Saturday, 22 March 2008

Tibet or not tibet: Shangri-La la land



Just got back to find this powerful post at the Socialist Unity website on the subject of Tibet. It's an admirable contribution to the debate in a worrying climate of knee-jerk attacks on China from the West.

China has many faults, of which we're all aware, and is not the socialist paradise many once hoped for. But neither is Tibet the last repository of spiritual transcendence on Earth as presented in the media. So what's motivating the current focus on China as the Big Bad? As opposed to any of America's client states? (Saudi Arabia and Israel heave into view, to name but two.) The green-eyed monster takes on the Sleeping Dragon now that it's waking up. The Chinese are the US's biggest creditors, so I guess US fury is understandable. And it's a useful diversion from their own criminal actions in the world. Similarly with the British establishment's demonisation of the Chinese that goes way beyond legitimate and thoughtful criticism, and could just possibly be motivated by old territorial ambitions.

I may not have a deep knowledge of Tibet but I catch on eventually.

Some have asked, "Madam Miaow, does lil ol' Britain really have evil designs on the Kingdom at the Roof of the World?"

To them I say, remember British Empire, grasshopper? Encroachments from India into the Himalayas and Afghanistan? The East India Trade Company? Opium Wars? Do fish fuck in water? You betcha! The Brits have been sniffing around Tibet since it began secretly mapping it in 1865 (see Wikipedia). In the 1904 invasion, British troops under Colonel Francis Younghusband occupied Lhasa and machine-gunned a load of locals, finally imposing a trade agreement and sticking it to their Tsarist Russian rivals. How's that for spiritual? There's been a lot of destabilising going on behind the scenes, especially in the cold-war lead-up to the events of 1950. The CIA funded a Tibetan guerilla war against China, backing the Dalai Lama, until at least 1969 (or 1972, depending on source). Officially, that's when it ended, but who knows what they're up to now?

A few years ago I was asked to attend a parliamentary meeting set up by some of the political elite in support of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. My first utterance was, "Baby, have you got the wrong vampire!" [Ref: Jewish vampire played by Alfie Bass when confronted with a crucifix in Polanski's Dance of the Vampires.] I had to explain why I was not enamoured of Dolly Llama and his Shangri-La nostalgia for feudalism.

Unfortunately, after a promising start when whole sections of Tibetan society welcomed them as liberators, China behaved with the same degree of sensitivity as the British in Ireland. China raised literacy levels massively, lifted life expectancy from 35 to 67 [according to the Chinese authorities in 2003. Unescap says 59 in 1990 - see note below], redistributed the land once held by the tiny ruling elite, and ended feudal ownership of serfs. But torturing nuns, no matter how much you disagree with them, is unlikely to win you friends. I do wonder, though, if this behind-the-scenes, ahem, "interest" from old imperialist forces is helping keep China in a constant state of alarm?

While I'm on the subject, is everyone aware of Dolly's background? That his mother, Dekyi Tsering, was one of the biggest owners of serfs prior to the 1950s? His own website describes him as being born into "a farming family". Yes, farming like the Duke of Cornwall is a "farmer". Yet all 18 families working at Shexing village were serfs owned by Dolly's Mum, and worked on her manor. How convenient that in 1935 the new Dalai Lama was located in the ruling class! I wouldn't buy a used prayer-wheel from His Slipperiness.

Dolly comes from a long line of loan sharks, issuing usurous loans right up until 1950 for 20 to 30 percent interest pa. And who is aware that the DL along with the rest of the monastic and aristoctratic ruling class had the power of life and death over the population and that his predecessors used it? Punishments meted out by the courts and prisons (privately owned by estate owners and monasteries) included amputation, eyes gouged out and flaying. Had Dolly come out and condemned these feudal practices, relinquished his privileges, and worked towards a fair society instead of one where the five percent made up of officials, nobles and upper clergy owned absolutely everything, and the 95 percent of the population who were serfs and hereditary slaves didn't even own their own bodies, I might have been sympathetic. As it is, I'm not impressed with this Trojan Horse for imperialism.

Some place First Contact as the "invasion" of 1950. Yet, in the 7th century it was Tibet which invaded China. Even now Tibetan nationalists are making ugly noises about "historic Tibet", referring to territories lying outside its borders. According to Wikipedia, it was the Qing emperors who established the Dalai Lama as spritual and political head of Tibet. There have been alliances and even a royal marriage in the 7th C, so I reckon China has a better claim than the UK has over some of its regions.

BTW, I've had Cornish nationalists crawling all over my YouTube vids of Cornwall, so perhaps I should take to lobbying for their independence. And the Welsh. And the Scots. And the Irish. (Whoops! Done that already.)

That "invasion": in 1950 there was a power struggle going on between the Tibetans themselves; one of the aims was to expel the imperialist forces supporting the pro-separatist Regent Dagzha. The Brits had effectively tried to annexe Tibet using their proxies in 1949. One infamous letter of 1949 signed by Dagzha and the 14th Dalai Lama asks the US, Britain, Nepal and India for combat training, a US loan and World War II weaponry. And the Living Buddha Geda, who was lobbying for the Chinese government, was poisoned by Robert Webster Ford, an American telegraph station director at Qamdo, in August 1950. Is it any wonder that the government sent in the troops?

Han Chinese make up 6.1 percent of the population. That's about the same proportion as non-whites in Britain, one difference being the Han are perceived as dominating the jobs market and business. How far down the BNP anti-immigration road arguing cultural genocide do we want to go? Is the Disneyfication of Tibet the answer? I can see Mickey Mouse and Dolly bringing a little bit of Hollywood to the Himalayas. Should we protect the cute traditions of burying babies in the corner foundations of the monasteries to bring luck? Or owning human beings? None of which you will find in the Dolly hagiographies.

China needs to deal with what rampant capitalism is doing to all its people. To present this as Chinese "communism" oppressing a rebellious religious minority is to miss the point and distort the picture. Just who are the Tibetans who are rebelling by attacking the Han Chinese and Hui Muslims, anyhow? Descendents of the serfs? The clergy class? They may have legitimate grievances in that they feel they are being treated as third class citizens and fear they'll end up the same way as native Americans and Australian aborigines. Cutting the pursestrings by granting some faked-up "independence" where they'd be dependent on UN handouts and subservient to their new western political masters is probably not the answer.

