Explorations in Unificationism edited by Theodore T. Shimmyo and David A. Carlson

Labor, Language and Family: Unificationist Reflections on the Practical Condition s of Social and Moral Existence by Thomas G. Walsh


Labor, language and family are forms of human practice basic to the development and preservation of society. Moreover, the attempt to reform or normatively order these practices is believed by many to be basic to the creation of a good society. That is, if labor is understood as a practice basic to the formation of society, i.e., it brings individuals into necessary relationships of mutual benefit and interdependency, then it also becomes important that the practice of labor be done in a way that supports or enhances, and does not undermine, social solidarity. For example, the conventional suspicion of commercial labor, extending from Aristotle to Marx, derives from the observation that commerce is often driven by individual greed, a passion that subverts the trust and fellow-feeling necessary for a good society. Hence, efforts must be made to normatively regulate commerce, so that it be practiced in a way respectful of the norms of a good society.

If we grant that labor, language and family are basic to the creation of society, how are these foundations to be normatively ordered so that they contribute to the creation of a good society? This question guides the following exploration. Three social models are correlated with these three foundational practices. With the practice of labor, we correlate the

Marxist socialist ideal of society; with language, the participatory democracy or communicative society is correlated; and with family, a familial and communitarian model of society is proposed.

Marxist socialism focuses on the issue of alienated labor, and reserves this category as the central one for the analysis and reformation of society. Labor, and the conditions in accordance with which a natural condition of scarcity is overcome, is viewed as the premier and decisive practice that bears upon the production of individual consciousness and social justice. For Marxists the de-alienation of the practice of labor, effected through the collective or co-ownership of capital, provides the key for the emancipation of humanity.

In contrast to Marxism's labor theory of society and consciousness, the liberal democratic social ideal stresses political processes as primary in the attempt to deliver humanity from alienation and injustice. The emphasis placed on political practices represents an appeal to the promise of linguistic communication. In this view, neither consciousness nor language can be reduced to a mere function of labor. Language, in fact, may be innovative, anti-ideological, critical and, perhaps most importantly, political. Given this, one concludes that the labor class cannot lay claim to being the sole carrier of the emancipated society. Rather, those who interact through speech and who share a common commitment to truth and goodness are valued. Language thus supersedes labor as the central factor in the analysis and normativization of society.

A third type of social model, traditionally associated with religious/intentional communities, may be characterized as communitarian. In this essay communitarianism is correlated with Unificationism's familial model of society, emphasizing the primacy of the traditional family comprised of parents and the children resulting from that monogamous marriage. Within Unificationism the family becomes the governing image for thinking about the good society; furthermore, family is seen as forming the basis for the fundamental conditions of trust, solidarity and justice in society. The theory of practice that operates in Unificationism departs significantly from that which characterizes the other two models discussed. Much more in keeping with a classical, Aristotelian theory of practical rationality and ethics, Unificationism stresses the centrality of family as the school of virtue and character. As such, Unificationism asserts the primacy of the formation of the moral agent/social actor in the matrix of family. This understanding of practice rooted in family departs from conventional Marxism's labor theory of society and its labor theory of the self, and departs from liberal democracy's preoccupation with language.

What I intend to explore in this essay is the possibility of establishing a social theory with an ordered integration of all three categories, labor, linguistic communication and familial formation. The good society, with all its structures of political, economic and legal administration, emerges on the foundation of culture, and while labor, language and family are all basic to the formation and transmission of culture, the familial matrix for the social reproduction of human life is the most basic.

In sum, section one presents the case for the primacy of economic socialism. Here I refer primarily to the classic Marxist model for emancipation. I explicate this position by pointing to the way in which alienated labor becomes the central category for understanding the human condition, leading Marx to conclude that an international labor class, the proletariat, would serve as the "carrier" for world socialism and transnational emancipation. However, disaffection with Leninism and Stalinism, as well as with the Nazi Party, led to a renewed emphasis on consciousness and culture -- deriving from a rediscovery of Hegel and the discovery by the Hungarian philosopher, George Lukacs, of Marx's Paris manuscripts from 1844-1846. Thus began an era of cultural or hermeneutical Marxism which turned to a critique of positivism, or instrumental and scientistic rationality. Such was the project of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, et. al., at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, i.e., the critique of the imperialism of positivist science and thematization of the "dialectic of the Enlightenment."1

Section two will examine the move away from this kind of economic anthropology to a consideration of the relevance of political activity as the key to human solidarity and to the implementation of a social ideal. Here I shall underscore the notion of human linguisticality or speech, particularly as developed in the work of Jurgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel. In the case of Habermas, Marxism is called, via an emphasis on the philosophy of language, to a retrieval of politics. By focusing on what are taken to be the universal (Habermas) or the transcendental (Apel) features of linguistic interaction, an attempt is made to establish a foundation for universally valid norms and for political ethics in general. Language becomes the foundation upon which the good and just society is built.

