Communism's Stage of Psychosocial Development

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 19, 2018 - Pages 71-100

Note: Portions of this article were published in International Journal on World Peace and are included with permission.

One hundred years after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, communism continues to attract many young revolutionary idealists, but fails to produce the good and just societies they hope for. The Divine Principle describes communism as a “Cain-type ideology.” But such theological language is often dismissed by people trained in modern universities. This article uses modern psychology rather than religious language to explain why communist practices do not lead to a just and prosperous society. It argues that communist behavior is motivated by first-tier consciousness, a social consciousness inadequately developed to produce a more ideal society.

A genuine socialism, described by the Divine Principle as “co-prosperity and common cause,” can only appear when second-tier con-sciousness guides society. Second-tier consciousness transcends individual and group centrism and assumes responsibility for the whole. In the Divine Principle, second-tier consciousness is referred to as “perfection stage growth.” This article uses the psychological and social frameworks of Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Ken Wilber, and Akmal Gafurov to explain the development of individual and social consciousness necessary to achieve a free, functional, prosperous, just, peaceful, and happy society that people desire.

The Communist Experience of Economic Failure

October 2017 marked 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 that established communism as the official ideology of the Soviet Union. This anniversary was not widely celebrated because people who were forced to live under communism suffered greatly and they would like to put it behind them. Akmal Gafurov, a professor in Uzbekistan who was raised on Marxist theory, refers to Soviet ideology as “political alchemy” that has been relegated to the dustbins of history. On the pragmatic advice of Deng Xiaoping, China basically abandoned central economic planning and state ownership of industry. Both Russia and China have moved on from idealistic revolutionary communism.

However, young people in the West who see economic inequality are tempted by the logical appeal of communism as a solution to social justice. While the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is a logical concept easily believed by poor people and young idealists, it is not a prescription for salvation. Rather, it is more like a tribe which hunts wild animals and eats them. When the animal herd is depleted, the tribe starves to death.

The stark contrast between the wealth of the Russian Tsars and the poverty of the peasants appeared unjust to anyone with a conscience at the end of the beginning of the twentieth century. Communism was an ideology that appealed to many who sought economic justice. However, the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin attempted to implement communism through a political revolution that justified the murder of the ruling class, and confiscation of their property by the revolutionary working class, who would create an ideal society through the appropriation and redistribution of wealth and power. Wealth is produced. Taking wealth from someone is not production. The history of communism involved taking wealth by government force, and when the government tried to produce wealth, it was very bad at it.

The praxis of the Russian revolution followed the pattern of conquest by kings in the past. This behavior is like a young child or bully saying, “I want it, give it to me, or I’ll beat you up and take it. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get it from you.” One difference between the commun ist revolution in Russia and the conquest of lands by feudal kings was that the conqueror was a political party representing a social class, not an individual king. A second difference is that the primary target of conquest was industry rather than land. The Communist Party was supported by industrial workers, who were organized by a hierarchy of councils (soviets).

The creation of new wealth creation requires “the forces of production.” The buildings and machinery of industrial plants were only a means of production. The forces of production are market incentives, labor incentives, knowledge of the means of production, skills of production, capital, and hard work. Marxism-Leninism did not understand these forces and attempted to produce wealth through central government ownership and dictates. The communist government confiscated existing industries and attempted to create new industries through the infusion of state capital, coerced labor, and copying industries in other countries. Market incentives were officially considered evil, and production goals were set by centralized planners in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), who claimed to know best what the people needed. They often badly miscalculated, creating surpluses of some products people did not want —like official phonograph records—and shortages of products people wanted—like toilet paper and light bulbs.

During the revolution, the Bolsheviks promised the peasants ownership of their land in exchange for their support in throwing off the ruling class. However, afterward, Lenin created “Committees of the Destitute” to sequester grain from the peasants to feed everyone else, causing a civil war between the peasants and the communists.[1] This sequestration destroyed peasant incentive to produce, leading to the great famine of 1920-1921. In April 1921, Lenin was forced to recognize that productivity and conquest were mutually exclusive. He announced the New Economic Policy, which was a tax on the produce of peasants rather than the confiscation of their produce. It was a tacit recognition of real forces of production.

Peasants were invited to join workers in the local councils (soviets), diluting the influence of communist workers. Industries were owned by the state and workers were paid by the state, an arrangement called “state capitalism.” But bureaucratic government is by nature about following rules and regulations and not about innovation, and no one outside government had the incentive to invent or produce modern goods and services when the government owned the enterprise and paid workers by a bureaucratic formula whether they worked hard or not. Hence the joke: “We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us.”

Communists blamed capitalists for social injustice and promised to redistribute wealth to those who would join their revolutions. However, communist economic theory failed to explain social injustice in terms of human nature and incentives for production. State command economies were asked to fix social ills that they had no ability to fix. Rather, the conquest and plunder mindset of communism, like the mindset of the hunter-gather society, led to catastrophic economic failures in Russia and China following the model of Thomas Malthus.[2]

Alternatively, the Asian Tigers—Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan—countries with the same feudal organization of prerevolutionary Russia and China saw dramatic economic development after their leaders adopted proven economic development strategies. In the 1970s the economic growth of these small countries dramatically outpaced China. It was not the structure of governance that created positive social change, but the social consciousness of the leadership and the recognition of proven principles of production. The false ideas of communism had preceded the true ideas of the market and private ownership of property.

Deng Xiaoping realized this problem in China and, on becoming the head economic advisor in 1982, he asked the Communist Party to focus on the “forces of production” (rather than the means of production). China restored property rights, autonomous enterprise, and decollectivized.[3] While the Communist Party in China was transformed, the Communist Party in the Soviet Union (CPSU) never really abandoned the idea of a centrally controlled economy. The Russian system collapsed in 1991 and was seized by oligarchs. Today China’s economy is stronger than Russia’s. However, because countries tried to achieve socialism through a violent revolution that destroyed existing social institutions and economic incentives, both regimes unnecessarily caused massive human suffering and millions of deaths.

