MONGOLIA: PAST AND PRESENT
"Past and present" of Mongolian Society is a wide field of study, but in this case we have tried to discover only some aspects of the past which connects with the changing scene of Mongolia.
The past of Mongolia today has been rediscovered only the recent past of the history of the Mongolians. Particularly development of Communist Mongolia has been receding influence of democratization process in the country. There different views on this subject.
The first is mainly propagated on the pages of Mongolian as a variety of a new thought. This view spread the opinion communist period of Mongolian Society was full of mistakes: over, the whole development of this period was ignored./1/
The second understanding of the recent past of Mongolia kind of neo-Marxist, it explicates the communist period of century. This view has two aspects. One of them is a strict apologist to Communism in Mongolia. According to this view, the theory Marxism was right, but Mongolian Communist leaders mistakes by not pursue it and they never implemented Marxist ideology with the true spirit./2/
Another aspect is an apologist conception that has some attitude in regards with the theory of Marxism. It is that there were major hardness between preaching Marxism implementation, Marxism has inherent deficiencies in its the self. At this opinion Marx's theory of state, also has a point for future development of Mongolia./3/
Our view of the matter is different from the above mention the one hand the theory of Marxism has no possibility to be realized in the practice of social life. Contents of the theory are wrong and they are far away from implementation in real life. However, on the other hand during 70 years of realization of this theory in Mongolia our society and people achieved some important progress. For example, the independence of the country, introduction of European or so called western-oriented culture, technology, improvement of life standard and so on. But Mongolia also went through several important and difficult challenges during this period of time. For example, political terror, destruction of culture, financial bankruptcy, etc.
By analyzing the other side of it, we cannot describe communist period in Mongolia as genuine model or a logical process of the historical development.
In that case, the society has all positive aspects that studied by scholars working on this field. Studies have some results and leanings for the future of the Mongolian society. But we must not to forget that these studies do not analyze the shadow side of Mongolian communist development due to the strong influence of state propagated ideological reasons.
Only after the democratization process initiated in Mongolia, hidden facts and suppressed truths of communist period started coming out. These facts manifest the secret and dark sides of the communist rule. It is a healthy beginning and a good attitude for traditional Mongolian society.
Now we have a free and fair society, where freedom of expression exists and we are able to study Mongolian Society without state control and imposed ideology. Today anyone can expose the facts to òhå society. In order to explore more facts and ideas, a comprehensive study is needed.
Nothing comes out of nothing. First of all, an appropriate study necessary for the understanding of the subject. Accordingly, at the circumstances we should inform the reader about our previous analyses that were published in Mongolia a few years ago.
After a careful study of modern Mongolian Society in the general theoretical framework of Marxism, we believe that most important features of the above said theory could not applicable to present Mongolian society. Then, we tried to analyze concretely traditional Mongolian nomadic production process. /4/
In this case we see a wide possibility for development of traditional Mongolian nomadic society, on the basis of modern technology. This concept was already explained in 1990. /5/ But during the time of the Mongolian democratic revolution (1990-1992) some politicians suggested interesting splendid ideas of Mongolian Revivalism. /6/ Of course, their ideas and our ideas have some common features and differences.
The pioneer of Mongolian Revivalism (the idea) Dr. D.Byambasuren, the former prime Minister of Mongolia (1990-1992) has suggested to use all classic traditional ways of nomadic property and life style, again today. We are also supporting the idea of Mongolian Revivalism for the sake of Mongolia.
It means that, all possible positive things of the old Mongolian life style are to be reintroduced again in the modernity of Mongolian society. Why not? Some old traditional tools and instruments are so useful for utilizing in modern social life anyway. For example we still use horses as a transport and this does not mean that we are neglecting modern technology for optimum utility. In our opinion the nomadic society still has its validity. These valuable dimensions of nomadic life style would be useful for the development of the country if they could be blended with modern technology. The main arising obstacle is "How to blend traditional nomadic society with modern western life style without contradiction?"
Now we are going by the way of the western democracy, which means the plural polity and the market economy. This process of transition from old to new is being analyzed here also.
- See: The newspaper, "II tobchoo" 10-20 July, 1993. No. 18 Page 2. (Z. Elbegdoij. Mongoloo olson Mongol).
- See: The newspaper of the Mongolian Former communist party - The, MPRP "Unen", 25 June, 1991. No.88; 16 January, 1993. No.5; 25 January, 1992.
- See:The Programme of the MPRP adopted in 1992; Dashyondon B. Setgelgeegee shinechleh n' hyamralaas garch devjehiin undes "Unen", 11 Febrary, 1993. No.14.
- See: Dashpurev D. Stock Farming - the key Branch of the Economy. "Journal of Mongolian studies" (Mongol - Kenkyu). No.212, 1989. Osaka. Japan.
