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Dalai Lama: “I am a Marxist”

Karl Marx monument; Chemnitz, Germany. (Holger Wirth)

Karl Marx monument; Chemnitz, Germany. (Holger Wirth)

The Dalai Lama identified himself as a Marxist as he lamented growing economic inequality at a peace conference in India on Tuesday.

In a speech at Presidency University in Kolkata, the 14th Dalai Lama told his audience that the world needs a more “human approach” to combat inequality.

“We must have a human approach,” the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said. “As far as socioeconomic theory, I am Marxist.”

“In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution,” he added.

Newsweek reports this isn’t the first time the Dalai Lama has self-identified as a Marxist. At a 2011 conference in Minnesota, he said, “I consider myself a Marxist… but not a Leninist.”

The Dalai Lama said he believes discrimination against women and lower castes persists in India largely because of economic and social inequality. He called on the world’s youth to lead a transition from a century of violence to a “century of peace.”

“I will not see this in my lifetime but we must start working on it,” he said. “Those below 30 are the generation of the 21st century. You have to stop violence with your will, vision and wisdom.”

He added that nuclear war is the greatest threat facing humanity.

“I would like to appeal to all the leaders of the nuclear powers, who literally hold the future of the world in their hands… to exercise their sanity and begin to work at dismantling and destroying all nuclear weapons,” he said.

Marxism, which forms the foundation of communism, is a system of economic, social and political philosophy developed by Karl Marx (1818-1883) which posits that economic class struggle leads to workers’ revolution to overthrow capitalism and establish a classless society.

While the brutal excesses of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and other communist dictators led to a dramatic decrease in Marxism’s popularity in the 20th century, last decade’s economic crisis and growing inequality have boosted its appeal in recent years.

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