Finally, in case you hadn't noticed, it's not China which is the biggest threat to world peace. I think the US and UK are at the head of that queue. Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Palestine, Syria, China: these are all within their sights (sorry if I missed any). Fans of Dolly should think about boycotting themselves over the chaos wreaked by the US and the UK and their friends in giving us World War, the sequel. "This time it's personal."

LINKS:
Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth by Michael Parenti. "Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the Tibetan serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They established secular schools, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. And they constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa."
Andy Newman at Socialist Unity on Tibet
Liam Macuaid on Tibet
Michael Backman at Global Research on the Dalai Lama
CIA in Tibet, "a covert attempt to arm the Tibetans" and annexe the country.
More CIA activities in Tibet
Times report of Tibet riots
YouTube: peaceful Tibetan protesters
Eyewitness account of rioting by Shenzhen woman shopworker in Lhasa
What does China Think? Stephen Marks at Pambazuka News
Why They Hate China Russell Berman at Telos Press

UN - "Mortality and Life Expectancy: After the Democratic Reform in Tibet, mortality declined by a large margin. The decrease in the mortality rate has slowed down since 1970. The mortality rate had fallen from 28 per 1,000 in the 1950s to 6.60 per 1,000 in 2000. The model of age-specific death rates is in the stage of transferring from the traditional "U-shaped" model to the modern "J-shaped" model. The death rates for males were higher than those for females. There was a wide gap between urban and rural people in the death rates. Mortality at all ages in Tibet was much higher than the national average. The death rates in each age groups in rural areas were higher than those in urban areas. The infant mortality rate was very high in Tibet with a great difference between the sexes. But the infant mortality rate had fallen from 430 per 1,000 in 1951, 91.8 per 1,000 in 1990 to 35.3 per 1,000 by the year 2000. In 1990, life expectancy in Tibet has reached 59.64 years, 57.64 for male and 61.57 for female." More


Video — Lost Horizon: Madam Miaow removes her make-up on leaving Shangri-La

61 comments:

babeuf said...

Madam, I salute your courage, your wit, your ingenuity for rejecting the sentimental Disneyfication of the Dalai Lama and cynical demonisation of China, while equally distancing yourself from the big-business China groupies.

Aside from wishing to cut China down to size in Olympic year (and maybe spoil some potential trade deals), the US and British backers of the Dalai Lama and the Tibet riots/protests tried to win themselves a more immediate and tangible benefit: namely, skewing the Taiwanes presidential election against Chinese interests.

Although the Kuomintang was historically the defeated enemy of the Chinese Communist Party, in the sunny new multi-party democracy of Taiwan today, they've manoeuvred themselves into a very different position: rapprochement towards the People's Republic. And what's more, the Kuomintang was set to win the election comfortably.

That prospect offered no comfort to the US, China's No. 1 debtor, and sponsor of Taiwan as China's perpetual migraine. But after a week of trouble in Tibet, the Kuomintang had a struggle on its hands as the rival DPP candidate warned that a Kuomintang victory would "make Taiwan a second Tibet" - even though the Kuomintang candidate had pointedly criticised China for its response to the recent riots. The Western press duly offered us Taiwanese voters regurgitating the DDP candidate's message.

Still, the electorate's jitters over Tibet failed to carry the day, and the Kuomintang candidate was elected today, to be installed in May.

But no doubt the band of religious sentimentalists, newspaper editors, democracy think-tankers and ex gerbil lovers will come up with new ways to milk the Tibet crisis.

Louisefeminista said...

This is a good post as it exposes the reactionary agenda of the Dalai Lama. Many a Hollywood thesp's favourite cause....

The Chinese masses have to unite with each other and not with their former landlords as being suggested by western imperialists.

ModernityBlog said...

that's really an intellectual fudge

even if the Dalai Lama was the reincarnation of a satanic Dick Cheney that would not change the historical facts:

1) China invaded Tibet in the 1950s and soon after annexed it
2) China installed a puppet regime in Lhasa
3) China moved millions of settlers into Tibet to deliberately disenfranchise native Tibetans
4) China mercilessly extracts raw materials from Tibet at no cost
5) the Chinese ruling classes deliberately deprive Tibetans of basic services, freedoms and education
6) the Tibetans are second-class citizens in their own country

so "anti-imperialists" can rant on about the return of feudalism and how nasty the Dalai Lama is, but that doesn't change the facts on the ground concerning the brutal rule of the Chinese ruling class

Louisefeminista said...

Modernity: "so "anti-imperialists" can rant on about the return of feudalism and how nasty the Dalai Lama is.."

Er, the Dalai Lama is a reactionary and has a reactionary history. But hey, he is better than those imperialists, aint he? Not!

Seems like you are picking and choosing your facts to fit your own skewed logic and politics.

The imperialists will use Tibet as a stick to beat China.

Louisefeminista said...

Btw: There's this piece in yesterday's Guardian worth a read

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/22/tibet.china1

ModernityBlog said...

Louise wrote:

The imperialists will use Tibet as a stick to beat China.

had China not invaded Tibet, then there would be no stick, would there?

it doesn't matter if the Dalai Lama exists or doesn't exist, that would not change the MATERIAL existence of the Tibetans as second-class subjects in their own country

it would not change history one iota

if you think that imperialism isn't invading a neighbouring country, annexing it, killing or imprisoning any opposition, then what the fuck is it??

that's what China did, that's imperialism and all of the intellectual fudges in the world won't change that

Madam Miaow said...

Mod, there's an interesting item on the Dalai Lama and the CIA here:
Michael Backman at Global Research on the Dalai Lama

The US and Britain had been effectively in charge since 1913 and had been ratcheting up their destabilisation leading up to the communist victory in 1949. The situation reminds me of what happened after the 1917 Russian revolution when the fledgling socialist state was overrun with imperialist forces.

