Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Third mentality

I’m sorry to see that, in a recent statement on the Green
Party website, even Jeanette Fitzsimons allows herself
to say ‘Third World’ (‘Our Pacific Island neighbours and
third world countries are already paying a high price for
our emissions and that’s not fair’). This odious term,
often used in relation to health standards (‘Third World
diseases’), has no place in civilized discourse. Unpack it
and you find a whole baggage train of hegemonic
European assumptions about the way the world is or
should be. It perpetuates discriminatory concepts of
social class and the thought-poor predilection for
numerical ranking that we all fall back on for want of
grappling with the complexities of real life. The last time
I looked, there was just one world, and we’re all in it,
just as everybody was in the same boat, the Titanic, and
guess who did worst out of that disaster? You’re so right.
Sixty percent of the ‘first-class’ passengers survived, 41
percent of the ‘second-class’ and 25 percent of the ‘third-
class.’ You don't fix a system like that by continually
reminding people that you're first and they're third.

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