Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Baabar's talk at Cafe Amsterdam

This is a follow-up to the post about Baabar's talk at Cafe Amsterdam. It's some time late. Like two weeks, I believe.

Baabar didn't come to Cafe Amsterdam with any speeches prepared, instead chose to take questions from the crowd. In my opinion, it was a good idea. I don't know if a lot of people came expecting a talk on a specific topic. While the result had little structure, I think to an extent it provided some spontaneous conversation.  There were some very interesting points raised during his talk and a lot of it revolved around Mongolian politics and culture, as expected. What was this nomadic mentality that Mongolians seem almost proud of, yet blame the many failings of today's urban life on including the traffic jams and insane drivers? In a lot of other societies, people were specialized in different areas and could, therefore, barter their produce. In Mongolia, everyone produced the same thing, therefore there was no room for goods exchange or cooperation, there was only room for competition or in Baabar's words it was a case of "my neighbour is my worst enemy". He didn't discuss further on the topic, as you could write a "a book on this topic".

A friend of mine once mentioned that when the Mongolians needed silk or other materials that they didn't produce, they invaded neighbouring countries that did, which could be the main reason why the Chinese built the Great Wall. He was actually using this argument to illustrate the fact that Mongolians historically have probably never really experienced famine (I don't know if this is true). There were always farmer neighbours to invade for supplies as a last resort.

Apart from his point on the nomadic mentality, he also touched a little on the political system and the mentality of the current politicians. He jokingly said that things will only really change once the current generation of politicians die out. Grains of truth in it, I believe. Not necessarily die out, but retire and leave the political arena to give way to a younger generation of politicians who hopefully were born post-Communism. Moving on to discuss himself, Baabar said "It also applies to me. I am also very communist inside". What does it mean for my generation, I wonder. We, who were thrown into a sudden transition in the political and economic system, no more Lenin and Sukhbaatar that we spent our primary school years worshipping like gods. Which also makes me wonder how our next generation sees things. Those who were born during or after the transition period.