American Theocracy: The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, by Kevin Phillips

 

I have only a marginal interest in these kinds of books, but I ran across this audio book at the library and thought I might check it out. Certainly, there is no shortage of books that purport to expose the truth about the Right, or the Left, or Clinton, or Bush, or Obama, etc., and this book is no exception—but among those types this certainly seems to be a competent and accurate one.

 

As to his facts, I neither have the time nor inclination to double check them, so you’ll have to decide upon his veracity yourself.

 

Phillips paints a pretty dire picture of our current state, and demonstrates, fairly accurately I believe, the dangers of our dependency on oil, our staggering debt level, and the irrational fusion of politics and religious fundamentalism.

 

I will upload some MP3 tracks from the books in the comment fields below.

 

About the Author from Wikipedia:
Kevin Price Phillips (born November 30, 1940) is an American writer and commentator on politics, economics, and history. Formerly a Republican Party strategist, Phillips has become disaffected with his former party over the last two decades, and is now one of its most scathing critics. He is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio, and is a political analyst on PBS' NOW with Bill Moyers.

 

Phillips was a strategist on voting patterns for Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign, which was the basis for a book, The Emerging Republican Majority, which predicted a conservative realignment in national politics, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential recent works in political science. His predictions regarding shifting voting patterns in presidential elections proved accurate, though they did not extend "down ballot" to Congress until the Republican revolution of 1994. Phillips also was partly responsible for the design of the Republican "Southern strategy" of the 1970s and 1980s.

 

The author of fourteen books, he lives in Goshen, Connecticut, in Litchfield County.

 

Book synopsis from Wikipedia:
Phillips describes three central, unifying planks in the Republican coalition. The first is oil. The second is radical religion. The third is unprecedented levels of national and consumer debt.

 

Oil and American Supremacy
Phillips suggests that American greatness in the 20th century was built on oil, much as British greatness in the 19th century was built on coal, and Dutch greatness before that was built on wind and water power. When these energy sources became scarce or were replaced with a new source, argues Phillips, these countries lost their greatness to the master of the new energy source.

 

He points to American society and geography being built around oil, with widely dispersed suburbs and exurbs. He criticizes the "S.U.V. gas-hog culture" and points to geological estimates that oil supplies in most of the world have peaked, in the most pessimistic of views, or will peak within the next few decades, which ranks in with the optimistic view, with the result being prices continuing to increase and oil becoming more scarce.

 

Phillips points to political ramifications. He cites statistics that show that people who use more oil are more likely to vote republican. These people are more likely to drive larger domestic trucks and S.U.V.s and live further from the urban center of a city, thus driving more in less efficient vehicles. Of the top ten oil states, eight voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential election.

 

Finally, Phillips suggests that oil has been the driving force in U.S. foreign policy for nearly thirty years. He suggests that the U.S. military has been transformed into a worldwide oil protection force. He suggests that various military events in the 1980s, as well as the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, were primarily oil driven. Phillips makes a point that with Iraq at war for the past 25 years, and thus Iraqi oil production depressed for that time period, that most of Iraq's oil is still in the ground.

 

Too Many Preachers
In this section, Phillips refers to the large presence in the conservative coalition of religious Evangelicals and Pentecostals. He cites a statistic that 40% of the republican coalition is made up of such voters. He cites quotes by U.S. President George W. Bush suggesting that he is speaking for God (Phillips points to past leaders, such as Roman Dictator Julius Caesar who made similar statements.). He points to hostility by the social conservatives towards science in general, and Darwinian evolution in particular. But he particularly focuses on the end-times prophecies of what he refers to as Christian Reconstructionists.

 

Phillips starts this section by tracing the history of American religion. He argues that the pilgrims who emigrated to the New World before the American Revolution were religious outsiders, who were non-conformist and more radical than the establishment would allow (which was why they left Europe in the first place). He points to a history of highly emotional religious practices in the 17th and 18th centuries. He then argues that after "fundamentalist religion" (particularly Evangelical and the newly-formed Pentecostal branches) were set back after the Scopes Monkey Trial, they appeared to have been dealt a permanent blow. Phillips cites statistical studies that suggest that after this point, fundamentalist religion grew at a rapid rate, while mainstream denominations actually declined (this was covered to most observers at the time due to other circumstances, such as the increase in population at the time.)

 

Phillips argues that religion is, by far, the most accurate predictor of political and ideological belief. He cites this as the primary determinant of who picked what side during, what he refers to, as the three great civil wars between English speaking peoples: the English Civil War in the 17th century, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War.

 

Borrowed Prosperity
Phillips points to the unprecedented national debt, currently approaching ten trillion dollars. He also points to a "debt culture." He suggests underlying problems because the "debt industry" is larger than industries that actually manufacture goods (such as the automotive industry). He suggests a coming debt bubble. He predicts a liquidation of U.S. government debt by foreign creditors, and mass insolvency of consumers.

 

 

Here is a video of Phillips giving a lecture about his book. I have not had time to watch this yet though.

 

Kevin Phillips examines the axis of religion, politics, and borrowed money that threatens to destroy the nation. He maintains that every world-dominating power has been brought down by a related set of causes: a lethal combination of global over-reach, militant religion, resource problems, and ballooning debt. Series: "Walter H. Capps Center Series" [1/2007] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 12093]

Tags: Christianity, Islam, Middle East, USA, energy, foreign affairs, fundamentalism, history, oil, politics, More…religion, theism

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