We should remember that some Tibetans wanted Chinese central govt intervention in order to remove the imperialist powers and their Quisling reresentatives.

It's bad what the Chinese govt has done to it's chance of socialism. But opening up the country to US and UK predations is not the solution.

If there's any campaigning, it should be about finding a way to rectify inequitable conditions faced by indigenous Tibetans, not taking us into a CIA/FO nightmare.

ModernityBlog said...

there are two major points:

1) attitudes to the Dalai llama
2) excusing China's takeover of Tibet

let's state from the outset, whatever, Dalai Lama says does not change or modify the reality of Tibetans existence in Tibet, as an oppressed people

let's take it as a given, the Dalai Lama is a composite of Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Nixon, Adolf Hitler and Mussolini, the most reactionary individual is ever existed.

fine, and dandy, but it doesn't negate the physical and material situation IN Tibet.

separate the two, that's my point and I'm surprised I have to belabour it.

You wrote:

We should remember that some Tibetans wanted Chinese central govt intervention in order to remove the imperialist powers and their Quisling reresentatives.

we should also remember that this is the common excuse used by Stalinist regimes, whenever they invaded a country they were always "invited in to assist", etc and nowadays no one believes that of Stalinist regimes and certainly they don't believe it when applied to Tibet.

Still this is all by the by, the brutality meted out to Tibetans is real and won't go away.

So people can waive the scary epithets of CIA/FO, but they don't change the reality of the Tibetans poor existence either.

The Tibetan's plight is because they do not run their own country, they do not have a say.

Tibetan rulers are appointed by the Chinese ruling classes, a powerful security apparatus keeps them in power and Tibet's precious minerals are extracted at NO cost, used to fuel China's industrialisation.

Until the Tibetans have some **control** over their lives this will continue, despite the immense brutality of the Chinese security apparatus and the news blackout.

I'm just surprised that otherwise intelligent and cynical people buy into the Chinese ruler's propaganda?

Strange, that all peoples of the world have a right to national self-determination, except the Tibetans eh?

glparramatta said...

CPI ML (Liberation) on Tibet

China would do well to address the aspirations for autonomy through political dialogue rather than by repression and martial law. The spectacle of protesting Buddhist monks being brutalised by armed forces
can hardly evade comparisons with similar scenes in military-ruled Burma and the tragic stigma of Tiananmen.

One hopes that China will take proper lessons from the Soviet experience, where bruised national sentiments played no small part in the great shipwreck. Democratic and peace-loving people of the world are
deeply concerned over the situation in Tibet, and expect China to handle the agitations and the ethnic tensions with greater sensitivity and maturity. China’s stance on economic questions has been one of pragmatic
flexibility: in the case of Hong Kong, China has shown its willingness to experiment with a policy of “one country, two systems”, where the Central People’s Government is responsible for the territory’s defence
and foreign affairs, while the Government of Hong Kong is responsible for its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy,
immigration policy and so on. Can’t we, then, expect greater
accommodation on China’s part of Tibetan aspirations for autonomy?

While resolutely resisting every attempt to fan an anti-communist and anti-China frenzy over Tibet, we do hold that state repression can only be counterproductive, providing grist to the imperialist mill and
allowing greater room for US interference in the region. A lasting solution can be reached only through political dialogue in a democratic atmosphere.

Full: http://links.org.au/node/321

Subscribe free to Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal - at http://www.feedblitz.com/f/?Sub=343373

Madam Miaow said...

Thanks, Mod, for the comments.

"we should also remember that this is the common excuse used by Stalinist regimes, whenever they invaded a country they were always "invited in to assist", etc ...

I'm not sure Hungary 1956 is a fitting comparison as the Soviets never had any claims over it as part of its territory. Of course, China is not a workers' state defending itself, but it is a nation perceiving itself as being pulled apart by outside forces. Having seen what happened to Yugoslavia and Iraq, they must be worried.

If, as is being reported in the western media, current events are increasingly a military crackdown rather than an attempt to restore order (with reports of between 19 and 140 deaths so far) then it is a stupid brutal response. But with US attempts to break up China, such as Bush's recent talks with Muslims in north west China despite all their rhetoric about "war on terror", no wonder that China is panicking. How would the US respond if China or Russia started doing similar stuff in Cuba or Central America? Look what's happening right now in Colombia, f'rinstance, with a lot more than 140 deaths. Or Israel and the Palestinians.

Of course, this does not excuse Chinese govt insensitivity in Tibet as they shouldn't be using the same tactics as imperialist powers. Their actions deserve criticism. But I don't see China destabilising huge parts of the world like certain other parties.

As glparramatta, points out, a "... lasting solution can be reached only through political dialogue in a democratic atmosphere."

The US and Britain should stop interfering and allow calm to prevail so the Tibetans can gain some meaningful autonomy.

American imperialism is the biggest threat to all of us right now, with over a million deaths in Iraq and lord knows how many to come. We should be vigilant regarding propaganda on all sides.

ModernityBlog said...

there is a terrible tactic which the Left often used, year back whenever there was valid criticism of Stalinistic regimes in the East, the reply would be "ahh, it's just a CIA plot" or something similar

and then we'd be told how things are really improving in Eastern Europe, big iron production is up, plenty of shoes and how literacy exceeded pre 1917 standards, not unsurprisingly such a response sounded hollow in the 1950s and sixties, still more does it sound artificial in the 21st century

because it is a deflection, we can be told how wonderful the Chinese annexation of Tibet is, we can be told how historically Tibet was always part of China (except of course in the 1930s when the Chinese CP acknowledged the independent nature of Tibet as a country), we can be told how nasty the Dalai Lama is

but again it's all a deflection, and fairly transparent,

what we are not told is about the Chinese ruling classes enforced rule in Tibet?

how the Tibetans are second-class citizens in their own country?

millions of settlers have moved into Tibet, despite the official Chinese government figures

least of all are we are told the "root causes" of Tibetans grievances?

It's good to consider Cuba, Colombia even Palestine, where socialist's natural inclinations are to support the underdog and the oppressed, but it's just a bit incongruous when that applies to EVERY group in the world except the Tibetans

It rings hollow.

