Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

TIBET, New Roof for an Old World

Remote and mysterious Tibet has charmed our imagination - from the idyllic, mythical Shangri-La[ Romanticized in William *Hinton's *LOST HORIZON, 1933.] to the *VIRTUAL TIBET[ For a delightful portrayal of this movie-making, see Orville *Schell's feature article *VIRTUAL TIBET, Where the Mountains Rise from the Sea of Our Yearning, in the April '98 HARPER'S MAGAZINE.] in modern movies, to the main line PBS TV Frontline's *DREAMS OF TIBET.

What's the reason for the current fascination with Tibet and the Free Tibet movement? How might we explain the various policies toward this region? Why is this far and dry plateau becoming so important in modern global politics?

Let's set aside the essential US foreign policy to fragment other nations, including China, in order to ENHANCE INVESTMENT p. ?, and concentrate on deeper cultural impulses that predominate in modern culture, BigMac p. ?.

From an ancient and complex heritage through recent decades of turmoil,[ For a scholarly summary of this issue, see Foster *Stockwell's *TIBET - MYTH AND REALITY in the monthly magazine *CHINA TODAY, April 1998, Beijing. See also Tsering *Shakya, THE *DRAGON IN THE LAND OF SNOWS, A *HISTORY OF MODERN TIBET SINCE 1947, Pimlico, reviewed from Bejing in the 3/27/99 ECONOMIST. See also *BUDDHISM IN CONTEMPORARY TIBET: RELIGIOUS REVIVAL AND CULTURAL IDENTITY, UCB Press, edited by Melvyn *Goldstein.] Tibet has emerged with increasing importance to all the world's people, especially the Chinese and the Americans. Modern technology ties this formerly remote kingdom to the rest of humanity and to the blossoming Global Economy, offering great promise for the future of Tibet.

China, whose influence over Tibet has ebbed and flowed with the currents of history since 1239 AD,3 has reasserted its sovereignty. Mao Zedong[ Mao *Zedong, the father of the 1949 Chinese Communist revolution.] encapsulated the Chinese position by expanding Marx: "`A house divided against itself cannot stand.'[ Actually, that's from the Christian BIBLE, Mark 3;25.]" I believe this government cannot endure half slave and half free." In the nineteen fifties, the people's liberation army drove out the Chinese Nationalist Kuo Min Tang[ After 1949, some remnants of `Free' China's Kuo Min Tang government were forced to retreat to Burma and Thailand, there to eke out a living in the opium trade. See also Ross *Koen's THE *CHINA LOBBY IN AMERICAN POLITICS.] and their allies and gradually liberated the Tibetan serfs from their landowners.

The power and property of the symbiotic or parasitic Tibetan Buddhists continues to decline not only from loss of land and labor, but also from the influx of the rather non-religious Han Chinese immigrants. From a society in which enserfed women did most of the work while many of the men tripped out, Tibet has transformed toward increasing health, productivity, and a new culture. Unfortunately the degrading influences of modern abstract culture, BigMAC, seem only slightly slowed by Tibetan Buddhism or Chinese Communism.

Surely thousands of Tibetans suffered terribly from the loss of their livelihood and property. Most landlords were dispossessed as land reform and development progressed. Thousands gathered what wealth they could and left the country, settling in neighboring India or scattering around the globe. Those numerous Tibetans employed by the United States and the various other anti-communist groups fled for their lives.2 In spite of refugee status and financial help, the transition from landed aristocracy to funded refugee is surely a traumatic life-style decline.

The Winter '99 *US-CHINA REVIEW cites the Los Angeles Times that US subsidized covert actions in Tibet, with military training in Nepal and Colorado, `Tibet Houses' in New York and Geneva, training for Tibetan operatives at Cornell etc. Much support for covert actions ended with Nixon's Ping-Pong rapprochement in 1972. The Dalai Lama, subsidized by $180,000 US per year, observed that CIA training of guerrillas only resulted in worse suffering for the people of Tibet and gave the Chinese government the opportunity to blame foreign powers...

The issue of the Buddhists' huge holdings of monastic property is rarely raised, presumably because the topic embarrasses many in the United States - in light of the vast holdings of the Roman Catholic and other churches. And the Chinese seem too polite to mention it. Perhaps a few in the Free Tibet movement anticipate a return to feudal theocracy, but most simply admire the quaint spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism and seek to preserve it, somehow.

The apparent conflict between the Chinese `command economy' and the `free market system' declines as China merges with the Global Economy, reforming by what they call `market socialism'. One of their slogans is "To get rich is glorious".[ *TO GET RICH IS GLORIOUS, book by Orville *Schell.] Most probably Tibet will continue to move from its theocratic feudalism through Chinese controlled semi-socialism gradually toward a free market system in harmony with the global economy. Whether it's called market socialism or free market capitalism, market values will increase in influence.

