A Nation of Adversaries

How the Litigation Explosion Is Reshaping America

by Patrick M. Garry

Litigation has become the new American frontier, charges Minnesota lawyer Garry, replacing the old-west, urban-industrial and technological frontiers which once fueled the nation's growth and offered opportunities for some of its citizens. But litigation, he maintains, has moved from the courtroom to the larger society, resulting in an adversarial approach to problem solving and the expectation tht the law can mold every facet of our lives. This erroneous assumption, he argues, has led to the abandoning of the concepts of free will and intellectual control of our own destinies, producing a society of self-gratification in which citizens all too often blame others for what's wrong in their lives. Garry shows how the litigation explosion is expanding into areas where legal contests were not previously carried on, such as religion, sex and family life. Its development, he asserts, is abetted by the "therapeutic culture," which views individuals as victims, and is reinforced by our sports culture, in which participants are adversaries who win or lose. This brisk, dispiriting account offers a convincing portrayal of our country in an "age of defiance."

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