PS: Incidentally, I see no evidence that Western capitalism wants to break up China, quite the opposite. There is massive investment in the country, there is a natural conflict between capitalist powers but that is par for the course. Hypothetically, if China were to break up, that would adversely affect western economies so they are not going to do it, even if they could, which they can't.

The idea that the West could break up China merely by rhetoric over Tibet is laughable, China is a central part of globalisation, integral to the expansion of world capitalism.

Quite the opposite, despite a few flurries about human rights, the western governments will be assiduously defending China over the Olympics and stamping out any disturbances from Tibetans or their supporters. You only need to look at the amount of money allocated to policing the torch trip through parts of Britain, about £ 1 million.

When push comes to shove, the capitalist West's rulers will support the Chinese rulers over the poor Tibetans.

glparramatta said...

Useful material by (or about) Tibetan and Chinese Marxists on Tibet at

http://links.org.au/node/321#comment-226

Andy Newman said...

Modernity.

Good that you have changed your tune.

You used to bang on that the left supported EVERY nation in the world with the sole exception of Israel.

Now you have found out we support EVERY nation in the world with the sole exception of Tibet.

yes China invaed Tibet in 1951, in the same way that britain and the USA invaded Vichy France in 1944.

Vichy France was after all an independent nation state, and surely socialists support the right of national self-determination for the French to continue their traditional Vichy practices of handing Jews over to the Germans.

You are corrent that the rule of the Chinese Communist party is brutal and undemocratic. That brutality and lack of democracy affects all Chinese, including the Tibetans as well as the Han.

What we are seeing in Tibet is many legitimate greivances being expressed, (alongside some less legitimate ones), but what is really a class discontent being diverted down a nationalist channel, and exploited by some very nasty people indeed, the restorationist lamas and dispossed lamas.

Look at modern Nepal where the landlords and royals are a block on all progress, and nepalese peasants are fighting rifle in hand today against the landlords to bring in the type of social and agricutural reforms that the Chinese helped Tibet with.

In 1951 there was social unrest in Tibet, and China intervened to back progressive forces, because Tibet was legally and historically part of China.

If they had been imperialists they would have intervened in Nepal as well, but Nepal was not part of China so they didn't.

Andy Newman said...

the restorationist lamas and dispossed lamas.

should obvioulsy read

the restorationist lamas and dispossed landlords

ModernityBlog said...

Newman,

You really should try to read my comments with greater care, I appreciate that it's difficult for you to accurately render your interlocutor's views honestly, but please make a supreme effort

You wrote:

Now you have found out we support EVERY nation in the world with the sole exception of Tibet.

"We"? your views are not the totality of the Left, in fact, that not even they are totality of the posters on SU blog.

Given that you don't consider Tibet as a nation and you buy into the Chinese ruling classes propaganda, it follows that you don't care about the Tibetans and will use any spurious Stalinist reasoning to justify China's actions as you have on many occasions.

So going on about nations and incorporation in China is a distinctly non-socialist way of looking at things.

Your arguments may convince yourself, but they don't convince anyone else.

They sound like barely regurgitated 1950s Stalinism, which justified "intervention" in Eastern Europe on the basis that 1) Soviet military forces were "invited" 2) they were performing a progressive role (see the Daily Worker of the period for similar tired and worn arguments)

Now we know, after the events that, these "invitations" were forced upon eastern Europeans and that Stalinism was not progressive.

Let's be very clear, even the Chinese CP admitted that Tibet was NOT part of China:

"The 1931 constitution of the soviet government of China stated: “All Mongolians, Tibetans, Miao, Yao, Koreans and others living in the territory of China shall enjoy the full rights to self-determination, i.e., they may either join the Union of Chinese Soviets or secede from it and form their own state as they may prefer”."

Today, Tibet is ruled by the Party secretary, appointed from Beijing and his rule is enforced by a vicious security apparatus, which is required because the imposed rule is not consensual and disturbances as have recently occurred, will continue to happen until Tibetans have a degree of autonomy, basic civil rights and control over their lives.

Newman, if you accept the notion of rule by Party secretary, please say so, because that is an unusual view for modern socialists to hold.

Go on, admit it.

Madam Miaow said...

I thought Andy made some interesting points both here and at Liam's, especially these:

Andy's comment 1

Andy's comment 2

Mod, when you write: " ... but again it's all a deflection, and fairly transparent," I totally agree. Kate Hoey on last night's Radio 4 was blithering about "what China is doing in Darfur" as if they were the genocidal Janjaweed when there's America and the UK with their Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, rendition, milking Africa through debt and exploitation, Fallujah, support for Israel, a million dead Iraqis, the possible nuking of Iran, stolen elections, protection of pharmeceutical companies while milions of Africans die through lack of drugs, and the advancing prospect of a third World War. To name but a few.

But no, let's reinstate the clergy, bring back feudalism and give Disney the theme park rights.

Andy Newman said...

Modernity,

That is such an incoherent rant that i cannot respond to it.

Try picking one of your "arguments" and see if you can develop it, instead of just typing scribble.

Louisefeminista said...

""We"? your views are not the totality of the Left, in fact, that not even they are totality of the posters on SU blog.

Modernity: As a poster on the SU blog, can I just say that Andy has kickstarted a good debate on Tibet/China. Though I don't totally agree, I sympathise with much of what he says on the subject. At least he has argued a thought provoking analysis.

Actually, Modernity, you don't know, precisely, what the views of the other posters are on SU and therefore speculation is indeed very unhelpful.

ModernityBlog said...

Louise wrote:

Modernity: As a poster on the SU blog, can I just say that Andy has kickstarted a good debate on Tibet/China. Though I don't totally agree, I sympathise with much of what he says on the subject. At least he has argued a thought provoking analysis.

er, NO.

it's not thought-provoking, it is a regurgitation of the Chinese ruling classes' propaganda

which is why Newman finds it so hard to argue outside of the confines of SU blog (where he can happily delete any dissent)

Newman disregards the fundamental rights of the Tibetans

so great, they got rid of feudalism to be replaced with a one-party dictatorship, and a one PERSON rule in Lhasa by the Party secretary

I would have thought that ex-Trots would have seen this parallel line of reasoning which the CPGB used from 1945 to 1968, to justify Soviet repression in a similar way?