The third section will attend to the Unificationist ideal of society, which proposes a familial basis for culture, self and social institutions. Unificationism is virtually synonymous with familyism, i.e., the family is the matrix for the unification of man and woman, the reproduction of the species, and the nurturing of persons of goodness and justice. This practice stands as the channel for both the biological transmission of the species and the social transmission of culture and ethos.

Socialism and the Labor Theory of Society

Socialism, generally conceived, is a movement that reacts against the individualism and inequality of bourgeois society, stressing instead the solidarity of the species, the community, the whole, as decisive for the creation of the individual part. Economically conceived, socialism has always suggested a system where wealth is socially owned and equitably distributed to all members of the community. Implicit here is the notion that normless passions for acquisition must be regulated. Socialism, it might be said, attempts to manage the acquisitive passions, in much the same way as the monogamous family has served as an institution for the domestication of the sexual passions.

According to Marxist theory, labor is the central category for social and economic analysis, as well as for the understanding of moral psychology and sociality. Marx both inherited and departed from the idealistic tradition in German philosophy by focusing on what may be referred to as a labor theory of knowledge. Simply put, Marx argued that the human consciousness is created by "sensuous self activity." More particularly, human beings are shaped by the way in which we engage in labor to overcome the natural situation of scarcity. Humans labor against nature for subsistence and in the process we create ourselves and our consciousness. The key point here is not merely what one does qua laborer, but rather the conditions or relations of labor. Marx believed that under the conditions of international capitalism, a system characterized by the institutions of private property and the division of labor, labor activity was not only alienating, since labor power had become a commodity -- the commodification of the labor force -- but also the key to universal emancipation.

The classic passage which evidences Marx's estimation of the primacy of labor reads as follows:

In the social production of their existence [i.e., labor], men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.2

Marx appropriated and attempted to move beyond the philosophical anthropology of Ludwig Feuerbach, who related alienation to the psychological projection of a supernatural being, God i.e., the alienation of humanity's species essence. Marx moved from psychology to sociology and from a consideration of the symptoms of alienation, such as religion, to the cause: alienated labor. Marx shifted from the Hegelian and Feuerbachian concern with the alienation of mind, i.e., the wrongness of ideas or concepts, to a concern with the alienation of labor. Alienated labor is simply that activity in which the laborer does not own the fruits of his or her labor: labor under the conditions of private property.

The working class or proletariat, according to Marx, is subjected to a mode of practice which creates the conditions of alienation. To break from these chains philosophical (Hegelian) reflection will not suffice. Rather a de-alienating and dignifying mode of practice is required. Initially this practice is expressed in the form of a protest. But ultimately, once the source of alienation is clearly determined, a form of revolutionary labor or practice is required if the laborer is to regain his or her expropriated humanity.

Only under the conditions of socialism will labor create the practical conditions for freedom and human solidarity, i.e., a non-classist society. As such, the goal of revolutionary practice involves the attempt to subvert capitalist modes of production and to supplant that mode with a socialist mode of production. Under socialist conditions labor will be in identity with freedom. Under the conditions of capitalism, however, labor creates only a false consciousness.

Herbert Marcuse has stated in Reason and Revolution that "Marx rests his theories on the assumption that the labor process determines the totality of human existence and thus gives society its basic pattern."3 He states also that for Marx, "Labor is the way men develop their abilities and needs in the struggle with nature and history, and the social frame impressed on labor is the historical form of life mankind has bestowed upon itself."4

It is primarily in the earlier, "Paris Manuscripts" of 1844-1886 that Marx develops his theory of alienated labor. In essence the evil of capitalism derives from the fact that labor-power becomes a commodity and the laborer is treated as a thing, reified. It is this condition that gives rise to the need for socialism. As Leszek Kolakowski has said,

