly on page 373, religion and morality out of politics. Leaving what Kev? Ah, science, good old objective science, the province of impartiality, honesty, decency and love. Whoops. Remember eugenics, Kevin? The wholesome, logical and scientific plan, endorsed enthusiastically by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger to control who could breed and who could not? Who fought this abomination, nearly alone until Adolf and his boys gave it a somewhat sour flavor? The Catholic Church fought it, all the while your ancestors laughed at their backward and anti-scientific attitudes. No, science is a tool, and like all tools is as good or evil as the practitioner. Just like a gun. Guns are neither good nor bad. But that's another one you guys can't get. You trust science wholeheartedly, you may find you organs harvested for someone younger and stronger. And you'll be hard-pressed to complain. After all, survival of the fittest.
One could open this book to nearly any page and see something foolish, ludicrous, or downright crazy. I am not a geologist. I am not an economist. Though I know that there is wide variety of opinion among them on nearly every topic, including what day of the week it is. But I do know something about evangelicals, and almost every assertion he makes is either wrong or inflated by such clever parings as "those who read the Left Behind series or believe in the rapture" similar in my mind to "those who watch Star Wars or believe in Wookies." The fact that millions of people choose something for entertainment does not mean that they believe it as truth. Some do, I am certain, but many more do not. This is misleading, deliberately and deceitfully misleading, and makes me doubt him on topics where my expertise is small. He lies, he exaggerates. He confuses, contorts , and whitewashes. Come on, has he never read anything about the Scopes trial other than the fictional, or maybe hallucinatory, "Inherit the Wind?" And Terry Schiavo? He makes it all sound so simple.
And I don't get his constant references to poll data. If so many Americans are spendthrift nitwits enthralled by their silly Sunday morning sermons, who cares what 57% of them think about anything? Or his endless referring to the opinions of the disdainful, enlightened Europeans, who put all this primitive religiosity away two centuries ago, and simultaneously unleashed two centuries of barbarism, Imperialism, and butchery unmatched in human history? I don't think we can look to them as models of restraint and objectivity.
So, I too think Americans spend too much and waste fuel. Someday we will run out of oil. And maybe, though I'm not so sure, we will fall as the Dutch and Spanish did. But I'm not sure that the government that, as he says on page 385, didn't curb the attitudes that offend oil-producing countries (Oh my.... Women in shorts? Movies? Which of the many things that offend them should we curtail?) can be counted on to fix these problems. I don't trust the market, but I trust the government less. And I don't trust people who twist and mislead, and Kevin Phillips does that....more info
Drawing on historical precedents, Kevin Phillips paints a stark picture of the U.S.A. in her twilight; overburdened by an outrageously large and growing debt, dependent on a diminishing resource, and blinded and misled by fanatical religious elements. This book should be required reading for all high school seniors - we may be able to "dodge the bullet" if enough Americans understood the situation - but, alas, this will not happen soon....more info
- One of the Best Books I Have Ever Read
I read this book 3 times and have encouraged others to read it. I rarely read any book more than once but this one was so thought provoking. Some reviews stress the chapters about religion but the book is so much more than that. Religion has NOTHING to do with the debt which is dragging this country down which is a chapter all its own. There is also a chapter on consumer debt which is dragging us as individuals and families down. Anyone who is worried about the financial state of this country should read this book. ...more info
- American Theocracy
Of the 20+ books I've read over the last year, this is one of the scariest.I highly recommend this book, a must read....more info
Kevin Phillips never fails to cut through the historical fog in documenting the sociopolitical forces at work in the shaping of our current society. Definitely worth your time....more info
- The four ghosts of hegemony
Kevin Phillips analyzes thoroughly the US policies of the last twenty years under Republican leadership.
For him, these policies are not less than disastrous, putting the US under the demonic spell of a four headed ghost: the simplistic, Taliban-like radical religion of Christian fundamentalists, the energy (oil) vulnerability, ballooning public and private debt and global military overreach.
The GOP bets heavily on, what the author calls, national Disenlightment (religious fundamentalism), e.g., by funding public services through church-related groups.
