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+1 vote
what is a better way to describe these areas of the world, that is indicative of the state of things as it relates to anarchy/pol/econ/other relevant areas other than, western civ (historically inaccurate and includes parts of the middle east, north Africa, and south America), the west (geographically inac.), modern, developed, or first world. one that indicates the difference in ways of life or culture ideally.

heres where it gets more fun. I feel that modern is misleading because it is saying this is how things were, and this is how things are now. the reason I feel this is important (this is my least fav word to use for this and heres why), is because, it causes us to interpret differences in ways of life spread across time, without consideration for location or economic class. the phrase means this is how things were and now this is how they are. but it is simply inaccurate and I would like a word that says, this is how things are where you grew up, but not in the vast majority of the world. (

my issue with 1st and 3rd world is standard, it is vague, same for developed. many people would define developed differently based on their own biases. it also seems ethnocentric in that it assumes that the state of things in the north quartosphere (did I just do it?) is or should be the goal of development. the term developed countries implies that there is a final destination, and supports the myth that humans are constantly advancing in a positive way as time passes.
by (890 points)

Are you asking about geopolitical & political terms used to describe areas on the globe (or flat earth if you believe the earth is flat)? I'm not sure on what you're asking. :/

The geopolitical regions doesn't necessarily need to match up with the physical location of any given area. Although, a long time ago, regions were described based on their location in euroasia. The geopolitical regions now are distinguished based on the economy, politics, ideologies, institutions, religion...etc, and physical location to a lesser extent. So, like the "west," like NA, Europe, Australia are areas that were influenced by christianity and the enlightment and other stuff.

Iirc the terms 1st & 3rd world stuff comes from the Cold War era. The 1st world were the US and gang and the 3rd world was the Soviet Union and areas aligned with them. Now 1st world and "developed/modern" countries are countries/regions that are liberal democracy, economically "stable," highly industrialized, capitalist, high standard of living, technologically advanced and a bunch of other things. The 2nd world kind of has those things. The 3rd world doesn't meet up to those standards per se.  

A lot of those terms were initially used to simplify stuff, but like a lot of terms, they're vague if you're not clear on what's meant by folk using said terms. Those terms you mentioned are Ameri/euro-centric terminology.

2nd world is soviets and friends, third is "everyone else".

I think its ridiculous to think the earth is flat and such conspiracies would, to me, be embarrassing to have connected with anarchism. I watched a video on it and they looked like illuminati theorists and fundamentalist Christians.

Ya I understand that the west excludes some south American countries despite the fact that they are indeed in the western hemisphere (if you orient it that way). that term I have less of an issue with, and actually saying the western world in place of the modern world would probably somewhat accomplish what I'm getting at.

the main point and reason I wrote this post is because, the phrase modern world, ignores, or even masks the fact that what really dictates how someone lives isn't the time period, but where and what class the person is born in. I feel like 1st and 3rd world is outdated and vague and values 1st over third, and developed is obviously problematic for an anarchist.

so ya I understand the terms, the question is for a new term that is not misleading like modern is in the way I explained.

perhaps this is a trivial pursuit as the purpose would be to simplify and boil down what I just said, which would likely cause a lack of clarity just as the others.
i dislike even using the word "world" to describe anything (third world, first world, making "the world" a better place, "the world" we live in, modern world, old world, other world, etc.)...

i try to describe what i see, feel, experience, observe, sense, contrast to abstract, blanket terms that attempt to distill millions of interactions, relationships, physical terrain, into a single word or phrase. sure, i can make generalities, but if i can't find a way to take that generality into my own life to make it more interesting, or that alters the way i relate and experience life in a way i desire, i tend to want to move away from those types of labels.

in other words, i can't think of any way to describe a vast concept (or large place, or millions of people) without creating either a vague image on one hand, or a stagnant and generic image on the other....and i haven't found it very useful or enjoyable when i have used language in that way.

even the idea of this is how things "are", versus the way things "were" doesn't appeal to "things" change constantly...

and when can one say that something has changed from "is" to "were"? if one can draw some sort of definitive timeline delineating when "things changed"...time, another abstract concept which i find doesn't usually serve me in ways i like, unless i use it for play...not that i don't get caught up in that way of looking at life (i find it hard to escape when talking with people), but i keep trying like hell not to, like in my comments here.. :)

i also would hesitate to describe life on other continents of this earth because i've never lived on any of them for even a any perceptions i have come from television and media reports, other than a few people i've talked with who live elsewhere, or a few people i know who have spent a few weeks in other places than where i live.
despite the fact that we haven't personally lived in those parts of the world doesn't change the fact that we know certain things for a fact. I have never been homeless without a car but I can tell you for sure it is harder to sleep and shower than with one. we know for a fact that the world's poorest aren't driving their cars into a 3 bedroom house to take a hot shower and cook on an electricity powered stove. instead the poorest cook with fire, live in houses made of scrap material or natural material, use the bathroom outside, have few manufactured items, and the ones they do are limited to flashlight, toothbrush, pen, a few articles of clothing, etc. This leaves them to do most of what they need to do in what many from my part of the world think of as the "old" way. not saying good bad just saying that they live without a lot of western("modern") comforts.