- See: Dashpurev D. "Gobi - Project and important problems of Mongolian villages' development. "Gobi Hangain Sonin Bichig". 1990. No.3 Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia. (In Mongolian)
- See: Byambasuren D. Mongol orny sergen mandalyn uzel, ediin zasag. "Ardyn erh" 27 October, 1992. No. 160.
MONGOLIA AS A NOMADIC SOCIETY
The Mongols founded their state in the III century B.C. It was first called The Hunnu Empire (III-I Century B.C). Then it became the Xianpi Empire (I-IV) and later the Nirun (Joujan) state (IV-VI Century A.D). The Mongols established a strong state in the XII century under the leadership of the Great Chinggis Khaan. This Mongolian Empire was divided into several parts in the XIV century and later from the XVII century till the beginning of the XX century the Mongolian State became a part of the Manchu Empire.
Studies and analyses regarding its 2500 year history and society, in modern Mongolia were mainly based on the theory and principles of Marx. Mongolian Marxist historians classified Mongol states as early feudalistic societies (Hunnu, Xian'pi, Nirun) and modern feudalistic societies. But these old and modern feudalistic Mongol societies had no fundamental difference between them. The basic characteristics were almost the same, although, the main characteristics of these societies were based on the conditions of their surroundings.
The Marxist-Leninist theory explained only a few aspects of the development of the Mongolian Society. Hence, here we have attempted to study and analyze the other aspects of the growth of the Mongolian Society.
Mongolian Society is a historical product of the activity of the Mongols as a nation. In turn, the nation is a product of the surrounding nature of the environment. The nomadic characteristic of the Mongolian Society is a distinguished feature of its own. It has also the other features which are common in any other world's herding societies (1). Nomadic characteristics were acquired by this society due to their existence around the Mongolian great steppes and Gobi desert of Central Asia. In this big ecological location, the people inherited a nomadic style of living. Due to insufficient water resources in the great steppes and the Gobi desert, agricultural growth is considerably low. But this vast area is suitable for growing livestock and cattle breeding. Availability of wild grass and vast open area make cattle breeding quite ideal. Living in such anenvovonment location and moving from place to place, the Mongols acquired nomadic character.
What is the general nature of the Mongol's common life? They utilized everything from their cattle: milk, meat, leather and wool. The Mongols used cattle not only for food, but also as a transport. They produced various items from livestock and these methods of production have been rehabilitated.
Ancient Mongols established their state during the period of the III-VI century B.C. In this period their state was based on nomadic society with some military features. This ancient Mongolian society once again entered the limelight from XI to the XII century A.D as a great Empire under the stewardship of Chinggis Khaan and his successors. Even during this period, the economic base of the society was livestock and cattle breeding.
The development of Mongolian Society during that period was studied by a Mongolian historian, Dr. G.Suhbaatar, historian and archaeologist. Dr. S.Ser-Odjav, Dr. H.Perlee, Ph.D. D.Navaan and others (2). Especially, Dr. G.Suhbaatar wrote interesting books on the history of the original ancient Mongolian state - Hunnu, Xian'pi and Nirun. These academic studies show that ancient Mongolian State was a livestock herding nomadic society. But Dr. G. Suhbaatar named them as "an early feudalistic society".
The Mongolian Society had a special social organization which was different from other ancient societies, particularly European societies. What is the nature of the social organization of the Mongolian Society of that period? The traditional Mongolian Society had unique social structure.
The ancient Mongols had their Great Khaan (the King), which in the Hunnu State was know as Shaniyu. Structured around the Great Khaan were his Khatan (the Queen), Khagan hubegun or Ohid (Prince or Princess), Khagany Udomyn Noyod (the Lords, related with the King).
The Great Khaan (or Khagan) had several important ministers who were named as Shadar Said for the service of the state The Great Khaan also appoints Noyons (Lords) who had different ranks as Noyons (Noyad) of units with thousands, hundreds and tens of soldiers.
In the ancient Mongolian Society there also existed different state servants like jarguchi (Judge), Jahiragchi (Manager), Dargachi (Representative), Elchi (Ambassador), Cherba (Chief) etc. From the ancient period Mongolian Society also had different cultural, geographical communities such as tribes, hunters, otags, etc. They were usually ruled by their Noyons, who were appointed by the Great Khaan.
These communities were further divided into different sub-groups. This organizational structure was suitable for military activities and warfare. So, in the ancient and medieval Mongolian society, the basic model of social organization was mainly a type of military model. This model of Mongolian nomadic society had been developed successfully during the time of the Great Khaan's and Ugedei Khaan s rules. The history of this period (1206-1260) was extensively studied by Mongolian historian Dr. N.Ishjarntz (3).
