For much of history governments were mostly monarchies. The ancient Greek state of Athens to introduce democracy to the world. Unfortunately mankind choose despotic ruler kings. In the 20th century we have seen some dictators that built terrifying empire and countries and led them with an iron hand. This form of government is called totalitarinan.
Democracies are far better than totalitarian governments. Just look at the vast difference between such democracies of America, England and South Korea and the authoritarian governments of communist countries like the former Soviet Union and the police state of North Korea. North Koreans are starving to death and have no freedoms while South Korea is prosperous.
To the degree people accept democracy and free enterprise is the degree of freedom and prosperity they will have. Hitler lasted only a decade or two and the Soviet Union lasted for 72 years. Hitler and Lenin were evil men who violated the spirituals of government and their nations fell. America fought them both and won. Goodness wins in the end. Satan slows progress, but he cannot stop it from advancing. America has made progress in some ways and declined in others. Both Nazi Germany and America persecuted minorities by making separate areas for them in public places. The Nazis looked down on the Jews and America looked down on the Blacks. In the 1930s Nazis had benches in public places that said "Aryan only" and America had restrooms in public places that said "Whites only." America grew up spiritually and changed. Hitler went downhill and attempted genocide and ended up killing himself.
Although America has improved in many ways, it has, overall, declined since it has embraced the diabolical values of socialism America has great power. It is the superpower. But America has misused its power and used it for evil purposes many times. As America has gotten progressively socialist and feminist it has progressively destroyed the family and many of the precious freedoms the Founding Fathers and American patriots gave their blood for.
America has a tragic history of persecuting religion. This is the worst thing a government can do.
Democracy is superior to any other form of government such as absolute monarchy, a dictatorship of army, aristocrats or church.
Many people take democracy for granted. America has been an inspiration to the world showing that power can pass from one leader to another in an ordered system of periodic elections instead of using force. Technically, America is a republic, a representative democracy. In the Pledge of Allegiance we say "and to the republic for which it stand, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The Founding Fathers feared total democracy because they did not want the majority to restrict the rights of the minorities. For this reason, they gave 10 bill of rights to make sure some freedoms were not regulated by the majority. We will, nevertheless, use the more common word democracy.
Opponents of those in power in America are protected when they publicly disagree. Democracy is the civilized way to organize society. Sadly, most people are not governed this way. Robert Dahl in his book Political Oppositions in Western Democracies writes, "Somewhere in the world, at this moment, a political group is probably engaged in the antique art of imprisoning, maiming, torturing and killing its opponents. Somewhere, as you read these words, a government and its opponents are no doubt trying to coerce one another by violent means. For without much question the most commonplace way for a government to deal with its opponents is to employ violence."
Democracy is a core value of God. Because Satan has ruled this world, he has worked hard to keep mankind from embracing it. Democracy is a recent innovation. Athens in ancient Greece is the birthplace of Western Civilization. It introduced the idea of democracy 2500 years ago. This was a great revolutionary turning point in human history.
Some say the most eloquent defense of the democratic idea is in the Funeral Oration of Pericles. Satan invaded and corrupted it when those in power tried and sentenced Socrates to death simply because he had unpopular opinions. Plato saw him as a martyr who was murdered by a court of a democracy. This is probably why opposed democracy in his Republic. Plato could not forgive democratic Athens for killing who he felt was the wisest of men. Plato had a tremendous impact for bad on history by advocating rule by philospher-kings.
The Roman Empire should have elevated democracy from the city-state of Athens to an empire. Cicero spoke for it, but Satan was able to crush democracy and mankind fell into the darkness of the divine right of kings. Events like the Magna Carta that limited kings were inspired by God. A major turning point in history came with John Locke and Montesquieu who inspired the Founding Fathers. God was instrumental in Lockes' Treatises of Civil Government. The First Treatise is an attack on the concept of divine right of kings. The Second Treatise is one of the most influential books ever written. It was revolutionary. It was the opposite of Thomas Hobbes who advocated absolute monarchy to give order and security to a nation. One person wrote, "Locke is the first major thinker to invest private property with an explicit moral status."
Monesquieu is called the "godfather" of the American Constitution. In his classic, The Spirit of the Laws, he gave the vision of a nation governed by representatives of the people and the separation and balancing of the powers of government. Thomas Jefferson read the ancient Greek and Roman classics and the writings of Locke and Montesquieu. Inspired by them he wrote the revolutionary document, the American Declaration of Independence, that was the first document of state, honoring individual rights and limited government. He turned Locke and Montesquieu's political philosophy into real politics. America started a new era in world history.
Immanuel Kant is also a landmark figure in western thought. In his Critique of Pure Reason, he wrote that "A Constitution" should allow "the greatest possible freedom." In freedom each person can realize their full potential. He condemned slavery. Kant went even further and wrote that mankind needed a world constitution in such essays as The Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View and Toward Perpetual Peace written around the time of the Founding Fathers of America. God was hoping mankind would listen to Kant. Sadly, Satan kept God's dream of an ideal world led by a world government away from the masses of people.
Gordon Anderson is an intellectual in the UC. Anderson is the executive director of Paragon House Publishers and the secretary general of the Professors World Peace Academy. He is the editor of the International Journal on World Peace and has published numerous articles and books related to religion and society, including Morality and Religion in Liberal Democratic Societies (1992) and The Family in Global Transition (1997). He earned his doctorate in Philosophy of Religion from the Claremont Graduate School. He had an excellent article in the Unification Theological Seminary's journal. I agree with what he writes with the exception of only a few minor points. The article is reprinted below from the website of the seminary at www.uts.edu:
American Democracy and the True Society
Gordon L. Anderson
This essay argues that the American system of government, with some reform, can provide a foundation for the "true society," or the "Kingdom of Heaven on Earth" envisioned in the Divine Principle. While the basic principles enshrined in the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights provide the freedom required for people to form a true society, the system requires "true citizens," that is, responsible, patriotic, and self-directed people. When the United States was founded, people largely lived self-sufficiently on family farms or worked in family businesses. They were able to function well in a society of minimal government. As we enter the 21st century, this is no longer the case. Governments are bloated with large numbers of people dependent on those governments for their livelihood. To remain a functioning society and to be an example to newer democracies around the world this situation must be reversed, with a weaning of dependence of citizens from the governments of the United States, and the creation of a responsible citizenry that can guide these governments. The goal of the Family Federation for World Peace should be the creation of these citizens and a true society movement.
Members of the Unification Church differ on their interpretations of the value of American democracy, variously championing or loathing it. As the Unification Church officially tries to remain neutral with respect to politics, most of the differences correspond to the backgrounds of the commentators, and the most vociferous remarks are not usually published. The main alternatives to democracy voiced by members are theocracy, monarchy and socialism. One example of an article which champions democracy is Bruce Casino's "The Democratic Republic of Heaven."1 He states, "The constitutional democratic structure with the separation of executive, legislative and judicial is clearly the system which will be in place in the Unification theology's ideal society." A less favorable view of Western-style democracy was given by Han Tai Soo, who wrote, "The ensuing dominant political system predictably stressed the rights of individual persons, and the law of the survival of the fittest came to be respected. Thus it was inevitable that communism should come forth to challenge the unequal distribution of wealth. The realization dawned that there were intrinsic defects in man-centered Western democracy and that it was a system ill-equipped to be the foundation of a new order."2
Certainly, America has figured prominently in the life and work of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Church. He was liberated from Heungnam prison by American forces in 1950, for which he has frequently expressed gratitude. In 1972, he moved to America to launch his world-wide ministry. The United States was the leader of the western world in the fight against communism, which he felt to be the most urgent battle of the time. He founded The Washington Times in Washington, DC as a vehicle to help bring an end to the Soviet empire. The United States is a free society in which Rev. Moon could freely preach his message. Also, the United States, being made up of immigrants from all nations, is a microcosm of the world. Therefore, we can see many reasons why Rev. Moon would appreciate the United States.
