kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Free Aung San Suu Kyi

To all my friends who wish to see a free Tibet: spend a little of that energy for a free Burma.

Tibet is a complicated story, and the cynic within me recognizes that it is very likely that China will always maintain some degree of control over it. Often Tibet is seen in the West as some sort of land of innocence, a Shangri-La ruined by the meanies in the PRC. The folks running the PRC (somebody named Hu Jin Tao is one of my Facebook friends, but I don't think it's the one in charge of China; after all, Jesus is also one of my Facebook friends) may well be meanies, but it might help were we to get a better picture of what conditions for most Tibetans were before 1959. This isn't a simple story of all good vs. all evil; it should at least be noted that a "Free Tibet" isn't necessarily "Tibet Like it was Before 1959."

On the other hand, China could put an enormous amount of pressure on the Burmese junta, if only in terms of economics. The PRC likes to say such issues are "internal affairs," so we can't say anything about their own "internal affairs." But Burma's is a brutal dictatorship, violating the most basic human rights, overturning elections, jailing political prisoners, and, as we've seen in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, not giving much of a damn about its own citizens.

I think we should be hearing more about Burma, and everytime you hear someone complain about Tibet, add a complaint about Burma. If you want to put your energy into a good political cause, and one that might actually effect some change, Burma may be a better bet than Tibet.

For those interested, you can find pretty easily the PRC's view, as well as the view of the "Tibet Government in Exile," associated with the Dalai Lama. I think it useful to see both sides (and to see just how ancient the ties are between the Tibetans and the Han Chinese).

For a (lefty) view on some of this, critical of some of the views popularly put forth about the history of Tibet, you could go here:

Parenti on Tibet's Feudal Past


Blogger Bazarov said...

I remember Penn & Teller's Bullshit doing an episode on Tibet, amongst other things. They pointed out how they weren't necessarily the peaceful people everyone believed them to be.
I think the Chinese have a long term strategy in mind (go figure): breed them out. In a few dozen generations will they be able to distinguish themselves from one another? Move in enough people and humans will do what they do best, i.e. fuck one another: literally and metaphorically.
As far as Burma/Myanmar I must admit being almost complete ignorant, as I am on most topics. This has hardly ever kept me from commenting on such topics, as witnessed above with regards to Tibet/China, but I'll keep my mouth shut on specifics. It's a shame such catastrophes are capable of producing so much human suffering, and that's without the aid of governments standing in the way of relief.
I will say this about China. I think it was quite a wise move to allow Western press in to document the earthquake disaster. Given all the crap they've been given in relation to the upcoming Olympics, I'd say it helped give them some much needed sympathy from the rest of the world. Maybe it's because of my age, or my upbringing, but I've never really feared Communist nations. There's more than one way to cook an egg. There are variants of all forms. I was a bit freaked out when I saw the small glimpse offered us of N. Korea when the NY Philharmonic played there, but I wouldn't put China in the same boat. I honestly fear our own government and the former USSR more than China, simply because who'll buy all their shit if they destroyed the West? Russia's a collapsed nation, which makes me worry. This country's a different problem entirely...
But can Red China be any worse than the Berlin Olympics under Fascist Germany? Maybe it'll do em some good to see some capitalist pigs kick their ass in some sports. Few things are funnier than the face of Hitler watching his blonies gettin their asses handed to them. And maybe it'll open up our eyes a bit too should some Commies kick our asses in some events. But then again, that's probably too much to ask--we hardly seem to flinch when other countries' students regularly beat ours in science and mathematics, but hey, at least we got Inteligent Design! Weren't the Olympics supposed to bring us together, despite our differences? I've heard people complain about the NY Philharmonic playing for N. Korea too. Bleh. I've always said envy works better than force. I think Elvis and blue jeans have done more to win over other mentalities to ours than our bullets and bombs ever have, Japan being a possible exception.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Bazarov said...

That guy's got a lot of interesting articles as well! I can't remember who it was that was defending the M-to-the-T but he's got an article on her too; you might want to check that one out forgotten defender of double faced Albanian ladies.
But thank you Kurt, the link's provided plenty of reading material to fill in an otherwise boring evening. Any books of his you would recommend?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Akrasia said...

Um, why do you feel the need to support a free Burma by undermining Tibet's legitimate human rights complaints? I don't get it. It's not like freedom is a zero-sum quantity.

5:02 PM  
Blogger kmosser said...

How am I "undermining" Tibet's legitimate human rights complaints?

The distinction is between

a) "Free Tibet"
b) Tibet as it used to be

a) is shouted as a slogan, often as equivalent to b). I'm all for a free and democratic Tibet, but as far as I can tell there has never been such a thing.

I simply said this: "I think we should be hearing more about Burma, and everytime you hear someone complain about Tibet, add a complaint about Burma. If you want to put your energy into a good political cause, and one that might actually effect some change, Burma may be a better bet than Tibet."

There is a factor of Realpolitik here, given the long history and complex relationship between the PRC and Tibet. I'm for a free and democratic PRC, too, by the way.

The point was that those who are so interested in Tibet seem not nearly as interested in Burma, yet--especially given the events of the last year--there may be some degree of hope that a little pressure and publicity could change some things there. And that would be good.

I guess I don't regard it as a zero-sum game.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, is Mosser correct about this, or is he again engaging in tortuous reasoning?

9:57 PM  
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