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theocracy government political system topWhatever form it takes, theocracy entails a range of representations of political power, such as monarchism and authoritarian regime, anti-pluralism, traditionalism, and anti-tolerance. A theocracy is a form of government in which political power belongs to the clergy, priests who try to preserve their traditions in a changing world. Their politics are moderate because they believe that the only way to preserve their faith is to avoid radical change. There may be a nominal secular leader (monarch) in some theocracies, but all real power belongs to the clergy.

Theocracy existed in ancient Egypt, ancient Judea, early medieval Europe, Papacy in Italy, and Iran. Today theocracy is fully implemented in the Vatican, the Sultanate of Brunei, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Theocracy is among the historically first types of political power organization to emerge at the dawn of human civilization. Perhaps in longevity, among other types of state, the theocratic one has no equal.

Today we may encounter an opinion that the theocratic state is a relic of the past, irreversibly deteriorating under the progressive influence of secularization. An unbiased view of the world based on an objective analysis of what is happening shows that this is far from being the case. Today we can observe a peculiar renaissance of theocracy, in which confessional stereotypes and religious ideology become an active element of politics, and the problem of theocratic state acquires a particular urgency. This is due to the fact that some countries, which took the path of independent development after the collapse of colonial empires and state alliances, chose the theocratic model as an alternative to the pre-existing regime. This choice was not accidental.

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The liberated states returned to the roots of their statehood, seeing in them a more reliable basis for solving socio-economic and geopolitical problems, a means of achieving socially meaningful goals tested by centuries of practice. The question of the theocratic state must be considered with the issue of interstate relations. Productive international dialogue in modern conditions is not possible without considering the cultural-historical and civilizational features of states. For individual nations, theocracy is an essential element of politics and an important link in culture.

Acting as a guiding link of civilizational identity, theocracy organizes the social order and defines values and reference points of social development. It is necessary to accumulate and use knowledge about the principles of the political power structure, values, and goals of theocratic states, as well as states with theocratic tendencies, can facilitate mutual understanding of different countries and ensure their cooperation within the framework of a single universal civilization.

Example of Theocracy

A theocratic Buryat state was proclaimed in 1919 in a mountainous territory in eastern Siberia. The creator and head of this state, Lubsan Sandan Tsydenov, was sent as a child to study in a Buddhist monastery and attained one of the highest degrees in Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhism. He read a lot and pondered about different forms of government, was very attentive to the Romanov dynasty, and was shocked by its destruction. Lama dared to take political responsibility, to stand in opposition to the government, and suggested following the example of Tibet and Mongolia, where theocracies already existed at that time.

The new theocracy soon had its own constitution and its own judicial system. The only thing the Balagat state lacked was the power structures capable of protecting the newborn theocracy. Because from the very beginning, Lama created a strict pacifist state based on the principles of nonviolence. He expected that the very prestige of the state in the eyes of its citizens would be sufficient protection.

In the light of tragic events in the Russian Federation of that time in February 1927, a special OGPU task force liquidated the last remnants of the Balagat movement. This put an end to the Balagata State, the only theocracy in Russian history. The creator and head of this state, a Buddhist lama, religious leader, reformer, politician Tsydenov, was able to save the lives of Buryat youth, paying for it first with his freedom and then with his own life. And Tsydenov’s followers perished in Stalin’s camps, sharing the fate of thousands of their compatriots.

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