The direct consequences of this policy can be seen in education (neglect of scientific infrastructure), climatology (no signing of the Kyoto protocol), biological research (no embryonic stem-cell research), morals (attempts to prohibit abortion again), science (promotion of `intelligent design' versus Darwinism), sex (promotion of abstinence and no support for contraception), social issues (women's rights against the rights of embryos), food protection (abolition of the EPA), theology (crusade against Islam) or business (justify wealth and oppose regulation).
The ultimate aim is to reduce the separation between church and state.
The world's age of oil has been the era of American supremacy. But, oil production has peaked and oil prices in dollar continue to peak. Will OPEC countries continue to be satisfied with their paycheck in devalued dollars?
There is apparently one oil `biggie' left: Iraq. That oil was the critical factor in the Iraq invasion is proven by the fact that after Saddam Hussein was defeated the US troops occupied immediately the Iraq Oil Ministry and seized the seismic maps of its oilfields. For the rest, the Iraqi people were free to loot everywhere and everything else.
`Moving money around' (financial transactions) became a bigger `business' in the US than manufacturing (making things). The population's savings rate is dropping like a stone. Public and private (`I shop, therefore I am') debt reaches all time highs, creating a monstrous `credit-industrial complex'.
The risk of overreach in military human and financial resources for the defense of petro-imperialism is becoming extremely high.
The author compares the actual world context with the ones confronted by other imperialisms (the Roman, Dutch, Spanish and British). He sees dark and ghostly clouds at the horizon for the American theocracy.
Kevin Phillips`s book is a must read for all those interested in world politics....more info
- Superb account of the state of the USA
This outstanding book is the best study of the current state of the USA. Kevin Phillips, the vastly experienced American political and economic commentator, depicts the USA's economic and religious interest-groups and their effects on the Republican coalition. For this paperback edition, he has written a brilliant 40-page introduction updating his 2006 analysis.
He shows how deindustrialisation is destroying the US economy. The debt-driven finance, insurance and real estate sector accounts for 21% of US GDP, manufacturing for only 13%. 44% of all US corporate profits come from the finance sector, 10% from manufacturing. Household incomes have not risen since 2000. Wages are 62% of national income, compared to an average 73% in the late 1960s.
He describes what he calls the `oil-national security complex' and its `100 years' oil war'. The USA, with 200 million of the world's 520 million automobiles, defeats conservation and energy efficiency. The USA consumes a quarter of the world's energy, but has only 5% of its reserves. Since 1998, the USA has been importing more than half the petrol it uses. A barrel of oil cost $3 in 1970, $10 in 1986, $30 in 2002, $75 in 2007. Non-OPEC oil will peak in 2010.
So the US state wants to secure oil supplies from the Middle East, but in a classic case of imperial overreach, its efforts are counter-productive. White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay said in September 2002, "the key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil so as to drive down prices." Pre-war, Iraq produced 3.5 million barrels a day, now just 1.1 million, "U.S. mismanagement in Iraq having only aggravated the oil-supply and terrorist threats", as Phillips writes. The war has caused most of the recent $45-a-barrel rise.
Phillips also studies the USA's rightwing religious fundamentalism - a toxic brew of Biblical inerrancy and born-again evangelicalism. It claims that we live in the `end-times', when the defeat of the antichrist at Armageddon heralds the second coming. It is anti-women, anti-science, anti-modernism and anti-Enlightenment. It opposes sex education, women's rights, contraception, stem-cell research and abortion.
He shows how successive US governments have indulged the soaring debt and credit industry. They encouraged reckless credit expansion, blowing up the ballooning national, international, business, financial and household debts. Low-interest rates led to the credit-card boom, to exotic mortgages, derivatives (which the speculator Warren Buffett called `financial weapons of mass destruction'), hedge-funds and debt instruments. Buffett also said, "Hyperactive equity markets subvert rational capital allocation."
Americans now owe more than they make. Finance firms are debt collectors; credit card companies offer to consolidate people's debts, but once the debtor is hooked, the company can raise interest rates to 20-30%. No wonder that in Bush's first term (2000-04), there were five million personal bankruptcies and by 2006, the USA's total debt was $40 trillion, 304% of GDP.
