Seeking the Power of the Powerless

It’s almost the end of the year now, and nearly two months since Aung San Suu Kyi was released, but I haven’t quite gotten over the dopamine rush of that event. I’ve been waiting a long time to see her a free woman. Not as single-mindedly and passionately, to be sure, as her loyal Burmese followers, but waiting, nonetheless, with some anxiety but also with a conviction of sorts, that she would be able to tough it out. That she would never ever give in to the junta, and one day they would have to let her go. Just like that.

So when I saw the video of her first appearance before her followers, I expected to feel lofty and profound emotions. But all I found myself doing was worrying that she might injure herself, or at least cut her fingers on the wicked looking spikes on top of the closed gate of the compound where she had been confined. She was behind the gate but someone had put a table or something for her to stand on, so you could see her quite clearly. She was smiling but those damned spikes were getting in her way. At one point she even rested her forearms on them. Then someone from the crowd handed up a bouquet of flowers. She tied a spray to her hair, it might have been her trademark jasmine. Whatever it was, it did the trick for me. All was right with the world.

When the first signs appeared that Suu Kyi would be released, but before the experts could hold forth on the possible reasons behind the junta’s motives for freeing her, quite a few reports (The New York Times, the BBC, The, etc)  pressed into service the convenient phrase “the power of the powerless” to provide at least a broad, partial explanation of why Suu Kyi had prevailed over her captors.  Ambiguous as the explanation was it was certainly not incorrect. When she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 (accepted by her son, Alexander) the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Francis Sejested, had described Suu Kyi as “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless”.

This clever oxymoron had been thought up by the Czech playwright, dissident and political leader, Vaclav Havel, as the title for an essay, “Moc bezmocných“, in its original Czech, which appeared sometime in October 1978.  It soon became one of those rare pieces of political reflection that  outlive their time of birth and come to be regarded as a classic. The piece was written in a hurry, as Havel later mentioned, and was intended not as an academic or literary exercise, but as a call to action for all dissidents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc. In fact after its publication in a volume of essays on freedom and power, Havel and some of the other contributors to the volume were arrested.

The essay’s impact on the frail political opposition in Eastern Europe was profoundly transformational. A Solidarity activist, Zbygniew Bujak who had for years had been trying to rally and organize workers in Polish factories explains why: “There came a moment when people thought we were crazy. Why were we doing this? Why were we taking such risks? Not seeing any immediate and tangible results we began to doubt the purpose of what we were doing… Then came the essay by Havel. Reading it gave us the theoretical underpinnings for our activity. It maintained our spirits; we did not give up…”

Havel’s plays are marvelously accessible. I saw a BBC (or ITV?) performance of  Audience, an absurdist drama of an hour of Havel’s life after he was banned from the Czech theatre and forced to take a job in a brewery. It is the only thing on TV that’s ever made me deeply depressed and weak with laughter at the same time. On the other hand I have always found the dense 76 odd pages of “Power of the Powerless” heavy going. I have tried to cobble together a simple précis of Havel’s thesis, as I consider it one of the few political documents from that period that is still relevant to understanding the “theoretical underpinnings” of repressive regimes and systems in our day and age. Moreover, and more crucially, the essay provides a genuinely doable, though painful and high-sacrifice way, for the oppressed to successfully challenge their oppressors.

The first and crucial thing that Havel does in his essay is define the nature of the regime in the Eastern Europe. It was not a traditional dictatorship or a classic totalitarian regime like Stalin’s or Mao’s. Havel called this post-totalitarianism, but emphasizes that it was still totalitarian in spite of the prefix “post”. Nonetheless, this system was able to present a superficial appearance of normalcy by putting on a bland faceless facade, and very cunningly doing away with the trademark “great leader” or “Führer figure”. But Havel tells us that in spite of its ordinariness this system was in was in fact the “dictatorship of a bureaucracy.”

Havel then opens people’s eyes as to the nature of the power that held them in subjugation. He maintained that this power should not be mistaken for the instruments of that power: the military, the secret-police, the bureaucracy, the propaganda, the censors, et al. Though the regime still had its torturers and labor camps and was still capable of tremendous and arbitrary cruelty, the true source of its power lay in its ability to coerce people in a variety of ways (even with consumerism) to “live within the lie”; i.e. to accept the complex web (or for sci-fi fans, the “matrix”) of  lies it had created to provide a cover of justification for its perpetual hold on power.

Because post-totalitarianism was so fundamentally based on lies, Havel maintained that truth “in the widest sense of the word”  was the most dangerous enemy of the system. The primary breeding ground for what might be understood as an opposition in the post-totalitarian system was  “living within the truth”. This operated initially and primarily at the existential level, but it could manifest itself in publicly visible political actions as street demonstrations, citizens associations and so on. Havel mentions the creation of Charter 77 by Czech writers and intellectuals, who demanded that the government of Czechoslovakia recognize some basic human rights. It was a far from radical document but the Communist government cracked down hard on the authors and signatories. But it inspired subsequent efforts.

Whether Havel intended it or not his essay has a very Gandhian feel to it. Havel tells us that  “living within the truth”  (which one might accept as a form of satyagraha) “… is clearly a moral act, not only because one must pay so dearly for it, but principally because it is not self-serving. The risk may bring rewards in the form of a general amelioration in the situation, or it may not”.  Havel emphasized that by “living within the truth” he did not  just mean “products of conceptual thought,” or major political action, but that it could be “… any means by which a person or a group revolts against manipulation: anything from a letter by intellectuals, to a workers strike, from a rock concert to a student demonstration.”

