Democrazy in Tibet?

I was unpleasently surprised when I heard the news yesterday. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (since 1940), announced that he will lay down a part of his function in favour of a chosen successor. A few things went through my head. I had the (Theosophistic mistaken?) assumption that Tibet was ruled by a pair of Lamas, the Dalai Lama who is the worldly leader and the Panchen Lama (also Pänchen, Teshu or Tashi Lama), the spiritual leader. According to the Dutch news, the Dalai Lama was both the spiritual and worldly leader of the Tibetans and from now on, he will only be the spiritual leader. The current Panchen Lama (Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama since 1995) was born in 1989 and he disappeared. According the Chinese occupier the 11th Panchen Lama is Qoigyijabu (Gyancain Norbu), but even the Tibetans themselves do not agree on who is the actual 11th Panchen Lama. Perhaps because all of this controversy, the Dalai Lama took both tasks, but when you read (Western) information about the Lamas, it looks like the Panchen Lama has always been on the second plane.
When this theory is true, the entire Tibetan legacy is going down in the time of one Dalai Lama. Mind you, I have the higest respect for the man, but now it seems that he not only incorporated two roles, but also wants to bring democracy into Tibet.
The reason that I always had an above average interest in the Tibetan people is because I have (had) the idea that Tibet is the last of the real traditional peoples, a genuine theocracy in which the leaders are chosen by God. As you probably know, when a Tibetan lama dies, his followers will look for his new incarnation in a proces that is hard to follow for a Westerner. I know I will not make myself popular saying this, but contrary to the common idea, I do not think democracy (democrazy) is a proper base for a society. Decisions should be made by people who have the ability to make decisions, not by the common man. When you look at the current political state of the Western countries (actually of any democracy of today) you can see where that leads to. Countries with no government because the chosen fractions refuse to form alliances, populistic fractions that become too big, referenda about the most stupid subjects. Nope, Tibet is a country in which the goal of living is enlightenment not economic growth and before a decade or some ago, a country in which religions existed alongside eachother. Since the occupation of Tibet by China in 1950, much changed governementwise (the Dalai Lama fled to India and the Chinese made the Panchen Lama disappear in order to install their own jackstraw according to some), but it seems that 60 years later, Tibet is growing to be a country with Western ideas of economy (tourism), materialism, religious intolerance and as the final blow, democrazy. Some time soon, Tibetans will have their first political parties, debates, costly campaigns that will be won by the richest candidate: a Chinese. And what do us Westerners do? Applaud the coming of democracy, because democracy is good; and be relieved that we no longer have to reprimand our “powerfull economic partner” China for violating human rights, because Tibets can now choose their own butchers. How the hell are we now going to:
Free Tibet!

2 comments

  1. I’ve always had mixed views about Tibetan politics. To me, the Dalai Lama has tried to ingratiate himself to the modernists in the West to gain support for his cause. It is perhaps not too surprising then, that much of the American ultra-left, actually supports a person, who, if he had been white and Christian, would be instantly labeled a reactionary. Moreover, the Dalai Lama can’t be considered a traditional figure as a whole, given his hostile opposition to the practice of venerating traditional Tibetan Deities (Dorje Shugden).

    It is not to say that there are not some authentic traces of the Tradition in Old Tibetan society, however. But this does not necessarily make the “old Tibet” the mythical Shangri-La that Hollywood would make it seem.

    1. Yes my view of Tibet also has strong Shambala edges, but I realise that since the Chinese occupation and the Dalai Lama’s efforts to raise attention for his cause, things have ran downhill rapidly. Sure, the Dalai Lama will also have his downsides, but I am happy that he gets more attention than the Chinese strawman. On the other side, what bothers my a lot is that economic raisons make the West turn a blind eye to the whole situation. Also the ‘democracy is good’ and ‘market economy is good’ approach of the West is going to bring down the entire world down for the sole reason that Westerners actually believe that it is for the better. I think the West will actually applaud this shift of the Dalai Lama (perhaps they even forced the idea on him). But since Tibetans are relatively quiet (they do not bomb Bejing to take a stand), it is a better subject to use to question Western values than the terrorist-raising countries under Muslim regime and besides that, there is not much left.

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