Serfs in Tibet

what up with that? any truth to the dalai lama trying to reintroduce it? could china’s turn to communism be seen as a peasant rebellion similar to those in Europe’s back in the late 1300’s? if we look at a chronological of emancipation would what would it look like? serfs first then slaves in general right? but only for certain countries? England is pretty progressive, but the rest of europe? mid 1800’s? what about the asian countries? later? where does India fit into all of this macro view?

cite for the evil lama claim (from 2007):

Maybe you could narrow down your question a little bit? As to serfdom in Tibet, before the Chinese takeover, a lot of the land was owned by either aristocrats or the monasteries, and you had peasants working the land who could maybe be described as serfs. It’s complicated, though, because there were a lot of different kinds of relationships in Tibet between farmers and land, ranging from “taxpayer families”, who had long term leases with aristocrats and farmed hundreds of acres of land themselves, to, on the lowest, “human leaseholders” who were basically sharecroppers to the aristocrats or taxpayer families.

There was also, below them, an untouchable class, who did things that were frowned upon in Buddhism, like butchery, executions, undertakes, prostitutes, goldsmiths, and so on, who were of an even lower class, and slaves, who were at the very bottom of the social rung.

I don’t think it’s credible that the Daili Lama would reintroduce it.

China’s standard line is “we liberated Tibet from oppressive medieval serfdom and they are so happy!” Given that the monument to the “liberation” of Tibet needs to be continuously guarded to protect it from vandalism, it’s probably the least appreciated “liberation” the world has ever gone experienced. Anyway, China spends a lot of energy painting the Dalai Lama in the worst light they can possibly get away with.

Tibet, like China, did have a medieval-style serf system well in to modern times. It was, indeed, pretty bad. But China’s involvement in Tibet certain was not an internal peasant’s revolution or a reaction to these conditions. It was fueled entirely by the new China’s need for a buffer area that they control.

Certainly the Dalai Lama, nor any other Tibetan religious authority, does not wish to return to this. There are alternatives besides “going exactly back to how things were” and “dismantling any power in Tibetan culture.” I think people are mostly looking for basic freedom of worship and speech. At the most extreme, there may be people looking for some Bhutan-like setup. But that is unlikely to become a reality. I think most have even given up political liberation from China.

Pretty easy to answer the OP: Not truth to that. At least if you believe what the DL said and did ever since he reached his majority at age 16.

To highlight a point from Captain Amazing, a “lot” of the land was owned by aristocracts or monastaries. This really depended on the location and was most pronounced in central Tibet around Lhasa and Shigatse. Something like 1/3 of the tibetan population was nomadic. Vast areas of Kham and Amdo were owned by individuals.

Or even more important, control of the water from the Tibetan plateau. Nearly half of the world’s population depends on this source for their water – including most of southern China.