I agree with you guys about "question everything" but when it starts to get into "nothing is real even if its common sense or provable in a home experiment" then I start to diverge.

I agree with you that any other term created is still going to attempt to simplify something very complex, resulting in a lack of clarity or inaccuracy.

edit: omission of word don't from between we and know

DD, i don't disagree with most of your last comment, but nothing in it necessarily contradicts what i wrote.

people who live on all parts of this planet live without cars and homes, and others live in 3 bedroom houses (or bigger) all over it as well, and people live in all types of situations in between all over this spinning ball. within a range of 50 miles from where i live, i've seen people living in 5000 square foot homes with 5 cars, and others who live in tents along a concrete culvert along a dried up river, struggling to find enough food to eat, while i live quite differently from either.

so we're talking about summing up all the people within a given area into a single word or phrase,  i suppose in an effort to say what happens in a given place most commonly, or more frequently. i don't intend to say one can't do that with a certain amount of common understanding when discussing with another person....just that i don't find it all that useful or interesting.

so, i don't know that i understand your intent for finding "a better way (or word) to describe" different areas of the planet. if most people who discuss it can easily get to the point of agreement that a given place generally has less/more material comforts or a more/less militant government than another (and i think i can safely say we can, as shown by the examples you gave), then why find another word or phrase that basically implies the same thing? what would you find helpful or desirable about replacing "modern" or "third world" with some other phrase or word to imply the difference in living conditions you spoke of? i'd rather not use any single word or short phrase, as opposed to finding a new one. i'd rather hear another person's perceptions in descriptive detail about a given place and the people there, and how they came to those perceptions. so i agree with you about the inadequacy of the terms you mentioned in your original question, for many of the reasons you described....but i'd just find any label lacking, and i don't feel any need for one.

i don't know what you meant by the comment "nothing is real"....not something that i would say.....i try not to use the word "is" if i possibly can, and if i did, i'd probably lean toward everything being real, rather than nothing, or that everything AND nothing are real.

I think this might clarify what is meant by First, Second, and Third World:
there is no purpose to it other than for a thought experiment BAA. and "nothing is real" is an exaggeration of a sentiment i have seen on this site at times, regarding science. as well as perceptions about other parts of the world or other peoples lives. it was just a way to express frustration about how some people seem to think that you cant have discussion or comment on certain subjects because we cant trust scientists, the government, the media about those subjects, therefore we know NOTHING (eg nothing you see or hear can be trusted/is real). difficult to make this clear. i agree that you cant trust those sources at all but at the same time there are certain things we do know. Sometimes when i "question everything" i find what i am questioning to be correct.
thanks for the clarification, dd.

i don't recall reading that sentiment on this site, and i didn't mean to imply anything like that in my comments to you. i don't even think in terms of "questioning everything"....i tend to want to increase trust in myself and my perceptions, without interpreting anything as "fact" or "the truth".

regarding the thought experiment, i can't think of much that would sound much different than those current oft-used terms.....i feel more inclined to drop the labels altogether when talking/writing about the different situations on various parts of the planet.

1 Answer

+1 vote
I think it would help to be clearer on what the point of this question is. The "best" way to "describe" western europe and north america will be the one that misses nothing about those places and risks no generalizations, inferences, or explanations.

Like, if the goal is simply to come up with a description of n. america and europe that attends to all of the particularities of those continents, then I suppose the answer is something like this:  we should make a stack of every novel, every photograph, every sociological study, every census, etc., etc., etc., ever produced by those regions, and just absorb all of it. That way we won't miss any detail and we won't make any wrong judgments about those zones.

But clearly that would not do any of the analytical work that we need to get done. The problem isn't to come up with a term that is unassailable in any and all matters of detail, but to figure out what conceptual problem we are trying to address in the first place, and then to see whether it is addressable in terms of a dialectic between (say) the global north and the global south. That's the only way we can come up with a helpful terminological distinction.

I think (though I'm not certain) the problem you're trying to get at is something like this. We know that North America and Western Europe stand at the center of a global process, of which colonization and modernization are discrete yet inseparable moments. They stand at the center because they are the perpetrators and beneficiaries of colonization.

But the "strange" thing is that although these zones used resources stolen from other zones in order to become wealthy and industrialized, the people who live in europe and north america do not uniformly benefit from that theft. Another problem: at the same time, colonized and formerly colonized nations are not uniformly underdeveloped. There are pockets of vast wealth, industrialization, etc., to be seen in many other countries.

This doesn't mean we have to throw out the opposition between the two (which would only make it harder to understand what is going on). It means we need a way to talk about it that takes into account the multiple contradictions implied by colonization and capitalist development.
by (8.0k points)
edited by
good point when trying to shift this to talking about location rather than time you run into inconsistencies that make that less useful, almost as useless as time
My point is that dwelling on the "inconsistencies" in the way you are doing prevents you from seeing their coherence in relation to each other! Colonization, modernization, and underdevelopment are all related parts of a single story. That story is both spatial and temporal, obviously! To make sense of it you have to theorize!!
but both the inconsistencies and the coherencies are part of the story. just sayin'
Definitely true. I just think the solution is not to vacillate forever about whether there even is a difference between the imperial core and the places subjugated by it. The solution is to try and use the contradictions to understand that dynamic and discover if there is a way to end it.