- American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century
The book is intersting and helps a person understand how first coal and then oil dominated politics and decison making in Washington DC. I thought the Southern influence was very eyeopening. All of these factors have played into our military, political and socioeconomic complex status today. Our very extreme dependence on oil does not help our leaders necessarily make well thought out decisions. ...more info
- Well written & informative.
This is a must read for someone who wants to understand why the US economy is in in the shape it is in....more info
- Even Better Than the One Before It, "American Dynasty"
I wrote a glowing review of Kevin's FIRST examination of the Bush clan.
Then came a book that tied all-together what the 2000's years have been about...and it is downright scary as I write this in late November 2008...with a punishing recession set in stone and the financial markets victim to short-sellers and hedge fund greedy pigs...how accurate this terrific examination turned out to be! The younger George Bush, contrary to the old ridiculous saw about "big spending Democrats" doubled the national debt from 5 trillion to 10 trillion by breaking what has always been a 24-carat, carved-in-stone axium: "You can't have both guns AND butter". But what made this volume even more enjoyable (to me) than Kevin's earlier one is that he really DOES examine in pretty much equal parts the largest facets of the 2000's quamire. There is an excellent profile of radical religion...a great view of oil's crucial place in the soon-to-turn-terriblu ugly equation...and an accurate and sickening look at the billions and billions and billions Bush and his lapdog Congress happily and in cavalier fashion spent as if they were nickels!! In short, if like current events and especially looking back to try and figure out, "What the heck HAPPENED ??" between 2000 and 2008...So, wrapping it all up, what does Christian Carswell say you should do? Buy this splendid historian's boil-down of one of the most turbulent and damaging decades in American history...one that may well permanently rank "W" as history's least effective and most reckless president. ...more info
- Tough, Chilling Analysis
Author Kevin Phillips examines U.S. political and economic trends in this searing look at religion, energy, and government spending. Readers see that U.S. foreign policy is strongly, perhaps dangerously influenced by conservative Christians. We also see how the USA is spending itself into danger, and is doing far too little to end its risky dependence on foreign oil. Phillips offers several parallels between between the USA and Britain; for example comparing the questionable U.S. invasion of Iraq to British colonialism in the middle east after World War I. Readers also see how losing control of an energy source can cost a nation dearly - as Britain's power declined in the 20th Century when oil began replacing coal. Phillips writes with an alarmist tone, one that readers (and non-readers) should listen to.
Phillips proved his eye for future trends with EMERGING REPUBLICAN MAJORITY, his 1969 book correctly forecasting GOP dominance of the South and White House via rising conservatism and racial backlash. Phillips recently left the GOP in disgust at its right-wing Christian politics. Some find this book a bit stiff and alarmist, but it's an important, thought-provoking effort. ...more info
- Too Many Plums for the Bag
The title is somewhat misleading. We expect the text to dwell on the rise of Christian fundamentalism and its effect upon American democracy. In fact the Southern Baptist Convention, for one, does constitute a major focus. However, Phillips also wants to show how radical religion, debt overhang, and politics of oil comprise three major perils for 21st century America, and collaterally, how this troika has given rise to our current debacle in the Middle-East . If we add to these subtopics, an additional concern with drawing historical parallels between America's trajectory and past empires, we get a pretty complex mix that is difficult to evaluate. In sum, I think this rather unwieldy sprawl does constitute a problem with the book. Instead of coming together in a sharp focus, the needed cohesiveness tends to scatter out over the 400 pages. Radical religion remains the center-piece, but I think a book dwelling on all three perils equally or one on radical religion exclusively would have been more effective. Nonetheless, when a pedigreed conservative like Phillips (no enemy of religion) sounds alarms about the rise of fundamentalism and the Southernization of Republican party politics, many of us not alligned with the right sit up and pay attention, no matter what the overall mix.
