Garth Rattray | No Third World Apologies, Please | Remark
The countries/nations were formerly referred to as First World, Second World, Third World and, later, Fourth World. First World countries were “…developed, capitalist and industrial countries, generally aligned with NATO and the United States of America (USA)”. The term was a sociopolitical and economic label for counties that shared political and economic interests with the United States.
Of course, these countries included North America and Western Europe. It also included countries associated with the West, such as Western Sahara, South Africa (despite its apartheid regime), South West Africa (renamed Namibia), Angola and Mozambique (all two led by Portuguese companies). Neutral states, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Ireland and Finland, were also designated “First World”. The Second World countries were designated as such because they were communist-socialist and they were the least industrialized states (eastern bloc). They also included communist states in Asia.
Designated Third World countries were seen as poor, underdeveloped, dependent on more advanced countries, vulnerable to exploitation, unstable and having an under-educated population. They were often formerly colonized. Their categorization was also based on their political rights, civil liberties, gross national income (GNI), and freedom of information.
The term “Fourth World” was used in reference to cultural/ethnic entities, indigenous peoples living within a state. Examples of this would have been the indigenous peoples of Australia and the Americas. We don’t have to experience communities surrounded by zinc, communities disenfranchised, children growing up in misery and hatred/violence. Traditionally, these people do not have self-government and are often subject to some form of discrimination. They functioned as a cultural nation within a nation but cannot legally engage in succession.
Nowadays, categorizing countries as “Third World” is considered distasteful, and is therefore generally outdated. The United Nations now classifies countries as developed and developing. However, there does not seem to be a consensus on this categorization. The World Bank now classifies countries as high income, upper or lower middle income, and low income. A country’s GNI determines its ranking. Despite our manifest poverty, unacceptable number of undereducated and uneducated citizens, dependence on high income countries, Jamaica is considered an upper middle income country as our GNI per capita is 4,990 USD (according to World Bank figures from 2018).
I firmly believe that Jamaica can improve enormously; we don’t have to suffer from the lawlessness in the streets and the burgeoning subculture of gang crime and “justice”. We can do much better if we create social order, discipline, good infrastructure and amenities for poor communities. We need to keep a close eye on our children during their formative years, enforcement of compulsory education for our children, and ways to defeat our systemic corruption. But we always find (what I call) third world excuses.
Third World excuses claim that we are too underfunded, underequipped and too underdeveloped to do essential things to improve the lot of our ordinary citizens. They are doomed to failure and smack of helplessness and dependence on the (conditional) ‘charities’ of more developed countries. This apology echoes the cry of surrender to situations that we can control, if we ignore the possible political ramifications and consider only the future of our country. We must condemn politicalism and be innovative… if not.
An example of this is the indiscipline on the streets, especially when it comes to our public transport sector. We only run short “campaigns” against dark tints, sports rims and loud music on taxis and minibuses. But these campaigns die out quickly, and the owners/operators know it. Currently, road users do whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous or dangerous. We have to find ways to stop the madness and take back control of the streets, if we are to defeat crime in general…it’s just psychology. Order begets order and disorder begets disorder. When all road users must obey rules and regulations, this inculcation carries over into their daily activities. The third world excuse is always a permanent lack of personnel and funds to maintain the application of the rules.
Another example is endemic corruption. This toxin is deeply rooted in our society. If people want to do something without unnecessary hassle, they often need to “drop something”. Corruption is a pervasive, thriving and tax-free industry. We would end corruption if it weren’t for all the Third World excuses of ‘official’ procedures, understaffing, ‘dead horse and raven fat’.
We invoke the Third World excuse of the lack of social workers and funds to follow our children closely through their developmental stages. Many underprivileged children who are subjected to severe environmental, psychological, physical and sexual abuse become violent antisocial and psychopathic monsters who commit unspeakable crimes. Until we stop looking for excuses not to look after their well-being, the nightmare of gruesome crimes will never end.
Third World excuses are full of fatalistic thoughts and political expediency. We deliberate about why we can’t get things done, instead of having the will to do what needs to be done. Despite our current designation as an upper-middle-income country, our Third World excuses keep us trapped in the mindset of a backward country… which is the Third World paradigm.
Jamaica may never become a high-income country, but we can become relatively crime-free, productive and prosperous. We can become the Jamaica that most of us desire, and we will attract more investors and returning residents…if we stop making excuses for our failures.