Proceedings of the Virgin Islands' Seminar on Unification Theology -- Darrol Bryant, General Editor - April 1, 1980

Critique and Counterproposal to Marxism -- Jim Cowin

Each of us is well aware that more than half the world lives under communism. Generally, too, we are aware of the nature of communist philosophy and practice. I will touch these only briefly. My desire here is to show that Unificationism includes a counterproposal to communist ideology. I'm going to contrast the Unification and Marxist views of human nature and its restoration. Then I'll touch on problems in Marxist economics and suggest some ways in which we can deal with our economic situation. The critique and counterproposal to Marxism is too broad a topic for this short presentation. It includes many areas I will not even be able to mention here and is also in the process of being developed.1

Unificationism holds that the world is intentioned by God to be the reflection of his own perfect nature, expressing and fulfilling all of his qualities. Clearly the world as it now exists is not this way. Hence, history is a process through which God's intentional ideal can be achieved. The liberation of people is certainly the function and mission of religions. The development of religion as a means for God to attain his ideal is what the Unification movement desires.

Unificationism holds that each person is the child of God created in God's image. Every person is a unique individual image of God, reflecting one of God's unlimited individual images. Each person is different and must be able to express his or her individuality; otherwise, a person does not fully develop. People are also, like God, creative; they need to mold the world in their image. Also, as beings of God's heart, they are ethical, loving, and by nature seek individual perfection. Love is the essence of personality. Because we have God's heart, we have to love. We're empty without love. We need other people. The communists don't give much recognition to this. Love is the source of all ethics and a loving personality is the sign of a perfected character.

The fact that people are created in God's image means that God is both male and female. It also means that people cannot ultimately live as either male or female. They have to live as male and female together in order to be completed persons. In this way their need for love can be fulfilled. Fulfillment then requires a family.

The family is potentially the base of a satisfying society. It is not, as Marx claimed, merely a kind of production relationship. One of the areas of life which God is trying most desperately to restore is family life. We know only too well how much the family is presently a source of suffering as well as joy. Individuals need families in which they can prosper. Even the most comprehensive of economic reforms would not create the kingdom of heaven on earth if the family were not restored.

People are also beings of position: we are the mediators between the spiritual and physical worlds. This is because we are simultaneously spiritual and physical beings. People are therefore beings to which spiritual beings, including God, and physical beings can respond directly. For this reason it is our position to bring God to the physical world and the physical world to God. People cannot be satisfied relating only to other people and the physical world -- as much as we long to do these things. People must seek God; otherwise, people cannot realize their full humanity.

The Bible describes three blessings that God gave the human race at the time of creation: to be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28). These three blessings: to develop fully as an individual (be fruitful), to have a family (multiply), and to have dominion over creation, were an inheritance lost at the time of the fall. In order to regain these, we must restore our relationship to God as the source of true love and center our lives and societies on him. In order to become fully human, we must understand that what we are trying to achieve is the restoration of the three blessings. This is best approached by working with God in every area of life. Eventually a paradise can be established on earth in which economic problems no longer exist. The Marxists sense this but do not know how to bring it about.

The Marxist view of man is quite different from the Unification view. Utilizing Darwin's theory of evolution, Marx restricted man's state to that of merely the most highly evolved animal with no soul or eternal life. Man's spirit is only an emergent quality coming from speculative ability and consciousness which exist only as functions of the physical brain. Spirit is an artifact of man's observation. According to Marx and Engels, apes developed into people through their use of tools. Using tools demanded the development of what Marxists call "social labor": the collective production and distribution of goods and services. Social labor involved communication and stimulated the development of language and eventually ethics, law, culture in all its forms, and science and technology. Hence social labor is what has made man man. Through social labor, what is valuable in man is created.

Marx claimed that people can be perfected through social labor if society becomes socialist and then communist. He also claimed that the only way socialist societies can come about is through violent revolution. Anyone who opposes Marxist socialism, anyone who opposes violent revolution, is actually preventing man from attaining his humanity, and Marx and other people after him called these opponents "enemies of the people." This is not simply a propaganda phrase. It has definite ontological meaning. An "enemy of the people" is one who prevents the human race from attaining its full value. These "enemies of the people" can and should be liquidated, annihilated.

