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Tibetan 'Traditional Culture'|
What is the Tibetan "traditional culture" which the Chinese are accused of destroying, and which the British (and the Nazis) admire so dearly? Before 1950,...about one-fourth of the population, entered the monkhood. The majority of those who were not monks were herdsmen or peasants, working as serfs on land owned by the government or by one of the thousands of monasteries. There was nearly total illiteracy among the peasantry, and even in the monkhood. Wooden plows and yaks were the only technology used by the peasants, who otherwise relied on brute-force labor; until the 20th Century, there were no wheeled vehicles in the country. Justice was at the whim of the nobility and the Dalai Lama, as there was no organized system of courts. Polyandry, where a wife was shared among all the brothers of a family, was common.
The British encouraged the Tibetans to prevent economic development, and that not even a single road should be built into Tibet. They wanted Tibet to be a buffer between the Raj in India and China, but, even more, to retain its "traditional culture," as a Shangri-la, the Valhalla of the Nazis. When the Chinese came in, with development, schools, hospitals, and roads, Richardson cried that, "a heavy curtain has descended upon Tibet, a state of cultural degeneration to which this whole people has now been reduced." China has also rebuilt the major monasteries and, since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, does not restrict traditional religious practices.
When challenged on the fact that China has helped Tibetans emerge from the dark ages, Richardson expressed the classic, racist colonial view: "Apologists may point to claims of material and mechanical progress, but even if these benefits ever reach the Tibetan population, the fact remains they were not sought by the Tibetan people themselves, and represent the total negation of Tibetan civilization and culture."