What are the best responses or resources when talking about the exploitation of the "third world"?

Submitted by leftous in Decolonisation (edited )

I frequently encounter liberals defending exploitative sweatshops and slave factories as "better than the alternative where those people get nothing", and presenting Western states and corporations as benevolent for giving them jobs.

However, I am usually at a loss to explain that these people would not be in this precarious situation if not for the fact their livelihoods and wealth are robbed from them by neocolonialist, imperialist, and predatory debt practices; enabled by these very 'benevolent' entities.

I know there are some books that delve into this such as Debt the first 5000 years (Graeber), Economic Hitman (Perkins), and Profit over People (Chomsky). But I was wondering if there was something more succinct or digestible I can send people for a quick rundown? Or perhaps viewpoints from people more intimately involved with the exploited workers?


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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Sounds like an unpleasant set of encounters!

I'm a little confused by what you've said, also - these practices are not limited to debt; there are many neocolonial practices.

Most of the stuff I can think of to read is not succinct or digestible and I don't have anybody nearby to ask for better reading at the moment. The main thing that comes to mind as pretty short is probably the chapter "The Mechanisms of Neocolonialism" from Nkrumah's Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, perhaps ideally read together with the introduction.

There's also Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, perhaps just the section "What Is Underdevelopment?" from the chapter “Some Questions on Development”. It's a book with some outdated notions while really being good at what it does.

It starts off with a nice Guevara quote (who speaks quite a bit on these topics I think but I don't know much about it):

In contrast with the surging growth of the countries in the socialist camp and the development taking place, albeit much more slowly, in the majority of the capitalist countries, is the unquestionable fact that a large proportion of the so-called underdeveloped countries are in total stagnation, and that in some of them the rate of economic growth is lower than that of population increase. These characteristics are not fortuitous; they correspond strictly to the nature of the capitalist system in full expansion, which transfers to the dependent countries the most abusive and barefaced forms of exploitation. It must be clearly understood that the only way to solve the questions now besetting mankind is to eliminate completely the exploitation of dependent countries by developed capitalist countries, with all the consequences that this implies.

(actually, that whole speech might be a good thing to read on the topic.)

and later, introducing the histories of changing exploitation, Rodney talks about how troublesome it got at one stage for the Roman empire to keep slaves:

The landowners, seeing their estates going to ruin, decided that it would be best to grant the legal freedom for which slaves were clamoring, and to keep exploiting the labor of these free serfs by insuring that they had no lands to plow other than those of the landlords. Thereby, a new set of social relations-that of landlord and serf-replaced the old relations of slavemaster and slave.

You can see the logic here - neocolonialism thinks of this in terms of whole other countries or continents.

Finally I'm reminded of a documentary I recently watched that was posted here called Congo, my precious, that does a pretty good job tying occurrences in Congo to continued exploitation by other countries, and might help you better to talk about it with them.

Sorry this wasn't a simple recommendation of a short sweet piece on the matter. I imagine that some exists but sadly I don't know it.


ziq wrote (edited )

There really isn't a short, concise answer for something this complex. The liberals need to be willing to dig into the material if they're going to have their mindset corrected. A headline or even a paragraph won't be enough to break through their layers upon layers of state / capital programming. Deprogramming takes equally powerful propaganda.

I would link to some of Al Jazeera's documentaries about mining but I think they're not viewable inside the US where this user is likely from.


leftous wrote

Thanks for the info and post, it gives me a starting point to start putting information together so I appreciate it.

I think you should consider adding this post to the wiki for this subraddle


Tequila_Wolf wrote

People I know have mentioned two recent, less canonical reads:

Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

Africa has been failed by westernisation. It must cast off its subservience

They've also mentioned that there are probably pamphlets by Rodney on it, which might be better than the book I linked.


leftous wrote (edited )

Thanks those are great articles. The second one in particular puts it really well.

I will look into more of Rodney's work. I haven't come across any pamphlets though. Do you know a good place to look?


Tequila_Wolf wrote

You're welcome. It's interesting for me also!

I don't know where we'd find Rodney pamphlets. I'll keep an eye out.


Tequila_Wolf wrote

I've been thinking about a wiki for decolonisation for some time. There are a few things getting in the way - hopefully it won't take too long.