Today the economic problems in Venezuela resemble the failures of communist Russia and China. Venezuela is the country with the world’s largest-known oil reserves and the fifth largest economy in Latin America. However, it is a state-controlled economy that relies on oil for 96 percent of its exports.[4] Its people produce almost nothing. Venezuela has suffered an economic decline because it does not provide a political environment for industriousness but, like the Bolsheviks of 100 years ago, fosters dependency on redistributed wealth. Norway, another country with vast oil reserves, has seen great economic growth because it’s economy is based on knowledge of “the forces of production.”


Communism as an Adolescent Expression of Behavior

People who suffered through periods of communist experimentation in Europe and Asia are amazed to see the failed communist ideas applied in Venezuela and heartbroken to see young revolutionary movements flourishing. They learned their lessons the hard way, and it is difficult to see others making the same mistakes. It is not so hard to understand the appeal of revolutionary communist movements if they are seen as an instinctive survival reaction by youth who are frustrated with social inequality and have not learned enough about the “forces of production.” When people who desire social justice understand the forces of production, as in Norway, then there can be both prosperity and economic justice.

Communism as an ideology appeals to two groups of people that do not understand sound economic principles: (1) impoverished people that are desperate for change, and (2) people of conscience who are frustrated with the economic injustice they observe. Many young people in the West and other parts of the world are not learning sound principles of “the forces of production” from their families or schools. Thus, as in the case of Venezuela, history often repeats itself.

Modern theories of psychological and psychosocial development can help explain that communism is a reflection of adolescent stages of consciousness. Psychologists Jean Piaget, Erik Erickson, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Ken Wilber, to name a few, have focused on stages of growth and development in individuals. These developmental theories also have implications for the development of the collective consciousness of groups, social movements, nations, and civilizations.

Communism, as an ideal, resonates with people who have reached the “formal operational” stage of cognitive development[5] in Piaget’s theory, a stage reached at 11 or 12 years of age. However, as a revolutionary theory of struggle, conquest, and redistribution of wealth, communism reflects an instinctual “fight or flight” reaction at a prerational level, where psychosocial development is undeveloped. In its revolutionary articulation by Marx and Lenin, communism promotes a model of conquest, rather than a transformative economic approach that applies knowledge of human nature and market principles in the real world. In the language of the Divine Principle, the revolutionary communist behavior is a “fall” off the path of the normal process of the psychosocial development of a society.


Stages of Individual Development

People come into the world as helpless babies, totally dependent on others for milk, burping, and cleaning their bottoms. When babies are frustrated they cry, kick, wave their arms, and scream to get the attention of someone else to care for them. This is a natural instinct for survival to get the attention of others. Through a developmental process, babies grow into adults who have their own babies to care for, and for which they will even sacrifice their own lives.

The Divine Principle describes this developmental process as three stages: formation, growth, and perfection. During the formation and growth stages, an individual is not autonomous and learning to care for himself or herself and become a productive member of society. This growth period is called “indirect dominion” which is described as not yet being “in oneness with God’s heart.”[6] Psychologists Clare Graves and Ken Wilber[7] use the terms first-tier consciousness and second-tier consciousness to distinguish between what the Divine Principle calls indirect and direct dominion, and these are the terms used in this article.
Psychology has many theories that can be used to describe aspects of the process of development. The article looks at three key categories:

  1. Cognitive development. This is rooted the development of the brain, which continues to develop for several years after birth.
  2. Emotional or psychosocial development. This is the development of the ability to engage and function in relationships. This includes relationships with other people, and with productive work and the environment.
  3. Development of consciousness. This includes both mental and emotional development—what Wilber calls “growing up,” and the ability to continually transcend one’s current state with wider and deeper levels of awareness—what Wilber calls “waking up.”

To reach “perfection” it is important to understand all three of these aspects of development and their relationship to one another.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is the development of the ability to reason and think logically and abstractly. It is important for planning and calculating. The most widely cited psychologist and pioneer in the field of cognitive development is Jean Piaget. Piaget described four stages of child development:

table 1

Table 1: Jean Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development[8]

The fourth stage, or the formal operational stage, marks the final or “perfection” stage of cognitive development in Piaget’s theory:

The formal operational stage is the fourth and final stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. The emerging abstract thought and hypothetical reasoning mark this phase of development. At this point in development, thinking becomes much more sophisticated and advanced. Kids can think about abstract and theoretical concepts and use logic to come up with creative solutions to problems.[9]

Piaget considered biological brain development significantly completed by age 12, and that any further development is due primarily to the expansion of additional accumulated knowledge in brains operating at the formal operational level.

Psychosocial Development

Cognitive development is not the only type of development required to become a “perfected” adult in society. One can have the ability to reason well, but remain ego-centered and focused on his or her self. When individuals use their reasoning capacity to serve themselves at the expense of others, they are considered selfish and immoral. Premeditated murder, fraud, or planned robbery reveal cognitive abilities that enable a perpetrator to carry out evil acts with greater strategy and deception than a person without cognitive development. Unificationists refer to such behavior as “fallen behavior.” Cognitive development without psychosocial develop ment can be considered more socially problematic than no cognitive development at all.

Erik Erikson argued that the ego develops in stages as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly psychosocial in nature. These crises occur when the psychological needs of the individual appear to conflict with the needs of society. Successful resolution of a psychosocial stage of develop ment involves the acquisition of a corresponding virtue. According to Erikson, the first five stages of psychosocial development should occur by age 18, and the last three in adulthood.[10]

table 2

Table 2: Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development[11]

Psychosocial development is about productivity and morality, one’s relationship to others and the world. Productivity involves the personal incentive and ability produce things in order to provide for oneself and to be of value to others. Productivity involves industriousness, skills, self-identity, purpose, and commitment to get a job done. Morality develops with empathy and compassion for others, the desire to care for others, and the wisdom to know the best way to proceed in morally ambiguous situations.

Cognitive skills naturally help in achieving one’s social goals, but cognitive skills unguided by psychosocial development and higher consciousness can lead to social disaster, violence, and war. This is one reason that teaching morality is such an important component of child rearing. Psychosocial development leads to the desire to care for oneself and assume responsibility for others. It is required to become a good parent or citizen.