I would like to mention here that a reliable estimate of the number of deaths under communism is 143,000,000 according to an article in the London Daily Telegraph, March 19, 1979, by Philip Van der Elst, quoting Le Figaro. Also, U.S. News and World Report stated that 24,000,000 refugees fled from communist nations from 1945 to 1964. This figure does not include the "boat people" or the refugees in Africa. Our missionaries in Africa tell many terrible stories but have no idea of the numbers of people involved. All of this is a result of the doctrine of social labor and of man having his value determined by his allegiance to a particular political system.

In order to look more deeply at the Marxist understanding of the role of violence, I'm going to examine the concept of the dialectic. There are three aspects of the dialectic I want to treat here. The first is that everything exists in mutual relationships; nothing exists alone. But, we have to ask, what kinds of mutual relationships are these? The Marxists say that these mutual relationships take place in a way that enables all things of creation, including man, to progress from a lower state to a higher state. The way that these mutual relationships make this progress is through the process of contradiction. These relationships are not smooth and harmonious; they require conflict. A contradictory relationship involves two entities: a thesis and an antithesis -- a thesis automatically generates within itself its antithesis. These exist in a relationship of mutual need and mutual rejection. Because they need each other, they unite; because they reject each other, they struggle. The struggle is resolved through "negation" rather than reconciliation. In negation, the antithesis begins to grow and struggles against the thesis and eventually overcomes it. In the process, the antithesis develops into something new, the synthesis. Every communist theoretician from Marx to Mao has said basically that unity is temporary.

How then does the dialectic function in society? Marx claimed that the most important relationships in society are production relationships. These relationships are based on the relationships of individuals to the means of production. These shape an individual's consciousness and his or her relationships to other people. One's relationship to the means of production determines what time one wakes up in the morning and how one approaches the day, when one eats lunch, what one does in the evening -- and even who one marries, since people generally marry according to class. In short, everything in a person's life ultimately depends upon his or her position in the economy.

Marx also asserted that production relationships are fundamentally dialectical. That is, there are two basic relationships to the means of production: people either own the means of production or they work for the owners. The owners are in the position of the thesis; and the workers are antithesis. These two groups exist in a relationship of mutual need and mutual rejection. They need each other because they are economically dependent upon one another, but they also reject each other because some of their self-interests conflict -- the owners want to give as little money as possible to the workers, who wish to gain economically as much as they can. While this relationship of mutual need and mutual rejection continues, production forces, the technology in the society, continue to develop. Eventually the development of the production forces is hindered by the existing production relationship. The need for the development of the production forces, however, creates conditions in which the laborers will be successful in their struggle to go forward. They will overcome the owners and will, through the struggle, elevate themselves to the position of synthesis: a new group which will be the thesis for a new economic era. On this foundation the production forces can also be developed. The nature of the dialectic dictates that reconciliation between thesis and antithesis is not possible. The antagonists must struggle until the first is overcome and the other transformed. Then progress will occur.

Unificationism certainly recognizes that all things exist in mutual relationships. However, it conceives these relationships as primarily harmonious and cooperative. The struggling aspects in the natural order are secondary and serve to further the world as a whole. In Unificationism, then, there is an ultimate common purpose which fundamentally unites any two beings and which underlies disharmony. This approach at least admits of the possibility of the peaceful reconciliation of differences.

There are, of course, many differences between individuals over economic matters. In order to examine these, I'm going to review briefly Marx's approach to economics and its inadequacies for offering a solution to our economic difficulties.

Marx wrote that profit is created in the process of production. There are three factors in production: raw materials, tools, and labor. In a modern industrial economy, profit is created in the following way according to Marx: When a factory buys raw materials, their cost roughly equals their value. Hence, their purchase does not create profit. Marx argued that machines do not create profit either. They transfer their value to the product in the process of production. Then, if a machine costs $1000, it can create only $1000 worth of improvement in raw materials before it wears out. Therefore, it is the laborers who create what becomes profit when a product is sold. They are paid only enough on which to live -- an amount they could earn in far less time than they actually spend producing goods. The income from much of their labor goes to the manufacturer, and this is his only source of profit.

