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Censorship Government Politics

China Says Tibetans Need Permission To Reincarnate 553

Posted by kdawson
from the now-that's-censorship dept.
michaelcole writes "China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. This article is both hilarious and sad, looking at the lengths to which a government will go to regulate thought through censorship. It also goes into some of the more subtle politics of the current 72-year-old Dalai Lama as he thinks about his political and spiritual successor. The Dalai Lama 'refuses to be reborn in Tibet so long as it's under Chinese control.'"
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China Says Tibetans Need Permission To Reincarnate

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  • Just to make sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:17AM (#20395745)
    Ths isn't the Chinese equivalent of "The Onion" is it?
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:33AM (#20395843) Homepage Journal
    Actually they didn't. They banned people who are wearing clear religious signs, including (BUT NOT LIMITED TO) a headscarf. The law permits wide interpretations which in effect also prohibits funny little Jewish hats, big necklaces, big crucifixes, etc. The prohibition is for ANY religion.

    It is therefore fair to consider the laws you refer to as being "neutral", because they simply prohibit strong religious signals IN GENERAL and not in opposition of a single religion.

    They also don't tell you what you can or can't do in the privacy of your own home.

    Your comparison to this new and very sad Chinese law is flawed.
  • The Process (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Double Entendre (1123719) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:34AM (#20395849)
    Assume for a moment that people want to play along. I'm curious what the application process would be like. Do you have some forms to fill out? Do you need to go to a special office? Who will be overseeing this particular application? Who approves it? And probably the most obvious question is: how are they going to enforce it? Is this a case of them summarily making a sweeping statement without thinking about the ramifications of putting together a system to handle the throughput?

    As absurd as this issue seems, constructing a legal and bureaucratic process around it sounds even more bizarre.
  • by Nymz (905908) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:35AM (#20395855) Journal
    Just like Falun Gong people are all given medical checkups and then entered into a database, the same will happen to anyone guilty of unlawful reincarnation. Infanticide would be a terrible waste. Waste Not, Want Not.
  • by id3as (1067224) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:38AM (#20395867) Homepage
    Our laughter means Chinese government's definition of reincarnation is different from ours. We think reincarnation is a "mystical belief that some essential part of a living being survives death to be reborn in a new body". Chinese government perhaps thinks that reincarnation is an act of stating such a belief about a certain individual. How does the Chinese government define reincarnation anyway?
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:46AM (#20395909) Journal
    It's not just an euphemism, it's what happens after you die, according to that religion. Just like christians prefer to believe in heaven and hell than that it ends for ever.

    The prospect that it's the end of the line at some point, is freakin' scary for a lot of people. It's not just religion that gets built on that, but also stuff like trying to be remembered somehow afterwards, or trying to make enough kids that the line will go on that way. (It's why countries where survival is a crapshot people make 10 kids or more, while after they get sanitation, medicine, etc, it eventually dawns upon them that if 1-2 kids are just short of guaranteed to survive, you don't really need more.) Anything to maintain a belief that somehow it's not really game over.

    So the government saying they can stop you from reincarnating? Oooer. That's a claim that they can really end that game. It's exactly like, if you're a christian, the government saying that you need their stamp of approval to go anywhere after death. Otherwise you're going nowhere. Not to heaven, not to hell, not to purgatory (if your flavour of Christianity has a purgatory), just nowhere. To a lot of people that'll be a scarier thought than even going to hell.

    Anyway, they're not saying you need permission to die. You can still jolly well die whenever you wish. Just go demonstrate for democracy in front of some tanks, if you ran out of other suicide ideas, and they'll oblige. They're saying that they can make your death a lot more permanent and scarier.
  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:49AM (#20395925) Homepage
    Of course, the Turkish government is not an occupying power hell-bent on destroying the language and culture of the Turkish people. The Chinese government, on the other hand, is only interested in Tibetan culture to the extent that it can be used to encourage the tourist trade. This is just the latest in a long series of moves by the PRC to attempt to squash Tibetan religion and culture; previous steps have included destroying monasteries and religious schools, forcing monks to renounce their vows, forbidding pictures of the Dalai Lama, language restrictions, etc.