Dissonance is a trigger for psychological development. A theory of cognitive dissonance was first developed by Leon Festinger[12] to describe a mental state in which there is a discrepancy between what one has learned to expect and a new experience that cannot be explained by experience or existing knowledge. This dissonance forces some type of response to reduce the dissonance. This could be a rejection of the new experience (reactionary), a rejection of previous beliefs (revolutionary), or an evolved understanding that integrates our former understanding with the new experience (a healthy resolution).

Eliot Aronson extended the theory of cognitive dissonance to include psychosocial dissonance. For example, a statement or action that could lead to bad consequences for others is dissonant with one’s self-concept that “I am a decent, reasonable, truthful person.”[13] Resolving psychosocial dissonance involves more than adjusting one’s knowledge to reality, but involves addressing self-justification, guilt, and apology.

Social rules and laws are required to restrain individuals from acts harmful to others when their psychosocial development is incomplete, and they are unable to restrain themselves. However, when the rule makers are not fully psychosocially developed, they often create laws that harm society by exploiting children, citizens, or the treasury for self-centered goals. This is the reason for structural oppression in families and societies.

Development of Consciousness

Cognitive development relates to the left side of the brain, which is responsible for reasoning, analytic thought, and logic. Psychosocial development is related to the right side of the brain, which is the center of imagination, and intuition. Consciousness includes both halves, and refers to the totality of our awareness, both “head” and “heart.” Consciousness continues to develop after cognitive and emotional faculties are formed.

Cognitive and psychosocial development are what Ken Wilber calls “lines” of development. They are part of “growing up.” He differentiates this from “waking up,” which refers to reaching higher spiritual states of consciousness. This development of higher consciousness is increasingly transpersonal, more widely aware, and increasingly detached from the ego. Attaining higher consciousness is a traditional goal of Buddhism and spiritual meditation in general.

Transpersonal psychology is associated with the work of Abraham Maslow. It developed in the 1960s in conjunction with the human potential movement, which engaged in yoga, Eastern thought, and countercultural experimentation. Michael Washburn, a pioneer of transpersonal theory, wrote:

[Transpersonal psychology] is an inquiry that presupposes that the ego… can be transcended and that a higher, transeogic plane or stage of life is possible…. The ego exists in relation to a superior Dynamic Ground and that the highest possible psychic organization is one in which the ego, fully developed and self-responsible, is a faithful instrument of this Ground.[14]

In A Theory of Everything, Ken Wilber outlined several stages (or “waves”) of consciousness that the developmental lines (or “streams”) develop through. He pointed out a strong correlation of his stages in comparison with other developmental theories.[15]

table 3

Table 3: Ken Wilber’s Stages of Consciousness[16]

Wilber’s stages of consciousness transcend and include the theories of Piaget, Erikson and other developmental psychologists since they deal with pre-personal and personal structures of development. Wilber starting using the term “second-tier” after encountering the Spiral Dynamics developed by Clare Graves and Don Beck, which he found comparable to his “vision logic,” a mental operation rooted in a vision of the wholeness of reality. Vision logic transcends yet includes both traditional mythological and scientific explanations of reality, as well as integrating postmodern plural ism, giving a more comprehensive spectrum of consciousness development (before going transpersonal).

Transpersonal development includes the traditional functions of religion, philosophy, and spirituality that guide an individual to see the world as a whole with a center and purpose outside the self. In religious terms, this would be seeing from “God’s point of view” or the perspective of a universal or cosmic consciousness.

Pluralism as the Highest Level of First Tier Consciousness

A consciousness that views things in their separateness is the normal way most people describe the world today. This is what Wilber, following Clare Graves, calls first-tier consciousness. The highest form of First Tier Consciousness is pluralism. It recognizes all the differences but seeks peace between them; it promotes relativism and does not seek to integrate or transcend them. Here is a description of the values associated with the pluralistic level of consciousness:

    • Focus on involvement and gaining consensus/agreement.
    • Seeks peace with inner self and to gain contact with the inner self of others.
    • Core values around fairness and equality with the desire to free the human spirit from exploitation.
    • Has generated the women’s movement and the civil rights movement in the last century.
    • Wishes to eliminate poverty, racism, chauvinism and other forms of divisiveness.[17]

Wilber considers this pluralism to be the highest form of first-tier thinking, higher than the development of formal logic. This level is still first-tier because pluralists still see their values as the only correct values. Cultural relativism recognizes pluralism, but relativism can become a dogma of political correctness. People with a pluralistic consciousness who are dogmatic and ideologically combative are failing to transcend their egos, a sign of first-tier consciousness. Wilber says the pluralism of the baby boomer generation, which he is a part of, has led to a culture of narcissism and calls this a symptom “Boomeritis.”[18]

Vision Logic, Religion, and Systems Theory

Moving from first-tier consciousness to second-tier consciousness and integral awareness brings a desire to serve an integrated whole. This integrated whole could be a family, a corporation, an ecosystem, a state, or the entire cosmos, depending on the level of awareness. Parental consciousness can be second tier consciousness if the parent has a vision of how the family can best function. This vision guides the logic and the acquisition of skills to make the vision a reality. If one’s social vision is the peace and well-being of all, a primary goal of child-raising involves enabling the child to achieve second-tier consciousness. Most problems of violence and unsustainable society can be traced to the failure of people to attain second-tier consciousness.

table 4

Table 4: Stages of Individual Development—  A Comparison of Piaget, Erikson, and Wilber

Vision logic can be considered the design logic that flows from a vision of a system and the parts that make it up. Since the beginning of human history, people have had visions for their societies, but often they have contained many erroneous assumptions and myths. Some societies believed the idea that the fate human society is controlled by gods, and that a human sacrifice to the gods will appease them. It was a part of their systemic vision of reality. That belief is rooted in preoperational or symbolic logic, and not the formal logic required by a scientific understanding. Genuine vision logic requires cognitive development at the level of formal operational logic and psychosocial development at the level of generativity.