My last post but one, was about the student demonstrations in Tibet in October, which I think fits in nicely with Havel’s “living with the truth” and as an expression of “the power of the powerless”. The Tibetan plateau hasn’t had a major rock concert yet but a young singer from Amdo, Sherten, has released a Bollywood style music video extravaganza “The Sound of Unity” calling on all Tibetans from the three provinces of the “Land of Snows” to unite (against you know who). Even such counterrevolutionary characters from “the bad old days” as an aristocrat lord and lady from Lhasa (in full regalia) are conspicuously depicted in one segment to press home the message of Tibetan unity. Two other similar music videos (“The Telephone Rang“, and “Mentally Return“) have appeared, with similarly subversive messages calling on “ruddy face” Tibetans to unite and await the return of “The Snow Lion”.  In spite of the effort by the lyricists to hide their political meaning behind euphemisms and double entendre,  such compositions are not without risk. A year ago, the singer Tashi Dondrup, was arrested for his bestselling album, Torture Without Trace, and in 2008 the singer, Jamyang Kyi was incarcerated and tortured for “subversive activities”.

Havel saw the significance of  such singers and musicians in social and political revolutions, and he supported the Czech rock group, The Plastic People of the Universe, which the Communist government had harassed and forced underground, and whose members were arrested and prosecuted in 1976. The Plastic People and Havel were in turn great admirers of the subversive music of the New York based Velvet Underground. Havel once told Salman Rushdie that the final non-violent revolution of 1989 that overthrew the Communist government was called the “Velvet Revolution” after the American band. Rushdie thought that Havel was joking but later found out that Havel had said exactly that, and quite seriously, to Lou Reed, the principal songwriter for the Velvet Underground.

Tibetan scholars, writers and students have, since the late nineties, effectively used the internet to communicate with each other and spread their  writings around the world. They write near exclusively in Tibetan and Chinese, but the website High Peaks Pure Earth provides English translations of  a representative sampling of their works. One of the most well known and outspoken bloggers has been the poet, Woeser, who recently received the “Courage in Journalism” award,  but whose computer was hacked last month by the ultra-nationalist China Honker Union, and all her writing deleted. She lives in Beijing, under near constant surveillance. Chinese censors have regularly shut down many Tibetan language blogs and blog hosting services, both in Tibet and China, but Tibetan bloggers have somehow managed to keep on writing, though with ever increasing difficulty. One way many Tibetans have managed to circumvent censorship and shutdowns has been by posting on Chinese social networking sites, such as the popular

All these activities reflect a broadening of the political and social opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet, and a growing sophistication in the way people have begun to exercise the “power of the powerless”, without it become an absolutely perilous or terminal exercise, as it had been before. Earlier, all public manifestations of opposition to Chinese rule was direct and confrontational. If we look at the Tibetan Uprising of 2008, and also those from 1987 onwards, nearly all  of them have been direct clashes with Chinese central authority, with demonstrators waving the forbidden national flag of Tibet and shouting slogans calling for Tibetan independence and the return of the Dalai Lama. These demonstrations, or rather uprisings, have, on every occasion, been met with overwhelming force, shootings, beatings, imprisonment, labor camps, executions and disappearances.  But this new phase of the struggle emerging in Tibet just might, because of its awkward (for Beijing) nuances, have a better chance of getting off the ground, before the authorities come up with a way to crush it.

For the first thirty years of exile the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community practiced “living in the truth” with unwavering resolution, holding on to the goal of Rangzen or “independence”, in spite of the disheartening turn of events from the mid-seventies when Communist China became an ally of the West against the Soviet Union, and when most intellectuals and celebrities in the free world (even western visitors to Dharmshala) then, appeared to be besotted with the thoughts of Chairman Mao.

The Dalai Lama was not welcome in the West as he is now. In fact he only managed to visit the USA in 1979, although he had been in exile for twenty years before that.  He wasn’t, of course, under house arrest in India, but  his movements  were restricted. There were practically no Tibet support groups in the West and no influential supporters or lobbies in Washington DC or Brussels. But the Dalai Lama stuck to his guns, metaphorically speaking. If you walked into a home, monastery, office, classroom or restaurant in exile Tibetan society then, you would probably have noticed a dull green poster with a quotation (in English and Tibetan) by His Holiness, that eloquently expressed his moral resolve. It had no photograph of him and design-wise was minimal,  but it was effective and genuinely inspirational. “Our way may be a long and hard one but I believe that truth and justice will ultimately prevail”.

And quite unexpectedly Tibetans did prevail – up to a point. With the fall of Berlin Wall and with China’s leaders openly confessing the failure of their economic and social programs, and with the opening up of Tibet to Western tourism, the world suddenly became aware of the enormous tragedy that had befallen the roof of the world. Everywhere around the world, political leaders, celebrities and the media, began to pay attention to the issue of Tibet. There were Beastie Boys benefit concerts, Richard Gere and Harrison Ford embraced the Dalai Lama and Hollywood stepped in with two feature films on Tibet. The high-water mark of this period was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness. The Nobel committee recognized  that the Dalai Lama “in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet has consistently opposed the use of violence.”

