Headwing Philosophy and the Law of Nations

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 6, 2004-2005 - Pages 85-96

In the 1970s, as the Green Party organized, they adopted a slogan “Neither left, nor right, but in front.” It was a slogan of environmental activists and sought to promote certain neglected values in opposition to the values championed by the established political parties. Nevertheless, the Green Party has spent most of its time fighting corporations. Although not in the traditional left wing, the idea of “fighting for peace” is ingrained in its rhetoric[1] and is, in fact, an adversarial model of peacemaking. Philoso­phi­cally, this is consistent with Marx’s elaborations on Hegel’s dialectic.

Anything is made up of its parts, and if a society is made from conflict it will contain conflict in its essence. The opposite view is that unity grows out of reconciliation rather than struggle, with love and sacrifice creating the society of true peace.


The Desire to Impose One’s Own Peace

Environmentalists and Marxists are not the only people who say that fighting war can bring peace. President Woodrow Wilson labeled World War I “The War to End All Wars.” In fact, most wars are fought in order to end wars and to gain peace. Today Americans are fighting in Iraq with the aim of bringing peace to that country. In his City of God, St. Augustine noted that “even when men are plotting to disturb the peace, it is merely to fashion a new peace near to the heart’s desire; it is not because they dislike peace as such.”[2] This statement could equally refer to the plots of modern terrorists or to revolutionary movements to throw off oppressive governments—even to the American revolutionaries in the 1770s.

All men want peace, but they tend to want it on their own terms, and they tend to want to control it. They do so out of fear and insecurity as much as the lust for power. Few men seek to fashion a just peace that views all men as equal. An unjust peace is, according to Augustine, the characteristic of sinful men:

Sinful man hates the equality of all men under God and, as though he were God, loves to impose his sovereignty on his fellow men. He hates the peace of God which is just and prefers his own peace which is unjust…. Anyone who is rational enough to prefer right to wrong and order to disorder can see that the kind of peace that is based on injustice, as compared with that which is based on justice, does not deserve the name of peace.[3]

Today we see people everywhere attempting to impose an unjust peace on other people. In the world order, larger and more powerful states attempt to impose their views of world peace on smaller and less powerful nations. Within states, economic, ethnic, or other social groups attempt to impose their view of peace on the other groups through control of the machinery of government. In extreme cases of injustice, like Rwanda, genocide can be the result. However, we must view the contentious cultural wars between liberals and conservatives in the United States in a like manner. Neither the liberals nor the conservatives display the big-hearted concern for the entire nation grounded in the principle that “all men were created equal,” as proclaimed at the founding of the United States.

At a time when the world is concerned about whether the United States is trying to create an unjust empire, and Americans are concerned about special interest groups controlling the Republican and Democratic parties, it is important to revisit these basic questions of peace and justice in order to pursue a more just peace.


Headwing Philosophy

Since the 1980s, Reverend Moon has championed a “Headwing Philosophy” that incorporates the best element of the right and the left and based upon “Godism.” Let me quote a bit from what he has said to explain this concept:

Neither left-wing ideology nor right-wing ideology will work. Both in the left-wing world and right-wing world, Cain and Abel came into being. Who can bring unity there? The left wing cannot do it, nor can the right wing. Therefore, we conclude that we need a movement through which will bring together a new advanced right-wing type can be supported by the left-wing, and a new advanced left-wing type can be supported by the right-wing…

What we should uphold is the Headwing, not the left wing or the right wing. Then what is the Headwing? It is “under Godism.” The Headwing exists under God. With Godism above Headwing, God and heaven above and the [parties of] the earthly world below are completely connected. In other words, humanists whose life is based on materialism need the concept of Headwing; they cannot object to that. Religious people need Godism; with it they cannot dispute. These two words, "Godism" and "Headwing," are persuasive to two different types of people, religious people and secular people.

Headwing is a body-centered ideology that is necessary for humans to live in this world. Godism is an ideology based on spirit. Unificationism means to join these two, Headwing and Godism, into one, making a wholesome person… Since humans came from the origin, God, as a motivation of the subject being, in order to bring total unity, we should connect that origin to our physical body. Otherwise, we can conclude that such unity is not complete.[4]

In the teachings of Reverend Moon the characteristics of Cain and Abel symbolize the divisions within individuals and within societies. Cain represents the son without faith; he is looking toward the earth, toward his body. He is a secularist, a humanist. He tries to fashion his world and his peace out of his knowledge of the material world. Abel is the faithful son who looks upward for God’s approval. He is driven by his conscience, but is often ignorant of worldly principles. Thus he does not try to build a Kingdom on Earth but often simply waits for God’s kingdom to be miraculously imposed—to drop down out of the sky.