Marx is correct in stating that workers create value. His fault lies in not recognizing that machines also create value -- much more value than the machines themselves are worth. In addition, machines produce things that workers cannot: precision instruments and synthetic materials, for instance. Communists admit that the idea of machines simply transferring their value has been revised in Marxist economics. Yet the description of the creation of value remains essentially unchanged in Marxist thought because it serves to explain why capitalists must be overthrown.

One can argue that presently wealth is not well distributed in capitalist or semi-capitalist societies and that economic reforms are needed. If it is clearly understood, however, that machines produce a great deal of value, it is not clear that labor and management are destined to be in conflict. They can be viewed as potentially cooperative parties in a common cause. Also, recognizing the potential of machines makes it possible to hope that through the development of technology, the living standard can be raised to a universally high level. The quality of goods and living conditions can be vastly upgraded. Eventually, assuming the spiritual rebirth of mankind through God's victory in our lives and the creation of a just society, mankind should be free of economic burdens altogether.

Today, wage levels have increased far beyond those Marx envisioned. Since the early twentieth century when Henry Ford and others recognized that high wages made consumers of wage-earners, manufacturers have even had a self-centered reason for paying high wages. Manufacturers can afford high wages because a modern industrial economy is a capital-intensive economy. Capital does not become concentrated in the hands of a few as Marx asserted it would for other reasons as well. One is that service industries comprise over half the American economy. Another is that industry, big government and big unions can to some degree check each other's abuses.

Capitalism is, of course, still burdened with various kinds of economic ills. However, it should be noted that some of these could be diminished through the concerted action of the churches. Too often we assume that the government is the only agency capable of tackling these problems. However, the church can work to improve ethical standards. It can actively care for the environment. Also, buying cooperatives, manufacturing cooperatives, and goods distribution programs can be organized by churches. Corporations are often willing to support churches in such programs. There are many plans of these sorts beginning to take shape within the Unification Church.2 Churches are capable of intimate knowledge of local conditions and thus are an ideal institution to begin to deal with economic difficulties.

Marxism, with its inaccurate understanding of the world, is daily on the move trying to solve problems it cannot solve. From the point of view of mankind as a whole, communism is itself a pressing world problem. We must overcome it by solving the problems it purports to solve, while pointing out its ideological weaknesses.

Prepared Theological Responses

Francis Botchway

I was not really prepared for this response, since I came to this conference to learn more about the Divine Principle and Unification theology and not to deliver a prepared response. I learned about my role only last night at dinner. Being a friend and a critical sympathizer of the Moonists and Unificationism, I decided to honor the request. This response is therefore that of a critical friend.

First, let me say that I have searched in vain in the Divine Principle and Unification Thought for the modality or modalities of the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven. It seems to me that my colleagues in the Unification Church ought to give us a hint or specify for us the nature of these polities, or at the very least the nature of the kingdom of God on earth.

Now for my response to your counterproposal to Marxism. The preoccupation with Marxism and the critique and counterproposal to Marxism as advanced by the Unificationists seems to me to be too simplistic. The Unificationist position on communism, which seems to be central to the Divine Principle, does not appear to me to be well developed.

Ideologies possess historical legitimacy by virtue of their age. Is the triumph of Christianity over paganism in Rome only the triumph of Christian ideology, or has Christianity been an ideological instrument which bestowed strength and power to the social formations that already existed? Every new ideology must fit into the pattern of prior ideologies, as well as into the prevailing social and economic realities. That is how ideologies evolve.

I must also point out that the myth of history and the confidence in certain ideas of progress such as we find in Marxism are in decline. Instead, religion as an ideology is making a comeback. From Pope John Paul II, to Jimmy Carter the Baptist, to the Ayatollah Khomeini, to Rev. Moon, religion appears to be making a strong comeback. The role of history, then, it seems to me, is to furnish us with a framework within which we can superimpose the present onto the past so that we may be better able to predict the future. If an historical form is in crisis, this does not detract from its function. The crisis of Marxism and consequently the withering away of Marxism-Leninism involves the rejection by the intended recipients of that dogma as an affirmation of history. I am therefore, more comfortable with Unificationism and Unification universalism than I am with Marxist dogma.

