List and explain various successes and failures in the three competing Worlds as they struggled to create “modern societies” after World War II. What problems did the Third World face?

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Though the ideas of the First-, Second-, and Third World are currently outdated, it is useful to consider these entities as post-World War II constructions, especially when considering the repercussions of the violent ideological conflict between democratic and communist countries.

First World

Success: Rebuilding Western Europe After WWII, Europe was...

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Though the ideas of the First-, Second-, and Third World are currently outdated, it is useful to consider these entities as post-World War II constructions, especially when considering the repercussions of the violent ideological conflict between democratic and communist countries.

First World

Success: Rebuilding Western Europe
After WWII, Europe was suffering from extreme destruction, both in terms of physical damage and economic decline. There were innumerable costs to infrastructure through frequent bombings as well as costs to the population through the incredibly high death toll. The United States took an active approach in rebuilding Europe; the Marshall Plan sent 12 billion dollars to aid Europe. This not only strengthened the relationship between Europe and the United States but had the added benefit of curtailing communism, which was seen as a threat to the American way of life. Through reconstruction, America and Western Europe would eventually form part of what would be known as the "First World."

Failure: Civil Rights
The deficit of civil rights for certain citizens was an outstanding failure in America. The First World was characterized by systems of democracy and capitalism. The respective economic success in the First World was therefore used as justification for these systems: it was argued that capitalism and democracy provided a higher quality of life than their counterparts. While many Americans did live the American Dream of freedom and prosperity, the absence of civil rights for certain minorities provided a glaring oversight in the idea that democracy and capitalism inherently provided a higher quality of life.

Success: The Civil Rights Movement
In order to remedy the previous failure, the United States eventually passed legislation following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that guaranteed equal rights for all citizens. This was deemed a major success for the First World, because, at least legally, a large section of the population was now guaranteed the freedom and prosperity promised by capitalism and democracy.

Second World

Success: Rebuilding Eastern Europe
Similar to how the United States rebuilt Western Europe, the Soviet Union consolidated many countries in Eastern Europe that were once controlled by Nazi Germany, aiding in reconstruction following the immeasurable damages left in the wake of the war. This act also established geopolitical alliances that would later aid the USSR in their ongoing goal to encourage the spread of communism.

Success: Education and Science
One of the major successes of the Second World was their focus on education, technology, and science. Stalin and the Soviets believed that an advanced society capable of producing incredible technology would create an economy that would out-pace the economies of the capitalist First World. Among these major innovations was the launch of Sputnik in 1957, which was the first satellite to enter space.

Failure: Human Rights
The most infamous failure of the Second World deals undoubtedly with human rights. Millions suffered under the brutal dictatorship of Stalin's regime. Intellectuals, artists, and political dissenters were dealt with very severely. The Gulag System housed millions of these people and put them into forced labor, which frequently resulted in their deaths.

Failure: The Great Chinese Famine
China, another staple of the Second World, suffered under the dictatorship of Chairman Mao Zedong. Charman Mao's strict policies that regulated crop production and local distribution of food led to tens of millions of deaths due to starvation between 1959 and 1961.

Third World

Success: Decolonization
With the fall of fascism and the decline of imperialism after World War II, many Third World countries now found themselves autonomous. This allowed for the indigenous populations of these countries to now assume control of governance—for the first time in centuries, in some cases. While there were many problems associated with filling the power vacuum left in the wake of European withdrawal as well as the lingering effects of imperialism, the process of decolonization can generally be considered positive.

Failures: Dictatorship and Corruption
It is difficult to say that Third World countries had "failures," because it implies that the Third World is to blame for the problems that followed the process of decolonization. When discussing these issues, bear in mind that these issues almost categorically resulted from the malingering effects of imperialism.

One major problem the Third World faced was corruption. These countries were provided aid from First and Second World countries, most often to spread the influence of democracy or communism, respectively. What occurred from this was government bodies essentially using the aid in exchange for the rights to export the country's natural resources. Additionally, aid itself was frequently distributed ineffectively, in part because of corruption.

Other significant problems stemmed from dictatorships. As the Third World began to develop independent governments, factions sprung up in support of opposing forms of governance. These factions often led to intense violence and the rise of dictatorships.

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