    This is also essentially the next round in the ongoing battle of what will happen to the institutions of Tibetan Buddhism once the current Dalai Lama dies. China wants the next DL to be a hand-picked puppet of the state who will lend legitimacy to Chinese rule in Tibet. At the very least, they would like to create a long-standing controversy over who the 'real' Dalai Lama is, as they've done with the Panchen Lama, in order to cast a shadow on a very visible and popular rallying point for the Tibetan preservation and independence movement.
  • Shame on Newsweek (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greydontmatter (325867) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @06:16AM (#20396275)
    Shame on Newsweek for presenting this issue as "one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism" rather than the Chinese government wanting to choose the next Dali Lama. They do come out and say that later in the article but presenting this as just some kind of wacky law is misleading. I guess the real shame is that most people don't get past the first few sentences of the article to understand what's really being discussed.
  • by mapkinase (958129) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @06:54AM (#20396481) Homepage Journal
    Want to talk about China? So much written about Tibet, and almost nothing about Eastern Turkestan (which mainlanders call Xinjiang)

    TOTAL population ot Tibet [unescap.org]: 2.62 million

    Uyghur people [wikipedia.org]: 8.83 million.

    Do you think they are LESS persecuted?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @07:32AM (#20396773)
    Measured by the standards of Stalin and Mao, the current Chinese government is pretty mellow, too.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @07:55AM (#20396993) Homepage Journal
    Since I've never lived under Stalin or Mao, and all my knowledge of them is second hand, I try to use measurement against my own country and my own experience as my most reliable point of comparison.

    But what you say is true. The current regime in China is not as bad as the Soviet Union under Stalin or China under Mao.

    However, by embracing the worst aspects of what is often falsely described as "free-market capitalism", China may be heading for something much, much worse.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by riots (707054) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @07:56AM (#20397007) Homepage
    Could you at least show the Dalai Lama some respect by spelling his name correctly? The guy has won a Nobel Peace Prize and I suspect you haven't. I suppose it hasn't occured to you that there might be a way of life that doesn't revolve around power and greed? You are only seeing Tibetan culture bounded by your own limited worldview. Never mind, at least you're happy with your self image. I'm not sure he would be so conceited.
  • by scsirob (246572) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:00AM (#20397037)
    This is very simpel. If no-one has obtained a license to reincarnate, whichever kid is pronounced the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama automatically violates Chinese law and will be locked up. Case closed.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:44AM (#20397579) Homepage Journal
    1. You should pick new leaders. The vast majority of religious leaders don't behave as you describe.
    2. I am glad that you think that the Dali Lama is a pretty good dude. I doubt that he would approve of your little rant.

    Tibet wasn't some prefect little place before the Chinese invaded. It was a theology ruled by a religious upper class with a large under class that where pretty much surfs. That being said the current Dali Lama was kicked out at a young age. I have no idea what Tibet under him might have been like. He seems to be a kind, gentle, and enlightened man. I don't know if this is because of his exile or in spite of it.

    What I find so interesting is how the "open minded" "liberal" people I see are so accepting of none Christian faiths but so hostile towards Christian faiths. If you had tried to build a Christian church in Tibet before the Chinese invaded I doubt that you would have stayed out of jail long enough to finish it. Yet in predominantly Christian Countries Buddhist Temples exists with little interference. I am sure there is a Buddhist monk that has committed some crime yet you wouldn't hold it as an example of why Buddhists are evil.

    I do think that the Dali Lama seems like a good person. Too bad you had to fill the rest of your post with venom and hate.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:45AM (#20397587)
    Their record for treatment of their own population isn't that great, butit gets glossed over by a west desperate to find a better path to their own enlightenment, whilst handily ignoring the impovorished state in which the peasants live, and have lived for a log time, long before the Chinese turned up.

