Communism in Mongolia has an interesting history that helps define the country’s current state.
It started with an unexpected visit to Moscow
In November 1920, after Bolshevik armies had smashed White Russian forces in eastern Siberia, three young Mongolians went to Moscow to ask help against the recently reimposed Chinese control of Outer Mongolia. Vladimir I. Lenin received them. He advised them that the Soviets would help establish a separate state of Mongolia and it should be a Marxist one. “With the aid of the proletariat of advanced countries,” Lenin had recently told the Comintern and paraphrased to his visitors, “backward countries may make the transition to the Soviet system and… to Communism, bypassing the capitalist stage of development.”source: The Sovietization of Mongolia by Henry S. Bradsher
Few places were more backward than Outer Mongolia, or less touched by capitalism.
The Communist Party of Mongolia (MPRP) was founded in 1920, making Mongolia the world’s second communist state after the Soviet Union.
In the 1930s, the MPRP gained control of the government and implemented a program of collectivization and industrialization following the Soviet Union’s model.
The collectivization of agriculture involved forcibly pooling land and livestock, which sparked resistance from traditional nomadic herders.
The party responded with violence, executing and sending thousands to labor camps in the 1930s and 1940s.
Despite brutal methods, Mongolia made significant progress in industrialization, building new factories, expanding education and health care, and forming close ties with the Soviet Union.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Mongolia adopted a policy of “national communism,” which aimed to preserve Mongolia’s unique cultural heritage while still following Marxist-Leninist principles. During this period, there was a flourishing of traditional arts and literature alongside continued industrialization.
By the 1980s, Mongolia’s economy had stagnated, and the government faced increasing criticism for repressive policies.
In 1990, mass protests led to the downfall of the one-party state, and Mongolia adopted a new constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, and assembly.
Today, Mongolia is a multi-party democracy, though the legacy of communism remains prominent in its politics and society.
To read a few of my impressions of my time in Mongolia: read Memories of Mongolia.