It can thus be said that, in Marx's view, not poverty but the loss of human subjectivity is the essential feature of capitalist production. Poverty indeed has been known throughout history, but awareness of poverty and even the revolt against it are not sufficient to restore man's subjectivity and membership of a human community. The socialist movement is not born of poverty, but of the class antagonism which arouses a revolutionary consciousness in the proletariat. The opposition between capitalism and socialism is essentially and originally the opposition between a world in which human beings are degraded into things and a world in which they recover their subjectivity.5

Based on the theory of labor as that universal feature of humanness which all share, particularly at the class level, there emerges the hope that if all are united in a similar form of delineating labor, i.e., under the conditions of international socialism, then universal solidarity is possible: Workers of the World Unite!!! Consider the following enthusiastic passage taken from one of the declarations of the International Workingmen's Association:

The very fact that while official France and Germany are rushing into a fratricidal feud, the workmen of France and Germany send each other messages of peace and good will; this great fact, unparalleled in the history of the past, opens the vista of a brighter future. It proves that in contrast to old society, with its economic miseries, and its political delirium, a new society is springing up, whose international rule will be Peace, because its national ruler will be everywhere the same -- Labor.6

Lenin wrote of a "United States of the World" which he took to be "the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism."7 Lenin often spoke as well of a World Federative Republic of Soviets, and Bukharin, chairman of the Communist International from 1926-1929, spoke of the creation of one worldwide socialist republic.8 The Comintern was established as an international federation of laborers to serve as a basis for the international socialist movement, and world revolution. The period of the First International, characterized by the rift between Bakuninists and Marxists over issues of leadership and methodology, dates from 1864-1876. The Second International, the period of German Social Democracy, existed between 1889 and 1914, breaking up in an irresolvable rift between reformists/revisionists and revolutionists, i.e., between those who saw continuity with and those who thoroughly rejected bourgeois institutions. The Third International, associated with the preeminence of Lenin, began in the Soviet Union in 1919.

In a document entitled, "Manifesto of the Communist International to the Proletariat of the Entire World" there is stated that,

Our task is to generalize the revolutionary experience of the working class, to cleanse the movement of the disintegrating admixtures of opportunism and social patriotism, to mobilize the forces of all genuinely revolutionary parties of the world proletariat and thereby facilitate and hasten the victory of the communist revolution throughout the world.9

Another passage:

Conscious of the world-historical character of their tasks, the enlightened workers, from the very beginning of their organized socialist movement, strove for an association on an international scale.10

This transnational ideal, however, proved to be unfulfilled particularly at the outset of World War I, when the German proletariat obeyed the national call to arms, thus abandoning their transnational calling as socialists. Patriotism flourished, and especially among the workers. As Kolakowski tells it,

In the summer of 1914 the socialist movement suffered the greatest defeat in its history, when it became clear that the international solidarity of the proletariat -- its ideological foundation -- was an empty phrase and could not stand the test of events.11

In essence it seems that labor, in and of itself, could not carry the weight which the creation of a transnational or transcultural consensus required. The restructuring of the conditions of labor through the elimination of a system of private property proved to be an inadequate basis upon which to create the non-alienated society. This is so because the conditions for social solidarity are not thematized adequately through the category of labor. Hence, along with the rejection of orthodox Marxism, and its preoccupation with labor, comes a refusal to abrogate certain bourgeois institutions attentive to other factors in the creation of persons and society.

It was Eduard Bernstein who most forcefully advanced the cause of German democratic socialism, in his publication of The Premises of Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy in 1899. Bernstein rejected what he saw as the Hegelian or Blanquist tendencies in Marxism, i.e., positing a radical discontinuity with the past. In Bernstein was crystallized a form of social democracy which departed from orthodox Marxism, e.g., Karl Kautsky.

The new doctrine was a compromise between liberalism and Marxian socialism, or a socialist variant of liberalism. It was applied to situations other than those envisaged by classical Marxism, and appealed to different psychological motivations.12

The revisionism of Bernstein, as I view it, represented a shift away from apocalyptic Marxism to a kind of evolutionary socialism that does not require the smashing of the liberal bourgeois state. But beneath this I would suggest that something else is at work, namely the view that the Marxist preoccupation with labor was inadequate as a basis for a theory of society and the emancipation of humanity. Furthermore, this shift represented a distinct skepticism regarding the candidacy of an abstractly conceived proletariat as the carrier of transnational socialism. Hence, there is a move away from economicism, to at least an appreciation for political existence, i.e., democracy. With democracy, as Hannah Arendt has pointed out, one accepts the primacy of speech over labor.

