The Ecphorizer

Numbers Games
Tod Wicks

Issue 11 (October 2007)

three, six, nine; the goose drank wine...

The world is made up of numbers.

The Media have played numbers games for years.  One local rag even has "By The Numbers" sidebars for a fair number of articles.  For instance, see the sidebar to the right!  We're constantly barraged by the news media with terms that

...Vidkun Quisling come(s) to mind...

we all take for granted because the terms seem to have been around forever, and we all know what these terms mean by context.  But who really knows the background in such terms?  I certainly didn't until I had hear the phrase "the Third world" once too often and knew I had no idea why it is the "third" world.

Here are three short notes pertaining to numbers games we all hear about on the nightly news channels.

The Three Worlds

One of these terms is what is called the "third world."  I got to thinking a long time ago just what the first and second "worlds" were, since there was a third world.  Of course we all have a good idea what is meant when we read about a third world nation:  it's a developing nation, perhaps poverty-stricken, usually located in Africa, South America, or western Asia.

What I discovered was that the three worlds comprised the following:

  • The Western world of non-Latin North America, western Europe, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong (at that time), Singapore, Taiwan, India, Australia and others.
  • The Communist world of the Soviet Union, eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Indochina, and Cuba.
  • The so-called "Third World" of publicly1 non-aligned nations of Latin America, Africa, Asia Minor, and a scattering of island republics in the western Pacific and Indian oceans.

The Four Estates

We've all read at one time or another about newspapers (and more recently television news) being referred to as "the fourth estate."  Which begs the question of what comprises the first three estates.  We here at The Ecphorizer can answer this burning question quite succinctly.  As noted in an online article titled "The Fifth Estate," the following sums up the question:  "...there are four "estates" that serve to maintain a balance of power in the American democracy:

  • Politics
  • Administration
  • Judiciary
  • Journalism
As noted in an online article titled "The Fifth Estate," the following sums up the question:  "...there are four "estates" that serve to maintain a balance of power in the American democracy:

  • The executive branch
  • the legislative branch
  • the judicial branch, and
  • more informally, journalists
This author goes on to posit that the early 21st century has seen the rise of the fifth estate, citizen journalists (commonly known as bloggers).

But wait, could there be more?  Yes.  On page 351 of The Cambridge Modern History2  (page is headed Aragon and Catalonia)

  • the clergy
  • the greater nobility
  • the petty nobility
  • the citizens (or commoners)
It appears that Spain wasn't the only country to have itemized four estates.  In an article about the Swedish parliament, it was noted that in "...1527 and later 1544 at King Gustav Vasa's two assemblies in Västerås that representatives of all four estates -
  • the Nobility
  • the Clergy
  • the Burghers
  • and the Peasantry
- were called on to participate" in the formation of the Riksdag.

Based on modern context of the four estates, we can only conclude that journalists collectively comprise the fourth estate.

The Fifth Column

Having covered the Third World and the Fourth estate, we can now turn our attention to the Fifth column, a term mentioned from time to time in history texts and other scholarly tomes.

According to Wikipedia, "A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group to which it is expected to be loyal, such as a nation."  In other words, collaborators.  Well, not completely. However, the names Marshal Phillipe Pétain and Vidkun Quisling come to mind as modern examples.

Military units usually march in four columns.  When one country invades another, the fifth column is understood to be locals whose sympathies lie with the invading army.  These locals can usually move about freely in the country being invaded, and they often harass the defense forces, thus providing a "fifth" column of support for the invading army.
I say "publicly" as that is what they generally like the world to think.  Obviously the opposite is true - Larger industrial nations of both Western and Eastern worlds have their  publicly-acknowledged spheres of influence over many "non-aligned" countries.
2  Published 1910 by the Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

The hand-held calculator was the best thing to come along for our numerically-challenged editor.  Then he discovered Reverse Polish Notation used by Hewlett-Packard calculators and he was lost forever.

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