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Thread: The Case for Tibet: Direct Action and National Liberation Struggles3482 days old

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    Default The Case for Tibet: Direct Action and National Liberation Struggles

    The starting point, for a discussion of the history of peaceful resistance to colonialism, is the great global force of third world decolonization of our parents’ generation, its left wing encapsulated in the Organization of the Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, coming out of the Conference of delegates from these three continents in Havana, Cuba in 1966.

    It was in a letter to this conference in Havana that Che Guevara famously proclaimed the need for “many Vietnams,” saying: “How close we could look into a bright future should two, three or many Vietnams flourish throughout the world with their share of deaths and their immense tragedies, their everyday heroism and their repeated blows against imperialism!”

    It was at this conference and the organization surrounding it where many commentators saw “the cult of the gun” develop among anticolonial forces, where, in the words of historian Vijay Prashad, armed struggle was to be proclaimed “not only as a tactic of anticolonialism but significantly as a strategy in itself.”

    However much this history is downplayed today or removed from the politically correct narrative of the end of colonial rule, an honest approach demands accounting for it. Why did the revolutionaries of the Third World come to identify anticolonialism with peaceful resistance itself, so much so that Frantz Fanon could write that “the colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence.”

    Did they not realize that Gandhi had already shown the way to a peaceful anticolonialism 15 years earlier? Were they just out for a counterproductive revenge against colonial rule? Perhaps, as certain feminist theories have suggested, violence was part and parcel of the masculinist, patriarchal and authoritarian instincts of these leaders of national liberation? Or maybe, coming from relatively privileged backgrounds, often educated in Europe or North America, these bourgeois radicals were insensitive to the suffering that their calls for violence would inflict upon the mass of the populations they supposedly cared for?

    Before we call in Dr. Freud to compound similar explanations, we might do well to listen to the radicals themselves tell us their reasons.

    Amilcar Cabral, the African independence leader who fought the Portuguese in West Africa, had this to say to the meeting in Havana in 1966:

    “An African saying, very common in our country says: “When your house is burning, it’s no use beating the tom-toms.” …this means that we are not going to eliminate imperialism by shouting insults against it. For us, the best or worst shout against imperialism, whatever its form, is to take up arms and fight. This is what we are doing, and this is what we will go on doing until all foreign domination of our African homelands has been totally eliminated.”

    Cabral continued, “The facts make it unnecessary for us to prove that the essential instrument of imperialist domination is violence. If we accept the principle that the liberation struggle is a revolution and that it does not finish at the moment when the national flag is raised and the national anthem played, we will see that there is not, and cannot be national liberation without the use of liberating violence by the nationalist forces, to answer the criminal violence of the agents of imperialism…The past and present experiences of various peoples, the present situation of national liberation struggles in the world…as well as the situation of permanent violence, or at least of contradictions and upheavals, in certain countries which have gained their independence by the so-called peaceful way, show us not only that compromises with imperialism do not work, but also that the normal way of national liberation, imposed on peoples by imperialist repression, is armed struggle.”

    In case this has not sufficiently made clear Cabral’s point, he explicitly says that “there are only two possible paths for an independent nation: to return to imperialist domination…or to take the way of socialism”.

    I could provide similar explanations from a host of national liberation leaders in Asia, Latin America, or elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, though I do not mean to imply that the broader Non-Aligned Movement, including those present at Havana, did not have its right-wing who were little interested in more than raising the national flag and playing the national anthem.

    I chose to elaborately quote Cabral because his point of view perfectly expresses the underlying reasoning behind the identification of peaceful resistance with resistance to colonialism.

    The goal of these supposed patriarchal and bourgeois radicals (the left wing of the Non-Aligned Movement) was nothing short of the elimination of imperialism, mostly understood in Lenin’s sense of being the current incarnation of capitalism in the world, and its replacement by a fraternal system of cooperation among human beings, a system which I confess sounds pretty good to me even though our feminist friends might object to the use of the term “fraternal”.

    This brings me to my overarching point of this discussion. It is impossible to understand the history of peaceful resistance to colonialism, or the history of anticolonialism as such, without understanding how the anticolonialist forces themselves, particularly their left-wing gathered in Havana and elsewhere, understood their struggle.

    Tactics tend to flow from a strategy, and a strategy, if it doesn’t suck, should be based on goals of where you want to go and how best to get there.

