Intentional Ignorance or Effective Propaganda

Thoughts on the Third-Worldism of the US

By Franco Gonzalez
Published on LatinoLA: December 1, 2002

Intentional Ignorance or Effective Propaganda

I was on Florence Avenue (in East Los) just last night meeting with a few partners and clients. There were panhandlers, people asking for money, people sleeping in the doorways of buildings. There are tens of thousands more lay-offs being announced every week it seems.

The spectre of poverty and despair has become increasingly obvious to the middle and now even the upper classes, as our domestic economic situation turns against white, as well as blue collared workers. The insecurity is felt now more than ever. People are wondering how to take at least a bit of control of their lives. You just can?t avoid it as you could years ago, when it was limited to a certain section of town. This has a lot to do with the pauperization (the internal Third Worldization, I think you can call it) of the United States.

There are many factors involved. About thirty years ago there was a big change in the world order, partly symbolized by Richard Nixon?s dismantling of the postwar economic system. He recognized that US dominance of the global system had declined, and that in the new ?tripolar? world order (with Japan, and German-based Europe playing a larger role), the US could no longer serve ? in effect ? as the world?s banker.

That led to a lot more pressure on corporate profits in the US and, consequently, to a big attack on social welfare gains. The crumbs that were permitted to ordinary people had to be taken away. Everything had to go to the rich.

There was also a tremendous expansion of unregulated capital in the world. In 1971, Nixon dismantled the Bretton Woods system, thereby deregulating currencies. That, and a number of other changes, tremendously expanded the amount of unregulated capital in the world, and accelerated what?s called the globalization (or the internationalization) of the economy.

Latinos, that?s just a fancy way of saying that you export jobs to high-repression, low-wage areas?which undercuts the opportunities for productive labor at home. It?s a way of increasing corporate profits, of course. And it?s much easier to do with a free flow of capital, advances in telecommunications, etc.

There are two important consequences of globalization. First, it extends the Third World model to industrial countries. In the Third World, there?s a two-tiered society?a sector of extreme wealth and privilege, and a sector of huge misery and despair among ?useless, superfluous people.?

That division is deepened by the policies dictated by the West (the right-wing conservatives in the U.S.) It imposes a neoliberal ?free market? system that directs resources to the wealthy and to foreign investors, with the idea that something will trickle down by magic, some time after the Messiah comes.

You can see this happening everywhere in the industrial world, but most strikingly in the three English-speaking countries. In the 1980s, England under Thatcher, the United States under right wing Reaganites and Australia under a Labor government adopted some of the doctrines they preached for the Third World.

Of course, they would never really play this game completely. It would be too harmful to the rich. But they flirted with it. And they suffered. That is, the general population suffered.

Take, for example, our very own South Central Los Angeles. It had factories once. They moved to Eastern Europe, Mexico, Indonesia?where you can get peasant women flocking off the land.

But the rich did fine, just like they do in the Third World.

The second consequence, which is also important, has to do with governing structures. Throughout history, the structures of government have tended to coalesce around other forms of power?in modern times, primarily around economic power. So, when you have national economies, you get national states. We now have an international economy and we?re moving towards an international state?which means, finally an international executive.

I don?t mean to burst any gung ho bubbles, but this is the true reason why King Bush II fanatically wants war in the Middle East, and then more repressive intervention in Latin America.

The propaganda from the press is meant to sell us that he is just wanting to protect his little people from bad, evil terrorists.

In reality, we will send our American youth (half Latino and other people of color, mind you) to fight and die once again, not for us, but for rich wealthy bankers, and elites. Another form of corporate welfare.

I wish I had a battalion of Marines, preferably my old unit, 3rd Bat. 5th Marines, available so that I can secure resources and markets for my small business. But, hey, you can?t have it all, I guess.

To quote the business press, we?re creating ?a new imperial age? with a ?de facto world government.? It has its own institutions?like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, trading structures like NAFTA and GATT, executive meetings like the G-7 [the seven richest industrial countries?the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Britain, France and Italy?who meet regularly to discuss economic policy] and the European Community bureaucracy.

As you?d expect, this whole structure of decision making answers basically to the transnational corporations, international banks, etc. It?s also an effective blow against democracy. All these structures raise decision making to the executive level, leaving what?s called a ?democratic deficit??parliaments and populations with less influence.

Not only that, but the general population doesn?t know what?s happening, and it doesn?t know that it doesn?t know. One result is a kind of alienation from institutions, and electoral apathy. People feel that nothing works for them.

Sure it doesn?t. They don?t even know what?s going on at that remote and secret level of decision making. That?s a real success in the long-term task of depriving formal democratic structures of any substance.

So, now that you know a bit more, Latinos, do your duty for your country?forget you just read this, watch some more TV, buy a cheeseburger, be a good consumer, and raise your kids so our rich elites can have more pawns to take over the world with.

Oh, and don?t share this with your boss, you may get fired. Just keep being a good little employee. Maybe the company won?t choose to let you go when you reach middle age, you know, that?s when we become very expensive and you can be replaced by a new software program and a twenty two year old.

This article was aimed at agitating and educating. Sometimes it's good to get hit with a little reality that makes us sit back a bit, and think.

There are options and answers. Education is the most important one, not just formal education, that only makes us a living. But self-education and critical independent thinking, that will empower you to act, grow and succeed.


About Franco Gonzalez:
Franco Gonzalez is a Los Angeles based social justice activist, teacher and small business owner. He can be contacted by email: or visit:

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