Just had another debate with “Free Tibet” ppl that went something like this:
Me: providing historical facts, studies, pictures, and trying to draw out meaning and context in terms like “independence,” “freedom” and “occupation.”
Them: deep outrage and burning anger that anyone can oppose Tibetan independence; loaded rhetorical questions. When pressed to respond to studies provided, response is awkward silence and “I’m too busy,” “I don’t have time for this conversation.”
So, pretty much like every other time I’ve tried to talk about Tibet with these people.
Did you tell them the adoration of Tibet was rooted in the nazi search for Aryans? And that Heinrich Harrer was a SS?
The person who made me discover the horrors of pre-communist Tibet was Domenico Losurdo. I was on my fucking ass.
I don’t understand how anyone can still look at the Dalai Lama without repulsion and horror after knowing what he’s directly responsible of as the leader of that feudal theocracy.
And don’t give me the “but it’s not his fauuuultttt he was just put theeerreeee”. I’ve heard enough of that bullshit with Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.
Really though your comparison with the French Revolution is so well-taken here.
The Western mythology around Tibet relies really heavily on a totally ahistorical (and pretty racist/Orientalist) view of pre-1951 Tibet as a harmonious and pious Buddhist society, whose tranquility was rudely interrupted by Chinese tanks which rolled in because the Chinese are big meanies or something.
But when we see that there are really clear analogies between social processes that took place in Tibet after 1951 and those in other places that we recognize as revolutionary contexts, we are forced to reckon with the fact that Tibetans are actual full human beings like we are; and Tibetan society — like every other human society — involved social structures, oppressive institutions and ideologies, and social classes and class struggle.
When we see Tibetan serfs burning the deeds which tied them to the estate of a feudal lord, and recognize that we would find identical scenes taking place across France in 1789, we are confronted with the question of why one of those examples is a cornerstone of historical progress and the other one is a sad scene of imperialism and Communist fanaticism.
It seems like most people who come up against this difficulty just shy away from it and don’t lose any sleep over the lack of political consistency. In this most corrupt of imperialist countries, it’s no surprise that even “radicals” (as my interlocutors were) aren’t troubled enough by this to question what they’ve come to take for granted. Like the old sectarian joke about Trotskyists, these radicals would support revolution anywhere except where it’s actually happening. They do not have the patience or seriousness to engage with actual revolution in its violent, vibrant, just and unjust, terrifying and liberating realities.
(It is always nice to find some people who are not of that mold however! I never thought that I’d say tumblr discussions could be a breath of fresh air, but there’s where things are in my world today.)