China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa City in

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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby kirtu » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:55 pm

Malcolm wrote:They do not have the resources the western hemisphere has, they do not have the technology, their environment is ruined, there is massive social unrest with frequent riots, and their political system is moribund as well, as noted above.


But they have no compunctions against the traditional Chinese solution to these problems: terror through public execution, sometimes on a massive scale (historically).

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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Luke » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:17 pm

Indrajala wrote:You can point fingers all you like, but it is pretty comical all things considered.

I'm not pointing any fingers. The continuous bad news from Tibet points the finger of blame at China all by itself!

Is it comical that Tibetan culture is being destroyed? Yes, kindness is often seen as weakness until it becomes the only way to avoid a catastrophe.

...And it's not all about kindness. If Tibet had a much higher degree of autonomy, but still paid taxes to China, a more free Tibet would attract more tourists and create more revenue for the Chinese government.

If Tibet were finally free enough that all the lamas who would like to go back to Tibet--but who up to now have feared to--could finally go back to visit it, that would be a lot of lamas, I think! And important lamas usually don't travel alone: They have other lamas and helpers travel with them, including maybe even some western students--in short, a lot of tourists to contribute to the local economy in Tibet!

And imagine the Dalai Lama being back in Tibet! Then all those people who flock now to Dharamsala would flock to Lhasa instead! HHDL is an international superstar and wherever he is, lots of other people want to be. The Dalai Lama himself in Potala Palace would be a greater tourist attraction than anything fake the Chinese could ever build! Not to mention the intangible, but nevertheless great blessings the Chinese would gain from working constructively with the Dalai Lama--now that would be massively good karma!

Perhaps the Chinese feel that they can choose a fake Dalai Lama after the current ones dies, but the world will see the massive difference in quality when the fake one is an adult. The current Dalai Lama has been so successful because anyone who has been in his presence knows that he is 100% the real thing! Such immense virtue can't be faked.

Indrajala wrote:
It would be a news story of epic proportions like the end of Apartheid in South Africa or like the fall of the Berlin Wall! All the eyes of the world would be on Tibet and China at that moment.

Did you get your ideas from Robert Thurman?

No, I have never read anything he wrote.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby justsit » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:42 pm

Sorry, but the amount of tourist dollars that would flow into a restored Tibet is chicken feed in comparison to the value of the uranium and other valuable substances the Chinese are digging out of the Himalayan mountains.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:42 am

Luke wrote:Is it comical that Tibetan culture is being destroyed? Yes, kindness is often seen as weakness until it becomes the only way to avoid a catastrophe.


No, it isn't, but the fact people lament the destruction of Tibetan culture and then buy Made in China probably seems comical to the PRC leadership. It is like slamming Wal-mart for its business practices and then shopping there.

It wasn't so long ago that Australia, America and Canada forced their aboriginal populations to adopt the dominant culture and language, and this is still an ongoing process. Again, the finger pointing over Tibet is comical when these same countries are guilty of the same sins. They might say they've learnt from their mistakes, but that doesn't really translate into serious reparations or anything substantial other than a few cheques in the mail.

In any case, there are propaganda-influenced perspectives we need to take into account. The Chinese say everything is well in Tibet while the Tibetan nationalists in India say it is a living hell.

If that's the case, why do a lot of Tibetans return to China after being refugees for awhile? They have that option sometimes, and they pursue it. So it can't be that terrible. You hear of Tibetan temples being left alone provided they don't get involved in politics.

It is a difficult problem to properly discern given the political interests on both sides. The PRC and the Tibetan nationalists have their own narratives.

If Tibet were finally free enough that all the lamas who would like to go back to Tibet--but who up to now have feared to--could finally go back to visit it, that would be a lot of lamas, I think! And important lamas usually don't travel alone: They have other lamas and helpers travel with them, including maybe even some western students--in short, a lot of tourists to contribute to the local economy in Tibet!


Tourism doesn't bring you substantial levels of income like industry would. A lot of Asian countries which rely on tourism are down the list when it comes to GDP per capita.

In any case, it doesn't seem to be in the strategic interests of the PRC to allow for Tibetan autonomy. They fear separatism, which in fact actually exists. I imagine the majority of native Tibetans if given the chance would vote for independence.

You might say that's only fair and properly democratic, but it is not in the interests of the PRC to allow this. Subjugation of Tibet over the long-term is their goal, not free elections. They're not a nation driven by moral concerns, but rather one driven by self-interest. They do what is in China's interests.


