Friday, 17 June 2011

The Dalai Lama announces he's a marxist: my views

Friend of mine told me they’re heading off for two-day "happiness seminar" with the Dalai Lama. Having just read Dalai Lama’s statement ("I'm a marxist") I fired off this slightly-grouchy email:
The Dalai Lama, eh?
I always thought the guy was a bit of a kook... and he’s confirmed it recently (for me, at least): “I am a Marxist” he said in New York last month [1].
Weird thing is: he acknowledges that capitalism has brought “lots of positives to freedoms and... millions of people's living standards improved.”  Indeed it has: for all its human rights failings, it’s raised over 500 million people above the poverty level and they have infinitely more freedoms today than they did when I first went there at the fag-end of the (Marxist) Cultural Revolution in ‘76.
Yet he wants Marxism, the ideology that impoverished China for 30 years, to rise again. So, what’s with the “I’m a Marxist” bit?  Unless he’s a bit of a kook?  Or suffers from cognitive dissonance? I don’t get it.
Other weirdness : he says Marx didn’t abhor religion.  Marx was just against religious institutions “that were allied with the European ruling class”,  says the Dalai Lama.  Actually, no he wasn’t. Marx was four-square against religion, qua religion. [2]
Anyway sorry to come across all negative about a guy you’re going to see tomorrow.  Happens that I’d only just been reading about him when you sent your note.  His kooky cackling has always got me too.  Then again, one of the participants at his talk found him “cute”. [3]
Anyway, xxx, you’re a happy person and that’s natural in you.  That’s how you’ll be, it’s the natural order of things.
Although, as a philosophical matter -- and it seems in reality too -- constant happiness is definitely not the order of things, and appears not to be achievable.  When we know and accept that, we become, happily, more content, happier even.  Frank Sinatra has (happily?) just come on the radio:

Still in all I’m happy,
the reason is you see,
once in a while along the way,
love’s been good to me
And to you, no?
For myself, I remain a slacker dilettante; have done nothing like the good works you have, for which I suffer twinges of middle-class angst, and occasional determination to do something about it; then sloth takes over again.  The next bit of dilletantery is Cape to Cairo drive in September.
Thanks for keeping me in your loop, glad that I haven’t worn out your patience yet....(or maybe I have, and you’re just being polite...)
And have a great two days at the conference, interested to hear how it went, in due course. And how you found His Holiness!.

[2]  [these quotes from Marx on religion are a good example of why any sane person wouldn’t want to be a post-modern marxist.... Dreary and turgid.  But the animus to religion is clear]