By Felix Quigley
It is very clear to us that the Olympics are being used by the CIA and the US and British Imperialist state machines to strike against Communist China. As Trotskyists despite our differences with the Stalinist regime in China we are fully for the defence of the gains of the Chinese Revolution.Those of us who have followed the lies told about the Serbs and Serbia through the 90s on into the present day, those who follow the lies told against Israel, must now be looking at the whole fracas surrounding the Olympic Flame and the Olympic Games with a feeling of deja vu, here we go again. Who can forgett he rasping voice full of hatred for the Chinese of Joanna Lumley on the BBC this morning attacking the proud Chinese people.
Here I will produce a few texts. First of all two statements and when you read these you will realize that both of them cannot be right. Somebody is sure telling lots of lies here. After that I will produce a very interesting text from a guy who seems to know what he is talking about. What he says throws some light ont he first two.
Tibet Was Liberated: China’s Perspective
China states that its invasion and occupation of Tibet was designed to liberate Tibetans from medieval feudal serfdom and slavery. Tibetan serfs were thought to have no freedoms. They were regarded by their masters as talking animals. China argues that the masses of Tibetan serfs lived in extreme poverty. Since the liberation in 1959, China asserts that Tibetans have enjoyed all rights of equality and they have embarked on the road of freedom and happiness. China claims that Tibet is now a modernized community benefitting from economic growth and social progress. Millions of serfs are now the masters of their fate, and large numbers of Tibetan workers, intellectuals, and officials have taken up the task of building and managing Tibet. China argues that all Tibetans now have equal rights in politics, the economy, and in their daily life. Tibetans are also thought to enjoy full religious freedom. China claims that Tibetans have greatly benefitted from their presence. There are now over 2,500 primary schools in Tibet. Moreover, according to China’s White Paper, China has invested 1.1 billion yuans to develop education in Tibet. Big strides have been made in education, science, culture, and public health. For instance, China argues that it has rebuilt Tibetan Monasteries, Nunneries, and monuments. Further, it asserts that the Tibetan population has soared to 2 million from 1 million in the 1950’s. China also claims that the Tibetans fully support the Communist Party and Government officials in Tibet. China argues that negotiation is the only solution for Tibet, stating that The 14th Dalai Lama should size up the situation, go with the tide of historical development and make a correct choice.
Tibet Was Not Liberated: The Tibetan Perspective
Old Tibet was not perfect. The current Dalai Lama has admitted this. However, The 14th Dalai Lama initiated far-reaching reforms in Tibet as soon as He assumed temportal authority. Throughout Tibet’s history, the mistreatment of peasants was forbidden by law and social norms. The largest portion of land in Tibet was held by peasants. Famine and starvation were unheard of in Tibet. The “liberation” has resulted in the death of over 1.2 million Tibetans and the destruction of over 6,000 Tibetan Monasteries and cultural centers. Before the “liberation” in 1959, the population of Tibet was 6 million. Prior to the invasion, Tibet was a simple and self-reliant nation with a very rich cultural heritage. Tibetºs citizens, in comparison to its’ neighbors, enjoyed much greater freedom. Currently, Tibetans have become veritable serfs. In independent Tibet, over 6,000 Monasteries and Nunneries served as schools. Most were destroyed, and many have been reconstructed as result of Tibetan finances and labor. The teachers in China’s “new schools” are unqualified to teach the Tibetan language, culture, or history. Chinese students are the main beneficiaries of these schools. Since 1980, over 15,000 Tibetan children have fled Tibet to receive education in India.The primary beneficiaries of China’s presence in Tibet have been the Chinese settlers, their government and military, and their business enterprises. Former Communist Party Secretary, Hu Yaobang, even admitted in 1980 that the living standard of Tibetans had declined since 1959 and that the large Chinese presence was an obstacle to development. China’s policies in Tibet do not even receive full support from Tibetan cadres, let alone the Tibetan people. China has never found a trustworthy Tibetan to serve in a key government post in Tibet. For the past 21 years, The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government In-Exile have offered a number of proposals for negotiations for the mutual benefit of Tibet and China. All have been ignored or rejected by China.
One 22-year old woman, herself a runaway serf, reports: “Pretty serf girls were usually taken by the owner as house servants and used as he wished”; they “were just slaves without rights.”18 Serfs needed permission to go anywhere. Landowners had legal authority to capture those who tried to flee. One 24-year old runaway welcomed the Chinese intervention as a “liberation.” He testified that under serfdom he was subjected to incessant toil, hunger, and cold. After his third failed escape, he was merciless beaten by the landlord’s men until blood poured from his nose and mouth. They then poured alcohol and caustic soda on his wounds to increase the pain, he claimed.19
The serfs were taxed upon getting married, taxed for the birth of each child and for every death in the family. They were taxed for planting a tree in their yard and for keeping animals. They were taxed for religious festivals and for public dancing and drumming, for being sent to prison and upon being released. Those who could not find work were taxed for being unemployed, and if they traveled to another village in search of work, they paid a passage tax. When people could not pay, the monasteries lent them money at 20 to 50 percent interest. Some debts were handed down from father to son to grandson. Debtors who could not meet their obligations risked being cast into slavery.20
The theocracy’s religious teachings buttressed its class order. The poor and afflicted were taught that they had brought their troubles upon themselves because of their wicked ways in previous lives. Hence they had to accept the misery of their present existence as a karmic atonement and in anticipation that their lot would improve in their next lifetime. The rich and powerful treated their good fortune as a reward for, and tangible evidence of, virtue in past and present lives.