Not to mention the intangible, but nevertheless great blessings the Chinese would gain from working constructively with the Dalai Lama--now that would be massively good karma!


China is a largely secular country. Your narrative about karma and blessings would be irrelevant to most people.

You're basically being rather idealistic about the situation rather than realistic.

In the past I've spoken to some of the researchers who work for the exile government in Dharamsala. They're all nice people, but they could just tell me all the evil things the PRC is doing to Tibetans and the environment up there. I think what they told me is true, but besides activism and maybe poking at the PRC in passive-aggressive ways they could not describe any realistic way forward.

So instead of envisioning some future that probably won't happen, it would be best to work with the current reality, which is in fact what I believe a lot of Tibetans in India and Nepal are doing.

They recognize they're not going home, so they're permanently settling in those countries. That's why they're building massive well-decorated monasteries. If they had any plans to return to Tibet in this lifetime they probably wouldn't pursue such projects. But they're settling down. The Indian government recognizes this as well, which is why they've built Tibetan medium colleges in places like Ladakh and Sarnath.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Luke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:33 pm

justsit wrote:Sorry, but the amount of tourist dollars that would flow into a restored Tibet is chicken feed in comparison to the value of the uranium and other valuable substances the Chinese are digging out of the Himalayan mountains.

Okay, but it doesn't have to be either-or. The Chinese could give Tibet autonomy in social and religious areas and get the money from the additional tourism,
in addition to the money they will get from continuing some of the mining. I am sure that some compromise could be reached.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Luke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:08 pm

Indrajala wrote:No, it isn't, but the fact people lament the destruction of Tibetan culture and then buy Made in China probably seems comical to the PRC leadership. It is like slamming Wal-mart for its business practices and then shopping there.

I never said anything about boycotting Chinese products. I know that's not realistic, and I have nothing against ordinary Chinese citizens.

Clearly, one can't bully the Chinese government into doing something ethical. There has to be an ethical awakening and transformation in their hearts themselves. And the younger generation in China is more open-minded and liberal than the older generation. I've also heard that there's quite a bit of interest in Tibetan Buddhism in China. Eventually, somebody ethical should be in a leadership position in China.

Indrajala wrote:It wasn't so long ago that Australia, America and Canada forced their aboriginal populations to adopt the dominant culture and language, and this is still an ongoing process. Again, the finger pointing over Tibet is comical when these same countries are guilty of the same sins. They might say they've learnt from their mistakes, but that doesn't really translate into serious reparations or anything substantial other than a few cheques in the mail.

Yes, of course, and we shouldn't forget those things. I have no doubt that America done equally unethical things, but now I am not speaking specifically as an American, but simply as a human being with some ethical awareness. Just because I come from an Anglo-American country doesn't mean that I think that Anglo-Americans are great. There are certainly things which I find unethical about America, but they are off-topic in this thread.

Indrajala wrote:In any case, there are propaganda-influenced perspectives we need to take into account. The Chinese say everything is well in Tibet while the Tibetan nationalists in India say it is a living hell.

Yeah, well, I've been to Tibet and seen for myself (although I don't know what it's like right at this moment), but I don't want to talk about the details here, except that most definitely all was not well in Tibet when I was there! And I will never forget the kindness and the courage which the Tibetan lamas I met showed there.
Have you ever been to Tibet? Unless you have, then you shouldn't so glibly dismiss accounts of wrongdoing by the Chinese government!

Indrajala wrote:If that's the case, why do a lot of Tibetans return to China after being refugees for awhile? They have that option sometimes, and they pursue it. So it can't be that terrible. You hear of Tibetan temples being left alone provided they don't get involved in politics.

Well, Tibet is a very big place you know! I'm sure that the quality of life varies from one place to another. Some places may be better than others, and lamas with good personal connections in Tibet are probably more likely to be able to avoid trouble.

Indrajala wrote:You might say that's only fair and properly democratic, but it is not in the interests of the PRC to allow this. Subjugation of Tibet over the long-term is their goal, not free elections. They're not a nation driven by moral concerns, but rather one driven by self-interest. They do what is in China's interests.

You think in black and white. There's a difference between holding a country in a crushing grip and holding it in a firm, but much looser grip. The Chinese could allow the Tibetans much more rights and freedoms while still retaining control. The Chinese government would have less problems with self-immolations and civil unrest if they didn't squeeze so hard. Sometimes it's more cost-effective to be moral!