There are two points regarding the nation's current borrowing binge (one of Phillip's three perils) I want to briefly mention. This issue ultimately pivots on whether the national economy has genuinely entered a newly international phase such that old borrower-lender risks no longer apply. If that's the case, then the many parallels he draws with past debt traps, despite appearances, are rendered moot. I wish he had given this key aspect more critical attention than merely marshaling the adverse debt numbers, informative though these trends are. Then too, for some reason the discussion pays surprisingly little attention to defense expenditures which-- whatever their intimidation value-- are eating up much of the federal budget. Some perspective is in order here since weapons sales amounts to one of our few export bonanzas, while military R&D amounts to one of our few remaining sources of industrial innovation. How this aspect of budgetary policy affects the broader national trajectory would have been a valuable inclusion. Of course, whatever relevance value these have to the borrowing binge, such additions would add to the sprawl.
Nonetheless, behind the largely detached prose, Phillips is clearly worried about longer term trends propelling the Republican party and the nation as a whole. Moreover, there's some irony in his current electoral findings. If liberals underestimated the role of religion in American life in past decades, conservatives now risk overestimating it, creating a base too narrow to sustain the politics of fundamentalism. Coming from the strategist who was an earlier voice in the wind, such words should resonate in the age of Falwell and Robertson. There are a number of works discussing these pressing topics available. However, as a principled conservative and proven trend-detector, Phillips should not be passed up.
- Unconvincing account by a disillusioned Republican
Phillips doesn't personalize the book in this way, but this is clearly the story of how this life-long Republican activist and presidential advisor fell out of love with his party. As such, it's interesting and it parallels the political journeys of a number of people in my family. He believes the GOP is guilty of two bad sets of policies, those encouraging both public and private debt in the United States, and those policies supporting over-reliance on oil.
What is really driving Phillips away from his party, however, isn't a question of bad policy choices. He's frustrated and disgusted by the party's growing reliance on fundamentalist Christians who are intolerant of others, hostile to education and science, and, frankly, downmarket kinds of people. Some of Phillips' reaction to the fundamentalists is well-reasoned and grounded in legitimate concerns about where this 40 percent of the electorate would like to take the country. A large part of Phillips' frustration is more emotional - - he belongs in the mixed group of secular and mainline Protestants who used to dominate the GOP, and he thinks that lower-class, rural fundamentalists are icky.
As this suggests, there's a mixture of reason and emotionalism that pervades this book on the question of religion. Nonetheless, I found the chapters on religion the most interesting because Phillips works hard to trace the spread of Southern denominations outward into parts of the border states, upper Midwest, and intermountain West.
In contrast, his discussions of oil and debt are frustrating. He doesn't know enough economics to make the analysis of debt convincing, so we're left with a kind of schoolmarmish disapproval of people who borrow too much. On the question of oil he tends toward the kind of conspiracy theories that one expects from the Michael Moore Left instead of from a disillusioned Republican.
Most importantly, Phillips never makes a convincing case that these three concerns are linked. Why do fundamentalist Christians like oil? On the face of it, it's an odd association and there's certainly no biblical foundation for it. There's even less reason for "Christians" to be associated with debt, given biblical prohibitions on usury. So Phillips leaves lots of unanswered questions in this review of the last fifty years of the Republican party.
- Sharp, Not Balanced, But An Important Read
Former Republican strategist, Kevin Phillips, believes he knows what is wrong with our nation. Chances are, by very virtue of your reading a book review on a Christian e-zine, you contribute to the erosion of our national health. American Theocracy: The Politics and Peril of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century is at times scathing and at times coolly analytical in its survey of dangers Phillips sees threatening our superpower status.
Part I examines the effects of America's dependency on oil. Our industry, automobiles, and military have an insatiable appetite for oil. Phillips argues that this energy dependency gives Big Oil too much sway over our domestic and foreign policies. At home we lax our environmental laws to accommodate oil drilling. And abroad we resort to international thuggery to secure control of Iraq's mostly untapped oil fields. "The war on terror?", "Importing democracy to the Middle East?" Phillips sees these as slogans to sell an imperialistic war.
In Part II: "Too Many Preachers", Phillips takes aim at Christian Fundamentalism, a movement the he sees embodied by the Southern Baptist Convention, Pentecostals, and the charismatic movements. Phillips chronicles these denominations rise to prominence and how they shape national politics. The culture wars are provoked by radical Christians attempting to establish a theocracy--a Christian America governed by God's rules. "Disenlightenment" is Phillip's descriptor for the effect that these empowered believers have on our country: They value faith over science and a literal Armageddon over peace.