But this period also saw the opening up of China and, more significantly “the China trade”. Slowly and very subtly, from every quarter imaginable, pressure began to be put on the Tibetan leadership to give up its goal of independence. China was going to become a democracy soon, anyway – the argument ran – and everything could be worked out then. Even the fairly successful Tibetan campaign in the US Congress to hold trade with China conditional to improvement of human rights conditions in Tibet, was effectively derailed by the Clinton administration. The president wanted to de-link human-rights and trade and induct China into the World Trade Organization. His administration essentially “persuaded” the Tibetan lobby (The International Campaign for Tibet or ICT) to go in for “constructive engagement” with Beijing. This term now became the new mantra in Tibetan activism circles. One support group in Britain that had campaigned successfully to get Holiday Inn to leave Lhasa had its knuckles rapped publicly by the director of ICT and told, in so many words, to engage China more constructively.

It was made attractively convenient and often profitable for exile Tibetans to “live within this lie”. ICT moved into a posh office suite. The exile government which had till then operated virtually on a shoestring now began to receive funding from a  number of Western nations. Tibetan organizations, especially the Dalai Lama, began to receive invitations to attend all sorts of international confabs.  But  behind the gestures of sympathy, the invitations, the awards, the grants, and the aid, there often appeared to be a kind of unspoken condition that this might all go away if Tibetans raised the issue (or the “core issue” as the PRC menacingly calls it)  of Tibetan independence.

The growing interest in Tibet’s unique traditional culture, art and spirituality also gave Tibet a more substantial presence on the international scene than other comparable conflict areas as East Turkestan (Xinjiang). But in a bizarre way this interest and enthusiasm for Tibetan culture also seemed to provide some in the West a kind of convenient rationalization to ignore the on-going destruction of that ancient nation and the real suffering and even potential extermination of its people. The late celebrity photographer, Galen Rowell, actually justified this approach in the introduction to his book, My Tibet : “To dwell on the agony the Chinese have imposed upon his (the Dalai Lama’s) land is to lose most of the essence of his being and his message to the world.” The Dalai Lama seemed to endorse this attitude by his statement that the preservation of Tibetan spiritual culture was more important than struggling for Tibetan political freedom.

It should be emphasized that much of this new attention and assistance, especially from small nations, some organizations and even leaders as Nancy Pelosi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  was genuine, well-meant and unquestionably welcome.  No doubt, the influence and reach of the “China lobby” (very broadly speaking) was widespread and effective, but it was not ubiquitous. There was a real possibility that the Tibetan leadership could have stuck to its fundamental national goal, and though encountering temporary setbacks and some cold-shoulders in Western capitals for a time, have hung on to a significant (and more genuine) segment of its support base, and eventually, as China dropped its “soft power” mask (as it is beginning to do right now) rebuilt its international support in a more real and meaningful way.

But Dharamshala chose to see the new reality as inescapable and unalterable, and used it as a part excuse, part self-fulfilling prophecy to warn the exile public that if the issue of independence were raised Tibetans would loose their support in the West, that the Dalai Lama would not be welcome anywhere anymore, and that Tibetan refugees might even be deported from the countries where they had found refuge.

As all exile Tibetans had till then considered themselves to be engaged in a life-and-death freedom struggle, some kind of “displacement activity” (as Konrad Lorenz would have put it)  had to provided for them to deal with the new reality. Experts from various “conflict resolution”, “conflict management” and “conflict mediation” groups and institutions descended on Dharamshala to organize lectures, workshops and symposiums, which even members of the Tibetan cabinet were sometimes obliged to attended. The overriding thinking pushed at these gatherings was that  that everything depended on finding a way to accommodate China. Hence anything that might impede the process (i.e. talk of independence) had to be summarily dropped. No one seemed to have caught on that these groups were not there to deliver justice, or even begin a process to seek justice for Tibet, but, as their organizational names made abundantly clear, were there to make “conflict” go away, even if that conflict was a necessary one between survival and extermination – even between good and evil. The simplest way of doing that, especially when one side was invincible, immovable, and a valued trading partner of the West, was to make the other and weaker side give up its dispute.

Besides Tibetan officialdom, even some individual Tibetans living and studying in the free world were seduced into this new way of thinking. A Tibetan MBA made the far-reaching discovery that doing business with China was the only way to save and modernize Tibet. One PhD deployed his newly acquired academic skills to re-interpreting Havel’s actual phrase “the power of the powerless” to mean the conference hopping, resume bolstering, grant seeking and other essentially self-serving activities, that passes for “activism” in a section of  the Tibetan exile world.  A few previous independence activists now set up “outreach” and “bridge building” projects inside Tibet (in collaboration with Chinese authorities, of course) and on a a few occasions even spoke out publicly against Tibetan independence and those still contending for it.