The Tibetan serfs were something more than superstitious victims, blind to their own oppression. As we have seen, some ran away; others openly resisted, sometimes suffering dire consequences. In feudal Tibet, torture and mutilation–including eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation–were favored punishments inflicted upon thieves, and runaway or resistant serfs. Journeying through Tibet in the 1960s, Stuart and Roma Gelder interviewed a former serf, Tsereh Wang Tuei, who had stolen two sheep belonging to a monastery. For this he had both his eyes gouged out and his hand mutilated beyond use. He explains that he no longer is a Buddhist: “When a holy lama told them to blind me I thought there was no good in religion.”21 Since it was against Buddhist teachings to take human life, some offenders were severely lashed and then “left to God” in the freezing night to die. “The parallels between Tibet and medieval Europe are striking,” concludes Tom Grunfeld in his book on Tibet. 22
In 1959, Anna Louise Strong visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, breaking off hands, and hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling. The exhibition presented photographs and testimonies of victims who had been blinded or crippled or suffered amputations for thievery. There was the shepherd whose master owed him a reimbursement in yuan and wheat but refused to pay. So he took one of the master’s cows; for this he had his hands severed. Another herdsman, who opposed having his wife taken from him by his lord, had his hands broken off. There were pictures of Communist activists with noses and upper lips cut off, and a woman who was raped and then had her nose sliced away.23
Earlier visitors to Tibet commented on the theocratic despotism. In 1895, an Englishman, Dr. A. L. Waddell, wrote that the populace was under the “intolerable tyranny of monks” and the devil superstitions they had fashioned to terrorize the people. In 1904 Perceval Landon described the Dalai Lama’s rule as “an engine of oppression.” At about that time, another English traveler, Captain W.F.T. O’Connor, observed that “the great landowners and the priests… exercise each in their own dominion a despotic power from which there is no appeal,” while the people are “oppressed by the most monstrous growth of monasticism and priest-craft.” Tibetan rulers “invented degrading legends and stimulated a spirit of superstition” among the common people. In 1937, another visitor, Spencer Chapman, wrote, “The Lamaist monk does not spend his time in ministering to the people or educating them. . . . The beggar beside the road is nothing to the monk. Knowledge is the jealously guarded prerogative of the monasteries and is used to increase their influence and wealth.”24 As much as we might wish otherwise, feudal theocratic Tibet was a far cry from the romanticized Shangri La so enthusiastically nurtured by Buddhism’s western proselytes.
I have read elsewhere that before the Chinese Revolution which had to sweep into Tibet eventually in Tibet 5 per cent of the population owned 95 per cent of everything.
What these studies are bringing us to is an understanding of the Chinese Revolution under Mao, but that by itself is only a starting point for understanding the history of the subject. Indeed, to understand what has happened you have to go back much further than Mao, to the Russian Revolution, to the wrong policies pursued in China about 9 years later by the faction in the Comintern led by Stalin, to the opposition of Trotsky to these Stalinist policies, and to the defeat of the Chinese working class and to the liquidation of the Chinese Communist Party in the cities, such as Shanghai.
Because of Stalinism the workers of China were defeated and repressed by the Nationalist Forces under Chang Kai-chek who led the bourgeois Kuomintang organization. As I understand it because of that decisive and historic defeat, which Trotsky spent much effort and time in studying and writing about, much later the Chinese had to take a circuitous route to revolution, through the peasantry.
This brings us to the heart of the issue with Tibet. It would be very strange if there were not some national, certainly regional, issues in Tibet. But it is clear that the CIA of US Imperialism has been backing this campaign against China totally and that the present crowd following this torch around are a total bunch of reactionaries and most likely paid stooges of the CIA. Not every individual, of course, but the general organization reminds us of the George Soros funded campaigns against the Serbs in Belgrade which were highly political and following the programme of the CIA.
There are many issues. One is the policy and programme of the bureaucracy in China towards religion. This is a big issue for us on 4international. Any forms of repression of religion are totally against the principles of Trotskyism.
However what has happened in Tibet is that the religious movement of Buddhism has been filled with the most hateful poison of Imperialist hatred for China. That is of course what the whole attacks on the Olympic Torch are all about. It is a propaganda war against China and the Chinese Revolution itself. Really it is an anti Communist campaign.
The fatal flaws in the leadership in China, which is essentially Stalinist, and is following the Stalinist disastrous programme of socialism in one country, and also ironically peaceful coexistence with Imperialism, has led into the present trap.
It was in my opinion a big misdtake to host the Olympics. Essentially Imperialism is at war with Communist China. The Chinese leaders have got big illusions in Imperialism. This is Stalinism in action.
They also seem to have had illusions in the Monks of Tibet. These reactionaries are at war with China and regardless of foreign public opinion every single monastery which was engaged in war with China, as opposed to engaged in prayer, should have been and should be closed and razed to the ground.
The very best thing that China should now do, in answer to the calls made by the likes of Hilary Clinto and Obama, as well as other leaders like Sarkozy, is to say to the Olympic Committee. “We made a mistake here in offering to host the games. It is clear that US British and French Imperialism are our enemies and are using thje Olympics to close our country down. SO WE WILL CLOSE DOWN THE OLYMPICS. WE HAVE BUILT THE FACILITIES AND THIS IS NOT IN VAIN SINCE WE WILL USE THESE FOR OUR OWN CHINESE PEOPLE.
They may add: “Mr Brown and Mr Bush. Do not worry about the Olympic ceremony. You need not decide. We will make the decision for you. Do not come. There will be no Olympics for you to come to. Goodbye and out!