Hugh Smith: America Is Now A 3rd World Nation

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

I know it hurts, but the reality is painfully obvious: the USA is now a 3rd World nation.

Dividing the Earth's nations into 1st, 2nd and 3rd world has fallen out of favor;apparently it offended sensibilities. It has been replaced by the politically correct developed and developing nations, a terminology which suggests all developing nations are on the pathway to developed-nation status.

What's been lost in jettisoning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd world categories is the distinction between developing (2nd world) and dysfunctional states (3rd world), states we now label "failed states."

But 3rd World implied something quite different from "failed state": failed state refers to a failed government of a nation-state, i.e. a government which no longer fulfills the minimum duties of a functional state: basic security, rule of law, etc.

3rd World referred to a nation-state which was dysfunctional and parasitic for the vast majority of its residents but that worked extremely well for entrenched elites who controlled most of the wealth and political power. Unlike failed states, which by definition are unstable, 3rd World nations are stable, for the reason that they work just fine for the elites who dominate the wealth, power and machinery of governance.

Here are the core characteristics of dysfunctional but stable states that benefit the entrenched few at the expense of the many, i.e. 3rd World nations:

1. Ownership of stocks and other assets is highly concentrated in entrenched elites. The average household is disconnected from the stock market and other measures of wealth; only a thin sliver of households own enough financial/speculative wealth to make an actual difference in their lives.

2. The infrastructure of the nation used by the many is poorly maintained and costly to operate as entrenched elites plunder the funding to pad their payrolls, pensions and sweetheart/insider contracts.

3. The financial/political elites have exclusive access to parallel systems of transport, healthcare, education, etc. The elites avoid trains, subways, lenders, coach-class air transport, standard healthcare and the rest of the decaying, dysfunctional systems they own that extract wealth from the debt-serfs.

They fly on private aircraft, have their own healthcare and legal services, use their privileges to get their offspring into elite universities and institutions and have access to elite banking and lending services that are unavailable to their technocrat lackeys and enforcers.

4. The elites fund lavish monuments to their own glory disguised as "civic or national pride." These monuments take the form of stadiums, palatial art museums, immense government buildings, etc. Meanwhile the rest of the day-to-day infrastructure decays in various states of dysfunction.

5. There are two classes that only interact in strictly controlled ways: the wealthy, who live in gated, guarded communities and who rule all the institutions, public and private, and the debt-serfs, who are divided into well-paid factotums, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who serve the interests of the entrenched elites and rest of the populace who own virtually nothing and have zero power.

The elites make a PR show of being a commoner only to burnish the absurd illusion that debt-serf votes actually matter. (They don't.)

6. Cartels and quasi-monopolies are parasitically extracting the wealth of the nation for their elite owners and managers. Google: quasi-monopoly. Facebook: quasi-monopoly. Healthcare: cartel. Banking: cartel. National defense: cartel. National Security: cartel. Corporate mainstream media: cartel. Higher education: cartel. Student loans: cartel. I think you get the point: every key institution or function is controlled by cartels or quasi-monopolies that serve the interests of the few via parasitic exploitation of the powerless.

7. The elites use the extreme violence and repressive powers of the government to suppress, marginalize and/or destroy any dissent. There are two systems of "law": one for the elites ($10 million penalties for ripping off the public for $10 billion, no personal liability for outright fraud) and one for the unprotected-unprivileged: "tenners" (10-year prison sentences) for minor drug infractions, renditions or assassinations (all "legal," of course) and institutional forces of violence (bust down your door on the rumor you've got drugs, confiscate your car because we caught you with cash, so you must be a drug dealer, and so on, in sickening profusion).

8. Dysfunctional institutions with unlimited power to extract money via junk fees, licensing fees, parking tickets, penalties, late fees, etc., all without recourse. Mess with the extractive, parasitic bureaucracy and you'll regret it: there's no recourse other than another layer of well-paid self-serving functionaries that would make Kafka weep.

9. The well-paid factotums, bureaucrats, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who fatten their own skims and pensions at the expense of the public and slavishly serve the interests of the entrenched elites embrace the delusion that they're "wealthy" and "the system is working great." These deluded servants of the elites will defend the dysfunctional system because it serves their interests to do so.

The more dysfunctional the institution, the greater their power, so they actively increase the dysfunction at every opportunity.

The USA is definitively a 3rd World nation. Read the list above and then try to argue the USA is not a 3rd World nation. Try arguing against the facts displayed in this chart:

I know it hurts, but the reality is painfully obvious: the USA is now a 3rd World nation.