Every major world religion contains a vision of reality in its answers to questions, “Why are we here?” “What should I do?” and “How should I treat others?” Some religions promote behavior that leads to their religious vision, and others promote behavior that thwarts it. Success in achieving a religious vision depends on whether teachings and behavior patterns are consistent with vision logic.

Empiricism disconnected from vision logic can be called first-tier science, because it studies things in isolation. On the other hand, empirical studies rooted in a systems approach can be called second-tier science. Nicholas Maxwell developed “Aim Oriented Empiricism,” a philosophy of science that adopts vision logic.[19] What Maxwell calls the “aim” can be compared to what Wilber labels “vision.”

The design of a system, like a wristwatch, a computer, or an automobile, includes the purpose that the entire system serves and how the component parts relate to one another to accomplish this purpose. The design of an automobile with the purpose of getting high gas mileage will be different from the design of an automobile that goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the shortest time. Designing a vehicle to haul the largest load is yet another vision for a different type of vehicle.

Vision logic does not answer questions of design with a dogma or doctrine that proclaims itself to be the only truth. A designer does not consider the design for a car, a design for a kitchen, a design for a corporate structure, or a political system to have one possible way to exist. However, creating that which is envisioned can happen in many different ways. Vision logic considers existing explanations and seeks better ones. When United States Founders claimed they had created a “more perfect union,” not a “perfect union,” they were displaying their use of vision logic. They would continue to seek areas in the system that was weak and, George Washington’s “Farewell Address” was largely an analysis of what worked well, and what did not work so well in the system they had created.

Violence, Revolution, and First-Tier Consciousness

Dogmatic, doctrinaire, and absolutistic statements are products of first-tier consciousness. We live in a world full of absolutist statements based on arbitrary assumptions, particularly in politics. In Table 4, under the column “Wilber’s Consciousness Development,” we see “rules” as important to the development of consciousness from age 7-11. Rules are useful for guiding children to behave in ways that serve the whole when their consciousness lacks the ego transcendence that comes with second-tier consciousness. Rules are created to prevent behavior that would bring harm to others. The Divine Principle would see following rules like following the commandment “do not eat of the fruit” in the Bible. Following principled rules keeps an individual’s growth on track so he or she does not “fall.”

It was noted earlier that when babies are frustrated they cry, kick, wave their arms, and scream to get the attention of someone else to care for them. It is cognitive and psychosocial development that enables children to learn other forms of behavior that are superior ways to obtain needs and fulfill goals. Following rules or commandments are part of this development. Potty training, learning to cook food, and other essential skills are required to become independent, and transcend crying, kicking and screaming, hope that someone else will provide your needs. Parents know they must teach these skills because one day they will die and their children will have to care for themselves and their own children.

Violence and revolution are products of first-tier consciousness. Undisciplined children kick, scream, hit and cry when they don’t get their way. Bullies might beat people who criticize them or get in their way. The study of such behaviors led to the development of the frustration-aggression hypothesis in 1939 by Dollard, Doob, et al. Their thesis was: a major cause of aggression is frustration in reaching a goal.[20]

Mary Harris later showed that frustration is increased when one’s progress is interrupted closer to reaching a goal.[21] Another study showed that aggression can become greater when expectations are higher.[22] The notion of relative deprivation is also an important factor in the frustration-aggression hypothesis. Eliot Aronson has noted,

Revolutions usually are not started by people whose faces are in the mud. They are most frequently started by people who have recently lifted their faces out of the mud, looked around, and noticed that other people are doing better than they are and that the system is treating them unfairly.[23]

Aggression is more likely if a person’s hope of achieving a thwarted goal is greater. Also, aggression is more likely if objects associated with aggression—like a knife or a gun—are available as a possible way to resolve frustration. Knowing this, one can understand that communists are people frustrated with the existence of injustice and are reacting with a fight or flight instinct, unable to see shades of gray or accept pluralism.

Frustration does not necessarily cause aggression. It can stimulate constructive evolutionary change in people who have attained second-tier consciousness. Control of aggression and reduction of violence can be learned. This is one of the main goals of psychosocial development. Because peace is almost universally desired, the egoic and survival instincts that promote violence should be restrained with internal controls as a child gains the skills required to transcend violence and resolve conflicts in other ways. Developmental psychologists widely agree on this.

The “Seville Statement on Violence” signed adopted by the Seventh International Colloquium on the Brain and Aggression stated this in their 1986 declaration:

It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other violent behavior is genetically programmed into our human nature… While individuals vary in their predispositions to be affected by their experience, it is the interaction between genetic endowment and conditions of nurturance that determine their personalities.

It is scientifically incorrect to say that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behavior more than for other kinds of behavior. In all well-studied species, status within the group is achieved by the ability to cooperate and to fulfill social functions relevant to the structure of that group.[24]

Aggression is a reaction to frustration rooted in lower levels of first-tier consciousness, but second-tier consciousness actively seeks to avoid violence. One can take out a tire iron and smash a car windshield in anger if the car stops working. That aggression may help the owner to get revenge on the frustrating car, but it will not help the car to work better. A frustrated man might beat his wife into submission to get her to obey, but it will not earn her love. Aggression is an instinctual “fight or flight” reaction used by a person who has not learned a constructive way to solve a frustrating problem.

In a “fallen world,” one where the social consciousness of an entire society is first-tier, aggression can become a normal response to frustration. If an aggressor to repeatedly enjoys the spoils of conquest, he may continue to conquer, steal, and rape if no resistance is encountered. This can stunt the psychological growth of the aggressor, who in turn will suppress the growth of those conquered. Much of the history of the world is based on such conquest, which has kept whole societies at first-tier consciousness. Second-tier consciousness considers such societies as uncivilized.

The level of development of social consciousness is often referred to as “the merit of the age” by Unificationists. “An eye for an eye” is a first-tier social norm, while “love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you” is a second-tier social norm.

Reactionary, Revolutionary, or Evolutionary?

A reactionary response involves clinging defensively and dogmatically to tradition, customs, and faith, and refusing to entertain the idea that problems exist that require social change. On the other hand, someone who believes there is a problem and it can only be solved by destroying tradition and replacing it with something entirely different is a revolutionary. Revolutionary zeal is a first-tier psychological reaction that rejects complex traditional reality, mixed with good and bad elements to be improved upon. Revolutionary faith clings to new dogma that replaces an old one is thus itself becomes a form of reactionary behavior.

