The international march towards a conservative age advanced another step this weekend with elections in Mongolia. Now, Mongolia is an independent and sovereign nation landlocked between China and Russia, and has long been under the communist shadows of those nations. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolia has emerged as a nation that has begun to re-embrace its traditional culture, customs, and institutions.
And this retraditionalization seems to be corroborated by the presidential elections held this past weekend, when the nationalist candidate Battulga Cultma of Mongolia’s Democratic Party won in a runoff election, and the latest results show that he won rather handily. Battulga is a former judo wrestling champion, he is a very popular personality in Mongolian pop culture, he is very wealthy, and is well-known for building a massive 120 foot tall statue of Ghenghis Khan outside of Mongolia’s capital city, Ulawnbahter.
Now what is so interesting is that this rich pop-culture icon pitched himself as the anti-establishment candidate who will promote economic nationalist policies on behalf of the forgotten Mongolians. Sounds just like another rich pop-culture icon here in the States, who also did his share of wrestling in the past. In fact, back in June, Battulga acknowledge that his nationalist populist campaign was highly similar to that of Donald Trump’s, minus the wall along their southern border, he would say.
Now, the new president of Mongolia is also very pro-Russian; he wants to build railroads to Russia to diversify Mongolia’s exports with its neighbors. And the website Geopolitica is reporting that he is also very much pro-[what’s called] Eurasian, in that he aligns himself with the geo-political paradigm that rejects the secular liberal globalism of Western Europe and in turn affirms a common cultural unity and historical destiny for the people groups that constitute a unified Russian political sphere. So this does appear to be a clear victory for anti-secular globalist processes, especially in the wake of the mass worldwide backlash against globalization and its secular aristocracy.
Don’t forget that just a couple of weeks ago we had the series of mayoral elections throughout Italy, where the center-right nationalists absolutely trounced the center-left globalists. The center-right coalition is now the largest political coalition in the nation of Italy. And it really was nothing less than a political earthquake. The right took over 15 of Italy’s largest cities, and overall won nearly 80 cities, which was a gain of 25 new cities. In fact, we haven’t seen anything even remotely comparable to this political sea change in Italy for at least the last 50 years. So, a very significant election, particularly against the backdrop of the Brexit-like blowback that has been going on all over the world over the past year.
The question now is whether this nationalist turn in Mongolia entails an anti-Christian backlash. I am not sure if you know, but Mongolia is one of the top 20 countries where Christianity is growing the fastest, Nepal being number one. It is growing at a rate of about 6 percent per year, and doubling every 12 years. Now the question is whether any retraditionalization inherent in this nationalist turn entails a blowback against that growth, perhaps something akin to what we have been seeing in India of late. Reports have been surfacing that confirm the rise of violent attacks on the Christian minority in India, all part of the recent mass Hindu nationalist turn taking place throughout India.
Now this is the dark side, as it were, of nationalism. As nations are more and more reasserting their national identity markers such as their traditional religion, customs, and ethnicities, as mechanisms of resistance against secular globalisms’ anti-cultural, anti-traditional processes, Christianity can benefit broadly all the while it suffers locally and specifically. Traditional Christian civilizations of course benefit from the dissipation of secular globalization as its rejected more and more by, in this case, Asian nations, all the while Christianity itself may be suffering within such nations as they re-embrace their traditional Hindu or Buddhist or animist customs, institutions, and conventions.
So we’ll have to keep our eyes on how things develop in Mongolia. Regardless, the election of Battulga as president of Mongolia signals the continued ascent of nationalist populism as the new geopolitical paradigm throughout the world, and indeed, the inevitable rise of a new conservative age in our time.
For more on baptism and the Apostle Paul’s vision of a sacramental society, see my book, The Ritualized Revelation of the Messianic Age: Washings and Meals in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, available here.