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Paperback American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century Book

ISBN: 0143038281

ISBN13: 9780143038283

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century

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Book Overview

An explosive examination of the coalition of forces that threatens the nation, from the bestselling author of American Dynasty In his two most recent bestselling books, American Dynasty and Wealth and Democracy , Kevin Phillips established himself as a powerful critic of the political and economic forces that rule--and imperil--the United States, tracing the ever more alarming path of the emerging Republican majority's rise to power. Now Phillips...

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Worthy critiques

Kevin Phillips is perhaps the best person to write a book like this - a Republican analyst, he can not easily be dismissed as someone with a lock-step animosity toward the Right wing. He analyses in the past, including the rise of the Republican party in the manner that it has, has been correct in many ways for several decades. Phillips writes in many ways as someone who is a court insider giving fair warning to the king - the kingdom has some troubles. Phillips identifies three principles areas of concern - the rise of certain elements of religion into the political sphere, the problems of oil as a national addiction (to use the President's own words), and the growing crisis of deficit and economic mismanagement. Phillips is a political commentator with an eye toward history, he makes apt comparisons with empires of the past: the Dutch trading empire, the British colonial empire, and even the Roman empire provide parallels for the United States in the twenty-first century. One thing to note - the period of stability of empires has decreased over the millennia; whereas an empire like Rome might sustain itself for half a millennium, later empires were able to sustain themselves for less and less time. The United States has been the pre-eminent global superpower for less than a century, and is already looking at relative decline. The problem with oil, according to Phillips, involves problems with both foreign and domestic policy as well as cultural issues. Rather than address growing needs, the Republicans in power have instead adopted a dangerous laissez-faire approach that threatens long-term stability, Phillips notes. The problem with the deficit and finance is similar to this - the Republican party used to be the party of smaller government and less spending, but in the past twenty five years, it has only been a Democratic administration that has been able to get the budget deficit under control. This is the kind of fiscal management that again jeopardises the long-term for the country. The problem of radical religion is not a new thing in American politics. While the country might not have been founded on quite the same principles being touted as Founding Fathers Theology today, it is true to say that religion has always had a role in the culture, and hence the politics of the nation. However, the danger is real - Phillips makes very telling comparisons with the ante-bellum situation of the North and South, showing how many issues prior to the Civil War involved religious dimensions, and how the long-term injection of religious radicalism can destabilise the culture (this works on both the Left and the Right, by the way). In addition to a critique of the Right, Phillips has strong words for the Democratic opposition as well, in that there isn't any kind of consistent vision or organisation being offered in distinction from the incumbents. This is a worthwhile book for anyone Left, Right or in the muddle (er, middle).

Precise, balanced and well-researched

Kevin Phillips is a Republican who puts voice to what concerns many American citizens, (both Republican and Democrat, secular and Christian): 1) that our nation is being taken over by extreme radical right-wing Christian clerics, 2) that our budget deficit is becoming more and more dangerous and 3) that our dependence on a dwindling oil supply will eventually permanently cripple us. This is a gripping piece of non-fiction that presents a balanced and well-researched view of a growing problem many people seem to prefer to ignore rather than address head-on, as Mr. Phillips courageously does in this book. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who feels that our country is becoming more and more unrecognizable to what it was even 6-8 years ago.

Who Will Hear This Wake Up Call?

Kevin Phillips is one of the most widely read and acclaimed in this field. Of his many works, "The Emerging Republican Majority" written 40 years ago in 1969, gives him the credibility, as well as his 13 other books since. "American Theocracy" discusses the 5 decades of growth many recent developments occurring in the US political, economic, religious and cultural realm in the GOP. He supports his points with lots of research and referencing. Phillips states the GOP and US government are "a fusion of petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex." At one time, the GOP was the party of stability, order, low taxes, low spending, and small government (in theory at least). The author notes the transition of the GOP to what many others think and believe today: In 2006, it's over. The Republican party can never argue again that it's the party of low taxes and spending, and small government. The 'big-government GOP' began long before The G.W . Bush administration, but Bush 43 has greatly exacerbated to shift to big spending, big government, conglomerate control, and the erosion of personal liberties and freedom of speech. Today there is a Cult of Personality and a lack of critical thought and even disdain -- to the slightest questioning or criticism of American domestic and foreign policy: Bushbots. Federal bureaucratic interference in education with the "No Child Left Behind," Act, and the promulgation of the pseudo-scientific "Intelligent Design." The federal government's interference in the Schiavo case is another clear example of many, noted in "American Theocracy." Borrowed Prosperity: "a preference for conspicuous consumption over energy efficiency and conservation," "Never before have political leaders urged . . . large-scale indebtedness on American consumers to rally the economy," It was Phillips who coined the well-know term "The Sunbelt. Well, here's another: "National-Debt Culture." Federal deficits, Social Security, Corporate debt, state & Local bonds, and massive trade imbalances. "The Financialization of America." American Per Capita Debt Ratios at Historical All-Time Highs: On a per capita level, the real estate boom was in part caused by the 1997 "no roll-over" capital gains tax, subsequent tech crash in 2000, and the lowed interest rates in decades. So what did people do as a result of the boom? Buy more stuff. How? By using their home equity as an ATM machine as they falsely believed they were "wealthier." Will there be consequences? Perhaps. Perhaps, not. Petro-Politics and the Military-Industrial Complex: The U.S. government learned during WWII that high military and defense spending helps the US economy, provides jobs which in turn, spur consumer spending, while redistributing wealth to corporations (defense contracting companies). Petro-Warriors: When troops first went into Iraq, what was the first thing they secur

The Consequences Of Rabid Republican Conservatism!