Indrajala wrote:China is a largely secular country. Your narrative about karma and blessings would be irrelevant to most people.

Yeah, well, all it takes is a few people in leadership positions in the PRC government who are a bit religious to start changing some things...
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:23 am

Luke wrote:Clearly, one can't bully the Chinese government into doing something ethical. There has to be an ethical awakening and transformation in their hearts themselves. ... Eventually, somebody ethical should be in a leadership position in China.


And when do you anticipate this will happen?

There is a big difference between what ought to happen and what probably will happen.

This is a problem I find with a lot of Buddhists. They're idealistic and like to talk about what ought to happen rather than what probably will. This is understandable because most of us have little understanding of geopolitics and political science, so like most people we can just sit around and say things should work in a certain way even though they do not. We fall into the trap of prescription rather than being descriptive in our analysis.

You find this with authors like Robert Thurman and his idealistic vision of how China could make amends with HHDL and usher in a new age of peace and tolerance. "We can't afford to go to war any longer in the 21st century!" he says, but similar words were spoken before the first World War when much of Europe was interconnected by rail, trade and politics like never before.

If you want to preserve Tibetan culture, you need to work within the limitations and not provoke the wrath of the PRC. Is that fair? No, it isn't, but life isn't fair.

So hoping for an ethical transformation of the PRC leadership is unwise. If you do not anticipate this will happen, then count your losses and preserve Tibet in India and Nepal as best as possible. This is what is being done in any case because, as I've pointed out, the infrastructure in place reflects strong sentiments of permanent resettlement. The Indian government clearly recognizes the Tibetans are not returning anytime soon.

Still, a lot of Tibetans in India remain hopeful, which is fine. I often meet some who say, "I'm Tibetan, but born in India." That's fine to retain a diaspora identity.


The Chinese government would have less problems with self-immolations and civil unrest if they didn't squeeze so hard. Sometimes it's more cost-effective to be moral!


I don't know if the self-immolations have the desired effect. Tibetans can revolt, but unless they receive arms and training from a neighbour (like India), then they can't do much all things considered, and China has no problems using their security apparatus to quell internal rebellion.

Indrajala wrote:China is a largely secular country. Your narrative about karma and blessings would be irrelevant to most people.

Yeah, well, all it takes is a few people in leadership positions in the PRC government who are a bit religious to start changing some things...


And when is this going to happen?
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Luke » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:56 pm

Indrajala wrote:This is a problem I find with a lot of Buddhists. They're idealistic and like to talk about what ought to happen rather than what probably will. This is understandable because most of us have little understanding of geopolitics and political science, so like most people we can just sit around and say things should work in a certain way even though they do not. We fall into the trap of prescription rather than being descriptive in our analysis.

I think you're misunderstanding the context here. This is simply a little Buddhist forum. This is not the floor of the UN. I never said that I was an expert on Asian politics, nor did most of the members here. We are just normal English Buddhist forum members (which perhaps you despise, but then this just begs the question "Why are you even here then?").

Sometimes brainstorming for new ideas on forums can be a helpful and creative process, and dreaming optimistically a bit isn't always such a bad thing: Sometimes it can inspire other more powerful people to do so.

Giving up entirely on every important world issue will, over time, mean some missed opportunities. Sometimes we need to reach for the best in people instead of always expecting the worst.

Indrajala wrote:You find this with authors like Robert Thurman and his idealistic vision of how China could make amends with HHDL and usher in a new age of peace and tolerance. "We can't afford to go to war any longer in the 21st century!" he says, but similar words were spoken before the first World War when much of Europe was interconnected by rail, trade and politics like never before.

Yeah, well, sometimes idealism is necessary to counteract some of the pessimism. Buddhism doesn't have to mean giving up all the time! And authors are supposed to give people new ideas! That's their job.

Indrajala wrote:If you want to preserve Tibetan culture, you need to work within the limitations and not provoke the wrath of the PRC. Is that fair? No, it isn't, but life isn't fair.

There's no need to give "life isn't fair" lectures. We are mostly adults here...

The fact that "life isn't fair" simply makes those rare times when peace and ethics prevail all the more wonderful and extraordinary!

Indrajala wrote:I don't know if the self-immolations have the desired effect. Tibetans can revolt, but unless they receive arms and training from a neighbour (like India), then they can't do much all things considered, and China has no problems using their security apparatus to quell internal rebellion.

