New world disorder (A layman’s guide to the new and not so attractive face of the globe today)
A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbours. ~William R. Inge
Fore (letter) word
The world is a constantly changing place. Over the last 50 years or so the shape of the world has changed considerably. It seems there is a worldwide movement towards devolution (as opposed to the de-evolution proposed by Devo in the 1970s.
With both the forced and the voluntary dismantling of colonial powers an enormous batch of new nation states has emerged. But the picture is rather confusing as some have gone through several name changes and border changes along the way as well. If you have an atlas, as every home used to, you will find that unless it was printed in the last 10 years it will bear little more than a passing resemblance to the world as it is today. Like most people I have had trouble getting a handle on where many of these new places are or what they stand for.
This guide is an attempt to pinpoint what sorts of nations make up this new 21st Century world and generally to get in as many cheap shots as possible against people from other nations.
I have chosen to categorise the nations of the world according to their individual character under my own headings such as Combi-nations, Conster-nations and the like. The extracts below are a sample from my upcoming novelette New World Disorder
Note: Although the names of the countries might have changed, for the most part the inhabitants are still no more enlightened than they were in the days before nations, when we used to all live in caves and our most high tech ‘must-have’ was fire.
These are nations that used to be two or more different countries
The Netherlands (or Holland, if you like) almost took this category because of the history it has of young long-haired tourists with their mobile living quarters, but more properly it belongs to those that were once two or more. My prime nomination therefore for this category is Tanzania which used to be two countries; Tanganyika and the island territory of Zanzibar. The two existed separately until the Germans, in what might have been a test drive for Poland 40 years later, annexed Tanganyika along with a pair of other African states on the eastern coast (Rwanda and Burundi) and lumped them all together as German East Africa. The League of Nations broke it up after WWI and declared the Tanganyika bit a British mandate and gave the other two to the Belgians of all people. To the winner go the spoils, eh? The fact is by this stage the area was well and truly spoiled and Tanganyika was granted (or took) independence in 1961 before amalgamating with Zanzibar and adopting the name Tanzania in 1964.
However apart from being a combination of two formerly separate countries, Tanzania doesn’t really have a hell of a lot to brag about. Probably its biggest achievement is to have the largest mountain in Africa in its backyard. Although even that is hardly something the inhabitants can take credit for, and in any case, magnificent though it is, the 5893 metre high Kilimanjaro is only the fourth largest free standing mountain in the world so it’s not even a medal winner. But Filbert Bayi, the former world mile and 1500 metre record holder was a medal winner and he might just be the only shining light in a country that lies at 193 on the world GDP charts and where your life expectancy is less than 52 years.
These are countries that make the rest of us anxious
There are many candidates for this category depending upon your level of paranoia and fear. Personally I think the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea) is the clear leader or cellar dweller depending on whether you view life in a Big Brother type hell-hole as good or bad. It has all the ingredients necessary to cause concern in both western and eastern lands.
It is a single party state and like most places of its ilk, it has been led by two successive charismatic and powerful leaders who have surrounded themselves with familiars in the most literal sense. The first President, Kim Il Sung, was elected Eternal President after he died which is interesting and might just be an example of the old adage ‘no peace for the wicked’. I imagine his son Kim Jong-Il is probably still drawing a salary for the old corpse. But even if he isn’t, he is doing very nicely for himself anyway, because he has become the new head of state (surprise, surprise) in the corporeal world. And Kim Jong-Il also happens to be the leader of the armed forces, which should ensure he remains in power a long time. This latter fact is another of the worrying aspects of the DPRK, as military men seldom like to go too long between drinks, if you get my drift. Stories of nuclear development in the republic are even more worrying than some of the rogue ex-Soviet states because these guys believe in a philosophy called juche promoted by their spectral Eternal President which roughly translated means (Korean) man is the master of everything and decides everything.
Iran is another country that makes many people nervous, as do many other Muslim countries, but PDRK is probably the most dangerous. This is partly because they are getting considerable assistance from China and partly because they don’t have any other real allies, so the possibility of their military leader having a major brain explosion one day when some other nation pisses him off is pretty high.