In an essay entitled, "Tradition and the Modern Age," Arendt speaks of Marx's preoccupation with labor,

"Labor created man" means that labor and not God created man; second h means that man, insofar as he is human, creates himself, that his humanity is the result of his own activity; it means, third, that what distinguishes man from animal, his differentia specifica, is not reason, until then the highest attribute of man, but labor, the traditionally most despised human activity, which contains the humanity of man. Thus Marx challenges the traditional God, the traditional estimate of labor, and the traditional glorification of reason.13

Arendt challenges Marx's philosophical anthropology by making a distinction between labor, work and action, or between techne, poesis and praxis. She accents the import of speech over labor, suggesting that "with word and deed we insert ourselves into the human world,"14 and that, "a life without speech and without action... is literally dead to the world."15 Labor, for Arendt, is prepolitical activity, and characterizes the realm of necessity, not the realm of possibility. She says,

This attempt to replace acting with making is manifest in the whole body of argument against "democracy," which, the more consistently and better reasoned it is, will turn into an argument against the essentials of politics.16

The quest for the certainty and control of making (poesis) replaces the openness and unpredictability of conversation and speech.

To sum up, I have argued that nineteenth century Marxism, governed largely by its fixation on the alienation and emancipation of labor, abrogated bourgeois institutions dedicated to the procedures of speech, and particularly the processes of democratic will-formation through linguistic interaction. Of course, the disaffection with orthodox Marxism, as evidenced in the emergence of the Frankfurt School of thinkers in the period between the two World Wars, was precipitated by a host of changed social conditions. Mention can be made of such factors as the non-collapse of capitalism or the conspicuous rise of Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. Stalinism, as the deformation of Marxism, and Nazism, as the deformation of national and cultural identity, gave all the more incentive for anti-totalitarian social criticism. The Frankfurt School, for example, accented the importance of preserving the conditions of criticism in the face of the imperialism of instrumental rationality, and the authoritarian institution which such rationality gives rise to. The correction of Marxism required the examination of alternative modes of practice basic to the emancipation and development of society.

Language and Social Theory

For Jurgen Habermas an ideal of dialogue serves as the primary mode of practice for the establishment of moral community. Furthermore, a normative theory of society may be most adequately grounded in the norm which Habermas believes to be constitutive of speech itself, of communication free from domination and distortion. Moral community has its ground in language's own normative structure. As stated by Habermas in his "Inaugural Lecture" at the University of Frankfurt in 1965,

The human interest in autonomy and responsibility is not mere fancy, for it can be apprehended a priori. What raises us out of nature is the only thing whose nature we can know: language. Through its structure, autonomy and responsibility are posited for us. Our first sentence expresses unequivocally the intention of universal and unconstrained consensus.17

Rudiger Bubner has described Habermas' effort as one of avoiding, "the problem of Marx's methodology, which vacillates between Kritik and scientism, by disconnecting the real economic basis of society in the dimension of labor from its forms of political organization in the sense of the mutual recognition of subjects."18 Habermas, in effect, attempts to underscore the autonomy of speech in relation to labor. Furthermore, speech, which is to be free to follow the course of argumentation without coercion, provides a basis for an emancipatory ideal which may serve as a principle for the criticism of forces of domination. Speech rather than labor takes on importance as the central category for ethical and emancipatory reflection.

There is little question but that Marx inherited his estimation of labor from certain classical economists, but even more importantly from Hegel. Marx, however, did not borrow from Hegel, as Jurgen Habermas points out, the stress on interaction and dialogue, i.e., communicative action, "as the medium for the formative process of the self-conscious spirit."19 With labor Hegel saw the employment of a "cunning" or "artful" consciousness, one given over to strategic, instrumental action; language, however, required a "name-giving consciousness." In labor one controls one's object, nature. In language use, however, one is also controlled by the symbols employed.

In retrieving this dimension of Hegel's thought, Habermas seeks to show that "A reduction of interaction to labor or derivation of labor from interaction is not possible."20 Furthermore, and more importantly, given the actual history of Marxist societies, Habermas states that, "Liberation from hunger and misery [by labor] does not necessarily converge with liberation from servitude and degradation, for there is no automatic developmental relation between labor and interaction."21 In effect, it seems that Habermas is making a distinction between labor and politics, while accenting the political as the more reflexive and developmentally advanced characteristic of the human species. Furthermore, instead of merely looking for the conditions of alienated labor, Habermas focuses on the conditions of systematically distorted communication, i.e., the way in which the ideal of the bourgeois "public sphere" has or has not been institutionalized. Is social consensus created by domination and ideology, or by public discourse and will-formation?