However, Rev. Moon has frequently criticized the United States for its moral decadence. Church members critical of America frequently come from traditional backgrounds with strong families where loyalty, sacrifice and honor were part of their culture. They sometimes regard Americans as soft and spineless. Ironically, since the 1950s and 1960s when many Asian missionaries joined the church, their own countries have come to suffer the same problems of modernity, with its social dislocation and moral relativism.
Church members have also been divided about their own role in American society. Should they join the Democrats, Republicans, form a new party, or abstain from politics? Should they send their children to public schools and work to improve them, or create new private schools? Often members focus on their immediate missions and feel they will deal with social reforms later when they receive specific direction of Rev. and Mrs. Moon. In the 1970s, there was a lot of discussion about the possibility that Rev. Moon would reveal his blueprint for a true society as the final chapter of a promised "Completed Testament." Today, when he says that he has revealed everything, we see that the essence his message is true family values; we look in vain for a detailed vision of a new social structure.
While it is understandable that church members from different countries would be divided about the value of American democracy and their own role in American political life, our goal is to further the discussion to help foster a more enlightened citizenry.
My thesis that the structure of the United States government can provide a foundation for a true society is grounded on the following passage from the Divine Principle:
Let us next study how the providence of restoration has restored the social structure. There was in the course of his-torical development of Western Europe a period in which the king shouldered all the functions of the three powers of legis-lative, executive and judiciary, and of the political parties. However, this changed into another period in which the king held the three powers and churches centering on the pope took charge of the mission of the political parties. The political system of this age was again divided into the three powers-of legislative, executive and judiciary due to the French Revo-lution, and political parties came to bear a marked political mission. Thus, by establishing the constitutional political system in democracy, they could at least realize the pattern of the system of an ideal society.
In this way, the political system has changed through the long period of history because the society of fallen men has been restored into an ideal society which resembles the structure and function of a perfect man, according to the providence of restoration. In this manner, today's democratic government is divided into three powers and produces many political parties, thus making itself finally resemble the structure of a human body. But this is, after all, like a fallen man who has not been restored, and naturally cannot display the original function endowed at the creation.
That is to say, the political parties, without knowing God's Will, may be compared to a peripheral nervous system centering on the spine that has lost the function of transmitting the command of the brain. Since the constitution is not made of God's words, the three organs of legislative, executive and judiciary become like three organs of a human body which are rendered unable, due to the severance of the nervous system, to feel and respond to commands from the brain; they cannot help opposing and conflicting with one another, and lack mutual harmony and order.
Therefore, the purpose of the ideal of the Second Advent of the Messiah is to make the present political system-resembling the structure of a fallen man-display perfectly its original function centering on God's will by connecting it to the perfect central nerve.3
The passage says that the providence to establish constitutional democracy has restored the social structure. It states that the separation of powers and political parties are related to "the pattern of the system of an ideal society." Further, this structure resembles a human body, with the various organs which perform different roles in its existence. However, the political parties, without knowing the will of God, fail to guide the society; much like the existence of a body with a spine that fails to receive direction from the brain.
The features of this restored social structure-separation of powers and political parties-can be found in the United States Constitution. These features distinguish American democracy from the ancient forms of democracy which were equated with mob rule or a tyranny of the masses. The founding fathers of the United States were well aware of the dangers of earlier forms of democracy and sought to devise a system of government which would avoid most of the pitfalls. While ultimate power rests with the people in the United States, their rule is generally indirect, through elected representatives and political parties.
The remainder of this article will examine the nature of democracy, its providential form, and how the "brain" can be added to the body.
1. Democracy: Rule by the People
There have been many forms of democracy: majority rule, constitutional democracy, parliamentary democracy, representative democracy, social democracy, Christian democracy, and so on. Yet all of them are variants of a common idea-rule by the people. All of these forms of democracy share the common belief that rule should not be by monarchs, oligarchs, or military dictators. Democracy symbolizes freedom from rule by an alien power and the end of political oppression.
Aristotle stated that "the foundation of the democratic constitution is liberty."4 In order for a people to rule, they must be free to do so. They must not be ruled by another. However, within a democracy there are many ways in which the people can rule themselves. There are democratic concepts of liberty based on equality and others based on merit. There are those based on what is right, and others based on "live as you like."5 Under this broad understanding of democracy, both the principles of the Democratic Party, with its egalitarian thrust, and those of the Republican Party, with its merit and moral thrust, fall under general classification of "democratic."
The larger issue, given a situation of liberty in which people can organize a government of self-rule, is whether they have the capacity to rule themselves. As Aristotle commented, "The task is not only to set up a constitution of a particular kind but to keep it going. (Any kind of system can be made to work for a day or two.)"6 Self-rule requires self-discipline, an educated citizenry, and an appropriate structure of government. Many of the forms of democracy fail to provide a social environment conducive to self-rule. Take for example the failures of communism which, rooted in the envy of the wealthy by the masses, appropriated control of the economy through force only to destroy the means of production. On the other hand, the internal capacity for self-rule may be deficient, as in the case of Pres. Clinton, a leader who cannot control his own proclivities.
The primary pre-requisite for self-rule is a virtuous and self-sufficient citizenry. In this regard, Aristotle examined different types of populations and concluded that the agricultural and pastoral populations made the best democracies:
An agricultural population makes the best demos; so that it is possible to make democracy anywhere where the population subsists on agriculture or stock-raising and pastures. For having no great abundance of wealth they are kept busy and rarely attend the Assembly; on the other hand being constantly at work in the fields they do not lack the necessities. So they do not covet others' possessions.7
Like Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson thought that an agrarian society was more virtuous than an urban society. He predicted that the democracy he had helped to fashion might only last as long as America remained agricultural:
I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries, as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this is as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.8
These eminent political philosophers understood that democracy, with an agrarian population, had a limited function that was primarily related to protection of the citizens. It therefore needed a legal system, police and a military, and had to tax the population to provide these services; but it was not involved further in the economy or in the provision of social services which might cause economic dependence of the citizens on the government. In fact, they reasoned that the leaders of a democracy should not be paid, but be chosen from among those who were successful and had sufficient economic means. To quote Aristotle:
persons to fill the most important offices be selected from among those possessing a certain amount of property, the greater the office, the higher the property qualification; or alternatively to use not property but ability as the criterion for holding office. In this way the governing of the country will certainly be well done; the work of ruling will be done by the best men and in accordance with the wishes of the people and without any jealousy.9
When elections are made from the popular leaders of masses in the cities, Aristotle noted that leaders tended to give away positions to as many people as possible as favors to secure their loyalty.10 Further, they would use courts to legally confiscate funds.11 He also commented on the tendency for such politicians to give away money to people only to foster dependency, causing the coffers to be depleted like a jug with a hole in it.12 Aristotle, understanding the necessity of self-sufficiency, promoted the idea of the government setting up the poor with a piece of land or a small business so they could become economically self-sufficient and not be a drain on society.13 While democracy is being championed throughout the world today, one is hard-pressed to imagine it working in many places where the masses are impoverished and not self-sufficient. The democracy which came to America came to a people and conditions very different from what we find today.
