Dalai Lama self-identifies as a Marxist

"In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor"

Published January 16, 2015 2:23PM (EST)

The Dalai Lama    (AP/Gerald Herbert)
The Dalai Lama (AP/Gerald Herbert)

At a lecture in Kolkata, India's Presidency University earlier this week, the Dalai Lama spoke about the growing divide between rich and poor. "We must have a human approach. As far as socioeconomic theory, I am Marxist," he said in a speech entitled "A Human Approach to World Peace."

"In capitalist countries, there is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. In Marxism, there is emphasis on equal distribution," he said. "Many Marxist leaders are now capitalists in their thinking."

Newsweek's Catherine Phillips reports:

He said that he regarded economic and social inequality in India as the reason for ongoing discrimination against women and low social castes, calling on the world's youth to take the 221st century 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. Those below thirty are the generation of the 21st century. You have to stop violence with your will, vision and wisdom," adding that nuclear weapons should be banned.

He also spoke of being forced into exile when he was a teenager. "I ran away at the age of 16 and lost freedom, my country. Over 100,000 followers came to this country where I had a lot of opportunities of meeting people from different religious backgrounds and leaders of different traditions," he said. "Because of all this and that India is a free country I also have my complete freedom."

With this admission (which he has made before), the Dalai Lama parted ways with Pope Francis, who has denied being a communist. Rather, the pope says, he is following Christian doctrine. "Land, roof, and work... It's odd, but for some, if I talk about these, it turns out the pope is a communist," he has said. "The fact that the love for the poor is in the center of the gospel is misunderstood. Those [values] for which you're fighting for are sacred rights. It's the Church's social doctrine."

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Buddhism Capitalism Dalai Lama Economy India Inequality Marxism Pope Francis