[Translators: Please note, this is a work in progress.]
MIM believes there was no reason for Tibetan independence under the rule of Mao Zedong from 1949 to 1976. Today we would favor an independent socialist Tibet, but that is not on the agenda, and we believe most of the "Free Tibet" movement leaders we hear from would rule Tibet even worse than the regime in Beijing does.
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The general points to remember about Tibet, China and Maoism are: (1) for 700 years prior to the Chinese Revolution, no country had recognized Tibet as an independent country: this was not a new thing of Maoism to call Tibet a part of China; (2) as Maoists, MIM recognizes the right of the Tibetan people to national self-determination, including the desire to be free of current state-captialist repression; (3) prior to Liberation, Tibet was a feudalist country with the pious Dalai Lama as chief feudal lord and a slaveowner -- his family alone owned 4,000 humyns. For all of these reasons, it is important to ask which Tibetans are appointed as the spokespeople for the nation in the reports that you read. The Dalai Lama's slaves viewed the Chinese Communists in quite a different light from the Dalai Lama himself.
It is indeed true that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) repressed the "culture" of feudalism in which people were treated "no better than a yak," and that those who had owned people as property were indeed stripped of this property. MIM has dealt elsewhere with the Chinese practice of Thought Reform -- which includes our own and other Maoist parties' practice of criticism and self-criticism. Thought Reform is no more or less than the formal recognition that thoughts and ideologies are formed by and reflect the economic base. Naturally the new Tibetan government sought to eradicate feudal thinking that supported viewing humyns as property and seeing some people as more worthy of being able to eat than others. Similarly, rather than being warehoused in prisons as those who go against the grain of imperialism are today, spies in China were reformed in their thinking and returned to their home countries. See Allyn and Adele Ricketts' book Prisoners of Liberation for the peaceful methods that were used to persuade these two former spies to respect the national sovereignty of China, and to see the lives of Chinese, Koreans and other nationalities as being as important as their own.
The following is from a FAQ portion sometimes deleted. Among other places, it can be obtained at: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/tibet-faq/
"The following account was written by Sir Charles Bell, who was the British administrator for Chumbi Valley in 1904-05. At that time, Chumbi Valley was under British occupation pending payment by Tibet of an indemnity which resulted from the Younghusband Expedition of 1904.
"'Slaves were sometimes stolen, when small children, from their parents. Or the father and mother, being too poor to support their child, would sell it to a man, who paid them _sho-ring_, "price of mother's milk," brought up the child and kept it, or sold it, as a slave. These children come mostly from south-eastern Tibet and the territories of the wild tribes who dwell between Tibet and Assam.' [Bell24]
"Although the CCP cites slavery as a justification for liquidating the Dalai Lama's government, the practice was by no means confined to Tibet. It is estimated that in 1930 there were about 4 million child slaves in China proper."
Check the source for this history: Bell, Charles, Tibet: Past and Present, Oxford, 1924, pp. 78-79.
The importance of this source to MIM is two-fold: 1) it is commonly available in Tibet Internet FAQ material. 2) It comes from a book published well before the Chinese Revolution and Mao's rule of 1949 to 1976.
We find the FAQ itself to be apologist for slavery. It's not relevant that China also had slaves. No one should compare national cultures in this way.
"Everywhere I went, I was accompanied by a retinue of servants"--Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile (NY: HarperPerennial edition, 1991), p. 2.
"The relationship between landlord and serf was much milder in Tibet than in China and conditions for the poor were much less harsh."--Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile (NY: HarperPerennial edition, 1991), p. 101.
"'Did many lamas join the Red Army?' I inquired.
"'No, but many young monks joined the Red Army when it came.'
"'How do you like the British?' was my next question.
"'British imperialism is very bad in Tibet,' was the answer. 'And the lamas work with the British instead of standing for Tibetan independence.'"
(Helen Foster Snow, Inside Red China (1939) (NY: De Capo Paperback reprint, 1979), p. 159.)
