By Saswat Pattanayak
The opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics can easily be counted among the greatest of collective acts in human history.
Despite years of reactionary movements led by religious and sectarian groups to sabotage the Games, the Chinese peoples stood firmly with each other in solidarity and thwarted every such attempt.
For every step of success that the nation exhibited in celebrating togetherness of the representatives from all countries congregated with sporty spirits at one place, one time, and to quote the official slogan as ‘One World, One Dream’, there were scores of impediments along the way. Let’s visit some of the most dastardly instances that were aimed at undermining the great Chinese peoples, some of which are still underway:
Free Tibet Movement:
For a starter, Olympic Games are not a Chinese handiwork. Olympics are global celebration of sports. Logically, there should have been no connection of Free Tibet movement with Beijing Olympics. However, even after giving allowance for the necessity to politicize every event, the Free Tibet movement lacks credibility, honesty and necessary progressive principles.
The so-called Tibetan faction (so called, because not everyone from Tibet, or those who support Tibet’s stand on need of autonomy, support the reactionary agendas in place to prevent Olympics from happening in China) comprises in part, a group of miscreants indulging in violent interference in preventing the peaceful march of Olympic torchbearers. They exhibited violence in several parts that were entirely uncalled for. The infamous Lhasa riots this year on March 14 was not the only one which brought international condemnation of Tibetan movement led by Dalai Lama. But let’s first turn to Lhasa to understand the currents of violence that the Tibetan groups trumpeting credos of non-violence potentially possess.
Tibetan rioters in their zeal to demoralize a nation’s prospects of hosting the Olympics for the first time in its glorious history claimed that they were observing the 49th year of organized protest against the so-called Chinese occupation.
How did the self-proclaimed Buddhists conduct themselves instead? The answer was best offered by the only living female Buddha herself. The twelfth Samding Dorje Phagmo told Reuters that “The sins of the Dalai Lama and his followers seriously violate the basic teachings and precepts of Buddhism and seriously damage traditional Tibetan Buddhism’s normal order and good reputation.”
The female Buddha even said that prior to being transformed as a well endowed community of educated people under the Communist rule, the Tibetans used to endure living conditions worse than slaves. Before being incorporated into Communist China, Tibetans did not even have slightest of medical care and they were largely considered as illiterate serfs. “Old Tibet was dark and cruel, the serfs lived worse than horses and cattle,” she said.
Instead of exhibiting gratitude to the Communist rule or at least join in the celebrations of an Olympic Games being held for the first time in their land, the Tibetan mobsters conducted themselves dastardly. The rioters attacked the predominant Chinese ethnic group Han Chinese and a Muslim minority group Hui. The Tibetan freedom fighters vandalized the businesses owned by these ethnic groups who had no role in “subjugating” Tibetans in any known manner.
Economist, the most respected of western media whose reporter was an eyewitness to the events reported, “The mobs, ranging from small groups of youths (some armed with traditional Tibetan swords) to crowds of many dozens, including women and children, rampaged through the narrow alleys of the Tibetan quarter. They battered the shutters of shops, broke in and seized whatever they could, from hunks of meat to gas canisters and clothing. Some goods they carried away—little children could be seen looting a toyshop—but most they heaped in the streets and set alight.
Within a couple of hours, fires were blazing in the streets across much of the city. Some buildings caught fire too. A pall of smoke blanketed Lhasa, obscuring the ancient Potala—the city’s most famous monument, which covers a hillside overlooking the city. It is the traditional winter palace of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, who fled into exile in India after an abortive uprising in 1959. Some of the demonstrators shouted slogans like “long live Tibet” and “long live the Dalai Lama”.
And how did the Chinese police react to these terrorists? Economist says, “A handful of riot police with shields and helmets (but no guns visible) patrolled in front of the Jokhang as the riots continued around them, while others stood in lines at the perimeter of the riot-torn area.”
The police, the “dreaded” Chinese police did not even carry guns and used tear-gas instead to disperse the Tibetan mobsters. Such is the scale of human rights violations in China that President Bush keeps referring to!
However, it did not end on March 14. The violent riots orchestrated by Tibetan mobs continued in Gansu (well beyond the Tibetan region) where more than 5,000 terrorists damaged governmental offices. The violence persisted in Qinghai and Sichuan and even in Beijing.