Yes, but I am sure that the average Chinese policeman in Tibet prefers peaceful days, just like most human beings.

Indrajala wrote:China is a largely secular country. Your narrative about karma and blessings would be irrelevant to most people.
Luke wrote:Yeah, well, all it takes is a few people in leadership positions in the PRC government who are a bit religious to start changing some things...

And when is this going to happen?

I don't know... but I much prefer the answer "don't know" to "never"!
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:46 pm

Indrajala wrote:
This is a problem I find with a lot of Buddhists. They're idealistic and like to talk about what ought to happen rather than what probably will.



This is a problem with most people. Not Buddhists in particular.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:58 pm

I don't think being a white person concerned about Tibet necessarily makes one a hypocrite. I am disappointed by my own Canadian government's treatment of native people and have donated money and time to several organizations for Natives, by Natives, to try and take some sort of responsibility.

However, to say that because my government treats people unfairly means I am politically incorrect to speak about justice or freedom for Tibetans is a rather weak argument, in my opinion. Being a Buddhist leaning towards the Vajrayana side of the spectrum, I am naturally concerned about the preservation of the dharma. I understand that for Vajrayanists we are still at a point where the complete teachings of our tradition are only in the Tibetan language. If the Tibetan language is threatened (as it is in China by all fair accounts, including those of Amnesty International), the dharma is threatened.

How can I practice a system of dharma handed down to me by my Tibetan teachers through their kindness and remain completely ambivalent about the future of the Tibetan people, language and culture? While in Canada with Geshe Sonam, a man came to my home who had been shot just last year, with the scars to prove it, for celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday. Should I ignore these problems because of Canada's problems with human rights?

In closing, several have mentioned Indrajala's seeming aversion to Tibetan Buddhism. I actually don't think this is fair. He has a very critical approach to all forms of dharma, including Chinese Buddhism as you can see from other threads. So he isn't targeting Vajrayana or anything.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:02 pm

Malcolm wrote:This is a problem with most people. Not Buddhists in particular.


Buddhists though, my experience, tend to be even more idealistic than usual.

It is like they dislike war and therefore think it should go away because they find it disagreeable.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:08 pm

JKhedrup wrote:In closing, several have mentioned Indrajala's seeming aversion to Tibetan Buddhism. I actually don't think this is fair. He has a very critical approach to all forms of dharma, including Chinese Buddhism as you can see from other threads. So he isn't targeting Vajrayana or anything.


I don't know where people get the idea I have an aversion to Tibetan Buddhism.

A few weeks ago I went to an empowerment given by HH Sakya Trizin.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:21 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:This is a problem with most people. Not Buddhists in particular.


Buddhists though, my experience, tend to be even more idealistic than usual.

It is like they dislike war and therefore think it should go away because they find it disagreeable.


You need to get out more often.

There are many people far more idealistic than Buddhists, such as climate change advocates and so on.

In general, my experience of Buddhists is that they are pretty pessimistic, like you.

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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:32 pm

Indrajala wrote:
I don't know where people get the idea I have an aversion to Tibetan Buddhism.


Well, go back and read what you write, if you are so puzzled.

You have spent a fair amount of time arguing that Tibetan political incompetence lead to the diaspora; that Tibetan independence is a fruitless cause; that there is no point in trying to preserve Tibetan culture, language and customs; that Tibetans do not really have a right to self-determination because it is inconsistent with Chinese real politik; that Tibetans should basically lie back and enjoy the Chinese rape of Tibetan land, culture and environment since according to you there is nothing they can do about it anyway. When you are met with indignity at your unfeeling proclamations, you then assert that people are "idealistic", unrealistic", and so on. In short you demonstrate cold-heartedness in the name of political pragmatism, and seem to care nothing about the human costs of the political situations you are commenting upon.

You have generally castigated Tibetan Buddhism for being successful in the west, and castigated Tibetan Buddhists for adopting Tibetan Buddhism.

So it is not surprising to me at all that people think you have a negative attitude about Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:... since according to you there is nothing they can do about it anyway.


I don't see how anything can be done within the PRC, which is why I commend the decision on the part of Tibetans to build permanent institutions and facilities in India and Nepal.


In short you demonstrate cold-heartedness in the name of political pragmatism, and seem to care nothing about the human costs of the political situations you are commenting upon.


