Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dalai Lama: Half Marxist, Half Buddhist

It's no secret that the real threat to the Chinese Communist Party doesn't come from capitalism, but Marxism. U.S. corporations like Cisco have been helping the Chinese government build and maintain its ruthless surveillance state, while Apple pays off officials in order to rake in profits by violating basic labour standards. One of the main pillars of the Chinese system is American capital.

The Marxists are the dissidents, the real party poopers. They remind everyone of the class struggle, of social justice and equality, all things that have become incompatible with China's feverish embrace of globalization. A recent article in Tricycle, "Occupy Buddhism, or Why the Dalai Lama is a Marxist," explains why this dissident's claim to be "half-Marxist, half-Buddhist" makes perfect sense. For one thing, both share a fundamental belief in dialectical materialism.

(Tibet - Drepung Monastery, by Yewco)
The Dalai Lama has acknowledged his Marxist affinities for a long time, admitting that its central appeal lies in its emphasis on equality and fairness:
"Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned with only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production.

It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes—that is the majority—as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair...

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

So if a synthesis between Buddha and Marx is possible, maybe it's not easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than to imagine a radical change in capitalism. As Marx and Engels wrote in German Ideology:
"Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things."
Today, a Buddhist-Marxist alliance isn't needed to achieve this - Wall Street is enough.

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