This is a very important historical snippet. Before Mao came to power, before today's Dalai Lama and the conflicts with the Mao-era communists, there were Tibetans active in the communist revolutionary movement.
The young Dalai Lama did not participate in the revolution and in fact eventually resisted it. That is what is relevant--the record of political action to abolish slavery. Mao's communist movement organized against slavery. The Dalai Lama and his supporters including groups such as Amnesty International have yet to make a clean recognition of the fact of slavery in Tibet. We fear that if he and his followers returned to power, they would restore slave practices in the guise of Buddhist mumbo-jumbo.
It is rare that the head of an institution that has been overthrown can recognize his or her own responsibility for holding back progress. The Dalai Lama is one of those people, who cannot quite summon the self-critical honesty to lead Tibet forward; although the Dalai Lama is not as bad as some Amerikkkans in the South still in denial about the U.S. Civil War and slavery. Let's not forget that Attorney General Ashcroft supports flying the Confederate Flag and President Bush refused to speak against it in the South Carolina primary in 2000.
One last point about the history before the victory of Mao's revolution: in 1943, the Rand McNally atlas showed Tibet as part of China. In 1943, the British Embassy sought only "local autonomy" for Tibet within China. At that time, the United $tates was supporting the corrupt mass-murderer General Chiang Kai-shek to rule China. Chiang Kai-shek wrote in China's Destiny that Tibet was part of China. Amerikkkans only turned around after the communists won. In general, the Western support of Tibetan independence is ignorant and opportunist. It is ridiculous to say China "invaded" Tibet in 1950 or 1959 when a few years earlier, the United $tates was itself supporting Tibet as being part of China.
"It cannot be said that the United States ever offered to send the Dalai Lama any foreign aid, technicians or even moral support when he was a subject of Kuomintang China." (Edgar Snow, Red China Today (NY: First Vintage Books edition, 1971), p. 561.)
The history of Tibet after 1949 but before the Dalai Lama left is very important. Of course one of the first actions of the communists was to build a road into Tibet.
French feminist author Simone de Beauvoir visited China and published some information on Tibet in 1958.
*Tibet had 2.8 million people.
*"Buddhism is respected out of consideration for Tibet."
*"Elementary schools have been set up in Tibet , a people's bank which grants interest-free loans to farmers, loans at interest ot merchants and artisans; the state purchasing agency buys Tibetan wool."
(The Long March, NY: The World Publishing Company, 1958, p. 367)
The same author gives us accounts of various Buddhist buildings, Moslem mosques and other places of worship being restored by the communists.
Thus far, MIM has quoted no official communist sources for what happened in Tibet. We are well aware that the various partisans of the "Free Tibet" movement are generally too anti-communist to be rational about communist sources. We have not mentioned the torture enacted by monks against junior monks and the people at-large. Nor did we mention that the Dalai Lama had thousands of serfs and over one hundred house slaves.
We simply settle for presenting Western historians and divergences of opinion amongst Tibetans, since most of the "free Tibet" movement is simply Western nationalist pride and anti-communism with little to do with what actually has happened in Tibet. The ones proclaiming "human rights" the loudest are the ones doing the most to condone slavery and serfdom.
The Dalai Lama himself in this period made a number of progressive statements that the Communist Party of China simply quoted in 1959 when reactionary statements made on his behalf started appearing in India. The Dalai Lama even wrote a hymn to Mao Zedong and compared him to Brahma. In fact the Dalai Lama had asked to join the Communist Party in these years. "His Holiness" later changed his mind.
"The more I looked at Marxism, the more I liked it. . . .I felt sure, as I still do, that it would be possible to work out a synthesis of Buddhist and pure Marxist doctrines that really would prove to be an effective way of conducting politics." (Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile (NY: HarperPerennial edition, p. 90.)
"Every time I saw Mao, he inspired me again." (Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile (NY: HarperPerennial edition, p. 90.)
