Public Platitudes and Unfounded Attitudes

Part of the Macmillan International Political Economy Series book series


From listening to commentators on television and reading the newspapers, you may have the impression that many, if not most, nonoil-exporting Third World countries are in the position of a castrated man in a harem: impotent and unable to do anything about their incapacity. Nowadays the media frequently refer to such countries as Bangladesh and Haiti as ‘basket cases’. Some of these have been assigned to the ‘Fourth World’. I used to think that this meant the bottom of the barrel: then Time magazine even suggested that we must distinguish a ‘Fifth World’.


Political Economy World Country Advanced Country Political Economy Analysis Tributive Justice 
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Notes and References

  1. Data on the gap between rich and poor countries are drawn from the Independent Commission on International Development Issues, North-South: A Program for Survival (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980) p. 32.Google Scholar
  2. Indicators of the gap can be found in World Bank, World Development Report 1981 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981) p. 3Google Scholar
  3. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook (Washington, DC: IMF, 1985) pp. 148–9 and 162–3.Google Scholar
  4. On the meaning of political economy, see W. Ladd Hollist and James A. Caporaso, ‘International Political Economy Research: What Is It and Where Do We Turn for Concepts and Theory?’, in W. Ladd Hollist and F. LaMond Tullis (eds), An International Political Economy, International Political Economy Yearbook (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1985) vol. 1, pp. 27–49.Google Scholar
  5. The classical tradition is surveyed by Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers (New York: Time Incorporated, 1961).Google Scholar
  6. Another valuable study is Ernest Mandel, Marxist Economic Theory, trans. Brian Pearce (London: Merlin, 1968).Google Scholar
  7. For an overview of various schools of thought, consult Robert W. Cox, ‘In Search of Political Economy’, New Political Science, 5/6, Winter/Spring 1981, pp. 59–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Michael Barratt Brown, Models in Political Economy: A Guide to the Arguments (Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner, 1985).Google Scholar
  9. Diverse perspectives on the Third World are represented in People’s Daily, The Theory of Three Worlds (New York: Books New China, 1977)Google Scholar
  10. Kwame Nkrumah, ‘The Myth of the “Third World”’, Labour Monthly, 50 (10) October 1968, p. 465Google Scholar
  11. Kwame Nkrumah, ‘Mrs. Gandhi Welcomes Dawn of Era of Detente’, India News, 4 September 1973Google Scholar
  12. Allen H. Merriam, ‘Semantic Implications of the Term “Third World”’, International Studies Notes, 6(3) Fall 1979, p. 14Google Scholar
  13. Immanuel Wallerstein, The Capitalist World-Economy (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1979) p. 348.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James H. Mittelman 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queens CollegeCity University of New YorkUSA

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