Neither one of these brothers alone has the big picture; neither alone is capable of building a world of true peace. Reverend Moon’s text, Divine Principle, traces these types through history, from Cain and Abel, to the Egyptians and the Israelites, to Hellenism and Hebraism, to the Emperor and the Pope, and on down to politics, ideologies, and economic practices of the modern world. God’s goal for the tragic human history since the original Human Fall is restoration of unity between the Cain and Abel types.


Bridging the Liberal/Conservative Divide

In the recent elections in the United States, it is apparent that voters have been given two options in some ways analogous to this Cain/Abel typology. Neither candidate represents all of the values necessary for a peaceful and just society. As a result, many of the votes cast were not “for” a candidate but “against” a worse candidate. I heard one reporter say that half of the votes cast “for” Senator Kerry, were actually votes “against” President Bush. In other words, in the eyes of many voters neither candidate was truly worthy of becoming the President of the United States. If, in fact, the results of the election meant that the winner was viewed as the better of two bad choices, then it cannot be said later by the winner that he had a “mandate” from the voters. Rather, it was a mandate to reject the platform of the loser.

In a good election, a vote should be cast for a choice between two worthy candidates. That way, whoever wins will be viewed as legitimate. This same principle applies to other elected political officials.

To understand why more worthy candidates are not placed on the ballots, it is necessary to understand the nature of the political parties that advance candidates for election. United States politics is characterized by the opposing positions of the Democratic and Republican parties. The organization and structure of both parties reflects the interests of the social groups that provide financial support for the parties, not a philosophical position adequate to the maintenance of the country as a whole.[5] This contributes to the incivility of the so-called culture war in the United States. Both parties must broaden their partial philosophies if they are to be viewed as legitimate contenders or the door will be open for the formation of a new party that has wider voter appeal. Throughout the world, we are witnessing widespread attempts to control the politics of a nation for the selfish purposes of one group at the expense of another. There is no reason why, in principle, this polarization in the United States could not lead to widespread voting fraud, violent conflict, or a constitutional crisis.

In the United States, like Rwanda and many of the countries that have required UN military intervention, at the root of the political division is economic selfishness which places the interest of one group above the interest of the whole. In Paul Tillich’s language of “ultimate concern,” it manifests as a “false god” because it attempts to make a part more important than the whole. This concept is as politically dysfunctional as it would be for an individual person to place more value on one part of his or her body, or one appetite, at the expense of overall health.

Interest groups, including industrial lobbyists, unions, civil rights organizations, state bureaucracies, religious groups and the military, use the rhetoric of cherished values to justify their positions to the wider public. This rhetoric attracts voters who believe in the values being espoused. In an age of ill-informed voters and media sound-bytes this tactic can be easily used to sway voters to support the political privileges of one group over another. As voters have figured this out, they have become increasingly dissatisfied with the partial goals of both the Republican and Democratic parties, thus they vent their frustration by voting for whom they feel is the “least dangerous,” or in the case of Jesse Ventura’s election as Governor of Minnesota, the promise of something different. Unfortunately, Jesse Ventura’s administration failed to develop an Independent Party philosophy that was rooted in a broad enough set of values to support an enduring political system.

The primary values espoused by both parties are essential to the maintenance of a healthy society and the partial set of values espoused by either party is inadequate. Republicans tend to emphasize freedom, security, faith, and protection of private property. They promote protection against any government interference with the pursuit of happiness. Democrats, on the other hand, emphasize social justice, economic equality, and protection of the environment. They tend to promote larger government bureaucracies and legislation to accomplish these ends. Neither party advocates a full set of necessary values.

Greater peace will come when the right wing broadens its agenda to include such things as social justice, environmental protection and a safety net for the indigent, and when the left wing broadens its agenda to recognize the efficiencies of the market, the protection of private property, and the importance of humility before the Creator. Elements of both parties make these claims, but in practice veto legislation that promotes the values of the other party. When both parties are able to put forth broad-minded candidates who will represent all of the necessary values of a stable society, then voters can truly vote for one candidate over the other, instead of against the least desirable. In such a situation, most voters will be satisfied with the election of either candidate instead of dissatisfied with both choices.


