Volume I - (1997)

Shopping in Cheon Il Guk: Economics in the Unificationist Ideal World

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 7, 2006 - Pages 51-68

The Divine Principle is in part of work of prophecy. The section entitled, “Religious Reforms and Political and Industrial Revolutions since the Renaissance” (364-65)[1] foretells the appearance of the ideal world as it appears out of the environment of the present-day world. It discusses the “three stages of revolution,” each stage featuring clearly distinguished godly and satanic forms, to take place within each of three spheres, “religion, politics and economy.” The third stage of religion and politics appear as a prophetic vision of a religious reformation taking Christianity beyond the spirituality of Awakenings and revivalism. On the foundation of this religious reformation, “the democratic world on God’s side will triumph in the ideological war” over communism and then “the two worlds will unite into one Kingdom of Heaven on earth under God.” (365)

Considering the mid-1950s provenance of the work, the prophecy has been fulfilled in part. One could argue that the resurgence of faith, on the heels of the mid-20th century’s informed confidence in the “death of God” and disappearance of religion, did constitute a third wave of religious life equal to the Reformations of the 16th century and Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. One could well link this religious resurgence—which included the Moral Majority, the papacy of John Paul II and the Mujahadeen—with the fall of Communism. But then, according to the Divine Principle, Communism, which is as much an economic as a political system, will unite with this religious revitalized democratic world in order to create an ideal world. What will be the political and economic model of this world? How are communism and democracy to unite?

The text on the three stages offers scant evidence. The three stages of economic revolution are identified with three stages of industrial revolution, and the text does not, from that point, deal with economics. In fact, by the end of the section, the three stages of religion, politics and economy have transmuted into “religion, politics and industry.” (365) The three economic stages are reduced to identification of the source of energy driving industry’s engines: first steam, second electricity and gasoline, third atomic power. The third industrial revolution “will flower by safely tapping the power of the atom; it will construct a pleasant living environment for the ideal world.” (365) Economics per se is collapsed into industrial progress—a Marxist move. Obviously a new source of energy is not going to by itself construct a pleasant living environment. This is not altogether satisfying in terms of our quest to understand the Principle ideal of the economy.

And yet, if you scratch the surface of most Unificationist believers’ understanding of the economic system of the ideal world, they might well call it “heavenly socialism.” This conclusion is drawn from various passages, such as that found in the section on “Democracy and Socialism” in the chapter on the Parallels of History. The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is “a socialistic ideal… a socialistic society embodying God’s ideal… a socialistic society on Heaven’s side.” (342-43) Numerous passages imply that the world of the ideal will be planned and controlled from one central point, acting as the “mind” to the world as the “body.” One can hardly avoid the conclusion that its economy will resemble what we know as socialism.

Recent work by a student study group at the Unification Theological Seminary on the “economic system of the Cheon Il Guk took the socialist language of the Divine Principle text as axiomatic and strove to explain how market mechanisms, freedom, human creativity, healthy competitiveness and motivation to work could exist within a socialist framework.[2]

And yet the text contains counter-indications to this. “God’s plan is to develop a socialistic economy,” the text states, but then adds an important nuance, “although with a form and content utterly different from the state socialism that communism actually established.” (341) I believe that is a mistake for the text to denominate an economy “with a form and content utterly different from… state socialism” as “socialism.” The ideal society is further described as “a truly democratic economic system.” (343)[3] Meanwhile, another core Unification text, Sang Hun Lee’s Communism: A Critique and Counterproposal, provides no clue as to what it is in communism that will unite with democratic capitalism to create a superior system. Rather, the book is filled with denunciations of Communism: “a relic of the past,” “deceptive… false… a complete fallacy… meaningless,” stating that “history is not moving toward the communist society.”[4]

When the Divine Principle calls for “a truly democratic economic system” (343) we are getting closer to proper terminology. But we need to go one more step to ask where the consumer “votes” in a “democratic economic system.” Obviously the consumer votes at the marketplace, whenever he or she shops. The purpose of this paper is to argue that this truly democratic economic system with a form and content utterly different from state socialism is, in fact, free market, free labor capitalism.

* * *

In light of the history that has elapsed since the writing of the Divine Principle, we can generate some conclusions as to the application of the text today. We can reconsider the significance as well as internal logic of the passages that seem to call for a socialistic economic model. This is important for Unificationists for five reasons.

