Matt Bors
Comics, Politics & Ridicule


Newsweek reported last week that China has banned reincarnation without a permit. At first glance it may appear that they are trying to create the ultimate example for Libertarians as to how governments want to control our lives (and our afterlives!) but it has a specific political purpose: controlling who becomes the next Dali Lama.

The Dali Lama has always been adored by many on the left and those wanting to see the Beastie Boys and Rage Against The Machine in concert, but I never really got it. Here’s a man who declares himself to be the reincarnation of the Dali Lama with some inherent right to govern Tibet and issue bizarre dietary edicts based on nothing. I suppose many people in Tibet accept him as their leader, but it took this Lama 40 years of exile before even proposing something resembling Democracy. By two thirds vote of the people he can be removed from power. It wasn’t put up to a referendum or anything–he just declared it to be the rules.

And to be fair to his silly views, he is a lot better in the human rights arena than many countries leaders. But past Lama’s weren’t all peaceful bald men. For centuries Tibet was a peasant country where most of the population lived in abject poverty while their Monk Overlords sat in lavish temples governing their lives. Maybe thinking your current lot in life is a deserved result of actions in a past life has something to do with this.

Granted, China has been that nice to Tibetans and I think they should govern themselves, but at least they introduced plumbing and split up the land a bit.

For two good takes on the Dali Lama, check out Michael Parenti’s essay Friendly Feudalism and Penn & Teller’s Bullshit segment on His Holiness.

Thor’s Day: Baghdad Survival Tips

08.28.2007 |



mattbors@gmail.com