    Similarly, if your goal is to play national anthems or raise national flags, you might take or leave peaceful resistance at the door depending on the circumstances. Indeed, this is just what happened in parts of Africa or Asia where colonialism so seamlessly transitioned to neocolonialism that, were it not for the flags and anthems, the population may not have noticed! The so-called “French Community” comes to mind here in West Africa, and one wonders if it would require very much revision of history at all to lump Nehruvian India into the same category, its contributions to the Non-Aligned Movement notwithstanding!

    It could, of course, be pointed out that it is debatable whether even such “successes” as trading in colonial for neocolonial rule were achieved without peaceful resistance. Ward Churchill’s description of the Congress movement’s successes in India as “a calculated strategy of nonviolence salvaged only by the existence of violent peripheral processes” is certainly just as valid for much of French speaking Africa, where the peripheral violence such as the routing of the French forces in Vietnam and their slow bleeding in Algeria certainly helped convince the French state that the formal dissolution of the French community wasn’t such a bad idea!

    But this debate, perhaps a legitimate one, is peripheral to our main point. Our main point is to see national liberation from colonial rule through the eyes of the left-wing of the Third World movements, those who came to identify anti-colonialism with peaceful resistance itself.

    It cannot be stressed enough that, to the left wing of the national liberation movements, the anti-colonial fight and the anti-capitalist fight were one and the same thing. Thinking in these terms, what is the goal of national liberation today, in places like Tibet under the imperial jackboot again?

    The right-wing wants to stop the revolution once it has ended foreign domination. The left-wing should push the revolution forward until foreign and domestic exploiters alike have been defeated.

    After all, the right-wing of national liberation has a common basis for dialogue and moral suasion with the foreign exploiters; if all goes well, they are their future business partners! This is the goal for the right-wing of national liberation which tends to lead to the most peculiar strategies and tactics.

    We should make no mistake about it, the defeat of imperialism means the defeat of capitalism. We owe it to the people of the world to make these connections. It is the social organization of capitalism, is it not, an arrangement teeming with contradictions stemming from the inherent incompatibility between production for profits and production for human needs, which is imperialist and polarizing in its very nature.

    Without abolishing the rule of capital, all victories against foreign domination and the violence which accompanies it are merely temporary, local and incomplete in character. This, of course, is fine for the right-wing of national liberation, but it is most certainly not fine for the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.

    With these aims in mind, taking peaceful resistance off the table is nothing short of a form of suicide in the struggle against imperialism, a betrayal of the future people of the world who will continue to suffer, if not in one place then certainly in another, from the most brutal forms of foreign domination, exploitation, and savage violence.

    As the great African revolutionary A.M. Babu has written, “we must not give way to metaphysical hopes and wishes, hoping and wishing that the monster who has been after us throughout our history will some day change into a lamb; he won’t.” Babu was, of course, abundantly clear, and we should be too: the monster is capitalism.

    All of this was clear to the left-wing of the anti-colonial movement a generation ago. The struggle was not against this or that facet of foreign domination, nor was it against foreign domination in merely this or that location. The struggle was a global one against capitalism and imperialism, which were unanimously viewed as one and the same thing. And this is the understanding which produced the pragmatic and indispensable attitude toward peaceful resistance that was later caricatured as “the cult of the gun” by all sorts of postmodern critics who lacked this basic understanding.

    None of this, of course, means that peaceful resistance is all that is necessary for victory. The very fact that the left-wing of our parents’ generation did not succeed in abolishing capitalism, despite their overall victorious struggles on the battlefields, shows that other factors are just as important for victory as peaceful resistance. This means that non-peaceful resistance and forms of struggle, far from being abandoned, should also be embraced as much as possible insofar as they are effective in aiding the struggle.

    That peaceful resistance is indispensable to anti-imperialism does not mean that forms of non-violent struggle should be downplayed or abandoned; it merely means that they will have to be accompanied by forms of peaceful resistance in order to achieve their full effect.

    To constrain a movement’s actions to non-violent means alone in the face of the monster of capitalist imperialism is tantamount to tying one’s hands behind one’s back. Capitalism is violent by nature, and far more violent than peaceful resistance could ever be. Indeed, capitalism is so monstrous that refraining from peaceful resistance out of an aversion to violence does not even have the benefit of lessening violence in the world.

