Recent stirrings in Tibet bring up an opportunity to expose the white-washed history of that part of the world presented in the imperialist countries, and could potentially help build the multinational anti-imperialist movement in China. But there is much interference on the part of the oppressor nations that threaten genuine people's movements there.
The disproportionate attention paid to Tibet by the bourgeois press is a product of a decades long campaign by the CIA to destabilize China, dating back to when the country was a stronghold of socialism in the world. Today, China's rise towards an imperialist competitor keeps the Tibet card a useful one in the hands of a meddling Uncle $cam.
The imperialists are encouraging divisions within China, nothing new there in the last 50 years. But why are amerikkkans, in the name of humyn rights, waving the Tibetan flag and demanding change in China? More importantly, why are these same white people not waving the flag of the Lakota people who recently declared sovereignty from a state that actually committed large-scale land grabbing and genocide against them? Why are these same white people not crying out at the injustice of a system that imprisons young Black men at rates far above any other country in humyn history?
Last year the China scare was about toy safety, not Tibetan humyn rights. Amerikkkans fear Chinese toys, just like they fear Mexican labor and work hard to secure their share of stolen Aztlán by militarizing the border with Mexico and filling u$ prisons with Mexican citizens. Is it any wonder that only 10% of Mexicans have a positive view of the United States? (1)
As upper class Tibetan wimmin stated in 1960, "Those people in Tibet who talked about 'independence' always had some foreign connections. Why do so many British and American writers concern themselves with Tibetan 'independence.' Is it for the good of the Tibetans or for their own good?" (Strong, p. 113) This question remains very relevant today. And while we cannot give a good analysis, nor less offer short-term solutions, for the conflicts between Tibetans and Uighurs and Hans in China today, we can warn against those who have the historical honesty to condemn Tibetan feudalism, but will fuel the flames of conflict between the various peoples of China.
With the largest population of any country, China is still a predominately peasant society with a rapidly growing proletariat. The interests of these oppressed classes are the same; in opposition to the current capitalist regime and to foreign imperialism. Teaming up with foreign intelligence agencies to pit one group of oppressed against another does not liberate anyone. Anti-Han propaganda was the tool of the slave owners in the 1950s, and to this day remains beneficial to those who wish to exploit all the people of China.
Popular calls taken up by the white nationalists in relation to Tibet are those of local control and preserving the culture. New Age hippies claim to feel spiritual connections to the cultures of the Himalayan region with little regard to whether the people who live there are better off or not. It is hard to see what they find so appealing about the worship of god-kings, the starvation of serfs and the physical torture of humyn slaves that made up the social systems of Tibet and Nepal in the 20th century. But white people will vehemently defend the "right" of these cultures to stay frozen in time. In commentary on a BBC article on Tibet today, a Kanadian writes about the inherently peaceful nature of the people of Tibet, ignoring decades of history of struggle against starvation, oppression and torture. Unlike this Kanadian, we do not believe that races exist, nor that some are born more peaceful than others, we believe all people strive for peace and will resist when they are oppressed.
Today, the construction of the railway through Tibet is one topic of controversy, with opponents saying it will only help exploit the region and will not benefit the people. This is a likely outcome in a capitalist country that has fully developed into its role as the sweatshop and dumping ground for the First World. But isolation and localism is not the answer, despite the hippies' dreams. We do not wish to witness a repeat of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, which has led to horrible losses for the oppressed people of those regions on both sides of local conflicts.
A comparison to events in the Soviet Union also gives an interesting lesson in the differences in handling national conflicts between a socialist state that serves the people and an imperialist state claiming socialism but really exploiting them. The Dalai Lama claimed that amerikkka offered to finance a holy war against Communist China in the early 1950s (see Strong, p.45), similar to what the amerikkkans did in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union decades later. The defense of Afghanistan from the social-imperialist Soviet Union was a successful rallying cry for the people of the region, even with u$ backing. In contrast, the resistance in Tibet to a socialist China, serving the interests of the people, was never made up of more than a minority of aristocratic Tibetans and their slaves. Even the Dalai Lama opposed this interference by the CIA.
Defending the socialist legacy
The bourgeois press repeatedly mentions the "liberation" of Tibet in quotation marks. Yet if we do a very cursory comparison of China's role in the liberation of Tibet and the United $tates role in the "liberation" of Iraq we see that it is really the "liberation" of Iraq that is a farce. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) didn't interfere militarily in Tibet until they had the full support of the people in defeating the feudal clique, and even waited 8 months after defeating the Tibetan military to negotiate an agreement before stepping into Tibet proper. (Strong, p. 44) Large sections of the rebel armies even joined the PLA instantly, as they had been forced by warlords to fight.
