We have blogged before on the Dalai Lama’s economic philosophy – what could be called “Moral Value over Surplus Value.” Last Tuesday, His Holiness visited Poland and further articulated this message to students at Warsaw University.
In a previous interview with Welt Online, the Dalai Lama discussed the necessity of a moral value education so that we can better understand our relationship with money. Ultimately, he diagnosed the roots of the crisis to greed and speculation within the free market. This time around, he shifts the focused to another value that he feels the market economy is lacking: transparency.
“What have we learned? In money matters we need truth, honesty – transparency is very essential… One thing I think all those business people should learn is that all their business work should be transparent and clean and honest.”
Previously, we had made a comparison between the Dalai Lama’s comments and Marx. This has come up again in Welt Online’s follow-up of their interview with the Dalai Lama. In it, he describes himself as a “Marxist monk” (he famously did this a couple years back, as well) but one for whom there is no foreseeable alternative to free market economy.
“I still believe I am a Marxist monk,” he told Welt Online. “I don’t see a contradiction here either. In the Marxist theory the focus lies on the just allocation of wealth. From a moral perspective this is a correct claim. Capitalism, on the other hand, values the accruement of wealth – the allocation of it doesn’t matter here initially. In a worst case scenario the rich will keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.”
The Dalai Lama is also – to the dismay of some folk – an avid supporter of globalization. This is for two reasons; the first is that global economy helps “reclusive countries” (he is certainly including China in this category) to become more democratic; secondly, he believes that “the growing opposition to globalization is dependent on our reluctance to accept the principle that everything is perishable: Meaning, the fact that everything is subject to permanent change.”
The Dalai Lama’s recent discussions on the economy have opened up many interesting avenues and discussion into his own beliefs outside of Buddhism. (I found it interesting to find out that he was once a long-time admirer of Mao Zedong.) What are your thoughts on the His Holiness’s recent presence in the economic debate? Is his call for radical ideological reform naïve? Wise? Is it an obvious perspective, or something we have been missing?