The Dalai Lama and the plight of Tibet has become very fashionable amongst many liberals – especially the Hollywood elite, which has meant there’s been a spate of films such as Kundun, Seven years in Tibet, and Red Corner. A better film, of course, can be seen on youtube: Penn and Teller’s 5-minute ‘Bullshit’ deconstruction of the Dalai Lama and his liberal western supporters. We learn that In struggling to restore the Dalai Lama these Hollywood humanitarians and their liberal counterparts are hoping to reinstall a feudal mode of production and a religious oligarchy that served only to exploit and oppress the people of Tibet. [Read more below]
For these people, Tibet serves as the archetypal spiritual place where people live simply and in accordance with the religious teaching of Buddhist monks headed by the peace-loving Dalai Lama. This imagined paradise has been trampled under the boots of Chinese communist oppression. While there shouldn’t be any sympathy for the Chinese government, the actions of these Hollywood types and the "Friends of Tibet" are even worse. Consciously or not, these liberal humanitarians are attempting to reinstall a feudal mode of production and a religious oligarchy that served only to exploit and oppress the people of Tibet. People should remember that prior to 1949, Tibet was governed by a religious aristocracy with the Dalai Lama, the god king, presiding over the government. Next in line was the Panchen Lama. The Tibetan government in Lhasa was composed of lamas selected for their religious piety. The charter of law provided no rights for women. The clergy were among the biggest landlords, one monastery near Lhasa owned estates with some 25,000 serfs. The monasteries were supported by contributions from the nobility which means, ultimately, by the labour of the peasants. The concepts of democracy, human rights and universal education were unknown.
The Dalai Lama and the majority of the elite agreed to give away Tibet's de facto independence in 1950 once they were assured by Beijing that their oppressive theocratic political system and the exploitative semi-feudal economic system would be maintained. Nine years later, only when they felt their privileges were threatened by a tax from Beijing, did the elite manage to win some poor Tibetans to their cause and stage a revolt.
Prior to the outbreak of the revolt the Dalai Lama issued an appeal for gold and jewels in order to build himself another throne which he claimed would rid Tibet of "bad omens." 120 tons of gold and jewelry were collected and over 60 tons preceded the Dalai Lama on his flight to India in 1959. Between 1956 and 1972 the CIA armed and trained Tibetan guerillas and provided an annual subsidy of $1.7 million dollars throughout the sixties. Before the 1959 uprising, the CIA parachuted arms and trained guerillas into eastern Tibet. The Dalai Lama maintained radio contact with the CIA during his 1959 escape to India.
This Lama has no problem aligning himself and his 'cause' with the largest imperialist power in the world, while cynically dragging along a whole bunch of well meaning pacifists and hippies in his wake. This he does in the name of human rights. This same Lama has no compunction in declaring divergent Buddhists heretics for following the wrong saint, who, he claims, is actually a demon.
I’m not the only that sick of the Dalai Lama. Over at Spanblather, Span asks ‘what's so fabbo about shaking the hand of a man who wants to return Tibet to a repressive theocratic state?... I'm not convinced that having the country run by misogynistic priests is really the best alternative.’ Maia is in agreement, saying ‘I am so sick of the sort of hippie liberal who says stuff like "The Dalai Lama is so wise and spirtual, and so we must support Tibet's independence from China.’ For an ‘alternative’ view, of course, check out the official Tibet site: http://www.tibet.com
(With thanks to Lynda Kearns of revolution magazine)