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Global DevelopmentA Cold War History$
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Sara Lorenzini

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180151.001.0001

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Socialist Modernity and the Birth of the Third World

Socialist Modernity and the Birth of the Third World

(p.33) 3 Socialist Modernity and the Birth of the Third World
Global Development

Sara Lorenzini

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how the Soviet Union attacked Point Four as “A Program for Expansion under a Screen of Anti-Communism” that was no different from older forms of imperialism. While condemning American assistance, however, they applauded a fair aid policy that supported political independence and invested to promote national agriculture and industry. This signaled that they were open to joining a multilateral program and offering technical assistance and industrial machinery to underdeveloped countries, with a stress on equality and open criticism of imperialist dynamics. But what would the Soviets contribute? Western analysts thought of expertise, while critics familiar with the Central Asian precedent worried about the repression of minorities. Only in 1954 did the Soviet Union respond with a plan for the Virgin Lands, the campaign to bring up-to-date farming and irrigation techniques to backward steppe regions in Kazakhstan. This became a paradigm for what socialist modernity could offer to less developed countries. The chapter then recounts how, in the early 1950s, the world's less-developed countries began identifying as a homogeneous group. In the United Nations, the phrase used was “underdeveloped countries,” but this was soon replaced by a much more evocative concept: the “Third World.” The expression was coined in 1952 by French demographer Alfred Sauvy, who anticipated a collective awakening of the subject peoples previously ignored, exploited, and watched warily.

Keywords:   Soviet Union, Point Four, aid policy, technical assistance, underdeveloped countries, socialist modernity, Third World

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