chapter  4
The symbols of democracy
Pages 21

During the democratic revolution, the “democratic forces” were quick to capitalize on the potential of historical symbolism. They drew upon Chinggis Khaan, Buddhism and Mongol bichig to position themselves as the true inheritors of tradition and custom. Even when the point was not made explicitly, the use of historical imagery was meant as an anti-colonial statement. It was a reclamation of the past from the Soviet hegemony that had been transmitted and reinforced by MAHN. Despite MAHN’s efforts at re-evaluating history, they were working at a distinct disadvantage. Since at least the middle of the twentieth century, Mongolian history had been written as socialist history, and followed the dictates of Soviet historiography. (I examine Mongolian historiography in the next chapter.) In the writing and presentation of history, like politics more generally, Mongolia played the younger brother to the Soviet Union’s elder brother, who provided guidance and direction.