Español During a lecture on world peace in Kolkata, India, on January 13, the Dalai Lama publicly identified himself as a Marxist. Though he denied belonging to the Leninist variety, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader did blame capitalism in part for global inequality, and decried the “increasing gap between the rich and poor” in capitalist countries.
One would think that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, China’s economic liberalization since the 1970s, and the crisis of collectivist models in Latin America, the days of this 19th-century European ideology would be numbered. But the ghost of Marxism continues to haunt the corridors of international power. The Dalai Lama and other intellectuals may say what they like about the redistributive ideology, but the reality tells a different story. It’s a sorry tale filled with the lurid imagery of death and destruction, that dragged on throughout the 20th century and continues to wreak all sorts of havoc in countries like Venezuela.
By Elites, for Elites
Despite its emphasis on the role of the proletariat, Marxism has often been spearheaded and financed by political and economic elites. Even Marx’s partner, Friedrich Engels, was part of the very entrepreneurial class that he despised. The most notable example in contemporary times is the boliburguesía in Venezuela, the bourgeoisie of the Bolivarian revolution, who feast at the Chavista state trough at the expense of ordinary citizens. Marxism, like any other statist ideology, will always end up being run by a power-hungry elite. It’s ironic that the Dalai Lama, whose very own people were subjected to one of the most violent strains of Marxism under Mao Zedong, ascribes to such an ideology. But it’s rather easy to do, given that the 14th Dalai Lama is not subject to the consequences of the ideology he supports. As the pinnacle of the ruling class of a supposedly “classless” society, living at the expense of millions of people in a quasi-medievalist society, there is little incentive for the spiritual leader to consider the folly of his words. Don’t be fooled by the attempt to frame societal problems as a struggle between the masses and an elite. At the end of the day, Marxism always replaces rulers with a cadre of its own, a politburo that lives in luxury while the people they claim to represent struggle to even find enough food. Capitalist systems may not be perfect, but they at least provide opportunities for achieving prosperity and pulling oneself out of poverty, which are completely denied by Marxist governments.
The Religion of Statism
The Dalai Lama’s marketing of the failed concept through buzzwords such as “social justice” and “humanitarianism” shouldn’t blind us to the devil that lurks in the details. Ultimately, the villainous institution in this case is the state, an institution that is responsible for the “democide” of hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century. No matter the ideology, be it Marxism, fascism, social democracy, or Keynesianism, all involve significant-to-total state involvement in citizen’s lives. Even the most moderate forms of “progressive” polities can morph into totalitarian states within time. Where the state is given an inch of control, it will soon grab a mile of power. Marx may have been onto something when he referred to religion, in an oft-misquoted passage, as the Opium des Volkes — “the opiate of the masses.” Organized faith, in his view, was the man-made product of desperate conditions, “a protest against real suffering.” The same can be said of those ideologies — from fascism to Marxism — that offer an illusory remedy to the world’s very real problems through the worship of the state. We must instead embrace liberty, once and for all, and finally shake of these false idols. Edited by Laurie Blair and Fergus Hodgson.