Rich World, Poor World
By Geoffrey Lean
Published by George Allen and
Unwin Limited (1978)
ISBN: 0 04 309010 9
THIRD World countries which have been termed ‘the bottom billion’ have always been at the mercy of First World countries that have taken every opportunity to manipulate and dictate how they should be run.
Theories pushed by the First World countries suggest they should intervene in the affairs of developing countries to ensure and guarantee development and democracy.
These theories and strategies have been resisted in some developing countries while, sadly, they have been accepted by some ‘weak’ nations that cower in the presence of the so-called champions of democracy.
Think tanks have been set up to craft ways on how best the developed countries can exploit the developing countries.
In Africa, especially, colonisation gave Western countries the upper hand as the system allowed the West to exploit Africa’s resources to build empires back home.
As a result, Western countries have made themselves powerhouses at the expense of Africa which is now trying to catch up in terms of development.
The book Rich World, Poor World by Geoffrey Lean explores the reasons behind the gap between the First and Third World as well as how it can be bridged.
Before one stands to salute the West for the strides it has made in developing itself, questions should be raised on how they have reached that stage.
Slave trade, which started in the 15th Century, gave the West a head start as it drained Africa and Asia of its able-bodied persons whom they forced to work in their industries and develop their countries.
The abolishment of slavery in 1883 resulted in the West re-strategising on how best they could continue exploiting the rich resource nations of the world.
Colonisation came and again Africa’s resources were exploited.
At the time, the book Rich World, Poor World was published, most African countries, including Zimbabwe, were yet to attain independence.
Lean explores how Africans were exploited by the West.
“In the summer of 1975, the World Health Organisation uncovered an extensive new international traffic in human blood,” he writes.
“Western companies, it reported, were making immense profits by buying blood from poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America and selling it for 10 times the price in rich countries.”
From the writer’s examples, it is clear the West will do anything to disadvantage the ‘poor’ as long as it stands to benefit.
Not much respect was given to the lives of the people who were selling their blood at lower rates for it to be sold at a higher value.
“One Filipino woman, a mother of 11 children, took to giving blood, sometimes several times a week, just to keep her family alive,” Lean cites.
The writer highlights how the so-called First World has manipulated economies limiting the growth of developing countries.
“The rich countries have a near-monopoly of the production of manufactured goods, and can therefore set the price of the fertilisers, ploughs, buses and lorries, medicines, machine-tools, turbines for electrical power stations, books, pots and pans, and all the other things which the poor countries need,” he writes.
“Prices have gone up steadily up and up.”
Lean writes about the ‘lifeboat ethic’ that was proposed by the think tanks in America, and this strategy clearly shows the selfishness of the Americans.
The strategy was put in place after the realisation in 1975 that many countries in the developing world were failing to produce enough food for their people.
“The rest of the world is drowning in a sea of starvation. If the people in the lifeboat show compassion by letting others climb aboard, the boat will sink; so we must repel boarders,” Lean quotes Professor Garret Hardin.
“Of course the poverty of the Third World is terrible,” we are told.
“But we have our own problems and can do nothing. Charity begins at home.”
Lean clearly shows that the strategies put in place by the West are only there to further their selfish agendas.
What the Third World has to be wary of is that the West will stop at nothing to regain control of our resources.