Towards a Cheon Il Guk Society: Transcending Democracy
Derek Dey’s comment on my prior post, Updated: Thoughts on a Cheon Il Guk Constitution, is very astute. Understanding systems analysis in political theory fills an extremely important void in modern thought, within and without the Unification Movement. Derek’s discussion further supports the idea that a constitution should reflect the principles of the “ideal world” as explained in Divine Principle, Chapter 1. He noted that “Americans believe their constitution defines all,” that other people view the ideal society in the image of their own.
His comment raises the basic point of whether members actually believe their own political system is ideal. I don’t think anyone would join the Movement if they thought their own system was the ideal. They join because they realize they live in a fallen world and changes are necessary. Members in various countries are, nonetheless, aware of virtues in their own societies they would like to retain. Sometimes those things we consider good actually aren’t so good. Other times those things we want to retain are principled.
For example, if we have a society that says “each person has a right to a fair trial,” this is consistent with the Divine Principle, because it affirms the idea that each human being is an individual truth body of infinite value and worth. On the other hand, the idea of “one person, one vote,” might be inconsistent with the Principle because it denies the concept of qualification for citizenship based on having passed the growth stage to become a responsible adult.
What to transform and why
The real challenge in designing a constitution for an “ideal world,” is (1) to learn what has to change and why, and (2) how to implement the change without causing unnecessary pain and death.
I am concerned when people say a political system is not the ideal, and that we should discard and “reboot” the entire social system with a new constitution. This is like developing an entirely new operating system for a computer, and none of the old software will work. Rather, we reform and transcend the existing system, getting rid of “viruses” and malware, so the existing software will work.
Our governments, whether American, Chinese, or Korean in form, should be reformed to eliminate corruption and allow citizens to pursue the three blessings. Lenin in Russia and Mao in China sought to “reboot” their political and economic systems and millions of people died. In my view, the rebooting of a social system is akin to the flood judgment in Noah’s time. Millions or billions of people could die. This is an unacceptable approach that, in the Bible, God never wanted to see again.
Rather, we work to gradually transform each existing system, so that it can turn into a better, more ideal, society. This is analogous to changing a bad person into a better one; if you kill him or her, you cannot make them a better person. Principled behavior should be derived from a view that God’s love for everyone is unlimited. Therefore, humankind should work to transform communities, states, and the world without eliminating some groups through a genocide and starting a new society based on the ideology of the conquerors. That is just a repeat of fallen history.
England has a right to claim things in its history that made it a better society. For example, the Magna Carta served the purpose of decentralizing power, allowing more people — though not all — to pursue their own happiness and come closer to experiencing the “three blessings.” Did it lead to an ideal society? No. Was it something positive? Yes. Therefore, British members of the Unification Church have good reason to react against the extreme centralization of state power advocated in the CIG Constitution. Unfortunately, many of the reactions are simply that –“reactions.” They are growth stage responses to a formation or growth stage document: they point out a problem, but don’t advocate a solution.
“Democracy” is not the ideal
Derek said he thought many Westerners think democracy is an ideal form of government. However, Westerners who think so don’t know their own civilizational history. Democracy is not an ideal form of governance. In the Republic, Plato gave nine reasons why democracies don’t work. Those reasons are as valid today as in his time, because they address fundamental aspects of human nature.
Democracy is a powerful concept because it reflects the human quest for the first blessing. But the idea that each person should have a vote, simply by virtue of being a person, is questionable. Having a “vote” isn’t helpful unless it is a responsible vote. The forms of government that have emerged under the name “democracy,” especially those extant today, fail to link the “right” to vote with social responsibility. From the viewpoint of the Principle, people can vote with a destructive formation or growth stage consciousness, unable to consider others of equal worth and also part of a system greater than oneself. Such votes are destructive and unprincipled.
