Damian's Review of
Wealth and Democracy
: A Political History of the American Rich
by Kevin Phillips

September 24th, 2002

Phillips has provided a valuable contribution to the study of political economy and history. He delves into the relationship of political power and wealth over time. He emphasizes the development and concentration of each, and its relationship to society as a whole. His analysis follows the accumulation of wealth, its jealous taking over of (and often feeding from) political power, and then the inevitable movement towards reform when the system breaks down from the burden of a greedy leisure class.

Perhaps his best contribution is in recognizing, and explaining, the cyclical nature of the uneasy relationship between wealth and democracy. He makes a strong case that so many of the 'mantras' of our time:

all have been seen before, but unfortunately by empires that were looking back at better days.

Phillips puts speculation, greed, and corruption in its place - outlining the loss of character and productive contribution to society that inevitably follows when greed has it's way with power. Recognizing the interplay of wealth creation/accumulation and the government's activities is an important contribution to an understanding of our time and our challenges. This is an excellent treatise that explains in great detail the threat to democracy that is engendered in the power taken by the very wealthy.

It is a tribute to Phillips that he has so presciently described and understood our collective malady while leaving hope for a possible peaceful and productive resolution. This book is well worth reading ' even if a bit scary in its diagnosis of a society coming to grips with some very dangerous power plays.