In addition to self-sufficiency, other important features of a sound democracy are civility and the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of the people. These conditions appeared after an evolution of hundreds of years of cultural development in the West, to a people who sought a life of self-sufficiency. Today the society has drifted into some of the worse scenarios posited by Aristotle and the founding fathers of the United States. Before we discuss how to successfully perpetuate American democracy, we need to understand how it could work in the first place.
2. Why Democracy Could Flourish in America and Why It Is Endangered
a. Self-Sufficiency A society "of the people, by the people, and for the people" requires that "the people" are able to run it. If "the people" are to come together by compact to develop public services and common defense, they must first of all be able to take care of themselves. The most basic requirement of free citizens in a democracy is self-sufficiency.
Self-sufficiency can further be broken down into two components: (a) the desire to be self-sufficient, and (b) the ability to be self sufficient. Ability and motivation are both cultivated traits. This means that people must be raised in a culture that nourishes both individual initiative and technical abilities. The most important providers of ability and motivation are families, churches and other associations, and schools. Of these, the family is the most basic social unit. In fact, sociologist Brigette Berger at Boston University has proposed the idea that a certain type of family unit made modern democracy possible.14
There were three factors in the formation of the United States which contributed greatly to the self-sufficiency of the people when America was founded: Protestantism, "natural selection," and widely available lands. These factors contributed to the conditions in America that made democracy both possible and sustainable over many generations.
(1) Protestantism The Protestant Reformation was important in the psychological and spiritual liberation of individuals and in raising the idea of personal accountability. Medieval Christianity had taught that, in the moral universe, the Church would direct, intercede on behalf of, and care for the souls of the people. Medieval culture promoted a worldview in which one's conscience was external. A person's salvation was in the hands of the Church, whose spiritual leaders had moral authority and the keys to the Kingdom. One did not feel free to make moral decisions alone. Protestantism, on the other hand, taught that each person is accountable directly to God. In matters of the soul, one needed the church and scripture as a guide, but one's final standing before God depended upon how one lived one's own life.
Protestantism thus promoted self-responsibility guided by one's internalized conscience. Protestantism helped to create a culture in which individuals pushed themselves to be self-sufficient and moral and loathed any kind of dependence, slavery, or servitude. Sociologist Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and economist R.H. Tawney in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism provided classical discussions of the link between belief in Christian perfection, individual motivation, and the work ethic. For Luther and Calvin, work was not drudgery to be avoided but way to glorify God. One's vocation was a high ethical "calling" through which one's eternal personal and spiritual identity was created.
The Puritans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans who settled in America all shared this religious view of work. The "Protestant work ethic" became a basic feature of American culture which was adopted by immigrants from other backgrounds as well. In colonial America, perfectionism in work was not only taught in Protestant churches and families, but in the universities these religious bodies founded-Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, to mention a few. A rigorous work ethic was a major factor in the production of wealth in America, helping all hard-working citizens to attain self-sufficiency.
The twentieth century began as "The Christian Century" in America, and "Christian" was generally equated with "Protestant." This is reflected in the very naming of a popular Protestant newsletter, The Christian Century. As late as the end of World War II, with the formation of the National and World Councils of Churches, Protestant religious leaders and laymen were invested in the creation of a Christian world order. The establishment of the United Nations and the UN Universal Declaration of human rights was part of this vision.
However, since the 1960s, the influence of Protestantism on American culture has waned. In discussing his book American Mainline Religion, Wade Clark Roof argued that while mainline Protestant religion "enjoyed a comfortable alliance with the culture and was seemingly all pervasive and diffuse in American life" in the 1950s, by the 1980s the churches had moved "from mainline to old-line, from Main street to Second street."15 In 1988, then NCC General Secretary Arie Brouwer spoke of the "disestablishment" of the mainline.16 In 1993, the weekly Protestant magazine published in the NCC offices, Christianity and Crisis, came to its demise, alienated from the thought of mainstream America and devoid of financial support. While there has been a conservative Christian revival, I would argue that, at the core, America has become post-Christian.
The decline of Protestant influence in America brings with it the decline of the moral conscience that it created. The idea that an individual is personally responsible for biblical injunctions and stands accountable to God has been relativized. Self-sufficiency as a duty or goal has been lost; self-discipline and delayed gratification that were characteristic of Protestant culture have been supplanted with a relativistic culture of continual diversion and instant gratification. The loss of the Protestant American pioneer spirit of striving for self-perfection is a threat to the stability of democratic government, which requires self-directed people.
Despite the decline of Christian influence on America, it may be that the work ethic and many traditional values will be restored. However, this will not come about through a new revival analogous to the Great Awakenings. Rather, it will come about through passing through, on a national level, a "dark night of the soul." I believe that Nietzsche was basically correct when he observed that science had forever unseated the unquestioned authority of tradition and that we may only realize how important our inherited values were when we no longer possess them.
This is perhaps no more evident than in the area of family decline. Social science is now generating growing evidence in support of marriage and two-parent families based on the social consequences for a generation spurned traditional religious teachings for a lifestyle of sexual license.17 It may be that the Ten Commandments are forbidden from being posted in public schools, but "thou shalt not commit adultery" is rapidly becoming a position endorsed by the empirical findings of social science. Analogously, the Russians, who built a whole social system on a philosophy of redistribution, have learned the hard way the commandment "thou shalt not envy thy neighbor's property." These "commandments" may not be accepted as valid by future generations because they are found in the Bible, but they may become accepted anew on the basis of what we today call "scientific knowledge," after we learn the consequences of not obeying them.
(2) "Natural Selection" America was settled by people who were "naturally selected" to care for and govern themselves. The people who came to America were those who wanted to become self-sufficient and had the courage to leave their old life behind. In the days before steamships, the passage across the Atlantic was long, expensive and dangerous. People who came to America either possessed sufficient means to establish new businesses or they were willing to work off their passage as contract laborers.18 As a result, America ended up with some of the most ambitious people of Europe (except in those areas populated by people deported from English prisons). Those in need of welfare or unwilling to live on their own remained in Europe. The trip across the ocean served as a "rite of passage" that gave America a large independent, hard-working population and an almost non-existent welfare class. Therefore, both the religious and the nonreligious people who came to early America were predisposed to self-sufficiency and suited to the type of limited government which was eventually established by the founding fathers.
However, the descendants of American pioneers did not endure the same hardships; many quivered in the face of similar challenges. Some were dependent on family enterprises, employers or others; they were not self-sufficient people. Even the first religiously rigorous Puritans to come to America had problems with their second generation. The "Halfway Covenant" was a compromise that allowed members of the second generation to become full members of the church even though they did not show the same signs of conversion as had their parents. The same phenomenon took place with regard to Americans in general; the children of the immigrants were not all as courageous as their parents and often did not maintain their traditions. Immigrants have been the backbone of productivity in America. Those who suffered oppression in another country, and then gained an opportunity to pursue their own fortune freely in America, have worked very hard to acquire wealth. It takes a strong family to transmit such virtues to succeeding generations. As Thomas Sowell has commented:
While the second generation is usually objectively better off than the first generation, they are often more resentful of remaining disparities from the general population, more delinquent and more violent.19
This has been true of Puritans, Italians, Jews and Chinese. After several generations in America the ethos of the original pioneers is lost. This is a serious problem. We have a society which, like many other societies throughout the world, has many sheep and few shepherds; and the sheep have a hard time discerning the true shepherds.
