Howard Zinn narrates his observation, on his way to England, on the Queen Mary. Here, on a passenger liner, there existed the clearest evidence of an artificially
created Third World, inside the
My air crew sailed to England on the Queen Mary. The elegant passenger liner had been converted into a troop ship. There were 16000
men aboard, and 4000 of them were black. The whites had quarters on the deck and just below the deck. The blacks were housed
separately, deep in the holds of the ship, around the engine room, in the darkest dirtiest sections. Meals were taken in four
shifts (except for the officers, who ate in prewar Queen Mary style, in a chandeliered ballroom- the war was not being fought
to disturb class privilege), and the blacks had to wait until three shifts of whites had finished eating. (Zinn 1990:88)
the late Middle Ages, different regions of the world were almost equally developed (Alexander
1996:17). Then, in a course of a few hundred years, Western economic and political domination
in the world led to pockets of development and underdevelopment, wealth and poverty, coexisting in close proximity to each
other. A clear pattern emerged on a global and local scale. The emerging dominant philosophy was Capitalism, the driving force
behind which was competition, based on ideas similar to Social Darwinism. As a result, an ideology of superiority emerged
within the ruling elite, an idea that led to the patterned underdevelopment of certain groups of people on a local and global
scale within the interconnected World System.
The nation-state was central to Western economic and political domination (Alexander 1996). Nationalism
on a global scale can be compared to racism within states: Both are driven by an ideology that assumes superiority of one
group over another. This linkage is clearly evident in the relationship between the West and the Third World and race relations between white and black communities in
the United States.
Ideas of race superiority, made moral by a hierarchical religion, whitewashed
to reflect the preference of the rulers, became institutionalized in Western culture once Germanic races gained power by overthrowing
the Roman Empire and adopting Christianity.
By the 1900s, the colonial powers of Europe, together with the U.S, controlled half of what they described as newly discovered areas of the world,
and over a third of its population (Delavignette 1964:1).
This idea of superiority led to the "race-specific" Atlantic
slave trade in which over 40 million people were killed. A similar idea led to the genocide of the American Indians and other
indigenous groups in all these newly discovered white-settler areas, over 50 million "savages" were killed by the "civilized"
West (Zinn 1990:1). American National security sanitized by ideas about our superior way of life, led to the civilian bombings
of Vietnam and Cambodia by orders of Harvard educated elite, killing millions again. South Africa similarly used national
sovereignty, as an excuse to protect its apartheid regime.
During the Vietnam War, US forces massacred whole villages; murdered prisoners of war; set up free fire
zones in which all living things were subjected to annihilation; systematically bombed all edifices, including hospitals,
schools, churches and destroyed croplands and work animals. The CIA director of that day, Richard Helms, admitted that 20,500
persons were assassinated by the CIA sponsored Phoenix Program. In Vietnam, the US dropped 8 million tons of bombs (leaving 21 million bomb craters), and nearly 400,000 tons of Napalm.
The 18 million gallons of Agent Orange and other such chemical defoliants dumped from US planes poisoned hundreds of
thousands of acres and worked their way into Vietnam’s food-chain, dramatically increasing the number of miscarriages,
still births and birth deformities. The chemical warfare gave Vietnam one of the world’s highest rates
of liver cancer, a disease virtually unknown in the country in prewar days. The continuous bombing and use of napalm and defoliants
rendered two-fifths of Vietnams land unsuitable for forestry or agriculture. (Parenti 1989: 44)
The fate of the Australian Aborigines, persecuted, killed and forced on reservations was another racially
motivated national act. Turning the other cheek, pulling out peacekeepers, and not stopping the genocide when 800,000 Tutsis
were killed by the Hutu militia in Rwanda, at the rate of 10,000 per day, in 1994, provides further evidence of non-Western
lives being unimportant, to the elite and their democratic system.
Colonization and the artificial drawing of borders
displaced and killed millions of poverty stricken people in India. The drawing of arbitrary borders, similar to neighborhood displacement within the developed world,
cut the lifelines of many groups and communities. European wars among themselves, the First and the Second World War similarly
destroyed millions and plundered the earth.
Wars continued (after World War 2), which the superpowers either initiated or fed with military aid or
observed without any attempt to halt them. Two million people died in Korea; 2 to 5 million in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos;
one million in Indonesia; perhaps 2 million in the Nigerian Civil War; one million in the Iran-Iraq war; and many more in
Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. It is estimated that in the forty years after 1945; there were 150 wars, with 20
million casualties. (Zinn 1990: 99)
This is the nature of racism in the modern world. Under the cloak
of nationalism it has killed and caused suffering to more people in the course of a few hundred years than any other single
factor in the entire history of humankind.
Let me clarify my use of the word West and Third World in this paper. When I say West, I mean the white- male elite,
(of European origin) who command decisions in the world and not the masses of the white world. Contrary to that, when Third World is mentioned, the masses are referred to and
not the elite that supposedly rule over these countries. The elite in most of these countries are a part of the "second-tier"
West, a legacy of colonialism, intermediaries that translate the Western cause in perpetuating Third World Poverty. They are
as far removed from their people, as the culture of the ghetto is from suburban America.