The  Indian novelist (The God of Small Things) and social thinker, Arundhati Roy, has commented on a similar phenomenon in India. In her talk/essay “Public Power in the Age of Empire” Roy mentions that one of the most insidious threats facing social movements in the sub-continent was, what she called, the “NGO-ization of resistance”. She points out that the political resistance of the Indian public to globalization and its terrible impact on the victims of economic liberalization, especially farmers, coincided with the NGO boom in the late 1980s.  She does concede that some NGO’s did valuable work, but insists that the NGO phenomenon should be considered in a broader political context. That the impression that NGO’s gave of contributing to social alleviation, that contribution was materially inconsequential and not the main part of their actual agenda:

Their (the NGOs) real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right …They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between … Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators. In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders not to the people they work among.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s  celebrated “Freedom From Fear” speech begins: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” The Tibetan exile government and certain Tibetan individuals in the free world do not have to fear the Chinese military, the PSB, slave labor camps, prisons, torture or execution, but they fear loosing access to opportunities and privileges they enjoy at present in the free world, which they have convinced themselves is conditional to their silence on the most crucial issue of Tibetan freedom and sovereignty. And that fear corrupts them and undermines the revolutionary struggle that is being carried on inside Tibet, and even outside still, in a small way, by a marginalized but committed number of Tibetans and friends.

After her release some media commentators suggested that Aung San Suu Kyi, might be sidelined in the present Burmese political scene, since she had been out of touch with the Burmese public and new leaders had emerged from within the opposition groups. But the ecstatic and universal public response to her release, even from young Burmese who had probably never actually seen her in person, demonstrated that she had lost none of her appeal.  She was soft-spoken and levelheaded as always. She spoke politely of the military dictatorship and even respectfully of the army as a national institution. She made no calls for “regime change”,  but on the fundamental issue of her life-long struggle for democracy there was no question that the power of the powerless would ever be relinquished.

In a telephone interview with The New York Times she made it clear that now she was free she intended to lead what she called a nonviolent revolution, rather than an incremental evolution. She said her use of the term “revolution” was justified because, “I think of evolution as imperceptible change, very, very slowly, and I think revolution as significant change. I say this because we are in need of significant change.”


44 Replies to “Seeking the Power of the Powerless”

  1. Another excellent article! It puts into perspective what a lot of myopic and `ground reality` people seem to miss. I am also glad you put a mention of the TRADE or DIE philosophy that someone has recently espoused as if these things don`t occur to other people. I wonder what our biggest Tibetan entrepreneur (also hailed by China) languishing in Jail right now thinks about this `newly discovered` critical thinking coming out of exile.

  2. Thank you so much for highlighting once again the dangers of giving up to Chinese tyranny.

    For Tibetans living outside occupied Tibet and for foreign “activists”, it is definitely much more comfortable to “live within this lie” than to stand for the restoration of Tibet’s independence. There is no need to use one’s brain to conceive alternate means of ending the occupation, there is no dangerous enemy to confront, there is no risk of ostracization for standing against His Holiness’ vision, and it can even turn profitable if one considers salaries and travel expenses paid to some NGO’s managers and Tibet lobbyists.

    From an ethical angle, however, evading the truth is a pretty damaging experience. The fight for Tibet is a fight between the right and the wrong, between individual liberties and totalitarism, not between hard and soft dictators. It might be temporarily rewarding to accommodate with the oppressor, but when it comes to deal with the devil no arrangement is safe and consequences can be dreadful. Aligning with the Nazis during World War II is a good example of that.

    But more dangerously, the political credit consequently granted to Beijing by Dharamshala’s attempts at negotiations, by NGO’s tolerated activities in Tibet and most of all by His Holiness’ genuine promotion of China’s corporate image, such as during the 2008 Olympics, is a very devastating and malicious one. It not only provides justifications to some companies and institutions for activities in Tibet and in China much less laudable than the pursuit of human values, but also harms efforts of other local lobby groups such as human rights or environment. In short — and although no one likes to hear it — the Dalai Lama’s conciliatory moves can easily turn against Tibetan’s interests and against other victims of China’s totalitarian rule when misused in a realpolitik context.

    It is very unfortunate that most of the common Tibetan people do not realize that a “constructive engagement” with Beijing has nothing to do with His Holiness’ wisdom but with the interests of merciless politicians and businessmen. For me, there is no doubt that a large part of the Tibet’s lobby — Tibetans and foreigners alike — should be held responsible for this deplorable confusion and that we should all go back to His Holiness’ original quotation formerly printed on this dull green poster: “Our way may be a long and hard one but I believe that truth and justice will ultimately prevail”.

  3. Thanks Jamyang la for the excellent post and being a one man opposition party. “Living in the lie” is going insanely low these days. One of the more troubling development in the recent time is the attempt to negate the historical status of Tibetan independence. Recently during the “Discussion held on the significance of 1913 Tibet-Mongol Treaty” in Dharamshala, Samdhong Rinpoche expressed his displeasure talking about a treaty that is contrary to exile government middle way policy.
    Likewise, many of the so called western experts on Tibet are motivated by their selfish interest to “live in the lie”. Large corpus of their writings are shaped by the prospect of getting grants and visa to Tibet, and thus they are overtly careful not to antagonize China.

  4. I mean this is once again a great article to read but there are things that you mentioned in your article is nothing to doing with us. A reality check is more important then just wrote whatever comes to mind.

    His Holiness middle path only way to resolve sino-Tibet issue. We don’t need anything else and I don’t think there are better solution than middle path out there.

    We don’t have to do anything other people does. We have our leader and government more importantly we have middle path policy is the best solution to benefit both sides.

    However I am enjoyed read your article.