One, we need a clear vision for economy. Is, for example, entrepreneurial business a “principled activity”? Or is it a temporary expedient that has nothing to do with the ideal world that we are seeking to build? If it is a temporary expedient for the sake of producing the financial resources necessary to carry out the movement’s agenda for social amelioration, then we do not need to look to business or economy any further than for the sake of making a quick buck. Anything will do, as long as it is reasonably moral, and the faster and more profitable your business, the better. Retail sales operations with a high markup based upon impulse buying and even spiritual incentives are probably the easiest way to raise a lot of cash in a short amount of time. On the other hand, if entrepreneurship and normal business activity are “within the Principle,” then these things have a good deal to do with the ideal world we are seeking to build. That ideal world is not on the other side of a great eschatological divide.

Two, quick buck businesses, what I at times refer to as the flower economy, do not require a highly trained work force. With such a view of economics, our movement has no motive to contribute real economic value or train a highly skilled work force for today’s economy. As soon as the kingdom appears, we vaguely reason, these businesses will disappear and an entirely new economy will take their place—perhaps one that dispenses with the use of money.[5] Since we cannot grasp the nature of this future economy, other than that it is “socialist,” we have no notion that we have to prepare for it (other than preparing our hearts) or, if we did want to prepare for it, how to do so.

Three, no one has any real idea of what this entirely new economy is going to look like beyond the clue given by the word socialism. The word socialism conveys a definite message. Images of paradise spring to mind; of all play and no work. Socialism is a magic word, it lifts us into a magic kingdom. The Principle provides us the precise referents for this utopia: first, the Jerusalem community depicted in the Book of Acts.[6] It cites Thomas More’s Utopia, a book by that never led to social practice. It also cites Robert Owen, whose books did lead to social practice—to social disaster. Owen convinced major American leaders in Washington, DC, of the viability of his plan for an ideal economy, dubbed “New Harmony.” It was, in Owen’s words, “a new empire of goodwill,” which would spread “from Community to Community, from State to State, from Continent to Continent, finally overshadowing the whole earth, shedding light, fragrance and abundance, intelligence and happiness, upon the sons of man.”[7]

It should be noted that Owen did achieve success as a progressive “benevolent dictator” industrialist in Scotland and based his communal ideas on that degree of practical success. Nonetheless, his experiment in America, staffed by some of the country’s best and brightest, failed miserably. “His followers went through five constitutions in a single year, split into four rival communities, and finally imploded under the pressure of a dozen lawsuits.” Other Principle referents are the Catholic and Protestant Socialists of the late nineteenth-century, which is ironic in that labor unions, which Reverend Moon apparently detests, arose out of these movements.

Now, if we have lingering in the consciousness of the Unificationist community that the ideal economy is something akin to this tradition of Christian socialism, we will be ambivalent about our own economic activity in the real world. We will maintain a dream of collective, communal economic activity that when tried has failed. Normal economic activity comes to be called an “outside job.” Our vague idea of a socialist kingdom, undefined, is disjunctive from our present-day life. How do we prepare for something that we cannot define but that has nothing to do with this world?[8]

Then a fourth reason to examine the Unification view on economics is that we should realize that visions of socialist paradise seem to come in the package of charismatic religious leadership. Moses may have been an exception, but in Christian history most prophetic figures poured forth visions of a perfect world that somehow came to be expressed in socialistic terms. Generosity and sharing take the form of “no ownership.” Internal peace takes the form of “no work.” Harmony among all takes the form of “no competition.” Visions of a world of love fuzz out into “social welfare.” Visions of True Parents caring for all their children fuzz out into “communal child care.” I appeal to those Unificationists who applaud careful thinking and respect for historical experience over against ideology-based perfectionism to challenge this type of thinking.

I am edified that recently Mr. Kook Jin Moon has applied normative economic models and business practices to the movement’s businesses in Korea. His views are capitalistic, professional, business-like and law-abiding. When he reported very good results from this policy to an audience of over 1,000 Unification leaders on the Cheong Pyeong campus in early February, 2006, he received repeated outbursts of sustained applause.[9]

I observe a shift toward value-creating business practices elsewhere in the Unification world. The New Yorker Hotel is a good example. The American ocean and seafood-related businesses are another. I believe that it is time to go back to our primary theological text and address the question of economy, and that is a fifth reason for this essay. If we do not clarify our economic vision, we will sustain an ideological fault-line in our belief system. One of two outcomes will obtain. One would be a schism between a party affirming a socialistic economy and another affirming a capitalistic one. Another would be that the Divine Principle is written off as inadequate, out of date and unhelpful. I believe that it would be much better to carefully examine the text and clarify that it does call for a capitalistic economy, and in fact offers a brilliant picture of the universe and human society consistent with capitalism.

