Thursday, 10 April 2008

Free Tibet: from feudalism as well as Chinese tyranny

Apropos of this post, in which I shared my conflicted feelings about the Tibetan issue: I see Butterflies and Wheels links to this article, which dispels some of the myths about Tibet as a peace-loving Shangri La prior to the Chinese takeover. Much of what the article has to say about the feudalism, superstition and cruelty that flourished in this supposed Buddhist paradise is undoubtedly accurate. The only drawback is that the piece is written by Michael Parenti, a notorious Milosevic apologist with an apparent nostalgia for Stalinism, who characteristically lets the Chinese regime off extremely lightly. Surely it's possible to be critical of Tibet's feudalist past without lending moral support to the totalitarian cultural vandalism wrought by Beijing? Conversely, calling for self-determination for Tibet is not the same as endorsing a return to religious authoritarianism.


Anonymous said...

I used to have some respect for Butterflies and Wheels. Maybe it's time to reassess that.

M. Parenti isn't only a Stalinist, which would be bad enough. He's a complete and total hack whose work is not taken seriously outside of the confines of the lunatic left. I think he has a degree in political science but he pretends he's an expert in all sorts of things he has little, if any, knowledge of. He's basically a Chomsky-lite. His books are all facile surface treatments written by someone lacking even the most rudimentary historical understanding of the people he writes about. China and Tibet are only two examples. That's why no academic press will publish his work. Have a look at his "Blackshirts and Reds," it's complete and utter garbage.

His son Christian Parenti, by contrast, is an excellent journalist and much more truthful in his reporting, even if I disagree with him politically.

Martin said...

Yes, like you I was surprised to find B&W featuring material from this source. Perhaps their line is 'no enemies among secularists and rationalists'. But the example of Parenti is a reminder (if one were needed) that secularists can be as deluded as the religious. And thanks for the Parenti references - I'll follow them up - and be wary when I come across his name again.