Of course, after the reforms of Ugedei Khaan, the basic military mode had been changed into classic feudalistic model under the strong infiuence of agrarian societies, particularly the Chinese society. During Yuan dynasty (1260-1368) number of enormous changes took place. However, during this period the traditional Mongolian Society as a livestock-based nomadic social organization did not get destroyed completely. The history of that period was studied by Dr. Prof. Ch. Dalai. It is known that the Mongols of this period and before were engaged in extensive cattle breeding. The Mongol arats migrated from piace to place in small groups known as ails (households) within the limits of a strictly fixed territory which was included into the domain of an aristocratic lord. The arats were registered to a lord and had no right to leave him. During this period hunting was the major occupation of the people. Simultaneously the agriculture, handicrafts and commerce began to develop.
Historical changes in the traditional mongolian society took place during the manchu domination in mongolia (1691-1911). A history of the society of that period was studied by well-known mongolian historian and academician prof. Sh.natsagdorj (4) and also dr. D.gongor (5). They also studied under the influence of the theoretical principle, which expresses that the mongolian traditional society was a society of nomadic feudalism, the idea that was formulated by soviet historian, b.ya vladimorzov /6/, on the basic concepts of marxism-leninism.
During the period of the manchu domination in mongolia, the traditional nomadic society continued to change into organizational and administrative forms of feudal society. But the basic social organization as a livestock nomadic society remained with some changes under the strong influence of a far reaching spread of buddhism in mongolia (xv-xix centuries). The manchu rulers actively supported the spread of buddhist religion in mongolia. This historical process was studied by dr. S.purevjav (7).
After 200 years, traditional Mongolian livestock nomadic society was completely transformed into the religious model of a social organization. In Mongolia, several hundred religious centers and cloisters were built. North Mongolia alone had more than a thousand of them where about 120.000 Lama (monk)-s lived. Every family had its own several thousands of cattle for their life needs and at least one Lama their religious needs. The principles of Buddhism were adopted, as a base to find solutions to their problems. This model of social life and organization continued to exist even after the Mongolian Revolution of 1911 for the independence of the country. As a result of the revolution, Mongolia became an independent state under Bogd Khan VIII, the leader of Mongolian Buddhists.
The Mongolian nomadic society slowly developed a religious model of social organization during the independent Mongolian state. A history of this period was studied by Z.Puntsagnorov and Dr. Sh.Sandag (8). But they did not analyze enough basic social organization of the Mongolian society during that period.
Many special features and important events in the traditional Mongolian Society, remained until this period of the Mongolian social development, for example, the whole traditional technology of livestock production and cattle breeding; organization of economic activities; ownerships and property system in the process of livestock production; social stratification and status of classes in the sociopolitical life of society. Social stratification underwent some changes under the strong influences of the new historical age.
However, the traditional Mongolian Society remained in existence until Mongolia is First Revolution in 1911. After this event, the history of the Mongol’s traditional nomadic society began a change under the influence of a new era.
- Gerhard Lenski, Human Societies: a Macro level introduction to Sociology. Tokyo. 1970. Pages 295-299.
- G.Suhbaatar. Xian'pi. Ulaanbaatar. 1971; G.Suhbaatar. Mongolchuudyn ertnii ubeg (The Ancient Mongolian State) Ulaanbaatar. 1980; G.Suhbaatar. Mongol Nirun Uls, Pages 330-555 (Mongolian Nirun State 330-555). Ulaanbaatar 1992: N.Serodjav and others. Mongolian ertnii tuuh (Ancient History of Mongolia). Ulaanbaatar. 1997 N.Ishjamz (Ishjamzs). Mongold negdsen tur baiguulagdaji feudalism burelden togtson n' (Formation of a unified Mongol State and Development of Feudalism), Ulaanbaatar. 1974.
- Ch.Dalai. Mongoliya XIII - XIV bekah (Mongolian in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries) Moscow, 1983. Page 231; Ch.Dalai. Yuan gurnii ueiin Mongolia at the time of the Yuan Empire), Ulaanbaatar. 1973.
- Sh.Natsagdorj, Manjiin erhsheeld baisan ueiin Khalhyn huraangui tuuh (Brief History of Khalha during Manchu Rule). Ulaanbaatar. 1963;
- D.Gongor. Khalha tobchoon (History of Halh), Vol.I and II Ulaanbaatar, 1970 and 1978.
- B.Ya.Vladimirzov, Obshchestvennyi stroi mongolov, Mongol'skii kochevoi feudalism (Socail structure of the Mongols. Mongolia’s Nomadic Feudalism). Moscow. 1934.
- S.Purevjav. Mongol dak' sharyn shashny huraangui tuuh (Brief History of the Yellow Hat Religion in Mongolia). Ulaanbaatar. 1978.
- Sh.Sandag, Mongolyn Uls toriin gadaad harilzaa. 1850-1919 (Mongolia's Foreign Policy Relations 1850-1919) Vols. 1 and 2. Ulaanbaatar. 1971.