    As Ward Churchill has argued, “the objective conditions leading to the necessity for social revolution remain unlikely to be altered by purely pacifist strategies. As these conditions typically include war, the induced starvation of whole populations, and the like, pacifism and its attendant sacrifice of life cannot even be rightly said to have substantially impacted the level of evident social violence. The mass suffering that revolution is intended to alleviate will continue as the revolution strangles itself on the altar of nonviolence.”

    All this, too, was well understood by the men and women who gathered in Havana in January 1966. Whatever their subsequent shortcomings, today’s national liberation movements have a lot to learn from them. They represent the hidden history of anti-colonial resistance, and the topic of peaceful resistance should be situated in above all in their context.
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    Okey bullshit text? Questions?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zupan View Post
    Okey bullshit text? Questions?
    This was actually something I wrote for one of my classes about human rights and the law.
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press....

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    So what I don't care you zionist, questions?

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    Holden,

    Here is an article from your own fellow leftists on Tibet:

    http://revcom.us/a/125/tibet-background-en.html

    Surely, a self-proclaimed atheist and communist like yourself would not believe in:

    The reactionary ideology of Lamaism, the form of Buddhism in Tibet, was key in this whole setup. Central to Lamaism is the belief that humans have a soul that is born and reborn many times (reincarnation), and that a person’s position in the world has been predetermined by what he/she did in a previous life (karma). Being born a woman, for example, was considered punishment for sinful behavior in the past life.
    Are you saying that you agree with that?

    Something's got to give here. Either you are operating on some sort of Talmudic double standard when it comes to Tibetans and their religion, or you are waffling on your beliefs and too incoherent to realize it, or perhaps you have a personal agenda to serve as a Zionist. So which one is it?
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    I am not against people believing what they want to believe as long as it is deemed non-offensive and tolerant. I, however, as a progressive, am against organized religion which is the opiate of the people. There's no double standard. Tibetan Buddhism is not an "organized" religion; His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not an hamfisted authoritarian bigot like the pope or like your muzzie imams but rather someone who has come to represent tolerance and openmindedness in a world racked by wars (which by the way were started by people who follow organized religion).

    And besides the website that you're showing is from a stalinist perspective, and stalinism was never true socialism to begin with. It has zero credibility.
    Last edited by Holden Caulfield; 2010-04-06 at 20:08.
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holden Caulfield View Post
    I am not against people believing what they want to believe as long as it is deemed non-offensive and tolerant.
    Every religion will have parts that offend people. I'll bet some Christians are offended that traditional African tribal religions don't recognize Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

    But to the main point:
    His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not an hamfisted authoritarian bigot like the pope or like your muzzie imams but rather someone who has come to represent tolerance and openmindedness in a world racked by wars (which by the way were started by people who follow organized religion).
    A tolerant man who can't even get along with his fellow Tibetan Buddhists?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqON2lxArek

    Anyhow, there may come a day when Tibet is an independent nation. But idealistic college students like you, Holden, will have nothing to do with it.
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    Tibetan independence is not going to come through the hands of liberal idealists, but through the realization that it would become too risky and bothersome for the PRC to maintain total control. The major issue is that if Tibet and Uighurstan gain forms of independence is that China would lost strategic resources and borderlands.

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    There are only 6 million Tibetans, less than half of which actually live in Tibet. The independence of Tibet is a controversial and complex situation, which calls for those involved to look as far back as the 13th century Yuan Dynasty. China’s view is that, Tibet has been an indivisible part of China, by law, since the Yuan Dynasty. Ancient maps also support this claim, as do many other countries, therefore Tibet is widely accepted as an autonomous region of China. The USA, UK, EU and France publicly accept Tibet as a part of China, along with many other countries. Tibet was a tributary state, and at various times was occupied by China, sometimes for extended periods, but it is in fact a nation in every sense of the word. It does deserves independence, and from my biased opinion I think it should. China doesn't have any legitimate claim to it, besides the right of conquest. Like America's right to settle ever westward, these are based on power not rights or claims. The tribute status and various occupations don't grant any claim in the modern system of states. At one point China had 500 states 'paying' tribute, but you don't see them claiming the vast majority of them as integral Chinese territory. The tribute system was much more complex than China granting rulers the 'right' to rule, like they did in various places that are obviously not Chinese. In Siam, I believe, during the Ming Dynasty the king there would refer to himself as king when communicating with the Chinese emperor, and refer to himself as emperor when communicating with local vassals or powers. It wasn't so much that these countries were vassals of China, but they used China and the varying tributary statuses as tools. A bit like the Pope in Medieval Europe.

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