This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.
Slavemaster Dalai Lama has his say
Kundun: The Amazing Story of the 14th Dalai Lama
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
This film is essentially an autobiography of the Dalai Lama, spiritual
and political leader of feudal Tibet. Predictably, it paints the Dalai
Lama as a reformer, and the People's Liberation Army as horrible
oppressors. Like in "Seven Years in Tibet" we see that the Dalai Lama
had very little contact with the common people of Tibet. The film
repeatedly shows the Tibetan Court trying to keep the Dalai Lama in
the dark about various political matters (palace intrigue, the
existence of Tibetan prisons and the Tibetan army). (Lest some of MIM
Notes' readers who saw the film be confused, we deduce that the Dalai
Lama was born into a family of the lower nobility and not into a serf
family. We base this on comparison of dress.)
If MIM was to make a film about Tibet, would base it on the lives of
the majority of the population not on the top leader. Such a film
would focus on the hard work and low standard of living of the serfs
compared to the nobility. Perhaps we would focus on the former slave
woman who became the leader of Tibet after the Dalai Lama fled. Or
maybe we would tell the story of this former serf:
"I think I was not much different from a yak or any other draft animal
for I could not read or write a word and knew nothing at all. For
generations my family belonged to a big serf-owner who had five
hundred families of serfs, working both in farming and in livestock. I
wore the same sheepskin winter and summer and it was my only garment.
It was so old that there was no wool on it anymore nor any warmth but
only plenty of lice. I was always hungry."(1)
MIM has no reason to doubt this portrayal of the Dalai Lama's
knowledge of what was really going on in Tibet. However, our beef has
never been with the individual responsibility of the Dalai Lama, but
rather with the slave society he represents. In the almost 50 years
since the Dalai Lama took office, he has yet to denounce past serfdom
or even say that restoring the Dalai Lama regime will not mean
restored slavery for the Tibetan masses.
In the film, when Dalai Lama flees to India, he laments the timing of
the Chinese "invasion" because his reforms were just about to take
place. MIM has seen no evidence that the Dalai Lama was or is aware of
the scope of the changes that were necessary.
This film was interesting to MIM in that it portrayed significant
changes in how the Dalai Lama tells his history. The film says that
the Dalai Lama did not approve the 1951 agreement for the "Peaceful
Liberation of Tibet", which set forth the a slow pace of reforms by
which the nobility would give political power to the masses.
Between 1951 and 1959, there were several rebellions of the nobility.
In 1959, 4 of the 6 kaloons (wealthy noblemen) in the kasha (Cabinet
of Ministers) united in rebellion. The rebellion failed because the
Tibetan people did not support it. According to the Dalai Lama at the
time, he was kidnapped and forced into exile. As MIM Theory 8 wrote,
this claim was suspicious because the Dalai Lama refused an offer of
the Chinese Communist Party to return to power. Instead, the Dalai
Lama remained in India and denounced the 1951 Agreement. This allowed
the Chinese Communist Party to abandon the slow pace of the 1951
Agreement and instead speed up it's reforms. In the film the story is
changed, the Dalai Lama plays no role in the rebellions--which are
only discussed in the context of rejected CCP requests for the Dalai
Lama to stop the rebellions--but willingly flees to India.
In the film, we see a scene were Mao says to the Dalai Lama in a
private meeting that "religion is poison." The only evidence MIM has
of this meeting is the Dalai Lama's word for it, but this is not an
incorrect statement even though it is clearly put in the movie to make
Mao look bad. Religion most definitely is a poison used to dupe the
masses into accepting their class based societies. Even in the film,
we see the young Dalai Lama learning the Buddhist justifications for
suffering. Instead of blaming the nobility for their poverty, the serf
system wanted the people to blame their ancestors. Instead of making a
revolution and carrying out land reform, Buddhism wants the people to
focus on their next reincarnation.
Communists should and do propagandize against religion as a part of
the old oppressive society. The sentence "religion is poison" was
difficult for most Amerikan audiences to grasp and for that reason MIM
carries out much more extensive educational work around this issue.
On a related point, the Dalai Lama has a number of nightmares in the
film. In one, he is standing, surrounded by the bleeding bodies of
hundreds or thousands of dead monks. This was a dream and never
happened. One dream, however, MIM suspects and hopes did happen. In
this dream, a People's Liberation Army general pays a visit to the
Dalai Lama and tells him stories about his own oppression as a peasant
in another part of China. Telling stories like this is a useful way to
get people to make connections to larger issues than their own
circumstances. But for the Dalai Lama, listening to the story of a
peasant's poverty--even one who lived a thousand miles away--is a
nightmare that must be awoken from immediately.
Note: Anna Louise Strong, Tibetan Interviews. New World Press: Peking,
1959, p. 30.