    Huh? Tibet has been occupied since the 1950's which if you compare it to the current world situation of the times, we Americans were still highly geared up for segregation and discrimination of African Americans in the South and only a handful of people were fighting to change it until the 1960's equal rights movement.

    Hell... We are talking about a 3rd world nation's history from prior to that we might as well be talking about the Tsar and how bad he was that make the Soviet Crimes acceptable or how great the Zulus had it because the British brought them civilization at the point of a gun. Tibet had no road infrastructure, no factories, no electricity, no telecommunications, no real constitution, and pretty much was a society comparable to same one of medieval or ancient times.

    And you come to us and say that the Dali Llama and upper society was to blame for all this? Its kind of like expecting a medieval king of Europe in the 1300s to come out and say "Let's have an revolution for the people! Equal rights for all! Lets do away with Catholicism and all you believe in while we are at it."

    Things like that need things like printing presses, universities, trade, burghers, factories, and everything else needed for a revolution and a change in culture. Even if the Dali Lama came out and said we need to get rid of the old system, the peasants of Tibet would have said "Reject hundred of years of tradition? The Dali Lama has gone mad! Time for a new Dali Lama!"

    Yeah... China brought civilization and industrialization to Tibet, but they did it at a point of a gun just like Europe brought civilization to Africa. It is wrong and look how it turned out for a lot of places.

    The same apartheid in South Africa is going on in Tibet. Native Tibetans are 3rd class citizens even if they reject Buddhism.

    Of course the Tibetan lower class had it bad... Just like any other lower class in any third world nation. Its not something the leadership could correct even if they wanted to.

    Secondly it has nothing to do with religion and backwardness. China as a sense of their own Manifest destiny.

    Originally, Mao had claimed that Mongolia, Vietnam, and Korea have and always been a part of China just like Tibet. Stalin and the Red Army basically told him to can that idea.

    Of course the Dali Lama got caught up in the web of the CIA and things went bad.

    So don't tell us things sucked worse under the Lamas because it would have sucked anywhere, and it even sucks even worse with the current regimes policy towards non-ethnic Chinese.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wytcld (179112) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:50AM (#20397651) Homepage

    poor people [...] higher state of being
    In 1980 I spent five weeks in Nepal, two in Kathmandu, three of them on the Jomsom trek, beyond the end of the roads. We met Tibetans in the city, and visited villages whose Buddhist practice was Tibetan on the trek. Many of these Tibetan refugees and Buddhist villagers were quite poor - as are many of the Hindus in Nepal, one of the poorest nations. But the Tibetans and Buddhists were, to a striking degree, happier and friendlier than most of the various Hindu people in Nepal we encountered. This is nothing against the Hindus - I've seen similar psychological effects of poverty in our own Appalachia - but rather a recognition that there's a strength in the Tibetan type of Buddhism that other cultures generally lack.

    As for the monks having been relatively well off historically - yes, just as the monasteries were in old Europe. However, just like it had been in Europe, most every family could and would send one of its sons into the monkhood. So it does not map into Marxist analysis of hereditary class differences, as much as the Maoists would like to force it into that mold. It solved a problem in both Europe and Tibet - a farming family needed to have enough sons, and the best way to be sure of that was to have extra sons. But with too many sons the farm would become split up too small by inheritance to each of them. So sending the extras off to attend to religion rather than farming was good for both farms and the religious institutions.