* * *

In the section entitled, “The Significance of the Separation of Powers,” the Divine Principle elaborates on the human body as an analogy for human society. Economics is the give and take of elements in the body that makes possible existence, action and multiplication in the physical realm. Principle states that “the economic institutions of the ideal world (correspond) to the limbs” and, in the next sentence, some institution(s) will correspond to the liver so that “there will always be a certain reserve to be tapped as needed for the public good.” (362) This is all well and good, but the limbs and major organs such as the liver are the big dogs in the physical body. So their action refers analogously to macro-level economic players: national banks, stock exchanges, governments controlling money supply and interest rates, major industries and cartels, and the laws pertaining thereunto. In this analogy, the elements preserved and distributed by the liver would be analogous to money being stored by banks and distributed through them as well as through stock exchanges according to interest rates. The limbs carry out the major actions of the body of movement and manipulation of tools and materials. The liver provides elements needed in special situations.

If the liver stores and disbursed elements needed in special circumstances, then where do we find a description of the elements needed everywhere, all the time? That is, where do we find the basic foundation for the body’s existence and action? It is in the cells. The food ingested is combined as fuel with oxygen in the cells, producing the energy necessary to move the entire body, including the limbs. All organs, not just the limbs, are composed of cells and all the cells function in basically the same way. In the cells we find the body’s basic life activity, physically speaking.

What, in the economy, corresponds to the cell in the physical body? Is it the individual person, the individual economic actor? Or is it the family, which Unification theology upholds as such a critical paradigm? I will answer that the Unification economic model, a form of free-market capitalism, combines the actions of the individual and family. The individual is the fundamental economic unit, but when we speak of the individual, we must say, in the same breath, the individual-in-the-family. The Unification ideal does not conceive of the individual as acting authentically outside of the family context. Nonetheless, for the purpose of analysis, the fundamental unit is the individual—not the family, society, corporation or state.[10]

But first, by realizing that the fundamental economic unit, the individual, is comparable to the cell in the physical body, we can dispense with the notion that the Principle prescribes a centrally planned economy. What? My Unification readers will say. What about the famous passage that “the mind’s command is transmitted to the whole body through the central nervous system, causing the body to act with one purpose”? (36) what about: “Just as the four limbs of the body move according to the commands of the brain for the welfare of the individual as a whole, the economic institutions of the ideal world… will uphold the desire of God and promote the welfare of the entire world”? (362) Isn’t that a centrally-planned economy?

Indeed, the macro-economic institutions may work to some degree effectively through central planning concerning interest rates, money supply, infrastructure investment and environmental enhancement. This would correspond to the conscious choices of the mind. For example, how to employ my hands, with a hammer, pencil, paintbrush or keyboard, or how to employ my legs, whether to get on a train, plane or hoof it to work. But the micro-economy is the cellular level, and that is not controlled by the conscious mind. I have absolutely no idea or control over the operation of my cells. Each cell makes its own decisions.[11]

Okay, you say, but those are inconsequential decisions plus they are entirely predictable, so they are not really decisions. Pleading from quantum physics I would disagree. The behavior of whole cell populations may be predictable, but not that of the individual cell. Similarly, the behavior of human populations is predictable, but not that of the individual person. A tomato sauce manufacturer can say with certainty that Dutchess County will consume a half-ton of tomato sauce this month, but will fail entirely to predict when during this month my family will hit the sauce. That is my decision; it is not decided by centralized planning, just as the cell’s behavior is decided by the cell in relationship to the options presented in its environment. Thus, the Unification economy, using the body analogy, is based upon individual decision-making. This we call, shopping.

Not only do I not consciously decide what my cells are doing, neither do I control what my liver is deciding, or my heart, lungs, stomach and lymphatic system. These organs are at the service of my cells. They run according to the autonomous nervous system. They run by what Adam Smith called, in the economic sphere, the invisible hand. My body has an invisible hand controlling its basic organic functioning. The organs serve the needs of the cells, in the context of what I consciously decide to eat, how much I decide to exercise, and the amount of stress I place on my system. If my cells need more oxygen, my lungs breathe harder and faster. If my cells need to eliminate waste, my heart pumps more blood. If my cells need more fuel, my stomach starts growling. Aha, that’s where my conscious mind finally kicks in with its brilliant decision-making capability. Time for some cocoa puffs!