MONGOLIAN SOCIETY UNDER THE COMMUNIST DEPRECIATION
Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party’s leaders and Soviet advisers, who followed Marxist-Leninist political theory, felt that the traditional Mongolian Society was an undeveloped and uncivilized society. They thought it would become developed under Marxist’s ideology. Mongolian and Soviet historians described this society as a depressed one. This view in detail is explicated in the works of Soviet historian I.Maiskii and Mongolian historian B.Shirendev /1/. The studies of these scholars had given important information and facts regarding the communist period of Mongolian Society and explained the later changes. Mongolian revolutionaries and Soviet communist leaders insisted on the implementation of their principles and opinion in Mongolia, otherwise Mongolia would not develop any longer.
Prior to the communist changes, the Mongolian Society experienced its own way of style, specific mode of technology and a systematic economic life. It was a traditional Mongolian nomadic livestock or a cattle breeding economy.
At the beginning, with the adoption of Communist principles, the traditional society had its impact on the economy of Mongolia, especially in nomadic livestock and cattle breeding. For example, northern Mongolia (presently the State of Mongolia) had a population of around 600,000 people and 13,776,100 cattle. /2/
The Mongols used their traditional methods for nomadic livestock production for livestock industry. They were produced meat, milk, wool and leather. They also produced secondary products like butter, cheese, etc. The Mongols were utilizing livestock for their everyday needs. Moreover, the Mongols had a unique method of livestock nomadic production for thousands of years. The nomadic method of livestock production depended on climatic conditions, green grass and irrigation facilities. Their method also included a specific organization of livestock production community, the “hot ail” (a group of nomadic families) where proprietors determined the number and kind of their livestock.
Every “hot ail” was a basic unit of social economic cooperation in nomadic society and kept all necessary tools for the normal function of livestock farming. Moreover, each “hot ail” not only provided its everyday life needs by its own productive activities, but also every “hot ail” would sell its surplus products to others at the market. For that important task every “hot ail” approached the nearest market once or twice a year when it was moving from one place to another. So it meant that the Mongolian nomadic society had a special way of communication contact among moving rural communities (hot ail or saakhalt ail) and market towns (huree or naimaa hot). At the beginning of the twentieth century, only north Mongolia had more than 900 towns (huree, hiids) which were centers of culture and trade.
Before the communist regime in Mongolia, towns and cities had been built initially as centers of religious activities of the people, but people who served the religion lived there as settlers of culture and trade, and thereby they became prominent in Mongolia.
The main settlers in Mongolian towns and cities were Buddhist lamas. Usually lamas had no family, but some lamas who owned cattle (livestock animals) sent them to a herdsman’s family for rent. However, the arats and their leaders had, in fact, fulfilled the functions of economic enterprises. Accordingly, some of the herdsmen worked for the Buddhist Pagoda, but, some lamas who usually did not possess high degrees in religious studies worked as herdsman among the nomads, simultaneously attending important religious functions at the Pagoda. Mongolia had more than 100.000 lamas before the revolution of 1921. Over 30 percent of these lamas lived as herdsmen or nomads. It meant that the lamas in Mongolia led a unique way of lifestyle. Hence, it was more convenient for nomads. Also, the Mongolian life style had a religious character like Tibetan way of life. For example, main forms and rhythms of basic livestock production and cultural or educational activities of the people and also Mongolian lifestyle had been connected with the Buddhist Pagodas.
Especially, education, culture and medicine had very close contacts with Buddhism. Actually, in the Mongolian Society two forms of education existed. One was the education system in the Buddhist Centers, which received pupils from their parents through lamas who had religious sanctions for educating them. In these Pagodas, Buddhist literature, history, poetry, elementary mathematics were taught to children and the religious teaching was exempted. These studies were taught in the Tibetan language.
The other form of education in the Mongolian Society was an elementary civil education of nomads, particularly in the residences of the aristocratic lords who were mostly provincial authorities. At home children were taught Mongolian literature and elementary mathematics. Sometimes they would study Manchu or Chinese language.
By the process of education in the Buddhist Pagodas, there were produced specialists, intellectuals, writers, artists such as musicians and scholars. Of course, some of the intellectuals were produced through the traditional education at home. But intellectuals in medicine such as doctors were specialized and trained at Buddhist Pagodas. They served the Mongolian Society before the People’s revolution.
All these facts show that the Mongolian Society had everything required for a normal civilized human society. Of course, the degree of development and the method of advancement might be lower than the educational societies. Since Mongolia still was more or less a rural society without any modern technology and scientific advancement, one could understand the dynamics of nomadic society well under those prevailing conditions. Mode of production and distribution certainly were different. The traditional Mongolian Society is regarded as one of the specific modes of Asian societies. Mongolian Revolutionaries like Buriat and Kalmyk had special political tasks and ideas on Mongolian problems, while they proposed hypothesis and solutions to the development of nomadic society. They viewed Mongolia as an underdeveloped and backward country. They had an important political task regarding North Mongolia. For political reasons, the communists described the Mongolian nomadic society as an under developed and uncivilized society.
