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American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century Paperback – March 27, 2007
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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 ruleand imperilthe United States, tracing the ever more alarming path of the emerging Republican majority's rise to power. Now Phillips takes an uncompromising view of the current age of global overreach, fundamentalist religion, diminishing resources, and ballooning debt under the GOP majority. With an eye to the past and a searing vision of the future, Phillips confirms what too many Americans are still unwilling to admit about the depth of our misgovernment.
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Kevin Phillips has written a thorough book that broadly compares 21st century America with other historical examples of over-reach. He notices eerie similarities. In America today we see the prosecution of wars on several fronts, a nation falling into increasing private and public debt and the rise of religious intolerance. Indeed, although this book was published in 2006, he very presciently anticipates the rise of the tea party movement.
So, can America fail? Well, possibly but not in the short run. A nation of such depth and entrepreneurial spirit will not collapse overnight. But, in the longer run? Well, the jury is still out. Afghanistan looks like a morass, debt will take decades to be repaid unless inflation helps out, and this creates problems of its own. And, as far as religion is concerned, America has made a clear turn to the unenlightened. No other nation in the developed world has such belief in a supernatural god, miracles and an eventual world ending clash between good and evil. The rest of the world is far more rational. Yet, it is not just the fact that Americans are religious. This is not a problem per se. Rather, it is that religion has become so intolerant. Never in living memory has America elected a non-believing President and there are no signs that this is about to change.
Kevin Phillips has done an admirable job documenting modern America. It will not be well received. My fear is that it will be even less heeded.
The book takes the reader through a well-detailed account of how we have reached this point, and where this likely leads. The "here" that Mr. Phillips outlines is a country where the dominant political party in the country has entered into a "great alliance" with the dominant religious organizations in the country in order to maintain joint dominance. The religious organizations benefit by continuing to assure that their agenda's are met by the politicians, while the political party benefits by keeping the eye of the governed off of the rape and pillage that is going on within the political apparatus. The focus weaves this involvement of the extreme right-wing fundamentalist clerics through all aspects of government, focusing in particular on the debt that has resulted and the foreign oil dependence that continues to drive most decisions, plunging the nation further into debt, resulting in increasing profits from those few who "own" that industry.
The historical aspects of the book were excellent, helping the reader to understand how we got where we are, as well as making it clear where history would advise that all nations end up when they get on the path that we have put ourselves on. It is not a comforting picture. I have given the book 4 stars because while the message and content are excellent and timely, I do think that the writing became just a little disjointed and rambled down some alleys at times. I would still highly recommend this book.