  5. Sir once again you came up with truly knowledgeable article.The real fact of the tibetan issue is well highlighted but what Choni Tsultrim Gyatso above mentioned I have also the same opinion. I truly admire you but I just want to ask u a very simple question….If not the middle path approach than what else???
    Any other method or approach?? If so plz do let us know clearly so that we all tibetan can think over it and try to end this debate of full independence and middle way approach to an end and to catch up with one of either so as to resolve the issue …
    Once again I thank you for coming up with such a beautifully well written article.It gives us lot of knowledge about the current tibetan issue and the curent scenario of the tibetan issue as for youngsters like me.I would appreciate if you ponder little of your time in answering my questions…BOD GYALO

  6. TM,
    true, independence is not a dinner party but does submission and perpectual begging however noble our leaders may claim their motivation is behind the facade of mw wisdom ensure our collective survival? is this our positive experience since 1949? where are we now? hav we too easily forgotten the blade of 17 point agreement underneath the honey of help stand on our feet and chinks shall go home and all other deceptions down the 6 decades including the 9 rounds about talking about the talks?
    i genuinely understand the frustration that runs through my dog in shichak to be relatively powerless to do anything earth shattering against the might and terror of jungle leopard prowling inside its gate with an evil purpose driven in its heart by pure predatorial instinct and interest, to have its dogmeat delicacy as dinner but seriously, do we not find it utterly stupid on the part of my dog, with its ability to react completely paralized by fear and thereby losing its presence of mind, to literally sneak up, in errie spare me cry n yelp that dogs are capable of, to its predatorial guest at the threshold to give a mw hand shake and a welcome aboard hug in the hope the big starving black panther will change its mind and become vegetarian and let this pussy go back to its kennel in freedom!
    shall we ever learn the lesson of not to trust china from our own history and the experience of our own kind?
    yes, there is no easy answer but we must not lose focus of our ultimate goal. since when in history was an independence struggle easy n cool? but with time and courage, passion sparks a revolution! however powerful china may be, ironically its greatest fear is instability. subjugated and brutalized peoples under china shall one day shatter the foundation of oppression that china built its empire on. back to reality china must and will come. but it will not come free. it may not happen soon either but dont lose heart, and more importantly we must quit chasing rainbows.

    PS nice to see you taking some interest. c me on fb wen u like to chat personal stuff. ok

  7. I remember the day when ‘Strasbourg Proposal’ was announced.
    I had never felt so empty and was quick to call The Office of Tibet in New York and spoke to His Holiness Rep. Rinchen Dharlo la that this proposal could not be possible and that those who drafted this proposal had commited an act of treason.
    After a few months I had breakfast with Kasur Lodi Gyari and I expressed my deep sorrow that our own government had devised a strategy that effectively gave up our independence which they had absolutely no right.

    All of us Tibetans look at Rangzen and see different shades and meanings to this beautiful word.
    I see Rangzen of our country in the sad eyes of my parents and my grand parents past. I also see it in the innocent eyes of my two young boys whose lives can never be complete like mine living in exile.

    Andrug Gonpo Tashi,Tsering Woser,Runggye Adak and countless others are all beautiful shades of Rangzen.

  8. rangzen became rangkyong, rangkyong became rangwang, rangwang became mirig sanes rangkyong. it’s all word play. those of us who are not familiar with Tibetan literature became fools – mere tools for chess-players at the Kashag! Tsering Topgyal, alas, is one of my companions!

  9. That is why it is important to learn Tibetan language through process of education, rather than claiming “Tibetan Spirit is Stronger than Jews”.

  10. NewGenerationTB, I taught Tibetan literature at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives for upcoming inji Tibetologists and Dharma scholars. I was being humble in the previous post – you brought the best out of me. Thanks. The weaknesses of many people visiting this blog is that they lost touch with Tibetan civilization – the spirit, the language. That’s why you guys were twisted around by prof. Samdhong Rinpoche!

  11. I read the above post, I didn’t understand your point. Especially when HHDL and Samdong Rinpoche mentioned clearly in public speeches that by adopting Middle way policy the Tibetans get more support. So, there is no need for more studies.

  12. Did Rangzen Alliance also made a deal? Because we didn’t hear any contribution from Rangzen on Tibetan Independence.

    Why Jamyang Norbu la cannot stand up as Kalon Tripa Candidate? Didn’t you know that Tibetan People favors and supports Independence.

    Or why not JN found an opposition (Rangzen advocacy) Tibetan Political Party, so that he can try to compete and run an Independence seeking Tibetan exile government and Independence seeking majority political party in Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
    Your ideological stand on Tibetan Independence do not confront on Reality. Our Exile body is quite confronting, try to think about schools, tibetan settlements, monasteries, scattered all over India, Nepal and Bhutan.

  13. I am disgusted by the logic that there is no choice but Middle Way so Tibetans better make do. This is like saying “Well, since that guy is really big and scarey, just lie down and let him rape you!” There is ALWAYS another choice, and people who claim there isn’t one are just afraid to pay the price the other choice entails. If the rapist is big and scarey, what you do is duck down and punch him quickly in the testicles when he tries to grab you! Then you beat him into oblivion when he goes down. At least, you put up a good fight, right? Even if your chances are slim. Because he will kill you anyway if that’s what he plans to do…so you might as well fight.

    The Tibet discussion needs to focus on how to throw that first punch to the testicles, and what the follow up techniques will be. The discussion does not need to focus on impossibility, compromise, or catering to genocidal and sociopathic Chinese criminals. There are many ways to throw the first punch at this rapist, Communist beast. Let’s talk about that.

