American Theocracy

American Theocracy (2006) by Kevin Phillips. Viking, 480 pages.

I’ve just finished reading a terrific book, American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips. This book crystalizes a lot of what I’ve felt and believed about the last six years of American politics, and provided me with a lot of information I didn’t have before.

Despite its title, American Theocracy is actually about three separate-but-related trends in early 21st century America: the rise of fundamentalist Christianity in politics, the economic dependence on petroleum, and the debtor status of not just the nation itself, but all its citizens.

I find the conclusions of the book hard to shake. I have personally become resigned over the past few years to the inescapable fact that my home country is well on its way to decline as a world power. Phillips just helps me to understand in detail exactly why this is so, and how the scenario is likely to play out.

As I’m just about to turn 44, I therefore must accept the fact that the rest of my working career, and my eventual Golden Years, are going to be spent in a country that grows increasingly less relevant and less connected to the world at large. Whatever new discoveries are to be made in the fields of science and technology… will be made by other nations. Whatever new medical marvels and biotechnological revolutions occur, they will not be in this country. How do I feel about that?

Surprisingly, by the time I reached the end of the book, I felt OK. Holland, Britain, and Spain (as detailed in the course of the book) all had their time in the sun, and their time has long since passed. Yet, each country still has a vibrant heratige and a proud populace. And each country has long since shed its previous prejudices and religious judgements.

So, much like people in Holland and Spain today, I look forward to spending my years in a country that, while still a vital and proud force in the world, will have less and less to do with the forward course of humanity. I’ll do my part to ease the transition, but I expect to see a lot of disillusionment over the next few decades.

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