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American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and… (2006)

af Kevin Phillips

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1,3602010,088 (3.8)33
Former Republican strategist Phillips takes an uncompromising view of the political coalition, led by radical religion, that is driving America to the brink of disaster. From Ancient Rome to the British Empire, Phillips demonstrates 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. It is this same axis of ills that has come to define America's political and economic identity in the past decade. Military miscalculations in the Middle East, the surge of fundamentalist religion, the staggering national debt, the costs of U.S. oil dependence--together these factors are undermining our nation's security, solvency, and standing in the world. If left unchecked, the same forces will bring a debt-bloated, preachy, energy-starved America to its knees.--From publisher description.… (mere)

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» Se også 33 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 20 (næste | vis alle)
Radical religion, oil, and borrowed money and their influence in the 21st century ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 9, 2017 |
A very troubling recognition of the symptoms of the disease that was Bush's America. Why oh why didn't more people read this sooner.

Does focus a bit on Bushian policies, but also on broader societal trends that started in the 1970s, and some earlier. Deepening worries of consumerism, fundamentalism, religion as intermediary in political issues, the greed for oil as political motivator. All of these topics are covered in greater detail in other books, but this one provides a solid overview of them all.

I find it quite interesting that the author was a Nixon strategist - he was arguably one of the presidents most responsible for this deepening fissure in American society.