Questioning "whether the concept of social labor adequately characterizes the form of reproduction of human life,"22 Habermas concludes that, "the Marxian concept of social labor is suitable for delimiting the mode of life of the hominids from that of the primates; but it does not capture the specifically human reproduction of life."23

A more satisfactory theory of the reproduction of human life includes not only a theory of labor, but also a theory of family and a theory of language.24 Habermas attempts to reconstruct historical materialism by moving beyond the history of labor, to consider the development of "communicative competence."

Whereas Marx localized the learning processes, important for evolution in the dimension of objectivating thought -- of technical and organizational knowledge, of instrumental and strategic action, in short, of production forces -- there are good reasons meanwhile for assuming that learning processes also take place in the dimension of moral insight, practical knowledge, communicative action, and the consensual regulation of action conflicts -- learning processes that are deposited in more mature forms of social integration, in new production relations.25

Habermas views normative structures, particularly those which lie at the very core of communicative action as the "pacemaker of social evolution."26 He concludes that,

If a socialist organization of society were the adequate response to crisis-ridden developments in capitalist society, it could not be deduced from any "determination of the form" of the reproductive process, but would have to be explained in terms of processes of democratization; that is, in terms of the penetration of universalistic structures into action domains, which... were previously reserved to the private autonomous setting of ends.27

Marx and most of his followers tend to reduce praxis to techne, instrumental action, i.e., positivism. As Thomas McCarthy has said "material production and social interaction are not viewed as two irreducible dimensions of human practice. Instead the latter is incorporated into the former."28 Habermas rejects this tendency in Marx, "For the category of labor then acquires unawares the meaning of world-constituting life activity (Lebenspraxis) in general."29

Habermas' theory of communicative action represents an argument for the primacy of elementary speech activity as the foundation for rationality and norms. On the one hand he rejects Marxism's tendency to reduce communicative action to labor, and at the same time he objects to liberal society's separation of reason and moral decision. Habermas argues that language provides a basis for a synthesis of ethics and reason, for both are grounded in the universal and normative structure of language.

In sum, Habermas' move away from the attention which Marxists pay to labor is virtually equivalent to a move away from economics, and positivism, to politics and hermeneutics. The attempt to create a rational and ethical society or economy must derive from consensual will-formation. Habermas' position represents a significant criticism of any form of totalism which views politics as dispensable. As Herbert Richardson has said,

In a nonpolitical society, government originates and presents itself as acting through a single will, or head. In a political society, government originates and presents itself as acting through a multitude of wills, or heads. Nonpolitical societies are monolithic; political societies are pluralistic.30

Habermas' theory of the communicative society represents an attempt to thematize political action as fundamental to the pursuit of social change. That is, language is prior to labor in the constitution of a human and moral community. In accenting political practice, one must accent speech and interaction as basic features of our human condition.

Habermas is also telling us that individuation and identity formation derive from communicative contexts and not merely from labor relations (sensuous self activity). Moreover, in modern societies identity is not formed merely by inherited convention, but through communicative legitimation of traditional validity claims. The particular contexts of our everyday activity, i.e., the lifeworld, become gradually more and more rationalized or, as Habermas would say, there occurs the "linguistification of the lifeworld." In other words, ordinary life is no longer according to authoritarian conventions of pseudo-communication, but in accordance with norms arrived at by consensus.

Habermas departs from the pessimism of his mentor, Theodor Adorno, and even Max Weber, by appeal to his developmental theory of communicative competence, which envisions an increasing progress toward a rational society. Habermas is a revisionist historical materialist who sees in language a basis for a rational society.

The recovery of political ethics for the modern world requires, so Habermas argues, a new philosophical grounding in the normative structure of language. The program has been attractive to several European and North American theologians.31 The danger in this shift from labor to politics, however, lies in the weakness of viewing "vox populi" as "vox dei." The general will, after all (just ask any loser after an election; "democracy fails" for some at every election), can be both general and wrong. Also it remains to be seen as to whether a political ethics, not to mention a theological ethics, governed entirely by the norm of openness to the discursive redemption of any and all contested validity claims, can function in the real and ordinary world.

The ideal of the communicative society remains too abstract. Habermas directs his prescriptions to humanity at large, rather than to particular communities. Such universalism, while adequate as a regulative principle, may be irrelevant in concrete social situations where we must begin somewhere, with ordinary language, and move ahead most often with communicative actions informed substantively by narrative accounts of the good way of life. These narrative accounts have their validity established by traditions of goodness which they have generated.

