The Dalai Lama: Dumb and Dumber

by | Mar 23, 2008

In researching what a potential “free Tibet” would look like absent Chinese rule, I found the following quote which is attributed to Tenzin Gyatso, aka the 14th Dalai Lama and the head of Tibet’s government in exile: Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism […]

In researching what a potential “free Tibet” would look like absent Chinese rule, I found the following quote which is attributed to Tenzin Gyatso, aka the 14th Dalai Lama and the head of Tibet’s government in exile:

Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes–that is, the majority–as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.

As for the failure of the Marxist regimes, first of all I do not consider the former USSR, or China, or even Vietnam, to have been true Marxist regimes, for they were far more concerned with their narrow national interests than with the Workers’ International; this is why there were conflicts, for example, between China and the USSR, or between China and Vietnam. If those three regimes had truly been based upon Marxist principles, those conflicts would never have occurred.

I think the major flaw of the Marxist regimes is that they have placed too much emphasis on the need to destroy the ruling class, on class struggle, and this causes them to encourage hatred and to neglect compassion. Although their initial aim might have been to serve the cause of the majority, when they try to implement it all their energy is deflected into destructive activities. Once the revolution is over and the ruling class is destroyed, there is not much left to offer the people; at this point the entire country is impoverished and unfortunately it is almost as if the initial aim were to become poor. I think that this is due to the lack of human solidarity and compassion. The principal disadvantage of such a regime is the insistence placed on hatred to the detriment of compassion.

The failure of the regime in the former Soviet Union was, for me, not the failure of Marxism but the failure of totalitarianism. For this reason I still think of myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist.

So here we have a leader who repeats the tired chestnut that Marxism is a noble ideal and implies that all Marxism needs is less coercion and more guilt. After all, if “Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis” that wealth won’t just distribute itself–it will require a means of distribution. Since the Dali Lama says he eschews coercion, all that’s left is guilt.

Yet what about those allegedly amoral businessmen who live by their own minds and for their own sake, feel no shame over their concern with “gain and profitability” and who think that an idle man’s pointing his finger to his mouth is not an act of human solidarity? The Dalai Lama acknowledges that even Vietnam (a predominantly Buddhist country) was unable to implement the so-called Marxist ideal absent coercion. Why would a half-Marxist, half-Buddhist “free” Tibet be any different? After all, the Dali Lama doesn’t acknowledge that capitalists’ posses even a hint of morality. Why then would anyone assume that as leader of Tibet he would protect their moral right to their independent lives and private property?

Ultimately, there is a reason all Marxist states must resort to coercion: because men have free minds and not all willingly accept unearned guilt, the Marxist moral code demands that these men be destroyed. Being “half-Marxist and half-Buddhist” does not change this equation and even if Tenzin Gyatso personally disdains violence, there are plenty of Marxists who do not. For all of China’s many faults, it is no longer a Marxist state. It seems clear that an ostensively “free” Tibet would be Marxist and if that’s true, that horror would be far worse than anything the Chinese could hope to unleash.

Nicholas Provenzo is founder and Chairman of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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