Apart from Economist which was the only media actually present on the spot and offered a candid report, the rest of western media offered their usual spin against Chinese authorities. Remember these are the media houses that never went to the areas of riots! However they justified the riots citing that there were rumors of a monk being killed which could have resulted in the violence. Yes, they said, a rumor was good enough a cause for the riots. They came up with another astounding justification: that Tibetan teachers were being spied upon and were subjected to intimidating telephone calls from the Chinese authorities. The third justification was that many immigrants, mostly Chinese, were making Tibet their home and that was clearly unacceptable.
All the three justifications offered are ridiculous. Firstly the rumor of a monk’s death was already considered as a rumor. There was never truth to that news, and moreover there never was a news of involvement of Chinese governmental hands in such a murder that never occurred anyway. The rumor was well known to be a rumor even before the riots started.
Second argument that the teachers were getting intimidating phone calls from the authorities may possibly be true, but it holds no ground as a justification. Every sovereign government has a right to make intimidating phone calls to instigators of violent riots. And if it violates the freedom of the peoples under the scope of the sovereign government’s specific constitution, then there are legal ways to address and redress. Certainly not violent riots to destabilize a land awaiting the world delegates for Olympics.
Thirdly, the accusation, that Chinese immigrants are making Tibet their home is misconstrued too. It is illogical to argue that a people be denied access to a land of their own. Tibet is technically part of China and this is a geographical and political fact which has acceptance worldwide. Even the Dalai Lama who spearheads the Free Tibet campaign does not want Tibet to be freed from Chinese occupation. What he intends for is “autonomy”, not “independence”. In other words, the Tibetan leader does not agree that Tibet is colonized. To call Chinese people “immigrants” in their own land is itself a fallacious sentiment. Therefore, the third premise of justification also runs short.
Buddhism and its Misappropriation:
The most riveting of instances where possibly we miss the whole point about Tibetan independence movement is that, the religious spirit which this community claims to be observing as their own perhaps do not rightly belong there.
Not only Buddhism not teach or preach or practice such forms of violent behavior as appropriate, the Buddha himself never supported the institutionalization of organized religion.
Today, thanks to this bunch of ignorant moralists taking shelter in India and acting as the high commands for the Tibetans in China, most people in the world are of the illusion that a) Buddha possibly hailed from China, b) Dalai Lama is some authority on Buddhism or worse, a Holy man himself, c) Buddhism is a great organized religion, d) Buddha is a God etc.
The truth according to human history is that Gautama Buddha was a materialistic philosopher in his time who denounced Hinduism, idol-worship and existence of God with its associated myths. This is a fact well known to the Dalai Lama or closer home to Robert Thurman. However in their ambitious claims to high fame, they would rather perpetuate the necessary myths around Buddha. Thus what we have today is a crash commercialization of secular philosophy of the Buddha. Buddha has suddenly emerged as some sort of a religious icon, and a God himself. People are now offering prayers and worshiping Buddhist statues – the greatest act of insult one can cause to a pronounced atheist who devoted his life against idol-worshiping.
In their pathetic attempts to attain immortality, the modern day Buddhist monopolists like Dalai Lama have offered to themselves such coveted titles of their own fanciful creations. Buddha never said after his death there should be a religion called Buddhism headed by a title called Dalai Lama. Indeed, for the Siddhartha who left his kingdom rejecting royal life, we had a contrasting lifestyle in form of the Tibetan empire which thrived on having a royal kingdom where people were forced to remain as slaves prior to Communism in China.
Buddha who denounced his own father for the holy halo around his authoritarian self, has now been relegated to an elite corner of self-seeking Nirvana achievers like Dalai Lama who dines with the celebrities and fancies himself being called as “His Holiness”! How ironic that the Dalai Lama cannot even simply drop such Holiness addresses resisting the worldly glory and fame reserved for the lesser mortals’ ambitions.
Like their friend the current Dalai Lama, the American celebrities Robert Thurman (incidentally, also the father of Uma Thurman who played the violent protagonist in ‘Kill Bill’. For those of us who wonder how can Robert – the first American to be a Buddhist priest- has to be blamed for Kill Bill concepts, there is some news. In a recent interview to New York Times, he goes on to lucidly defend the director Tarantino’s intents), Richard Gere, and Steven Spielberg among scores of other fancy Hollywood names, are reestablishing Buddhism through the “popular” interpretations. Professor Thurman in a recent “interfaith” gathering in Riverside Church at Columbia University ironically enough, quoted from Hindu texts to provide his rationale for Buddhism. I was present at the meeting to wonder why they would not invite atheists to a gathering meant to bring awareness about Hiroshima. I did not have to wonder much.
The Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, the Thurmans and the “politically correct” celebrities keep churning millions of dollars in producing misleading films about the Buddha, write scores of bestselling books that do not touch the periphery of atheism and consistently work to undermine the otherwise natural connection of Communism with Buddhism.
Buddha and Communism:
In the corporate media-driven world of misinformation it is often more comfortable talking about “peace and love” while easily overlooking the imperialistic wars and militarists. It is but natural to assume, since they are “as seen on TV”, that the communists are the greatest enemies of Tibet (again, way fallaciously concluded as modern highland of Buddhism).
A little critical deconstruction is necessary to unravel the questions that we need to pose in face of religious intolerance existing in current world. The religious leaders all claim that theirs are the scriptures that alone have the capability to bring peace to the world. On August 5, when I was taking part in an interfaith meeting in New York to commemorate Hiroshima Day, the invitees read out portions from their sacred texts to suggest “peace and love” in God’s land was the aim of religions. The grand irony in such debacle of an assumption is that all major wars of the past several centuries were fought only because of religious prescripts. From Hitler to Ariel Sharon to God’s own Bush, the war mongering missiles have declared war cries using religious pretexts. The Vatican in its history of constant apologies (but no punishments to itself) is testament to the long standing history of religious horrors. Be it the Hindu fundamentalists of India or the Afghan Talibans, religious heads have always resorted to communal clashes, acts of terrorism and in promoting environment of intolerance and perpetuating wars.
Against such necessary consequences of religious existence, being a progressive philosopher, Buddha was the one to firmly oppose religious warfare. His concepts of peace and tolerance were directly aimed against organized religious efforts of imposing authorities. If he were alive today, he would surely condemn all the His Holinesses of the world who have emerged as unquestioned authorities. If Buddha were alive today, he would join the Communists in the world that are working to destabilize “Royal” kingdoms, be they of Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet or of Sweden. If Buddha were alive today, he would have turned sick to the stomach watching how people were offering prayers to his own statues! If he were alive today, he would have been traumatized at the sights of hooliganism displayed by the self proclaimed “monks” to sabotage the celebration of a global event.
Olympics is beyond China, although this year, China made Olympics prouder than it ever was. Never before there was such a participation of the masses in creating a great spectacle of solidarity and friendships. Never before was Olympics organized in such ideology-free environment of welcoming nature in the most peaceful and cordial manner possible. And Olympics is beyond a country. It is one symbolic gesture – no matter how sexist and undemocratic its Athenian roots are – that the entire world congregates in moods of jubilation and sports, through participation from representatives of various regions. An insult to a peoples’ efforts in Beijing to formally and beautifully conduct Olympics is also an insult to the world sentiments.
And in this act of resentments, Tibetan mobsters stand alone.
If the minority of self proclaimed Buddhists stand alone, how could they have possibly caused such an impact in the world? They are not considered to be a legitimate cause of concern by the world bodies. No government worth a name in the world despite rants against “Chinese Communism” has lent support to Tibetan demands so as to boycott the Olympics (a trend very popular during Cold War period).
The truth is behind the veils of make-believe indifference, governments of many western powers and their corporate media organizations continue to foment the agitations against Communism and in the process, using Tibet as a trump card, keep negotiating with China to systematically abolish Communism.
One needs only to reflect back to 1984 Olympics where the China-Taiwan debate was at its peak. Communist China’s rights to posit itself as the sole legitimate representative from the area – also considering its position in the UN as the security council member- was historically denied by the very allowance of Taiwan’s participation in Olympics. The peasant government of China was replaced by the elite government of Taiwan in Olympic representation. So far so good. Except that when the Soviet Bloc responded to the Americans (who first boycotted the Moscow Olympics four years ago citing Afghanistan crisis), the US played the Sino-Soviet card to duly recognize Communist China in the realm of Olympics.
Today, 24 years later, the US, whose leaderships ranging from Bush to the recent Obama and Clinton (who all have publicly addressed the Americans of doing everything they will to stop Chinese economic growth amidst spiteful verbal promises), have decided to play the Tibet Card to negotiate further with China.
Anyone who has watched the NBC coverage of Olympics this year will get the picture clear. Not only the Olympics was not telecast “Live”, it was heavily edited and censored by NBC, the corporate media owned by a General Electric, a defamed corrupt monopolist.
GE, which owns the rights to Olympics this year could not have otherwise done so, without negotiation with the Chinese authorities, where the influence of Communism is dying rapidly if not dead already.
Olympics this year also marks the greatest commercial extravaganza in its history. A whopping $300 million investment on part of China would not have been possible without direct assistance of American corporate interests who intend to continue doing business with Chinese market- the largest bazaar in the world.