The rebels in Tibet were carrying out a terrorist campaign on the people and waging armed conflict against the PLA in its struggle to maintain the social hierarchy of Tibet under the Dalai Lama. They were rebelling against the changes that were taking place in Tibetan society, changes that communists in China understood to be the natural resolution of internal contradictions within that society. It was that understanding that led to Mao's successful policy in Tibet and the PLA truly being a force of liberation in supporting the will of the people. It took another 8 years after the official "liberation" for the feudal government's power to crumble within Tibet, ending in the rebellion of 1959, which the PLA easily quelled with the support of the masses. Within a year of that battle the former serfs and slaves were active participants in local government, learning to read and write, organizing production both as independent farmers and collectives, none of which they had ever done in previous history. (Strong pp. 57-60)
In contrast, Amerikkkans claimed that they would be welcomed by Iraq with open arms, and yet 5 years later Iraqis have bombed the Green Zone multiple times in the last week, killing 3 u$ soldiers in the attack today. The Green Zone is where agents of the foreign occupation (or "liberation") are forced to cordon themselves off to feel safe from the people of Iraq. Amerikkkan soldiers must patrol outside the Green Zone and fear for their lives every time they drive down the street. Meanwhile, the country continues to be in violent chaos with economic security at the lowest it's been in decades.
The current Chinese regime only helps to promote historical amnesia in relation to the accomplishments of socialism in China. The politically lazy can look at the riot police in Tibet right now and confirm what they've been told about political totalitarianism in China since 1949. Even self-identified anarchists are choosing the former slave-owning god-king (whatever happened to "No gods, No masters!"?) Dalai Lama over Mao Zedong who encouraged the mobilization of millions of people with his call to "Bombard the Headquarters" during the Cultural Revolution. Once again, white nationalism trumps political consistency.
Freedom of Religion
One common complaint against the current Chinese regime is the repression of religious groups, or any large organization independent of the government. This is used by the bourgeois press to feed into the myth of the abolishment of religion under the Communist Party of China. One "Living Buddha" had this message for the people of the world:
Here in Tibet, people used religion to exploit other people. Living Buddhas thought how to get more lands and serfs and treasure. This is not the Buddha's teaching. When the big monasteries oppress the small ones, and the upper lamas oppress the poor lamas, this is not freedom of religion... We are now learning that only by abolishing exploitation can we abide by the teaching of Sakyamuni. It was through the Communist Party that the people got freedom of religion. Because of this I can now serve the people and follow truly the teachings of Buddha. (Strong, p. 96)
Prior to the liberation of Tibet, the population was 90% serfs and 5% slaves, most of whom faced starvation, malnutrition, physical abuse and lacked any persynal freedoms. (Strong, p. 52) As the class structure was transformed under socialism, the production of grain and livestock both doubled from 1959 to 1970 following reorganization and the introduction of science.(3) Not only were persynal freedoms greatly expanded via the abolition of slavery and feudalism, but questions of life and death were dealt with in an effective way.
And we remember now how the lords told us tales of the Communists and the tales were not true... We began to know it when the PLA first built the highway. The lords said the highway was only for the good of the Hans. But the working people found the highway a benefit, and those who worked on the road got paid in money wages, as well as food and clothes and shoes, and they bought themselves golden ear-rings and mules. (Strong, p. 150)
This quote comes from a time when capitalism and trade had much potential for bringing progress to the region. This may not be true today, as the productive forces of the region were unleashed with the land reforms and reorganization following 1959. More likely, increased access to Tibet by the current Chinese regime will mean more stealing of resources and dumping of toxins in the region. But it does go to show that utopian isolationism is not in the best interest of Tibet, or any other nation in the world.
Those who take up the anti-Chinese banner calling for a return to theocracy for Tibet are supporting a backward step to feudalism for that country. Even people pretending to oppose feudalism but stoking the flames of nationalist conflict between Tibet and China are serving the interests of the CIA. Revolutionaries need to focus on the anti-imperialist struggle and avoid pitting oppressed nations against each other.
As MIM points out: "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.'"
See MIM's Tibet Page for more background info
Another recent article on Tibet from Monkey Smashes Heaven
(1) Global survey shows uptick in US image. Christian Science Monitor. April 2, 2008.
(2) US soldiers killed in Green Zone. BBC News. April 6, 2008.
(3) Hung Nung. Farming and Stock Breeding Thrive in Tibet. Great Changes in Tibet. People's Republic of China, 1972.
Strong, Anna Louise. When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet. New World Press. Peking, 1960.