    Now, I'm an athiest (actually, many practicing Buddhists are too - although the Tibetans more tend to polytheism), so I don't on the whole favor massive social investment in religious institutions (however beautiful some of the buildings and art end up). But there's something in Tibetan Buddhist culture that clearly produces superior sanity in its common people. Perhaps that's related to the degree that Buddhism has since its founding specifically involved itself in psychological as well as religious questions.
  • by Phil-14 (1277) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:56AM (#20397755)
    You're forgetting they haven't got oil in their soil

    I don't know about Tibet in particular, but most of the oil in China is in the western provinces and Xinjiang. (In fact, a quick google search reveals news of oil and gas finds in Tibet.)

    Did anyone ever tell you that to someone who isn't a rabid fundamentalist liberal, the rabid fundamentalist liberal non sequitor talking points sound retarded?
  • by GunFodder (208805) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:08AM (#20397937)
    Technically true, but moot. Modern intensive farming techniques require machinery that needs fuel. Then additional fuel is needed for machines to transport food to cities, where most people live. And finally fuel is used to refridgerate, heat, and otherwise process food. So technically food is more important, but we wouldn't have food without fuel.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:19AM (#20398083)
    It's not surprising that those crazy people left such a legacy in you.

    While sadly common enough, they are yet still not representative of religious people.

    I won't tell you to stop projecting that legacy onto all religious people, because it's your judgement call to make. But I will tell you that as long as you do, you're living in your own kind of fantasy land. I'm sure it's quite comfortable there, compared to facing the wounded emotions aroused by your particular family history. But wounded emotions never heal without being faced. I hope some day you're ready for that, because the improvement in one's life from their release is nearly priceless. And no, I am not suggesting that that healing comes through being religious.
  • by hobo sapiens (893427) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:22AM (#20398151) Journal
    "we wouldn't have food without fuel."
    Sure you would. If I were starving I'd plant some food in my backyard and most people would do the same in their backyards, though I have no idea what people in places like NYC would do. You'd have no industrial farming, sure, but you'd have food. I have this theory that if we had to grow our own food, we'd waste far less and we (Americans) wouldn't be so lazy.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:35AM (#20398325)
    You make some fair points, so I should adress them.

    Huh? Tibet has been occupied since the 1950's which if you compare it to the current world situation of the times, we Americans were still highly geared up for segregation and discrimination of African Americans in the South and only a handful of people were fighting to change it until the 1960's equal rights movement.

    Oh dear, please don't get me started on the US and its human rights record. Mind you I come from a wealthy Australian Family, and although we left that life (my mother and I left, the money stayed with my father), I still feel bad about looking at the queues of aboriginies that always seemd to be outside of doctors/dentists etc when we just walked right in, due no doubt to our duel status of being white and rich. I didn't know at the time, but we represented the very worst aspect of racism, we, or at least I, didn't even realise it was happening.

    Discrimination has always been a problem, doubtless it wil continue to be so, but I despair at our holding up a person like the Dalai Lama as an example of virtue. Better someone who has been a slave, then a representaive of slave holders. And no, I don't know if all slaves are virtuous. If I were made a slave, I don't think virtue would be a prime attribute I would aim for.

    or how great the Zulus had it because the British brought them civilization at the point of a gun.

    Well first we gave them guns, then they objected to our taking their land and tried to give us the bullets back, then it devolved into this whole nasty thing, I beleive Micheal Cain was there. Englands record as an empire maker isn't the kindest in history.

    And you come to us and say that the Dali Llama and upper society was to blame for all this? Its kind of like expecting a medieval king of Europe in the 1300s to come out and say "Let's have an revolution for the people! Equal rights for all! Lets do away with Catholicism and all you believe in while we are at it."

    You can't blame him for continuing what has been established for centuries, true. But we shouldn't Laud him as some kind of devine provider of wisdom either.

    Things like that need things like printing presses, universities, trade, burghers, factories, and everything else needed for a revolution and a change in culture. Even if the Dali Lama came out and said we need to get rid of the old system, the peasants of Tibet would have said "Reject hundred of years of tradition? The Dali Lama has gone mad! Time for a new Dali Lama!"

