According to Tibetologist Melvyn Goldstein, the Tibetan system under the Dalai Lama met all the requirements of feudalism, under which:
1.) Serfs inherited their social position.
2.) A serf, unlike a slave had rights and possessed but did not own productive resources (land).
3.) The lord had the legal right to command his serfs, including judicial authority over him or her.
There is a mountain of historical data showing that in pre-1950 Tibet, aristocratic lamas and secular landowners controlled the vast majority of the country’s resources, while the rest of the country lived in poverty and were often subjected to torture, otherwise known as judicial mutilation. There’s a good article in the Guardian on this very subject. What we don’t hear about Tibet
As for the Dalai Lama himself, he was more like a monarch of a theocratic system and the only difference between him and other monarchs is that the monarchy was not hereditary but based on religious ritual. So it’s more like if the Pope were to rule an entire country rather than just Vatican City.
So in short, the Dalai Lama isn’t exactly this saintly holy man like many in the West think. At best he’s just an exiled leader who wants his power back and at worst, he’s a tool of the West backed by the National Endowment for Democracy, which itself is funded by the CIA. Whether that has any bearing on the Tibetan people‘s right to self determination is a different matter entirely.