Although this period of time was a relatively good one in Tibet's relationship to the rest of China, clouds were already on the horizon. MIM has some very rude questions for the Buddhists and Free Tibet movement people: 1) Who was the lama Rabchen? 2) Who killed him, Han Chinese? 3) Why did the attacker kill him?
We are aware that the Dalai Lama does not like the interpretation that there are "living Buddhas." Despite this detail, we believe he should be able to answer questions about people who are sometimes called "living Buddhas." MIM has three very rude questions for the Buddhists and Free Tibet movement people: 1) Who was "Living Buddha Geda"? 2) How did he die? 3) Why is there not a single pro-Dalai Lama or "Free Tibet" website as of March 16, 2002 that mentions him while there is a proliferation of Tibet material in general on the web?
MIM attempts to address directly what people are saying about Tibet. MIM has noticed a pattern of evasion and deletion on the part of the "Free Tibet" movement. As an example, we point to the Dalai Lama's website, and the following document: Robert Ford was a member of the English air force and a self-admitted member of the British embassy radio team--a prime candidate to be considered an "intelligence" officer. Yet his statement on the Dalai Lama's page does not mention the position of the English government at the time he was there--namely that Tibet was not independent. Nor does his statement mention his imprisonment or lama Geda or "living Budda Geda." We leave our readers to complete this exercise of answering the questions. The Dalai Lama has not.
Although the Dalai Lama has not done anything to oppose slavery and serfdom in Tibet, he does believe some of his colleagues were to blame in the most momentous events of the Tibetan civil war in 1959. We find it astonishing that Western "Free Tibet" activists do not even know that the Dalai Lama accepted that blame and for most of his life did not support "independence" of Tibet. Dalai Lama, March 10, 2002: "I am not seeking independence"
The civil war came to a head in March, 1959 with the departure of the Dalai Lama himself to India. CIA weapons shipments were not able to save the reactionary pro-serfdom rebels in Tibet. A number of U.$. spies lost their lives in China. "Although there was no talk at this time of an armed struggle against the Chinese, my brothers, unbeknown to me, had already made contact with the American Central Intelligence Agency. Apparently, the Americans felt that it was worthwhile to provide limited assistance to the Tibetan freedom fighters, not because they cared about Tibetan independence, but as part of their worldwide efforts to destabilise all Communist governments. To this end they undertook to supply a limited amount of simple weaponry to the freedom fighters by airdrop." (Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile (NY: HarperPerennial edition, pp. 121-2)
Another thing the CIA-sponsored movement does not like to talk about in detail is that the other "living Buddha," the Panchen Lama decided to throw his lot in with the Chinese communists in 1959. He had re-entered Tibet with the Red Army in the victorious revolution and later stayed there when the Dalai Lama left. Only later did the Panchen Lama fall out with the communists. Again, this goes to show how much Tibetans including a "living Buddha" vary in their opinions. So much for a timeless spirituality that needs to be preserved with urgent CIA military actions and a "Free Tibet" movement.
We find that the "Free Tibet" movement in the West does not even read the Dalai Lama very carefully. He does not support independence, but a number of movement activists seek it. The Dalai Lama opposed CIA intervention, but the CIA went ahead. In March 1959, he asked for Tibetan demonstrators to disperse at the crucial moments, but not all of them did and the Dalai Lama found himself backed into a corner by his own "supporters" who he felt were making the situation worse. While the Dalai Lama mentions Han Chinese repression he does not mention Tibetans killed by Tibetans at all. The problem for the Dalai Lama is the nature of his supporters--including those who have killed people close to the Dalai Lama that he does not mention. Either the Dalai Lama is a party to these murders or he is afraid of his own supporters.
One of the standard propaganda tours that the Buddhists give people is that there are "destroyed" monasteries in Tibet. What they do not show you is who destroyed the monasteries. Sure, look at the bullet holes in the walls. Who shot them? The Chinese will say people carried out "excesses" during the Cultural Revolution and the Tibetan reactionaries will say that it was Han Chinese "invaders."