The inherent dynamism of the global economy, manifests itself through a complex of agencies, individuals, corporations, and organizations - all influence and guide the train of events in the same direction. Each factor, unconsciously guided by inherent economic forces, contributes to the new economy and culture.[ As explained in INTERNALIZATION OF THE CORPORATE ETHIC, ICE, p. 236, 241.] Minor contributing agents include Richard Gere, the CIA, MI6, KMT and an assortment of quasi-governmental and corporate agencies driving Tibet toward an `open society'.[ Richard Gere, famous Hollywood actor and champion of the Free Tibet movement. CIA, Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S. MI6, the British counterpart. KMT, the Chinese Nationalist Kuo Min Tang, `National Peoples' Party', driven out of most of China in 1949. Also, the classic THE *OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS ENEMIES, by Carl *Popper.] The vast resources of funds, material and organization pouring in from the free world simply lubricates the inexorable progress of this `roof of the global economy'.

The essence of the market mode is free competition with minimum government intervention - except to encourage and enhance economic development. Envisage the economic resources of Tibet and imagine how they will most likely be transformed to their `highest use'. Examples of rapid development abound throughout the world, but Tibet compares in many ways with the earlier stages in the high desert of Nevada. Both regions support grazing with some agriculture, supplemented with considerable mineral resources. But like Nevada, `higher uses' form the frontier of development.

Following the free market pattern of Nevada, Tibet is destined to become the Las Vegas of Asia - bigger, higher at 13,000', drier, colder, and more remote. Already accessible by air, Tibet has become a Mecca for tourists eager to enrich their lives by visiting this holy land. Next century, Lhasa will be only a few hours travel from Paris, New York, and Los Angeles.

As world wealth continues to increase and concentrate, the drive not only to visit but also to invest in Tibet will be even more compelling. In the coming century, the Tibetan boom will attract more investments to Lhasa than to Las Vegas in this century.

American policy makers, well aware of Lhasa's potential as a world cultural center, have astutely prepared and promoted this new frontier for many years. Realizing that Las Vegas lacks a prestigious cultural image, they have gone to the acme of American culture, Hollywood, to recruit cultural leaders such as Richard Gere to promote the program with an upbeat image. The recent spate of U.S. films about Tibet forms a crucial foundation for current moves, and future exigencies.2

The dominant conflict of the twentieth century was the cold war between communism and capitalism, but the `end of history'[ See the book, THE *END OF HISTORY, Francis *Fukuyama, Rand Corp.] brings a gentler but no less lethal competition - between smokers and non-smokers. As the global economy inexorably increases communication between United States and China, competition will expand on this high level playing field.

The earliest of the lofty facilities will far surpass the increasingly seedy casinos of Las Vegas. Fierce and friendly competition between American and Chinese investors will reflect two rich cultures as they integrate with the deep spiritual resources of Tibet. The US financed `Higher Hyatt' casino, a splendid structure, will be oxygenated for the comfort of visitors from sea-level. In contrast, the Chinese competition, the holy `PotHoleAh' casino, will cleverly avoid the hazards of oxygen enrichment - especially inconvenient to smokers - by pressurizing the entire complex, rather like a modern airliner. The European casino will likely be called the `Marco Polo' - as a sop to The Family to insure its protection. The featured man-on-horse games might well integrate the cultures, and using Barbie doll heads instead of pulus.[ Pulu is the Tibetan word for ball - hence `polo'. Actually, Marco Polo traveled to the north through Mongolia, not Tibet.]

Be assured that the holy culture of Tibet will be preserved, even enhanced. Just as in Hawaii, where native women greet tourists with offers of lovely leis, so in Tibet, young women, as befits their culture, will offer the arriving tourists leather bound copies of their Book of the Dead. Tibetan service personnel with erotically weathered skin will far outclass their pale Las Vegas counterparts. Saffron robed croupiers will add depth and style - as well as assistance in humankind's existential struggle with the myth of the self and tyranny of the ego.

Tibet will take its place in the developing world as it is ecology is upgraded to support its participation in the global economy. Enriched by the effluent of the affluent[ This term, coined by economist John K. *Galbraith, refers to the trickle-down theory of `supply side' economics. *Wolfensohn and Rose agree: trickle down doesn't work.], agriculture will flourish. Capital influx will transform scratch farming and grazing into irrigated greenhouses and giant feedlots. Animal husbandry will expand from Yaks to Vicunas. Farms will convert from barley to arugula, from poppies to posies.

In the coming centuries, thousands will pilgrimage from all corners of the world to the new roof of the world, soaring to Lhasa, to bet.

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