Colonialism signifies the network of coercive legal, political and
economic constrains imposed on racial ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples in settler societies. Key to internal colonialism
is a set of features that facilitate the exploitation of minorities as workers- segmented labor markets, separate wage scales
and state and employer-imposed discriminatory practices (Ed. Stasiulis et al 1995:12).
It operates within the communities just like neo-colonialism operates on a global scale.
"West" (also called the North or the core), traditionally signified European Christian nations. The term nowadays has expanded
to include the United States, the industrial states of Western Europe and Japan. Until 1990, the Soviet Union and its Eastern European colonies were excluded from the First World and became an intermediate division. The term Third World (also called the South or the Periphery) was invented to signify underprivileged countries,
mainly Asian and African, as against the first two (Fieldhouse 1999).
Wallerstein (1974) whose name is associated with
the World Systems Theory suggested that since the 16th century, with the rise of Capitalism, the world market was purposefully
transformed into a group of core countries (those who were former colonizers and who control capital and material wealth in
the world) and a set of peripheral countries (the rest of the world). Until Japan entered the group of core
nations recently, white male elite controlled the world almost exclusively in the postcolonial era, as they did in colonial
The peripheral countries in order to become part of the global economic system, which was deliberately designed
to serve the core nations, had to become dependant on them and their provision of developmental resources. The Core exploits
the Periphery for cheap resources, which are exchanged for either expensive military goods or overpriced capital. Political
instability and poverty is concentrated in the Periphery to keep this global order intact. This ensures that the periphery
remains in its subordinate position. In short, this was the reason for the birth of a few affluent nations, controlled by
white male elite, surrounded by a poverty-stricken "Third World", a world where almost everyone is non-white.
World Systems Theory can be extended to include segregation
and sub-urbanization within the United States as well. In the U.S from 1920 through the 1960s, sub-urbanization continued unabated (Weeks 2000:419),
America is now predominantly suburban and the suburbs are predominantly white. Suburbs are the
core where edge cities have led to the replacement of the central city's dominant position. The central city has become the
periphery where minorities, especially African Americans are concentrated. This has led to the development of the ghetto and
the birth of the underclass.
In the past few decades with the rise of the so-called Asian Tigers and the oil rich countries
of the Middle East a new group,
the semi-peripheral countries have entered the World System. These countries are linked to the core but have loose (mostly
labor) connections with the majority peripheral world. Similar to what Marx would call the petty bourgeoisie, they serve the
core in keeping the periphery poor, having aspirations of entering the "core" status by such service. A similar phenomenon
was seen in the development of the ghetto in the United States. Massey and Denton (1993) state:
rise of the ghetto, more than anything else, brought about the eclipse of the old elite of integrationist blacks who dominated
African American affairs in the northern cities before 1910the (profit) interest of these New Negroes economic and political
leaders were tied to the ghetto and its concerns (Massey & Denton 1993:40).
It is implicitly acknowledged and "politely" enforced by the West that white Christian nations are superior
to all others and are God-appointed leaders. The German sociologist Max Weber stated:
Behind all ethnic diversities, there is somehow naturally the notion of a chosen people the idea of a chosen
people derives its popularity from the fact that it can be claimed to an equal degree by any and every member of the mutually
despising groups (Ed. Vanhorne 1997:116)
"Third World" & the Underclass:
The ideology that led to the invention of the term "Third World" similarly led to the invention of the term
underclass in America; a nation otherwise advertised as classless (Hadjor 1993:129). The underclass described by the conservative
section of society signifies a group completely removed from mainstream America. Here alien and odd norms prevail, similar
to "Third World"
culture, which too many conservatives threatens what is described as "our way of life".
According to them,
the members of the "underclass" have a "foreign" or "alien" family structure (as described by The Moynihan Report) with a backward code of the streets, far removed from the
"normal" American "way of life". Their language is as "foreign" as Arabic or other "Third World" languages. It is seen as a section of society where chronic
poverty, homelessness, crime, drugs, and disease have reached epidemic proportions, similar to and sometimes worse than the
The people living in such a section of society are not termed aliens like people from the Third World but are completely alienated
from the outside world (like the "Third World" and its problems from the affluent West) and the outside world is completely
alienated from them.
If anyone from this part of society were to go to the outside world, to one of the big shopping
malls in the affluent white suburbs, polite racism and what can be called conspicuous supervision will keep him or her out
of public areas. Access is restricted and clearly marked by "borders" of tolerance, similar to borders that separate nations.
