|Tibetan feudal serfdom under theocracy and Western European serfdom in Middle Ages|
BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The Guangming Daily on April 15 published an article based on interviews with three Chinese scholars concerning the Tibetan system of feudal serfdom under theocracy and Western European serfdom in the Middle Ages.
Following is the full text of the article:
The three experts who gave interviews were:
Zhang Yun, research professor of the
Tanzen Lhundup, research professor and deputy-director of the
Meng Guanglin, professor and course convenor of world history of the Middle Ages at the School of History of Renmin University of China.
The reporters who conducted the interviews:
Yuan Xiang and Xing Yuhao with the Guangming Daily
The Tibetan feudal serfdom under theocracy was a combined dictatorship of monks and aristocrats
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said (at a press conference on April 8): "The Dalai Lama is the head representative of the serf system, which integrated religion with politics in old
Jiang also said: "The 'middle way' approach that the Dalai Lama is pursuing is aimed at restoring his own 'paradise in the past', which will throw millions of liberated serfs back into a dark cage. Such a 'middle way', who can accept it?"
Reporter: Jiang Yu's words revealed that the nature of the Dalai Lama's "middle way" is to restore serfdom. In terms of history, what kind of system was the Tibetan serf system?
Zhang Yun: Before the democratic reform in 1959,
Tanzen Lhundup: British diplomat Sir Charles Bell, who was regarded as "an expert on
Serf owners in
According to official statistics dating from the early Qing Dynasty in the 17th century, the local government owned 30.9 percent of more than 3 million ke (1 hectare equals 15 ke) of farmland in
Before the democratic reform in 1959,
Zhang Yun: The number of serfs surpassed 90 percent of the population in old
Serf owners cruelly exploited serfs through compulsory labor and usury. Serfs toiled throughout the year but could hardly feed themselves, and usually had to make a living by borrowing at usurious rates. French Tibetologist Alexandra David-Neel wrote in her book "Old Tibet Faces A New China": "In old
Meng Guanglin: As far as I know, serfdom was established in the 10th century in western Europe. As Karl Marx said, serfdom was one of the major slavery systems in human history and the essential representation of the feudal exploitation system.
Serfs were a kind of agricultural laborer in the feudal society of western Europe. On the basis of feudal land ownership, the feudal lords owned land and other production materials and depended on personal dependent relations to control the serfs. They used "supra-economic coercion" to enslave them. In other words, they used political means, laws and customs, besides economic means, to control their personal freedom and exploit their surplus labor.
Serfs were subservient to their owners in three respects: first, they did not have personal freedom and were their owners' property; second, the land they worked on belonged to their owners, so they were attached to their owners; third, they did not have equal legal rights the same as their owners and were judged by lords in court.
Reporter: Serfs did not have any political rights and were exploited in the economic sense. They had to toil and do hard labor year after year. It seems that the system of western European serfdom in the Middle Ages was quite similar to the Tibetan feudal serfdom under theocracy.
Meng Guanglin: Yes, it was of the same nature as serf systems, under which laborers were deprived of production materials and products, enjoyed no respect for their dignity or personal rights, and their creative spirit was suppressed.
The system was a concentrated expression of personal dependence relations in traditional societies, which equals "direct governance and dependence relations."
In this type of relationship, humanity, personality, human rights and humanism were all devastated, and the noble value of human individuals was sacrificed to the rights of lords and theocracy.
Zhang Yun: In old
Serf owners built public prisons and private prisons in accordance with both written and unwritten laws. The local government had courts and prisons. Large monasteries also had courts and prisons. Lairds could build private prisons in their manors.
The punishments for serfs, which included gouging out eyes, cutting off ears, hands and feet, pulling out tendons, and throwing people into rivers, were cruel and savage. Handcuffs, fetters, sticks and clubs and cruel instruments of torture for gouging out eyes and pulling out tendons were found in Gandan Monastery, one of the biggest monasteries in
Therefore, the Tibetan feudal serf system under the integration of religion and politics was a dictatorship of monks and aristocrats. "Under such a system, serfs -- who made up a majority of the population in
Meng Guanglin: Based on the above statements, the feudal serf system under the integration of religion and politics was an even darker and crueler system than European serfdom in the Middle Ages.