The author does accurately foresee the 'Great Recession' crash of 2007-8, and the continued resurgence of the Far Right in the current presidential election is troubling (if morbidly amusing) to watch. One wonders if the end is nigh yet. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
The author's thesis, that the joining of politics, religion, and oil can't possibly lead to a good outcome for our democracy, is hard to argue with. The biggest downside of this book is that it drags a great deal, particularly in the sections on oil, and gets too deeply involved in policy for the lay person the book is aimed at; however, the message is timely: if we continue to go down the path we've started on, we could very well end up with an oil-driven theocracy. The author speaks as a Washington insider, and for this reason, his voice carries a ring of authority. ( )
  Devil_llama | May 10, 2011 |
Every so often I get the craving to read political texts. The problem with this urge is that I have no interest in picking up the edited transcript/ghost written crap put out by Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly, the frankly embarrassing Dinesh D’Souza, or the “Look at me! Look at me! Look at MEEEE!” shrillness that passes for the corporeal form of Ann Coulter. That’s what’s on offer on the right side of the spectrum.Too frequently when I read a lefty’s political book of any kind, I find it dully confirming a great number of my already held prejudices and regurgitating things I read on the blogs months ago. Rarely do any of these books enlighten or educate me in any real fashion. Oh, I may pick up an anecdote here or there or may recall one or two unfamiliar facts to buttress my earlier beliefs, but it’s hardly the same as learning. What a revelation then Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, a book I entirely put into the category of prejudice bolstering anti-fundamentalist GOP tract.I had always meant to read the book, the conjunction of religion and power an all too often unacknowledged aspect of American politics. By this I mean, people may discuss how Republicans court the religious right and kowtow to the fundamentalist line on all sexual matters (gays, women’s rights, abortion), but exactly how much of the GOP platform is dictated by the Religious Right is hardly ever outright discussed (outside of the same mentioned lefty blogs).When the author ranks fundamentalist Jewish and Christian sects on the same level as Jihadism and refers to the GOP as America’s first religious party, you’d be tempted to believe that the author was a Democrat, or even an unaffiliated liberal. How surprising then to find that Phillips was a member of the Nixon Administration and author of the seminal electoral text The Emerging Republican Majority. He has also written extensively on a range of historical subjects from the presidency of William McKinley to the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War in The Cousins War.Phillips’ range of comparison is convincing, illustrating the collapses of the Roman Empire, the Spanish Hapsburg Empire, the Dutch naval empire, and the well-known British Empire with intricate detail, demonstrating how financial strain, badly managed resources, and religious intolerance were sizable factors in each one, aggravating already existing problems.Which is to say, Phillips brings an impressive historical scope to his analysis of where the American Empire is headed. In short, disaster. Having made the case of how those problems were instrumental, he then bluntly lays into modern American political culture with bruising clarity and straightforwardness demonstrating over the past several decades how get-rich-quick attitudes and short-term gain have sacrificed long-term stability, most commonly abetted by the Republican Party and their corporate backers and Taliban-like fundie ground troops.Perhaps the most common criticism against Phillips’ book is the eye-rolling toward the notion that Bush and the GOP lead us into the Iraq quagmire based on oil dreams. It always strikes me as patently ridiculous that anyone could argue that other motivations were as strong as that single one. After all, weapons of mass destruction and democracy fostering could be even more strongly argued for North Korea or Iran, yet neither of those is sitting on oil reserves the size of Iraq’s.Part of how Phillips demolishes arguments that counter the rather obvious one he makes — oil was the primary and overwhelming motive for war in Iraq — is to consult the historical record. Even his detractors can’t argue that the man is not thorough. In considering the American economy’s relationship with oil, Phillips returns to the industry of whaling and starts from there, building his case for the energy industry’s outlandish power from the ground up. In considering imperial designs on the Fertile Crescent, he returns to Rome, though most of his global focus rests on the British Empire and their colonial inheritors of hegemony.“Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath,” Phillips quotes an oil analyst from a couple of years ago. “You can’t ask for better than that.” And while Iraq remains a central front in this particular petro-war (it being of significant note that in 2000 Baghdad switched from the dollar standard for oil export to the Euro, a move reversed post-invasion), Phillips points out the recent clustering of semi-temporary American military bases and/or the presence of U.S. military advisors near Kazakhastan, Colombia, the Caucasian republic of Georgia, Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Sao Tome, Indonesia, the Strait of Malaca, the Balkans, and any other region that just so coincidentally happens to run along oil and gas pipelines or be possessed of sizable oil fields. Such maps, one historian notes, bear a striking resemblance to the global span of imperial Britain’s protected collieries.It is one of the book’s ironies to learn that the likely greatest failure of the British Empire was its heavy dependence on coal and its refusal to adjust its coal-based infrastructure and mindset. This spectacular myopia lead them to sort of overlook and underestimate petroleum. King Coal would always rule, they believed.Such mindsets were behind another feature of declining empire, the overtaking of actual manufacturing as a base of the economy in favor of finance-based speculative markets. Heavy borrowing, stock-trading, futures markets, all of these non-productive types of wealth accumulation and management have come to dominate the American business sector, with solid manufacturing jobs being shipped out to slave-wage-labor third-world sweatshops. As wealth becomes more and more speculative and less and less based on solid material growth, empires overextend themselves and the merest of financial catastrophes balloon.This is well illustrated by Phillips’ consideration of personal, corporate, and government debt, handily summarized by American’s net savings for the first time in history showing a negative balance. We now, as a nation and as family units, spend more than we earn. While it’s clear Phillips abhors this practice at the individual level, he is ruthless in his excoriation