Unfortunately, some scholars explained facts such as a psychological interest or only a theoretical attitude of mind using a lack of historical documents. For example, Prof. Robert A. Rupen wrote “Communist do not like nomads, which means, in effect, they do not like typical Mongols” /3/.
The Communists did not like the Mongolia nomadic society, because they wanted to keep the Mongols under the influence of the eastward USSR. They destroyed Mongolian nomadic civilization not only for the realization of their theory but also for their political interests in the Central, North-East and Far-East Asia. They enacted it from 1920, onwards till the disintegration of the USSR. These hidden acts were analyzed by the author of this book /4/.
Mongolian culture was destroyed by the Communist revolutionaries. The Communists destroyed all traditional nomadic towns, cities and Buddhist Pagodas. Out of 900 cultural centers, only 4-5 centers were existing by the 1990’s. The Communists abolished Mongolian national script, which was in practice more than thousand years.
The last Communist war against the Mongolian nomadic society started countrywide in 1957 under the name “Collectivization of livestock”. It was a war against the economic basis of the Mongolian nomadic society. Soviet and Mongolian communist had tried to start this campaign at the beginning of 1930s, but historical factors were not in favor of such actions so they stopped their campaign. Now the agitation has changed.
The Communist disliked nomadic livestock, because it was an obstacle that prevented the establishment of a settled life for the nomads. Soviet and Mongolian Communist leaders declared a settlement of nomads as a fundamental goal in the near future of Mongolia.
Soviet and Mongolian Communists considered that settlement was a better proposition than nomadic way of life. They explained their view by several arguments:
- In the prevailing conditions of nomadic life, it is impossible to use centralized electricity, TV, water supply system, road transport network and many other things that are possible in settled life;
- Nomadic style of production cannot supply livestock etc. In bulk to the centralized modern industry due to its less productive nature. Nomads keep limited number of livestock with them;
- To the nomads, it is impossible to decide important modern problems of civilization, like centralized medical service, educational and communication facilities, trade-market systems /5/.
These reasons were put forward by Soviet and Mongolian Communist leaders in the course of their anti-nomadic policy in Mongolia. But possibly, they had other reasons for the complete abolishment of the Mongolian style of life. As Soviet and Mongolian Communist leaders followed a policy of terror and geostrategic importance in Mongolia, they had a very secret expansionist aggression against the Mongols as an independent nation.
The nomadic livestock industry as an economic basis of the Mongolian nomadic life-style included in itself a basic natural characteristic of the nation. Of course, that model of society and life style had many problems for the development of Mongolia. In order to find a solution to these problems, there was no need to destroy the natural characteristics of Mongolia. So, the campaign of “Cooperative Movement” in Mongolia, was an important political action under the leadership of Soviet and Mongolian communists. I am of the view that “Collectivization in Mongolia, needs special regarding all its advantages and drawbacks. But these policies were adopted to build a new society on Marxist-Leninist theory”.
The main results of communist destruction of “Mongolian nomadic society were as follows:
- Destruction of the Buddhist religion, including destroying of Pagodas, cultural centers and rural towns of nomads;
- Political terror over intellectuals belonging to Buddhist or traditional Mongolian culture;
- Destruction of nomadic society and its very economic basis, including abolishment of nomadic livestock technology and elimination of basic forms of social organization in nomadic livestock society /6/.
Instead of livestock nomadic society and the civilization of the Mongols, the Soviet and Mongolian communists insisted on a Mongolian socialist society, which drew its sustenance from Marxism-Leninism.
- I.M. Maiskii, Mongolia nakanune revolutsii /Mongolia on the Eve of Revolution/, Moscow, 1959;B. Shirendev, Istoriya Mongol’skoi narodnoi revolutsii 1921 god /“History of Mongolian People’s Revolution in 1921”/ Moscow,1971.
- See: Onoodor 1993, 1, 5 and 6 Page 3.
- Robert A. Rupen. The Mongolian Peoples’s Republic and Sino-Soviet Competition. See, “Communist Strategies in Asia, a Comparative Analysis of Governments and Parties”, Edited by A. Doak Barnett. Greenwood Press, 1963, Page 256.
- D.Dashpurev and S.K.Soni, Reign of Terror in Mongolia 1920-1990, New Delhii, 1992
- Programme of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionaty Party, Ulaanbaatar,1966.
- Document of the MPRP; XV Congress, Ulaanbaatar,1966.
