The BBC carries a report the Dalai Lama's demand for "legitimate and meaningful autonomy" for Tibet in a message on the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He accuses China of having killed "hundreds of thousands of his people" and that Tibet's religion, culture, language and identity were "nearing extinction" and that Chinese development was devastating the Tibetan environment and way of life.
China counters by claiming its troops freed Tibetans from slavery in a feudal society and is planning to mark 28 March - the day in 1959 on which the Communist Party dissolved the existing local government in Tibet - as Serfs' Emancipation Day.
We can expect much sympathetic reporting of the plight of the Tibetan people and the glorification of the saintly Dalai Lama . But actual in depth reporting we should not expect .
The Socialist Standard has carried an article that endeavours to dispel some of the myths concerning Tibet .
The Dalai Lama has in the past proposed that Tibet “should become the planet's largest natural, reserve”, and that the country “could return to the simple life of its ancestors”. However , the article held out no such hope . Tibet is now wholly an integral component of the world market, capitalist, system. There can be no turning back to the “simple life” of feudalism.
Nor should the darker side of the the Dalai Lama be forgotten . In 1996 he announced a ban on the worship of a Buddhist deity called Dorje Shugden, declaring somewhat vaguely that he had discovered Shugden to be a "Chinese" spirit who was somehow physically threatening both his own life and the future of Tibet. He declared this ban not only in his capacity as a "spiritual leader", but as head of a government-in-exile. Those refusing to accept the ban on Shugden have accordingly been labelled as enemies of the state and Chinese agents . actions taken against those refusing to comply with the deity ban have included the dismissal of all such dissidents from government employment and the report that the residents of at least one monastery were "persuaded" to sign forms in support of the ban by the presence of Indian state police. Some 300 cases of house arrest, destruction of personal property, and harassment by Dalai Lama supporters have been reported, including one case of a family being forced from their home by a large crowd, which petrol bombed and ransacked their house. In addition posters denouncing religious dissidents have become commonplace in Tibetan exile communities. These notices generally include the name, address and photo of the particular "enemy of the state" and the schools their children attend. It is little wonder that many of the exiles have become refugees all over again. Al Jazeera asked one of the Tibetan government in exile members of parliament whether there had been any parliamentary debate about Dorje Shugden. He replied that there had been no debate simply because there was no opposition, adding "We do not have any doubt about Dalai Lama's decisions. We do not think he is a human being. He's a supreme human being and he is god." Theocratic democracy in action !! Any criticism of the Dalai Lama is immediately labelled as being pro-China, which effectively makes the dissenter an outcast in Tibetan society.
We should also take with a big pinch of salt the Dalai Lama's apparent attraction to Marxism but some truths exists within his pronouncements .
Q: You have often stated that you would like to achieve a synthesis between Buddhism and Marxism. What is the appeal of Marxism for you?
A: Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes--that is, the majority--as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.
As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers' International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.
I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.
The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.The Dali Lama is quoted as saying
Elsewhere he reveals his misunderstanding of Marxism , confusing it with some form of state capitalism
“I am a Marxist monk, a Buddhist Marxist,” said the Dalai Lama while delivering a lecture on ‘Ethics and Business’ at the Indian Institute of Management here on Friday. Addressing the audience, consisting mostly of management students, he added: “I belong to the Marxist camp,” he said, “because unlike capitalism, Marxism is more ethical. Marxism, as an ideology, takes care of the welfare of its employees and believes in distribution of wealth among the people of the state.”