Cold Civil War

Cold Civil War

Overcoming Polarization, Discovering Unity, and Healing the Nation

by Jim Belcher

Cold Civil War
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: February 08, 2022
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-4764-8
  • Item Code: 4764
  • Case Quantity: 20

America's political landscape is experiencing dangerous polarization and fragmentation, with the extremes pulling the country apart. Voices on the left and right clash over different worldviews, narratives, definitions of America, and what it means to be an American citizen. The levels of incivility and hostility lead some to invoke the language of a cold civil war or even a looming civil war, one that could split the country in two. Is there any way to step back from this dangerous precipice?

Political philosopher Jim Belcher shows that this is not merely a binary opposition between conservativism on the right and liberalism on the left, but also between conflicting visions of order and freedom on both sides. Through his unique quadrant framework, Belcher traces the people and movements in each position, examines their underlying narratives, and articulates their respective contributions and dangers. This quadrant framework not only reveals how polarization divides us but also shows us how to move beyond the right-left stalemate.

At the core of the competing visions are the seeds of a new vital center, a robust and surprising narrative that has the ability to transcend political tribalism and bring America back together again before it is too late.

"As American politics becomes more polarized and as more areas of life become politicized, it starts to feel like there's no escape. But if there's a way out of this situation—where politics is increasingly extremist, defamatory, and conspiratorial—surely it's not going to come by just picking a side in the culture wars and trying to impose our own political and moral vision. Surely we need to better understand where we've all gone wrong. For anyone hoping for a way out of the current political mess, Jim Belcher's Cold Civil War is a must-read, and it's clearly the product of the author's many years of curiosity about and careful consideration of diverse moral and political views. Belcher offers a new way of classifying political orientations. He argues that the four main political orientations act as countervailing forces that strengthen the country when in their more centrist forms but tear the country apart in their more extreme forms. The way forward isn't to abandon our ideologies entirely or for us all to agree with one another, but the country does need to move toward the 'vital center.' And Belcher offers a vision of how to do so."

Bradley Campbell, professor of sociology at California State University Los Angeles and coauthor of The Rise of Victimhood Culture



Part 1: How We Got into the Cold Civil War
1. The Evangelical Dilemma and the Search for Public Philosophy
2. The End of the Vital Center

Part 2: Mapping Our Differences: The Quadrant Framework System
3. Freedom Left 2: The Theory of the Godless Constitution
4. Freedom Left 3: From Open Society to Closed Society
5. Order Left 2: The Rise of the Welfare State and the Great Society
6. Order Left 3: The Reified Postmodernism of Antiracism
7. Freedom Right 2: Libertarians and the Quest of Open Borders
8. Freedom Right 3: Radical Libertarians, the End of the State, and the Rise of Utopian Technocracy
9. Order Right 2: Poison Pill Conservatives
10. Order Right 3: The Illiberal New Right

Part 3: Forming the New Vital Center
11. The New Vital Center: The American Synthesis and the Four Souls
12. Patriotic Citizenship: The Sweet Offer for Resident Aliens and Alienated Residents
13. Christianity: The Second Constitution


Jim Belcher

Jim Belcher (PhD, Georgetown) is president of the Institute for the New Vital Center. He previously served as president of Providence Christian College and associate professor of practical theology at Knox Theological Seminary. He is the author of Deep Church and In Search of Deep Faith.