Roots of the Mongolian State: Genghis Khan's Survival and Pragmatism as Related in the Secret History of the Mongols

Lecture | April 13 | 4 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Robert Bedeski, Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria , Canada; Affiliate Professor, University of Washington (Jackson School of International Affairs); Honorary Doctorate, Mongolia Academy of Science

 UC Berkeley Mongolia Initiative

The year 1206 marked the beginning of the first Mongol State. Its genesis was overseen and led by Genghis Khan, whose conquests remain a formidable historical series of events. The Secret History narrates his biography as a tale of surviving repeated life threats and overcoming major enemies. From this history, I have extracted an existential framework to explain how he survived in a dangerous natural, social and political environment. The rise of this State compressed what probably occurred in most other historical States, and I will summarize my Anthrocentric Security Theory as general explanation of this phenomenon, drawing on Western philosophy, especially philosophical anthropology. The framework consists of four levels of Being - state of nature, life-community, State, and civil society. Each level has enabled humans to devise several Security Action Platforms from which are launched particular security actions, culminating in the State. Successful in three stages, but not in creating a civil society, the Mongol State assimilated and absorbed the strengths of natural men and life-communities, enabling the expansion into Eurasian empire under his sons and grandsons. Mongolian democracy today is engaged in completing a sovereign civil society inhibited by China and the Soviet Union in past centuries.

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