Phillips closes his diatribe with Part III on our national and individual debt. Again, Phillips provides a valuable historic context at how debt played a role in the decline of England, Spain, and the Netherlands as superpowers. Phillips offers an undeniable outline of the depths of our national debt as well as personal credit lodes. He argues that our increasing debt and decreasing hard industry has created a thin ice that will eventual give in under our largesse.
American Theocracy finds its value when Phillips is able to sustain his analytical voice, and he's able to do so for extended periods of time. His historical perspective on our oil dependency, the changing face of American religion, and our national debt demand your attention. I'll confess, as an evangelical with political tendencies a few notches right of centrist, this was uncomfortable stuff to read. Even so, Phillips places important issues on the table.
However when Phillips slips into his polemic voice the book becomes tedious. Phillips has open contempt for people superstitious enough to buy into the Biblical creation account, Noah Arc, or a literal interpretation of Revelation, such as the one popularized by the Left Behind franchise. Phillips also makes too many gaps in his evidence with clauses like, "Although the evidence is weak." He's on a mission to connect the dots and is willing to supply any missing points along the way.
Make no mistake; Kevin Phillips wields too much anger and bias to be objective. But are there any takeaways for the evangelical and fundamentalist Christian communities?
I think so. American Theocracy provokes us to ask several poignant questions:
-- Have we developed what Phillip's calls "American Exceptionalism"; a belief that America has an exclusive blessing from God? How does this belief influence our foreign policy?
-- Does our theology concerning the end times make us overly tolerant of military interventions in the Middle East? ("The faster we get to Armageddon the faster we get to heaven.")
-- Should the political arena our primary method of advancing God's kingdom on Earth? Does Jesus truly expect that we establish an "American Theocracy?"
I won't pretend to offer the final word on these questions. Instead, I just note that in spite of all the book's weaknesses, American Theocracy provides the agenda for an important conversation that's long overdue
- very one-sided
By using a narrow view of historical religious expansionism, Phillips almost acts as an apologist for the religious right. It would be better if it had been written from a non-biased political view point. ...more info
- Hubbert's peek into the present.
In the Republican years before Nixon resigned, I perused the editorials each Sunday in our Joplin Globe. Among the syndicated columnists, Jack Anderson & John Roche passed for liberal; Kevin Phillips & Max Rafferty (former superintendent of California Public Schools) were the conservatives. Between the latter, Phillips seemed the more reasoned.
Of late, Phillips, who worked like the dickens to get Nixon elected & who like so many of the old Goldwater guard deserted the Republican orthodoxy, has got a good deal of mileage out of shredding the bedding of the Family Bush. In "American Theocracy," Phillips summons up fearsome documentation for his thesis that the US of A is headed down a path previously trod by Spain, the Netherlands, & Great Britain: their governments paralyzed by indebtedness & mesmerized by evangelical zeal failed to replace their fading sources of energy & so collapsed under the weight their own inertia.
Because Phillips is not out to preach to the choir, he doesn't dawdle over pop topics like "renewable" energy sources or the isolationist-directed reducing dependence on foreign oil: it's too late for all that. Instead, he cites the instances of how we allowed our blind love of the "freedom of the road" to lead us to the brink of energy catastrophe: the 1956 "Hubbert peak," the prediction by Shell Oil geologist Marion Hubbert that oil extraction in CONUS would peak betw. 1965 & 1970; the rise of nationalized petroleum industries in Iraq, Libya, & Iran (& of late, Venezuela); & the especially scary notion that petroleum geology is an unpopular major among American college graduates, whereas it's an extremely desirable one in Africa, Latin America, etc.
His Goldwater-like disdain for the current influence of the evangelical Christian ideologists is painfully evident, but Phillips points out that war & politics in the U.S. have traditionally "borne a heavy imprint of church leadership & denominationalism." Like the despised liberals of 40+ years ago, the evangelically correct right wing of today has "taken the lead in promoting unworkable social-planning [the "panacea of abstinence" in sexual matters] abstractions."