A few decades back, borders were physically marked by "red-lines" on bank maps. Today, those paper maps have been replaced
by mental mapping. Bank statistics, in poor neighborhoods, reveals that red lining is still alive and well.
profiling" ensures that these borders are respected and crossing them can lead to swift "justice" like countless Rodney King
cases, all through the nation. Similarly, for the "Third World", strict visa and immigration laws, to keep the "barbarians" from reaching "the gate", deportations,
and detaining people on secret-evidence and swift-justice against "rogue nations", ensures much the same. National security is used as an excuse to curb the de-jure civil rights of minorities
and to militarily solve economic problems that threaten the hegemony of the core. The capitalist elite, the owners of tobacco
and alcohol industries, collectively kill over 250,000 American and millions more around the world, yet the system doesn’t
declare war on them. The so called just wars all through the 20th century have killed 80-90 percent civilians.
The appearance and incidence of the geographic region inhabited by the underclass has become an ecological
pattern, being found in all major cities in the United States, in contrast to the affluent white suburbs. This is alarmingly similar to the incidence and appearance
of poverty in the Third World compared
to the affluent white settler societies like Australia etc. These areas once used to be prosperous business districts and
now are urban wastelands like the "Third World" after colonization, due to strategic population and job displacement.
is a section of society where informal laws bar its assimilation with the mainstream economy on equal terms. The most one
can expect is to get a low-paying service job with a similar entry and exit level, when the economy is good. If the person
is lucky, he/she will keep the job at the same level and not face unemployment, debt, homelessness and starvation. In the
case of the "Third World", the most that can be expected is the refinancing of debt owed to the West. With multiple digit inflation and unemployment,
even keeping at the same level becomes a challenge that is never met.
The area being talked about above is very close
to home in urban America. It is the American ghetto. A classic "Third-World" nation within the wealthiest country
in the world.
The Roots of Racism in Western Thought:
The Holy Bible in the White mans hands and his interpretations of it, have been the greatest ideological
weapon for enslaving millions of non-white human beings (Malcolm X, as quoted by Alex Haley (1973:241-242).
Christianity, to the European colonials, together with Biblical passages promoting the mass destruction
of foreign, heathen and strange elements, gave moral justification to the systematic genocide of millions of non-white people
throughout the colonial era. Many lands were claimed, before even setting foot on the shore, In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost (Carlyle 1918). The propagation
of Christianity became the cloak under which pillage and plunder was justified and exonerated. Later, especially by England, it was
used to pacify the colonized masses (give the coat and the cloak-and then some), by wholesale, metropolitan export of Christian
missionaries. The missionaries, themselves under the influence of this superiority complex, employed the tactics of showing
the natives their superior Christian religion, based on a superior man-god, Jesus.
Martin Bernal, writing about the
history of racism states:
Racism of the modern type only began in the 15th century, when Portuguese ships began to outflank Islamic
power by sailing around the coast of West Africa. They started kidnapping anyone they could find and taking them back to Portugal to sell as slaves. Their
justification for this was that they were prisoners of a just war, and any war fought by Christians against non-Christians
qualified as a just war. Quite soon however a new justification grew up Africans were claimed to be slavish by nature. The
new racists tried to enlist religious backing for their ideological requirements..(Ed. Vanhorne 1997:83)
Since the 1630s in America, small elite has been manufacturing and reinforcing ideas of God-given, innate, white racial superiority.
This power-elite ensured the socialization of these ideas via the clergy, the intellectuals, the politicians, the academics
and the missionaries, all competing for the souls of humanity. Racism thus became a religious institution in America (Griffin
The forced institutionalization of racism through Christianity by the white elite shows up in the distortion
of facts for the purpose of indoctrination and the subsequent labels that survive to the present day. Labeling Theory suggests that certain groups in society acquire the power to assign
labels to groups. Those labels are then adopted and they might become self-fulfilling prophecies of behavior (Schaefer 1998:199).
As a result, derogatory labels invented by the West and the white-elite survive to this day and are used by members belonging
to the oppressed group, almost unconsciously. In America, the Indians who were slaughtered by the millions, got labeled as savages while the settlers
became the Founding Fathers and claimants to being the most civilized nation on earth.
Ex-slave, Fredrick Douglas,
on a Fourth of July speech to a white audience in 1852 stated about the "democracy” of the elite:
rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.
The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not
mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn (Zinn 1990:232).
Religion and politics both act as a "tool" of the elite. The constitution itself becomes meaningless to
them when it interferes with their economic objectives. Cloaked under the rhetoric of "national security", it is painlessly
cast aside. Fear mongering among the masses and the "illusions of fear" spread by their media; act as a catalyst in such efforts
to "hijack" the constitution itself.
Once the government, ignoring democratic procedures, gets the nation into war, it creates an atmosphere
in which criticism of the war may be punished by imprisonment- as happened in the Civil War and in both world wars. Thus democracy
gets a double defeat in matters of war and peace (Zinn 1990:124)
Max Weber in his writings on power and opposition implies that it would be very difficult (and expensive)
for a group to embark on a continuous struggle to control others. If however the position of that group can be institutionalized,
opposition becomes muted. Religion served as a vehicle to institutionalize racism. Political scientist, Clarence Stone calls
this type of power to institutionalize a groups advantages, ecological power (Abrahamson 1996:27).
