Origins of the 3rd World Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1554 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: History - Asian

Origins of the 3rd World

Critical review of Making of the Third World by Mike Davis

While climatic conditions and geographical factors play a large part in the shaping of the various regions of the world in terms of their development, economic, political and social factors are also a part of the complex causative origins of regional and country development. In other words, history and politics often play a more important and often less obvious role in these matters rather than extreme climactic conditions. In this article the author argues that the making or origins of the Third World cannot be naively attributed only to extreme factors such as famine or simplistic Malthusian theories of regional and national growth and development. The article also clearly shows that economic and political factors that occurred in the middle to late Nineteenth Century, such as the establishment of the gold standard in the world and colonial excesses, played a vital and pivotal role in the creation of the poor and rich divide in the world.

The author presents an extremely comprehensive and persuasive argument which asserts that the origins of the Third World lie more in political and economic factors that were imposed on these countries from outside, rather than in natural weather and climatic conditions that resulted in famine; or on other theories that ascribe the failure of these countries to compete with more affluent counties to innate and homogenous problems. International trade and the exploitation by the colonial powers also form an important part of this argument.

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In order to show these interconnections between the various elements that in his view created the Third World, the author draws from the knowledge provided by different disciplines and resources, such as history, geography, climatology, political economy, as well as archival research. In doing so he creates a largely convincing and insightful view of the reasons for the difference between First and Third World countries.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Origins of the 3rd World Assignment

The article stresses that governmental policies, market forces and pressures that influenced governments, are factors that have been largely ignored in the more popular notions of the reasons for the decline of Third World countries. This is felt to be an extremely important aspect, as the exploitation of some countries by others is still evident in the contemporary international environment. This reality can be seen in issues such as globalization and the monopoly of the large multinational corporations that create the conditions for Third World poverty to exist to a large extent.

From a personal point-of-view I found that the analysis in this article of the foundational forces that created Third World countries to be enlightening and even shocking; not only in an historical sense but also in terms of the implications that this has for an understanding of the our modern political and social landscape in the world.

The article explores and often less-obvious connections between policies, economics markets, historical influences and climate. For example the author clearly shows how poverty and famine could have been alleviated by more enlightened governmental polices in countries like China and in India the late Nineteenth Century and that many people died as result of actions and decisions that were influenced by imported policies and markets forces, which disrupted the traditional responses to famine and other crises.

Extreme periods of climate change in the 1800s are discussed in order to expose the workings of extraneous factors in the genesis of the Third World. For example, the author compares the way in which famine was dealt with in India prior to the Eighteenth Century and shows that that there was much more success in dealing with the crisis of poverty and starvation in the period before the influence of international and colonial factors. The author carefully and thoroughly unpacks the various issues, such as the influence of the new commodity markets and price speculation and the way that these aspects undermined the abilities of local government in India and China to deal with famine and crop failure.

In essence this briefing shows that China and India were "created" largely as "peripheries" in the world economy. In other words, the more dominant colonial powers used the less powerful countries and exploited them through"... trade deficits; promoting exports that diminished food security; charging excessive taxes and introducing predatory merchant capital; taking control of key revenues and resources; waging war; and decreeing a monetary system" (Davis 27). The local peasantry therefore was weakened in terms of their ability to deal with and withstand extreme climatic conditions that resulted in drought and famine.

The author also states that modern economic and historical research generally rejects the view that poverty and overpopulation were the essential causative factors for the devastating famines in the nineteenth century. In fact Davis sees this view as erroneous for a number of reasons; central to which is the way that the colonial powers at the time manipulated the markets and economies of less influential countries. To support his view, Davis points to the fact that between five and twenty million people died in India as a result of the Nineteenth Century famines - despite the fact that there were modern railways in operation and large quantities of grain in commercial circulation. The subsequent deaths in countries like India were, according to Davis, the result of policy decisions by the authorities that were developed and imposed by the British colonial rulers in India, to the advantage of British economic and colonial praxis.

In other word the massive number of people who died during those times was not a result of the famine per se, but rather the result of political and economic measures that were implemented by the British. This implies that the poverty in Third World countries was not a result of severe climatic conditions, overpopulation or any her aspect endemic to the region - but was rather the result of extensive influence and forces which 'created' the Third World. Higher prices for commodities created by international markets coupled with economic depression resulted in the Indian people being more susceptible and less able to deal with the effects of extreme weather and drought.

Colonialist influences disrupted and even destroyed traditional security and aid systems and, as Davis Notes, "...traditional food security system, whereby household and village grain reserves were regulated by complex networks of patrimonial (hereditary) obligation, had been largely supplanted since the 1857-58 Mutiny by stores held by merchants and the cash nexus" (Davis 3).

The pattern of analysis in this article extends to China and other Third World countries and the argument follows the same line of reasoning relating to the impact of international colonization and economics that was evident in India in the Nineteenth Century. In China, for example, starvation in the northern areas also destroyed the social fabric of the small villages and kinship groups, therefore making the local people less able to deal with the consequences of extreme weather and drought; as was the case in India. Furthermore, the Qing financial system was undermined y the changes in exchange rates that resulted for the adoption of the Gold Standard. Land revenue declined in China and the country was force to increase its loans and dependence on other countries - at excessive rates which in turn had an adverse affect on the economy of the country.

Another factor emerges in the China which has become a major aspect of our modern economic and socio-political landscape; namely the monopolization by large economies and corporates. In China in the 1800s Britain had a monopoly of approximately eighty percent of Chinese foreign trade. A familiar pattern of the dependence of poorer countries on richer and more powerful countries was established; which was to set the precedent for the modern division of countries into First and Third World. The author consistently shows how… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Origins of the 3rd World" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Origins of the 3rd World.  (2007, September 12).  Retrieved August 3, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Origins of the 3rd World."  12 September 2007.  Web.  3 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Origins of the 3rd World."  September 12, 2007.  Accessed August 3, 2021.