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pods Stan522 Mon, 07/09/2018 - 09:48 Permalink

Besides the ad hominem, you got anything to dispute the actual facts and or assertions he put forth?
I myself, liking logical arguments, am having a bit of a difficult time with them.  Just because for every argument you can bring to mind a worse example (that is what I did) does not mean they are false.

A guy with 12 bullet holes is worse off than the guy with 2, but that does not mean the guy with 2 is doing good.

Let's face it, we are at the end of our time of having the world's reserve currency, as our debt carrying capacity has been reached. Now is either the quick collapse, or the long, slow decay into history.

Surely we can rebuild afterwords, but our time is coming to an end. We just cannot support the exponential function anymore that Mako so clearly used to tell us (like a hammer until it sunk into my thick skull).


In reply to by Stan522

El Vaquero pods Mon, 07/09/2018 - 09:56 Permalink

I haven't been to Mexico for a while for the obvious reasons, but you can go to areas where people are living in shacks that they cobbled together with whatever they could find, and go a few blocks over and find a fucking castle with 12' high stone walls.  That's not to mention the filth down there.  If you're in an area in the US where there are a ton of illegals, you can go into public restrooms and find used toilet paper either in the trash can or in the corner because people who don't know that our plumbing and sewage can handle it have come up from Mexico. 


We are still far, far away from being a third world country.  But we're pointed in that direction, which is something to be angry about.

In reply to by pods

Antifaschistische El Vaquero Mon, 07/09/2018 - 10:49 Permalink

I've said this before here on ZH.  I live in Houston.  Hedwig Village/Memorial City Mall.  If you stay off the freeways and drive the 25 miles to the'll see maybe 1 mile of 1st world...probably  no real 3rd world...and 24 miles of second world....all of which looked like 1st world 40 years ago.  doesn't take a genius to figure out the trajectory. 

In reply to by El Vaquero

DownWithYogaPants Antifaschistische Mon, 07/09/2018 - 11:52 Permalink

You know what is funny? 

Before I was deprogrammed by repeated visits to Zh and all the youtube videos were I got MUCH more plausible explanations of history and world events I used to think Charles Hughs Smith was a lefty.  But I'm pretty sure he voted for Trump.

Here is my list of critical videos to help deprogram from the mainstream propaganda:

YouTube: Library of Playlists to Deprogram Yourself

And by the way: The measure of being 3rd world is not the percentage of Shanty housing.  It's the political / economic agency vested in the common man.  By all measures the USA is a 3rd world country by that standard.  That's why they shipped all the jobs off to China.  To decrease those to 3rd world standards.

In reply to by Antifaschistische

Creepy Lurker powow Mon, 07/09/2018 - 12:41 Permalink

Fuck off, spambot.

@Downwithyogapants: I have a suggestion for inclusion in your playlists. Look up the videos of Charlotte Iserbyt on yt. She describes the deliberate destruction of the US education system and its transformation into a socialist indoctrination system.

And this was done under Reagan.

In reply to by powow

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In reply to by Bwana

bshirley1968 Tao 4 the Show Mon, 07/09/2018 - 19:46 Permalink

And there comes the shit hole logic of the dumbass sheeple that continue to lower the standard every year so they can say...."ya know, it could be worse".

When are you stupid bastards going to realize that eating a pile of cow shit and bragging because it isn't dog shit doesn't change the fact that your are EATING SHIT!

I don't want to compare my country to Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Greece, Italy, Poland, etc. and say, "See we're not so bad."

I'd like to compare my country to the finest example I can imagine and say, "We can do better". Hell, I'd like to compare it to the time I grew up....oh, we had problems but nothing like what we have now.

You bunch of loser public school, everybody gets a trophy dickheads! Quit finding the weakest, shit hole example and making that your standard. Just because everyone else is dogshit, doesn't mean we should be happy being cow shit.

In reply to by Tao 4 the Show

lew1024 Tao 4 the Show Mon, 07/09/2018 - 22:02 Permalink

Nobody has mentioned the growing tent cities, all over the US, at least where people don't freeze to death too often in them.

We had a big one near us until the authorities broke it up an dispersed everyone back through the town. I walked through a quarter mile of that that, several hundred people I saw, and it extended up and down the river for a couple of miles.

The major town is > 1M people now, the adjacent towns are solid for the next 40 miles.

Google streetview will show you the LA tent city, a lot of people camped on the sidewalk many blocks.

