Synopses & Reviews
The overwhelming attention paid to America's imperial posture overseas has turned our eyes away from a crucial dimension of belligerent foreign policy: the domestic politics of war. Frances Fox Piven, one of the country's most celebrated social scientists, raises questions others have not. She examines the ways the war on terror served to shore up the Bush administration's political base and analyzes the manner in which flag-waving politicians used the emotional fog of war to further their regressive social and economic agendas. In the past, governments tried to reward their citizens for their costly sacrifices--in blood and money. During World War II, tax rates on the wealthy rose to 90 percent; toward the end of the Vietnam War, eighteen-year-olds were given the right to vote. In this war, by contrast, democratic rights are being rolled back and taxes on the rich have been slashed. Even veterans' benefits have been sharply reduced. The War at Home makes sense of these developments by putting the current domestic fallout of war in the context of history--and by turning an unsentimental eye on the domestic motivations of American militarism.
"The emotional fervor generated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has helped a domestic neoconservative agenda, as well as altered a historical pattern in which governments waging war wind up expanding civil rights and social programs, or so argues sociologist Piven (Why Americans Don't Vote). The turn to preemptive war and the disregarding of international linkages, she claims, is part of a domestic strategy, just as the Cold War justified the domestic Red Scare. Piven doesn't add original research; rather she synthesizes a wide range of reportage and commentators (Chalmers Johnson, Kevin Phillips, Naomi Klein, Garry Wills, Jonathan Schell, etc.) in sometimes bloglike fashion. She finds Bush backers in Congress invoked the need to avoid partisan bickering in wartime-thus hastening passage of corporate-friendly tax-cut legislation and deregulation. Meanwhile, cuts in federal spending increased pressure on the states to cut back their own social spending. Piven doesn't pause much to analyze why the opposition Democrats and others let this happen, but she does argue that the fallout from the wars make the administration vulnerable in the upcoming election. 'War itself cannot be an effective cover for this ruse for long,' she concludes, predicting (while at the same time working to foster) an atmosphere conducive to regime change." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
One of the country's most celebrated social scientists contends that the war on terror served to shore up the Bush administration's political base and that politicians used the emotional fog of war to further their regressive social and economic agendas.