The United States and the Law of Nations

Since September 11, 2001 we have become more aware of problems of world peace. We recognize the limitations of international organizations and the tendency of both state and non-state actors to use force to achieve their ends if they feel it will bring peace on their own terms.

The United Nations was established to keep world peace after the World War II, but has been unable to address either the issues of within-state conflicts or the unilateral behavior of members of the Security Council with veto power. Because of its theoretical respect for the absolute sovereignty of states, the UN cannot, according to its own founding principles, interfere in within-state conflicts. Genocide and civil war are outside its mandate, although it has acted numerous times—for example, in Bosnia and Cambodia—when the situation became unbearable from a humanitarian standpoint.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a “preemptive attack,” the world became more alarmed because (a) a preemptive attack is not consistent with prevailing just war theory, (b) there was not international support through the United Nations, and (c) it appeared to undermine the democratic peace thesis promoted by the U.S. State Department, which says that “democracies do not initiate war.” This invasion sparked lots of discussion about the behavior of the United States changing from a nation-state to an “empire.” Some recent books on the topic include The Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson at the University of Chicago, The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed by Ivan Eland at the Independent Institute, American Dream Global Nightmare by British authors Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, and Gulliver Unbound: America’s Imperial Temptation and the War in Iraq, by Stanley Hoffmann at Harvard University.

While the United States may not be a traditional empire in terms of political integration of territories, it does have tremendous influence in the world. This can be illustrated by the fact that the 2004 presidential election had an international television audience of 268 million viewers in Indonesia, 50 million in Thailand, and 100 million in India. The Voice of America broadcast the election in 44 languages.[6] These statistics tell us both that people around the world are concerned about who leads America and that the United States wants to influence the rest of the world by broadcasting its elections.

In my recent book, Philosophy of the United States: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, I discuss a parallel situation which developed in Rome as it grew from a Republic based on its civil law (jus civile) developed by the patricians and the plebians on the Italian Peninsula to an empire that stretched from Spain to Israel. The civil law of Rome was not designed for or adequate to address Rome’s relations with non-Roman citizens under its sphere of influence. Eventually a body of law known as jus gentium (the Law of Nations) developed. This law established international principles of justice based on Rome’s own domestic legal experience.[7]

The Romans spoke of the Law of Nations as being based on natural law, but that understanding of natural law was overturned by Thomas Hobbes, the “father of political science,” when he said, “The state of nature is a state of war.” Hugo Grotius, “the father of modern international law,” rescued the Law of Nations with his magnum opus, The Law of War and Peace (1625). Upset with the cruel Machiavellian politics of his day, Grotius integrated traditional Roman law with Christian ethics and natural law. This was further developed by Swiss legal philosopher Emmerich de Vattel in his work The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Law of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns (1758).[8]

The Law of Nations, as understood by these Enlightenment authors, is not legally binding on the world’s governments except as they enter into agreement as sovereigns. This was also a principle of Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace, which served to inspire the League of Nations and the United Nations. Like international human rights or just war theory, it is a body of discourse on the legal behavior of nations articulated variously by different authors. It is not exactly embodied in any institution, be it the United Nations or the World Court, nor is it legislation deriving from these institutions.

The works of Grotius and Vattel were read by many of the founders of the United States. In the United States Capitol a marble relief portrait of Hugo Grotius is one of several historical figures central to the principles of American law that oversee the House Chamber. The American Founders considered Grotius’ jurisprudence authoritative.[9] Grotius’ treatise contained many Biblical references, as his source documents were from the Holy Roman Empire.

Today, when we speak of international law, we do not speak of a legal order in the sense that laws are enforced in nations. There is no international executive or legislative power to pass laws and enforce them. The International Court of Justice in The Hague decides cases only when both sides agree to accept the decision. Yet its decisions are greatly influenced by the body of law that evolved through Grotius and Vattel. It is based on principles of justice rooted in Enlightenment morality: treat all nations equally, and treat other nations as you would have other nations treat yours. The United States was a strong force behind the International Court. American Churches lobbied hard for its creation. Andrew Carnegie provided the money to build the house for the Court. Theodore Roosevelt helped negotiate one of its first victories in bringing an end to a war between Japan and Russia in 1905.