With the United States now highly populated and immigration-restricted, and with the relative ease of making a trip to America by airplane, there is not a large influx of "the brave and the free." Rather, in the twentieth century, many people have come to America for economic welfare and not to pursue a life of self-sufficiency. Thus, the "natural selection" process for self-sufficiency required to maintain a democracy, which was provided earlier by the difficult travel on ocean ships, is no longer operative. The factors present when the nation was formed that selected for independent and highly motivated people have vanished.
The decline of this natural selection factor does not necessarily imply that the American people cannot be self-sufficient enough to make their democracy continue. However, it does mean that the hardships of immigration, which helped ensure a demos of self-sufficient people, will need to be replaced by some type of training and education for self-sufficiency. The difficulties that Americans currently have in maintaining self-discipline, delayed gratification, and a hard work ethic will undoubtedly lead to economic hardships which may force a change in the American attitude towards self-discipline. In the long run this could be beneficial because, if the cultivation of self-sufficient and motivated men and women can be achieved, the country can remain prosperous without the necessity of out-dated traditions or external factors like crossing the ocean, which can be viewed as coincidence or good fortune for early America.
(3) Available land Available land on the frontier was also extremely helpful in enabling early Americans to be self-sufficient. There were always lands on the frontier that could be settled for free or could be purchased for very little. Almost anyone could build a small house, hunt animals, and grow enough vegetables to be self-sufficient without a formal education or significant accumulation of capital. In short, it was quite possible for anyone with motivation and land to be self-sufficient in the Americas.
There is no longer free land available to American immigrants and their descendants. At the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner developed the popular "Frontier Thesis" that, with the closing of the western American frontier, an era of American history had decisively ended, and with it had also disappeared the material factors that had hitherto served to "explain American development."20 By 1920 the fertile soil in America had been claimed. Those who went after the marginal cropland in the 1930s were caught in the "dust bowl" and left penniless. The period of The Grapes of Wrath marked the end of the time when all Americans could be self-sufficient as farmers.
While one cannot simply reduce the success of American democracy to a frontier thesis, there is no doubt that the simplicity of life which enabled relatively uneducated but motivated settlers to create a life of self-sufficiency was a great boon to the American experiment. But like the other factors that served the cause of self-sufficiency in America, the "land frontier" factor no longer applies. At the turn of the nineteenth century over 70 percent of Americans lived on family farms. Today that number is less than two percent. Family farms cannot compete with industrialized farms.
Self-sufficiency is more complicated in an industrialized and urban world. One needs special skills and a job, but jobs are more transient and fleeting than a piece of land. It was much easier to attain self-sufficiency on free land in early America than in a highly competitive industrial world. While the "industrial frontier" replaced the land frontier, it, too, has limits. A new information age frontier is arising to lure people on. It is not a coincidence that many of the present generation have been moved by visions of new frontiers, of "virtual worlds" or the compelling Star-Trek theme of "space-the final frontier."
There may indeed be new frontiers that will lead to prosperity for a maturing democracy, but these frontiers will entail yet more education, and will be of a different type than the lure of a plot of land for subsistence farming.
b. Civility Civility refers both to the civil behavior that is equated with good manners and the idea of being "civilized" which pertains to a life of high refinement of culture. Many of the founders of the United States inherited the highest fruits of western civilization through aristocratic families. To cite Robert Goldwin:
When the United States was founded, the leading statesmen were advocates of constitutional liberal democracy; they were also gentlemen-not scholars, but learned-well schooled in the teaching of the ancients. Gentlemen were then repositories within themselves of the wisdom, customs and traditions handed down from other times and other ways of life. They established a new form of political society, but it was not wholly new because it did not eradicate to old standards of behavior. It relied on them, perhaps more than was realized.21
In Western civilization, ideas of civility evolved with the moral codes of the ancient Greeks and Romans, overlaid with moral codes of the Bible. Obedience to the Ten Commandments and practice of traditional virtues were nearly universally assumed in the European aristocracy that elaborated and developed the responsibilities of a "gentleman." The most basic of these codes were also infused in the masses through the churches.
Those who framed the American Constitution and led the new democracy were well-trained in civil conduct by the aristocratic families who raised them. Their civil upbringing helped them to resolve disputes, guided by a common loyalty to the new nation and the rational discussion of universal principles. This allowed the founders to put aside their differences in a civil manner and agree on the rules for governing the new democracy. The privileged upbringing of the founders, many of whom could read several existing and ancient languages, also enabled them to carefully study the teachings of ancient and classical writers. They were schooled in Plato, Aristotle and Virgil, and conversant with Montesquieu, Locke, Rousseau, Hume and Blackstone. They could anticipate events that might cause the collapse of their fair experiment, and hence they implemented the representative process and a system of checks and balances that would enable their democracy to last.
George Washington was one of those born into a family which inculcated good manners and codes of civility. We have inherited a treatise which he wrote when he was young, perhaps as a writing exercise, titled "The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation." Some examples are appended.22
The American founding fathers based their government and behavior on what they perceived to be self-evident truths revealed in nature. They also had a high regard for the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. As a result, during the founding, the culture they envisioned was acceptable to that large number of citizens who were not of the cultured aristocracy, but nevertheless accepted the Christian Bible as true and normative. The period of the founding was a unique period in which rational enlightened thinkers and evangelical Christians cooperated. Historian Sidney E. Mead called these two bodies "the head and the heart" of the American experiment.23
Civil behavior was important for discourse among people of different religious and national backgrounds. Conditions in America encouraged it. For one thing, private ownership of property in a market economy encouraged dealings with persons of all persuasions.24 Historian Alexis de Tocqueville offered the thesis that the pursuit of self-interest caused people to acquire civil habits.
By itself [self interest] cannot make a man virtuous, but its discipline shapes a lot of orderly, temperate, moderate, careful, and self-controlled citizens. If it does not lead the will directly to virtue, it establishes habits which unconsciously turn it that way.25
Civil behavior, by being a form of restraint on the self in the public setting, also forms the basis for restraint on power in the public sphere. But as James Q. Wilson has written,
The animating source of the ethos of self-control was religion and voluntary associations inspired by religious life, but it was not religion itself that produced the resulting social control; rather it was the process of habituation in the family, the schools, the neighborhoods, and the workplace that produced it.26
Historian Ted Robert Gurr has commented that the nineteenth century witnessed the flowering of the civilizing process-that is, the acceptance of an ethos that attached great importance to the control of self-indulgent impulses.27 This corresponds to the period in which "Victorian values" acquired widespread influence in England and America.
The founding of America was thus a product of the Western civilizing process which built on the accumulated experience of more than 2,000 years. The founders who stemmed from the European aristocracy were repositories of wisdom about the dangers of the tyranny of mass rule and the dangers of concentration of power in the hands of individuals or small groups. Displaying courage, honesty, moderation, compromise and vision, they acted as examples of the civil behavior required of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
In the twentieth century we have witnessed a rise in incivility, in parallel with a breakdown in the traditional social institutions that cultivated civility. In a highly competitive world in which each person seeks to maximize financial gain, civic notions of fairness and compromise are often lost. Instead of settling disputes among ourselves, we hire lawyers. Special interest groups pursue their specific social agendas by any means possible; even if it means the most uncivil behavior, like bombing an abortion clinic.
