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Friday, April 11, 2008

Tibetan Feudalism

Go here for a very good left analysis of historical Tibetan feudalism. Here's an snippet:

One common complaint among Buddhist followers in the West is that Tibet’s religious culture is being undermined by the Chinese occupation. To some extent this seems to be the case. Many of the monasteries are closed, and much of the theocracy seems to have passed into history. Whether Chinese rule has brought betterment or disaster is not the central issue here. The question is what kind of country was old Tibet. What I am disputing is the supposedly pristine spiritual nature of that pre-invasion culture. We can advocate religious freedom and independence for a new Tibet without having to embrace the mythology about old Tibet. Tibetan feudalism was cloaked in Buddhism, but the two are not to be equated. In reality, old Tibet was not a Paradise Lost. It was a retrograde repressive theocracy of extreme privilege and poverty, a long way from Shangri-La.

Finally, let it be said that if Tibet’s future is to be positioned somewhere within China’s emerging free-market paradise, then this does not bode well for the Tibetans. China boasts a dazzling 8 percent economic growth rate and is emerging as one of the world’s greatest industrial powers. But with economic growth has come an ever deepening gulf between rich and poor. Most Chinese live close to the poverty level or well under it, while a small group of newly brooded capitalists profit hugely in collusion with shady officials. Regional bureaucrats milk the country dry, extorting graft from the populace and looting local treasuries. Land grabbing in cities and countryside by avaricious developers and corrupt officials at the expense of the populace are almost everyday occurrences. Tens of thousands of grassroot protests and disturbances have erupted across the country, usually to be met with unforgiving police force. Corruption is so prevalent, reaching into so many places, that even the normally complacent national leadership was forced to take notice and began moving against it in late 2006.

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  • Objectively, it seems a system of feudalism and theocracy in old Tibet benefited high lamas and other upper classes, while the ordinary people (the overwhelming majority) were subjugated and the Buddhist religion was abused in a cynical manner to maintain control of the masses. The Chinese eliminated some evils perpetuated by the old theocracy, while committing their own form of new evils. The point is that old Tibet was no paradise. The Chinese commmitted their own atrocities on the land of Tibet. It's not a case of evil replacing "good" because the old order in Tibet in many ways was much worse than the communist oppression that replaced it. Read Michael Parenti's well researched article. I found it by googling feudalism and Tibet. Politics and religion when combined it seems are a universal a force of oppression, which is wrapped in "spirtual" justification. The Dharma is profoundly good, but not all those in power have used the Dharma for the benefit of all beings.

    By Blogger Jim Emerson, At 6:33 pm  

  • Religion is human fantasy..

    1. farm age... land/land/land....all lived on the land..

    2. INUSTRIAL AGE: cars/airplanes/ rockets / electricity/ electronics.

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 9:52 am  

  • Gorgeous!

    By Anonymous Toby, At 5:22 am  

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