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American Trinity:  Religion/Oil/Debt

Kevin Phillips

     ... political and economic analyst. In American Theocracy:  The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, Mr. Phillips articulates America's current volatile circumstances with devastating comparisons to prior economic empires. A former Republican strategist, Mr. Phillips first became known for The Emerging Republican Majority in the late '60s. He has subsequently written more than a dozen highly regarded books, including bestsellers American Dynasty, The Politics of Rich and Poor and Wealth and Democracy. He writes for the Los Angeles Times, Harper's Magazine and Time.


If it is to survive, the United States must get three looming threats to its existence out in the open, Kevin Phillips warns: the central role of oil in the nation's psyche, economy and culture; radical right-wing religionists intent on creating a theocratic state; and the nation's staggering national and personal debt. Candid, open discussion is our last hope if we are to avert the catastrophes that felled the world's other dominant economic empires, says Mr. Phillips. He's the political analyst who gained fame predicting the emerging Republican majority 40 years ago.

America is in big trouble, Mr. Phillips says, and the problems are compounded because the one possible way out -- honest, open, inclusive and democratic dialogue grounded in "We, the People" -- is simply not happening.  Not in the mass media.  Not in the political arena. And not in our communities, neighborhoods, workplaces or homes.

Consider oil. Bush and Blair told a transparent lie, Mr. Phillips documents, when they asserted their premeditated attack on Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with oil. Oil, Mr. Phillips shows, has always underpinned America's supremacy and culture. There's also a political coalition through the Republican Party which represents most of the oil and motorists' interests. And there's been a complete merger of national security, oil and the intelligence community, no longer any separation between oil, defense, and defense production industries, Mr. Phillips laments. Nobody's talking about these threatening realities.

Religion? The U.S. has a President with a messianic view of himself in the world and a reliance on co-religionists who have turned the G.O.P. into the nation's first religious party, intent on having a theocratic state, which is rarely discussed. Perhaps it's not surprising, for Mr. Phillips reports this turn to rigid religiosity also has happened at the end of all other economic empires. And too, the U.S. does has a long history of super-saturated religion...which nobody talks about.

And finally, there is America's staggering and mushrooming debt. Politicians and corporate news media do not talk about what the nation's exploding debt really means, the society's overwhelming debt-culture, or the calamity Mr. Phillips fears is dead-ahead when today's housing asset bubble bursts..if we don't get the issues out on the table.

In the long haul when everything's totaled up, Mr. Phillips believes America has clearly peaked out as a nation and as a world power. How did it happen?  He attributes it to the culture, the economy, the rich-poor gap and a lack of fiber in a lot of people who have had it too easy in too many ways, just as happened to the Romans, Hapsburg Spain, the Dutch and the British.

Is a dark future inevitable? No. Not if individuals are ready to challenge America's privileged and greedy few with the nation's most powerful weapon of all -- democracy.

The Gross National Debt

[This Program was recorded April 20, 2006, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.]

Conversation 1

Fear-driven changes globally and at home point to a lot of things wrong with the United States, Kevin Phillips tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell.  Mr. Phillips differentiates among the five economic empires starting with Rome, and shows how Christianity lent itself to each.

Conversation 1 RealAudio9:09


Conversation 2

Energy has been an important part of Empire since the Dutch and British, Mr. Phillips says, bringing lessons from both into the present as he looks at oil’s very long shadow over the United States. The United States' supremacy is gone, Mr. Phillips says, and it is now in big trouble. He outlines both the politics and the foreign policy of oil. Dick Cheney, Mr. Phillips says, is the prototype for combining defense and oil and he assigns Cheney the key role in why the U.S. is in Iraq.

Conversation 1 RealAudio10:27

Conversation 3

Mr. Phillips says unequivocally that George W. Bush's and Tony Blair's assertion that the attack on Iraq had nothing to do with oil was a transparent lie. He explains why, especially attentive to Bush's archconservative religious supporters, 55% of whom believe in the Biblical End Times when only the Antichrist deals in oil. Mr. Phillips expands on the overlooked role of radical religions in the U.S., then traces America's history of oil supporting the U.S. currency since its Civil War.

Conversation 4

Speaking to problems of both demand and supply, Mr. Phillips shows the dire consequences of America's soaring debt, dependence on foreign oil sources and dramatic decline in manufacturing. He expands on the added peril of America's wide-spread and insidious debt culture.  He further examines today’s very dangerous equation as wealthy Americans move their money out of the U.S. in anticipation of economic disaster. He considers dire consequences if and when today's housing asset bubble bursts.

Conversation 1 RealAudio11:28

Conversation 5

With China's Central Bank buying American financial assets at a copious rate, Mr. Phillips shows how China's government and economics go together. He expands on devastating consequences more grave than the market panic of 1929 if other countries' central banks stop buying or dump U.S. Treasury bonds and notes. He explains the "Texification" of America and how "Reconstructionist" Christians are eager to turn America into a theocracy. One of the most important consequences of George W.'s presidency is his unleashing the upheaval in the Republican Party -- America's first religious party -- in a semi-theocratic direction, he says.

Conversation 1 RealAudio11:07

Conversation 6

Mr. Phillips summarizes the triple threats of America's radical religionists, oil-driven culture, and appalling debt. He urges Americans to get these issues out on the table and to confront them head-on if they are to have any hope of addressing them.


Kevin Phillips has done a great service for those who love freedom and who choose to base decisions on fact rather than fantasy. His prescription to "get it all out on the table" is essential if the United States is to continue to play a major role in the world.  We thank him for his arduous work and for his unwillingness to sugar-coat harsh realities which Americans must confront and challenge if the United States is to have a meaningful future.

Democratic dialogue has great urgency. Individually and in community. We must demand openness and access from politicians, the media and the privileged few must learn anew the central role of "We, The People,” the foundation of sovereignty in the United States.

Related Links:

We have three additional conversations with Mr. Phillips available.  The first focused principally on his book The Cousins' Wars in which he connects current American political factions to the opposing sides in the English Civil War and the American Revolution and Civil War.  Our second conversation orbited around American Dynastry:  Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush; the fourth conversation (this one is the third) centered on Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism.

In late 2007, Robert A.G. Monks published Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World's Greatest Wealth Machine -- And How to Get It Back.  The book is an excellent complement to American Theocracy.

The CIA's damage to America, particularly with respect to oil, is shown in Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes.

Robin Meyers looks at the effects fundamentalists are having on America and the world from the perspective of a Christian minister in Why the Christian Right is Wrong: A Minister's Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future.

Both Sandra Mackey and Reza Aslan have perspectives on the Middle East which complement those of Mr. Phillips.

In Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, former President Jimmy Carter focuses on the damage fundamentalist are doing to America and to the world community.

Starting wars to slack America's thirst for oil carries dangers beyond the political and economic implications.  Memoirist Alexandra Fuller warns that creating soldiers carries a burder for the nation whose responsibility they become.

Thom Hartmann points to an assumed Supreme Court decision which he says never happened as a prime source of the political dominance of large corporations in the American economy and polity.

In The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism Haynes Johnson shows how the vast American resources committed to the military-industrial-security complex have diminished American politics.

Mr. Phillips' assertion that the only way for Americans to cope with the challenges facing us is to aggressively begin the process Cornel West characterizes as "democratic dialog."

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