January 22, 2015—The Washington Times reports that while in India delivering his speech “A Human approach to World Peace,” the Dali Lama identified himself as a Marxist: “As far as socioeconomic theory, I am Marxist… In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and poor… In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution… ”
There are a few points to be made here.
First, Marxism as practiced on a large scale has never been peaceful, as it requires government to execute it. Government hinges on force and violence. The more government, the more violence. Some historians place the number of murders by Marxist regimes into the hundreds of millions (think Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot).
Second, “the increasing gap between rich and poor” is more an inherent feature of Marxism (as manifested in its forms of socialism, fascism, and crony-capitalism), than it is free market capitalism. When the resources and means of production of a nation are controlled and redistributed by the state, the natural result is inequality. The case can be made that the western nations most commonly referred to as “capitalist” or “free market” are far from being free. Yes, there’s more relative freedom and capitalism in the west. But that freedom is undermined by Marxism.
Take the U.S. for example. The majority of the 10 Planks of Marxism have been apparent in the U.S. for over a century: a central bank (the Fed); progressive taxes; “free” state education; confiscation of property from the poor, expatriates, and the generally rebellious (civil forfeiture, eminent domain, FATCA); inheritance taxes; centralized transportation and communication; state-control of farming and manufacturing; and “equal” labor (“broken window” make-work jobs).
As opposed to Marxism, free market capitalism is characterized by voluntary cooperation. This leads to greater peace and prosperity for everyone. Furthermore, people who acquire wealth in the free market do so because they adequately supply the needs and demands of other people. Not because they are part of an elite, government-protected banker, political, or favored-industry class, as is the case with Marxism.
The Dali Lama’s political economy seems similar to that of Pope Francis. But the Pope denies he is Marxist. Some claim he is rather a Polanyan. I have no idea. To me, he reads more like the CEO of a large corporation bent on re-branding the company image. There’s indeed a lot of contradictions at play. This is not to diminish any of the good works the Pope has done for people in need, or for example, his tolerance of the gay and lesbian community (“Who am I to judge?”) or his assertion that there is no literal “hell” (although Marxism on earth has proved to be pretty close). I applaud the Pope for all of these, despite indications that he extends no such tolerance to conservatives. It is true that the Vatican’s talking points indeed echo those of the White House.
But really, it’s the Pope’s statements implying advocacy of government force over peaceful, voluntary cooperation that are so curious. The alarm bells should indeed sound for anyone concerned with liberty, or the words of Jesus. Perhaps most telling is the Pope’s perverse distortion of the story of Jesus and Zaccheus during a speech to the U.N. while calling for “political agents” to enforce the “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits.” Of course in the Bible, Zaccheus the greedy, wicked tax collector, touched by Jesus, chose to give back voluntarily from his own freewill. He was not forced to do so at the barrel of a government gun (this is important, read here). Surely the Pope understands the difference between force and freewill. Then, to what end?