24 May 2010

Dalai Lama Condemns Capitalism

During a recent visit to New York, the Dalai Lama condemned capitalism and declared that he is a Marxist at heart. Although he spoke out about the injustices of capitalism, he was also quick to point out the benefits of living in a free western capitalist society (free press, independent judiciary) vs. the real world application of Marxism by authoritarian regimes (such as China.)

I didn't read anything too earth shattering here and it seems that the Dalai Lama's position is pretty much in line with every college student that ever sat around a dorm room discussing the differences between capitalism and Marxism (the only difference being that he probably wasn't high at the time.) Sure, Marxism seems to be the perfect way to bring a just society into being but, in practice as history has repeatedly proven, human beings are by their very nature competitive and unwilling to be jammed into neat little boxes. When the state has tried to force Marxism upon the people, the result has been terrible tragedy and loss of life.

I used to spend a lot of time on anarchist web sites in various discussion group but have ended that practice due to the fact that most of the "anarchists" that I was debating were actually closet Marxists and communists (I also found it amusing that these "anarchist" discussion groups had the most draconian guidelines regarding what could, and could not, be posted.) There was no balance to their positions since they were primarily supporting leftist causes and opposing anything from the right. As an individualist anarchist I oppose the state, whether left or right, but I might as well have been arguing with my cat for all the good that did. I think capitalism is a corrupt, nasty and brutal system but I also think it's the best choice available when taken in its purest form.

As for the Dalai Lama, I certainly admire the guy and have read a number of his works. Many of my non-Buddhist friends believe that as a Buddhist I must worship him, but I just patiently explain that Buddhism has many schools of thought. The Dalai Lama is the revered leader of Tibetan Buddhism, but as an adherent to the Theravada school, I consider him nothing more than a good man worthy of respect. My gut tells me that as a leader on the world stage, he has to carefully walk a narrow path to support his people in Tibet and if he needs to throw an intellectual bone now and then, so be it.


  1. Dalai Lama's economic point of view has been always quite disappointing. Dealing with social and economics we should just better call him Tenzin Gyatso.
    Capitalism is nor wholesome neither wicked. Capitalism is the way people behave when they are free: voluntary contracts and voluntary trading that benefit each other. Capitalism is, in fact, a compassionate social system. Take a look at our western societies: our prosperity is the result of the free intercourse based in the "righteous selfishness": I benefit you and you benefit me in due exchange. Yet the fundamental condition is liberty.
    "When a man loves himself cannot harm others". This was said by The Buddha himself. Looking for my prosperity, wealth and comfort without a hint of aggression; allowing others look for their own without a hint of aggression. That's capitalism.
    Capitalism becomes "corrupt, nasty and brutal" when it tries to take advantages from the political power, that idol worshipped by Marxists and liberals comme il faut. But "freedom" and "political power" are two words that can't stand in the same sentence.
    And Dalai Lama seems to me a little bit confused.
    Always my pleasure to read you.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting on my post.