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General Political Values and Attitudes

The political system became heavily regimented under communism and the organizational principle of democratic centralism. Young and elderly citizens, urban and rural dwellers, skilled and unskilled laborers all had to become fully involved in, and cognizant of, the goals and the ideological content of party programs. Inevitably, the implementation of this political system has provoked a variety of responses. Mongolians, now middle-aged and older, who by 1959 had experienced collectivization and were deprived of their animal herds and the freedom to roam in search of new pastures, harbored resentment against the government's procedures and limitations on their erstwhile freedoms. Any outright opposition was put down quickly, but negative feelings probably have not been eradicated.

Support for the regime existed, and it was likely to continue in the 1990s among those with the greatest stake in the success of its policies - for example, party and government cadres, economists, and technocrats. The earlier sovietization of politics and society, and the role of officials in that process, had given this group an elevated status, but with the concomitant requirement that they exhort the people to uphold the preferred values of conformity and political orthodoxy at the expense of more traditional values and spontaneity. Improvements in communications and transportation as well as the opportunities for reaching a larger audience afforded by increased literacy have permitted the communist regime and its cadres more immediate contact with the populace. By the 1980s, there were no more mass political purges, but the state machinery had become more efficient and pervasive in organization. Its political influence was deeply felt throughout the country. How this system would fare under the reformist policies of openness and democratization could not be assessed in mid-1989.

Reportedly, some resistance to this method of rule - from Mongolian youths who were better-educated, aware that change was occurring, and anxious that even greater openness be permitted - was becoming evident. Politically, they seemed to advocate extending the trend toward democratization. They viewed democracy more as a human right than as a means for improving the political system and its policies, by such methods as encouraging public criticism of cadre incompetence, poor management practices, and so forth. Youth demands also may have been shared by the artistic community and by some members of the intelligentsia. The latter, while saluting the de-Stalinization campaign ongoing in 1989, also may have wanted a more extensive reappraisal of Mongolian culture and its heroes. It was difficult to assess how deep these feelings were, but observers doubted that they represented any immediate threat to the regime's stability.

Last Update: 2010-12-07