Tibet - modern and gay

Jim heartfield Jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Fri Jul 3 14:30:24 PDT 1998

In message < at pop.qut.edu.au>, Gary MacLennan <g.maclennan at qut.edu.au> writes
>Now the bit that I disagree with in Jim's post is his unqualified and
>undialectical celebration of modernisation. But we have all been over this
>one before, so there is not much point repeating it.

Then we do not disagree on that much, I think. I do not celebrate modernisation without qualification. On the contrary, I would have said that modernisation can lead to great good or great evil. My only point is that the possibilities are greater where society is more developed, rather than less. Whether good comes of that is down to us.

As to undialectical, well, I guess you'll be the judge of that.

In message <001101bda683$d02a4680$d1a820cc at propac.ix.netcom.com>, Nathan Newman <nnewman at ix.netcom.com> writes
>Actually, the Dalai Lama's response to this controversy just highlights
>why he is so popular with much of the progressive community. Despite
>traditional Buddhist doctrine against homosexuality (like most religions),
>the Dalai Lama was quite willing to engage with critics of his position.
>When he visited San Francisco last year, he met with a range of gay

I'm grateful for Nathan's getting me up to speed on the controversy. However, I have a less generous interpretation (maybe I'm just biassed):

On the one hand the Dalai Lama's meeting with gay activists sounds like good tactics: ride out the storm by promising to listen to the critics. (I don't suppose even the Dalai Lama is in a position to overthrow Buddhist teachings at the drop of a hat.) It costs him nothing to listen, after all. But it doesn't mean that he will do anything.

But on the other hand, what is fascinating in all of this is that DL even bothered to meet his critics. After all, one imagines that the movment for gay liberation is not so strong in Tibet (prove me wrong). The pressure that DL bent to was pressure amongst his contemporary contituency: sexually-liberal, cosmopolitan America. After all the DL's social base in the US has great deal more social weight than his backward kingdom in Tibet.

-- Jim heartfield

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