Marxism and Buddhism

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Miroku
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Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Miroku » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:18 am

Hi, I am reading Dalailama's autobiography and he quite often mentions that he likes Marxism and that he met some monks who actually were also interested in Marxism. Is there some book, article or some other source on Marxism and Buddhism?
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Aemilius » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:29 am

I can recommend Richard Dein Winfield's lectures on Marx, there are several lectures in Youtube (and elsewhere), they are really good. How it connects to Buddhism? You have to figure it out for yourself, I think.


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Miroku
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Miroku » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:56 am

Aemilius wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:29 am
I can recommend Richard Dein Winfield's lectures on Marx, there are several lectures in Youtube (and elsewhere), they are really good. How it connects to Buddhism? You have to figure it out for yourself, I think.


Thanks! I will give it a watch. :D I think the figuring our part wont be hard as some suttas and sutras on how kings should act are quite strongly for a sort of welfare state, but it will be interesting journey. I wanted to read Marx's Capital myself, but its quite long and I have other and quite frankly more important things to do than read works my parents were forced to study in the red past. :D
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
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Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
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Nemo
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Nemo » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:33 pm

But if you read a bit of Marx you will realize he was antiauthoritarian and wanted workers to have democratic control of the means of production. It makes you a dirty commie loving bastard stealing people's freedom. I wouldn't recommend it.

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Miroku » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:54 pm

Nemo wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:33 pm
But if you read a bit of Marx you will realize he was antiauthoritarian and wanted workers to have democratic control of the means of production. It makes you a dirty commie loving bastard stealing people's freedom. I wouldn't recommend it.
That's where I thought would be the hardest place to compare them.

:D Heh, love your usage of conservative language.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by udawa » Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:26 pm

<t>Haven’t read him for many years but Trevor Ling wrote several books in this area, including a life of the Buddha and another titled Marx, god and Buddha or something similar. <t>
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:27 pm

Gendun Chopel was involved with a Maoist group in North India, got him into some trouble upon his return to Lhasa.
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Tenma » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:42 pm

Nemo wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:33 pm
But if you read a bit of Marx you will realize he was antiauthoritarian and wanted workers to have democratic control of the means of production. It makes you a dirty commie loving bastard stealing people's freedom. I wouldn't recommend it.
I'd rather read Freud honestly than Marx (I've read "Civilization and Its Discontents," I must say it is a good read despite all the phallic pseudoscience). Still, Marx is better than Ayn Rand in my opinion. And speaking of conservatives, I'd rather prefer Rand over Jordan Peterson (even though Ayn Rand didn't call herself a conservative and rejected the notion).

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by cyril » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:00 pm

The Marxist economical model (at least in theory) is not incompatible with Dharma, imo. But I just don't see how you can square dialectical materialism with the right view. :shrug:
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Miroku » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:07 pm

cyril wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:00 pm
The Marxist economical model (at least in theory) is not incompatible with Dharma, imo. But I just don't see how you can square dialectical materialism with the right view. :shrug:
That's what I am interested in if anybody did it. Dalailama did criticize it for being materialistic and it is a fair criticism from buddhist pov. However, I find it intriguing mostly as an "antidote" to the problems of capitalism.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Sādhaka » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:12 pm

cyril wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:00 pm
The Marxist economical model (at least in theory) is not incompatible with Dharma, imo. But I just don't see how you can square dialectical materialism with the right view. :shrug:

This^.

And I think that the Dalai Lama is just using some skillful means when he says things like this.

In my opinion, the Dalai Lama is implying that socialism could be a good system; and it is just that marxism is what most contemporary people can relate to when they think socialism, and that Marx is an useful source to go to when wanting to learn about socialist economic theory.

Socialism could work, but Marxism specifically seems to be what led to Stalin, Mao, etc. Of course some marxists would say that Stalin & Mao misinterpreted Marx; and that may be true to some degree, but I’d guess that Stalin & Mao followed Marx more closely than some Marxists would like to think, and not just socialism.

I’ve not read many remarks by the Dalai Lama about Marxism, so maybe I don’t know the full context.
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by cyril » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:12 pm

Sādhaka wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:12 pm


Socialism could work, but Marxism specifically seems to be what led to Stalin, Mao, etc. Of course some marxists would say that Stalin & Mao misinterpreted Marx; and that may be true to some degree, but I’d guess that Stalin & Mao followed Marx more closely than some Marxists would like to think, and not just socialism.

I think Stalin's or Mao's position was in fact more Leninist than Marxist. Marx simply postulates that the capitalist society will become so polarized in terms of wealth distribution that a proletarian revolution was inevitable. The role of the Party was to make workers aware of their status and potential (that class consciousness thing). The dictatorship of the proletariat meant common ownership of the means of production with decisions being made by workers' councils (the so-called soviets of the post-revolutionary Russia).