    That would be the job of the UN. Besides which, the Tibetans may not all want that. Enforced alterations of a society have never gone well. I don't know how to fix their problems, didn't say I did.

    So don't tell us things sucked worse under the Lamas because it would have sucked anywhere, and it even sucks even worse with the current regimes policy towards non-ethnic Chinese.

    I don't know if its worse under them then any other regime, I just know it sucks.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by STrinity (723872) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:47AM (#20398483) Homepage

    The guy has won a Nobel Peace Prize and I suspect you haven't.


    So has Yasser Arafat. What's your point?
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:50AM (#20398525)
    We also wouldn't be doing anything but growing food.
  • by vorlich (972710) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:16AM (#20398993) Homepage Journal
    actually they did. During the "Cultural Revolution" Mao declared birds responsible for crop damage and village cadres were soon fighting over who had exterminated the most birds. The following year and for a quite a few years after that, the crop damage from insects was fairly substantial. They gave that up and took on the challenge of small scale steel production - see previous sentence and replace "exterminated" for "produced" and "birds" for "useless slag". This resulted in no trees, which were used to fuel the smelting operations and virtually no iron pots, tools, utensils or bits off the nearest site of important cultural and scientific interest (easier to melt).
    Other enlightened activities from the People's Paradise included the public humilation and beating of teachers and academics (those well known threats to the very fabric of society) in the streets.

    It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads slashdot that a) the Chinese concept of government is a rather loose term and b) that regular news scraped from msnbc about Bhuddism, the Chinese and er.. religion is somewhat short of the mark as far as news for nerds goes. It should be common knowledge amongst this readership and if not shouldn't you be listening to the Skeptics podcast? http://www.theskepticsguide.org/ [theskepticsguide.org] or even reading other material?

    Oh, and I am surprised at the absence of a surfeit of comments mentioning how all of the vitriol here is counter to almost everything the present Dalai Lama has said on ... well everything really.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:30AM (#20399209)
    China invaded Tibet in 1950. Things were different 57 years ago! If you are going to set up a straw man regarding the oppression of Tibet by the Buddhist aristocracy, you should acknowledge that the entire world was less egalitarian then.

    The U.S. military was just being integrated. A presidential candidate (Strom Thurmond) won the whole South on a segregationist platform. Lynchings were still relatively common.

    Women were systematically oppressed worldwide. Many places they were not allowed to own property or get a divorce.

    Alan Turing, a great mathematician without whom the Allies would have likely lost the war, was about to be tortured to death by his own gov't because he was sexually attracted to men.

    The Partion of India had just occured where half a million people died.

    The Soviet Union and China routinely sent huge amounts (10s of millions) of their own citizens to gulags and concentration camps to be worked to death.

    The world has changed since then. So it's misleading to say the Chinese invasion and subsequent mass murders, gang rapes, and demolitions were justified because a ruling class existed back then. Every country had a ruling class back then.

    An honest assessment would say that Tibet's society and gov't would have evolved in the past 57 years.
  • He asked for it ;) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:51AM (#20399533) Journal
    1. Well, the funny thing is, the Tibetan theocracy is based on the idea that essentially they didn't have several Dalai Lamas. They had exactly one, which was reincarnated again and again and again in different bodies, but still was the same guy.

    I can see how that had a stabilizing effect, though. It's hard to argue the legitimacy of a succession when, so we're told, there was no succession, silly. There never was one. It's the same guy on the combined secular and spiritual throne, for the last several centuries straight.

    Now if you're more secular minded, like I am, you probably won't give a damn about such claims. Pfft, of course there were several Dalai Lamas, and each must be judged by his own merits and shortcomings.

    But let's pretend that we believed that reincarnation claim. There was always the same guy on the throne. The same applies to most of the other Lamas, btw. So essentially the not only they had the same ruler all along, but they had the same guys as his councillors/cardinals/whatever-you-want-to-call-th em. It was the same gang at the top all along, uninterrupted.