And thus are appointed, in every city, elite ones of its malicious people, and they plot therein. (Koran
Vilfredo Pareto outlined "elite theory" (centuries after the Koran), inspired by whom, sociologist C.
Wright Mills, did his pioneering work, The Power Elite (1956). Mills states:
The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments
of ordinary men and women: they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences (Mills 1956:3-4).
The elite targets their "persuasion" resources specifically towards existing influential institutions,
for greater impact. Where religion is influential, the elite use it to legitimize their benefits, sometimes politically institutionalizing
a distorted version of it. The culture of the elite and the structures created by such a culture are projected upon society
in a contradictory manner in order to legitimize the norms that help maintain the status quo (Castells 1987:184). Poverty,
prostitution and delinquency are structurally perpetuated and implicitly encouraged to display to the masses the consequences
of an alternative culture. Control of the media and superior access to the masses, by such control of information technology,
ensures socialization of this created culture. Alienation is unavoidable in such a system.
By strategically displacing
jobs and people and concentrating poverty in the inner cities, the elite nourish a street code, a code that forces people
on a social level to adopt it, if they are to survive. Elijah Anderson in his book, Code of
the Street (1999), states:
It is nothing less than the cultural manifestation of persistent urban poverty. It is a mean adaptation
to blocked opportunities and profound lack, a grotesque form of coping by young people constantly undermined by a social system
that historically has limited their social options and until recently rejected their claims to full citizenship (Anderson
who refuse this subjugation through this structural alienation are offered chemical alienation through alcohol and drugs (8),
which chemically produce temporary bouts of anomie, i.e. normlessness and alienation (9). As a result of this "created" culture,
a real world much removed from the actual real world is projected. A world that traps people in a cycle, the so-called "culture
of poverty", from which escape becomes almost impossible:
Their example is as a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one supposes it to be water till he comes unto it
and finds nothing or as shadows upon a sea obscure: there covers them a wave, above which is a wave, above which are clouds;
layer upon layer of darkness. When they hold out their hands, they almost cannot see them (Koran 24:39-40)
is the reality of existence for a majority of humankind. What we consider real and natural are at times artificially engineered
and socially constructed illusions, perpetuated by institutions designed by the elite to serve their economic and political
Alexander (1996) notes:
most important decisions in the world are made by relatively few people -the top echelons of a dozen ruling parties, a few
hundred massive corporations and finance companies. They in turn are served-and influenced-by senior civil servants, policy
analysts, editors and a few thousand lobbyists, pressure groups and think tanks less than 0.03% of the people in the West.
Each country has a different power structure but their elites have more in common with each other than with their fellow citizens
This "dehumanizing" of African Americans began with European voyagers traveling to Africa in the 16th century. They observed, what according
to them seemed like pathologies of Africans. Richard Hakluyt, an early English historian wrote:
They (the Africans) are black, beastly, mysterious, heathenish, libidinous, evil lazy and smelly people
who are strangely different to our superior white race (as quoted by Griffin 1999:14).
How the same images are perpetuated even today, is witnessed in so called "government studies". President
Nixon’s appointed chair of the Model Cities Program, commented on the lower class city dwellers, who were predominantly
The lower class individual lives from moment to moment, impulse governs his behavior. He is therefore
radically improvident. Whatever he can’t use immediately, he considers valueless. His bodily needs (especially for sex)
and his taste for action take precedence over everything else. He works only as he must to stay alive. (as quoted by Griffin 1999:74)
is as if Hakluyt had been resurrected. If we replace the word, lower-class with African, the two descriptions are almost identical.
A clarification needs to be made at this point about the family structure of African Americans. It is true that single parent,
female-headed households are a big problem in African American communities, but the growth rate of new cases is lower for
African Americans than for white communities (Smith 1998). Whereas the break-up of the family, in the case of African Americans
was a direct legacy of slavery, the breakup of the white family may be attributed to a careless attitude towards sex and marriage,
the "popular" culture of the "Hollywood" elite. Thus the morality issue is forcibly imposed on African Americans instead of on the white moral majority.
The red stain of bastardy, which two centuries of systematic legal defilement of Negro women had stamped
upon his race, meant not only the loss of ancient African chastity, but also the hereditary weight of a mass of corruption
from white adulterers, threatening almost the obliteration of the Negro home (W.E.B Dubois 1903: 50).
Ronald Reagan, one of the most popular presidents in recent history, is well known for his ideological
battle with the African American minority. Blaming the poorest, most powerless sections of society for its greatest evils,
he drastically cut government funding in public services in the inner cities, leading to a sharp jump in homelessness, inner
city riots and brutal police crackdowns. In the Obi wan style, Regan, based on his white Christian superiority ideology went
so far as calling the Soviet Union,
an evil empire, and used the medieval term Barbarians to describe Arabs and Muslims (Heinman 1998:145).