Universities are doing their part to delegitimate civility. University radicals call the aristocracy to which the American founders belonged the "oppressor class." Their traditions, whether they be Hebrew, Ancient Greek, Latin or British, are viewed as something evil and repressive and from which modern society should flee. When the traditional foundations for civil conduct and the cultural ethos which made democracy are no longer seen as just and inclusive, the cultural basis of American civil society is undermined.
If our nation's leaders and "civil servants" are no longer civil, democracy is imperiled. In a government of, by, and for the people, if the people are no longer civil, neither will be the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) raid on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, and the retaliatory bombing of the BATF office in Oklahoma City, are one sign of this breakdown of civility in America today. Yet, civil behavior and cooperation are requirements for democratic self-rule.
Social theorist Edward Shils noted that the traditional repositories of civil behavior-universities, churches, government servants, and rural communities-have become markedly uncivil themselves.28 How will our leaders learn civil behavior and exemplify high moral principles in a nation adrift in self-gratification, squabbling, sensational media, and where traditional bastions of civility no longer exist?
The cultivation of civil behavior is one of the major challenges for democracy. While civility can be learned in and taught by basic social institutions; families, schools, and public institutions, these institutions are themselves in difficulty and frequently dysfunctional. There must be a concerted effort by citizens and social institutions to redevelop codes of civil conduct appropriate to democratic self-rule.
c. Legitimacy of Government Any government must be seen as legitimate to those who live under it. In a democracy, the majority of the citizens must be persuaded that the government is worth supporting. Its laws and taxes must be viewed as just and necessary. There are several reasons why the founding documents of the United States were accepted as a legitimate basis for government. They help explain why early Americans were so willing to voluntarily subscribe to the laws of the land.
(1) Self-Evident Truths The appeal to self-evident truths by the founders, and the idea that all human law must be consistent with natural (divine) law, gave great legitimacy to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. American citizens did not believe that they were serving the whims of a king or a ruling class, but believed that God had granted them inalienable rights and that the government they had created was supporting and defending these natural rights.
Today we no longer live in the philosophical universe of the founders. Truth which appeared to the founders as "self-evident" does not appear self-evident to the modern scientific mind. The revolution in physics reflected in quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and Einstein's theory of relativity has had a corresponding impact on social and political science. Truth today is commonly seen as relative rather than fixed. Also, religious truth, as accepted by the Christian culture of the founders, has been relativized by the assimilation of non-Christian cultures into the United States, particularly in the 20th century. Natural law is no longer a popular concept. Thus the philosophical bases of American law appear antiquated or erroneous. The erosion of these philosophical underpinnings has contributed to the delegitimation of the principles of the American founders and the government they created.
Further, Americans in the first century of the experiment by and large believed that the laws of government were a reflection of divine laws; that the American government was somehow connected to God's providence. Since the federal government was relatively small and concerned primarily with security, foreign trade, and a minimal national infrastructure, citizens were not confronted with laws or acts which readily contradicted this belief.
However, the foreign adventurism in the Spanish-American War, the passage of the income tax, and the experience of World War I led Americans to have increasing doubts about the inherently good nature of their government; and they began to more closely scrutinize its behavior. Americans began to question whether government policy was a reflection of divine providence or based on personal and group quests for wealth and power. Today almost every person and group in America believes that some laws are unjust. When the government acts as a welfare state, many people believe that legislation is primarily designed to move money from one pocket to another, and that it has no connection to natural, universal, or divine law whatsoever. As a result, people feel less moral compulsion to pay taxes, often doing so only for fear of reprisals. Loss of faith in the validity of the law contributes to the undermining of the legitimacy of the government today.
As in a marriage, it is hard to restore faith in one's partner after a betrayal. For the laws of America to be seen as legitimate, their rationale should be explained clearly to the citizens. Thick, obfuscated bills prepared by large legal staffs, with many conditions and financial benefits directed to specific supporters, raise the ire of citizens. Most traffic laws, for example, are easy to understand and are widely accepted because they promote the safety and welfare of drivers. However, tax laws, government contracts, exemptions, and financial redistributions which are written in language which must be interpreted by lawyers are viewed as highly suspicious to the citizens who must live with the consequences of these laws.
(2) Minimal Government The concept of minimal government meant that government would not intrude into normal civil affairs. American society was to be a moral society of responsible citizens caring for social concerns. Government was viewed as only having a role in the protection of life, liberty and property. A government that limited itself to the protection of life, liberty and property had little basis for criticism compared to a large redistributing welfare state. Historically, the American people have wanted to create their own destiny and wanted as little interference in that quest as possible. The idea of minimal government came as a relief to those who had fled old arbitrary and oppressive monarchies in Europe.
Today the role of government has grown far beyond what is minimal and non-intrusive. We are faced with regulations and government programs that have accumulated over a period of two centuries. As a result, the government has increasingly become viewed as oppressive and like those regimes from which the early immigrants fled. Over the years, Americans have assigned to the government many of the tasks which had traditionally been their own responsibility. In the last century Americans have asked the government to provide jobs, to subsidize the unemployed, to mediate private and moral disputes, to take care of medical expenses, and to educate their children. Americans have also agreed to pay for these programs with taxes (or the taxes of others, if possible). The result is a Leviathan of the citizens' own making which pervades everyday life.
Many Americans who are self-sufficient and believe with Thomas Jefferson that they should be protected against government intrusion into private life no longer consider the federal government legitimate. The establishment of private militias in twenty-five states by 1995 is an indication that many citizens have come to feel threatened by government and want to defend themselves from its growing intrusiveness.
This intrusiveness is nothing other than the result of citizens of past decades asking government to solve social problems for which they did not want to take personal responsibility. Furthermore, today's government programs are staffed by citizens often cut from the same cloth-desiring to have someone else take responsibility. The government "servant" would prefer to be an administrator who hired other people to solve the problem-thus the bureaucracy bloats. The same is true of Congress. Representatives in Congress are supposed to understand the needs of their constituents and represent them in deliberations, yet Americans have witnessed a rise in blue ribbon panels of experts paid millions of dollars by congressional committees to tell them how to vote on issues. Thus, much of the failure of American government is a failure of American people to take responsibility. The failure of the government to remain minimal is a failing of human nature that the founders well understood, but has been forgotten in America today.
(3) Checks and Balances on Power The founders knew that a government of even the best intentioned citizens could be lost through usurpation of power. Human history is littered with schemes and plots to acquire excessive wealth and power through political conquest. The American founders were keenly aware that unscrupulous men would want to turn the nation into an engine for their selfish ends.
The old saying, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," was a truism in the days of "the divine right of kings" in pre-Revolutionary France. An unbearable amount of bloodshed and suffering had resulted from the abuses of power in Europe. The founders therefore sought to ensure liberty by guaranteeing that no individual and no government could acquire absolute power. Therefore, when Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison from Paris trying to persuade him about the need for a Bill of Rights, he wrote, "A Bill of Rights are what the people are entitled to against every government on earth."29
To prevent the domination of citizens by government, the founders chose to establish the principle of the separation of powers among the three branches of government. They also created a balance between federal power and state power. In addition, they chose to enshrine in the Constitution basic liberties like freedom of speech, religion and the press through the Bill of Rights. For the most part, they succeeded in setting into motion one of the most durable political systems ever known.
