Friday, January 7, 2011

What makes a Country a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd World?

I entered into a debate with my Mother over whether Brazil is a 2nd or 3rd world country. And since I am a true pain in the ass daughter, I had to go look it up to prove her wrong.

And why did I think I was right when I said Brazil is considered 3rd world?  Because I had no idea what a second world country is.  They all seem to be either 1st or 3rd anyway.

So who the hell are the 2nd world countries? I was thinking the ones the first world countries exclude from their bingo parties.  Funny enough, I wasn't far from the truth.

Basically, The US made a club after WWII.  Their besties, the developed, capitalist, and industrialized counties made up the 1st world.  Let's not forget that they all hated the same people and wore the same outfits on Fridays.

The 2nd world was made up by their sworn Frienemies (aka. Friend Enemies, Hello watch Sex in the City).  Basically, former communist-socialist, industrial states.  The Eastern bloc and their friend China.  Of course we are all friends with China now as we love to get discounted electronics.

And lastly but certainly NOT least, the 3rd world.  Well, these guys just wouldn't pick sides for starters. That and they didn't have sufficient numbers of Targets or Walmart to be considered Capitalist enough.  3rd World countries are non-aligned or not moving at all with either capitalism and NATO or Communism and the Soviet Union.

Obviously, 3rd world is now used in conjunction with countries of poverty, high birthrates, and dependence on other countries.

As for the debate with my Mother.  I'm right. Were we really ever in doubt.  Brazil, although it has the 8th strongest economy or something like that, is considered a 3rd world country. Damn gaps in wealth distribution will get you every time!

Speaking of gaps in wealth distribution. I stumbled upon this article claiming to have 10 signs that the US is turning into a 3rd world country.  I think I may be buying what they are selling. I don't know why but I do love a good drama story.  10 Signs Us is Becoming Third World

Anyway, this is a old classification style that they have adapted to be 4 worlds and they look at everything down to how often people get laid. Ok, maybe it's not that in-depth but they seem to be trying. Personally, it still seems like a popularity contest to me.  I vote that Brazil shouldn't worry about the popularity game and continue to stay friends with everyone.

Tell the rest of the world to shove their classifications where the sun doesn't shine. You are Brazil. And the sun is always shining down there!


  1. Loved your blog!
    Loved your post!

  2. Rachel,

    After the fall of the Soviet Union and the comunist block, the experts changed the classification from 1st, 2nd and 3rd World to developed nations and developing nations.
    Brazil is often called a developing nation.
    However, many parts of Brazil are WAY more developed that some parts of the US. I also have been to Europe recently and I will tell you many parts of Brazil are ahead of the UK and other European countries in many aspects of life.
    But yes, you are right, the still lingering poverty in parts of Brazil pull the country as a whole down in the classification when compared with other nations.
    It's all relative, think Denmark and New Zealand, they are developed all right, but they are smaller then Metro Rio or Sao Paulo...I am not taking their merits away from being a developed nation, just used it as an example.
    To me this is less and less relevant because changes are happening too fast for most people to be updated.
    I will give Brazil another 20 years or so to be officially respected and classified as a developed nation...if things keep going as well as they have been...
    Sadly enough, I do see parts of the US (Detroit, Miami, New Orleans) going down the drain quickly...if you consider these areas crime rates and levels of poverty they would probably be considered developing regions rather than a part of the wealthy developed USA.
    We have to pray that greedy Republicans stay away from power long enough for the country to get back on track...


  3. Hi Rachel ! Brazil is already 1st world :)

    Following your description there is no doubt for me.


  4. I have a simple standard for classifying countries/regions:

    1st World: You can flush the TP in the toilets without any problems.

    2nd World: They have TP but you are not supposed to flush it down the toilets.

    3rd World: No TP and...uhhh...what is a toilet? (I'm talking about the porcelain god - not outhouses or their kin)

    Simple, elegant and summarizes the economic and technical level of the country/region.

  5. I always love the juxtiposition between Rachel's rant and Ray's reasoned response.

    And in this case I think Greg sums it up

    Brazil is definitely lapping the 3rd world folk and I don't think it will need Ray's 20 years to burst onto the so-called first world stage.

    Make your investments, people -- there are good times ahead.

  6. I like to think of Ray as the virtual Yin to my virtual Yang. Why does that sound so dirty?

  7. Rachel, man you tease the sociology geek right out of me. "Development" is a relative term, for real-- most professors have their own definition. Some maybe for example might consider "third world" countries those that were colonized by the west, or global north vs. global south, it could be your definition and it goes on and on.

    We created the names and the situation (we=rich whites). Maybe Brazil, India and Iraq wouldn't be so fucked up if "first world countries didn't rape and steal the wealth". My point is, it's a power status to put a name like that on countries. Control of language. Brazil wouldn't even be on the table, if the politicians were different and the class distribution wasn't the it is.

    The U.S. is totally going into a major class distribution situation (top 1% have all more resources than the rest of 80%) , but will never be called third world. Third world or developing, it's all fucked language. Occident vs. Orient.

    But really in all countries there are places where the wealthy live and places were the poor lived. Those areas get developed based a pond the wealth. There shit holes and penthouses all over the world--then some in between.

    Sweet topic Rachel!

    New Orleans, personally I think New Orleans is more dangerous than Campinas (which is the only large Brazilian city I know well). It is worse on wait times, customer service and healthcare services than the Campinas area. The people are meanest people I have ever met.

  8. Excellent topic, Rachel!

    I think Greg sums it up nicely LOL!!

  9. Ok, I get, I get, so according to Greg, you can now flush your toilet paper in problem but people in the UK and other declining countries will have to start using the little toilet paper basket next to their toilets...because they will start to clog...!
    All right, don't necessarily agree but understand your line of :)


  10. I like the Activist post link that you added.
    I personally would rather live in Brazil than the US at this point in time. I dont' care about the kind of toilet I have to use-- as long as I'm not eating chemical crap and being lied to by the leadership I'll be okay.

  11. Amen, Fiona!!!
    You certainly have your priorities in the right place...