To make this possible, there have been deliberate attempts to undermine Communistic influences. It started with privatization of Olympics itself with sales of broadcast rights. GE which is infamous of pleading guilty to selling military jet engines to Israel, on charges of fraud and money laundering is at the forefront of making profiteering business out of the Olympics. GE chair Jack Welch is a pronounced anti-communist who heavily funded Ronald Reagan’s warfares against socialist economies during his time.
The battle against Communism has continued with negotiating with China with Tibet as the pawn. Consequently, talks with Iran and North Korea are underway. Sudan is next in line, what with the American team deliberately positioning a “Sudanese Refugee” (as NBC went on repeating itself) as leading the march. We let you keep Tibet: You renounce Communism, the American political leadership says to the Chinese leadership. We let you believe that opening of your market was required so that you could host the Olympics: You let our NBC and McDonalds and Bank of America to stake rights over the games, the American corporate leadership says to China.
And guess what, even the Dalai Lama agrees to this, the American leadership assures the Chinese. Indeed, Dalai Lama went to the press several times to clarify that he was supportive of the Olympics taking place in China. All at the cost of the expansion of American imperialism.
Just when the Chinese authorities thought that the required compromises of Communist policies– which have been in the process of being perfected ever since the demise of Mao – they could not have been backstabbed more.
President Bush chose Thailand as a site to make a “human rights” critique of China, the day preceding the Olympics. Tibetan protesters were allowed by Dalai Lama to go back on rampage. NBC in its censored telecast chose to mock at Chinese athletes “under pressure” and went on a tirade while unnecessarily joking about Iran, Zimbabwe, the then East Germany, erstwhile Soviet Union etc while offering so called expert commentaries.
Media reports from this backstabbing coalitions comprising the enraged Tibetans, and their media partners in form of NBC and BBC – two supposedly public broadcasters entirely dominated by corporate interests—continue to vilify the Chinese peoples and their government.
Lessons from Olympics, Economic Freedom Drug and Future of Chinese Working Class:
History is replete with accounts of such negotiations between progressive blocs with the capitalistic counterparts, and such coalitions have never worked in favor of the former. This is the appropriate time when China learns that its partnerships with corporate profiteers of multinational entities can only lead to further harming its peoples than aiding them.
Following the Olympics, China must reassess the false promises of glory and dangled carrots it is shoved to. The great modern country based on premises of working class rulers and founded by Chairman Mao must understand that the economic trickery that the West has subjected it to is nothing but an empty rhetoric related to 10% annual economic growth – a growth that suggests nothing in actual, since never before in Communist China were the disparities between the rich and the poor were so high- a growth that the Western media are reluctant to point out in this context- in the proportion of 3.3:1.
The great Chinese people, in order to regain their identity as a peace loving, communist country excelling in economic parity (not necessarily superfluity), must dissociate themselves from temptations of appeasing the West in name of Tibet, Taiwan, or Terrorism.
This Olympics, China displayed to the world how glorious they can be when they are united in their efforts to showcase the greatest show of the Earth despite scathing attacks from Western powers in name of “human rights”, and violent protests by Tibetan religious mobsters in name of “freedom” or organized hooliganism displayed by the Falun Gong reactionaries.
If China could overcome such hostilities today and bring the world together for one dream of peace and harmony in a period marked by imperialistic wars, China can easily overcome the current levels of compromises and rise to be once again the pride of humanity, as a victorious working class society as it once was, not so long ago. China must undergo the process of Rectification in order to lead its path to the revolutionary goals that are conducive for the majority of people, and not to appease a minority elite section of religious or propertied.
The Rectification movement according to Chairman Mao (in his speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work on March 12, l957) is “a widespread movement of Marxist education. Rectification means the whole Party studying Marxism through criticism and self-criticism. It is an arduous task to ensure a better life for the several hundred million people of China and to build our economically and culturally backward country into a prosperous and powerful one with a high level of culture. And it is precisely in order to be able to shoulder this task more competently and work better together with all non-Party people who are actuated by high ideals and determined to institute reforms that we must conduct rectification movements both now and in the future, and constantly rid ourselves of whatever is wrong.”
This Olympics, while the world must celebrate the Chinese spirit of Communistic cooperation, China must also undergo necessary rectification to reassess its reactionary economic policies and how far it has deviated from its revolutionary goals, lest it becomes entrapped in capitalistic appeasements. For China, both culture and the politics at this crucial juncture as Mao had warned about, need socialistically “realistic”, not economically opportunistic assessments.