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The Institute for a Just Socio-Economic Order

Constructing A Global Ghetto

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All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2000, Muhammed A. Asadi


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 First:

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)

In 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

Internal 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.

The "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
entered the group of core nations recently, white male elite controlled the world almost exclusively in the postcolonial era, as they did in colonial times.

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.

The 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:


The 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 "Third World
"(4). 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.

"Racial 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.

The underclass 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
. 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 1999:125).

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:

The 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 6:123)

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 1999:146-147).

Those 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)

This 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 goals.

Alexander (1996) notes:

The 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 (1996:209).

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 black:

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)

It 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 intelligent humanity.

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:

Truman 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.

A few 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).

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.

By 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:

1. 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

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 1996).

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.

Environmental 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 (Bullard 2000:32)

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.

5. 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)

Consider 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).

The Data:

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
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).

Murder 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
population yet they make up 49% and 20% of all AIDS cases reported among those 13 to 19 ( 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 Stasiulis 1995:102)

Indigenous 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".

Consider 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).

According 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









2001 TO 2050




Western Africa









Eastern Africa









Middle Africa









South Asia









United States























Bureau of Census 1995 & Population Reference Bureau, 2001 Washington, DC


Oppression 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).

Racialized 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.