SOCIALISM IN MONGOLIA
Even though Soviet and Mongolian communists destroyed Buddhist Pagodas, cultural centers and towns of nomads during the period of the communist regime, they contribute towards development. For example, they built more than 400 administrative centers, developed European medical and educational systems, and introduced and propagated Cyrillic script which replaced the traditional Mongolian script.
The Mongolian communists strongly and actively introduced Marxism-Leninism to the people and influenced them in abandoning their Buddhist beliefs. In other words, Mongolian communist fought against Buddhist beliefs. In other words, Mongolian communists thought against Buddhist religion and established Marxism-Leninism in the name of “atheism”. Thus, a long process was finalized in the 1960’s.1 The common people received Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Choibalsan in the place of Buddha, Nagarjuna, Zonkhav or Bogdo Gegeen. So, Marxism-Leninism was introduced to the Mongols as a new religion Mongolian communist had fully established a reign of Marxism-Leninism ideology over the Buddhist ideology in Mongolian society.
In the primary, secondary and high junior schools, the pupils systematically studied Marxism-Leninism as religiously sacred principles, with the active assistance of special mass communist organizations like Baatarchud, /Octoberist/, Pioneers and Evlel /Komsomol/. After reaching 18 years all the citizens were compelled to join the mass communist organizations such as Evlel, Uildverchin /Profsoyuz/ and the MPRP /Mongolian Communist Party/. In 1990 the Communist Party had more than 80.000 members, who had the best and comfortable positions, unlike the common people. Members of the Communist Party immensely trusted the ideas of Marx and Lenin, just as Mongolian Lamas who laid immense trust in the religious principles of Buddhism. It means that Mongolian Communist leaders generated almost 100.000 new “red lamas” or communist religious monks under the name of Mongolian Communist instead of “yellow religious monks”. With the close assistance of these red monks, Soviet and Mongolian communist leaders built a socialist society in Mongolia. Then what is the real nature of the socialist society in Mongolia?
Mongolian socialist society had started taking shape in 1960’s. During this period, under the political and ideological influences of Mongolian Communist leaders and the ruling Communist Party /MPRP/, Mongolian scholars characterized their society as, “a country which completely abolished all forms of exploitation” because private ownership was abolished. According to Marxist-Leninist theory, all means of production belong to the society or to the people’s government, in a socialist society all people work only for themselves, as owners. Therefore, depending upon the size of the family goods and services are provided by the Government irrespective of its contribution to the society. This was the status of Mongolian Society as analyzed by scholars during the communist regime.2 But, in practice these principles were not being followed earnestly and they were deviated from the principles of the communist policy in Mongolia.
Mongolian socialist society had a large number of Communist Party officials and bureaucrats. Most of them lived as a privileged classes who enjoyed the best facilities, in comparison to other groups or classes like workers, herdsmen and others.
These communist bureaucrats used the Government and its organizations as tool to exploit the common people. The privileged group earned a higher salary, special services and more rights for their social choices. But these drawbacks were not being properly analyzed by the scholars of socialist Mongolia due to the exclusion imposed on analyzing the drawbacks of the communists rule in Mongolia.
Mongolian communist leaders and bureaucrats disguised their exploitation of common people. Even of some scholars tried to identify and pinpoint the extra privileges of bureaucrats and leaders, they were tortured and thus suppressed these analyses and ideas.
Mongolian socialism only shifted the traditional exploitation of common people from Mongolian “Black” and “Yellow” lords to the “Red” lords (Communist leaders and Bureaucrats).
In my opinion, though private ownership was abolished in the name of communism, communist leaders (bureaucrats) swindled and enjoyed public wealth in the name of people and common property. They suppressed the common people continuously and people lost democratic rights and freedom of thought and expression. They could not openly criticize the Government due to severe torture in the name of anti-communist activities. Besides, Mongolian communists controlled the whole process of the socialist construction in the country. So, what was the socialist construction in Mongolia during the Mongolian communist leadership?
Their main tasks was to build Material Technical Basis of Socialism /MTBS/.3 What is the MTBS? Mongolian Communist leaders described the MTBS in Mongolia as follows:
a) Industrialization of the country or to develop modern industrial sectors in national economy;
b) Industrialization of agriculture and cattle breeding or nomadic livestock.4
The construction of the MTBS was done on the Soviet model of technology and organizational structure of socio-economic life under the leadership of the MPRP. This process resulted in the Sovietization of Mongolian Society.5 The process of Sovietization was organized actively and strongly, more and more, under a political campaign to develop Soviet style of life in Mongolian, to study and spread the “Soviet experiment” to realize “Reproachment and intimacy with the Soviet Union and other Specialist Bloc” countries.6 But this process of Sovietisation of the Mongolian Society had stopped in 1990 thanks to the beginning of the democratic revolution in Mongolia. It made an end to socialism in Mongolia.
