Saturday, September 5, 2009

Third World

‘Third World’ – an all too often used term, but today too imprecise to be still useful.
When the term was designed it referred to those countries that neither choose to side with the U.S. nor with the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. These non-aligned countries gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 aroused enormous euphoria and not only in that particular part of Europe. However, the changed political climate made the term ‘Third World’ redundant.
‘Third World’ as an analytical tool referring to developing and underdeveloped countries is inaccurate, because it only takes the unequal distribution between states into consideration, some countries are then rich and others are poor. However, within rich states there are many poor, and within poor countries there are many extremely rich people. The sociologist Ulrich Beck uses methodological cosmopolitanism to question global inequalities. This method is thus an imaginary leap away from the nation-state, because, so claims Beck, if we only take nation-states into account we will be blind for inequalities between people from different countries for which is no legitimacy when methodological cosmopolitanism is used. And the philosopher Thomas Pogge adds: “Once we break free from explanatory nationalism, global factors relevant to the persistence of severe poverty are easy to find.” From a moral point of view the lives of all individuals matter. It should not matter whether someone is a slumdog in a ghetto of Los Angeles or if someone lives along the railway tracks of Jakarta.

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