During the Regan administration of the 1980s, the countries rich became richer and the poor, poorer. Regans
attorney general, Edwin Meese, said cheerfully he was not aware of people being hungry. Around the time he was saying this
a Physicians Task Force reported that 15 million American families had incomes of under $10,000 a year, receiving no food
stamps and were chronically unable to get adequate food. A report by the Harvard School of Public Health in 1984 said that its researchers found that over 30,000 people had to beg for food
to avoid starvation (Zinn 1990:149)
In 1854 Josiah Nott published a book, in which he claimed, based on his pseudo-science, that Caucasians
(White) races have the largest brains and the most powerful intellect (Griffin 1999:51). Following in the same tradition,
Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein authored, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Struggle in American Life (1994), a
few years back. In the book they prove that African Americans are innately (biologically) less-intelligent than White Americans
and as such are destined to a life of crime and poverty, the underclass. They should therefore be controlled by a police state
while the rest of America goes about its business (Herrnstein & Murray 1994).
Apart from the fact that
Herrnstein and Murray don’t have much knowledge of biology, their ideologically manipulated data, comparing IQ to socioeconomic
status, has been widely criticized. The cultural bias in the IQ test itself is conveniently ignored (ed Fraser 1994), as are
the over-time increasing group IQ scores internationally and even locally among immigrant groups. It is beyond the scope of
this paper to go into details with the implicit racism of Murray and Herrnstein, however it is worth mentioning that if such
be the acts of intelligent beings, like the whole sale genocide of communities, the less intelligent animal kingdom shows
a lot more prudence in its existence. Controlling for factors like human interference, the animal kingdom might even outlive
By literally squeezing the life out of the earth, and leading it towards a premature death,
Capitalism has shown a tendency of not being able to sacrifice the present for the future. The conservative right (the torchbearers
of Capitalism, the likes of Murray & Herrnstein) however, blames the underclass for a similar trait (not sacrificing the
present for the future). This makes us wonder who the real source of such a culture of poverty is. A source similar to the
"code of the street" and the "culture of terror”. The imperial elite, those that want to teach the "barbarians" responsibility
and decency have acted in the most irresponsible and immoral way imaginable, even after using the Atomic Bomb (being the only
ones to do so in human history) and seeing its effects:
threatened the Soviets with the atom bomb when they were slow in withdrawing their troops from Iran immediately after World
War II. In 1950, he publicly warned that nuclear weapons were under consideration in the Korean War. In 1953 during the same
war, Eisenhower made secret nuclear threats against China and North Korea. In 1954 Secretary of State Dulles actually offered tactical nuclear weapons to the French during their
final losing battle in Vietnam, but Paris declined the offer. Johnson considered nuclear weapons in Vietnam in 1968. Nixon contemplated
using Nuclear Bombs against North Vietnam on a number of occasions from 1969 to 1972. In 1973, he also thought of using them when it was feared
that the Soviets might intervene in the Middle East. On two other occasions, anticipating aggression by Moscow against the Chinese during a border dispute and
possible Soviet intervention in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Nixon toyed with the nuclear option Not yet mentioned were the
two occasions when President Kennedy contemplated using Nuclear Weapons: during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the Cuban Missile
Crisis of 1962. (Parenti 1989: 174-175)
Colonization: The Third World developed the West:
Analysis of the poor in the United States reveals the dynamic nature of the group. People keep entering and exiting from the ranks of the poor.
The one thing that remains consistent is that the majority of the persistently poor in the US are the African
Americans. Sociologist Herbert Gans, theorized that poverty is deliberately perpetuated in society among certain segments
because the poverty of those segments benefits the elite (Gans 1995:91-102). Here on a local and global scale is empirical
evidence for Gans theory:
The American Ghetto:
In the late 1940s and 1950s due to economic prosperity, men and women started marrying early and home construction in the
suburbs reached an all time high. Middle class white Americans deserted the inner cities in great numbers, as a result by
1970 suburban residents were a majority in metropolitan USA, while before they had been one third of all metropolitan residents. American cities were
being rapidly transformed, but one feature of them remained the same and that was the black ghetto. White suburbanization
and black in-migration to the north led to an increase in the size of the ghetto. Neighborhood racial turnover was carried
out in an almost automatic manner based on what sociologists referred to as the threshold of white tolerance.
black families would enter the neighborhood and white residents would start abandoning and selling their homes and moving
out. Realtors played a major role in lowering this threshold and made big money in the process. This was achieved by what
is called block busting. Agents would go door to door warning white residents of the invasion by black folk. They would purchase
the home for a low price, divide it up into smaller units and sell at a premium to black settlers.
As a result of
this, spatial isolation segregation indices in the northern cities peaked in the 1950s. In the 1970s the average segregation
index for African Americans was 70. This means that 70 percent of blacks would have to move out of a neighborhood in order
to achieve an even white black population configuration. In most big cities the number was close to 90 percent. The highest
segregation index ever recorded for immigrant groups in the US was 56 for Milwaukee Italians in 1910, by 1970 the lowest index of segregation for African Americans
was 56 in San Francisco (Massey & Denton 1996).