    Then, pray tell, why _shouldn't_ we hold him responsible for what he's done at various points in the last few hundred years?

    Since you mention the Tsar, I'd do the same if there was one and the same Tsar on their throne ever since Ivan the Terrible assumed that title. If anyone's claim to authority was that he, essentially, _is_ Ivan the Terrible, plus all other Tsars ever since... then I'd also hold him responsible for all the atrocities those did at various points.

    2. The point that things sucked everywhere if you go far enough in the past, is true and insightful, but it still doesn't remove another question: then how enlightened were they after all?

    A lot of disillusioned westerners have this idea that even shit smells great if it's packed as some ancient asian mysticism. Surely every single religion, cult, superstition, heresy or divine right excuse is pure enlightenment, if it comes from the far east. And their monks and gurus? Whoa, if they're from the far east, they surely were all enlightened, selfless, generous, open-minded, and so learned that they were a walking Wikipedia. Why surely if you gave a bunch of them secular power, that'd rock, right?

    So then you look at one state that was ruled like that, and the best that you can say is, well, as you were saying, that it wasn't much worse than any other medieval totalitarian state.

    Basically to answer to your example about the European medieval kings of 1300: no, of course, I wouldn't condemn them for being medieval back then. But I wouldn't hold them as an enlightenment model for the present generation either.
  • by EgoWumpus (638704) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:00AM (#20399689)

    So, having decided that you do not like religious people, the question still stands; how much have you studied religion? Do you know anything about the eightfold path? What the difference between Mecca and Medina is? What a pharasee is, versus a zealot? Who really got the Protestant revolution rolling?

    Because however you feel about the people who choose to practice religion today, and devote more of their life to it than to other pursuits, religion as a cultural force is incredibly powerful and far reaching in our history. More to the point it fueled a great deal of our modern philosophy - including most secular and scientific philosophy that is considered to be the greatest enlightened thinking of our day. Few people question the cultural role of the Dalai Lamas in the past because the philosophical ideas that Buddhism has spread are so powerful; and ultimately, the culture is changing in the face of the twenty first century. Similarly, no one cares that the House of David probably was not exactly the beneficent dictator we'd like to think. Life is incredibly hard in poor countries. Harder still in poor countries without technology. Even harder in poor countries without democracy.

    If you don't believe in the righteousness of the Dalai Lama's cause, then don't stand for it. That is fair. But doing so on the basis of his forerunner's cultural environment is sort of like saying the Constitution isn't worth fighting for because it was written by slave owners. There has to be a recognition that society is a living thing, changes, and despite the fact that we all came from feces-flinging monkeys, we've still got a case.

  • Re:novel politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by carlosgardel (1149281) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:12AM (#20399883)
    As a good, conscientious Marxist myself, I can confidently say that Parenti is not too bright. He is not even consistent for that matter. He is opposed to the Iraq war (as am I), and argues that it was the invasion of one sovereign country by another. Yet somehow he supports the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, because, well, somehow they deserved it because Parenti didn't like the particular form of oppression there. Oh, and plus the Chinese claim to be Marxists, so I guess that that makes it OK. He is against the Israeli settlements and says the UN specifically bans population transfers to occupied territories; yet he has no problem when the Chinese do this on a far, far greater scale in Tibet.

    Its pathetic, really. Either you are (like Lenin) for the self-determination of nations regardless of their stage of economic and social development; or you support some variant of nationalism. Either you are against colonization, or you are for it. If Parenti were at all consistent or intellectually honest, he would say: "I support the Chinese invasion and colonization of Tibet because China is more progressive. I also support the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan because, as much as it pains me to say it, the US is the more progressive side in those conflicts. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are wrong, and so is the Chinese population transfer to Tibet." But he doesn't. And he doesn't because he either isn't that bright or isn't that honest. Take your pick.

