A HOUSE DIVIDED by Mark Gerzon


Six Belief Systems Struggling for America's Soul
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 A former flower child's disjointed exhortation for everyone to get along and have a little faith in democracy. When he was a child in the 1950s, writes Gerzon (Coming into Our Own, 1992, etc.), three in four citizens believed that government served their best interests; the figure now stands at one in eight. What has replaced the United States, in Gerzon's annoying conceit, is a Divided States of America, whose residents are citizens of six different nations: patria, the religious state, which argues that America is a Christian nation; corporatia, the capitalist state, based on unwavering belief in the free market; disia, the disempowered state, which believes that government is founded on the oppression of racial and economic minorities; media, the suprastate, ``a part of the corporate conglomerates, yet distinct from them''; gaia, the transformation state, whose citizens feel that ``a new paradigm of thinking . . . is transforming every aspect of society''; and officia, the governing state, whose citizens believe that government alone can override the divisions in society. ``Can a nation whose citizens hold fundamentally different beliefs remain united?'' Gerzon asks. Answering in the negative, he raises the fear that present social conditions will result in civil war. To stem the bitter divisions (our awareness of which he ties to the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of an external enemy) Gerzon, a professional mediator and consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, proposes a series of community-building endeavors that are unlikely to bring Jesse Helms and Jesse Jackson to the same table. His prescriptions boil down to dewy New Age nostrums, as he invites us to join in a ``campaign for our country'': ``We must view America,'' he writes, ``with the humility and wonder with which a child looks through a kaleidoscope.'' Gerzon makes astute use of printed sources to back up his arguments, but his analysis remains maddeningly superficial and wholly unconvincing.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-87477-823-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: TarcherPerigee
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1996