40 Years in America

Major Economic Ventures

All of the movementís major economic ventures had a strong idealistic component. In other words, the movementís primary motivation for undertaking projects was not profit making but rather implementation of its religious vision. This was true for the movementís nonprofits as well as for its businesses. Religion and science, according to its theological teaching, must come together "under one unified theme." This was the "internal" purpose of the Science Conference. Similarly, contradictions within Christianity and the various world faiths should be explained, clarified and solved. This was the inner motivation behind the movementís ecumenical and inter-religious network.

However, it was one thing to base nonprofits on religious idealism. The question was how well these qualities transferred to businesses. In general, the results were mixed. Given membersí underlying religious motivation and zeal, the movementís business enterprises had access to inexpensive, even voluntary labor. Also, since profit making was not the primary motivation, they could absorb huge operating losses which in normal business circumstances would have been fatal. This enabled the movement to persevere in its efforts and draw public attention to its economic program. On the other hand, these businessesí access to cheap labor and their relative inattention to profits meant that many of the movementís particular investments were less than well planned or managed. This had the potential to undermine idealism and foster cynicism or even disillusionment.

Rev. Moon based his economic program on two compelling ideals. The first was the necessity for the "equalization of technology" and for "technology transfers" from advanced to developing nations. These ideas stemmed from his religious vision of a just economic system as well as from the experience of the Korean people who had suffered exploitation under Japanese colonialists. They also underlay the movementís effort to develop heavy industry, notably the Tong-il group, in Korea. During the early 1980s the movement expanded aggressively in West Germany, buying several large machine tool plants. It subsequently set up Saeilo Machinery as a worldwide machine distribution network to market the Tong-il line of machine tools and its West German lines. Saeilo Machinery (USA), Inc. exhibited sophisticated, computerized metal-cutting machinery from Korea and Germany at the National Machine Tool Buildersí Association biennial international machine tool show (IMTS í82), the biggest and most prestigious trade show in the North American metalworking industry.

Although the movementís industrial investments were highly publicized and controversial in Germany, they received little, if any, media coverage in the United States and were generally unknown.

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