About I month ago I came across Stalin’s Moustache, an eccentric and entertaining blog where professor Roland Boer engages in critical play. In this post on the Dalai Lama, Boer says something that would go over like a lead balloon in Boulder or Berkeley:
The Dalai Lama and Tibetan ‘Independence’. This media tart and charlatan is, of course, another winner of the Nobel imperial gong. Tibet is a cause célèbre among hand-wringing liberals, chardonnay socialists and a USA increasingly worried about their cracking and crumbling influence. But what does it mean to support Tibetan ‘independence’?
It is worth noting that in 1951, Tibet’s political leaders decided to join the P.R. China. They accepted ‘regional national autonomy’ status – as other areas – and agreed to carry out some reforms. In turn the new Chinese communist government agreed not to abolish the powers of Tibet’s religious leaders or to impose reforms by force. Soon enough, however, these leaders found that their traditional forms of rule – in which a gaggle of otiose aristocrats, ‘spiritual’ leaders and exploiters kept the majority in servile and brutal poverty – were being eroded. So in 1959 this feudal rump, under the Dalai Lama, led a revolt, which was quickly put down by Chinese forces. However, the main reason it failed was that the common people simply didn’t want to support this bunch of thugs. So the Dalai Lama took his ragtag bunch of the dispossessed ruling class and skipped across the border to India and pretended to be the Tibetan government ‘in exile’.
But how did the revolt really come about? Back in 1956, the regime in Taiwan was providing significant ‘aid’ – in arms, money and training – to Tibetan rebels. You can guess the source of that ‘aid’. Already in 1949, the USA gave some Tibetan leaders US$75 million to ‘defend’ their country. In 1950, Tibetan ‘goodwill missions’ went to the USA, UK and India to ‘discuss’ Tibetan independence. From then on, a regular flow of ‘aid’ went to Tibet and the feudal pretenders around the Dalai Lama, via India, while the CIA trained Tibetan saboteurs in Colorado. When parachuted back into Tibet, they were spectacularly unsuccessful.
You can bet that such ‘encouragement’ of Tibetan ‘independence’ has not abated today.
I don’t know much about Tibet or its political history so can’t comment on this aspect of Boer’s rant. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if his comments about spiritual-religious politics are on the money or close to the mark. If so, the transformation and re-branding of Tibetan Buddhism (and the Dalai Lama) for purposes of Western consumption are nothing short of genius.