However, we must make a distinction between Marxism as theory and Marxism as ideology and dogma. The crisis in Marxism, I have suggested elsewhere, must be viewed in global terms as the crisis of an illusion -- the illusion that one single ideology could serve as the universal key to understanding. Humanity cannot be treated as a one-layered cake as the Marxists treat it; it always is multilayered, formed by many superimposed strata. To forget the bottom layers is a grave error because some day these layers will inevitably emerge.

I would like to suggest to my Unification friends that they should pay some attention to dependency theory in their analysis of Marxism, and to the major characteristics of the neo-colonial mode of production, especially the race ownership of the means of production as well as the dominance of external ownership and external dependence in the economies of the Third World countries. In addition, they must concern themselves with the structural transformation of the production system which should include an examination of the relevance of the Marxist theory of the transformation of social systems with reference to the modalities of Third World societies.

As theologians, you must answer the Marxist grand negation and critique of the abuses of religion as well as the abuses of capitalism. The poetic phrase in Marxism that religion is the "sigh of the oppressed creature, the soul of soulless conditions, and the opium of the people" must be answered.

The question which I am raising is whether humanity is now moving towards exploring a grand universal religious synthesis of the kind that Marxism has bequeathed to intellectual thought.

I do not, however, belong to the Marxist intellectual tradition, and I share with you your ultimate view of history. But that paradigmatic view will not be complete if Africa, the cradle of civilization and the continent which provided the basis of an Afro-Asian religion called Judaism, an Afro-Western religion called Christianity, and an Afro-Asian religion called Islam, in addition to its own indigenous religions, is omitted from your providential view of history. Your theology is definitely an effort in the direction of a grand synthesis; but it couldn't be universal or global if you see other religions and civilizations as appendages to Euro-Christianity.

One final point. I think there is a logical continuity to the idea of the unity of religions. If that is the case, there is a logic, and an understandable logic to why Unificationism must go beyond a dialogue between the East and the West. We must remember that the only major thing in human history in which the Western world has led is precisely in modernity, science and technology. Should not the grand compromise of Unificationism also include a coming to terms with non-Western civilizations?

Rod Sawatsky

Darrol said I should be brief and I'll be even briefer than he wants me to be.

What is of primary interest to me in this discussion is the function of anti-communism in Unification thought. What role does it play? One of the things we've been discussing here is which doctrines are primary and which are derivative. I don't think that anti-communism is primary in Unification teaching but it is definitely important.

I consider it primarily in relation to its function in the ethical system of the movement or the way Unificationists do their ethics. Consequently, my comments fall under this heading. Here I want to make some comments concerning means and ends with reference to this issue. First of all with regard to ends, I have no argument with Unificationists in their challenge to and critique of communism. I agree with them that it's a great evil that has to be overcome. But the question is what are we striving for if it isn't communism? In the Divine Principle we don't get much on this question, but there is a very interesting section paraphrased in the Study Guide II as follows:

So God intends to give everyone an equal environment and equal conditions of life. Man, having been created with such an ideal, cannot help demanding such a socialistic system of life since he searches for his original nature, striving after the democratic freedom at the consummation of history. 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.3

I rather like that statement of our social telos. If that's what the telos is in the Unification teaching then I'm quite ready to go with them towards that end. Sometimes I've heard it said that Unificationists are also aiming for "theocratic socialism." Although that needs to be clarified, there is a sense in which that's O K with me, too. I don't have any illusions of the greatness of democracy. Democracy can be very tyrannical. But I am also very concerned about the tyranny of theocracy. Nonetheless, I would not reject "theocratic socialism" out of hand, assuming a mechanism can be found for dealing with the problem of the abuse of authority.

The myth of the future that we hold shapes the way we operate in the present, I believe. If our myth is of this perfect socialistic order, then that will influence the way we will operate ethically today. And that's what I would expect to be the case in Unification ethics. However, it is at this very point that I see a major problem in Unification practice -- a major conflict between means and ends. There seems to have been a short-circuiting of the relationship between means and ends; something's gone wrong in the process of implementing this telos. Unificationists seem to have gotten themselves caught up with middle-range goals. More specifically, they seem to have placed all the emphasis on the middle-range goal of the destruction of communism. Now why is this the case? This it seems to me, is a major defect of Unification ethics and social thinking.

