Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Dalai Lama: NOT Pro-Democracy

Although I'm in no way a supporter of China's rule over Tibet, I'm really sick of Western liberals fawning over the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism. So I was pleased to see Slavoj Zizek's recent op-ed in The New York Times (October 11--okay, so I'm way behind on my reading), which contained this observation:

What bothers Chinese authorities are sects like Falun Gong that insist on independence from state control. In the same vein, the problem with Tibetan Buddhism resides in an obvious fact that many Western enthusiasts conveniently forget: the traditional political structure of Tibet is theocracy, with the Dalai Lama at the center. He unites religious and secular power — so when we are talking about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, we are taking about choosing a head of state. It is strange to hear self-described democracy advocates who denounce Chinese persecution of followers of the Dalai Lama — a non-democratically elected leader if there ever was one.

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