ModernityBlog said...

PS: I don't post at SU blog, but I READ it on a very regular basis :)

Southpawpunch said...

Yes, the Dalai Lama is a reactionary. Yes he may well be in bed with the CIA - as may Falun Gong and other elements opposed to the current Chinese regime.

Yes, I'd imagine possibly even higher than the Islamists, the current Chinese regime is a key enemy of American (and British and more) imperialism. They will try all to try and prevent Chinese GDP overtaking the USA's.

And yes, the CIA doubtless supported Solidarity against the the Polish regime.

Trotskyists supported Solidarity.

And the socialist i.e. Trotskyist argument is completely clear - we support legitimate (which means, for example, those struggles that reflect majority support for national self determination amongst a people) liberation struggles.

(And that would even be the case in a workers state - which China no longer is).

So any socialist, any democrat, any communist SUPPORTS the right of the Tibetans to sepearte and their current struggle to assert this right.

Which also make a whole host of commentators here well to the right of even the current liberal Guardian readers who are supporting the Tibetan protests.

But what's new?

Madam Miaow said...

Southpawpunch wrote: " ... which means, for example, those struggles that reflect majority support for national self determination amongst a people"

I think the key word here is "majority". The problem is that journalists are being kept away so we have no way to assess what's happening on the ground. That needs to change.

I want to see meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan majority, not the reinstatement of the feudal class and an effective handover to the West, especially in the light of intensifying US imperialist predations.

Incidentally, I found this link of glparramatta's interesting.

ModernityBlog said...

sadly, it's a bit hard to have meaningful autonomy in Tibet when the local CP Party Secretary effectively runs the country

that's part of the problem until the batons get a meaningful say in their own existence they will revolt, be suppressed by armed bodies of men, and revolt again

such a pattern is universal, as most socialists know

the rest is just clouding the issues

ModernityBlog said...

ops, batons=Tibetans

Andy Newman said...

Miaow,

This is a very sensible positi0n froom the Indian communits that you give the link to


China would do well to address the aspirations for autonomy through political dialogue rather than by repression and martial law. The spectacle of protesting Buddhist monks being brutalised by armed forces can hardly evade comparisons with similar scenes in military-ruled Burma and the tragic stigma of Tiananmen.

One hopes that China will take proper lessons from the Soviet experience, where bruised national sentiments played no small part in the great shipwreck. Democratic and peace-loving people of the world are deeply concerned over the situation in Tibet, and expect China to handle the agitations and the ethnic tensions with greater sensitivity and maturity. China's stance on economic questions has been one of pragmatic flexibility: in the case of Hong Kong, China has shown its willingness to experiment with a policy of ``one country, two systems'', where the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defence and foreign affairs, while the Government of Hong Kong is responsible for its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy and so on. Can't we, then, expect greater accommodation on China's part of Tibetan aspirations for autonomy?

While resolutely resisting every attempt to fan an anti-communist and anti-China frenzy over Tibet, we do hold that state repression can only be counterproductive, providing grist to the imperialist mill and allowing greater room for US interference in the region. A lasting solution can be reached only through political dialogue in a democratic atmosphere.

Laban said...

"The US and Britain had been effectively in charge since 1913"

Are you sure ? When Heinrich Harrer and friends escaped from an Indian P.O.W camp and arrived in Tibet in 1944, I don't get the impression Brits had much say in the run of the place. Indeed, communications were so poor that administration was either delegated or worked at at glacial pace while waiting for decisions from Lhasa.

Harrer was an escaped prisoner, SA member and long-time Nazi Party member, yet lived openly in Lhasa and met the British Consul, who gave him the news of how the war had ended.

And if they were in charge, how come Tibet was neutral in WW2 ?

Louisefeminista said...

"And if they were in charge, how come Tibet was neutral in WW2" ?

Tibet wasn't a part of the British empire. It was a buffer state and it worked for the British strategically as it served their purposes. Britain, historically, built up buffer zones like Tibet, Afghanistan and to a certain extent, Nepal.

And if you want a buffer zone it stays neutral. Strategically, it serves the British imperialists well to keep it neutral as it wasn't in their interests.

Louisefeminista said...

Sorry...left a bit out of my final sentence..

"Strategically, it served the British imperialists well to keep it neutral as it wasn't in their interests to do otherwise".

Andy Newman said...

Looking at a web-site sympathetic to the Dalai lama, it is intersting to see what rubbish Modernity's argument.

For example Modernity claims that Han Chinese have been flooding Tibet, but in the Autonomous region han chinese have risen from just 4% to 6%, and the han only become a majority when all five provinces that the Free Tibet cmapaign claim are factored in, which is "historic" Tibet, that has NEVER been indepenendent from China. Very similar to an English person claoming that calias and Burgunsy are English, because they wer ein the middle ages.

Indeed the Chinese givernment are so determined to wipe out the Tibetans that they allow them to have three children, compared to one child for Han Chinese famillies. In Eastern part of the autonomus region, Tibetan population is growing faster than the han, even when inward Han migration is taken into account. According to figues of the "Tibet Government in Exile"

And surely some mistake? The han Chinese are accused by Modernity of seeking to wipe out traditional Tibetan culture, but nearly all Han chinese live in the cities, while 97% of the rural population of the Autonomus Region of Tibet are Tibetan.

But wasn't the traditonal culture of Tibet rural? So can Modernity explain how letting the Tibetans have more children than han, and allowing them to pursue their traditional rural life is seeking to wipe out their culture.

oh, and can Modernity then explain how Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, a Tibetan became Vice President of the Chinese peoples assembly in Beijing?

ModernityBlog said...