The American system was not designed as a democracy in the basic sense; it was a republican form of democracy that included checks and balances on abuses of power and an element of “aristocracy” in the method of voting. A voting citizen was a propertied male. Today, with universal voter enfranchisement, the United States can more properly be called a “democracy.” However, for reasons Plato explained, such a democracy can’t last and inevitably turns into a plutocracy with great disparities of wealth and a bankrupt treasury. I know of no democracy today with a positive net worth.
The authors of the U.S. Constitution improved on what the Greeks, Romans, and British had learned. They sought to further constrain the fallen nature that seeks to centralize political power. While it was superior to its predecessors, it failed to adequately constrain the centralization of economic power, and the power of political parties that today trump individual votes and lead to plutocracy.
World’s states by form of government as of 2011 (click to enlarge).
Map legend (source: Wikipedia)
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as an ideal
When I studied the transformation needed in the U.S. political system in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, I looked at the historical lessons and determined which principles (a) cause the system to fail, and (b) which are inconsistent with the type of society we want to create.
The American founders designed their system of governance on principles of an ideal stated in the Declaration of Independence: the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” of individuals. A CIG constitution should reflect principles that support a world in which all people can receive the “three blessings.” While these two ideals are not identical, one needs a system in which individuals can pursue life, liberty and happiness as a prerequisite for attaining the three blessings. In this respect, the idea of creating a system in which some people are not oppressed and exploited by others was important. The U.S. Constitution, except for the components related to slavery, focused on this. The intention of civil rights legislation is an example of trying to transform the existing system into a more ideal one. This might be why Rev. Moon, in his interview with Frederick Sontag, considered Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to be the most important American in U.S. history.
Problems with an unqualified general vote and good leadership
Voting is for the purpose of choosing leaders and representatives. In an ideal society, leaders should be capable, incorrupt, and trusted by the people. Simple voting processes fail to produce the types of qualified leaders society requires. In a comment on the 1992 presidential elections in Korea, Rev. Moon promoted a type of election reform that would correct this problem with a three-stage process: first, a requirement for a candidate to have basic competency, for example, passing a civil service exam; second, having a vote among qualified candidates to move forward those applicants who have the legitimate support of the people; and, third, there would be a lottery among the top candidates to prevent any economic interest from controlling the outcome, reducing corruption.
Another problem for Unificationists is how to build a political community on the foundation of the family, not the individual. The U.S. founders, following the ancient Greeks and Romans, advocated one vote per “household.” That was implemented by giving votes only to property-owning males. This concept is a misdirected step towards the second blessing idea that society is built on the foundation of self-sustaining family units. The problem with the U.S. system was that (1) in the industrial age women became able to earn an income like men, and (2) there was no assurance that male voters were genuinely responsible people.
However, the concept of one vote per self-sufficient household essentially means the creation of society based on the family. This is a qualification based on their ability to manage themselves as a self-sufficient economic unit. Such voters are better suited to (1) determine how public money could best be put to use, and (2) have natural incentives to protect the territory because their ownership is a personal stake. Most important, a law prohibiting heads of households from voting for any use of public money from which they would personally benefit would be necessary. Heads of households would need to be recused from such a vote, or there would be the type of legalized corruption that exists in the U.S. today.
Unificationists can use the ideals described in the “Principle of Creation” similar to the way the American founders viewed the Declaration of Independence as they develop a constitution. The founders were designing principles for a complex social system, many of which would apply to a genuine CIG society, and others that do not. I illustrate problems in democratic voting processes that enable individuals to have control over the society in which they live, but fail to prevent irresponsible leadership and corruption. Reform of the voting process is just an example of how current liberal societies can be reshaped to facilitate a better society.
Whether a CIG society would be called a “democracy” depends on one’s definition. Certain elements of past democracies that were modified along republican lines might be employed, so mob rule or plutocracy do not result. However, insofar as democracy refers to the right of every “perfected individual” to have a say in their household, for every contributing household to have a say in the community in which they live, and for every community to have a say in state governance, this might be construed as a restored definition of democracy.♦
Dr. Gordon Anderson (UTS Class of 1978) is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal on World Peace and President, Paragon House Publishers. He is author of many articles and books, including Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0.