Both reactionary and revolutionary consciousness are based on dogmas and stereotypes characteristic of first-tier consciousness, whereas evolutionary consciousness accepts the complex nature of inherited reality and seeks adaptation or adjustment that will lead to improvement or progress. Reactionary and revolutionary views both display a naïve either/or belief that is not socially constructive. An integral response rooted in second-tier consciousness is a constructive dialectic of “transcend and include.” It is evolutionary, not revolutionary. I am reminded of the words from a Moody Blues song:

Grow… seeds of evolution
Revolution never won,
It’s just another form of gun.

Revolutionary behavior on display during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia is an example of an instinctual reaction to frustration. The Red Army sought to subjugate or kill anyone who did not agree with them. Both “reactionary” and “revolutionary” behavior are examples of the “flight or fight” response. Both behaviors reflect a pre-pluralistic absolutism in which “my group” is the only one with the right to rule society, and we have a right to eliminate other groups.

Revolutionary violence reflects the same behavior as traditional forms of conquest. Whether it was the anarchic French revolution, the Red Army’s conquest of Russia, or the U.S. arming moderate rebels to achieve an “Arab Spring,” the popular glorification of a violent revolution and revolutionary consciousness is a symptom of a society of first-tier consciousness. While people of second-tier consciousness take respon si bility to solve a problem, people of first-tier consciousness blame others and often want them eliminated. Divine Principle calls this “reversal of dominion.” Marxists blamed the “dominant class consciousness” for all of society’s problems. They rejected the dominant consciousness as “false consciousness,” not an imperfect consciousness that needed transformation. They stated their own belief system revealed true consciousness. By denying the idea of transcending and including, the foundational principle of development and progress, Marxists suffered from what Inanna Hamati-Ataya has described as the Marxian paradox:

That Marx spoke with different voices (the scientist, the activist, the philosopher) might explain his paradoxical treatment and use of values. The problem of reconciling these different discourses on valuations and on the relationship between what is and what ought to be nonetheless remains unsolved. In the case of Marxian thought, this problem is intrinsic to the fact that the objective relationship between ideology and historical materialism, or between the historical and the absolute remains unexplained.[26]


Development of Social Consciousness

The development of social and political consciousness, or the merit of the age, tends to lag behind the level of consciousness of the majority of individuals in a society. In his book Moral Man and Immoral Society, Reinhold Niebuhr asked the question, “Why do moral people participate in immoral group behavior?”[27] This book, written in 1932, reflected two types of cognitive dissonance that Niebuhr had experienced. The first was prompted by the observation that two Christian states, the United States and Germany, each claimed to represent “God’s side” in World War I. His disillusionment came from knowing that the United States’ entrance into the war was pushed by bankers who had large loans to England and France. He was frustrated that the political behavior of his country was not consistent with the Christian values he believed it represented.

The second problem for Niebuhr was the dissonance he felt between the high ideals of communist rhetoric and the actual behavior of communists. Communists spoke about social justice and equality, but the revolution in Russia had led to totalitarianism, famine, and slave labor. In the United States, badly behaved and intolerant Marxists at Columbia University, where Niebuhr attended lectures, attempted to shout down speakers who did not appear to share their beliefs. This made Marxist group behavior appear immoral. In both cases, highly civilized individuals appeared to be supporting violent, intolerant, and immoral group behavior.

Niebuhr’s experience as a pastor in Detroit had taught him to transcend partisan and group divisions. Both Ford family members who owned the assembly plant and workers in the plant attended his church. He learned about both the grievances of workers and the realities of the auto industry. Because he had the trust of individuals on both sides, he had recommended solutions that worked for both management and labor. By seeing a larger picture that transcended both groups, he was able to help both side transcend their selfish interests and gain a more integral view. His success in transcending industrial labor problems gained him national attention and he became one of the country’s most prominent and influential theologians at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Niebuhr’s life paralleled that of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who were involved in problems of colonialism and racism. King studied both Niebuhr and Gandhi, who were pioneering a path toward a more inclusive social consciousness in the twentieth century. The views of these social leaders were widely accepted because they could transcend and include. They did not promote one group of people or threaten the lives of another group, but appealed to a higher vision that most people could accept. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision logic can be seen in words like this:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.[28]

The evolution of the consciousness and behavior of groups parallels the development of individuals but lags significantly. This is because a large percentage of individuals in a group need to acquire a higher stage of consciousness before the critical mass required to raise group social consciousness is achieved. Jesus was a pivotal figure in the evolution of individual consciousness in the Roman Empire. He counter-posed the first-tier consciousness of Old Testament writings with the second-tier consciousness found in statements of the New Testament:

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.[29]

It took a long time for Jesus’ teachings to become embodied in society. Four centuries after Jesus, Rome adopted Christianity as its official religion. People were individually held to New Testament standards by the Church, but at the social level feudalism was the norm. Even though individuals like Saint Francis were praised for their individual moral behavior, social-political consciousness remained largely undeveloped.


Evolution of Modern Social Theory

The evolution of the modern state and political philosophy parallels the development of consciousness of an individual from birth to adulthood, moving from rule over the governed, to rule by consent of the governed, to rule by the governed, to rule that is best for the governed. Akmal Gafurov, an Uzbek social scientist, has written about understanding stages of social development in terms of “politometrics” instead of “political alchemy” or magic, which is how he came to view Marxism after living under it in the USSR.[30]

Opposed to “the ideology of socialism,” Gafurov retains a vision of socialism that is a higher and more economically just society than Western-style democracies. This view of socialism is not a centralized government achieved through magic after a revolution, but a society of middle class owners of high moral principles who live freely, care for themselves, and are motivated by a high moral conscience to help the unfortunate. Unlike the communism imposed by the barrel of a gun, his ideal of socialism is one in which the need for a state can gradually fade away as people naturally do what they know they should do for others. This is consistent with a society filled with people who have developed second-tier consciousness. However, even if a society could function this way, it would still need defense from invasion by others.

