The Dalai Lama identified himself as a Marxist [last January] while addressing capitalism, discrimination and violence at a lecture on world peace in Kolkata, India. This is not the first time that the 14th Dalai Lama has spoken about his political leaning – in 2011 he said: “I consider myself a Marxist…but not a Leninist” when speaking at a conference in Minneapolis. [see newsweek.com 1/15/15]
A Marxist but not a Leninist? He might as well be saying: “I like Marxism in theory; but not when applied, in practice.”
It’s a mind-dichotomy. Yes in theory, but no in practice. That’s what you’d expect from a mystic, correct?
“We must have a human approach. As far as socioeconomic theory, I am Marxist,” he said.
What does it mean to be “human”? Are humans free to think, and therefore responsible for thinking? Or do they have some other nature? Like animals, for example, who are the product of their instincts and have no capacity for conceptual thought?
What is human nature, Mr. Dalai Lama? Tell us that first, before you propose a social system suitable for humans.
The success of capitalism — even hampered capitalism — suggests that when left free to think, and free to trade, human beings do exceedingly well, particularly compared to the alternatives. Communism, Nazism, primitive tribalism, democratic socialism — none of these have come close to producing what capitalism in America produced, particularly in its most inventive and economically free period, the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Tibetan spiritual leader partly blamed capitalism for inequality and said he regarded Marxism as the answer: “In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution,” he said, adding that “many Marxist leaders are now capitalists in their thinking”.
Why is a gap between rich and poor inherently wrong and bad, Mr. Dalai Lama?
For example, you could have a society with 1 million people. All can be equally starving. But you still have equality. That’s what socialism generally results in. Take a look not just at contemporary Cuba or North Korea, but also the collapse of Venezuela.
Or the 1 million could all be well above the level of starving — only to different degrees. Some rely on charity, some make modest incomes either by choice or due to ability, and some do either above average or phenomenally well.
Which society is better? The one where everyone starves and suffers equally, or the one where conditions are far superior for everyone, although not equally so?
Why does nobody ever ask this question? I’d love to hear a socialist or Marxist try to reply.
He said that he regarded economic and social inequality in India as the reason for ongoing discrimination against women and low social castes, calling on the world’s youth to take the 21st century from a century of violence to a “century of peace”.
Capitalism delivers the goods, respects private property, upholds individual rights and lifts the standard of living for all, from the poorest who depend on charity (the minority) to the richest, and the vast middle class in between.
Marxism, on the other hand, freezes everyone in time and leads to discontent, depression and despair.
Which situation is more likely to lead to peace, and which to warfare and envious attacks on one’s neighbors? If peace is your goal, Mr. Dalai Lama, then why choose Marxism over capitalism?
The Dalai Lama, when reportedly asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Is productive work a sacrifice? A sacrifice refers to giving up a greater good for a lesser good. If a man works himself to death, it’s a contradiction. Work is supposed to achieve survival, and — beyond survival — personal meaning and fulfillment.
It’s true that people are capable of contradictions, and many engage (sometimes unknowingly) in contradictory behaviors. However, this does not mean work is somehow bad, wrong or harmful. It’s only one’s contradictions or errors that can harm oneself. Thinking, including introspection at times, is the way we correct contradictions or errors, and ultimately free ourselves to survive, expand, flourish and grow.
Human beings, Mr. Dalai Lama, are fallible creatures. We’re capable of much — way more than we know — but we must be free to think, to correct our errors, improve our knowledge, and improve to ever-expanding achievements.
Capitalism, the social system of private property where individuals, scientists, and entrepreneurs are left free to think, as well as profit from their thinking, is the system where human potential reaches real, material heights exciting enough to generate any “spiritual” experience worthy of the name.
The “spirit” refers to the human mind, including the potential (sometimes great) possessed within any individual mind. Capitalism and private property provide the groundwork for those minds to achieve their potential and improve the human standard of living beyond the stagnant, anti-materialist despair of your whining, destructive Marxist fantasies.
The choice between the future and the present is a false alternative. While it’s true that living in the present is crucial both for fulfillment and survival, it’s equally true that a long-range perspective is also required. The challenge for human beings is to be long-range in scope while always living in, focusing on and enjoying the present. It’s an enormous challenge, but not a contradiction.
Psychologically, the Dalai Lama, in that quote, describes the emotional condition of too many people. The problem is that too many people, like the Dalai Lama, view work itself as a sacrifice. They see it as a duty which they resent and, in an ideal state, would not have to do. As a result, they treat their work with negligence, passive-aggressive resignation or outright disrespect. They fail to take pride in what they do because they don’t want to feel pride for duty or drudgery; who does?
In the process, this leads people to long for some kind of effortless alternative, in which gratification will come to them automatically or naturally. Capitalism is a reminder that this is not how it works. This depresses many, and outrages others, especially the ones drawn to Marxism (or its many equivalents.)
It’s not that most people become lazy bums. In fact, most do not. Only the most consistent ones stop working. The less consistent majority grudgingly and resentfully go through their days of work and their lives, assuming it’s their “assigned” lot in life rather than the product of their choices and efforts over a long period of time.
Choices? Those only apply in a society where people are left free to set the course of their lives, which is not the case in Marxist, socialist or other collectivist or tribal societies. In the Dalai Lama’s world of Marxism, no such choice would be permitted.
Capitalism and — more deeply — freedom itself (economic and otherwise) only makes sense if you agree that free will exists, and that it matters. Metaphysically, the Dalai Lama is a mystic, i.e. someone who believes that values detached from the material and the bodily world are the ideal ones for us to attain. How do you attain values apart from the real world, and apart from the real life actions of people who are supposed to attain them? That’s the one question nobody ever seems able to answer; not even the great Dalai Lama.
In reality, there are no values except for those that connect with both the mind and the body; the spiritual and the physical; both in freedom of thought and in freedom of action.
Given the Dalai Lama’s attitude that the mind and spirituality are somehow superior to, or above, the body and the material world, it’s no wonder he eschews capitalism in favor of Marxism. If material life on earth is secondary or unimportant, then why on earth build great skyscrapers, rocket ships, achieve gigantic feats of engineering and technological wonders, medical technology and breakthroughs, and all the rest of the things that secular societies, secular minds and secular philosophies have provided for us?
If life itself is an unimportant or irrelevant illusion, then why in the world support capitalism — the only system that makes life on earth — real, actual life — purposeful, fulfilling, productive and survivable?
Of course the Dalai Lama is a Marxist. It’s his spiritual beliefs that make us so vulnerable to the false promises and ruthless brutality of the Marxists (and their equivalents) who seek to rule human beings.
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