The US federal government was directly involved in the segregation process. To increase employment
in the construction industry and increase home ownership, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was started. The HOLC initiated
the process of redlining. Those who resided in the redlined areas almost never got loans and could never move out. How the
World Bank and the IMF divides up countries of the world into zones and ratings is alarmingly similar to HOLC practices.
giving a twenty five to thirty five year loan with a 90% guaranteed collateral payment, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration)
and VA (Veteran's Administration), during the 1950s and 1960s, encouraged selective out-migration of middle class whites to
the suburbs, leading to a decline in the economic base of the city and the expansion of the ghetto. In giving out loans, the
FHA determined minimum eligibility requirements for lot size, which effectively eliminated inner city homes, thus forcing
those who had got the loan to move out.
Black migration to U.S northern cities during the early 1900s related inversely
with the ebb and flow of European migration. When the economy in Europe was booming, European immigrants would move back home creating a shortage of labor in the North. This
would boost black migration to the North. In bad times, the inverse would happen. Blacks were also not allowed membership
in white unions and as such were used as strike breakers by employers. As the numbers of black migrants increased in northern
cities, institutionalized methods were adopted to check the expansion of black settlements. These methods, like red lining,
zoning, legalized violence, private contracts etc, made sure that African American populations got concentrated in ghettos
that were homogeneous, and completely isolated from the main economy (Massey & Denton 1996:31-35).
Think of what the Spaniards did in South America; the Portuguese in Angola and Mozambique; the British
in China, India and Ireland; the Belgians in the Congo; the Germans in Southwest Africa; the Dutch in the East Indies; the
French in North Africa and Indochina, the Japanese in Korea, Manchuria and China; the Italians in Ethiopia, Somalia and Libya;
and the Americans in the Philippines, Central America, Indochina and in North America itself (against Native American Indians,
Mexicans and African Americans). Actually it is difficult for most of us to think about it, since imperialisms terrible history
is not regularly taught in our schools nor treated by our media. (Parenti 1989:38)
The similarity between the creation of the ghetto in America and the creation of the Third World cannot be overlooked:
Colonial powers established trading systems in the colonies to extract much needed resources for the West. These trading systems
were controlled by the colonial powers in the case of the Third World. Higher-level employment was not offered to locals and so there was little transfer of skill (Fieldhouse
1999). This led to skill mismatch; similar to what William Julius Wilson discusses as one of the reasons for the development
of the underclass.(Wilson 1996)
2. The primary commodities, and raw materials towards which the Third-World
economy was forcibly geared were very vulnerable to price fluctuations. This led to the development of a cyclical pattern
of poverty, similar to the ebb and flow leading to black employment in the northern United States, discussed above. The
West even today, allows migrant workers when there is a demand at home and expels them when the economy goes down (Alexander
For 162 years, the Naturalization Law, while allowing various European or "white" ethnic groups to enter
the United States and acquire citizenship, specifically denied citizenship to other groups on a racial basis (Takaki 1982).
3. The local market was forcibly opened to imports of colonial core-country products to boost the colonial
powers economy thereby destroying the infant industries of the Third World. This is alarmingly similar to the relocation of inner city jobs in America to its
white suburbia and the creation of empowerment zones in the inner cities. The zones bring in outside firms that put the local
vendors out of business. The big outside firms at best provide a handful of minimum wage jobs to the community, but drain
the billions in purchasing power already possessed by it (Chinyelu 1999).
4. Marketing boards controlled by the colonial
powers were set up in these countries and they purchased local produce at prices well below the market, added their markups
and sold them to the colonial core power. The huge profits they earned were sent to their homes in these core countries and
not invested in the Third World (Fieldhouse 1999). This is very similar to the lack of investment in inner-city infrastructure and employment base
building. In most cases, the investment goes to boost tourism and to develop the downtown area, with no money being spent
on providing much needed housing and jobs.
5. Currencies of the Third
World were devalued by force, thus increasing land depletion (desertification)
to meet the increased quantity demanded by the artificially lowered price. The extra income and profits were either spent
on giving big salaries to the European managers of these colonies, or the European owned transportation networks, or the European
owned marketing boards. Eventually, all this capital was drained from the Third
World as these Europeans sent the money back home.
depletion is not only perpetuated in the Third World by the West, minorities face similar environments within the rich industrial countries
as well. The US General Accounting Office study of hazardous waste landfill siting found a strong relationship between the
siting of offsite hazardous-waste landfills and race and socioeconomic status of the communities in which they were located
6. Just like the ghetto, the Third World economy was completely detached from the one section of its developed economy that serviced
exports to the European colonial powers.
The Third World led to the development of the West via (Alexander 1996):
1. Under priced raw materials, and the vast capital flows from the Third World sustained Europe during the 19th century and
led directly to its modern industrial development.
2. Mineral wealth and Gold extracted from the Third World laid the foundation of
the capital markets in the West.
3. Over 20 million unpaid Africans forcibly enslaved, added to the surplus that drove
the industrial engine.