    -Patel (in translation)

    ***an individual can’t be blamed for being a victim of sexual violence. But when an entire government fails to secure its birthright, its independence, and even to protect its citizens against grotesque and pervasive violence…all the while accomodating a Nazi-like regime….one starts to wonder if its possible to avoid pointing a finger SOMEWHERE.

    Thanks JN for an insightful article. Now let’s start talking about methods to dismantle this genocidal regime.

  14. GR. All those NGOs who sell ‘Free-Tibet’ T-shirts and Stickers are the ones who compromised on Rangzen? I’m sure you don’t own one! LOL.

  15. I am quite surprised that JN was always honest and direct when writing articles. In this article he glossed over simply saying A Tibetan MBA and PHD, leaving many to wonder who the hell those people are? Why JN did not directly name Tsewang Namgyal and Lobsang Sangey, the current front-runner katri candidate?

    @Tenzin Nyinje, please don’t categorize me with other Tibetan ignorants folks. I think I am far better off, so take ur judgement! lol….However, you should excuse our Tibetan ignorants Tibetans including who sometimes misinterprete official statements.

  16. I am quite surprised that JN was always honest and direct when writing articles. In this article he glossed over by simply saying A Tibetan MBA and PHD, leaving many to wonder who the hell those people are? Why JN did not directly name Tsewang Namgyal and Lobsang Sangey, the current front-runner katri candidate?

    @Tenzin Nyinje, please don’t categorize me with other Tibetan ignorants folks. I think I am far better off, so take back your judgement! lol….However, you should excuse our Tibetan ignorants Tibetans including some scholars who sometimes misinterprete official statements.

  17. Gyakhab Rangzen,
    well as expected i got the same views i was expecting…I raised a question “I just want to ask u a very simple question….If not the middle path approach than what else???
    Any other method or approach?? ”
    There seems no talkiung about this point in ur reply…..U may be right in ur own ways but I am in a fix Because nobody seems to giving me that answer to that question and clear my mind which is now sotta confused a bit …..

  18. I heard you guys said Kudrak/elitist/aristocrat exist in USA like JFK.

    Have you watch the documentary on JFK rise to power in whitehouse including his excessive passion for woman(manly man).

    you will see what kudrak did to get to the power using mobster that has control over national trade unions.

    Its the scale that may differ but their spirit will shine.

  19. One self-appointed, outcast critic employed his inherited aristocractic temperament to re-interpreting Edward Bulwer’s ” pen is mighter than sword” to mean the character assination,creating divisions, promoting his cousin to limelight, and other self-centered trivia, that passes for ” honest writing” in a dark, neglected cave of the Tibetan diaspora world.

  20. GR and NgenerationTB, I am NYINJEY, not Nyinje. Name/identity matters?

    GR, I am not throwing any tantrums. You know who I am referring to.

  21. TM,
    if not middlepath then independence. tgie must try to build pressure on china by any means to get it. kissing chink ass wil continue to get us nowhere.
    3 simple facts.
    1. china has not come to tibet to help us tibetans. it is their political n what not interest to see us wiped out or make us as insignificant as possible.
    2. those chinks, intelectuals or democracy activists, who act pro tibet or pro truth crap do not have a single seat in the power hall of china.
    3. besides, deep down they love their motherland china more than they like the idea of greater freedom for tibs as it screws their numerous nationalistic interests. read mw bible.

    if not independence then what?
    kiss chink ass deeper? any other mehod or approach? to suck chink balls filled with toxic larva?

    the birth of this political confusion would not have occured if the dalai lama didnt create this poisonous mantra 2 decades ago.
    it was in 1986 or 87 when listening to a pan-dhookan radio with a cousin, heard on bbc that the dalai lama is now seeking only semi-independece. sitting on a bamboo bed in a shichak hut this 17 year old felt a sudden rush of lingering empty feeling in his heart that one would go thru at a dear parent’s funeral. wasnt aware of the detail nuances but it felt like the end of the world for tibet. unfortunately it feels same even now. and for this i blame if i can the GODS in political plane compromising our political world for their own comfort, power, spiritual illumination, peace prize, universal values, world religious harmony, karma, rebirth and so called buddhahood. i would prefer a struggle with no gods as our leaders where men are dictated by the sheer necessity of unity for our common survival. with gods n demigods flung out of the window, men will begin to depend on themselves n before long the birth of our nation will come about with the realization that independece is like the air we breathe in, the foremost necessity for our survival as a people and nation. can any one survive without oxygen for a day?

  22. GR, your colorful rhetoric notwithstanding, you really don’t say much.

    Tibet fought a 20 year guerrilla war against the PAP with CIA assistance. Where did that exactly get you?

    And how do you propose the TGIE place “pressure” on the PRC?

    I would like to remind you that there is an unbridgeable gap between mere angry and EMPTY rhetoric and a solution.

  23. When someone supports your candidate through subtle public affair, that does not mean you should right away kiss his behind…

    Everyone knows him and his chinese friend calls him “Xie phong yiu”.

  24. NGOs like ICT( international campaign for Tibet), founded by Tethong and SFT ( director Lhadon Tethong) are sucking the blood out of honest Tibetan struggle by reducing our independence to Human Rights issue, as JN suggests.

    why did they found such institutions, to make connections, create jobs for themselves? what did they have in mind?

