Lao Tzu, one of China’s great Taoist philosophers contemplating upon the challenges presented to a governing authority suggested that, “If you want to rule the people with impunity, fill their bellies and empty their minds.” That instruction has been accorded considerable political and economic investment by China’s communist regime, which employs consumptive distraction as one of a number of remedies against popular dissent and social agitation.
It is applied with particular zeal in occupied Tibet, where in an effort to undermine and corrupt the cohesive fabric of Tibetan culture and identity, the questionable consumer benefits of Chinese colonization are paraded on virtually every street. It is a sobering and troubling sight to witness Tibetans as strangers in their own cities, overwhelmed by China’s neon excesses which have so completely transformed towns across Tibet. Tibetans have suffered considerable social and health costs from such colonialist ‘development’, not that such an impact would concern the communist regime, which welcomes the gradual erosion of traditional Tibetan values.
That process has been given a particularly worrying momentum by the increased availability of cheap alcohol and profusion of bars and nightclubs in Tibet’s major centers. Rather like the ‘fire-water’ poisoning of Native American peoples, which the ‘white-man’ tolerated and encouraged as a crude means of oppression and control, the devestating impacts of which continue.The communist Chinese authorities recognize and are gratified by the debilitating and corrosive societal effects alcoholism poses. A Tibetan population suffering the divisive and distracting fractures caused by alcohol abuse and dependency, the scale of which has not previously been experienced in Tibet, is less able or willing to organize and participate in political resistance.
It is an increasing health issue amongst Tibetans. According to a 2008 field-study, in part conducted by Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College in London http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=20341938 the extent of alcohol related disorders has reached 31.6% for males and nearly 10 % for women. While a 2003 investigation recorded that “Alcohol use disorder was the most serious problem in Tibet with a point prevalence of 41.89‰ and a lifetime prevalence of 43.6%“.A number of associated mental health problems were also noted amongst those Tibetans examined with neuroses reaching a level of 26.7% and over 20% instance of anxiety related disorders.
Such results reflect the trauma and misery experienced by Tibetans under Chinese occupation who exist in a condition of almost perpetual anxiety, faced with the debilitating effects of poverty, unemployment or overwork, and enduring slum living conditions See File The oppressive forces which deny Tibetans their freedom and culture, is encouraging a dangerous slide into alcoholism. That suits the purposes of communist China which is intent of undermining restance to its occupation of Tibet and eradicating forever any sense of a seperate Tibetan identity. Let us hope that Lao Tzu’s counsel does not prevail.
The so-called Lhasa Beer Company, in part owned by Carlsberg (which has been an active player inside the Chinese market, and recognizes Tibet as a growing area of consumption) exports to the United States, where an American outlet is run by George Witz. It’s website http://www.lhasabeerusa.com/tibet contains some curious information on Tibet including the following whitewash:
“The culture of Tibet is deeply ingrained with compassion for all of life and that which supports it. They lived close to and revered the glories of the natural world. In their time they did not cut their forests or mine the earth for its bounty and lived in harmony and with a very light touch on the land. But times have changed and the forces of modernity are impinging on their traditional way of life which is becoming marginalized. They must adapt to the modern pressures and evolving circumstance in which they find themselves or face that their traditional way of life and their entire body of spiritual knowledge, which already has been seriously weakened, could slowly become extinct in its own land” (emphasis added)
The industrialized production and widespread availability of alcohol across Tibet is part of the machinery of communist China’s cultural oppression, a point which surely should concern Lhasa Beer USA. One wonders if perhaps Mr. Witz’s ancestors were Jewish? If so how would he have felt about an American businessman importing and promoting Polish beer produced in Nazi-Occupied Poland?