Oh noes, indeed. What is it lately with all these otherwise decent independent news sites going over to the stinky? In the case of the latest from WW4 Report, it seems that a number of Tibetan prayer flags have landed on the eyes of the editors, blinding them to the obvious. They’ve gotten real snotty with their readers who take exception to them for uncritically publishing Nik Kozloff’s “revolutionary” hit piece on Chavecito.
In all the back-and-forth between the WW4R snotballs and those who rightly take them to task, I found this…
From Russ Hallberg, somewhere in cyberspace (who slugs his e-mail “don’t repudiate chavez”):
Hugo Chavez should be criticized for his support of China’s occupation of Tibet. However, Tibetan nationalists and the Dali Lama are backed by the CIA. It is unlikely a “free” Tibet would be anything more than a puppet for Western interests. Tibetan nationalism is a psyops to solicit the support of the US left for CIA agendas.
World War 4 Report replies: You know, that’s pretty paranoid, dude. But we’re heartened that at least you think Chávez should be criticized (if not “repudiated”).
…which made me wonder: Is it really paranoid to suspect such a thing, considering the CIA has had its tentacles around just about every anti-communist “freedom fighter” in the world since the end of World War II–many of them downright unsavory? In other words, could Russ Hallberg be onto something?
Well, Tim Boucher has found out that in fact, Russ Hallberg is not paranoid; he’s right. The CIA is backing the Dalai Lama. Why not? He’s a very useful tool to brandish against the “red menace”. And the fact that many well-meaning westerners are unaware of it is testimony to the blinding powers of organized religion and theocracy. All we see is poor oppressed Tibet, under the thumb of Chinese imperialism, struggling bravely to free itself in the name of religious freedom–and, supposedly, “democracy”. Who could be opposed to such a struggle–particularly we of the anti-imperialist left? And who wouldn’t feel like a shit to dare slaughter such a cherished sacred cow as the peace-loving, freedom-seeking image of the Dalai Lama?
What we don’t see, because we don’t want to and because someone has ensured that we won’t want to, is that Tibet, just like Russia, Ukraine and the WW4R editors’ other pet hate, Belarus, has no tradition of free democratic rulership. That’s right. None. The people of Tibet were serfs long before China annexed their country. The only difference is that previously, they were serfs to their “spiritual” leaders. The Dalai Lama is not elected by the masses, or even selected by an oligarchy (at least, not that anyone would cop to the fact); he’s allegedly reincarnated from every previous Dalai Lama that ever there was.
In fact, the monks who seek out the reincarnated one are an oligarchy, and a very rarified one at that, but their traditional high status renders them unquestionable. And their unquestioned “holiness” loses its lustre when you see how rich the monasteries are, and how poor by comparison is the average Tibetan–impoverished, as Boucher says, by the monks themselves.
But don’t take my word for it; the Green Left Weekly has the details:
The Tibetan “government'” in Lhasa was composed of lamas selected for their religious piety. At the head of this theocracy was the Dalai Lama. The concepts democracy, human rights or 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 their exploitative system would be maintained. Nine years later, only when they felt their privileges were threatened, did they revolt. Suddenly the words “democracy” and “human rights” entered the vocabulary of the government-in-exile, operating out of Dharamsala in India ever since.
Dharamsala and the Dalai Lama’s commitment to democracy seems weak. An Office of Tibet document claims “soon after His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India, he re-established the Tibetan Government in exile, based on modern democratic principles”. Yet it took more than 30 years for an Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies to be directly elected from among the 130,000 exiles. Of 46 assembly members, only 30 are elected. The other 16 are appointed by religious authorities or directly by the Dalai Lama.
All assembly decisions must be approved by the Dalai Lama, whose sole claim to the status of head of state is that he has been selected by the gods. The separation of church and state is yet to be recognised by the Dalai Lama as a “modern democratic principle”.
Imagine that–the Dalai Lama willingly handed Tibet over to Mao, and didn’t protest until he perceived his own authority to be under threat. So much for the myth of the brave freedom struggle. Tibet may as well be a Czarist monarchy. After all, the Czars and other royals used to claim a divine privilege, too.
One doesn’t have to be a Maoist to see that (and I’m most emphatically not; I’ve read Son of the Revolution, and I suggest you do too.) One has only to be willing to look past the sacredness and see the cow–dung and all. A sacred cow drops as much dung as any beast of pasture or barn. Treat the Dalai Lama to the same critical eye that you would Chairman Mao himself, and then you won’t go through the mental conflicts about Tibet that I have (and that a lot of other leftists are also finding themselves in).
Personally, I’ve always been secretly puzzled by the widespread and unquestioned fetish for Tibetan Buddhism. As a Wiccan and a longtime New Ager, I find that trend disturbing. Aside from all the names I can’t for the life of me pronounce, there are all those hells–through which the souls of all the dead must pass, no matter how much good they did in their lives. Why would a religion of compassion be so ridden with hellfire and demons? And what’s so compassionate about such an authoritarian rule here on Earth? If I wanted that, I’d just convert to fundamentalist Christianity. The only difference I can see, other than the language and the lack of saffron robes, is that the fundie-Christers don’t lay claim to reincarnation.
I’ve also long felt guilty for not owning any of those best-selling Buddhist books on compassion, pacifism, etc.–particularly the ones written by the Dalai Lama. But I think I can lay that guilt to rest now and realize that I’m not suffering from myopia; I’m rightly skeptical of sacred cows, ALL of them, including Buddhist gurus. Sacred cow, like revenge, is a dish best eaten cold, and I’ve just slaughtered a big one here.
Would that the WW4R editors could do the same, instead of falling straight into the CIA’s best-laid trap–the ahistorical fetish for Tibet.