Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Most Important Book of the Year: American Theocracy

I stayed up far too late last night reading Kevin Phillips's brilliant new book American Theocracy. Although I'm not done yet, I'm convinced already that it is the most vitally important book you should read this year. The thesis is disturbing: America is in decline, perhaps irreversibly so. The causes of this decline are over dependence on oil (and the perversions of our foreign policy caused by this over dependence), fundamentalist religious fanaticism and its rejection of modern science, and the dominance of a financial sector built around pushing indebtedness as a way of life. The tie that binds these three things together? The Republican Party, which is run by oilmen, subservient to right wing religious groups, and tied up intimately with the big money boys.
Few authors I have ever read have the depth of historical knowledge Phillips possesses, and he marshals an astonishing range of evidence in support of his arguments. He warns us that Imperial Rome, Habsburg Spain, the Dutch Republic, and Britain all viewed themselves as missionary powers chosen and favored by God, and explains that all four overextended themselves financially and militarily. Phillips sees the religious right as a deadly threat to America's future--which it is--because it rejects the very basis of reality examination itself, empiricism, embracing instead a preposterous Biblical literalism that has now been given official approval by the governing Republicans. The Republicans, in fact, are now, according to Phillips, America's first religious party. It is the Republican cleverness in keeping a strange coalition of interests together that is leading to disaster. And at the very epicenter of all of this? The Bush family, of course.
I urge you in the strongest terms to buy and read this book. It may be too late to do anything to stop this demented juggernaut that is carrying America toward destruction, but we've got to do something. You can order the book here.

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