Analogously, individuals cope with the impact of major heteronymous economic decisions: the price of fuel and food, the tax rate, the regulations having to do with health care and inheritance, the availability of transportation and communications, the long-term impact of economy on the environment, and so forth. But all these coping decisions—as is the case with the body analogy—are made by individual actors and corporations.[12] Thus, the Principle model is one of free market, free labor capitalism with governmental decision making over major fiduciary needs, but most of those decisions—those of the banks, major industries and regulatory agencies—are made in response to the needs of individuals (the cells). It matters not whether the “mind” is that of a man or woman, or whether the mega-actions of the body have to do with banking, farming, preaching or sports, the economic institutions run autonomously in an organic, perfectly responsive relationship with the primary economic actors, the cells. The mind leaves them alone to pursue their individual mission. Their actions are combined harmoniously for the sake of physical health by an individual hand called the autonomous nervous system, with the great organs serving the needs and interests of the cells.

* * *

I can point in a preliminary way to other core elements of the Principle of Creation that guarantee individually autonomy, freedom and respon­sibility, and hence indicate a free market, free labor, capitalistic economy.

One such element is the theory of the First Blessing, that of the “perfection of individuality,” which assures that each person is unique and has a direct relationship with the Creator, unmediated by priest, teacher, administrator or even parent. Another is the Third Blessing, of dominion, which is by each person directly over the world.[13] We find it in the Theory of Value, wherein the individual assigns value to things. The value of an item depends upon “people’s original desire to treasure it and bring out its true worth.” (36) Thus individual actions—i.e. the creative investment of energy—“bring out the true worth” of creation. The consumer who appreciates “the purpose for which God created the flower” determines the value of the rose on the market. (37)

Institutions, according to the Principle of Creation, spring from the ground up, not the top down. Divine Principle describes the creation of corporations when it describes the individual who lives “a purposeful life” attracting “like-minded people” and working together with them “productively.” No central planning here. Economy-building begins with the creative individual and builds from that person working with others.

Further we have the principle of give-and-take action, in which a subject partner and object partner directly exchange elements. This supports a system in which the labor (actions) of the individual receives a direct reward (or punishment). It supports a system in which the subject partner (the customer) is attracted by the product (the “object of beauty”) created by a producer and presented by a salesperson, gives money as an expression of love for the object to its owner, and thus obtains ownership over the object of desire. Such actions are where God works, through immediate, effective give and take action. Only in capitalism are a person’s decisions to give, to value, to purchase, to sell, meaningful. Since give and take action is the substance of life in the principle, a system that divorces action from result, such as socialism, is unprincipled. Here, give and take action can be called a feedback loop. One obvious case of this is the need for immediate feedback on the value of one’s product, which is provided by the market. Another is immediate feedback on one’s work performance, which is provided by supervisor evaluation and an incentive system. Such do not obtain in socialism, but are a hallmark of capitalism.

One more point of analysis of the Principle of Creation will do. Let us consider this notion of the world as one body. We allow this statement to sustain a notion of socialism and command economy, of the world being controlled from one central point as principled and natural. In fact, the one-body theology does not presuppose one central point. Every true husband and wife is “the” central point of the cosmos as one body. In other words, billions of owners, billions of unifying central points, co-exist. Human beings as a species are the “highest centers” of all creation. (28) The purpose and center of the universe is “human beings”—plural. (29) “The entire universe will perform a spherical movement with a unified purpose when it is founded on the four position foundation established by a perfect man and woman who join as husband and wife centered on God.” (30) This position is established by an original husband and wife but is occupied by all their legates: “all individual beings embody God’s original internal nature and original external form and initiate spherical movements to build the foundation for God’s governance.” (31)

We have wandered a distance from economics, but shall now return by coming to the conclusion that economic decisions are to be made by each person. What is this process of decision-making by each person? This is called shopping.

* * *

Economic theory begins with the theory of human nature, of how human beings make choices, of the goals and desires we have. Thus, Adam Smith, the father of economics, was a professor in the field of Moral Philosophy. So, the discussion of what makes us happy, of what fulfills our desires, has direct implications for answering the question, “Do we go shopping in Cheon Il Guk?” And whether we go shopping, or not, tells us the type of economy we will have.