Furthermore, the notion of formation or moral development is too much understood as a merely cognitive process. Little attention is given to the way in which practical reason is formed by sentiments, images or mysteriously powerful symbols and narratives. In effect, a very restricted and almost sterile theory of practical reason is operative in the discursive theories of ethics; a theory that essentially divorces reason from any particular narrative framework, and from the identity-forming import of specific practices, such as the family.

Family and Social Theory

J.N. Findlay has argued that "Alone among modern philosophers Hegel has an almost Freudian realization of the simple sexual and family foundations of organized group-life."32 And Bernard Cullen says that in Hegel's view,

Reconciliation between masters and slaves eventually takes place in the family, within which there is an identity of needs and in which goods are held in common ownership. The foundations of the family are marriage and child which represent continuity and stability in an essentially contingent institution.33

For Hegel Sittlichkeit or ethical life has three dimensions: the family, civil society and the state. The family, for Hegel, is the primary form of human association, although it does not represent a conscious universalism nor the fullness of freedom, as does the state. Hegel associated the family, as well as the community, with "unreflective ethical life."34 Nevertheless, "The Divine Law or Power, on the other hand, has its obscure roots in elemental family relationships, and, since the Family lies at the foundations of the Community, the Divine or Family Principle underlies all communal life."35 Hegel also asserts that,

Marriage, and especially monogamy, is one of the absolute principles on which the ethical life of a community depends. Hence marriage comes to be recorded as one of the moments in the founding of states by gods and heroes.36

Hegelian-Marxists have not wholly abandoned this concern with the family. One of the primary projects of the early Frankfurt School was Studies on Authority and Family. For example, Erich Fromm had great respect for the social relevance of family and, according to Martin Jay, was very much influenced by Robert Briffault's The Mothers: A Study of the Origins of Sentiments and Institutions (1917). Jay says,

Fromm was especially taken with Briffault's idea that all love and altruistic feelings were ultimately derived from the maternal love necessitated by the extended period of human pregnancy and postnatal care.37

Furthermore, Fromm assented to Briffault's contention that, "Love was thus not dependent on sexuality, as Freud has supposed. In fact, sex was more often tied to hatred and destruction."38

Of course, much of the neo-Marxist research into family was devoted to an uncovering of the pathological and authoritarian character of the patriarchal bourgeois family, and thereby linking patriarchy with modernity's proclivity for authoritarianism and frequent world wars. And in certain respects the critique of bourgeois civil society included both a critique of capital as well as of bourgeois monogamy, making it logically possible to link up socialist ideals with ideals of extra-familial love. Ludwig von Mises has asserted this to be the case:

Proposals to transform the relations between the sexes have long gone hand in hand with plans for the socialization of the means of production. Marriage is to disappear along with private property.39

Von Mises points to the immense popularity of the German socialist work by August Begel, Women and Socialism, to support his claim. However, the turn to a consideration of the familial matrix can cut either to the left or the right. For example, Freud saw many social radicals as "acting out their Oedipal aggressions toward their fathers."40

Neo-conservative theorist George Gilder relates the persistence and increase in poverty among certain groups to the decline of the traditional family. He argues that,

The key to the intractable poverty of the hardcore American poor is the dominance of single and separated men in poor communities. Black "unrelated individuals" are not much more likely to be in poverty than white ones. The problem is neither race nor matriarchy in any meaningful sense. It is familial anarchy among the concentrated poor of the inner city, in which flamboyant and impulsive youths rather than responsible men provide the themes of inspiration.41

Gilder cites the prosperity of Mormons as well as the disciples of Father Divine to back his claims.

What unites Hegel, Freud, Fromm and Gilder is the conviction that family is somehow crucial to the formation of social institutions. Certainly this formal conviction is compatible with Unificationism's virtual reduction of social ethics to family ethics. In Unification theology the origin of evil, and all its social effects, is rooted in a distortion of familial love which took place at the outset of human history. Redemption, therefore, requires the restoration of familial love.

