Mongolian Culture
What is Culture? Political Culture?
Material Culture: The Ger, the Deel, and the Altar in the 20th Century
Mongolian Political Culture of Democracy from Genghis Khan to Today
Democratic Principles Under Genghis Khan and Mongolia's Culture of Democracy Today
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Is Genghis Khan partly responsible for Mongolians' political culture today?

Another 195 Mongolians were asked in a second round of interviews, 'Do you agree that in some sense there were democratic principles practiced in the time of Genghis Khan?' Two hundred eight (61.9 percent) said yes; 63 (18.8 percent) said no; and 65 (19.3 percent) said they do not know. Then they were asked, 'What democratic principles could be borrowed from Genghis Khan's time for use today?' Their answers are in the following table:
Mongolians today believe Genghis Khan practiced basic democratic principles.
· Genghis Khan united different peoples into one independent nation.
Principles of Democracy Perceptions of Genghis Khan
Participatory government

Participatory democracy existed in the Wise Men's Council and Great Assembly.

The state was strong in reputation, responsibility, power and influence.

Rule by law

Rule by law prevailed.

Laws/legal system were just, fair, and applied to all.

People revered, respected, and obeyed the government and its laws.

Equality under the law

All were equal before the law.

Leadership (Genghis Khan) was strong, wise, and caring.

Human rights/personal freedoms

Personal freedoms (speech, religion), pluralism, and human rights were honored.

The free market principle controlled the economy.

195 people interviewed in Hovd and Ulaanbaatar, August 1998.
The first principle of democracy is participatory governance. The table illustrates the point that even if participatory governance takes different forms in each century, the basic principle is present in both cases.
The second principle of democracy is rule by law. This principle was the one mentioned most frequently.
Equality under the law, the third principle, may have been honored in the breach more often in Genghis Khan's time than it is today, but he did institutionalize the concept.
The fourth principle is government protection of human rights and personal freedoms. Mongolians are well aware that Genghis Khan advocated some but not all of the personal freedoms considered pivotal to democratic government: free speech and religious tolerance stand out. To expect a person of the 13th century to think as people in the 21st century do would be unfair.
Based on the evidence presented, it appears that Genghis Khan, or at the very least the people's ideal of Genghis Khan, forms the basis for a political culture that greatly favors independence and democracy. Indeed, he is clearly an inspiration for Mongolians' embrace of the four principles of modern democracy.
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