Are first world countries to blame for the bulk of third world squalor?

by tootired2care 52 Replies latest social current

  • tootired2care

    kaik interesting analysis, you're right there has never been another a time in history where so much abundance exists. This abundance has everything to do with industrialization. The Brits used the tech advantage they had to conquer the world, and they did commit many immoral atrocities and exploitation of technologically inferior races in the process, It seems that the countries that really wanted to stand on their own and against the west embraced and copied the industrialization that chacterized Britain, and prospered, and continue to prosper. Had they not had any exposure to this at all though where would they have been? The price of progress was high, but the price of remaining primitive, is incalculably higher in every way. Shorter lifespan, squalor etc.

  • kaik

    tootired2care. Britain had poverty while it was very wealthy country even it is glorious days. Powerfull, yes. But millions were living in poverty and millions of British citizens had emigrated due lack of jobs and other opportunities elsewhere. So did Germans, which had since 1870's onward higher living standard than anyone else in Europe. France after 1800 had the world largest middle class and no other country put as many people into middle income bracket as did France through revolutions, guillotine, execeutions, mass repossession of properties, and forced redistribution. France was overtaken in 1920's by USA and later by [West] Germany with the size of middle class. UK never achived middle class on population extend as did France and Germany, not to mention USA. However, until industrialization everyone everywhere except the ruling elite, was starving or had empty stomach or worried what you will eat tomorrow. You could lived as a free citizen of Rome, and still starve. You could be a peasant in China under Han and feel the same. Europeans only had advantage of better technology and geography, it could never be conquered before 1945 without navy and large army. USA has both. Britain had only one. So did Hitler or Napoleon. Any case, I disagree that Europeans and I. world are responsible for everyone misery through the creation of humanity.

  • Apognophos

    I appreciate your bringing some perspective to the discussion, kaik. However, just because man has always 'dominated man to his injury' doesn't mean that it's okay to do it now. I understand that you're not saying it's okay -- but I think what's changing now is that people are feeling a bit more compassion for those who are different and are questioning whether it's right to, for instance, exploit the resources of Africa through American and European corporations, instead of trying to lift those people up into the first world (I use the term "first world" in the new sense of "a technologically advanced society" not the old sense of "allied with the U.S. against Russia").

    Because of this gradual shift in consciousness, the nations who last committed these wrongs against others are being held accountable for actions that no previous nations ever were. In a way, this double standard may seem unfair, but really, if something's wrong, then it's wrong. Why worry if the last nations to commit the sins of colonialism are held to a higher standard than the long-gone Mongols, Romans, and other dominating nations of the past? The only question I'm personally interested in is how to fix the hellhole that is sub-Saharan Africa. And if in the process of things, a few of us white folks are a bit "masochistic" for feeling guilty about the situation, even if some of the guilt is misplaced, it can only be a good thing if it motivates people to work on the Africa Problem.

  • kaik

    Of course it is double standard. Rich Europeans and Northern Americans get blaimed for everything wrong that happens with humanity. Who cares that they provided more for charity, were in Haiti after earthquake, or Indian Ocean after tsunami, and I even bothered to donate moeny to both of these disasters. Yet, I should feel responsbile for something failure like Haiti that secured independence 210 years ago. Current exploitation of resources are not as much problem of the rich countries, but corporation that can located anywhere in the world. I do not see how masses of poor in USA, Europe do benefit much from it either. They are better of than the poor in Africa due better welfare and social system, not to mention infrastructure, and bureaocracy.

    When it comes to Sub-Sahar Africa, only its people are ultimatelly responsible for creating successful society. Some countries do better like Ghana and everyone could follow their lead. Europeans and East Asians were not always rich nor developed. It was run for several generations. 150 years ago, Ireland was starving; today it is one the wealthiest country in the world. The same success can happen anyone else. I do not see how present citizenry of former colonial powers like UK, France, and Belgium are responsible for 19th century injustice. I do not bear present Germany responsible for horrors of WWII that were unleashed upon Czechoslovakia in 1942-1945. Present British government is not responsible for Irish famine in 1840's. I do see it as hypocritical to put the blame on them, but the same blame for Romans and Mongosl could not be made. Anyone who was directly responsible for colonization of Congo by bastard like Leopold is long dead.

  • SonoftheTrinity

    Depends on the country.

    Ethiopia did it all by themselves when they replaced a 3000 year old monarchy with some BS Soviet Colonialism. Haiti on the other hand was a country that France, the Dominican Republic, and America have conspired to make a failure for over 200 years.

    Making loans to despots that are one wrong move away from being butchered by their own people is something that we need to put an end to. Shut down our military bases and shut down the World Bank and the world will be a better place.

  • Simon

    I think people are forgetting that a lot of the success and wealth from 1st world countries was NOT based on exploitation but often ingenuity and hard work.

    Individual brilliance (but based on societies that values science and research) invented steam engines and automated cotton weaving which transformed the society from rather bleak, disease riddled towns eventually to the modern industrialized countries we have today.

    Organized education etc... plays a huge role in that and some civilizations do that and others didn't.

    Even now some cultures see education as a 'bad thing' - I'm sorry but not everything can be blamed on western cultures despite the many things they did do wrong.

  • humbled

    The thread is concerned with the squalor of the third world.

    To clarify something, Simon: does success equal wealth? Does lack of wealth equal squalor?

    You said:I think a lot of people are forgetting that a lot of the success and wealth from 1st world countries was NOT based on exploitation but often on ingenuity and hard work.