Thus, even though Unificationism promotes a social vision referred to as the society of "co-existence, co-prosperity, and common cause,"42 it can be constructed only on the foundation of a rather traditional form of social practice. For Unificationism this practice is one of familial love as developed in a monogamous marriage relationship dedicated to the production of children and service to the world. The vision is communitarian in calling for cultural consensus centered on shared values and general fellow-feeling. Unificationism does anticipate the emergence of a kind of communitarian socialism as a virtual inevitability, as stated in the Divine Principle:

Man, having been created with such an ideal, cannot help demanding such a socialistic system of life since he quite naturally searches for his original nature, striving after the democratic freedom at the consummation of the providential history which will enable the restoration of the original ideal.43

Unificationism accepts the major thesis of democratic socialism, i.e., that, "If the will of the people should demand this, the politics according to the will of the people must also go in the same direction. Therefore, there will ultimately have to come a socialistic society centering on God."44

At the same time, Unificationism rejects communism, though not simply because it is socialist, but because it is anti-political and anti-theological. Marxist-Leninist societies are viewed as prematurely socialist in a fashion analogous to premarital sex or teenage sex. There is no adequate foundation in the cultural and linguistic infrastructure. Even a good thing, prior to ripeness, may be devastating. As stated by Shakespeare, "Ripeness is all."

Given the premium Unificationism places on religion it is not surprising that there is a general espousal of a limited state and therefore, an eschewal of the statist tendencies of socialist economists. And in this respect, Unificationism finds itself in company with social theorists who seek to guard against government interventionism. Unificationism is incompatible with economic anthropologies which thoroughly put aside questions of moral and social values and view the human being merely as a utility-maximizing creature.

I would suggest that Unificationists are convinced that the world is not adequately prepared at the cultural level for the advance of the good society. There are political foundations and economic foundations, but not the cultural foundations. If a just society is to become a reality, and if politics is to emerge as something other than "civil war carried on by other means,"45 then there has to occur some deeper basis of solidarity or shared vision of a global culture. This is the essential ideal of Unificationism, the attempt to bring about the unification of world cultures. In this sense Unificationism attempts to be a movement that fosters and seeks to undergird the emergence of a new world culture or world civilization. Just as both communism and liberal democracy attempt to present themselves as world ideologies, or as the United Nations and other international organizations attempt to function as an infrastructure for transcultural and transnational harmony, Unificationism has global civilizational goals. Without itself being a political institution, Unificationism seeks to define the values that should guide global politics and economics.

Of course, a familial ideal of society is most often associated with narrow tribalism or at best a very parochial or local vision of society, one having little national or global relevance. Family is either a private affair like sexual preference or a transmitter of particular knowledge usually in biased or prejudicial form. Unificationism, however, promotes a family model that moves beyond the local, prejudicial vision. Many, if not most Unificationist marriages are international. Moreover, most Unificationists spend time working in regions of the world far removed from the local contexts of their upbringing. Most importantly, Unificationists are charged by their faith to cultivate a global vision of world service.

Unificationism departs from Marxist and social democratic models for the institutionalization of the good society. The one focuses on ideology critique and the stimulation of dialectical tensions, e.g., ethnic, racial and class resentments, and the creation of crises, which are believed to be in the interest of the march of free laborers. The other focuses on creating the conditions for free speech and political activity and attempts to create a procedurally normative politics which is guided by a normative ideal. Unificationism stresses identity-formation at the level of family where character is transmitted intergenerationally and where love is experienced directly by the child in process of formation. Without family as a community of labor, language and love, society remains a struggle among tentatively related and often distrustful individuals.


All three social theories affirm the primacy of a particular practice as a basis for moral and social existence. We have considered the practice of labor, the practice of speech and the familial practice of the reproduction of human life. I have hinted at the analogous relationship which these three forms of practice have with the notions of economics, politics and culture. Any adequate theory of society must integrate these three modes of practice. The style or character of various social projects in many respects reflects the emphasis given to any one of these dimensions of human historical existence.

Unificationism upholds a traditional Judeo-Christian and Confucian theory of the family. The family is understood as the basis for the cultivation of the moral agent and social actor. In the matrix of the family, the rational capacities of the human being are embedded within a context of community. Of course, this basic social context can indeed be the basis for the intergenerational transmission of that which is worst about human beings and, in fact, this is very much the Unification estimation of the history of families. And in this respect Unificationism is very Freudian, only with the depth hermeneutic pushed to its theological moment of reflection, i.e., a theology of the Fall. The family, however, also serves as the matrix for redemption, the place where the trust, love and "the peace that passeth all understanding" may be most profoundly experienced, between husband and wife, parents and children.

