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
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.
...Vidkun Quisling come(s) to mind...
Here are three short notes pertaining to numbers games we all hear about on the nightly news channels.
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.
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:
- The executive branch
- the legislative branch
- the judicial branch, and
- more informally, journalists
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)
- the Nobility
- the Clergy
- the Burghers
- and the Peasantry
Based on modern context of the four estates, we can only conclude that journalists collectively comprise the fourth estate.
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.
1 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.
Long time Ecphorizer and current Editor of all things Ecphorizer, Tod enjoyed a varied career in telecommunications having cut his teeth at Ma Bell, then getting in on the ground floor at Rolm working on digital PBXs, getting a light workout at Raynet while installing fiber optic transmission systems, and finally working at Cisco Systems prior to retiring.