Using a system of metrics, Gafurov outlined seven phases of social development. In his system, the phases refer to the number of constructive elements vs. destructive elements present in society. The lowest level is complete social breakdown where everyone grabs what they can for themselves to survive, with no one producing anything. The highest form of society would be one in which everyone is highly productive and motivated to live for others. He names his phases collapse, stagnation, dictatorship, transformation, democracy, socialism, and society of high morality. One factor he used to understand the stage of society is analyzing motives of people—fear, rules, money, and morality. Another indicator is the number of people who can determine their own fate and have resources to care for others. Gafurov says that the percentage of middle-class owners is one of the best indicators of social development, another is the strength of civil society activity.

Table 5 shows Gafurov’s stages of social development and political theories representing these stages in the evolution of the modern state. I have elsewhere shown how these stages correspond to the evolution of modern political theory from the time of Machiavelli to the present, as shown in the “Political Theorists” column.[31] While many regimes like those of Hitler and Stalin reverted to greater authoritarianism and less consent of the governed, the rise of the United States and the European Union show an ongoing evolution toward an integral state, even though this has not yet been realized.

table 5

Table 5: Stages of State Development— A Comparison of Gafurov, Erikson, and Wilber

In Gafurov’s classification, what the communists in the U.S.S.R. achieved was lower than democracy, but a real socialism would be higher than democracy. He also envisions a higher moral society that would even transcend socialism.

Democracy and Socialism

There has been a long-standing debate about social organization among Unificationists that reflects a larger debate in society. The debate is framed thus: Is Democracy or Socialism the right form of social organization? This is the wrong debate! It is a first-tier consciousness debate. The answer should be “democracy and socialism,”[32] but both forms of organization need to be qualified.

Pure democracy without constraints does not work. However, a democratic form of governance that represents the will of the people within principled bounds is superior to rule by a dictator. Socialism is not a functional form of government, but social justice and the well-being of everyone are important social goals. These socialist goals cannot be achieved through a revolutionary change of government. They are a product of second-tier consciousness, and that requires cultural transformation. The Divine Principle promotes “co-prosperity and common cause,”[33] which are ideals of socialism, but co-prosperity relates to the economy, not the government, and common cause represents a common “will of the people,” which is social conscience, and again not government.

The main mistake of communism was to expect government to create co-prosperity and common cause, rather than government being a mechanism making it possible for people to achieve it. Marxism-Leninism made government into a false substitute parent promising to provide for all the people who are treated as children. This might be a dream of people with first-tier consciousness, such a system is a chimera because it can’t produce what its children need or want. Some forms of democracy are far superior to communism in enabling people to achieve the ideals of socialism. So ironically, it has been communism, and not a principled democracy, that prevents the development of co-prosperity and common cause. However, it is useful to remember that an unrestrained democracy will devolve to anarchy, so it also will prevent attaining the ideals of socialism.

The ideals of socialism are not political goals, but socioeconomic goals. These goals cannot be attained be centralized economic ownership by a state, but through the “forces of production.” Incentives to produce things useful for others as best provided by markets and private ownership of goods. A centralized economy contradicts the Marxist idea that a state will eventually “wither away.”[34] A state cannot wither away if it controls the economy and the culture that people need to live; such a state would have to allow them to function independently. This is what the U.S. Constitution created: separation of government, economy, and culture.

The weaknesses of the United States is not rooted in its original Constitution (except for its allowance of slaves and denial of a vote to women). The problems of social injustice relate to improper regulation of the economy and inadequate development of consciousness in its people. The “new man” that communists long to see cannot magically arise in people who are dependents of a state. To fulfill that goal, the “new man” would be a perfected individual who has attained second-tier conscious ness. Such “new men” would enact further checks, balances, and regulations in the government that protects against the selfish use of power or money that leads to corruption and harms others. They would also promote social programs that encourage the attainment of second-tier consciousness and become responsible and productive citizens.

Socialism and Second-Tier Consciousness

A state’s primary tool for human motivation is obedience through fear of punishment. This is because a state is a system of laws based on the use of force. Virtually by definition a state it is not the role of a state to make people self-sufficient and loving. A state is in the position to regulate people’s behavior. It can use this power either to oppress people and create a permanent underclass, or it can create an environment in which people can grow and develop into autonomous, prosperous, and loving individuals by removing laws that prevents them from attaining these goals.

However, the growth and development of individuals, and the society itself, is a product of the culture, which reflects the level of development of social consciousness. When first-tier social consciousness exists in the political leadership, corruption and oppression will be the natural consequence, because the leadership will not transcend their egos and serve themselves first. When first-tier consciousness reflects the society as a whole, it will produce individuals who, when elected to office, will behave with first-tier consciousness. Thus, for a democratic government to become less oppressive, its people need to attain second-tier consciousness. The US Founders understood this principle, which is reflected in the following quote from President John Adams:

We have no government capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.[35]

While the US Founders established many checks and balances on the political system to prevent corruption and abuse, over the years its weaknesses were exploited. Many of the amendments to the constitution, laws, rules of legislative process, and Supreme Court decisions that followed were rooted in first-tier consciousness, and they circumvented or removed important checks and balances on the use of power. However, a society with second-tier consciousness would have refined the system by adding further checks and balances on use of power. The dysfunction of the US political system today ultimately lies in first-tier consciousness that is reflected in the political parties, legislation, procedural rules, court decisions, and ultimately voter choices in elections. This is ultimately why “co-prosperity and common cause” does not exist in American society.

The Bolshevik Revolution did not create an independent economy or culture. With the CPSU acting with dictatorial power, there were no checks and balances in the governance system. While many idealists who believed in communism willingly sacrificed for the state, the system quickly devolved into Stalinist totalitarianism, and these idealists (which he called “useful idiots”) were killed. Many of the great buildings and roads of the Stalinist era were built with the forced labor of “criminals” who had been jailed for political offenses or independent thought. Second-tier conscious ness, if it was to develop in Russia at all, had to develop underground in the homes of individuals. While party leaders shopped in exclusive stores, the official economy often failed to deliver the basic needs of people. The black market, whether local bartering, production of goods at home during spare time, or an underground mafia with access to foreign goods, became an official part of the economy after the communist economy collapsed.