    Individual brilliance ( but based on societies that value science and research) invented steam engines and automated cotton weaving which transformed the society from rather bleak, disease riddled towns eventually to the modern industrialized countries we have today.

    Wanting to be clear on the direction of my thoughts, I looked up the word squalor. On the word "squalor" was used in this exemplary sentence : "The history books record the squalor of early industry, the poverty of the industrial workers and their exploitation."

    Squalor is defined as "filth and misery".

    Industry without doubt brought improved production of goods and wealth to factory owners. It took the cottage industries out of the homes.

    The diseased riddled cities were worse off than ever with industrial workers packing into slums. Enlightenment in health and hygiene from the educated extended finally to the poor if only to preserve the health of the well-to-do. (Not saying there were no do-gooders) But no benefits were intended for the common man: sweat shops and wage slavery.

    And that has not changed. When possible, the worlds industrialists set up shop abroad where ever they can get the most BANG for their buck. It is a complicated matter, this business of sorting out cause and effect.

    There are altruists and there are merchants, there are inventors and there are opportunists. But greed dominates because money is power.


    The topic is thought provoking. I actually read the last few responses to my husband who had no idea that this board treats questions other than how to survive the aftermath of JW-dom.


  • kaik

    Workers rights had generally improved through the 19th century. Remember that until 1780's most of European peasantry was serf and was not free. Serfdom survived in Eastern Europe in Russia well until 1860's. There was generally difference between serf who was a property of the landlord in 1780's and industrial proletariat in 1850 who did not need a permit to get married, move, or change profession. Therefore, the workers were at least more free than slave laborer on the field. Exploitation of workers was rampant well till 190o's, but many countries had already implemented regulations, pensions, social services, insurance. France had these widely available since 1830-1848, Germany under Bismarck, and Austria-Hungary at least since 1900's. Europe and USA became wealthy over many generations. Pioneers arrived with hopes and shovel to get a piece of uncultivated land. Germany became leading European power not through collonialism but through extensive engineering, research, and capital into the industries. It lost two wars, it was ruined more than any other western country, had 1/5 of its population expelled, yet managed to beat victorious France, Russia, and UK with its living standard. Smaller countries like Slovenia, Estonia, Czech Republic did not collonized anyone, they were under communism for 40+ years, yet managed to be among top 25 countries in the world with a quality of life. Again, it is not responsibility of 1st and 2nd world to build 3rd world. Its citizens need to do it for themselves. Nobody could do it better then themsleves. Richer countries could help with know how and technology, but it is illusion that wealthy countries could on their tax money and wealth redistribution to change anything extensively in such huge region like Africa. Even wealthy countries have their own problems and they have to address them before they can help anyone else.

  • Simon

    Re: the question of wealth vs success.

    Generally wealth is necessary for things that improve standards of living such as investment in education for future generations, healthcare, pensions, infrastructure and services.

    Wealth is measured in GDP per capita and industrialization is one way this is increased.

    It is a balancing act (e.g. too much bad industry without control can create pollution) but most 'successful' countries need money to make people happy by providing a good environment to raise a family, have good work/life balance etc.

    The people who invented things in the Victorian age really transformed the western world.

    Besides that I think the other great achievement is in organization and management of people and resources for a purpose.

    Those are the things that the 3rd world seems to struggle with. Why do they need the west to dig a well or build a school?

  • humbled


    For he past five days I thought of this thread-and your comments here:

    You wrote ".....Besides that I think the other great achievement is in organization and management of people and resources for a purpose (my emphasis).

    Those are the things that the 3rd world seems to struggle with. Why do they need the west to dig a well or build a school?"

    Your statements and the question reframes the topic into a more accessible one. Like: what makes one life better than another and what or who should make that better life attainable?

    You said: for a purpose.

    A man who grew up on the border of Alsace-Lorraine, Jean Frederich Oberlin (1740-1826) provided an example to any of us who toy with the idea of philanthropy or else bear with the frustration that we are the perpetrators of our own failure to thrive.

    One of several children of a school teacher, became a clergyman and moved to the desperately poor Vosges region in the mountains and through his own gentle prodding and example (HE shouldered a pick to build a road--the skeptical peasants followed and then pitched in) transformed the lives of the parishes around him over the next 60 years of his life. Interdenominational--he welcomed absolutely all to his services. He showed them how to work as a community, to value education and kindness. How to improve the quality of the seedstock and orchards and how to improve the soil with compost!

    The effect he had on the dignity of the poor, the ELEVATION FROM SQUALOR, the fact that the peasants there were relatively safe from extreme want during hard times due to the principals of public welfare becoming each person's personal responsibility created a growing fame. In circles both secular and religious his result astounded. /the entire population learned how to take care of one another.


    No one had had anything but contempt for these dirty, backward people who spoke their own backwoods dialect --until he came and stayed. When he arrived there was a hut designated as "the School". It was occupied by children too young to work and overseen by a former pig-herder--a man unable to work OR teach, "Sir, I cannot teach as I know nothing myself." He developed a schooling system that is a model for today--with hardly a penny spent!

    In the U.S. in 1833 a college was established and named for him-Oberlin College opened to Blacks, white and women! Astonishing given the times.

    I have read a 150 year old biography taken from his journal. It is a small book, available on line. It should be read by all.

    notable that his funeral was attended by Catholics, Lutherans, Jews and all who realized that his legacy was really one that was a treasure.

    I encourage anyone who finds the problems of poverty distressing, unapproachable and unmanagable.

    Just had to bring this in.


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