Repost: The USA Is Now a Third-World Nation

Editor’s Note: Please leave your reactions below. Don’t hold back. I’ll be reading and replying to your comments.

By Charles Hugh Smith,

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 It has been replaced by the politically correct developed and developing nations, a terminology which suggests all developing nations are on the pathway to developed-nation status.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. Unlikefailed 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


  • Talk talk. And more bs.. we are a communist country . Why don’t all of your talk is about 3rd world country we aren’t even American’s anymore. Look around how many Americans do you really see. I see plenty of Muslims Africans Mexicans and on and on. America is nothing anymore. American’s we are the joke here .Trump has done absolutely nothing to help us regular people but boy they get plenty of money just shorting the shit.politicians tell you anything to get to play President yet lie like dog’s. JFK was killed because he had a dream . Martin Luther King died cause he had a dream. All blacks have dishonored him. And the so called whites have dishonored JFK. I’m ashamed to say I’m American anymore

  • What a sobering article, I definitely agree that Google and facebook are cartel like. And I have had direct experience trying to challenge fines and tickets and they let you know that the system is king for the most part. You can sometimes “beat” the system by paying money to lawyers to find technicalities but primarily the lawyers are lackeys of the system that mitigate the serfs fines. How can the system be changed? the only way I know besides a second revolution is the COnvention of States. COS. I sometimes think its inevitable that the US gets even worse, because the government agencies have so much power and enforcers and military equipment it would be hard to change.

    • Denny, great points, and I’ve long been interested in the COS idea (for those who don’t know, It’s one Constitutional mechanism to rein in the entrenched elites’ power. Yet nobody ever talks about it…

  • I don’t have to even read this article to know we have been attacked from within. I could write a lot more but it would literally take you to a place you don’t want go. The pit of Hell! It’s about time people are waking up to this cabal that has destroyed are way of life! The question is, are we too late?

  • We definitely fit the description. trump is going to try to do a fascist takeover before the next presidential election.

  • I just read your message and I totally agree but what is the best way to do anything about it ?

  • This is the path of our country since Ronald Regan. Republicans fake facts are spread by “conservative” so-called news sources,

  • I started doing some traveling around 15 years ago, and almost immediately became aware of how similar the US was to the third world countries I was visiting. I also noticed a lot of expats living down there, and it didn’t take long to see why it was preferable; everyone in the US is asleep. We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that everyone wants to live here, and the fact is that it is only the poorest of the poor who want to get into the US, and even they are eager to go back home after they’ve made enough money to live comfortably. They work for slave wages in the US, but they know how to save their money. They aren’t buying junk they don’t need either. People in the US don’t realize how much freedom they’ve truly lost until they take a trip outside. Go take a trip down to Guatemala, Nicaragua, or Panama for a week. Don’t go on any tours. Just walk around and talk to all the expats living down there and you’ll see what a mess you’re really in.
    Stop borrowing money, stop supporting these cartels. I don’t want to give up hope, but I’m not planning for things to improve any time soon. I’m getting out. I’m not coming back until things are back to normal, and that’s not going to happen without a revolution. When the economy collapses, I don’t want to be around a bunch of people who are completely dependent upon the government to take care of them. For the most part people down in central America know how to take care of themselves.

    The real difference is that you’ve got much more freedom down there, and the cost of living is way better without sacrificing your standard of living.

  • Despite all the above comments, I believe this country is on the path to self-destruct. Historians are laughed at and ridiculed when they use thew statement, You forget your history/heritage a society is doomed. I highly recommended to read a copy of Gibbon’s The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, then look at our own nation. It is very Frightening .

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