Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Third World", "Tri-Continental Bloc", or just Asia, Africa, and Latin America?

I was talking to a Visiting Scholar in our department from the US yesterday who is an expert on Latin America about this. But, the term "Third World" really seems to be problematic since the disintegration of the second world. Absent a political unity in refusing to align with either the US or the USSR during the Cold War or a revolutionary commitment to anti-imperialism there is almost nothing that ties the countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America together anymore. Indeed the term Third World was popularized as a specifically political stance of decolonizing countries in Asia and Africa at the Bandung Conference in 1955 to assert their independence from the US, Europe, and USSR. This idea received concrete organization in the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement. The idea of the peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America forming a distinctly revolutionary bloc opposed to colonialism, neo-colonialism, and racism reached its peak at the Tri-Continental Conference in Havana in 1966. Prior to the Havana conference Latin America had not been fully integrated into the organizations agitating for such a bloc, most notably the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization (AAPSO). While including Asian members, the Cairo based organization held all of its conferences prior to the Tri-Continental Conference in Africa. The first one was in Cairo in 1957 followed by Conarky in Guinea in 1960, Moshi in Tanzania in 1963, and Winneba in Ghana in 1965. AAPSO much more so than the early Non-Aligned Movement stressed revolutionary opposition to the First World rather than a position independent of  both the US and USSR. Indeed delegates from the USSR participated in the activities of AAPSO from the beginning in 1957. The idea of Africa, Asia, and Latin America forming either a third non-aligned bloc or a revolutionary anti-imperialist bloc today, however, seems far fetched. The collapse of the USSR made this first option impossible and the second one highly improbable.


Anonymous said...

Does the term "Global South" work any better?

J. Otto Pohl said...

Not really, Ghana is north of the equator and places like Argentina and Chile don't really have anything in common with Africa today.