In reply to by Tao 4 the Show

DownWithYogaPants silverer Mon, 07/09/2018 - 17:32 Permalink

Reagan was really only president for a few months. After the assassination attempt that with 99.9% probability GHW Bush was involved in as he was "ex" head of CIA.  Who is ever ex CIA?  Probably only room temperature humans.   The deal was made that Reagan could live but he would only be a figure head and GHW Bush would act as president.

In reply to by silverer

Expendable Container Creepy Lurker Mon, 07/09/2018 - 20:04 Permalink

Why is the US turning into a third world nation? Because this was the intention of THE (SECRET) LIMA DECLARATION OF 1975.

This also applies to the other First World nations such as Canada, Australia, UK, European nations etc. All these nations and over 180 nations, signed up to it and all political parties support it.

What is the LIMA DECLARATION? The agreement that first world nations flip over to the third world 30% of their production and agree to IMPORT 30%. Of course most have done much more than a 30% flip. Australia had already done a 90% flip of its Agriculture and Production. No wonder farmers were and are committing suicide in despair!

10 minutes explanation - excellent video, by an Australian and all he says applies to US/Canada/UK etc just the same:


Also - China was declared 'favored nation status' in this flip. They were handed our technology, tools etc on a platter! No wonder their economy has blossomed and bloomed while the Western nations stagnate and decline.

Wake up folks!


In reply to by Creepy Lurker

canisdirus Stuck on Zero Mon, 07/09/2018 - 14:52 Permalink

That period of prosperity and advancement the world enjoyed that allowed the development of a first world was all the result of shipping excess humanity to an essentially-deserted continent that could absorb all of that excess humanity. The people that went there, literally surrounded by nearly endless land and opportunity, built a considerable amount of wealth for themselves. We're now in decline as we replace their descendants with the lazy and feckless from around the world that expect handouts and are only familiar with a third world environment, which they replicate wherever they go.

There is nowhere to run to, our only hope is that the ever higher human density around the world will eventually result in a plague that kills at least 90% of the existing population. It's the only way, short of a war producing the same results, that the prosperity we've seen the last 300-400 years will ever be available to average people again.

In reply to by Stuck on Zero

exlcus DownWithYogaPants Mon, 07/09/2018 - 14:02 Permalink

CHS is talking about the systemic measurables of being a 3rd world country, or a banana republic as I like to call it.

Lots of people on here talking about the visible signs, that haven't matured yet because those things take time, and the evil empire still has some strength left. 

Wait till we stop having the reserve currency and prices for almost everything double. How many shanty towns will we have then? Then you'll have plenty of visible signs. But what comes first, the soft inner corruption or the visible decay?

Once that systemic inner corruption has full power, is there any turning back? (IMO, almost never!)

In reply to by DownWithYogaPants

Offthebeach NidStyles Mon, 07/09/2018 - 11:47 Permalink

Rural, white New England, west into New York.  You can see plenty shack-ish structures .  Old farm houses, and small town centers in decay.  

1. Men gone.

2. Plenty of males, but not men.

3.  General sloth, laziness.  Boy men and slat women.

4. Drugs, alcohol, disobility check farming.

5. Income sufficient for gradual house repairs, but spent on addictive cell phone, cable,  

6. Decrease in mechanical skills.'s "the system".  Everyone's a victim. 




In reply to by NidStyles

CultiVader Offthebeach Mon, 07/09/2018 - 16:34 Permalink

Sound like the Illionois Valley in So Oregon. The only thing keeping it alive is the pot growing, the market for which has had its legs cut out from under it. Sad.
One icon which represents this is the skeleton structures of old greenhouses which litter the countryside. No panels or poly covering. Just the ribs and struts. Lots of people have given up on the market.

In reply to by Offthebeach

Ted19731950 Dindu Nuffins Mon, 07/09/2018 - 14:57 Permalink

If you folks don't move millions of sureno types back to Mexico and points south of there, then you will be taken over by them.  It's not far off. Do something.  I came to Salinas, CA in early 90s and was shocked that I was essentially living in Mexico even back then.  They didn't like us white males, but they sure wanted the white females.  Got out of there and back to midwest.

In reply to by Dindu Nuffins

PrometeyBezkrilov ZD1 Mon, 07/09/2018 - 13:29 Permalink

Things are going to improve when you will finally understand that the cities in Mexifornia are not controlled by "leftist Democrats". They are controlled by the representatives of the global banking cabal. Their "ideology" is a sheep's skin to fool you. Until then things are totally hopeless.

In reply to by ZD1