Let's examine Newman's ludicrous claims:

4-6% only? where those figures from? Oh, the Chinese official census bureau? which seemingly wants to play down the extent of settlement in Tibet

independent Tibet? Well, apparently it was, for short time, and I would be so bold as to suggest that Tibetan culture is not the same as mainland China's culture, equally the languages are different

of course, if you wish to drag up 17th century nationalism to justify China's conquest, fine that's your choice, even in 1931 the Chinese CP acknowledged the autonomous nature of Tibet

Even accepting your argument, which I don't, simply because a country or entity hasn't been independent doesn't mean it can't be in the FUTURE.

New nations are born periodically and perhaps in 60-100 years Tibet might be independent again, I'm not sure. Either way as long as Tibetans have control over their own lives I am fairly easy on the topic: autonomy or independence.

Newman wrote:

Modernity explain how letting the Tibetans have more children than han, and allowing them to pursue their traditional rural life is seeking to wipe out their culture.

I suspect it has more to do with enforcing Chinese as the mandatory language of work and making Tibetans caricatures of themselves for tourists.

And if Tibet is the Shangri-La which Newman would have us believe, why do the Chinese ruling classes block independent news media? because it isn't

They carefully control news to paint a particular picture for propagandists such as Newman to recite.

Newman wrote:

can Modernity then explain how Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, a Tibetan became Vice President of the Chinese peoples assembly in Beijing?

I would suppose that he's a token, a notional or house Tibetan.

The key question is not all of this, it is WHO controls Tibet and who enforces the law?

Answer: the Chinese ruling classes and the State Security apparatus

And the question you have to ask yourself is:

do you feel comfortable with that?

Or is that slightly bitter taste in the back of your throat your socialist conscience coming forward?

Do you support the Chinese ruling classes, answer that question when you see Tibetans beaten or shot in the streets, for no other reason than protesting at their ill-treatment by the Chinese ruling classes.

Southpawpunch said...

I agree with the start of Miaow's response to my earlier comments.

But then the part "I want to see meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan majority, not the reinstatement of the feudal class and an effective handover to the West,..." doesn't follow.

Miaow appears to want to set a limit on the aspirations of Tibetans - autonomy - but what if the majority want independence (and yes, they may not)?

And since when should independence be dependant on a state being capable of not being under the thumb of the West?

Does the role of Australian troops (and presumably Australian capital)in E Timor mean that place should never have been freed from the tender mercies of Indonesia?

Maybe a new campaign for some of you?

Keep Tibet Chinese! E Timor back to Indonesia. Irish reunification now, er, as part of the UK!

neprimerimye said...

Frankly I'm disgusted by the remarks made here and on SU blog by supposed Marxists. That the regime of the Dalai Lama was a reactonary hell is a no brainer for fuxache. But that does not give the chauvinist Han Chinese regime the right the prevent the Tibetan nation becoming an independent state.

Indeed it strikes me that only if the Chinese working classes defend the right of the Tibetans and other oppressed nations currently within the borders of the state controlled by the bureaucratic capitalist class in China will the working classes be able to advance their own class demands. To that end any struggle, even one led by reactionary scum like the Dalai Lama, for Tibetan independance cannot but weaken the Chinese state and open a space for the Chinese working classes to step into.

In this latter respect it is amusing that some former Marxists. again both here and on the SU blog, see fit to positively reference the writings of Indian Maoists such as the CPI(ML)Liberation as displaying a sound grasp of the situation in China. Hardly, this is a large party, massive by western lefty stndards but more or less confined in terms of its mass influence to Bihar, which has in the past defended the capitalist tyrannies of Stalin and Mao. Indeed it emerged from a movement, the orignal Naxalite CPI(ML), whose practice had far more in common with that of Bakunin than Marx.

It should be elementary for Marxists to support the right of Tibet t self determination right up to the formation of a toally independent state. Arguing that there is a danger that by ding so the USA will emerge as the dominant player in tibet is wrongheaded given the very real alliance between the capitalist regimes in Washingtn DC and Beijing. Note well friends that other than mouthing pieties the American bosss class is doing next to nothing to support the struggle in Tibet against Han Chinese imperial rule. As for the notion that there is any kind of possibility of the pre-1959 quasi-fuedal mode of production being restored why that is a silly fantasy. Given that most of the major monasteries were long ago broken up when the Chinese Stalinists imposed bourgeois property rghts in the Tibetan countryside and there is absolutely no possibility of the peasantry returning their land to its former owners.

paul_moloney@hotmaill.com said...

After Ireland (the southern part at least) became independent from the UK in the 1920s, it went through a 70-year reactionary phase where womens' rights were removed, divorce was made illegal, the Catholic church had a say in political affairs, and censorship was rife. In Madam's eyes, did that invalidate the right of the people of Ireland to independence?

P.

Madam Miaow said...

paul moloney wrote: "In Madam's eyes, did that invalidate the right of the people of Ireland to independence? "

My answer, of course, is no.

My genuine question is this: is there a majority movement in Tibet (in the way there was in Ireland)? Or is this about the reinstatement of the tiny dispossessed feudal class which has been bought, armed and paid for by predatory powers from the other side of the world?

If "independence" meant independence, then I'd say go for it. If, as it looks, "independence" means independence the way Iraq is "independent", and effectively handing Tibet back to the Americans who are even now destabilising China as well as other parts of the world, then, good grief! Be afraid. Be very afraid ...

neprimerimye said...

What a wonderful prospect you raise Madam Miaow. Imagine if Chnese imperialism was ousted from Tibet, all of it not just the fake 'autonomous' region, and was replaced by a more remote overlordship by the Yanqui imperialistas. Well surely given that they are already overstretched such a prospect would be not just a defeat for the Chinese capitalist class but a contribution to the defeat of the American boss classas well. Wonderful!!! Deep joy!!!

Madam Miaow said...

Interesting link on the subject of who controls the water in the region, provided by Martin Wisse at SU.

Seeing what the Yanqi are doing with Iraqi oil, would you want them in control of the continent's water?

ModernityBlog said...

someone in the SU comments box hits the nail on the head:

"...your basic argument seems to be that American opppression is the only thing we should be concerned about.

That is not a class-based approach, nor an anti-imperialist approach.