4. Millions of indentured servants provided labor at wages well below subsistence.
Markets, like today, were specifically geared to serve optimally the markets of the core colonial powers. The surplus was
invested in the core country and not in the Third World.
6. Destroying local industry, forcing specialization in products, the prices of
which could be easily manipulated to serve the Western market, strengthened markets fed by Third World capital. There was
thus complete monopsony (one buyer who can set the price at which he buys) in the purchase from the Third World of its resources and complete monopoly (one
seller who can set the price at which he sells) in the sale of colonial products to the Third World. (FieldHouse 1999 & Alexander 1996)
the example of Nigeria. Nigeria produces one of the highest-grade oils in the world. This oil, bonnie light crude oil has great demand
in the aviation and space programs in the developed world. However, the country including the people that live around the
oil fields are plagued with unemployment, poverty and lack of health care (Chinyelu 1999).
An analysis of census data
in the United States (US Bureau of Census) shows that the structure of the African American population (demographic profile)
in the United States resembles populations of the Third-World more closely than the general population of the society in
which they reside, comparatively. The African American population is younger than the white population having a median age
of 30 years compared to 38.1 for whites. Similarly "Third World" populations are consistently younger than the developed world because of higher fertility and mortality.
Only 8% of African Americans are over 65 compared to 14% of whites. Life expectancy for black males is 67, while that of white
males is 74. Similarly life expectancy in the developed world is consistently higher (in some cases by over 30 years) than
in the "Third World".
Infant mortality for white Americans is 6.0 per 1000 live births while that for blacks is 14.3 per 1000.
The Median family income for white Americans is $46737 while that for black Americans is $29404. The median personal incomes
are $14892 for black males (15 and over), and $24122 for white males (15 and over).
In the 1940s, blacks made up less
than 10% of US population, yet 60% of prisoners executed were black. Unemployment rate for blacks (16
and above) is 11.3% while national unemployment rates have been around 3% nationally in the past few years. Of all people
25 to 34 years of age 14.6% of blacks compared to 29% of whites had a bachelor degree.
Private schools in the United States
are almost entirely white. Fifty percent of all private schools had black enrollment of less than 9%, even though almost half
of the private school students came from central cities, where minorities arent even minorities (Ed. Wright. 2001).
victims are disproportionately black males. Fifty black males per 100,000 population were murdered in 1995 compared to 7 white
males. Black males make less money than white males in similar occupational positions, which require similar levels of skill.
The median income of white males with a bachelors degree is $43,335, that of a black male with a similar degree $33,217. 15%
of black males in the black labor force are managers compared to 30% of whites in the white labor force. However, 32% of blacks
are laborers compared to only 18% of whites.
Environmental racism is witnessed clearly in the southern United States.
Out of the 27 landfills operating in 48 states, a third are located in five southern states. The total capacity of these represents
60% of the nations total landfill capacity. Blacks make up 20% of the souths population, yet zip codes of minority areas represent
over 63% of the total landfill capacity of the south (Bullard 2000:33).
Economic exploitation and detachment from the
mainstream society, leads to a profile of African Americans that closely resembles the profile of "Third World" countries.
Distribution of diseases also reveals the colonial status of African Americans in the US. African Americans and Hispanics
make up around 15% of the US population yet they make up 49% and 20% of all AIDS cases reported among those 13 to 19
(www.icare.to/caucus/health). Black women are three times more likely to die while pregnant and four times more likely to
die at childbirth than white women are. The mortality stratum for all Africans (Child/adult) is either high or very high while
that for all Europeans is low to very low. Only the Russian republics and some countries in the former Eastern European Soviet
block have high adult mortality.
The American Indian death rate from diabetes is 380% higher than that for the White
population (27.8 per 100, 000 compared to 7.3 for Whites). Whites are three times more likely to undergo bypass surgery than
non-Whites, improving their probability of survival. Similarly poor urban Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have an average
of 24 physicians per 100, 000 people compared to 69 per 100,000 in poor White communities.
The introduction of disease
by white settlers that devastated the indigenous population is well documented in history. From the 1770s, venereal disease
was introduced among the Maori in New Zealand. In the 1790s influenza and TB entered the population. This devastated the indigenous community, which
had no resistance against such foreign diseases. Beginning in 1769 when Captain James Cook entered New Zealand, the
Maori outnumbered the settlers 40 to 1. By the 1870s the demographic picture of the Maori changed. The settlers outnumbered
them 6 to 1. In the 1880s only 30% of Maori girls reached their 30th birthday (Ed.Stasiulis 1995:42).
Stasius and Japphan
write about disease and the American Indians:
More devastating to the American Indians than changes wrought by trade were the scourges of disease against
which Native peoples had little or no immunity (small pox, influenza, bubonic plague, yellow fever and so on), and the intrusion
of Christian missionaries. It is now estimated that 20 waves of pestilence killed as much as 90% of the original population..(Ed
people within the so-called white 'settler' societies like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States have suffered fates similar or worse than the creation of the "Third World". For example modern estimates place the pre-Columbus population
of North America at 10 to 12 million.