States ruled by royal families
Monarchies ruled most of the world for many years, or so it seemed although most have these days been replaced by republican governments or watered down versions of the previous monarchies. A small clutch of countries still cling onto the old world system of absolute monarchy and for the purposes of this discussion they should make this list.
Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and the Vatican City are still all ruled by absolute monarchs and in Tonga they might as well be. You might think this a good thing, given elected governments have been letting down their voters ever since the birth of democracy. But whether it is probably depends on what you want from life. If it is lots of money, then most of these nations (Tonga and Swaziland excepted) don’t fare too badly, but if it is freedom that you want from life, then that might be a different matter.
Brunei and Saudi Arabia both have bans on alcohol and Qatar allows a little in but only for non-residents. All three live under Sharia law, which means you have to watch your back in case your neighbour dobs you in for some minor infraction and you end up getting your hide flayed.
Swaziland has no such restrictions, but about 60 per cent of their deaths are from HIV/AIDS, so it’s a dangerous playing field and your average life expectancy in the land of Swazi is the worst recorded anywhere in the world at just short of 32 years.
Tonga is ruled by a total tool that sponges off his people in an even more mercenary and disgustingly greedy way to his late father and the Vatican City is run by a bunch of God botherers and protectors of kiddie botherers.
So given the above, I can’t see the attraction in any of them and despite its poor track record, I think I’d rather take my chances with the ballot box.
They used to be the last place you would want to live
No these are not about killing, well not entirely anyway. These are the nations that we once thought were the worst places in the world to live. They haven’t necessarily become any more desirable trash heaps in which to fester. It’s just that they have been supplanted by other much worse hell-holes more recently.
Uganda is one such place. We used to think it was a dreadful place to end up in the days of Idi Amin, but these days it probably seems like a nice gated community when compared to places like Afghanistan where the infant mortality rate is the second worst in the world. The Afghanis have 166 deaths per 1000 births to add to the 4000 citizens they are losing through emigration each year and the many more they lose because of their fifth placing in the terrorism stakes. About the only positive things you could say about Afghanistan apart from those yummy bikkies (I know!) is that your life expectancy from birth in this blighted land is less than 45 years and the level of aids infection are very low, but the latter might just be because nobody feels in the mood with all that killing going on. Uganda on the other hand is only twelfth on the list of deaths by terrorism and you even get to live for seven years longer than you would in Afghanistan. But I suspect foul play and the hand of a spin doctor in the apparent Ugandan makeover, because the most noticeable thing when researching this country is how few world statistics include data from Uganda.
Possibly the best contender for this category would be Kazakhstan. It used to be a scary predominantly Muslim state that had been drafted into the Soviet expansion plans. It was populated by rather dodgy looking bearded people, half of whom resembled Ali Babar and the rest of whom resembled Rasputin... and the men are even worse. It might surprise you to learn that Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world and apparently the largest land-locked country in the world. But what has made Kazakhstan far less undesirable than it used to be is its rapidly improving economy. So well has it performed that it was able to repay its debts to the International Monetary Fund long before it needed to and also ahead of the other ex Soviet states. It has also managed to increase its GDP by about 500 per cent and average incomes by a similar amount. Whether the publicity it got from Sacha Baron Cohen has had anything to do with this turn around I cannot say.
They want to rule the world
There are a lot of contenders for this category which could equally be described as the world’s bossiest bastards. The most obvious contender for this category would be the United States. They are one of the world’s foremost bullies and they certainly do like to get their own way, even if it does mean sticking their noses and operatives into other countries’ power structures. When you consider how many puppet governments have emerged in lands that were causing difficulties for the USA in the pursuit of world domination, they seem to be in a class of their own. But I believe the real bullies are the unseen corporate moguls who yank the Yanks’ chain.
Major chemical companies, oil companies, weapons manufacturers and drug companies deserve for the purposes of this exercise to be accorded honorary nation status, because they are the real power brokers. And because they are so powerful, I’m not even going to name the bastards lest they send their henchmen after me. Actually these buggers don’t just want to rule the world; they already bloody do.