Buddhist Socialism

It depends, really. Like other forms of socialism, Buddhist theories of socialism range the gamut from reactionary to progressive.

If I were to sum it in a Reddit comment, I would say that schools in South East Asia such as Burma, Thailand, or Cambodia (read: Theravada sect) are more likely to teach a Socialism true to Marxist principles but removed from Marxist means (i.e. no violence and lesser emphasis on the class struggle/materialism). In this way I feel they are essentially idealist.

Schools in East Asia such as China, Japan, Vietnam, and sometimes Korea (read: Mahayana sect) are more comfortable associating with the revolutionary left. For example, Pure Land Buddhism was the source of several revolutionary movements in history (though admittedly, pre-Marxist ones).

Regardless, both are espousing Marxist ideals through a Buddhist lens of ending suffering- as the Buddha taught – and as you aptly guessed.

In my youth I was a fiery Theravadin but with time i’ve slowly returned to my Pure Land roots and I think it’s the only school that makes any sense with Marxist ideals, followed by Chan/Zen. Indeed many Pure Land Buddhists have favorable views of Marx, Lenin, and Mao.

Where we diverge with Mao is his forced secularization of Buddhist monks, which was seen as a terrible affront and resulted in him becoming our enemy. Zen/Pure Land monks have always been pretty self-sufficient; subsisting on scraps somewhere in a mountain hut and growing their own food. The whole reformation program under Mao really set Buddhist-Marxism back in very big ways. Now that a generation has passed people are returning to the philosophy and embracing it, which is a happier occasion.

Though, Buddhist-Marxism still has a long way to go as the capitalists currently ruling over China continue to keep monks and teachers on a short leash, and US propaganda in Vietnam/Korea undoes a good deal of work.

I digress but i’m very happy to answer any specific questions here or in a PM, if that’s more appropriate; I don’t want to detract from the plight of Black American youth.


From <http://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/comments/399920/black_children_are_not_even_safe_from_police/cs1unbm>

Buddhist Socialism was originally published on Something Different

This entry was posted in History.