Shopping has to do with the fundamental economic process, the give and take of goods and services. Hence it is the beginning point of economic theory. In a socialist system, there is no shopping. You just go get what is rationed for you. In capitalism, you go shopping. Which fits better with human nature?

Shopping does not fit with pure socialism. Socialism is defined “A theory of policy of social organization which advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc. by the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all.” (Oxford Universal Dictionary, 1955) This controverts the viewpoint of Divine Principle on at least two points, ownership and distribution.

Concerning ownership, in Divine Principle, God is the owner and controller, and God distributes ownership and control to individuals, not to families, communities, nations or the world. This is part of the Third Blessing, of dominion over creation. Each individual, as part of a blessed central family, is an owner (or “king”), parent and teacher. Human beings have responsibility of dominion as individuals, beginning with their own physical body, their labor, their time and mental and spiritual capacities and talents. Our conscience tells us to develop these and invest them for the good of others. Labor entails the use of tools upon material—the creation. Individuals can alienate their ownership to collective entities, or corporations, voluntarily for the sake of a higher purpose or benefit gained, but that is not socialism. In socialism, the individual is not an owner, so s/he has nothing to alienate. In socialism, there is no transaction between the individual and the collective. There is only one active agent, the collective.

Now with the word, “heavenly” in there, Divine Principle would seem to imply that the goals of socialism are achieved through God. That is, “administration and distribution in the interests of all” are achieved through God’s control and ownership. I can agree with this, on the basis that God’s first step is to distribute control and ownership to all. But is it helpful, or even accurate, to still use the term, “socialism”? Giving each person control and ownership sounds as if we have private property, a free market (the ability to buy and sell your property) and free labor (ownership of one’s mind and body, energy and time). This is capitalism.

We Unificationists tend to believe there something wrong with capitalism.[14] Well, capitalism is wrong if there’s no God involved. But socialism is also wrong if there’s no God involved, and that leads us to a critical fork in the road, one fork leading to socialism and the other to capitalism. Socialism is defined traditionally without God, and capitalism is defined traditionally with God. In fact, the capitalist theory that emerged in the West is God-centered; it assumes the existence of an invisible Actor in the economic world.

For example, it is based on the conviction that God gives each person a vocation, their personal role in the economic order. Second, to fulfill that role, each individual has to exercise godly virtues—their portion of responsibility, to use Divine Principle terminology. Third, God works as an “invisible hand” through the market beyond anyone’s individual decisions to affect the greatest good for the greatest number. Capitalism in fact presupposes God as the invisible Actor, as a dynamic principle by the action of which economic relationships entered into freely, even for selfish purposes, will benefit the whole.

* * *

For capitalism to work you’ve got to have people freely expressing their preferences and tastes, trying to get the best bargains, trying to create products that meet the customers’ desires, getting the highest return for the lowest investment, marketing the highest quality for the least cost and so forth. This means that people would act like what is called the “rational economic man.” In Cheon Il Guk, we are talking about the ideal society made up of selfless people. Will it be capitalist? Well, can selfless people go shopping? Can they engage in transactions, choosing what they like, expressing preferences, trying to get higher value for less cost? These things sound selfish, and without them the capitalistic system won’t work.

When an original person, a truly selfless person, goes shopping, does s/he act as a “rational economic man”? Let’s consider the closest example we as Unificationists have, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, wife of the Reverend Moon. Dr. Moon is honored as the model of a saintly woman, indeed a divine daughter of God. She actually does a good deal of shopping. Does she try to get the best quality for the cheapest price? Does she go where she does not have to pay taxes? Yes, she does. She does not do so surreptitiously; she takes many with her, including her husband.

One might venture to ask, would an “original person” not purchase the poorest quality goods, because to buy something better would be selfish? Would s/he buy a poor suit for a lot of money, because s/he has sympathy for the shopkeeper? Shopping requires personal economic decisions. Does shopping translate into selfishness, into using one’s personal criteria and seeking for the highest value at the lowest cost? Is that selfish? Do ideal people have any criteria to make personal economic decisions, that is, to go shopping?