China is an imperial country, operating an autocratic state, co-opting capitalism and exploiting both it’s workers and those in Tibet.

There is no coherent justification for defending it, except a peculiar view of imperialism and exploitation which suggests that only the American/western version is undesirable.

The international working class is not helped by supporting the Chinese state.

Comment by lurker — 27 March, 2008 @ 9:40 am"


[my emphasis]

http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=1978

paul_moloney@hotmaill.com said...

"is there a majority movement in Tibet (in the way there was in Ireland)?"

Well, even you perfidious Albionistas allowed us elections to a parliament and a free press, but even then, the desire of Irish people for an independent nation was underestimated (the 1916 rising only had limited immediate support and the most popular party before that only fought for home rule).

Perhaps the Chinese government could offer a free press and elections to the Tibetan people to determine their actual wishes? Oh look, flying char siu...

P.

Andy Newman said...

Yes - of course there should be democracy, and then the Tibetans could find their own voice.

But the struggle for democracyy is something that affects all 1.3 billion Chinese, not just Tibet, and what is more the Tibertans have more chance of democracy via reform in China than through becoming a NATOP puppet state.

I see Mike now wants the whole of Histroric Tibet to be indepoendecnt, which would bring 4 million han Chinese under Tibetan control. No problems there then.

This is the same as the denand by the facsist right in Hungary for Slovakia, Translyvania and Voyvodinja to be "restored" to Hungary.

paul_moloney@hotmaill.com said...

"I see Mike now wants the whole of Histroric Tibet to be indepoendecnt, which would bring 4 million han Chinese under Tibetan control. No problems there then."

Ah, an imperial power brings settlers into an area and then uses this minority to oppose the wishes of the original majority for _any_ kind of independence, even one which respects the rights of the settlers. Gosh, where have we Irish heard this one before...

P.

Madam Miaow said...

Paul wrote: "Ah, an imperial power brings settlers into an area

I think you'll find that doesn't apply to the Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. Gansu has many Muslims, so the Tibetans would be up against another minority. See Wikipedia for figures:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibet

"Perhaps the Chinese government could offer a free press and elections to the Tibetan people to determine their actual wishes?

Absolutely. There are many things going wrong there that need to be sorted. Negotiations would be a good thing and I'm supportive of the Chinese who are pressing for talks.

ModernityBlog said...

Newman wrote:

"Yes - of course there should be democracy, and then the Tibetans could find their own voice.

But the struggle for democracyy is something that affects all 1.3 billion Chinese, not just Tibet, and what is more the Tibertans have more chance of democracy via reform in China than through becoming a NATOP puppet state."


Newman, you couldn't give a shit about democracy, as you continue to articulate Beijing propaganda and continued rule by the Chinese elite

because logically you can't have democracy and one-party rule in Tibet, they are mutually exclusive.

still moreso when the appointed Party secretary from outside of Tibet is the ultimate power

democracy isn't about centralising power in the hands of a small elite or a party secretary

so until the power structures in Tibet are changed all of your whingeing about "democracy" is so much hot air and insincere

Andy Newman said...

Modrnity: "you can't have democracy and one-party rule in Tibet, they are mutually exclusive.
"


Well duh

Since I have never advocated one party rule, I don't know who you are addressig this to, or why.

I am not repreating pro-Cuhinese propaganda, I am just corretcing the myths, lies and wishful thinking you uncritically accept as good coin

ModernityBlog said...

Newman wrote:

Well duh

Since I have never advocated one party rule, I don't know who you are addressig this to, or why.


you can't follow anything through intellectually, can you?

Chinese rule in Tibet IS one-party rule, and as long as it continues it is rule of the Party secretary

thus any talk of democracy is just that, talk

until the power relationships are changed and Tibetans have a significant say in their own existence then they will revolt, they will riot and you will continue to trot out CCP propaganda, without thinking of the logical consequences

neprimerimye said...

Andy wrote "I see Mike now wants the whole of Histroric Tibet to be indepoendecnt, which would bring 4 million han Chinese under Tibetan control. No problems there then."

No problem at all. Just as I have no problem with a Jewish minority being compelled to live in a secular democratic Palestine and just as I have no problem with 'Unionists' being compelled to live in a united 32 County Republic of Ireland. I do have a problem with imperialists Balkanising nations they have subjugated however and fake socialists lining up with them too.

Bill said...

Hmmm.

Modernity, I find your reasoning a touch odd. Certainly, the Tibettans and Chinese in general should indeed struggle for an obtain the rights of democracy and freedom of expression and (importantly) association. Why, though, should this be associated with the inherently repressive and anti-socialist ideology of nationalism - which is a dagger to the heart of freedom of association? Why should political freedoms revolve around property claims on some Himalayan real estate? Nationalism is a repugnant ideology no matter where expressed, or by whom.

Self determination should belong to peopel, not peoples.

ModernityBlog said...

bill wrote:

Why, though, should this be associated with the inherently repressive and anti-socialist ideology of nationalism

where did I state it should be?

NO where, because I have NOT argued that point.

if you reread my points you will see that I have been emphasising the plight of Tibetans in Tibet

and the arguments ranged against me on this issue have comprised 17th century Chinese nationalism to faux "anti-imperialism" and any number of scatty irrelevances in between

I think that the Tibetans should exercise control over their own existence, free from the Chinese ruling classes oppression and free from regressive religious beliefs

Bill said...

Modernity,

just to be clear then, you'd be equally happy with the democratisation of China generally as with Tibettan independence?

ModernityBlog said...

yes bill, after misconstruing my views, yes, I favour democratisation of China, but I will be clearer to save you and others from misrepresenting my points.

I am in favour of:

1) free trade unions
2) excellent working conditions
3) high-quality social housing
4) free medical services
5) environmental cleanup programs
6) workers having control over their own lives
7) national self-determination
8) tight scrutiny of leaders
9) universal human rights, which applies to everyone including Tibetans, Chinese, LGBTers, women, Iranian, Iraqis, etc

I am against:

1) dictatorships
2) the concentration of power in the hands of a few
3) the rape of the countryside
4) theocratic rulers
5) feeble justifications of the above. etc

Bill, I hope that's clear? there's a lot more but I just shortened it

and if you misread someone else's comments can I suggest that you have the decency to acknowledge it :)

Bill said...