  25. Old Monk, I think SFT still stands for Independence, so does Lhadon.

    However, ICT is the chief agent of the transformation of political goal and Tenzin N Namgyal was one of the founders of ICT. Neverthless, JN supports Tethong to be the future katri. I am amused what made JN to write a vehemently hated article on LS, but TNT is warmly praised. What is going on? I hope JN did not change his position as rangzen guardian as political situation suits his needs….


  26. c engineer,
    can u list those nations who fought for independence n got buried in the graveyard of museum n history books?
    what was the chinese population in tibet in 1974?
    1 million?
    and today?
    10 millions.
    cia help was never large scale nor was it intended to see free tibet. they used us as tools to harrass comunists for bargain with cpc like we used their guns for our freedom. however limited the help was it helped us wear n tear the chink forces n confine them to siling n chendu borders.

    dalai lama must shake hands with the leaders of 6 million mongolians n 10 million east turkistan n 25 million tibetan nepalese/gorkhas(not those 8 million bhavans n chetris of indian stock) n another 30 million in the himalayan foothills n all the enemies of china n go for a century of total blood bath.

  27. Old Monk and Daveno,

    You monologue has been deleted. Please stick to the topic of the post; this is not a discussion forum…

    Golok Ambum, Webmaster

  28. Dear Readers,

    How many of you have heard of the recent speech of Zamdhong Rinpoche, on Tibetan College students conference at Sara Tibetan College? You will come to know the real standard of Tibetan politics and its fragile direction while you read the below speech, by our Prime Minister,our Rinpoche and our Khewang-Zamdhong Lhama.

    Read below speech by him:

    ཤིག་འབུལ་སྐབས་བཀའ་ཁྲི་ནས་ “ཁོང་གི་མི་ཚེའི་ནང་གི་ལས་དོན་གང་ཞིག་བྱས་པ་ཚང་མ་བླ་མའི་བཀའ་བཞིན་འགྲུབ་པ་ལས་བོད་མི་རིགས་དང་། རྒྱལ་ཁབ། ཆབ་སྲིད་བཅས་ཀྱི་ཐད་ལ་བསམ་བློ་གཏོང་གི་མེད་”ཅེས་པའི་བཀའ་མོལ་ཐབས་སྡུག་དེ་གནང་ཤག གུས་མོ་བོད་ནས་ཡོང་མཁན་ཞིག་གི་རྣ་བར་གཏམ་བཤད་དེ་ཐོས་མ་ཐག་ཏུ་ད་བར་ཆོས་སྲིད་གཉིས་ལྡན་གྱི་བོད་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་དང་། མི་རིགས་འདིའི་ཆེད་དུ་རང་ཉིད་ཀྱི་གཅེས་པའི་ལུས་སྲོག་ལོངས་སྤྱོད་ཚང་མ་ལེགས་སྐྱེས་སུ་འབུལ་མཁན་དང་། དེང་སྐབས་རྒྱ་དམར་གྱི་བཙོན་ཁང་གི་ནང་དུ་མནར་གཅོད་མྱངས་དང་མྱོང་བཞིན་པའི་དཔའ་བོ་དཔའ་མོ་ཚོའི་བློ་ལ་ཐུགས་ཕམ་ཇི་ལྟར་ཞིག་སྐྱེས་ཀྱི་རེད་དམ། གཞིས་སུ་བཞུགས་པའི་ཆོལ་གསུམ་བོད་མི་སྐྱ་སེར་རྒན་གཞོན་ཚང་མས་མ་འོངས་བོད་ཀྱི་སྐྱེ་འགྲོའི་བདེ་སྐྱིད་ཀྱི་རེ་འདུན་བཅངས་སའི་བཙན་བྱོལ་བོད་གཞུང་གི་བཀའ་བློན་ཁྲི་པར་བསམ་བློའི་ཆུ་ཚད་དེ་ཙམ་ཞིག་ལས་མེད་དམ། བཙན་བྱོལ་བོད་མི་ཚོས་ཁྱེད་རང་མི་ལོ་བཅུའི་སྔོན་དུ་བཀའ་ཁྲིར་བཀོད་དགོས་དོན་ནི་ཁྱེད་ནས་བོད་མི་རིགས་དང་། རྒྱལ་ཁབ་འདིའི་ཆེད་དུ་ཕྱག་ལས་ཕན་ནུས་ལྡན་པ་ཞིག་
    ཁྱེད་ནས་མཁྱེན་དགོས་པ་ཞིག་ལ་ “བོད་མི་རིགས་འདི་ཡོད་པར་བརྟེན་ནས་བོད་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་འདི་འབྱུང་བ་དང་། བོད་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་འདི་ཡོད་པར་བརྟེན་ནས་བོད་མིའི་སྤྱི་ཚོགས་འདི་འབྱུང་། བོད་མིའི་སྤྱི་ཚོགས་
    འདི་ཡོད་པར་བརྟེན་ནས་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་ཁྱེད་ལྟ་བུའི་འབྱུང་བ་རེད།” དེར་བརྟེན། བོད་མི་ཚང་མས་མགྱོགས་མྱུར་གདེམ་ལ་ཉེ་བའི་བཀའ་ཁྲི་གསར་པ་དེ་ཡང་བོད་མི་རིགས་དང་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་ཀྱི་བདེ་སྡུག་ལ་ཤ་ཤེད་དང་
    བསམ་ཤེས་ཡོད་མཁན་ཞིག་གདེམ་དགོས་པ་ལས། གང་ཟག་བྱེ་བྲག་པ་ཞིག་གི་བཀའ་འགྲུབ་མཁན་ཞིག་མ་བསླེབ་པ་གནང་རོགས།