Author, advisor, and academic Kevin Phillips is a man of considerable intellect. In the late 1960s he penned a signal work ("The Emerging Republican Majority") that successfully prophesized the ways in which massive socioeconomic and demographic shifts in American society from a northern and industrial one to one more centered in what he euphemistically referred to as the "Sunbelt". In detailing this momentous transformation, Phillips made some then-startling prognostications how such a shift in population and potential electoral votes would presage the long-term shift to a more conservative and Republican-oriented political majority for generations to come. Of course, being a conservative Republican himself, he assumed that this development meant greater fiscal responsibility, more rationally-based international savoir-faire, and much greater social stability. Yet, as he admits in his latest volume, "American Theocracy", that is hardly what the record reflects having transpired in the intervening thirty five years. Instead, in this calm, clear, and well articulated tour of the social, economic, and political territory with which he is so familiar, Phillips describes the contemporary topography of conservative republican rule as being an inhospitable and ungovernable landscape pocked by craters of ideological fervor, fiscal insanity, and unspeakable personal greed. In many ways, his well-articulated broadside against the political right is all the more damning because it is not only from a true believer, but also from an outstanding academic with a persuasive resume, a man who carefully documents and substantiates everything he cites, especially in this scathing look at exactly where it is that the 21st century's form of rabid Republican conservatism is leading us. Yet one does not find here so much a prosaic attack on the present Bush administration as it is a penetrating historical analysis of how we got to this point in terms of three frightening enduring social and political trends, phenomena neither invented nor originated by the present administration. Phillips sees three interlocking tendencies as now reaching a critical point in defining and even threatening the future of the polity. First is the rise of the corruptive influence of oil on both domestic and foreign policy; second is the rise of an intolerant form of radical Christian doctrine into key areas of public life; and third, the incredibly irresponsible increase in the level of both public and private debt. Each of these trends threatens to undermine both the short-term and long term stability of the nation, and each in its own way is a key factor in the way that describes how it is that both the Executive branch and the Congress are becoming increasingly beholden to special interests and are increasingly undemocratic. In particular, the fashion in which President Bush and the Congress have used permanent tax cuts for the wealthy as a device to transfer responsibility for future

A trenchant analysis of three of the greatest problems facing America

In my opinion Kevin Phillips understands the real problems facing America better than any other Republican in America. He is also the kind of Republican who has increasingly been marginalized in the take over of the party by the far left. By no stretch of the imagination is he a liberal (though unquestionably a host of Republicans who haven't read the book will write a review here proclaiming him a liberal), but more of a classic, pre-Reagan conservative in the Russell Kirk, Peter Viereck mode. Despite being a leftist myself, I have long found Phillips to be one of the most acute analysts of the genuine-as opposed to trumped up-problems afflicting American life. In WEALTH AND DEMOCRACY he wrote eloquently of the problems of the undue influence of the wealthy in our democracy as well as the extraordinary and dramatic growth of economic inequality over the past two and a half decades. AMERICAN THEOCRACY may be Phillips's most important book yet. I was ecstatic when I found a copy this past weekend at a bookstore that broke the moratorium and put their copies out a few days early (bookstores-especially the big chains-often get copies of books to be released on a Tuesday late the previous week, and occasionally they will inadvertently put copies out) and spent the weekend reading it. Phillips explicitly states that his goal is to deal with three of the most pressing problems in American life today, problems that surpass terrorism as a real threat. These three problems are referred to in the subtitle and are dealt with in serial order, though because the problems are intertwined the discussions spill over into one another. The first problem is our dependence on oil and the degree to which it has shaped and determined our national priorities and policies. Phillips thinks historically and understands that nothing takes place without a rich historical context. While many talking about oil and its place in contemporary society begin with the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in the 19th century, Phillips goes much further back, discussing the way that the discovery and mastery of new forms of energy has parallels in previous economically dominant nations. In particular, he writes of the ways that the mastering of water and wind by the Dutch led to their economic ascendance in 17th century Europe and exploiting coal led to the creation of the British Empire. But he also writes of how both nations eventually lost their international preeminence, a change that could very well have begun for the US right now, which became predominant in the previous century due to its exploitation of oil. Phillips writes at length of the development of America's involvement in oil both domestically and abroad. He writes eloquently of how our preoccupation with oil, despite the protests of virtually everyone in the Bush administration to the contrary, was one of the primary causes for our adventurism in Iraq, which has not only has some of the richest oil reserve
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