May 21, 2010

I think I prefer a Real Llama

A ranch nearby has a couple dozen llamas and I always enjoy driving by.

However this Dalai Lama fellow, really tees me off.

"Still I am a Marxist," the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived today with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.

"(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits," the Dalai Lama, 74, said.


Ann Althouse links, suggesting "'[...] only how to make profits.' Only. Only improving the lives of millions."

I had always put Mister Lama into the "mostly harmless" bucket, that his calls for a more spiritual existence were nicely balanced by his high moral standing attacks against Chinese repression of Tibet and laogais. Let him chant, he's not hurting anybody.

Well now he is hurting people, championing the political system that enslaved his country and outlawed his religion, over the one that feeds the world and provides a foundation for human liberty, dignity, and prosperity. Thanks, ThreeSourcers, I don't know anywhere where I can say this: "MISERABLE, FUCKING DALAI LAMA!!!"

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at May 21, 2010 12:14 PM

Right on, right on, right on.

And.... WOW! Unprecedented opprobrium.

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2010 1:35 PM

JK, as anti-freedom as the Chinese government is, they'd probably subsidize you to say that in Beijing.

He'd have done well as an Englishman in the 17th century Americas. "Those evil Spanish are enslaving you! You should be my slaves instead!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 21, 2010 1:37 PM

If he likes Marxism, then Tibet is getting what it deserves. In some parts, it's called "karma."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 21, 2010 2:01 PM

Nothing can bring together fractious ThreeSourcers like hate for the Dalai Lama! Kumbaya!!!

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2010 3:14 PM

Eh, I don't really see the big deal. Who is he hurting - just by talking, I mean? The Dali Lama has little influence anywhere. Those in Tibet cannot hear what he says, those in Beijing do not care what he says, and his attack on Capitalism will change few minds in Washington.

The Dalai Lama is but a small pawn in much larger great power game. His attempts to grab headlines refocus the attention on himself should be viewed as just that.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 21, 2010 5:24 PM

Sorry guys, I dig the Dalai Lama. His mistake is the oldest one in the book and one I used to watch my friends the Benedictine nuns make regularly. They believed "real" Marxism hadn't been tried yet. They come from religious disciplines where collectivism has worked very well for centuries and mistakenly see Marxism as an extension of their own experience. They fail to distinguish between voluntarily turning one's will over to the service of God and being compelled to turn one's life and will over to the service of the state. I've never understood how the religious, so profoundly committed to the notion of free will could confuse this but they do all the time. Remember the liberation theologists from back in the 80's. And it is unfortunate that the Dalai Lama can't see the systemic flaws in Marxism. It would be one thing if the Chinese were the exception to the rule and everywhere else Marxism had been tried became a workers paradise, but this obviously didn't happen. It's a broken model that brings slavery and death wherever it goes. Democratic Capitalism, for all it's flaws, has brought more freedom and more wealth to more people than any other system in human history, but to the Good Sister's at Sacred Heart Convent and to the Dalai Lama, a most compassionate and holy man, this seems counterintuitive. They see "sharing" as the most practical and fastest response to human suffering and while this might offend the Randians, those of us who grew up with the Sermon on the Mount should at least be able to understand their point of view.

And I guess if we're all for offending Muslims the world over by trashing one of their beliefs it's no big deal to drop F-bombs on the Dalai Lama, but this doesn't seem to me to be in the spirit of debate that I've come to expect from Three Sources.

Posted by: sugarchuck at May 21, 2010 5:24 PM

@SC: I was angry, and I think within my right to vigorous expression -- as you are right for calling me on it. Plus, Season 7 of Penn & Teller's BS is out and I have been exposed to much. The F-bomb is a match this week and it's kinda soggy on one side.

@everybody else should do him or herself a huge favor and read Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism." SC recommended it to me and it is superb. And inline with brother sc's defense of the robed one.

@tg: I think you're "wrong as pants on a trout" as Mister Quint would say on "Curious George." His opinion carries great weight in the free world as he is seen as one of the last people with true moral authority. The WSJ Ed Page has covered his speeches as much as leftist organs.

It sets liberty back a great deal to have him say that in 2010. It gives a legitimacy to the hangers on that they should be denied. It's not 1918 or 1949, we have seen what this does to people.