But the International Court has been ineffective in keeping world peace when nations refused to agree to arbitrate. Both it and the League of Nations were powerless to stop Mussolini’s North African expansion in 1928 or to prevent World War II. Such prevention can only take place when great powers exercise their power for the sake of protecting others. This was the rationale behind the UN Security Council, and has been the stated task by leaders of most empires when they feel a responsibility to keep order within their sphere of influence.

While the Constitution of the United States gave the executive branch of the government authority to conduct foreign policy, the founders did not expect that the president would violate the Law of Nations. For the first 100 years, the United States followed a principle established by its first president, George Washington, who in his farewell address asked the United States to “observe good faith and justice towards all nations,” and “to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the world.”

It was not until U.S. corporations began seeking to expand foreign markets for products, about 1890, that the U.S. abandoned its isolationist policy, built a navy, and began to exercise what has been called “gunboat diplomacy.” Since that time, three philosophical traditions have sought to guide the United States’ foreign policy: (a) a return to isolationism, (b) full participation in international legal organizations, and (c) the pursuit realpolitik. After World War II, political realism, a throwback to Machiavellian politics, emerged victorious in Washington. When push comes to shove, national self-interest prevails over treating other nations as equals. Now that the United States has become the world’s sole superpower, the temptation to use that power for the continued pursuit of national self-interest is causing great alarm in the rest of the world.

The philosophy of political realism, even though not consistent with the founding ideals of the United States, has prevailed because of the failure of the other two traditions. Globalization has made isolationism an impossibility. The failure to create satisfactory international organizations, on the other hand, has caused “the Law of Nations” to become confused with injustice.


Headwing Philosophy and International Law

A new appeal to jus gentium must be made, and it must be made apart from an absolute embodiment in any particular state or international organization. It is my contention that the Law of Nations should be subject to no king but God, and in addition no fallible human being or political power should claim a monopoly on interpreting or representing God to others. In short, the Law of Nations should derive from a Headwing Philosophy that respects the proposition that all human beings are created with equal dignity and deserve the equal opportunity to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

Left wing ideology would promote international justice through international law backed by some international military authority. While this sounds “equal” and “fair,” it, like communism in Russia, could quickly degenerate into centralized oppression. Socialist-style laws do not allow for the new, invention, and the creativity of the human spirit that would take us beyond the world of today. Those in charge of such laws become a new class, a nomenklatura,[10] who use their legal authority to gain benefits for themselves.

The right wing, on the other hand, tends to use power to protect its own will to pursue happiness, either by defining its own self-interest or enforcing what it believes to be the will of God. Such a pursuit often interferes with the pursuit of happiness by others who are not party to the project or marginalized by it. It could be as egregious as the Nazi elimination of Jews in the Holocaust or as mild as a good emperor in China, lacking omniscience, not thinking of what is best for people in the outlying province of Tibet. In either case, the will of a central power interferes with the pursuit of happiness by another group.

Before the United States was founded, the British thought the Americans were behaving like terrorists because they failed to obey laws that the British believed to be fair and just. However, the colonists believed that British laws prevented their own pursuit of happiness. Today the situation is reversed as the United States tries to keep peace in Iraq. In both cases there is an imperial power attempting to create a just order and marginalized people who believe that order to not be in their best interest.

Headwing ideology addresses the problems that arise by the imposition of either a right-wing solution or the left-wing solution to world affairs. What this means practically is that no human power can claim absolute legal authority, and that all legal institutions are continually in the process of perfection. The United States founders knew this, which is why they used language such as “a more perfect union” rather than the language of absolutes. The absolute is transcendent, and all governments must be subjected to it. The Founders recognized that ideally leaders should be good, but also that their powers must be checked to avoid extremes on the left like communism in Russia or on the right like National Socialism in Germany. All people and all governments must remain humble and recognize that ultimately all power derives from a higher power than any human individual or institution.

In short, neither the United Nations with some system of law based upon it, nor the United States as a sole superpower, can claim absolute sovereignty in a world created by God. Neither can be viewed as perfect or infallible.

First, we should work to improve the leadership of the United States so that its behavior in the world ever more reflects respect for the dignity of every human being and their right to freely pursue happiness. Unificationists would equate the pursuit of happiness with the right to freely pursue the fulfillment of the Three Great Blessings. The arbitrary foreign policy of the United States in the world today often impedes the ability of some people to accomplish the fulfillment of the Three Great Blessings. We must both work to perfect the Law of Nations we have been bequeathed through providential history, and to demand those people and nations that wield the power to keep order do so in accordance with the Law of Nations as we can articulate it.

