Wednesday, August 12, 2015

From Bob's archive: Tibet, a confession

Still off-line, here's a post from March 2008. 

When I was younger - say, 15 years ago - I was deeply dismissive of the Free Tibet campaign. It was not that I was against the rights of the Tibetan people; I just didn't care that strongly for them.

Partly, as a pretentiously iconoclastic radical secularist, I was suspicious of a national liberation movement led by the Dalai Lama, who I saw as basically a huckster (I also hated Mother Theresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Gandhi. I'm no longer sure which ones of those I was right about), and suspicious of the filthy rich Buddhists who led the campaign from the West, such as Richard Gere. That was, to me, sufficient cause to differentiate myself from it.

Probably more significantly, I saw the support given to the movement (which was very fashionable then, probably second to the anti-apartheid movement in being generally accepted as right-on) as an easy option, because it fit in so well to the anti-Communist Cold War ideology that was dominant in the Thatcher/Reagan era.

I now diagnose this dismissiveness as part of the Stalinophilia that afflicts much of the left, even in its ostensibly anti-Stalinist varieties. By Stalinophilia, I mean the worldview that sees the Peking and Moscow families of state socialist regimes as bulwarks against the "real" enemy, Western capitalist/imperialism, and therefore, despite their evident evil, worth supporting (albeit "critically").

I am ashamed of that.


Worth adding, the word "Stalinophilia" comes from Trotskyist debates of the Cold War era, when it was used to point to the "deviations" from Trotskyism that veered too close to endorsing Soviet Stalinism. Those accused of that deviation would respond with the charge of "Stalinophobia". Nutty Stalinoid groupuscules in the Trotskyist tradition, such as Socialist Fight, which see Ukrainian self-determination as objectively "Nazi", still use the term "Stalinophobia" to describe those who think the Russian assault on Ukraine is at all un-progressive. 

1 comment:

Lagusatu said...

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