Friday, January 21, 2011

Is there such a thing as a 2nd world country?

We are all familiar with the tags "First-world" and "third world" when referring to the economic development level of a country, as they are qualifiers used in the media frequently. But that seems awfully polar to me, lumping it into black and white like that. Where's the "gray area" of economic development? Is there a second-world?

Of course there is! Here is some background and context of the Three Worlds Theory.

The Three Worlds Theory was developed by Chinese leader Mao Zedong and presented in a speech to the U.N. in 1974. It explained the three politico-economic worlds and categorized them as First World - The Superpowers, Second World - Allies of Superpowers, and Third World - Non-Aligned Nations*.

The definition of "the worlds" has changed over time, and now it is generally regarded that "Second World" countries "... that are in between poverty and prosperity, many of which are communist and former communist countries today...(China, the majority of the former Soviet Union) [wikipedia]."

Subsequently, the actual meaning of the terms "First World" and "Third World" changed from being based on political ideology to an economic definition

 *the Non-Aligned Movement was a collaboration of countries formed in 1961 in Eurasia to attempt to thwart the Cold War. It currently has 118 member-countries and 18 observer countries that have a stake in the actions of the NAM. It was created as a allied counterpart to NATO. The Non-Aligned Movement has been quite outspoken in its criticism of current UN structures and power dynamics, mostly in how the organisation has been utilised by powerful states in ways that violate the movement’s principles. It has made a number of recommendations that would strengthen the representation and power of ‘non-aligned’ states. Including improved transparency and overhauling U.N. increasing undemocratic style.


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