New concentrations of power have arisen since the founding. The concentration of economic capital in industry was a serious threat in the 19th century. However, the rise of labor unions and the passage of anti-trust and monopoly laws helped to check these abuses of economic power. After 1935, Reinhold Niebuhr, a national spokesman on the industrial labor problems, believed that the unions had created a satisfactory balance to industrial power, so that the problem of industrial justice was effectively solved.30 Legislation to protect racial and other minorities has also been enacted to limit the power of the Ku Klux Klan and other private organizations which might have designs on a racial monopoly.
3. Current Areas of Abuse and Thoughts on Reform
Today there are other areas of unchecked power which are becoming sources of abuse and causes for concern. While they should be checked, they have not thrown the nation entirely off course. The remedy to some of these problems is topical, while other areas require major surgery. A few of these areas and possible remedies are listed below:
a. Buying Politicians Corruption in politics is often hard to resist. People with money are able to seek unfair financial advantages by tempting politicians through personal rewards or large campaign contributions. Today special interest groups provide large amounts of PAC money to persuade politicians to vote on their issues. When politicians vote on such issues it is often at the expense of the citizens they are elected to represent.
Recent efforts to curtail this corruption in the United States have included term limits on office and campaign finance reform. While such measures can make it more difficult to buy politicians over the long term, they do not get to the heart of the problem. The American Founders initially encouraged service in congress on a voluntary basis by people who were already financially sufficient. They would have less chance of being bribed, but nevertheless, they might serve the interests of their own class and not truly represent the interests of the poor or middle classes.
On this issue, Rev. Moon made a bold proposal for a combined election/lottery system in a newspaper advertisement in Korea before the 1992 elections there:
DRIVING OUT ELECTION CORRUPTION BY USING A DIRECT-INDIRECT-DRAW SYSTEM FOR ELECTIONS
In addition to the above mentioned points, all political parties that are damaging the election atmosphere by their corrupt way of campaigning and trying to slip from the grip of the law must stop such actions. The voters, too, must not allow their holy sovereignty to be controlled in exchange of some small benefits from the parties.
We have to demand strongly that a sense for fair elections will be widely diffused, as well as a plan that offers suggestions of how "no money needed elections" can be held. We should come to the point where we can hold presidential elections without the transfer of political capital from the side of the candidates, only using the existing tax money from citizens.
The mass media should make their best effort to report fairly, so that campaign speeches, TV-discussions and newspaper interviews could be the basis for an election campaign with the lowest possible cost.
I want to suggest that congressmen, as well as other representatives of the people, should be elected through a 2 or 3-step direct and indirect election, and that among those who are thus qualified as presidential candidates lots should be drawn. I believe that this method is the closest one to God's Will.
As the first step the citizens should elect directly among candidates with basic qualifications (between 100 and 1000 people), and as the second step the elected representatives should again elect about 10 candidates among themselves who would then draw lots to elect the president.
One condition for candidacy at the first step would be the donation of a certain amount of money, which would be used as a special bank fund to stimulate the national economy. Using the money in this way, a presidential election would not place any burden on the economy, but on the contrary, would even improve it.31
Drawing of lots for office is an ancient biblical practice. However, if lots are drawn at random, they do not insure qualified leadership; and, if lots are drawn from among names proposed by the leadership as qualified, they may not eliminate nepotism. The three-step process advocated by Rev. Moon insures (a) the candidate is qualified, (b) the candidate has popular support, and (c) the candidate was not bought. This creative proposal for a revision of the election process as way to curtail corruption in government might seem too radical for the United States with its long constitutional tradition, but it should be seriously considered by Korea, as well as by many of the fledgling democracies around the world.
b. The Power of Congress to Set Its Own Salary Another area ripe for abuse is the ability of Congress to set its own salary. The American people have allowed legislators to give themselves salaries, benefits and resources with tax dollars they control. This power can lead to the creation of a political class that leads a fairy-tale life at the expense of the common person, as was the case with the Soviet nomenklatura before the collapse of communism. The citizen has, in effect, had his checkbook taken by Congress, which has said, "I'm going to write out a check for what I ought to be paid." Legislators have further abused this power by assembling (at the federal level) staffs averaging 27 lawyers, giving themselves the power of franked mail, and a number of other perks. This provides incumbent congressmen with unfair advantages over political challengers.
Anyone who has engaged in a successful business, and has a knowledge of human nature, knows that such a system doesn't work right. Congressmen and congresswomen work for the people and have no right to extract whatever they want from their "employer." They have no right to bias elections in their own favor.
One possible way to stop this type of abuse of power would be to have representatives and their offices paid by the states that send them to Congress. While the argument will be made that some states will pay more than others, I would suggest that such problems would be much less dangerous than the present situation. This would encourage representatives to work well for their constituencies.
c. The Power of Lawyers in a Legal System of Government Another problem has been the extent to which lawyers, as a group, may have benefited from having their peers dominate legislation in the nation. Because the American democracy gives sovereignty to a constitution, it is at the core a legal system. Over the years, Congress has become more of a legal profession than the interlude from self-sufficient business life which the Founders envisioned.
Bills have become increasingly complicated and are prepared by committees of lawyers on congressional staffs. Often a several hundred page bill is shown to the congressman just a short time before the vote. This process allows for items of self-interest to be buried in the legislation that only a lawyer can interpret. The sheer complexity of government laws and regulations has also been a boon for lawyers in the private sector, who are needed by companies which must navigate the minefield of regulations in order to do business.
A suggestion for reform would be to reduce the role of lawyers in the production of legislation and increase the diversity of professional representation in Congress.
Human nature is such that people will seek to enhance their own well-being. This is often done by finding avenues which bring the greatest results. The founding fathers devised a system of government with a profound understanding of human nature, but for their system to endure, the principle of checking consolidations of power must be continually applied to new circumstances. The legitimacy of the government depends on its ability to prevent undue concentrations of power.
The quotation from the Divine Principle in the introduction compared the political system to the human body. The ability of the immune system to seek out destructive imbalances in the body caused by viruses is an apt analogy to the function of spotting ever new concentrations of power that may overwhelm the health of the American political system. Freedom allows individuals to spot these imbalances and then spread their observations to others, thereby waging war against the parasite and eventually restoring health to the society.
Today the political situation is very different from that of the founding of America. The government of America in the initial decades enjoyed the general support of the population and was often praised as a most noble experiment.32 For the most part, people felt free to pursue their own life, felt little intrusion into their lives, and believed that the government represented God's laws and their own best interest. Even though politicians themselves were often criticized for falling short of the mark, the founding documents themselves gained an almost sacred status. The American Constitution has outlived all other contemporary constitutions and has been given nearly unparalleled legitimacy by the citizens of a democracy.
The factors we have discussed, including the rise in incivility, loss of a common morality, government intrusiveness, tax policies, and political corruption, have all had the effect of undermining government legitimacy. The globalization of human life has also relativized the role of the nation-state in human affairs. Nicholas Kittrie, in The War Against Authority, has noted that there is a declining sense of state legitimacy worldwide.33
The restoration of government legitimacy will require behavior and actions of the government that can be explained and accepted by the majority of citizens as being right, fair, and a reflection of higher principles. But, while it is clear that the state cannot presume to be God and remain legitimate in the eyes of the people, it is also true that the citizens have too often asked the state to play God. Thus, without a virtuous and educated citizenry, it may be impossible to establish a legitimate state.