Tibet is not unlike other places despite the strong need for fantasy by Westerners who would like to think of a place that is unchanged, exotic and yet spiritual. Violent struggles surrounded the end of slavery and feudalism. That includes Tibetan landlords who killed Tibetan lamas, not to mention slaves or serfs.
The Dalai Lama shows himself to be in denial mode when he only stresses the comparison of Chinese and Tibetan culture while saying Tibetan slavery was "milder" than Chinese slavery. From a scientific point of view, this is not a Han Chinese vs. Tibetan question, because slaves and serfs have existed amongst the societies constituting the majority of the world's population--in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. It is narrow provincialism to be arguing about where slavery was milder. The point is to abolish it.
It may serve the spiritual needs of many Westerners to believe Tibetan Buddhism is superior to what Mao brought to Tibet, but such wishful thinking ignores the fact that Tibet was an isolated, poor and uneducated place. Full integration into China should be presumed in Tibet's interest in ordinary capitalist times. When it comes to abolishing slavery and serfdom, if Mao had been Tibetan, we would have supported him just the same. It hardly matters if Tibetans are more advanced or Chinese more advanced: from the vantage point of the Marxist scientist, slavery has to be abolished.
Tibet is not the first place where people have fought to free themselves of oppressive religions, but it is one of the remote places in the world where Westerners can easily conjure up images of a completely united and unchanging spiritual people. MIM would remind readers that Tibetans are people just like any other. Some are for religion and some opposed. Some would happily serve as the Dalai Lama's slaves, but others fought tooth-and-nail against Tibetan slavery and serfdom. Under Mao Zedong, the head of the Communist Party in Tibet was a former Tibetan slave.
There are pictures of Tibetan slaves and formerly tortured lamas in training in a book by an American journalist Anna Louise Strong titled When Serfs Stood up in Tibet. The Maoists in China knew that Amerikkkans faced heavy brainwashing, so they invited an Amerikkkan to tour Tibet and then they made her book an officially sanctioned explanation of what is going on in Tibet.
The same Dalai Lama continued to live after the death of Mao in 1976. China became capitalist, and much of what it does is no better than what the "Free Tibet" movement wants.
Now that China is clearly profit-run, the rulers have rushed to build Buddhist temples all over China for internal business purposes and to attract tourist dollars. Far from opposing religion, the regime has allowed a religious big business to arise just as in other capitalist countries. Nonetheless, we see the huge U.$. propaganda machine at work talking how the Han Chinese "destroying" the monasteries, temples etc. Quite the contrary, the Chinese are building the temples bigger than ever before and making lots of money. Neither the Buddhists nor the Chinese capitalists will point that out.
MIM believes the people of Tibet and China should cooperate economically under capitalism and not fight. That means that if the World Bank supports Han Chinese settlement into Tibet, we should not oppose it either! It's not a question of national culture, but one of economic survival. There is plenty of land in Tibet. The real question is economic development.
If the Tibetans take up Maoism, we support their evicting the Dengist regime from Tibet. If on the other hand Han Chinese return to socialism, they should oppose the "Free Tibet" movement and struggle to make sure Tibet progresses socially and economically. Either way there will be Tibetans and Han Chinese inclined to the Maoist road and there will be those who want capitalism or something even more backward.
When there is socialism and no economic motive, it is not appropriate to speak of "imperialism." People in socialist countries may retain old national chauvinist ideas instead of communist ideas, but under socialism the economic force giving such ideas life is losing ground. Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, where entire countries live off of others thanks to a particular economic system. It is not imperialism for poor people of one ethnicity to cross fictional borders and live with poor people of another ethnicity. MIM has no use for the national hatreds amongst the world's oppressed, poor or exploited. On the other hand, the CIA and U.$. government in general has now for two generations stirred up useless hatreds amongst the peoples of China.
With China capitalist now, the possibility exists for Han Chinese to really exploit the Tibetans. However, the "Free Tibet" movement wants to increase exploitation even more to make Tibet a semi-colony of the United $tates, England and the rest of the "West."
Anna Louise Strong
When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet (147 megabytes)