Moreover, the US of A is not the first instance of a govt. in the throes of apocalyptic fibrillation: Phillips reminds us that 17th-cent. Netherlands & WWI-era Great Britain firmly believed that Biblical prophecy would stand them in good stead, even while their empires crumbled. Each time, they were sadly disappointed that God did not come to their rescue.
With regard to the "borrower-industrial" complex--the "financialization" of the union--, Phillips dabbles in some prophecy of his own when he writes, albeit pleonastically, that the "maintenance of the upward revaluation of homes may be the next frontier of risk socialization." We have reached that frontier today.
That a former republican strategist--a guy that wrote 40 years ago of the formerly Democratic South becoming a bastion of Republican values--has so little respect for the Republican Party of today is cause for some serious consideration; however, Democrats have done little but concede to Republican whims at every turn. False optimism about an endless supply of crude oil, gross mismanagement of our holy war in Iraq, & the withering of our manufacturing base should give one pause about how much longer the US of A can hang the "superpower" shingle on its swinging doors.
- Mandatory Reading
A non-fiction that reads like a novel! I first read a library copy in 2006, and was frightened that the religious right would drive our country to ruin. I reread my Amazon copy (after Obama's election), and am now hopeful, but the messages of "American Theocracy" are now more important than ever. Book accurately describes our current (2008) problems with the bailout of our financial system, and dilemma with with the possible failure of the big three automobile makers. "American Theocracy" provides a compelling and credible historic case for the demise of our country. ...more info
- American Theocracy: Political.Economic Pundit Keven Philllip's gloomy survey of America in the present day
Viewers of C-Span and readers of his many books on politcs and economics have come to rely on the sober judgments of Kevin Phillips. The former White House strategist in the Nixon years has grown disillusioned with the politics of big oil, fundamentalistic religion and our nation's mad leap into the economic abyss of huge national and personal debt.
Phillips deals with these three major problems with well argued prosed, statistics to back up his position and a thorough knowledge of the players involved from the Bushes to the Congress.
A brief survey of what he says about:
1. Oil-Phillips looks at former great powers whose empires declined. Specifically he focuses on Spain and the Dutch Republic relying on wind and water. Great Britain relied on coal and seapower to stay at the apex of power during her Victorian world hegemony. Phillips critically examnes the 21st century US with its heavy reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Phillips views our invasion of Iraq as a disaster. Bush and his team in the White House wanted Iraq to serve as a fueling station. The invasion cost thousands of lives, drove the nation deeper in debt and led to America being viewed with disfavor by our allies. Americans produce fewer cars which are less gas efficient than overseas products. Our heavy industries are running well behind such coming behemoths as China and India. We are a nation of gas guzzlers who have relied too much on the continuing abundance of black gold to fuel our SUV's and heavy pickups.
2. The American economy has led to massive spending and trillions of dollars in debt. Americans are worshippers of the plastic god known as the credit card. Few realize how the economy functions or what are the penalites for wild spending. The Bush adminstration has spent like a drunken sailor. Dire consequences will follow as the American dollar becomes edged out by euros and other foreign currency in the money market global economy. Phillips writes for the layman and presents this gloomy picture of corporate and personal greed.
3.Radical Religion deals with the nexus between the far right and the Republican party. Many evangelicals believe in the world entering its final days due to premillenial rapture theology. Books like the Tim LeHaye bestsellers in the "Left Behind" series dealing with the coming rapture lead many political leaders to be blase about such concerns as world environment and global peace. They do so since they believe will sound end anyway in an apocalyptic day of judgment.
Phillips vision is a grim one. Can we Americans turn it around at this late date? Perhaps our decline as a nation is not inevitable. The election of Barrack Obama is an indication to people waking up to the perils we face.
Phillips style is dry and statistics fill his pages. We read him not for literary beauty but for the facts he presents with years of study of the American electorate and how and why they vote the way they do. The emergence of the Republican party married to big oil and fundamentalist religon is a story every thinking citizen needs to become familiar with.
Kevin Phillips is always worth reading.
- Religions define politics
This book describes in utmost detail how religion defines politics and why as a conservative religious institution in place at the white house, we make the moves that we do. Criticism is often theoritical and shrugged off as those liberals complaining again. But this book, brings it to a level that clearly explains how the beliefs we have dictate past the logic our leaders should be using instead....more info
- important book
Kevin Phillip has written a well researched and powerful book exposing the stupidities of the Bush Administration and the perilous situation the US is now in. Everyone, especially thoughtful conservatives, should read this.
