The Corner

First World to Blame?

This is an interesting article by Richard Wolin about an essentially, or at least operationally, pro-terrorist intellectual in Germany. What I find more interesting than the now cliched moral equivalence and fashionable fetishizing of third world murderers is Wolin’s banal assertion about Ted Honderich’s book, “Written in an offhand, chatty style, its main point — unarguable, as far as it goes — is that first-world nations bear responsibility for third-world nations’ impoverishment.”

I’ve never understood where this allegedly universal consensus that the first world is responsible for third world poverty comes from. Now, I am very sympathetic to the idea that the first world has a moral obligation to help out impoverished peoples. And, yes, I think certain European nations — France, for example — have some extra burdens in specific nations. But let’s just set the record straight: The first world found all of these nations already poor. We didn’t make them poor. It’s not like Europeans found prosperous healthy nation-states and then set about to lower the standards of living in them. Of course, colonialism did some damage to many societies, but it also elevated many societies. It improved the quality of life and it was the end of colonialism which has caused such a mess in so many places. Again, I’m not saying the first world didn’t mess up a lot, but this cut-and-dry “the rich nations are responsible” nonsense is precisely that, nonsense.

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