4. The Main Solution: Creation of Virtuous Democratic Citizens
The above discussion of democracy should leave the reader with the understanding that the basic solution to the problems of the American political system will come when proper guidance of the system comes from its "brain." The brain, in this case, represents the platforms and policies articulated by political parties and politicians which have consensual support by the citizens as a whole.
However, "consensus" in itself is inadequate. A mass of uneducated citizens could, for example, adopt the communist myth of appropriation of the means of production by the masses and end up with a hopelessly destitute society. The people could believe in pipe-dreams articulated by charlatans who promise voters a utopian world without connecting it to the actual laws of the universe necessary for its accomplishment.
The survival of modern democracy not only requires consensus, but consensus on goals related to a truly functioning society. Such a society must take into account the physical laws of the universe and the laws of human nature.
Again, we have to return to self-sufficiency as the primary virtue. Several years ago I asked Chung Hwan Kwak, an early disciple of Rev. Moon, about his concept of ideal politics. He spoke of the disappearance of politics and the flourishing of people like trees in a forest. Church members also frequently speak about Rev. Moon being born into a society "where people could live without law." Such concepts imply that people can be self-sufficient and can to live with their neighbors without conflict.
A tree in the forest first puts down deep roots to draw out water and minerals for its life, before it forms branches which can be a home to the birds, before it generates oxygen for animals to breathe. A tree naturally knows its limits; it will share some resources with the roots of neighboring trees as it struggles to maintain itself in a competitive environment. The drive for life is basic. Trees are not out to deprive other trees of their right to grow, but a given parcel of earth can only support a given number of trees.
This image is somehow comparable to the intent of the founders of the United States: that each citizen have the right to pursue happiness. If one person overstepped his or her bounds and interfered with another person's pursuit, the government would be able to step in to protect the other person whose basic right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness was being violated.
An essential component of the pursuit of life and happiness was considered to be the ownership of property. Ownership of property, as a right, fits into the concept of the Third Blessing of "dominion" given in Genesis and emphasized in the Divine Principle. We can think of the tree, planting its roots deep in the soil and "owning" that property. It would be against natural law to uproot a full grown-tree and deprive it of its "property." The tree would die. It is also against natural law for a tree to become greedy and take more than it needs for its own sustenance, thus preventing other trees from living.
Human beings are capable of theft, taking more than they need and depriving others in the process. While the pursuit of basic necessities is not considered evil, taking more than one needs and depriving others is the basis of resentment and violence and considered evil. In small face-to-face communities like the one into which Rev. Moon was born, the people had a culture in which each understood his or her place and responsibilities and could live among others without law. In such a society, there would be no need of taxes, lawyers or government. The people would live by virtue alone.
Is the creation of small communities of virtuous citizens alone adequate? In today's global society, where mighty armies and weapons of mass destruction could wipe out such an ideal community in an instant, can we abandon the concept of government and armies for defense? No. As much as Unificationists, like idealistic Christians and Marxists, believe in an ideal community based on love and virtue, we must secure the rights of all people to sustain themselves and raise their children. This requires securing and protecting the environment in which the basic goals of love, life, and lineage can be carried out. Securing and protecting the environment requires a realistic understanding of the evil possibilities of human nature and concentration of power.
In my opinion, and in my interpretation of the Divine Principle, the basic securing of rights for a self-sufficient people has taken place through the long historical evolution of human civilization which culminated in the establishment of modern democracies with separation of powers and with the development of a consciousness of human rights. These are articulated in the United States Bill of Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While not all human rights have necessarily been articulated or prioritized, we have developed the basic outlines of a system of government that can allow people to flourish and achieve life's blessings. Throughout most of human history evil has had the upper hand; lands and peoples have been dominated by force. The protection of basic rights and the separation of powers, with ultimate control in the hands of the people themselves, has allowed for the possibility of a good society with free and happy people to emerge. However, such a society requires a virtuous and educated citizenry to function properly.
5. Increased Virtue Will Allow the State to Wither Away
The concept of "the withering away of the state" was prominent in Marxist ideology. However, because Marxists had a false understanding of human nature and the ownership of property, they were unable to create a free society in which the state could naturally wither away. The United States founders, on the other hand, set such a government in motion. However, the people, instead being virtuous citizens who could live without law, increasingly squabbled among themselves and asked the courts to settle disputes. The people, instead of being the responsible citizens that would sink their roots deep and spread out branches that would provide for their families and environment, increasingly asked for the government to care for them. The state did not wither away, rather it expanded dramatically. In order to perform its mandate it had to tax and redistribute, decreasing freedom and increasing opportunities for corruption and tyranny.
However, the creation of citizens of virtue can yet lead to a withering away of the state in many modern democracies. Let's take the example of common recognition of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are a basic code of ethical behavior distilled through centuries of social life. To trespass against the last seven commandments that deal with relations to the neighbor is basically to trespass against the human rights of others. If citizens do not trespass against the rights of their neighbors, there will be no basis for lawsuits or police intervention. It follows that the more people who live by the commandments, the fewer courts, judges, lawyers and policemen will be required. From this follows the need for less government and less taxes.
Let's take another example, suppose parents take more responsibility for the well-being of themselves and their children. They plan well for their children's education and for their own retirement; they pull together in times of a medical crisis, and so on. In a society where families are basically intact and functional, there would be very little need for social welfare in a government budget. In the United States, approximately 47 percent of the federal budget currently goes to provide citizen welfare. Another 14 percent goes to pay interest on the federal debt. If American citizens cared for themselves and the government paid off its debt (something responsible individuals do), the tax burden could be reduced by 61 percent.34
Of course, there may always be need of some safety net for the truly needy. While I would be opposed to paying for this at the federal level, means-tested entitlements only account for 25 percent of social welfare spending, and many of these recipients could be liberated from the welfare system through education. Thus, by simply shifting back responsibilities to citizens who are currently capable of their own welfare, the federal government could be shrunk to 50 percent of its present size. Additional shrinking of the government would appear over the long term as the pensions for government retirees and portions of non-defense discretionary spending were reduced by citizens living with less need of government services.
Let's look at another national problem related to shifted responsibility: health care. It has been estimated that about 33 percent of the cost of health care is consumed by the costs of processing paperwork, which would not exist if individuals paid directly. An additional 33 percent of the health care costs arises because third-party payment systems prohibit the market from functioning properly in the health services sector. The current system does not have the natural built-in checks against overbilling by insurance companies, doctors, or hospitals-features of a conventional market system such as that which existed in health care prior to World War II. Today a typical family of four, or their employer, pays over $500 per month in health insurance premiums and an additional $1500 per year in out of pocket expenses, or $7,500 per year total. The cost of maintaining catastrophic health insurance ($1,500 per year) plus out of pocket payment of all routine office visits might total $5,000 per year. If market forces were reintroduced into the health care industry, that amount would drop to about $2,500 per year-without hurting the quality of medical service at all. In fact, lower market prices should reduce federal Medicaid and Medicare costs by 50 percent, further reducing the federal budget.35
The above examples are two areas of large forced and unnecessary expenditure which, when citizens take back responsibility, could easily be reduced by 50 percent. If citizens had this windfall under their own dominion, they would have more possibilities to pursue happiness in a satisfying way and have more resources to give voluntarily to charities of their choice. All this would occur with no reduction in police security or military defense. Our wasted resources are simply the accumulated result of selfishness, laziness, political and fiscal ignorance, and irresponsibility-none of which contribute to a person's happiness or spiritual well-being. On the contrary, increased income from personal responsibility, and a habit of voluntarily contributing a significant portion of one's income to charities, can lead to an immensely rewarding life.