The United States has rightly resisted signing some international treaties designed to compromise its legitimate sovereignty or as a covert form of theft or forced redistribution of wealth in the name of the Law of Nations as defined by secularists on the left. On the other hand, it has also arrogantly ignored actions that represent the Law of Nations as it is embodied in its own founding principles. In other words, it has often, in practice, refused to accord others the same rights and dignity it demands for its own citizens. Such internal inconsistency is wrong.

Norman Swazo in the International Journal on World Peace has recently argued a proposal that would improve this situation: The executive branch of the United States should not have the authority to violate the Law of Nations without the approval Congress. This principle is consistent with the Constitution and the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. It is appropriate, at a time when American influence in the world is analogous to that of Rome in the first century A.D., that the United States, like Rome, develop some form of jus gentium, so that its behavior in the world can be righteous and predictable, rather than the arbitrary will of the executive branch.

Second, we should work to reform the United Nations and other international bodies so that they can better function to promote the Law of Nations as a Headwing ideal, rather than as secular legal institutions manipulated by self-serving nations and alliances. Based on Headwing Philosophy, the United Nations should reform in a way that places appropriate checks and balances on the selfish use of power, but promotes the positive use of power based on a concept of true justice, one in which all people are treated with equal dignity as children of God, each with the right to pursue happiness (the Three Great Blessings). Reverend Moon’s proposal to establish a religious council at the United Nations would create a check on the vested interests of the leaders of the nation-states that currently constitute it. Such a religious council would be more aware of those who are marginalized and help insure that any UN action considers their well being. If the United Nations could not be reformed along these lines, some other institution would need to arise to accomplish this purpose. If the United Nations fails to reform, those who understand the importance of headwing ideology should be in the vanguard to bring such an international institution into existence.



Throughout human history, people out of fear and greed have sought to impose their own form of peace on others. This is not a true peace, one that treats everyone from the point of view of God or an impartial spectator.

The idea of Headwing Philosophy can be used to bridge the gaps between various interests in modern politics within nations by providing a set of values that includes the best of both conservative and liberal ideals. It also can inspire a new respect for international law by reference to universal truths that transcend all human political institutions, domestic and international.

Human beings are ultimately subject to both the laws of nature and to the just laws of society. The laws of nature—physics, biology, etc.—are given to us and can be understood by the study of science and history. The just laws of society are developed from philosophy, history, and a spiritual sensibility that views all human beings with the love a true parent has for his or her children. The Law of Nations is an expression of the philosophy of society as it has developed over centuries of human experience. It is not arbitrary and should not be violated lightly. However, no human expression is an absolute expression of truth. Every society faces new changes and developments. Therefore it is necessary at times for us, like Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, to stand firm for righteousness when laws are unjust, even in the face of peril to oneself.

Such leadership is needed at all times, but especially today in our world, which is looking for moorings as it faces spiritual and moral relativism.



[1] As this paper was drafted, one of the news items on the homepage of greens.org was “Fight Software Patents.” http://www.greens.org/

[2] Augustine, The City of God (New York: Image Books, 1958), p. 452.

[3] Ibid., p. 454.

[4] Sun Myung Moon, The Way of Unification, Section 6, Part II, http://www.unification.net/wu1/wu1-5-6.htm.

[5] Various interest groups including corporations, unions, state bureaucracies, the military, and NGOs try to hijack state policy for their own ends. This commonsense theory is articulated by Jack Snyder in Myths of Empire and discussed by Ivan Eland in The Empire Has No Clothes: US Foreign Policy Exposed (Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute, 2004) p. 37.

[6] Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times National Weekly Edition, November 15-21, 2004, p.1.

[7] Gordon L. Anderson, Philosophy of the United States: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (St. Paul: Paragon House, 2004), pp. 12-14.

[8] Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations or Principles of the Law of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns. Available online at http://www.constitution.org/vattel This background is covered by Vattel in his Preface.

[9] Acton Institute, Religion and Liberty, vol. 9, no. 6 (November and December, 1999), p. 1. http://www.acton.org/publicat/randl/liberal.php?id=330.

[10] Michael Voslensky, Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class, An Insider’s Report (NY: Doubleday, 1984).