At their best, communist revolutions have thrown off evil oppressors. However, they have never created a governance system above the level that Gafurov described as the transformation stage, one level above traditional dictatorship. In the Soviet Union, the Communist Party members did everything possible to cling to power rather than allowing the state to wither away. China has proven more pragmatic, learning from the failures of central economic planning, state-run industries, and large collective farms. Since Deng Xiao Ping became the head economic advisor to the Chinese Communist Party in 1982, there has been more willingness to “transcend and include,” to understand “the forces of production.” Chinese economists openly study theories of Friedrich Hayek and conservative economists who are politically opposed to communism. The Party has allowed greater decentralization of the economy and private ownership of property and businesses. The number of middle-class owners, an important component of social development, is increasing. China is doing this at a time when governments in the West continue to try to centralize their power. However, the corruption spreading in China with this economic freedom still reflects widespread first-tier consciousness.

To attain “socialism” in Gafurov’s sense of the term, the Chinese people will need to attain second-tier consciousness. This means greater development of civil society. An independent civil society is a threat to any government. The extent to which the ruling party in China will allow civil society to develop remains to be seen. The number of Christians has grown to about 10 percent in the officially atheistic state, reflecting the desire by many to develop morally and spiritually. One method the Party currently uses to coerce loyalty is to withhold state welfare or medical services to Christians unless they replace images of Christ in the home with those of Li Jinping. While pluralists might call this coercion structural violence, the officially atheistic Communist Party sees this as a way of raising the consciousness of people who the Party thinks believe in Jesus to solve their problems instead of work for State goals.

Language and Second-Tier Consciousness

The highest expressions of first-tier consciousness involve recognition of the rights of others. However, the lowest expressions of second-tier consciousness is the exercise of responsibilities for others. Governments can protect rights, but they cannot force people to take responsibility; it is something people do voluntarily. Because socialist ideals describe a society in which people take responsibility for one another, their achievement requires second-tier consciousness.

Language is a reflection of culture, so one way to assess the level of social consciousness in a society is to evaluate the meanings of words. For example, the intent of people who use terms like “peace,” “justice,” and “jihad,” is a clue to understanding whether they have developed a second-tier consciousness. For those operating with first-tier consciousness the concept of “fight for peace” does not appear a contradiction. Whether it is “onward Christian soldiers,” slogans of the Red Army, or violent jihadism, the idea of creating peace and justice by killing the enemies of a group reveals a first-tier consciousness. This was the consciousness of The Prince described by Machiavelli, the lowest level of social development above anarchy.

Protestors who use words like “fighting for peace” reveal a first-tier consciousness, and their protests, boycotts, and strikes are intended as a form of force. This is a level above outright violence, but it still reflects use of power to attain desired ends at the expense of others. It is a form of war by other means, another form of gun. The fact that many Western communists refer to “fighting for peace,” and not “educating for peace,” or “loving for peace,” should show they are not ready to be trusted with political power.

Reverend Moon provided an explanation of the word “obedience” that reflects three stages of development of consciousness:

There are three types of obedience. One is just to obey whatever is told to you. The next type is to obey while always seeking to know God, Truth, and the why of things. The third type is obedience after knowing the heart of the Father.[36]

The third stage of obedience, “after knowing the heart of the Father,” is a religious expression pointing to taking responsibility to do what will satisfy a parental heart for the entire creation, with unending love toward every person, every living thing, Earth, and the entire cosmos. That expression refers to the obedience of second-tier consciousness, a consciousness required to underpin any viable form of socialism.

Interreligious Dialogue and Second-Tier Consciousness

Teachings of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and all the world’s great civilizations have ideals that point to a world of second-tier consciousness. Socialism, too, is a reflection of these ideals in modern scientific society that views traditional religions as based on myths and unjustifiable arguments. However, many of the teachings of religions are not simply myth. They arose through social evolution. They were adopted because they worked, and the civilizations that practiced them are the ones that exist today. Upon receiving his ICUS Founder’s prize from Rev. Moon, Frederick Hayek stated:

It is interesting that, among the founders of religions over the last two thousand years, many have opposed property and the family. But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Communism is both anti-property and anti-family—and also anti-religion. Yet it is, I believe, itself a religion which had its time, and which is now declining rapidly. We are watching in it how the natural selec tion of religious beliefs disposes of the maladapted.[37]

Interreligious dialogues and the search for values in the contemporary world cannot be productive if they merely seek to state common practices of first-tier consciousness. Religious “tolerance” is a symptom of first-tier consciousness because, while it grudgingly acknowledges the existence of other religions, it reveals an attachment to one’s own religion that resists group-transcendence. Individuals within the group may experience self-transcendence, but religious or ideological groups with doctrines, institutions, and economic bases rooted in first-tier consciousness are far more difficult to transform than an individual.

Second-tier group consciousness, not the mere comparison of traditions or the celebration of pluralism, should be a goal of interreligious dialogue. Ecumenical dialogue should seek the creation of a world civilization of peace, harmony, and prosperity in which all can be loved with uncondi tional divine love. Knowing the psychosocial bases of human development, religions should work together to find a way to provide a path for every person to reach second-tier consciousness and for the culture of every society to attain second-tier consciousness. For, only a society that has second-tier consciousness can be the natural womb for the development of such individuals. Social teachings should both enable followers to transcend current leaders and mark principled boundaries within which such development can take place without repeating the “fall,” to thereby re-create a society of first-tier consciousness.



The Bolshevik Revolution was a promise to create a scientific and just society with methods of inflamed anger and revolution. To one who understands the development of consciousness, this can be compared to asking an untrained child to create a Mona Lisa with a hammer. Marxism-Leninism was a political theory that essentially promised a Mona Lisa and asked everyone to use a hammer.