By the 1890s, it was reduced to about 300, 000. In Australia, Native/Aboriginal children of mixed-race were forcibly removed from their parent's home
and given to adoptive white families. They thus grew up without knowledge of their roots, being termed the "Stolen Generation".
the case of Canada. According to some estimates, the unemployment rates for the Native American population in Canada has never
gone below 80%, and most of those working are working at projects funded by the government (Powless 1985). In 1970, 24% of
Indian males made more than $6000 per year compared to 52% of Canadian males. The earnings of the average Canadian are 29%
higher than those of the Native Indian man.
The proportion of Canadian men in professional and technical positions
is nearly twice as high as those in the Indian labor force (18% compared to 8.6%). The average Canadian man earns 35% more
than the average native man in the same occupation with the same skill level. In 1969, 80% of the Indian families were below
the poverty line. The death rate for Indian people is six times that national average and the infant mortality rates are more
than twice the national average.
The life expectancy at one year of age is 63.4 years for Indians and 72.8 for the
general population. Suicide among Indians is six times the national average and violent deaths are four to five times the
national average. In 1974, 54% of the Indian population was using social assistance compared to 6% of the non-Indian population.
The juvenile delinquency rate for natives is three times that of the national average. In 1979 Native people represented 1.3
percent of the Canadian population yet they were 9.3% of the penitentiary population.
Australia is another example. Just
as the patterned appearance of the ghetto in the inner cities of the United States, the appearance of affluence in close
proximity to poverty is found in this 'white' settler state. The life expectancy of indigenous people in Australia is 20
years less than that of the non-indigenous population. Similarly indigenous people account for 31% of all Australians who
live in abandoned dwellings or are "homeless" by all real measures. The unemployment rate for the indigenous population is
twice that for the non-indigenous white population.
Compare the above data to an almost similar pattern of disparity
(table 1) found among the white settler states and the former colonized non-white world. Global poverty is the rule and not
the exception. Wages in third-world countries are 80 to 90 percent lower than in the West. Fifteen percent of the world's
population (the rich countries of the West) controls over 80 percent of total world income (Chossudovsky 1997:35). Given that
roughly 30 percent of the population in those countries controls over 50 percent of their resources, an even smaller group
controls the world (Blau 1999:5). Over 85 percent of the world population gets less than 20 percent of total world income.
The poorest 20% of the worlds population get around 1% of world income (Macionis 1996:189).
The numbers however, are
only partially telling. They understate and mask true picture of global poverty, as their provision is based on a relative
assessment of poverty. For example, according to the World Bank, the upper-poverty line is defined as a per capita income
of $1 a day. Those that earn more than $1 a day are defined as non-poor by such a definition. Thus poverty is grossly understated.
Compare this to the U.S with a per-capita income of over $20000 a year; one in five is defined as poor (Chossudovsky 1997:43).
to Marxian analysis of stratification, economic oppression of minorities in capitalism is necessary. Racism thus becomes a
screen, which the capitalist elite uses in order to pit groups of people against each other. If people can be distinguished
easily and social consciousness can be molded by use of religion etc, to convince a group of people that 'others' are inferior
to them, the emphasis of conflict shifts from its source, the capitalists, to the masses.
Per 1000 live births
PPP PER CAPITAL
IN US $
PER SQ MILE
2001 TO 2050
Bureau of Census 1995
& Population Reference Bureau, 2001 Washington, DC
of the minorities serves a dual purpose, being profitable in addition to being a screen. Minorities can be hired for low wages
to do the work no one else wants to do. This not only reinforces the stereotype that they are 'inferior' and easily exploited,
it provides so called 'empirical' evidence in favor of the 'ideology of superiority' based upon the theoretical construct
of Social Darwinism. The real cause, the institutional arrangement of the elite, is thus masked. It is not only the interpretation
of religion but also the interpretation of science, pseudo-science, that becomes the 'opium of the masses'. As a result stereotypes
emerge that are perpetuated by incomplete information and casual/subjective empirical observation that ignores the context
of the situation. Stereotypes thus become a cost-effective "weapon of oppression", employed by the elite for maximum profitability
and resource allocation.
Evaluating a list of eight Black stereotypes including "prefer to accept welfare" and have
"less native intelligence", 75% of the Whites agreed with one or more and over 50% agreed with two or more, in a recent national
survey of the Anti-Defamation League. About 30% or more agreed with four or more. In a 1994 National Opinion Research Center
(NORC) survey about the work orientation of Blacks, only 16% listed Blacks as hardworking. Whereas only 7% placed Whites on
the "lazy" end of the spectrum, a little under 50% placed Blacks in that category (Feagan-White Racism).
emotions are an effective way to ensure de facto, that old laws of separation are respected even when they have been made
illegal on the books. In a 1990, two-thirds of the Whites said that they would have a negative reaction if a close relative
married a Black person. Only 5% said that they would have a positive reaction.