Here’s the solution. We shop for others. We don’t shop for ourselves, but spend our time shopping for others. This should not sound totally out-of-the-blue, because we do this on an annual basis. It is called Christmas shopping. When we go Christmas shopping, we are shopping for others. And when we get home from Christmas shopping, our house is full of goods that others have bought for us. Then the model for the original human being would be that of a rational economic wo/man, getting the best deal for their money, except that s/he is buying for others.

Then, what if I find myself short of toothpaste? Should I wait for someone to bring me toothpaste? Is the theory that “all a person’s needs can be fulfilled by others’ shopping” going to work? Here is where the family context comes into play. Parents shop for their children. Who shops for the parents? The grandparents do, for one, and also when the parents shop for the family, they are shopping for themselves because they are part of the family. They are using the same toothpaste. Therefore, shopping for others is a family system. Shopping for myself is individualism, but shopping for others is family.

What of the problem of “taste and preference”? Will an original person have tastes and preferences? Does the Cheon Il Guk promote style, fashion, cuteness, elegance, flash… dare I say, fads? I think it does: the ideal world is supposed to be a world of art, and art begins at the marketplace. Each “ideal” person is a unique creation and without tastes and preferences, we would have no creativity, no zeal for life. Are tastes and preferences selfish? Let’s get concrete for a moment. Take the example of clothes. I let my wife decide; I never buy my own clothes. I know I’m not the only husband who is okay with his wife deciding.[15]

But are wives usually okay with husbands’ decision about their wardrobe? If I am any indicator, this is rare, very rare. Who chooses her nice clothes? Her mother and sister choose what she should wear. To disagree with them is mean-spirited; so we all give up our own tastes and agree with the decisions of others close to us. This is the unselfish life: dressing for the sake of others. The joy that I feel from making others happy by accepting their choices about what looks good on me is much greater than the joy I would feel by wearing the clothes that I chose for myself. Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. And the buyer is challenged to discern what the recipient most likes, what his/her tastes and preferences are. The buyer is challenged to learn how to practice love, to empathize, to get into the other’s life. Here is where the implications of the Unification theory of happiness for economics are revealed.

What about the arts, music, literature, drama, cinema? What music should I listen to? Similarly, I listen to the music that others want for me. This would be the music that others believe is uplifting and beneficial for me. So my daughter buys me the soundtrack to Peter Pan because she thinks it is the best for me. On what basis does she make that decision? It would be through her intimate connection of heart with me. She thinks I would benefit most from light, cheerful, romantic music. So she gives that to me, and I appreciate it and appreciate her heart. I give up my preference for heavy, depressing rock music. By the way, she also buys me Eric Clapton, whose music she knows I like, and James Blunt, whose music she expects I would like. The added benefit is that I keep current in the music scene, not stuck in the late 60s.

What we are presupposing here is that each person has the ability to grasp the innermost heart of his/her family members and close friends, enough to select the goods and services that will make them maximally happy. And we are presupposing that each person values the heart and love of their family members and friends more than the specific quality or characteristics of the goods and services their family members and friends provide them.[16]

* * *

This discussion of market dynamics in the Cheon Il Guk leaves us with a capitalistic model, with no social planning taking place. The only difference is that instead of shopping for myself, I am shopping for my family members and friends. Everyday is like Christmas, and this also strengthens familial bonds and friendship networks.

This is the customer side. What of the supply side? All people know that goods and services are produced with an eye to the wants and needs of others. This is called market research. In a world in which people shop for others, the market system will work just fine, in fact, far better than in the present world, because we would have completely free trade without planned obsolescence, cartels, government pork-barrel politics and protectionism. And no one would produce degrading, unhealthy or immoral products that waste resources and hurt people.[17] Even if they were produced, no one would buy them. Therefore the market would eliminate them, because there would be no profit in it. Why would no one buy them? Because everyone is shop­ping for others, and no one will give another something that will harm them. My parents, my spouse, my sibling, my child will not buy junk or immoral products for me. This inserts an automatic moral value into private economic decisions. This also channels the power of advertising in a moral direction. Advertising will not be designed to stimulate the consumer’s self-indulgence or self-gratification, but to stimulate the giving of gifts of maximum value.

In the ideal market system, price is set by supply and demand. Even if I am buying for others, still I will seek the best quality for the least price. “Best quality for least price” is, in my opinion, part of the Divine Principle, similar to water flowing down hill, leaves turning toward the sun and desiring to sleep in a comfortable position. Best quality for least price is the foundation for competition, creativity, innovation, invention and the efficiencies that make possible a pleasant social environment.

