Third World Socialism

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Third World Socialism was a variant of Socialism proponed by Kwame Nkrumah, Modibo Keïta, Ahmed Sékou Touré, Fidel Castro, Julius Nyerere, Salah al-Din al-Bitar, Michel Aflaq, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Juan Perón, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sukarno, David Ben-Gurion,[1] Muammar Gaddafi, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Buddhadasa, Walter Lini and other such socialist leaders of the Third World who saw a non-Soviet version of socialism as the answer to a strong and developed nation. It could be argued that the new "turn to the left" leadership in Latin America (see Socialism of the 21st century), with its anti-Americanism, connection with less developed Eastern Europe, sense of undeveloped countries/developing countries unity and pro-Arabism/pro-Islamism is a new kind of Third World socialism.

It may be described as an ideologically specific form of Third-worldism, and it is made up of African socialism, Arab socialism, Nasserism, Peronism,[Note 1] Nehruism, Labor Zionism,[2] Islamic Socialism,[Note 2] Buddhist socialism and Melanesian socialism.

The leaders of African Socialism were Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania after the independence, who coined the concept of Ujamaa and collectivized the land, Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana, who was one of the fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement, praised state planning policies like Five-Year Plans and an agency for the regulation of cocoa exports, and in several political speeches and writings developed his theory of an "African socialism", Modibo Keita, father of Mali, and Ahmed Sekou Touré, father of Guinea.

The main figures of Arab Socialism are Gamal Abdel Nasser, first president of Egypt, who nationalized the Suez Canal, and the Ba'ath Party, founded in Syria by Michel Aflaq, which gained popularity in the whole arab world and reached the government in Syria (until present) and Iraq (until 2003).

In the case of Juan Perón, elected president of Argentina on three times, the Third World Socialist stance was a more radical variation of populism which aligned itself with the Third World and the Non-Aligned Movement (what Perón called "the Third Position"), with a significant state intervention for development, such as five-year plans, the nationalization of railways, ports and banks, the creation of an agency to regulate grain exports (the IAPI), and the establishment of a modern welfare state. Despite his progressive policies, Perón didn't define himself or his doctrine as "socialist" during his first presidencies (1946–1952 and 1952–1955), but he did later, during his exile and during his third presidency (1973–1974), when he coined the term "national socialism", sort of an Argentine way to socialism, which he described as a social democracy mainly modeled after the "Swedish model" and also inspired by other Non-Aligned, third-world-socialist models such as Nasser, Christian socialism, and the corporatist policies of European 1920s, 1930s and 1940s fascism.[3]

Iran experienced a short Third World Socialism period at the zenith of the Tudeh Party after the abdication of Reza Shah and his replacement by his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (though the party never rose to power). After failing to reach power, this form of third world socialism was replaced by Mosaddegh's populist, non-aligned Iranian nationalism of the National Front party as the main anti-monarchy force in Iran, reaching power (1949–1953), and it remained with that strength even in opposition (after the overthrowning of Mossadegh) until the rise of Islamism and the Iranian Revolution.[4] The Tudehs have moved towards basic socialist communism since then.[5]

Kemalism can very arguably be added to the list,[6][7] as it happeared before the notion of Third World was created in post-World War II, it added populism to the equation (something not all Third World socialists did; Nasser and Nkrumah, for example, did), and Turkey is more developed than the typical notion of a Third World Country. But as it was used as a model of government after the Turkish War of Independence to rebuild Turkey and recover it from the underdevelopment of the Ottoman Empire, creating a strong nation in face of the prospect of European Colonialism, it can be considered as reaching the templates of a Third World Socialism movement. And from the 1960s onwards, Third World socialist and Third Worldist thought influenced Left-Kemalism.[8]

The Kemalist experiment,[9] Fabian Socialism (and social democracy in general),[10] and the main Third World communist regime, the People's Republic of China,[10] were big influences on the movement. Despite being inspired by Social Democracy, most of this regimes were affected in one time or the other by strongmen or big man leaders or one-party systems. In any case, most Third World Socialist regimes are followers of social democratic reformism (normally state-guided), preferring it to revolution, though some adopted a kind of permanent revolution stance on the social progress to a socialist society.


  1. The word is coined from the acronym of justicia social (spanish for social justice), with the suffix ism added.
  2. Although Gaddafi's version was more inspired in the ideas of direct democracy, arab nationalism, strongman politics and National Liberation Struggle, while Bhutto's was more western-aligned and resembled, allied and inspired itself in the ideas of western democratic socialism/social democracy and as such had membership in the Socialist International.


  1. "Heaven on Earth. The Film: Transcript - Revolutions: The Kibbutz". Retrieved 2005. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> «The first two Prime Ministers [Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett] were kibbutz members.» The Kibbutz were labour zionist utopian socialist comunes with a direct democracy system as such influenced by social democracy and fabian socialism, just like all the other Third World Socialists.
  2. "Heaven on Earth. The Film: Transcript - Revolutions: Julius Nyerere & Third World Socialism". Retrieved 2005. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> «Much was unique about the Jewish state. But in choosing socialism as its strategy for development, Israel was part of a swelling tide. For the nations reaching for independence in the aftermath of World War II, state planning was held out as the quickest path to prosperity.»
  3. Peronism and Argentina. p. 9 to 12. Retrieved March 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Dabashi, Hamid (2000). "The End of Islamic Ideology - Iran". Social Research. Retrieved 2008-03-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Omidvar, M. "Brief History of the Tudeh Party of Iran". Retrieved 2008-03-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Alevi identity. Retrieved 2009-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Nostalgia for the modern. Retrieved 2009-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures. Retrieved 2009-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Norman W. Provizer, ed. (1978). Analyzing the Third World : essays from Comparative politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman Pub. Co. p. 322. ISBN 0870739425.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Changing Faiths - From the Prologue of Heaven on Earth". Retrieved 2002. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> «This was a hybrid of communism and social democracy, exemplified by Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania, and modeled partly after Chinese Maoism, partly after British Fabianism».

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