- D. Dashpurev, Gendensuren, BNMAU dah’ shinjleh uhaany atheismiin tuuhen zarim asuudal /The Problems of the history of scientific atheism in MRP/ 1921-1940, Ulaanbaatar 1980/.
- D. Dashpurev, S. Stedendamba. BNMAU-d niitiig hamarsan shinjleh uhaany atheist uzel burelden togtson n’ /The shaping of scienetific atheism in the MRP/ 1940-1960, Ulaanbaatar, 1989. Mongolian socialists wrote so many books on the nature of Mongolian socialist society during the time of communist regime in this country, but many of them only described the Mongolian socialist society as a quite comfortable society. Most part of these books are only thick testimonials, but if we go though them by reading, then it is possible to find some useful materials and ideas for the future study. For example: Z.Balhaajaw, BNMAU-yn angiin hariltsaanii hogjilt. Ulaanbaatar, 1972; P.Nergui, BNMAU-yn socialist nohon uildverlel. Ulaanbaatar, 1965, N.Jagvaral, Aratstvo I aratskoe hozyastvo. Ulaanbaatar, 1974; D. Dashpurev. BNMAU dah’ socialist baigulaltyn tugeemel ba anzgoin dialektik. Ulaanbaatar, 1987
- The Progpamme of the MPRP, Ulaanbaatar, 1996.
- Documents of the MPRP’s XVII Congress, Ulaanbaatar, 1976. Documents of the MPRP’s XVIII Congress, Ulaanbaatar, 1981.
DEMOCRATIZATION OF MONGOLIAN SOCIETY
Changes in the present day Mongolian Society are marked by the process of democratization. This process began 20 years /now 20 more years/ ago as an impact of the political changes occurred in the socialist world. When the democratic forces started demonstration on the streets of Ulaanbaatar the winter /1989/, there was a common anxiety of ruling Communist Government to use a force against the democratic movement, but the Government and the leadership of MPRP tackled the problem very reasonably without using the force. There were some obvious reasons which had influenced this process. However, success of democratization process elsewhere in the socialist world particularly in Eastern Europe prevented the Communist regime to suppress such a popular movement. The impact of the process of democratization on the Mongolian Society has many fields.
The psychological and mental outlook of the Mongolian Society was conditioned by the ideology of the MPRP /Mongolian People Revolutionary Party/, which was carried out by the Mongolian Dotood Yam /Secret Police or Internal Police/ throughout 70 years. The MPRP’s political indoctrination during the 1950’s included campaign against “Japanese imperialism” which was not a real danger for Mongolia for a long time. Then the MPRP’s indoctrination was followed by anti-Chinese campaign till the 1980’s. Besides, capitalism. religion, nationalism and ownership of private property etc. were defined as major reactionary forces against the Mongolian Society shed all such enemies.
It had became inevitable for the people to become conscious about their national identity. Efforts to replace the established national identity based on dogmatism, to an identity based on Mongolia’s own political history.
As a result of these dramatic changes in the Mongolian Society and nation’s new perceptions of the people had emerged. A general popular disapproval of the old system and deviations are reflected in the new thinking of the Mongolian society. Because, a common man with the help of the il tod now had been understood as dishonest actions of the communist leadership. It /il tod/ has heralded an era of rectitude with reformed progressive changes. But the middle bureaucracy was much displeased against the old leadership for their mistakes; it exposed the old communist regime’s anti-people attitude. Now we see another growing danger for the present-day Mongolian society. It’s that there are some backward masses who are criticizing the old communist regime for departure from its /previous/ stand. They do not understand the real danger of the old communist regime’s past mistakes and due to their confusion they also do not like democratization of the society. They hold the view that country should stop the democratic debate soon and should restart the implementation of the programs of the previous government. But when they realize the real dangers of the bureaucratic communist regime they would accept democratic regime in the country.
A large section of workers, peasants and intellectuals still depent on the values based on the doctrine of Marxism-leninism. The docmatic concepts of Marxism propagated by the MPRP are so deep rooted in all spheres of Mongolian life that it is difficult to separate one from another. Conservatives support and justify such value based national identity under the “pretext that deviation from which will go against the national interest of Mongolia”.
Reintroduction of Buddhism is again influencing the psychology of the people. Buddhist Centers have been set up in all 18 provinces /aimag/ of Mongolia. Mongolian Buddhist actively participated in the recently held Kalachakra imitation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Varanasi. The Dalai Lama has been invited by the Mongolian Buddhist to have a similar imitation in Mongolia in 1991.
According to Alan Sanders “Religion and national tradition have always been tightly linked in Mongolia, and the rebirth of religious enthusiasm is helping Mongolians in their search for a national identity that has been suppressed for decades in the interests of a spurious communist internationalism”.