On this basis, we can eliminate the claim that socialism is necessary to insure reasonable consumption. Further, socialism has no mechanism to prevent “over-production” better than does the free market; the market prevents over-production by punishing those who make that mistake by driving down their profit. Intelligent planning and inventory control prevent over-production. Staying with that paragraph on p. 342 of Exposition of the Divine Principle, “destructive competition” obviously will not exist with original man; no central planning is necessary to prevent it. I believe that the term “destructive competition” is easily blown out of proportion. If we prohibited such, we would still have icehouses on the Hudson River down at the end of Barrytown Road, because their owners would have screamed “destructive competition” at the people who invented mechanical refrigeration.

Is it unreasonable consumption for me to want my children and parents to live in a beautiful house, with refrigeration, and have a wonderful new car? Unificationists cannot even entertain the possibility that people of original nature do not want the finer things of life. Everyone wants these, but for others. This is why True Father’s statement that “I didn’t want to live in a big mansion, but my followers told me I should,” is very important. So everyone works hard to gain the resources to give their parents, their children, and their friends the best of everything. Shopping for others is an expression of filial piety, sibling love, conjugal love and parental love.

* * *

In sum, I argue that the Unification teachings have implications for economics. The doctrines of the Three Subjects Thought, the Realm of the Royal Family, give-and-take action, the Theory of Value, the hierarchical order of the universe, the original mind (conscience) and the theory that godly living for others leads to absolute happiness indicate that the Principle economic model is that of capitalism, not socialism. The society of interdependence, mutual prosperity and shared values indeed possesses “a form and content utterly different from the state socialism that communism actually established.” It is so far different that to use the term socialism is unjustifiable when what is being called for is so like capitalism.[18]

 

Notes

[1] All Divine Principle citations are from Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996). The term ‘Cheon Il Guk’ refers to the Unificationist ideal society. The salient characteristic of this society is “two become one—beginning with heaven and earth,” which is the basic meaning of the Korean term ‘cheon il.’ ‘Guk’ means ‘nation.’ It might be seen as a world in which all entities exist in harmonious partnership. In an official speech, Reverend Moon referred to Cheon Il Guk as “the kingdom of the peaceful, ideal world” and “a realm of universal peace.”

[2] Hideyuki Teshigawara, “Capitalism and Socialism: A Study of the Economic System of Cheon Il Guk,” unpublished UTS paper, March 10, 2005.

[3] The core text on the body analogy for the ideal economy is repeated almost verbatim on pp. 342 and 363.

[4] Sang Hun Lee, Communism: A Critique and Counterproposal (Washington, DC: Freedom Leadership Foundation, 1973), pp. 231, 234. Daughter CAUSA texts echo this treatment, referring to the relationship between communism and the free world as “a deadly struggle” and communism as “the worst world problem… a false ideology.” Bo Hi Pak, Thomas Ward and William Lay, Introduction to the CAUSA Worldview (New York: CAUSA International, 1985), pp. 390, xii-xiii. Dr. Lee finally states in a later work that this “unity” of democracy and communism consists in democratic societies striving to achieve the “communist” ideals of equality, justice and freedom. (see footnote 11)

[5] Cf. Teshigawara: “Money will not be necessary in Cheon Il Guk. What [will] adjust supply and demand is information itself, not price [determined] by [the] market.”

[6] This and the other referents in this paragraph are found on Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 342. I might mention that recent work of the Jesus Seminar is questioning the historicity of the idyllic depiction of the early Jerusalem community. Another instance of Christian community life, the abbey or monas­tery, exhibits a renunciation of personal property and sharing of all goods, a quasi-socialistic model. The relevance to modern society, however, of a self-sustaining enclave of celibates, subsisting on farming, alms or the largesse of a sponsor, and that had the power to exclude dissidents or vagrants, seems minimal.

[7] A quick but reasonably accurate rendition of Owen’s career in America is found in Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American Man (New York: Penguin, 2002), p. 88, from which this citation is taken.

[8] I must admit countervailing thoughts. Life in the Unificationist “center,” with its shared kitchen and shared economy, is a powerful experience. Christians such as the Twelve Tribes Community strive to realize such an “Acts 2” lifestyle not just as singles but as families (www.twelvetribes.org). Unificationists here and there cling to this ideal: a group of families in Washington, DC, and a member in upstate New York who wrote: “It seems that in the old days church members lived together, but that after the Blessing, it became more of an every member for him/herself enterprise of finding lodging… Obviously, not everyone is interested in communal living, but I think it would be an area worth exploring.”