7) national self-determination

Erm, pardon me, but that seems to be exactly what I was criticising you for, the ultra-reactionary theory of national self-determination. So, I'mk afraid, I can't appologise for something I didn't do, I represented your views correctly, you are in favour of Tibettans and otehr "nations" staking claims to random units of property and using them in a manner contrary to freedom of association.

ModernityBlog said...

bill wrote:

So, I'mk afraid, I can't appologise for something I didn't do, I represented your views correctly, you are in favour of Tibettans and otehr "nations" staking claims to random units of property and using them in a manner contrary to freedom of association.

Bill, you deliberately misconstrued my points in your first contribution as you cannot point to where I have wrote, as you imply that I do:

Why, though, should this be associated with the inherently repressive and anti-socialist ideology of nationalism - which is a dagger to the heart of freedom of association

if you disagree with national self-determination, fine, that's your point of view

I don't intend to argue the case one way or the other as you'd probably misconstrue ANYTHING I wrote

had you taken the trouble to read my comments with greater care you might have seen that I wrote:

...Tibetans have a degree of autonomy, basic civil rights and control over their lives.

which doesn't mean independence, clear enough, NOT independence

again I wrote:

Either way as long as Tibetans have control over their own lives I am fairly easy on the topic: autonomy or independence.

all of this is a smokescreen and you know it

rule by Party Secretary and a state security apparatus is not socialism, nor anywhere close

if the Tibetans don't have cultural freedoms then some socialists will feel compelled to back the Chinese ruling class as they put down and kill poor Tibetans, because this will happen again and again

Bill said...

Autonomy or independence is still the rot of nationalism, that's all I'm calling you on, because it is a distraction from the much more important project of sweeping aside the Beijing tyranny in favour of worldwide democracy.

See, I was responding to comments like this Strange, that all peoples of the world have a right to national self-determination, except the Tibetans eh? and references to Their own country which seemed to suggest to me that you support the reactionary idea of nationalism, call me a crazy loon, if you will. In saying you support national self-determination, I was clearly misrepresenting you.

paul_moloney@hotmaill.com said...

"the much more important project of sweeping aside the Beijing tyranny in favour of worldwide democracy."

Right. So you think oppressed ethnic groups around the world should spurn any attempts at self-determination, and should simply wait for the SWP and others to initiate this wonderful worldwide democracy? Can you tell me what percentage this project is currently at?

Jesus, no wonder so many people think the UK hard left are deluded muppets.

P.

ModernityBlog said...

Bill,

of course I support national self-determination

as your alternative is rule from Beijing and law by despotic Party secretary, and clearly Tibetans controlling their lives is better

I don't see why this is contentious point?

I support national self-determination in Ireland, East Timor, etc

it either that or ruled by the British and Indonesia?

is that what you're suggesting is acceptable, bill??

stop seeing things as as purely abstract, Tibtans are real people and they deserve to control their own lives

if you don't believe that, then at least have the honesty to say so

Bill said...

Whether they attained national independence, they would still be an oppressed group of workers, in a very concrete sense a national liberation movement is only liberation for the owners of that nation.

The concrete struggle for political democracy, without the distraction of where lines should go on maps is the more effective alternative.

Self detmination for peoples is not self determination for people, your very notion contradicts people running their own lives.

ModernityBlog said...

Bill wrote:

Self detmination for peoples is not self determination for people, your very notion contradicts people running their own lives.

Bill, you have conspicuously avoided engaging with any of my points and misrepresented my views so please forgive me if I ignore all of your future outbursts

as in all likelihood you will converse, again, like a political robot and I am afraid that that is not really good enough, for a political dialogue or an exchange of views

Bill said...

I remain non-plussed as to how I have misrepresented your views. Or how I have failed to address your points.

You repeatedly say you favour national self determination - I repeatedly attack that concept, and note how it runs exactly contrary to your claims about wanting people to run their own lives. It's not that difficult.

If you want me to be clearer, yes, East Timorese and Irish national liberation movements were counter-productive and a waste of time.



Maybe I was not clear - you are setting up false alternatives by saying that the only alternative to national autonomy is Chinese CP dictat, there is of course democratisation of the whole of the Chinese state area, there is decent into anarchy, the break up of Tibe along with the break up of China, the absorbtion of both into a much larger polity...etc.

Anyway, I'm sure readers will be able to tell who has put forward subsantive points, and the who has clung steadfast to an unargued position.

DAVE BONES said...

fascinating. This adds a lot to the above. When I heard what Galloway said about Tibet I couldn't believe it. As I say rabid ex in the free Tibet Campaign. I say nothing. Except that although I am no fan of this particular llama I have seen him and don't think he is into slavery and such like. he seems very mellow in his writings although what you hav written about his upbringing is very interesting. I'll stick a link up to this post.

DAVE BONES said...

I must admit though I am sad I missed all that commotion around that stupid torch. We are kicking ourselves that we didn't slot ourselves in somewhere to chase it with giant spliffs.

butterflywings said...

OK, you are actually crazy.

*Sarcasm* Hell yeah the evil British want to get our hands on Tibet - but China are NEVER wrong and are only occupying it, and torturing dissenters FOR ITS OWN GOOD!!!!!!

I see!! Thanks for enlightening me!!

I will stop giving a fuck about Tibetan (non) people!!!!

divine said...

Words oh words everything but not one sense is made. I'll take my divinity stick and find the vital in greedy ant. it's t the heart of the Chinese Tibet dispute. In fact it so vital that you can't live without it for too long. That's right it's WATER.

WATER THAT FLOWS FROM THE HIGHEST PEAKS OF THE WORLD GOES THROUGH TIBET AND QUENCHES THE THIRST OF MILLIONS OF CHINESE.

We can understand why the Chinese keeps control of this vital area ... why would it do otherwise?

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