Unificationism attempts to shift the social paradigm, not at the level of the state's obligations to redistribute the wealth of society, but at the level of the formation of human beings. And yet not at the exclusion of the claims of labor and language. Labor and language have their claims, only they require some foundation in culture, or religion. For the Unificationist, religion resides most directly in the home where love and goodness, faith and hope are most dramatically lived out. This amounts to a combined ecclesiology and social theory of marriage and family.


1. The notion of the "dialectic of the enlightenment," developed by Max Horkeimer and Theodor Adorno, holds that the enlightenment project has a darker side. That is, in a way suggestive of Max Weber's theory of "disenchantment," Horkeimer and Adorno argued that the enlightenment succeeded in effecting a liberation only at a price. Most specifically the enlightenment gaverise to instrumental rationality and a new type of domination.

2. Karl Marx, "Preface" to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, in Early Writings (NY: Vintage Books, 1975), 424. Marx advocates a kind of "mode of subsistence" theory of human consciousness and society. Human society is shaped by the way in which we labor to overcome scarcity. See also Ronald Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

3. Herbert Marcuse, Reason and Revolution (Boston: Beacon Press, 1970), 295.

4. Marcuse, 309.

5. Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, Volume I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), 287.

6. Karl Marx, The Paris Commune (Palo Alto, C A: New York Labor News, 1978), 30.

7. Francis Nigel Lee, Communist Eschatology (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1974), 491.

8. Lee, 491.

9. Helmut Gruber, ed., International Communism in the Era of Lenin (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1972), 82.

10. Gruber, 91.

11. Kolakowski, Vol. II, 28.

12. Kolakowski, Vol. II, 114.

13. Hannah Arendt, "Tradition and the Modern Age," in Between Past and Future (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1954), 73.

14. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 176.

15. Arendt, The Human Condition, 176.

16. Arendt, The Human Condition, 220.

17. Jurgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972), 314.

18. Rudiger Bubner, "Habermas's Concept of Critical Theory," in John Thompson and David Held, eds., Habermas: Critical Debates (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1982), 50.

19. Jurgen Habermas, "Labor and Interaction: Remarks on Hegel's Jena Philosophy of Mind," in Theory and Practice (Boston: Beacon Press, 1974), 152.

20. Habermas, "Labor and Interaction," 159.

21. Habermas, "Labor and Interaction," 169.

22. Jurgen Habermas, "Toward a Reconstruction of Historical Materialism," in Communication and the Evolution of Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), 133.

23. Habermas, "Toward a Reconstruction," 125.

24. Habermas, "Toward a Reconstruction," 137-138.

25. Habermas, "Historical Materialism and the Development of Normative Structures," in Communication, 98.

26. Habermas, "Historical Materialism," 120.

27. Habermas, "Historical Materialism," 124.

28. Thomas McCarthy, "Translator's Introduction," in Jurgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975), xix.

29. Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests, 28.

30. Herbert Richardson, et. al., Religion and Political Society (NY': Harper and Row, 1974), 101.

31. See Charles Davis, Theology and Political Society (Cambridge University Press, 1980); Rainer Dobert, Systemtheorie and die Entwicklung religioser Deutungssysteme: Zur Logik des sozialwissenschaftlichen Funktionalismus (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1973); Matthew Lamb, Solidarity With Victims (NY: Crossroad, 1982); Joseph Monti, Ethics and Public Policy: The Conditions of Public Moral Discourse (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982); Helmut Peukert, Science, Action and Fundamental Theology: Toward a Theology of Communicative Action (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1984); Rudolf J. Siebert, From Critical Theory of Society to Theology of Communicative Praxis (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1979).

32. J.N. Findlay, Hegel: A Re-examination (NY: Oxford University Press, 1976), 87.

33. Bernard Cullen, Hegel's Social and Political Thought: An Introduction (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1979), 59.

34. Findlay, 116.

35. Findlay, 117.

36. G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, T.M. Knox, translator, (Oxford University Press, 1977), 115.

37. Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973), 95.

38. Jay, 95.

39. Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1981), 74.

40. Jay, 97.

41. George Gilder, W.ealth and Poverty (NY: Basic Books, 1981), 71.

42. Divine Principle (NY: HSA-UWC, 1973), 446.

43. Divine Principle, AAA.

44. Ibid.

45. Alasdair Maclntyre coined this phrase in After Virtue (Notre Dame Books, 1981); and Richard Neuhaus employs the term liberally in his recent work, The Naked Public Square, (Eerdmans, 1984). 

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