The popularity of the political party ‘Golden Dawn’ in Greece is a sad evidence of the re-emerge of fascist thought in the world. Hitler’s ideology still seems to appeal to extreme-right groups in Europe, yet now it has also found supporters in a rather odd place –the cold, windy steppes of Mongolia.
Asian men wearing army clothes decorated with Nazi symbols, firmly stretching their right arm in an upward angle; the flag on the background, featuring a giant swastika –it looks a bit like a very, very bad Asian movie production. But Neo-Nazi’s are very real in Mongolia, there are currently 3 groups claiming a combined membership of several thousand, quite a lot on a population of just 3 million. The self-proclaimed Nazi’s posses the classic characteristics; ultra-nationalist, fascist and xenophobic. But this time the Jews aren’t the scapegoat, the Chinese are.
Mongolia is locked between two superpowers, China and Russia. The fear of cultural and economic take-over led to this desperate expression of national identity. The Central Asian country has vast resources, but an impoverished economy. The Chinese businessmen, flowing in to profit from the natural resources, only contribute to the fear of Chinese domination. The Sinophobia results in popular rumours like Chinese fruit being poisoned and Chinese businessmen abducting orphans to work in Chinese factories. The extreme offspring of this are the Neo-Nazi groups.
To make sure their ‘blood doesn’t mix’, they also check on hostels and restaurants to make sure Mongolian woman do not prostitute with foreigners.
But the admiration of Hitler seems even more out of place than usual; it’s not like men feature the ‘Aryan ideal’ genetically speaking. On the Eastern front, the Nazi’s had Mongolian prisoners of war executed because they were considered ‘Untermenschen’. So why Hitler?
Bad historical knowledge is to blame for this. The war in Europe took place 70 years ago, far away from the Mongolian homes. The Mongolian Neo-Nazi’s only slightly know of the horrible products Hitler’s Fascism brought Europe. They simply adhere to the strong nationalistic and racist message it preaches and project it to their own situation. They consider themselves to be ‘genetically superior’ to their southern neighbours, saying they carry the blood of Genghis Khan, the man who ruled the largest empire in all of history.
Although they enjoy little support of the average citizen, they might put their stamp on national politics. One of the groups, sees itself as a ‘law enforcement body’, protecting the interest of ‘hard-working Mongols’ against ‘criminal foreign elements’. To make sure their ‘blood doesn’t mix’, they also check on hostels and restaurants to make sure Mongolian woman do not prostitute with foreigners. A video appeared on YouTube last year showing a woman covering her face with her hands whilst someone was shaving her head. The Neo-Nazi group ‘Dayar Mongol’ threatened this would be the ‘punishment’ for a Mongolian woman if she had sex with a foreign man.
The effects of globalization both counteract as contribute to the ultra-nationalist sentiments in Mongolia. Mongolians studying, working or doing business abroad usually provide a better and more positive picture of foreigners and Chinese in particular. The margins of the Mongolian society that missed the boat on these developments are resorting to extremism, desperate to afloat in the turbulent economic waters. Under such circumstances, the ghost of Fascism still seems to pop up, even on the remote steppes of Mongolia.