[9] The author was present at the event; for a published account see, “Kook Jin Moon Speaks at the Cheon Il Guk Leaders’ Assembly,” Today’s World (February 2006): 10-11, 14.

[10] Begging the reader’s indulgence; discussion of the individual-family connection comes at the end of the essay.

[11] This view is consistent with that espoused in the CAUSA Lecture Manual by Bo Hi Pak, Tom Ward, and William Lay (New York: CAUSA Institute, June 1985, second printing), p. 126: “Within the body, each cell… is required to maintain itself autonomously… The body, then, operates in accord with principles like those found in a free market system.”

[12] One might analogize cells to individuals and organs to corporations and other “one-person” complex economic entities.

[13] Cf. Jim Hewes: “Private property is necessary to fulfill the Third Blessing. Each person must learn how to care for his or her house, garden or consumer goods. Each person must be given the opportunity to grow spiritually by sharing his property with others.” (“In Defense of Capitalism,” Currents (Spring 1991): 15.

[14] Hewes’s 1991 statement remains cogent: “I have noticed in both Unification Church members and Unification Church publications… a reluctance to consid­er capitalism as a viable economic system… They seem to lean toward socialism or feudalism as economic systems more compatible with Divine Principle.” (op. cit., 14)

[15] I refer to Wayne Cordeiro’s testimony: “My wife, Anna, and I decided we would become an official American family and purchase a minivan. So we went shopping and picked out the perfect one, the one my lovely wife liked.” Wayne Cordeiro, Doing Church as a Team (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2001), 148.

[16] We need not be dogmatic about this in order to sustain a “heavenly” capitalistic model. Of course a person can make purchases for their own consumption. When I’m driving and thirsty, I stop and buy a drink. When I have a meeting that demands a tie, I may need to buy myself a tie. When I’m about to board an airplane, I may want to buy a book for the flight. What I am presenting is an argument for a shift in shopping ethics to the level of a critical mass of pur­chases being made for others. It also presumes that as we become more and more adept at shopping for others, we will anticipate our family member’s need for drinks while driving, ties when going to meetings, and a book on a trip.

[17] The “wasting resources” issue should be addressed. Concern for the environment provides one final nudge, if not trump card, in the argument for socialism. We somehow think that environmental problems require strong government action and that capitalism is inherently destructive of the environ­ment—never mind the far worse environmental impact of the world’s socialist economies. I refer the reader to a book, Natural Capitalism, and I am sure there are more like it. The capitalist model remains in place; all that is necessary is to factor in the cost of what was thought 200 years ago to be almost free: replacing natural resources and processing waste. Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1999).

[18] Careful readers may wonder if this is consistent with the views of Sang Hun Lee. Lee concludes his seminal 1973 work with an endorsement of capital­ism; indeed his counterproposals to Marxian analysis always refer to free market capitalism as the solution. His proviso on capitalism has to do with the morality of individuals operating within a capitalist framework, which should be guar­an­teed by a society’s religious and educational institutions. Given proper morality, people will elect a government that provides “some degree of social security… countermeasures to relieve unemployment.” (235-38) His most “radical and rational” proposal is for a “leveling of capital possession”—appar­ently a massive voluntary transfer of wealth from the haves to the have-nots. (236) Is this the way he sees communism “uniting” with democracy? That discussion will have to wait. Lee’s 1997 publication, The Coming of the Age of Head-Wing Thought: Beyond Communism (Tokyo, Japan: Kogensha, 1997) presents a detailed analysis of the human body analogy, and concludes that the creation of wealth comes not from any particular organ but from the body’s “life force… in economy, creative power corresponds to the life force. Therefore, economy develops by enhancing the creative power of the people.” (106) I posit that the “life force” is in the cells, making his assertion consistent with mine.

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  • Steve Kille Tuesday, 25 November 2008 17:08

    'Shopping in Cheon Il Guk,' was liberating. I had been struggling for some time about that passage in the Principle that forecast a heavenly socialism. This is an issue that must be addressed, and I thank you for your thoughtful comments. It was a delightful read, and gave me much food for thought." God bless Steve Kille, 1982

    about 9 months ago
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