Staunton, December 5 – The term, “third world countries,” arose in the Cold War to designate those states between the first world of the capitalist West and the second world of socialism. That concept is now out of date because the division has broken down and because many third world countries have climbed out of poverty, Yuliya Latynina says.
But the idea of a fourth world remains important as a category including countries llike Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, the Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and Haiti and as a description of what Moscow is now trying to achieve, she continues (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/12/04/74791-strany-chetvertogo-mira).
Fourth world countries, she says, are characterized by the following features: “the main source of money for the ruling elite is money from outside” or from monopolies shared among themselves, the rest of the population doesn’t have access to external resources or the earnings the elite takes for itself, and the rulers blame the impoverishment of the people on external evils.
“It isn’t difficult to see that the path along which Russia is moving is precisely that of the countries of the fourth world. If in the times of the USSR, we tried to catch up and surpass America, now [it has become clear that the goal the ruling elite is pursuing is to catch up and surpass “the Palestinian autonomy.”
The chief economic underpinning of this pursuit, Latynina says, is “the impoverishment of the population” (her emphasis). That might seem surprising to some because for most of human history, rulers have striven to improve the lot of their peoples so that their peoples will not be tempted to revolt.
But the world has changed, and the old rules no longer apply. “In today’s post-industrial global economy, the rules are different.” That is because in many countries, there is “an excess of population which it is quite easy to feed and dress” and because the source of wealth for the elite comes “not from taxes but from raw materials, state enterprises and monopolies.”
“In such a situation,” Latynina says, “the rulers of the countries of the fourth world become interested not in improving the standard of living but in impoverishing the population and thus increasing its dependence on the rulers.” An impoverished population is simply easier to control and rule: it has no choice but to turn to the rulers.
That is exactly what has been happening in Russia, she argues. “In recent years, the authorities have destroyed the banking system of Russia and without credit there is no market in today’s world. At the same time, the state banks willingly offer credits to companies close to the rulers” but don’t give money to the population.
People must understand, Latynina continues, “that all these measures are far from accidental.” They are intended to make the population poorer and thus more dependent, because a poor and dependent people will deify those who do this to them rather than revolt against them as one might expect.
“Why is Sicily poor?” she asks “Because there is a mafia in it, and what is the attitude of the average Sicilian to a mafia don? He deifies him. The don is a subject of worship, envy and love. Only he gives the poor Sicilian money for a wedding” and so on. That is the mechanism of the fourth world – and the mechanism that exists in Russia today.
At first glance, that might seem absurd given that Russia’s rulers constantly talk about their concern for economic growth and blame any shortcomings on outsiders. “But this isn’t so,” Latynina says. Rather after the protests of 2011-2012, it became clear in the Kremlin that office workers and the middle class couldn’t be the reliable base for the regime.”
That regime needed “a poor majority” because only it could support a regime that increasingly turned to “state obscurantism” and rule as did Robert Mugabe. “In this sense, she says, “the impoverishment of the Russian population is a strategic necessity for the present-day powers.”
And over the course of the next decade or two, she concludes, it will be determined whether “Russia will become a country of the fourth world forever” or whether its people will succeed in overthrowing a regime that is trying to transform their country into a Haiti or a Zimbabwe.