Both individuals and societies develop through evolutionary stages of growth and adaptation. Reactionary and revolutionary behavior are both products of first-tier consciousness, tied more to the instinct for survival than love and care for all. Ignorant of the principles of evolution of social consciousness, Marxism-Leninism only manifested a child or adolescent stage of development of consciousness. It was incapable of realizing the ideals of socialism that it promoted. Even though Marxism reflects the high development of cognitive skills, its psychosocial development only reached stage three of Erik Erikson’s eight stages of development.

Post-revolutionary states that destroy inherited social institutions are forced to begin over at the lowest stage of social development, starting with anarchy and moving to dictatorship. Such regimes are incapable of supporting large populations. They cause massive suffering, death, and large numbers of refugees. This happened in Russia, a very large territory covering eleven time zones, that despite its large tundra, could have a population density ranking much higher than 223 out of 241 countries.[38] By destroying social institutions rather than transforming them into something more just, communism ended up causing the deaths of millions of people.

Those who followed the revolutionaries were forced to reinvent many wheels, create new checks and balances on power, relearn principles of economic markets and the value of decentralization. All these need to be developed to create functional states that will support large populations.

The world today is full of struggles between reactionaries and revolutionaries; struggles between two forms of first-tier consciousness, and not an evolutionary social transformation that resolves problems when dissonance between reality and ideals is encountered. In the United States, the cultural wars between conservatives and liberals largely reflect naïve absolutisms of immature, first-tier political consciousness.

Respect for human rights, pluralism, and the rights of states in an international community reflect an upper level first-tier consciousness. This was part of the founding of the United Nations. However, until the United Nations can promote human responsibilities it will remain a social institution with a culture of first-tier consciousness. It will be unable to fulfill its mission until it becomes a social institution that reflects second-tier consciousness. Reverend Moon suggested that an “Able-type UN” that would have a council of religions. This would be a step forward, but today’s religions are largely operating from first-tier consciousness. An “Abel-type” UN is still not the “Heavenly Parent-type” UN that would evolve if all members of the interreligious council were operating with second-tier consciousness.

A truly socialist society, one of co-prosperity and common cause as described in the Divine Principle,[39] requires the supererogatory behavior that comes from second-tier consciousness. Such a socialist society has nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism, even though many communists sought those socialist ideals. This is because Marxism-Leninism attempted to abolish the very cultural and social institutions required foster second-tier consciousness, economic prosperity, and social justice.






[3] Myers, Ramon H.,“Property Rights, Economic Organization, and Economic Modernization,” in Reynolds, Bruce L. ed., Chinese Economic Policy: Economic Reform at Mid-stream, (NY: Paragon House, 1988), pp. 137-167



[6] Sun Myung Moon, Divine Principle, Chapter 1, Section 5 (New York: HSA-UWC, 1973), pp. 51-57

[7] The author is indebted to Brad Reynolds, author of Embracing Reality and Where’s Wilber At: Ken Wilber’s Vision in the New Millennium for his assistance in explaining Ken Wilber’s stages of development of consciousness.

[8] Source:

[9] Ibid

[10] McLeod, S. A. (2013). “Erik Erikson.” Retrieved from Erik-Erikson.html


[12] Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957.)

[13] Eliot Aronson, The Social Animal (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1960), p. 125

[14] Michael Washburn, The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development (State University of New York Press, 1988), p. v.

[15] Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow, pp. 190-191

[16] Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything, p. 43, 70

[17] “Graves’ Value Systems,” Vievolve,

[18] Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything (Boston: Shambhala, 2000),  pp. 17-30

[19] Nicholas Maxwell, Understanding Scientific Progress: Aim-Oriented Empiricism, (St. Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House, 2017).

[20] Dollard, John; Doob, Leonard W; Miller, Neal E; Mowrer, Orval Hobart; Sears, Robert R (1939). Frustration and Aggression. New Haven, CT, US: Yale University Press

[21] Mary Harris. “Mediators Between Frustration and Aggression in a Field Experiment,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13, (1979), pp. 183-194

[22] James Kulik and Roger Brown, “Frustration, Attribution of Blame and Aggression,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 (1966), pp/ 591-596

[23] Aronson, op. cit., p. 182

[24] “Statement on Violence,” International Journal on World Peace, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 90–92

[25] Mike Pinder, “Lost In A Lost World” in The Seventh Sojourn, by the Moody Blues

[26] Inanna Hamati-Ataya, “Introduction,” to Transcending Postmodernism by Morton A. Kaplan and Inanna Hamati-Ataya (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), p. 36

[27] Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (New York: Scribner’s, 1932).

[28] Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream...”, speech at the Washington Monument, August 28, 1963.

[29] Matt. 5:43-45

[30] Akmal Gafurov, “Seven Phases of Social Development: Politometrics instead of Political Alchemy,” International Journal on World Peace, vol. xxxiv, no. 1 (March 2017), pp. 9-43

[31] For a detailed explanation see, Gordon Anderson, “The Evolution of Social Consciousness and Modern Political Theory,” International Journal on World Peace, vol. xxxv, no. 1 (March 2018), pp. 27-62

[32] There is a section in the Divine Principle titled “Democracy and Socialism” in which they are not considered mutually exclusive, but democracy a political form to allow the will of the people, and socialism is related to the economy (Part II, Chapter 4, Sec. 6, pp. 441-444).

[33] Divine Principle, Part II, Chapter 4, (7), pp. 444-446

[34] The phrase “withering away of the state,” was actually coined by Engels in Anti-Dühring, Part 3, Chapter 2

[35] John Adams, “Letter to Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,” October 11, 1798.

[36] Sun Myung Moon, “Leader’s Address 5-1-65,” The Way of Tradition, vol. II (NY: HSA-UWC, 1980), p. 137

[37] F.A. Hayek, “The Presumption of Reason,” prepared in German for the plenary address of the 14th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, Houston, Texas, 1985 and translated by W.W. Bartley III


[39] Divine Principle states that “the communist world rose…in order to realize in advance, the ideal of the heavenly side before the Lord of the Second Advent establishes the ideal of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth under the principles of coexistence, coprosperity, and common cause.” This implies some form of socialism, but not the form the communists attempted to establish