- What Would Jesus Read?
As usual Kevin is pointed in his discription of what most Americans would rather not think about- that is the 400 pound gorilla in the room.
The theocrats have always been with us and will continue to influence the direction of the nation- until someone stands up and says "No".
History is a continous thread that binds us to the past. Zealots don't just "Go away". They reconstitute and rise again. It is no coincidence that we are at war in the Middle East and a politician from the South controls the White House. Like the Islamists who's intolerance we fight, and who need to translate their faith into action, so too do fundamentalist Christians. Books like Phillips' make Christian fundamentalists nervous.
The rest of us are not suppose to notice nor to understand the implications of what the religious right is telling us these days.
All one has to do is follow the thread of history to understand the intentions of "God's little helpers". There are retributions to be paid by the "evil doers", prisons to be built and wars to fight;
prophesies to fulfil and a better place to be purchased for all who find themselves disenfranchised.
Fundamentalist zealots will know when the time is right. The Islamists have already acted on their faith- in their minds they had no choice.
For if they believe what they say they believe- they have to act or lose their very souls.
By the percentage of fundamentalist Christian military personnel who continue to volunteer for duty in Iraq, it would appear that the new Crusades have begun. Without Iraq the mission would in time be our own central government.
- This book is to Christians what Mein Kampf was to Jews
Not to much else to say. It's an excuse for marginalization and mistreatment of a particular people. Vote for my comment if you've read it and agree.
Five stars because it's a must read if you want to understand hate speech using big words. ...more info
- Very worthwhile
Phillips' writing style is clear and concise rather than entertaining, so his books require a little persistence, especially in the early chapters. But American Theocracy is well worth your time. I listened to it on CD on my way home from work in the wee hours, and it kept me awake and challenged the entire time. I learned much about religion, economics, history and politics that I didn't know. In fact, I wish I had it in hard copy as well so I could refer back to it and refresh my memory on some of the facts and statistics a little more easily....more info
- Well written, extensively researched and very alarming...
If you want a book that is well written, extensively researched and very alarming, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips is just what you're looking for. What makes American Theocracy even more frightening is that Phillips is a former Republican political strategist.
Phillips' theory is that throughout history, world powers have lost their premier standing because of common factors. These factors include the inability to adapt to new energy sources, the influx of right-wing religions, and the crippling debt amassed by nations and individuals. He begins with the Roman Empire, and analyzes the downfalls of Rome, the Spanish Hapsburg Empire, the Dutch of the 17th Century and the English of the 19th Century. He then drawls parallels with what is happening now in the US. America is definitely on the decline as a world power if we can't overcome the mistakes of the present administration.
The first section of American Theocracy details the history of energy sources. He begins with the Dutch and whale oil production and ends with the Iraqi War. While our current president might tell us that this war is about "freedom and democracy," the actions of our troops tell us otherwise. After our invasions, the first building to be occupied by our troops was the Iraq Oil Ministry, home to thousands of oil maps.
The section I found most disturbing was on religion. The religious right has hijacked the GOP to produce our nation's first religious party. It is hard to argue with a president who speaks with God, takes the Bible as literal truth, and believes that "the Almighty, not carbon dioxide, brings about climate change." What is especially scary is when societies start disregarding science and logic for religious reasons. The Roman Empire of the 4th and 5th Century did just that when "Christian regimes closed famous libraries like the one in Alexandria, limited the availability of books, discarded the works of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and embraced the dismissal of Greek Logicians." The effects of these policies lasted over 1000 years. Science in the US is in deep trouble as funding for research is cut, research universities lose their edge, and science and math scores for high school students plummet.
American Theocracy should prove to be a wake-up call to Americans. Unfortunately, it is difficult to change the minds of those (our administration included) who believe they are doing God's will. Phillips quotes Harry Truman "The only thing new in the world is the history we don't know." And as George Santayana explains, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." America will continue to follow down the same path of these other fallen world powers if we don't make some major changes, and soon.