6. Increasing Knowledge and Virtue
Increasing knowledge and virtue is quite possible. When one cell in the body finds a virus and adjusts to fight it, the body rapidly mobilizes other cells to eliminate the threat. Likewise, in a healthy, functioning democracy in which citizens are become aware of threats, a solution proposed by one citizen can advance quickly and other citizens will soon be mustered to fight the "disease."
As mentioned earlier, the largest challenge is for individuals and families is to begin practicing a lifestyle that is responsible and in accordance with the natural laws by which the world was created. Then they can prosper in an environment of freedom.
Abraham laid a foundation for the prosperity of his descendants because of his faith and dedication. This can happen in America to each and every family that establishes the proper conditions of faith. In Something More,36 Catherine Marshall has a chapter titled "The Law of Generations," in which she discusses the value of family traditions for raising people to be responsible citizens and instilling the basis for success in future generations. She sites as one example the family of Jonathan Edwards, an early American theologian. He and his family took care to begin each day with prayer and study to focus on life's purpose and the day's direction. He took care to help each of his children with problems and questions they had at the end of the day. From that one family, in the next four generations appeared hundreds of political, educational and religious leaders. Edwards's descendants held dozens of high political posts, served missions in dozens of countries overseas, and produced mountains of books and journals.
Today, the Unification Church and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification are attempting to accomplish this same thing. They are promoting a lifestyle akin to that described of the Edwards family through the tradition of daily Hoon Dok Hae readings and daily prayer. It is my firm conviction that families that establish such a lifestyle in 21st century America will go on to prosper, inherit God's blessings, and take responsible positions of leadership in society. Eliminating the government waste outlined above is only the tip of the iceberg of what such people will achieve.
The groundwork for a true society has been set. Personal and family responsibility connected to God's Will or natural law can generate a "brain" to attach to that brainless nervous system in the American political system. We can look forward to a time when politics literally withers away-not because any laws have been revoked or the Constitution has been changed-but because virtuous people, who know how to sustain themselves and live in harmony with others, will have no need to call upon them. Further, if such a true society movement expands to other nations, the remaining portion of the federal budget-that devoted to defense-can also begin to wither away. The American Constitution can remain intact in a land known as Heaven on Earth.
1. Unification News, August 1985, pp. 16-17. 2. Han Tai Soo, "The Unity of Eastern and Western Civilizations through the Unification Principle," in Research on the Unificaztion Principle (Seoul, Korea: Song Hwa, 1981), pp. 266-67. 3. Divine Principle, 2nd ed. (New York: HSA-UWC, 1973), pp. 470-71. 4. Aristotle, The Politics, translated by T.A. Sinclair (Baltimore: Penguin, 1974), Book 6, Chapter 2, p. 236. 5. Ibid., p. 237. 6. Ibid., p. 244. 7. Ibid., p. 240. 8. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 20 December 1787, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958), p. 442. 9. Aristotle, p. 241. 10. Ibid., p. 243. 11. Ibid., p. 245. 12. Ibid., p. 246. 13. Ibid., p. 246. 14. From a personal conversation with Professor Berger. 15. Wade Clark Roof, address at Union Theological Seminary on Union Day, 1988, of his recent book with William McKinney, American Mainline Religion: Its Changing Shape and Future (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987); see esp. pp. 239-242. Following the Roof and McKinney book, it became commonplace to refer to the liberal churches as "oldline" instead of "mainline" in such journals as The Christian Century and Christianity and Crisis. A later book which pursues this theme is Thomas C. Reeves, The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity (New York: Free Press, 1996). The author states: "Since the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the mainline churches have been in a series of unprecedented numerical decline, losing between a fifth and a third of their membership A major reason for the numerical decline of the mainline churches is their failure to retain their own children once they have reached the age of decision." 16. The Christian Century, (Editorial), Dec. 21-28, 1988, p.1171. 17. See, for example, Ralph Segalman, Reclaiming the Family (St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 1998), pp. 25-70; Mitchell B. Pearlstein, "Fatherlessness in the United States," in The Family in Global Transition, ed. Gordon L. Anderson (St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 1997), pp. 401-45. 18. See, for example, Thomas Sowell, The Economics and Politics of Race (New York: Quill, 1983), pp. 150-51. 19. Ibid., p. 158. 20. Wilfred M. McClay, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, pp. 107-112. 21. Robert A. Goldwin, "Rights, Citizenship, and Civility," in Civility and Citizenship, ed. Edward C. Banfield (New York: PWPA Books, 1992), p. 54. 22. George Washington: A Collection, ed. Wm. B. Allen (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1988), pp. 6-13. 1. Every action done in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present. 6. Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not on when others stop. 25. Superfluous compliments and all affectation of ceremonies are to be avoided, yet where they are due they are not to be neglected. 28. If anyone come to speak to you while you are sitting, stand up, though he be your inferior, and when you present seats, let it be to everyone according to his degree. 58. Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for 'tis a sign of a tractable and commendable nature, and in all causes of passion permit reason to govern. 89. Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust. 108. When you speak of God or his Attributes, let it be seriously; reverence, honor and obey your natural parents although they are poor. 110. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience. 23. Sidney E. Mead, The Lively Experiment (New York: Harper & Row, 1976). 24. That a fundamental feature of civil society is private ownership of property was an idea developed by Hegel and explained by Edward Shils, "Civility and Civil Society," in Civility and Citizenship, p. 2. 25. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. Richard D. Heffner (New York: Mentor Books, 1956). 26. James Q. Wilson, "Incivility and Crime," in Civility and Citizenship, p. 99. 27. Ibid. 28. Edward Shils, "Civility and Civil Society," in Civility and Citizenship, pp. 11-13. 29. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 20 December 1787, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, p. 440. 30. For example, Reinhold Niebuhr, "Johnson and the Myths of Democracy," in Faith and Politics, ed. Ronald H. Stone (New York: George Braziller, 1968), p. 246. 31. This is a translation of the newspaper advertisement provided me by PWPA Korea in December 1992. We went on to implement a modification of this system for the Blessed Family Association. Members would nominate candidates, those with the highest number of votes would then be advanced. The regional leader then drew names from among the remaining candidates in a public ceremony after Sunday service. 32. Alexis de Tocqueville noted this phenomenon in Democracy in America, p. 107: However irksome an enactment may be, the citizen of the United States complies with it, not only because it is the work of the majority, but because it is his own, and he regards it as a contract to which he is himself a party. In the United States, then, that numerous and turbulent multitude does not exist, who, regarding the law as their natural enemy, look upon it with fear and distrust. It is impossible, on the contrary, not to perceive that all classes display the utmost reliance upon the legislation of their country, and are attached to it by a kind of parental affection. 33. Nicholas N. Kittrie, The War Against Authority: From the Crisis of Legitimacy to a New Social Contract (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), pp. 228-29. 34. A Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget: Budget of the United States Government Fiscal year 1999 (Washington, DC: Office of Management and Budget), available on the Internet at www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/budget99. 35. Gordon L. Anderson, "Health IRAs Can Make the Difference," The World & I, August, 1994, pp. 90-95. 36. Catherine Marshall, Something More (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974).