    And let's not be naive -- the Chinese invasion and continued colonization of Tibet has nothing to do with "liberation," socialism, or anything noble. This is about aggressive nationalism plain and simple, and now it is also about capitalism. It seems that the Chinese just can't imagine having a neighbor without Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, Budweiser, and a good Chinese-owned mining company digging up whatever it can dig up.

    Of course Tibet was no paradise before the invasion. The only times that I have ever heard this claim is when pro-Chinese-invasion people say things like "supporters of the Dalai Lama claim that Tibet was a paradise before the Chinese came, but it really was a nasty place." Other than that, I have only heard supporters talk about this as an issue of national self-determination. Why is that something so hard to understand?

    One other thing to consider about the Dalai Lama. Like his predecessors, he is way out ahead of the dominant class of Tibet in political terms. He demanded a constitution that would limit his political authority, and then called all Tibetans to vote on it. He wants to retire as anything but ceremonial head of state, or at least have his successor do this. The programs that he has called for in a truly autonomous Tibet make Dennis Kucinich look like Dick Cheney. And, of course, he also considers himself a Marxist.
    http://hhdl.dharmakara.net/hhdlquotes1.html#marxis m [dharmakara.net]

    Given that the Dalai Lama is more politically progressive than the current Chinese government; given that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is illegal; given that the Chinese colonization of Tibet is a violation of United Nations regulations on occupation; and given that the majority of Tibetans recognize him, not the Chinese government, as the legitimate ruler of the country -- given all that, why on Earth would anyone support the Chinese position on this?

    There is one reason: Chinese nationalism. It really is that simple.
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:21AM (#20400003)
    There is thousands of years of coal available, which can be processed into a diesel fuel. There is also nuclear electric power, with hydrogen fuel cells as batteries, if we are concerned about CO2 emmissions (but the "envoirnmentalists" will probably make sure that we go with coal).

    The U.S. has no shortage of energy options. It is just that oil is so damn cheap that unless the supply is seriously endangered, the U.S. isn't going to make the investment to change.
  • Re:novel politics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by toddhisattva (127032) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:22AM (#20400021) Homepage

    Dali Lama, while he presents himself as a force for enlightenment, is really the head figure for what you might term the upper class of Tibet
    Thanks for the Chinese Communist Party line on Tibetan history. I'm sure we've all forgotten Marxist cant about class struggle.

    Since you're the expert on upper classes, maybe you can answer "yes" or "no" to a question I have about Tibetan nobility -- were the Licchavis from Persian Nishapur?

    And by the way, it's "Dalai," a Turkic word for "Ocean" or "Oceanic" or some such. "Lama" of course is the Tibetan word for "guru," which you know is Sanskrit for "heavy" and is cognate to English "gravity" (I like to call it "guruvity") and other weighty things. The history of how a high lama became temporal ruler of a Central Asian country is, as you know, quite fascinating.

    What I like is when the Sanskrit names start showing up in the Mongol royal houses. Schweet!

    the impovorished state in which the peasants live
    I don't know how far the teachings of Baden-Powell penetrated Central Asia, but let's pretend it's a fact and try to imagine the plight of Tibetan Boy Scouts....

    Tenderfoot must start a fire. At 5000m ASL. [bmj.com] This thought experiment should produce some sympathy for those impoverished by lack of oxygen!

    Look, I'm not Gelug and I'm not trying to convert you. I'm partial to Nyingma, Bön, and read much Rime material myself. But the Chinese takeover of Tibet was one of the cruelest acts of the 20th Century and finding the ChiCom Party Line has put me on a righteous tear.

    Modernization is the process by which today's "poor" live better than kings of centuries past. So yes, it's good China is modernizing Tibet a little. They could have done it at far less human cost. I mean, if my native Texas can modernize in the space of the few decades I've been alive, Tibet could certainly have done it or be well on the way by now. It's a mineral treasure house (hey, isn't that the Chinese name for Tibet?) just like Texas.

