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The "three worlds" of the Cold War era, as of the period between April 1975 and August 1975. Neutral and non-aligned countries shown in grey.

Third-Worldism is a political concept and ideology that emerged in the late 1940s or early 1950s during the Cold War and tried to generate unity among the nations that did not want to take sides between the United States and the Soviet Union. The concept is closely related but not identical to the political theory of Maoism–Third Worldism.


The political thinkers and leaders of Third-Worldism argued that the North-South divisions and conflicts were of primary political importance compared to the East-West opposition of the Cold War period. In the three-world model, the countries of the First World were the ones allied to the United States. These nations had less political risk, better functioning democracy and economic stability, and continue to have a higher standard of living. The Second World designation referred to the former industrial socialist states under the influence of the Soviet Union. The Third World hence defined countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO, or the Communist Bloc. The Third World was normally seen to include many countries with colonial pasts in Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Asia. It was also sometimes taken as synonymous with countries in the Non-Aligned Movement, connected to the world economic division as "periphery" countries in the world system that is dominated by the "core" countries.[1]

Third-Worldism was connected to new political movements following the decolonization and new forms of regionalism that emerged in the erstwhile colonies of Asia, Africa, and the Middle-East as well as in the older nation-states of Latin America, including pan-Arabism, pan-Africanism, pan-Americanism and pan-Asianism.[2]

The first period of the Third-World movement, that of the "first Bandung Era", was led by the Egyptian, Indonesian and Indian heads of states such as Nasser, Sukarno and Nehru. They were followed in the 1960s and 1970s by a second generation of Third-Worldist governments that emphasized on a more radical and revolutionary socialist vision, personified by the figure of Che Guevara. At the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s, Third Worldism began to enter into a period of decline.[2]

Leaders and theorists[edit]

Several leaders have been associated with the Third-Worldism movement, including:[2][failed verification]

Theorists include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tomlinson, B.R. (1 April 2003). "What was the Third World". Journal of Contemporary History. SAGE Publications. 38 (2): 307–321. doi:10.1177/0022009403038002135. JSTOR 3180660. S2CID 162982648. Retrieved 24 January 2020 – via ResearchGate.
  2. ^ a b c Berger, Mark T. (February 2004). "After the Third World? History, destiny and the fate of Third Worldism". Third World Quarterly. 25 (1): 9–39. doi:10.1080/0143659042000185318. S2CID 145431458. Retrieved 24 January 2020 – via ResearchGate.
  3. ^ Malley, Robert (November 1999). "The Third Worldist Moment" (PDF). Current History. 98 (631): 359–369. doi:10.1525/curh.1999.98.631.359. S2CID 155836302. Retrieved 4 October 2016 – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Macey, David (2012). Frantz Fanon: A Biography (Second ed.). Verso Books. p. 20.

Further reading[edit]