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New Left Review I/18, January-February 1963

Keith Buchanan

The Third World

—Its Emergence and Contours

Wir wollen auf Erden glücklich sein
Und wollen nicht mehr darben.”

Heinrich Heine


The most striking political development of the last two decades has been the emergence of what French geographers and social scientists term the Tiers Monde—the Third World. This term is applied to a great bloc of countries stretching from the Andean republics of South America, across Africa and the Middle East, to Indonesia and the islands of the tropical Pacific. It is made up of over a hundred political units, greatly differing in size, in population or in political status. Some, like Pakistan or Indonesia, have populations of close on one hundred million; others, like Gambia or Gabon, have populations of under half a million and a problematic chance of long surviving as isolated units. Some, like Cambodia or Cuba, are socialist in their politics—though their socialisms are often very different from the western form of socialism; others, like Saudi Arabia or Ethiopia, are feudal theocracies; some, like Angola or Kenya, are still colonial territories of the old type; some, like Guatemala or Katanga, are classic examples of “new colonialism”. All are poor, most are backward, all are either crippled by lack of development or deformed by exploitative development. They contain an aggregate population of almost two thousand million people—two-thirds of the world total.

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Keith Buchanan, ‘The Third World’, NLR I/18: £3

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