of the architects of such economies, epitomized in the person of former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan. Phillips stops just short of suggesting Greenspan should be burned in effigy in the streets or tarred and feathered, but such notions probably aren’t far from his mind.But nowhere in the book is Phillips more scathing and venomous than in lambasting the hucksterism of the Religious Right, a group he compares unfavorably with radical Muslim clerics, as well as frauds and opportunists looking to cash in on the credulous. Tying this into the petroleum dilemmas, Phillips takes us inside what the Coors Beer family fortune has wrought, the staffing of “the principal units charged with resources stewardship (the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of the Interior and Energy)” with cronies from: the GOP’s business-religious axis: the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, the Council for National Policy…, and, more marginally, the Coalition on Revival (bridging the theological gap between the rapture believers and the Christian Reconstructionists who believe a theocratic type of government must be built before Jesus will return).As if you needed a better reason not to drink the Coors family’s shitty beer.With the third group in that category, the Council for National Policy, Phillips takes special attention toward Tim LaHaye, a hilariously inept favorite here on this site, and quotes one analysis of the novels LaHaye “co-wrote” with draftsman Jerry B. Jenkins as “And God so loved the world that He sent World War Three.” Phillips considers his influence to have “warped the Republican party” which is putting it mildly to say the least and heaps scorn on this sizable GOP constituency. You can almost hear the sneer when he notes that such among the faithful believe as soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg — “pop” god slips in a soul.That Phillips is a Republican attacking Republicans does not mean that he has suddenly become sympathetic to liberal ideas; he merely embraces science over religious tenets in decision making. He also doesn’t appear to have any reactions to the hot button issues of conservative fundamentalists (abortion, evolution, climate change, sex education). It’s refreshing to hear a GOP man discuss favorably how union labor lifted the American population by and large into the middle class, whereas today’s current money markets are pushing in the opposite direction. It is likewise a sign of his rationality that he finds fault with the Reagan years lust for deregulation which allowed for all kinds of economic mischief.To read American Theocracy is to have your eyes opened repeatedly with an erudition more entertaining political tracts lack. When the author mixes these three dangerous strands of his book together, the result promises a combustible future on this continent.Phillips has no great praise for Democrats in general, but to hear his concerns, his favorable impressions, his economic insights and views on what is needed to save America from ruinous collapse, you’d think you were hearing someone slightly to the right of Ralph Nader.And if that ain’t a sign of how warped the Republican Party has become, I don’t know what would demonstrate it better. ( )
  TheDigitarian | Jun 14, 2010 |
its incredible how accurately this book predicted the current economic realities we are currently experiencing , It was written over 3 years ago. This book makes credible arguments that oil and religion have been the focus of our politics at the cost to the american people. I mean , we went into Iraq for Oil and we didn`t even get it ...the chinese won the first contract. The direction and political decisions influenced by religion is staggering and scary. A worthwhile and eye-opening read. This book will not make you happy. It points out the ugly truths and trends in America which could lead to its demise. And the downside of the book is that there were no solutions ventured forth . I for one believe that with the new President and congress some of the issues this book sheds light on , Obama already repealed some of the religious fueled policies of Bush and we have our first study FDA approved trial of stem cells therapy. I believe that Obama`s focus , unlike the oilmen Bush and Cheney , is truly to ween us off of Oil and I believe the economy meltdown has put market forces back to work in the right way for that to happen. As far as the economy and debt , The economic recession has also radically changed the corporate financial landscape , Obama will push through more regulatory oversight to prevent such recurrence and we as Americans have no choice but to become savers not spenders and one can see this happening now as more and more retail stores shut down , and businesses cut back. We may raise our National debt in the short term but I feel that the painful corrections at home and in business are well under way. There is hope. ( )
1 stem kasualkafe | Feb 21, 2009 |
Viser 1-5 af 20 (næste | vis alle)
Phillips (American Dynasty, 2004, etc.), the apostate former Republican strategist, once coined the term “Sun Belt” and envisioned the Southernization of American politics. He is now in the unhappy position of bearing witness to the birth of a Texas-fried, small-tent politics that blends religious orthodoxy and unwavering uncertainty in presidential infallibility with an economics predicated on indebtedness and extraction. The red state/blue state schism marks several old divides, he holds, one between “a preference for conspicuous consumption over energy efficiency and conservation,” one between secularism and theocracy.
tilføjet af Lemeritus | RedigerKirkus Review (Mar 21, 2006)
 
Phillips has remained a prolific and important political commentator in the decades since, but he long ago abandoned his enthusiasm for the Republican coalition he helped to build.... he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness. By describing a series of major transformations, by demonstrating the relationships among them and by discussing them with passionate restraint, Phillips has created a harrowing picture of national danger that no American reader will welcome, but that none should ignore.
tilføjet af Lemeritus | RedigerNew York Times, Alan Brinkley (pay site) (Mar 19, 2006)
 
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Former Republican strategist Phillips takes an uncompromising view of the political coalition, led by radical religion, that is driving America to the brink of disaster. From Ancient Rome to the British Empire, Phillips demonstrates 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. It is this same axis of ills that has come to define America's political and economic identity in the past decade. Military miscalculations in the Middle East, the surge of fundamentalist religion, the staggering national debt, the costs of U.S. oil dependence--together these factors are undermining our nation's security, solvency, and standing in the world. If left unchecked, the same forces will bring a debt-bloated, preachy, energy-starved America to its knees.--From publisher description.

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