    Problem is, Chinese peasants are still poor, and I mean really poor not American "poor." China can only improve the plight of Tibet's poor to the level of its own poor, which is no different at all.

    So it's the same Communist crap all over again. The ruling class is replaced with a new, improved ruling class, plus all the murder and book burning that made Communism so appealing to 20th-Century aintellectuals. The plight of the poor is reduced by the simple expedient of killing them.

    (I'm using the New Chinese Ruling Class's own adjective for themselves, "Communist," despite the fact they're "Communist on the outside, Legalist on the inside." Which fact bolsters my cynicism regarding the "new improved ruling class.")

    Too bad Tibet wasn't in the north of the fractious Mexican Empire, but good thing Texas isn't in Central Asia. We would feel cold and small in that place.

    I do concede that the Chinese takeover is a fait accompli. And I wholeheartedly wish Tibet to be a free country. Given the fait, and my wish, the obvious way to free Tibet is to free Peking (Wade-Giles intended, as homage to the legitimate government of China).

    (Hey, that's a totally different fest of flames. I'm gonna go drink coffee now.)
  • Re:novel politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:41AM (#20400329)

    Could you at least show the Dalai Lama some respect by spelling his name correctly? The guy has won a Nobel Peace Prize and I suspect you haven't.
    Yeah, but the Dalai Lama owned human beings as slaves, and I haven't. I don't really consider slave-owners to be the paragon of virtue, even if they win a political popularity contest like the Nobel Peace Prize.

    I suppose it hasn't occured to you that there might be a way of life that doesn't revolve around power and greed?
    I would say owning human beings as personal property is the ultimate expression of power and greed. But so long as he makes inscrutable fortune-cookie style soundbite proclamations every once in a while, sucker Westerners will lap that stuff up and consider him some sort of sage.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @03:34PM (#20403867)
    ...used to have timely, cutting-edge news? Now, almost without exception, I have seen the articles on slashdot several days prior at other sites. As more responsive and more numerous tech-centric sites pop up, and as slashdot's political group-think becomes more pervasive and mindless, this site is becoming less relevant as a daily "must read" site.

    Sour grapes.

    People have been complaining about Slashdot from the day of its inception, but it's still a great place to examine the world and put your ideas through a crucible where science and rational thinking are the flames people have agreed upon as being the best human kind has to offer when deconstructing ideas. I have a tough time of it here, because my ideas are non orthodox by most standards, but you don't see me crying foul or trying to use false-rationalization to pretend to myself that the whole site is worthless simply because my ideas are picked at. I keep coming back here precisely because there are so many different kinds of stripe and opinion willing to engage in debate. That's hardly 'Group Think'.

    And 'Group Think' about what exactly? 'Group Think,' appears to have become the latest term being slung around now that, 'Red', and 'Bleeding Heart' have been reduced to jokes in our culture. Say what you really mean and be prepared to back up your comments and judgments instead of skulking around. There's a soap box for you if you're brave enough to stand on it and speak clearly. But you'll have to work for it. Maybe it would be easier just to say, "Screw you guys! I'm taking my toys and going home."


    -FL

  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @12:26AM (#20408175)

    You're suggesting that somehow the whoooole rest of the frickin world would die if America stopped exporting stuff?

    Actually if the US, along with the EU and Japan stopped subsidizing food exports third world nations would then grow more food themselves. Because First World nations heavily subsidize agriculture they are able to export food to third world nations cheaper than people in those countries can grow it. That's one of the reason the US has as many "illegal aliens" or immigrants from Mexico. Because of NAFTA US agribusiness can grow corn in the US, export it to Mexico, and sell it cheaper than Mexican farmers spend growing it. Farm subsidies are a hugh problem in world trade talks, as with the WTO. Africa, Brazil, and India and well as others refuse to open up their markets unless the EU, Japan, and USA stop subsidizing agriculture.

    Falcon

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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