    My Critical review:

    As far as Tibetan traditional education is concerned, Rinpoche is a marvelous resource person,intellectual,worthy of preaching “Tibetan studies” with certain enlightened wisdom. I mean, new bird-view outlook over Tibetan studies in this century.
    On the contrary,it is also acceptable that Rinpoche some times, gives controversial statements while it comes to political issues,2006-his speech in Belgium,2007-his interview in USA. In Modern politics, dialectical sort of statements with indirect meanings are not acceptable, as it did in religious studies of Buddhism, Christianity and etc in ancient times.
    Our knowledge of modern politics is very limited and very fragile. as a result, the way how we look at or how we do investigate on politics, is also yet to mature its strength as a giant spider.In that case,the critical analysis of political statement and political critical essays are still left thousand miles behind the real competition of modern political analysis.
    Even,Rinpoche vigorously gives his intellectual sort of statements on many occasions, but no one has enough courage or guts to come up and write constructive critical essay on Rinpoche’s statements buy using reasons modern political theories, and make clear that Rinpoch does make errors where his knowledge is not enough and limited. May be, it is because of he is a Rinpoche or because we have some sort of emotional attachment with him. But, doing criticism on some body’s work or on statement is not the reason, we don’t like or do jealous on that person, rather it is a very significant symbol that we do care each other within the frame structure of democratic society.
    What you say?,,,,,,,

  29. “…are sucking the blood out of honest Tibetan struggle by reducing our independence to Human Rights issue…”

    I copied and pasted the above comment from Old monk at 29. It’s beyond a molecule of doubt that Lobsang Sangay is one Tibetan who clearly falls into this category. the chief propagandist of LS knows this, dont you?

  30. I think the huge amount of idealism displayed by the Tibetan public to the Kalon Tripa campaign has been an eye-opener for Jamyang Norbu. That shows the man still has the wisdom eye to understand the Tibetan psyche.

    His quoting of a ‘left-leaning’ intellectual for the first time in his writing is an indication of that.

    Jamyang Norbu’s real struggle in his own life has been to understand the Tibetan mind. And he seems to have come of age. This is admirable, considering he was educated entirely in a English convent school in Darjeeling.

    But he still needs to understand the young, hip, intelligent, assertive and independent young Tibetans, born both in and outside Tibet. Here, he fumbles.

  31. Jamyang la, Well done article.

    OLd Monk, I am sure this is Losang Wangyal, Miss Tibet guy, who went nuts after JN endorsement of TN. It was confirmed through numerous people in Dhasa that it was his favorite screen name and some even see it virtually writing in this blog.

    LosWangyal, Lets move on. Be thankful, atleast Jamyang la is letting you write whatever you have to say while you became intolerable brat after with JN’s endorsement of TNT.

    People, do not respond to Old monk and Deveno if they dwell on unrelated and sometimes hateful writings.

    Yours agu
    Dhongak Tenzin

  32. Agu Tonpa la,
    Be careful while pointing your finger in dark night – it may some time poke into your
    best friend’s eye.

  33. Chinese Engineer #27,

    If you wish the impossible thing of a Rangzen believer to abandon his belief and seek an alternative solution with the Chinese happen, the first and the minimum thing that has to occur is that the Chinese have to admit to their guilt and accept the fact that their occupation of Tibet is illegal. That their objective is not to improve the lives of Tibetans but to occupy our land and exploit our natural resources to feed the masses and the Beijing Thugs in the mainland and commit atrocities against Tibetan people if they exercise their natural right to resist.

    Unless such a change occurs there is absolutely no reason to even consider negotiation with the present political regime in China. It is not a matter of convenience but of principle. Besides what have we got to lose that we haven’t already lost.

  34. Kalsang Phuntsok

    I wish no such thing. Rangzen believers are entitled to their misconceptions. It is their right.

    I simply point out these misconceptions. For example, you think you have nothing to lose? That’s obviously wrong. I would like to remind you that NED is not your only funding source.

  35. Hi all,

    Patient Name: Tibet

    Doctor’s Name: Tibetan youths

    Diagonosis: Loss of Homeland, Destitute, scattered feeling with no objective in sight, hallusination ” If I take of my family, all my life’s problem will be solved”

    Medication: Violence ? Middle way path ? Local remedies?

    Intervention: Doctor to implement or administer the medications.

    Prognosis: Freedom or Autonomous regions within few years if the Doctor implements the remedies with unity and with intensity. Action !!!!


  36. To fight for any means of disagreement, you should express from your own and within you. Otherwise in your words, readers cann’t get sense and reason to please and appreciate. But for me, either it may be independent activists or middle path seekers, all are talker, great talkers with no spirit and no feeling of something that is matter to us and to our approach.

  37. Thanks Jamyang Norbula inserting wonderful articles and encouraging we young Tibetans to look your footstep and being Tibetanness and fighting for the right of the individual and nations.

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