He’s the darling of Hollywood celebrities, dazzling the likes of Sharon Stone, Harrison Ford, Steven Seagal, and Richard Gere. His soothing voice for compassion and mindfulness has inspired two big budget feature films: Seven Years in Tibet and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun.
So it was no surprise when his most recent confession registered barely a blip on the mainstream cultural radar, let alone outrage.
“I consider myself a Marxist,” the Dalai Lama declared during a talk in front of 150 Chinese students at the University of Minnesota in early May.
He injected a caveat: “But not a Leninist.” Whew. What a relief.
This wasn’t the first time the 14th Dalai Lama (Tibet’s most esteemed religious figure) proclaimed his allegiance to Marxism. Buddhism’s leading apostle to the West made a similar statement on May 20, 2010, in New York during a series of paid public lectures.
So how can the Dalai Lama possibly square his pleas for nonviolence toward “all sentient beings” with Marxism? His answer: Marxism has moral ethics, as opposed to capitalism, which is all about profits.
Let’s chew on that for a moment. Virtually every socio-political movement has some noble ambition — some set of ethics — that can be teased from its viscera. The Nazi Party platform, for example, contains calls for equal rights, profit-sharing, national health care, pensions, education access, employment opportunities, and the rights of citizens to select political leaders and make laws.
By implication, isn’t the Dalai Lama saying these are sufficient grounds to legitimize, exonerate — even embrace — Nazism? And if not, why not?
It’s one thing to promote cooperation and egalitarianism. It’s quite another to publicly endorse a specific ideology that espouses such goals but consistently delivers a dramatically different outcome. According to The Black Book of Communism, Marxist regimes over the 20th century systematically slaughtered between 85 and 100 million people. Millions more were terrorized, tortured, and enslaved. And these atrocities were not breaches of practical Marxist orthodoxy — they were critical elements of Marxist statecraft. Terror tactics and atrocities, The Black Book’s authors point out, are found in every regime claiming to be Marxist in origin.
The Marxist-Communist record is “the most colossal case of political carnage in history.” It represents the triumph of inhumanity over compassion on an unprecedented scale. How can this Nobel Peace Prize winner embrace a political ideology in theory without any consideration of its effects in practice? Is this mindful?