This Web book is based on public domain material provided by the US government and is available in several versions. See the editorial for more information.

Unifying Structures

As the economy has developed, the population has increased, the society has grown more differentiated, the people have come to have less in common, and the need to coordinate and to integrate their activities has become more pressing. The society formerly was held together and was coordinated by a set of unifying structures, of which the most significant were the ruling party, the educational system, and a set of party-directed organizations intended to enroll nearly every Mongolian in their activities.

The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, like other ruling communist parties, directed the activities of all enterprises and large-scale organizations, from herding collectives to the national government (see Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party). Collective farms and factories usually were run by the first secretary of the local party branch, and the party made an effort to recruit outstanding workers and people with leadership and managerial potential. Party members belonged to two organizations, their work unit and the party, and were the intermediaries who linked enterprises and local communities with the national political system. Party members constituted most of the extensive ranks of administrators who ran the country on a day-to-day basis. They were political generalists, generic managers; those at the higher levels usually had been trained in special party schools in the Soviet Union or in Ulaanbaatar.

Downtown Ulaanbaatar 2004. Photo courtesy G. Berger.

In marked contrast with the past, almost all young Mongolians were enrolled in schools in the 1980s (see Education). Eight years of schooling was claimed to be universal, and most cities and centers of collectives offered ten-year schools, usually with boarding facilities for the children of herders. Literacy among young people was reportedly nearly universal, and the schools provided explicit training in nationalism and party ideology. Like schools in most countries, Mongolian schools also provided the training in punctuality, respect for abstract rules and standards, and participation in collective tasks needed to prepare young people for employment in formal, bureaucratic organizations, including the military services (see Organization since 1968).

A set of organizations - trade unions, children's Young Pioneers, the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League (modeled on the Soviet Komsomol, for people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-eight), the Mongolian Women's Committee, and various sports and hobby groups - was intended to enroll every member of the population and to ensure that citizens who were not members of the elite party nonetheless were exposed to its ideology, example, and leadership. Mass organizations were controlled by the party (see Mass Organizations). Although the extent to which mass organization actively enrolled and mobilized the citizenry was unclear, they claimed huge memberships - 94.7 percent of all laborers and office and professional workers in state-owned enterprises belonged to trade unions in 1984; they were obviously intended to unify the populace and to promote identification with national goals (see Trade Unions). The responsibilities of the Mongolian Women's Committee included "the enlistment of women in the conscious performance of their civic and labor duty," which was accomplished through such means as annual rallies for female stockbreeders. By cutting across local and regional boundaries, the mass organizations promoted identification with the nation rather than the locality and with vocational or avocational rather than regional or ethnic interests.

Last Update: 2010-12-07