Emotions are not really reliable guides in my estimation. That isn't to say I deny emotions, but just that when it comes to discerning political processes and optimal courses of action it is best to rely, as much as possible, on unemotional observation.

You have generally castigated Tibetan Buddhism for being successful in the west, and castigated Tibetan Buddhists for adopting Tibetan Buddhism.


Naw. This is a mischaracterization.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:In general, my experience of Buddhists is that they are pretty pessimistic, like you.


I support the Tibetan cause to a degree. In Delhi a few months ago I attended one of their solidarity gatherings.

When it comes to Tibetan and Chinese nationalism, I don't take either side. I do, however, believe the Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism would be best served in India and Nepal unless China suddenly collapses, which doesn't seem plausible for the foreseeable future.

Tibet is controlled by the PRC. The land now belongs to them in practice and by the agreement of the international community. The Tibetans were conquered by force of arms and continue to be subjugated. This is how the real world works unfortunately: the PRC has a monopoly of violence in Tibet, so they run the show.

That won't change unless China suffers internal instability and a foreign power like India maybe supplies arms and training to enough Tibetans. However, India would be reluctant to do this given how China could turn around and supply arms to India's own internal insurgent groups.

Geopolitics is an unfair game. The Tibetans lost at it. The international community doesn't care enough to do anything. A lot of countries are warming up to China with very favourable trade agreements (like Canada).

I've yet to hear of any realistic plans that could allow Tibetans to have their country back. I just hear a lot of "don't lose hope" and "maybe the Chinese will become religious and see the error in their ways". Such wishy-washy sentiments mean nothing to the cold hard realities of Chinese military hegemony.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:28 pm

Indrajala wrote:it is best to rely, as much as possible, on unemotional observation.


There is no such thing.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:31 pm

Indrajala wrote:I don't take either side. I do, however, believe the Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism would be best served in India and Nepal unless China suddenly collapses,



Ironically, Tibetan Buddhism in India is pretty moribund.

The best work in Tibetan Buddhism by Tibetans is being done in Tibet.

Also the best practitioners and Lamas are in Tibet for the most part, not in India.

The Tibetans in Tibet are not really thrilled with the diaspora Tibetans.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:35 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Tibet is controlled by the PRC. The land now belongs to them in practice and by the agreement of the international community. The Tibetans were conquered by force of arms and continue to be subjugated. This is how the real world works unfortunately: the PRC has a monopoly of violence in Tibet, so they run the show.


Imagine Gandhi telling the Indians to give into the Brits, because the Brits had the monopoly on violence.
Imagine Martin Luther King Jr. telling his congregation to just give in to the Southern Whites because they had a monopoly of violence.
History shows that a monopoly on violence does not guarantee power. In fact is often shows instability.
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Re: China destroys the ancient Buddhist symbols of Lhasa Cit

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:Imagine Gandhi telling the Indians to give into the Brits, because the Brits had the monopoly on violence.


I would have told him to smarten up.

Look at what a catastrophic failure Gandhi and his team were. Partition resulted in millions of avoidable deaths and untold suffering. They were idealistic and naive leaders, thinking the British exiting promptly as only right and proper. If Gandhi had had the good sense to see the wisdom in letting the British stay on and slowly leave India, then quite possibly a lot of problems and suffering could have been averted. However, their emotional and passionate political sentiments plus personal ambitions ultimately resulted in the ghoulish atrocities of partition plus the ongoing war between Pakistan and India.

Gandhi was also fortunate to have been dealing with the British who wanted to avoid violence. Imagine if he had been living under the Soviet Union (which for a time was a serious concern in the 20th century). Stalin would not have had any patience with him and his non-violence movement.

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The British did a lot of good in India and it'd be nice if people recognized that. They weren't perfect and there were plenty of opportunistic characters, sure, but overall they did more good than harm. If you look at the mess India is in today, you might appreciate how British colonial rule made a lot of sense even back in the day. It was the British who rediscovered many of the Buddhist sites around the subcontinent, too. Their contributions to Indology can't be overlooked.


History shows that a monopoly on violence does not guarantee power. In fact is often shows instability.


That's absurd. The state which has a monopoly on violence has overwhelming authority over the populace. The authority of the state is derived from its use of violence or the threat thereof. If you don't cooperate with the state, even in a liberal country, they still reserve the right to appropriate your property and make your life a living hell.

I'm not saying that's fair or desirable. That's just reality.
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