Until very recent times, the MPRP actively fought against Buddhism. Today, the right to worship is being included in this party’s rule. The MPRP’s newspaper Unen even began to publish Tibetan language lessons and teachings. Such a development would open up vast religious texts to the people. These development reflect new changes within the ideology of the MPRP. Some new political parties in Mongolia are criticizing this changed stand of the ruling party. In their view it is clear that the MPRP is even ready to change its ideology from Marxism-Leninism to Buddhism, as long as the party remains in power.
Democratization and emerging politics have favored the formation of multi-party system and a new structure of the state governance. The new parties include the MPRP, the MDP /Mongolian democratic Party/, the MSDP /Mongolian Social Democratic Party/, the MNPP /Mongolian National Progress Party/, and the Mongolian Green Party etc. Except for the MPRP, these parties have emerged during the last years.
All the new political parties were formed at some point of political struggle against bureaucratic socialist system in Mongolia. Each one of these new political parties has its own mass organization. For example, the Mongolian Democratic Party has the Democratic Alliance, the Mongolian Social Democratic Party has its Democratic Socialist Movement, and the Mongolian National Progress Party has New Progressive Alliance and so on. All these new political parties have different internal structure principles from the MPRP. These new parties are organized on the model of the Western parliamentary political parties.
1990-s years, there occurred a separation in the Mongolian Democratic Party due to internal political struggle as some members of this party formed a new Left political group, similar to some East European new communist parties. This fact shows that the process of political changes in Mongolia is still going on.
The new parties are demanding political reforms which include creation of multi-party system, freedom of press and respect for human rights. They also criticize Socialists.
Free election is yet another development. Mongolia’s first free election was held in 1990. Most of 430 deputies elected to the Ikh Hural are from the rural areas. The members of the Baga Hural legislature numbering 53 are proportionally represented according to representation in the Ikh Hural. The legislature controls the budget, enact laws and handles day to day business of the Government. The new structure comprises the Ikh is the highest political organ, which elects the President, the Vice-President and the members of the Baga Hural. Legislative powers are vested in the Baga Hural which has power to elect the Prime Minister, passes laws and approve budget etc. The administrative power is vested in the Cabinet which consists of Prime Minister and other ministers of the State.
One of the major developments in the changed political life is the abandonment of the Secret Police-the Dotood Yam which massacred thousands of people since its formation. It was the State apparatus of purges and terror.
The result of political liberalization is also seen with regard to respect of human rights and freedom of press. It is now possible for every individual to express his own idea freely. Over forty newspapers have come into being causing the problem of newsprint shortage.
Until recently, Mongolia’s economy was regarded as a socialist economy based on autocratic planning and growth strategy. It was controlled and commanded economy operated by the bureaucracy. Some scholars believe that Mongolia’s stagnant and bankrupt economy is a result of the decades of Soviet economic control, planning and aid. This may be true to some extent. However, a new shift in economic strategy has begun along with the political reforms. The country has introduced free economy and private ownership. The Ikh Hural passed a new Law on Foreign Investments on March 23, 1990. This law permits foreign investment in all sectors of national economy. Priorities are given to investments in the export-oriented or import-substituting production, development of basic economic infra-structure and development of tourism under the liberalized procedures and regulations. Companies with foreign capital participation may be exempted from profit tax in the first three years of their activities. Even after three years, the tax shall not exceed the percentage of the profit. Companies are also exempted from tax in transporting shares of profit abroad. Items imported for the use of production are also exempted from custom duties. This policy aims are to increase the export capacity in a possible shortest time.
The Baga Hural had voted in favor of the private ownership. A large number of private enterprises came up. This development of far reaching consequences had started the process of abolishing the centrally controlled economy and introduction of the free market economy.
Despite these changes in the economic policies, the country is currently facing acute economic problems, such as low level of technology, power shortage of consumer goods and unemployment. Along with democratization process, it has been observed that the rate of social crime has also increased. The slow economic reforms had also led to increase of black market. Besides, the people are worried about the massive debt burden to the Soviet Union, which is amount of Rbl 9 billion /US $ 16.4 billion/. While some leaders have no patience and want speedy economic transformation, others believe that Mongolia will soon become the fifth Dragon of Asia.
Although Mongolia is faced with great challenges at the present juncture, however, it is hoped that people will over come all these difficulties.
- The history of Mongolia.
- See various resolutions of MPRP passed during Chinese Cultural Revolution period.
- The 19th Congress of the MPRP, 1986.
- Unen, from Nov.,1990.
- Ardiin erh, 29 November, 1990 /The Laws of the MPR/.
- Alan Sanders. “Winter of discontent”. Far Eastern Economic Review, 3 January, 1991, Pages 20-21.
- Foreign Trade of Mongolia, 1/1990, Pages 22-23.
- II tobchoo, 14 November, 1990 /H.Zandraabaidii. Sonohgui Yumsan/.