Lenin on the other hand argued that the working class will never rise spontaneously because the capitalist state will always give them just enough wages and benefits to starve off any revolutionary feelings. That's why the Party's role is to forcibly implement and actively lead the revolution. Once the power is seized, the dictatorship of proletariat meant basically the dictatorship of the Party. The people would just have to follow the Party line because the Party already knows what people want and what is good for them.

In any case, dogmatic adhesion to Marxism, Leninism or any other "ism" was, in my opinion, a major cause of the many of the former communist regimes' failures. It is probably not a coincidence that one of the most successful socialist experiments, the former Yugoslavia, was built by a man who held to be neither Leninist nor Maoist nor Trotskyist nor anything like that. In fact, Iosip Broz Tito was perceived as a deviationist by all the other leaders of the former eastern block. When they dismantled the socialist Yugoslavia, the "good guys" could not capitalize on people's discontent with the regime the same way they did in Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc; the Yugoslavs were generaly happy with lives they lived. Hence, the "good guys" had to approach it via inter-ethnic conflict, with the results that we all know.
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Dechen Norbu » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:39 pm

Far right extremists also rationalize their own existence, they also say they are not Nazis or fascists, that their doctrine was never properly put in place and so on and so forth.
Ideologies that gave birth to regimens responsible for the deaths of millions of people should be completely abandoned. That goes for Nazism, Fascism and Communism alike. All these brought havoc upon humanity. There's too much that can go wrong when implementing them. Communist regimens killed more people than Nazis and fascists put together. How, presently, the far left gets a free pass while the far right is demonized goes beyond me.

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by PeterC » Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:25 am

I see very little in common between Marx and the Dharma. Marx’s basic premise, which he adapted from Hegel, was that the fundamental defining feature of man was the ability to transform: the use of their energy on external objects to turn, say, a block of stone into a wall or a lump of metal into a device. His entire theory is framed in terms of the ways in which humans perform this function. It isn’t hard to see how there is very little dialogue between Marx’s areas of interest and those of the Dharma. Now a society organized along principles consistent with the Dharma would probably act in the enlightened interest of all rather than the narrow interest of a ruling class. (It’s worth noting that nothing Sakyamuni encountered even vaguely resembled this: even the early sangha wasn’t a democracy.). But we don’t really know.

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:22 am

Whenever I read of H. H. support of Marxism, it is invariably connected with his concern for social equity and workers rights. I think he has a rather romantic view of it, however, and really doesn't show appreciation of the fundamentally materialist orientation of Marxism. Besides, Tibet has suffered dreadfully under Chinese communism, so it's really a bit hard to fathom.
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:17 am

Tenma wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:42 pm
Nemo wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:33 pm
But if you read a bit of Marx you will realize he was antiauthoritarian and wanted workers to have democratic control of the means of production. It makes you a dirty commie loving bastard stealing people's freedom. I wouldn't recommend it.
I'd rather read Freud honestly than Marx (I've read "Civilization and Its Discontents," I must say it is a good read despite all the phallic pseudoscience). Still, Marx is better than Ayn Rand in my opinion. And speaking of conservatives, I'd rather prefer Rand over Jordan Peterson (even though Ayn Rand didn't call herself a conservative and rejected the notion).
Then you should read Fromm. he was a Freudian and a Marxist. His book "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" is relevant as ever.
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:18 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:39 pm
How, presently, the far left gets a free pass while the far right is demonized goes beyond me.
Because the Far-Left is generally not Stalinist or Maoist, the Far-Left tends to be anti-authoritarian.

In Greece, for example, the Anarchists spend equal amounts of time fighting the Stalinists as they do fighting the neo-Nazis.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by SonamTashi » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:23 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:39 pm
Far right extremists also rationalize their own existence, they also say they are not Nazis or fascists, that their doctrine was never properly put in place and so on and so forth.
Ideologies that gave birth to regimens responsible for the deaths of millions of people should be completely abandoned. That goes for Nazism, Fascism and Communism alike. All these brought havoc upon humanity. There's too much that can go wrong when implementing them. Communist regimens killed more people than Nazis and fascists put together. How, presently, the far left gets a free pass while the far right is demonized goes beyond me.
I doubt I'll be able to convince anyone of anything, but this horseshoe theory stuff bugs me, plus there are a lot of misconceptions here.

First of all, there are so many forms of Communist and Socialist thought that trying to generalize their methods and compare them all to the USSR and China is incredibly disingenuous. However, it is true that they all share the same end goal: a non-authoritarian, non-hierarchal, stateless, classless, wageless society, with the means of production controlled by the workers or the community at large, or in other words Anarchism. A true Communist society and a completely Anarchist society are the exact same thing, the difference lies in the methods used to reach that end goal. Some desire basically an immediate transition to such a society, while others believe in transitioning in stages, and the methods of those stages is where they differ.