Only by breaking loose from the shackles of this system, could the Tibetan people be freed and liberated and their great enterprise and creativity be brought into full play and the development of history be pushed forward. As Karl Marx pointed out: "
Theocracy shackled people's spiritual life under feudal serfdom
"To understand 20th century Tibetan history, therefore, it is necessary to understand that
Reporter: Under the feudal serf system, no matter in old
Meng Guanglin: Yes, shackling people's thoughts and behavior was indeed a conspicuous aspect of the dark feudal serfdom. Although western Europe in the middle ages was not under a completely theocratic system, the integration of religion and politics was the guarantee of the feudal serf system.
The problem does not lie in religion or belief, but in the church's monopoly and control of people's religion and thought. For example, in medieval
Zhang Yun: In the old theocracy in
Due to historical and cultural reasons, many Tibetans believe in Buddhism and thus believe in an afterlife. The ruling class, however, just utilized this to serve their own interests. British expert Edmund Candler said in his book, "The Unveiling of Lhasa," that "the monks are the overlords, the peasantry their serfs." The poor and the small tenant farmers "work ungrudgingly for their spiritual masters, to whom they owe a blind devotion".
In fact, we know that most of the common monks in old
"Does it not matter to you whether you are reborn as a human being or as a pig? The Dalai Lama can help to secure that you will be reborn as a human being in a high position, or, better still, as a monk or nun in a country where Buddhism flourishes."
On the contrary, if you refused to listen to them, you would not be reincarnated from generation to generation. The "monk forces" just used this kind of spiritual intimidation to safeguard their theocracy.
Reporter: Education was vital for people to shed theocracy's control over their spiritual lives. The church had monopolized education in
Zhang Yun: No. In old
Only the offspring of the nobles could use it as a channel to the upper echelons. Under the theocratic system, monks accounted for a large proportion of the members in the Kasha (the former local government of
Under such a dark system, people had no right to express their thoughts and they even had no right of thought. They should listen to whatever the living Buddha said, otherwise, it would be considered a crime.
It was such a dark system that led to a gradually closed and conservative old
Attempts to return
-- by American Tibetologist and anthropologist Melvyn C. Goldstein, "A History of Modern Tibet," 1913-1951, the Demise of the
Reporter: Why did Europe and
Meng Guanglin: The cruel serfdom and theocracy in the West led to the rebellion of farmers in the form of "heresy" at the time. For example, low-ranking missionaries in 14th century
The Lollards demanded the abolishment of serfdom, forced labor, land tax, tallage (an agricultural production tax) and differences in property, to ensure equality among the classes of society. Prompted by Ball, the English Peasants' Revolt erupted in 1381 as peasants led by Walter Tyler entered
Zhang Yun: The old reigning authorities in
Tanzen Dhumdup: In the 1950s, the serfdom system in
The peaceful Liberation of Tibet in 1951 brought light to the abolition of the serfdom system. However, some leading personages of
The central government decided to take a more cautious measure to push for reform. According to the "Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" ("17-Article Agreement" for short) signed by the central government and the Tibet authorities, "the Central Government will not use coercion to implement such a reform, and it is to be carried out by the Tibetan local government on its own; when the people demand reform, the matter should be settled by way of consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet."
In the meantime, the central government has provided help for
The central government waited eight years for the peaceful democratic reform of
After the rebellion failed, the backers of the Dalai Lama fled abroad, still hoping to restore serfdom in
Their actions since then have gone against the times and the well-being of the people of
Zhang Yun: Now, the Dalai Lama has been calling for "democracy" all the time. But as we can see, the "government in exile" of the Dalai Lama's group still advocates the integration of politics and religion. The Dalai Lama claimed that he would give up his power in exchange for the freedom of the Tibetan people.
That means that the Dalai Lama now actually rules the "government in exile", which advocates the integration of politics and religion, while also stating that he would renounce his ruling position in return for the so-called "high level of autonomy in Greater Tibet".
Who would believe that kind of self-contradictory statement? In other words, the Dalai Lama wanted nothing other than "Tibet Independence" and the restoration of the feudal serfdom system, which advocates the integration of politics and religion in
Reporter: The old