Yesterday, I would have been pretty positive on the man I swore at. But I lean toward thinking this morning's reaction correct. He claims power and authority because he is the multi-reincarnated leader of antiquity. (Ayn Rand, call your office!) True, he does not live la vida al goro with mansions on both coasts and one in between, but he has escaped the privation and limitations of an occupied country to live a decent life with bodyguards and nice hotels and fawning respect of journalists and politicians the world over.

I challenge his authority on any sphere to tell Americans that we expunged our racism by electing President Obama or that Marxism really is the best way to organize peoples and economies.

I am reminded at a visceral level I cannot fully explain of Harry Belafonte's attack on then Secretary of State Colin Powell. This guy who sang folk songs in the 60s presumes to tell me what to think of an American Hero.

Same deal, only the Dalai Lama never had a hit.

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2010 6:18 PM

Eh, I still don't think this is that big of a deal. Several left-of-center outlets have taken some heat on these pages upon championing the rhetoric of President Obama as actually policy victories. Thing is, words are not reality. Many people seem to think so, but you have been pretty good at noting the distinction.

And less it has been forgotten - WSJ covered Obama's speeches too.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 22, 2010 6:52 PM

Well then, I guess you can't say "MFDL" even here, at ThreeSources. All this chatter compelled me to read the linked article, which paints a picture of the Buddhist leader saying, essentially, "My mind's made up. Don't confuse me with the facts." He admitted that capitalism and market economics have resulted in higher living standards and greater freedoms but no, he's still not a capitalist. "harmony must come out of the heart, not out of fear" he said. "So far, methods to bring harmony mostly rely on use of force." On that score he is right: Communism, Marxism, relies upon force to establish civil order. The antithesis, capitalism, gives men a way to deal with other men without force. How is this not harmonious? And how are higher living standards and greater freedoms good, while the profits that make them both possible are somehow inconsequential?

And yes, TG, this is a big deal. Many westerners follow the Dalai Lama as an alternative spiritual leader to the Christian teachings which pervade American conservative thought. The "moral" sanction which this aging dimwit grants to discredited ideologies such as Marxism is one of the few things keeping them alive. Don't think anyone in Washington is affected by his words? Ask JK's facebook friends, or neighbors in Boulder county. In the home of the Naropa Institute and more "Free Tibet" bumper stickers than bumpers, anything the DL says is a big deal.

And brother SC, you say you like the guy but also that he is gravely mistaken. Can you acknowledge that even well intentioned people, with the wrong ideas and too much influence, can do great harm?

Sharing is good, when voluntary. Harmony is good, if genuine. Force is bad, except in self-defense. Theft is bad, always. A humble man once said, "Charity is a business for those with means to give, not for those who have first stolen those means."

"The Dalai Lama said he felt a "sense of the oneness of human beings," jokingly adding: "If those thoughts are wrong, please let me know!" No, that sense is not wrong, but it comes from more widespread prosperity, not from expansion of Marxism. But there is one thing that makes thoughts of oneness wrong: The idea that it is such a high moral value that it can be virtuously pursued "at any cost" even if it requires theft, or force, or Marxism.

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2010 4:44 PM
Many westerners follow the Dalai Lama as an alternative spiritual leader to the Christian teachings which pervade American conservative thought. The "moral" sanction which this aging dimwit grants to discredited ideologies such as Marxism is one of the few things keeping them alive. Don't think anyone in Washington is affected by his words? Ask JK's facebook friends, or neighbors in Boulder county. In the home of the Naropa Institute and more "Free Tibet" bumper stickers than bumpers, anything the DL says is a big deal.


As outrageous as it may seem, I submit that a simple random sample of the bumper stickers found in Boulder Colorado is not representative of the nation as a whole.

I have lived in three states in the last four years. None of them are particularly conservative; one has (in terms of percentage) a much higher population of Buddhists than the national average. In none did I observe the use of the Dalai Lama as a standard source of spiritual authority by the general populace - or even its left-leaning community.

I think you overestimate the influence of this man. However, I don't either of us can prove our case empirically. An impasse it is.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 24, 2010 10:53 PM

Fair enough, though you siezed on my attempt at humor to disarm my argument. But the degree to which MFDL's beliefs are accepted by others is immaterial to the moral value of those beliefs. Even if only he believes them they are still wrong.

Rand taught not to give the sanction of silence. "Speak up" she said, "even if only to say 'I disagree."

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2010 3:40 PM | What do you think? [11]