Marxism is not in and of itself authoritarian in nature--in fact there is a good argument that Karl Marx's theory is basically anti-authoritarian, and thus Lenin, Stalin and Mao are sometimes seen as diverging from Marx himself. However, Marx did believe the transition required certain stages. The basic principle is the democratic ownership of the means of production. Marx believed that a Capitalist society would naturally lead to the proletariat, the working class, to rise up and seize the means of production. Leninists and other similar ideologies believe in the necessity of a vanguard to seize production in the name of the proletariat. IMO this is antithetical to Marxism and Socialism/Communism at large. If the goal is for the means of production to be democratically managed, then by definition it can not be managed by a small group, i.e. a vanguard party. Many, if not most, Socialists and Communists agree and do not support China or the former USSR. This includes many Marxists, including Libertarian Marxists.

Also, Marxism is not the be all end all of Communism and Socialism. Democratic Socialism, for example, is not Marxist, and it certainly isn't Leninist, etc. Other examples include Anarcho-Communism (which I'm particularly fond of), the brainchild of Pëtr Kropotkin, the author of The Conquest of Bread (which is a fantastic book). There is also Collectivist-Anarchism, the brainchild of Mikhail Bakunin. There are many, many others, and they don't really resemble China or the USSR at all. If you were to look at these ideologies on a political compass, Libertarian-Marxism, Anarcho-Communism etc. would be on the bottom left, with the bottom representing anti-authoritarianism, while (only in its most romantic, rose-colored glasses sense) Leninism and similar ideas would be on the top left, representing an authoritarian approach to introducing Communism. Since Communism cannot exist alongside authoritarianism, I do not think Leninism, etc. can truly be considered Communist at all-- it is an oxymoron. So in this sense, it can truly be said that Communism has not been attempted, at least not on any large scale.

There have been attempts on a small scale that have been promising: the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution for example. The Zapatista's are an example of an ongoing attempt.

Also, it should be noted that while the USSR and Maosim are certainly atrocious, the death totals commonly cited in the West are commonly exaggerated. While this doesn't let them off the hook, Capitalism hasn't really fared any better by any means. In fact, in the vein of the USSR and Maosim not being Communist, both countries resemble/resembled state-capitalism far more than they do Communism, and frankly they strongly resemble the Nazi and American economies during WWII, to the point that on paper they are closer to Fascism than Communism, in that Fascism requires nationalism (check), authoritarianism (check), ethnocentrism (check. Just look at the Tibetans and Uighurs for example), and the control of the economy towards the goal of the state, while maintaining private ownership, at least to a certain degree, while giving benefits to private owned companies that comply with the state's wishes and goals and punishing those that don't (check). In addition, it is an extremely common tactic for Fascists to infiltrate Socialist/Communist circles and use the same language. Thus you have the Nazi party, for example. Fascists also did this during the last US presidential election. Although I do not think there was huge success in the endeavor, some Fascists supported Bernie Sanders before voting for Trump in the election, and I even had some Fascists tell me "but Fascism is actually open to Universal Healthcare like Bernie." So just because a group calls themselves Socialist or Communist, and just because they use Socialist language does not mean they actually are. This is why, in my opinion, Leninists and other ideologies are just Fascism in disguise. Any vanguard ideology is just Fascism with a Socialist costume, so the USSR and China can not be used as examples of Communism and should not be used to prove that Communism does not work or is evil.

Also, China actively arrests and kills actual Anarchists, Communists and Socialists, including self-proclaimed Maoists, which is another major sign that they're simply Fascists in Communist clothing. This is the same thing the Nazis did, Communists and Socialists being some of the first people they rounded up and put in camps, despite having Socialism in their party's name.
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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by PeterC » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:35 am

SonamTashi wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:23 am
...Kropotkin...
A greatly underrated thinker. How rare to see his name even cited!
...both countries resemble/resembled state-capitalism far more than they do Communism...
This is a very important point. Ideas can provide a narrative for popular uprisings. But when the dust settles, and a de facto government emerges, invariably their goal will eventually become the maintenance and increase of their own power, and they will weave philosophies around that goal to create an ad hoc justification for it. As such, whatever philosophy they espouse, authoritarian regimes all tend to have a lot in common, and they recognize each other readily.

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Re: Marxism and Buddhism

Post by Grigoris » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:06 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:35 am
A greatly underrated thinker. How rare to see his name even cited!
From my trip to Russia last year:
kropotkinskaya.jpg
kropotkinskaya.jpg (264.46 KiB) Viewed 282 times
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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