One of the ways that I test what Unification is all about -- in addition to sitting and talking to Unificationists -- is to read their periodicals. I take them fairly seriously. One of the periodicals coming out of the Unification Church in Canada is a little periodical called Our Canada. I read Our Canada in terms of what it tells me about what Unificationists think about their ethics, their critique of society. And when I read Our Canada, despite the fact that I know Unification theology fairly well and love Unificationists, I get very, very distressed and worried. Why? Let me give you an example.

In the last issue of Our Canada there are several articles talking about the nuclear issue. The primary article in that issue of Our Canada argues that people who are against nuclear energy are inherently or implicitly communists. Now the assumption is that because there are communists involved in the anti-nuclear movement, the anti-nuclear movement is communist. Besides being just plain false, it worries me because it suggests to me that there has been a confusion of ends and means. This incredible preoccupation with anti-communism seems to blind people to real social issues. Although I can agree with the telos, I do not believe you will move in the right direction until you overcome this excessive preoccupation with anti-communism. Now why is this the case? Why this preoccupation with anti-communism often at the expense of responsible social analysis and critique?

Well, I suspect a lot of it has to do with the Korean situation, but I won't pursue that. The fact that much of the movement comes from within South Korea with the experience of communism there has had a major impact on the movement, but I don't criticize you on that basis. My own Mennonite tradition knows what communism is all about and has experienced the tyranny of it. I know what that does to the psyche of a community. But that doesn't legitimate the procedure.

Another factor that I see as a possible source of this excessive anti-communism and its high function in the ethic of Unificationism is a concern for timetabling. Here there may be the belief that there are various steps in the process leading towards the goal and that one has to first deal with communism before we can get on with social critique and socialist construction. But that seems to be based on faulty logic, since we need also to talk about what the alternative society might be.

More fundamentally though, these questions and comments return us to the basic theological principles of Unification thought. Are they such that it is very difficult for the Unification movement to criticize the capitalist system and to move us beyond that towards theocratic socialism? First there is the "geography of restoration," with its very high role for the capitalistic nations and for America in particular. Doesn't this lead ultimately to absolutizing of the relative as Lonnie Kliever said earlier? Don't we move into an idolatry of certain nations and their economic orders? Secondly, there is the Unification definition of evil. The definition of evil is so closely linked to sexuality and the family that I think it is very difficult to see other structural evils that pervade society. The problems of technology for example, or the nature of political institutions also bear examination and critique.

Thirdly, with reference to the nature of the created order, is there a confusion here? I sometimes wonder if, when one is working with an evolutionary view of history that is ultimately moving to its inevitable goal (the inevitable aspect is definitely there in Unification, just as it is in Marxism), there isn't a temptation to project what is seen as being good in our day back into the created order. Might not some of the structure that exists today in the process of evolution be really a product of the fall? Luther talked in those terms and so did Calvin. Luther said that the state is part of the fall, whereas Calvin said that it is part of the created order. Those differing judgments had major implications for their ethical orientations. But we tend not to see too many elements of modern-day society as part of the fall. Most of it is viewed as part of the created order in Unification thought, with some important exceptions. One exception is that racial pluralism is seen, it seems to me, as of the fall that has to be overcome by intermarriage. Is that right? Nonetheless, I wonder what other elements in modern society might better be understood under the doctrine of the fall. Might we not at least have some way of critiquing from a fall perspective things like technology and economic orders?

These comments, then, are not to suggest that we don't have a good telos here, I think we do. Nor do I believe that we shouldn't be anti-communist. I'm fully agreed with that. The problem that I am pointing to is the possibility of getting so caught up with the means of getting to the ends that you lose the ability to criticize, to provide thoughtful social commentary, to articulate social alternatives, to even be faithful to the Unification social vision.


1 For a much more detailed coverage of the Unification answer to Marxism see Communism: A Critique and Counterproposal, Washington, DC: The Freedom Leadership Foundation, Inc., 1973.

2 The Unification Church is participating in these kinds of activities on its own through Interfaith Affairs and Project Volunteer and in conjunction with other groups through the National Council for the Church and Social Action and the World Relief Friendship Foundation.

3 Divine Principle Study Guide II, New York, NY: Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, 1975, pg. 94. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library