It is a cliché, though nevertheless true, that we live in an increasingly interdependent world. New communications and information equip­ ment, of which the microprocessor is the latest in a series of dramatic technological advances, have facilitated the natural tendencies towards increased capital mobility, made necessary by the imperatives of con­ tinuous expanded capital accumulation. Not everyone has shared in the new technology; many isolated regions — the periphery of the peri­ phery - have become increasingly marginal to the contemporary inter­ dependent capitalist world while numerous others, even though they may have been altered by it, will not have benefited from the new technology at all. Most of us, however, will be affected by our increas­ ing interdependence with others. One of the foremost characteristics of radical research is to try to view events in context, to see the picture as a whole. This involves two things: constantly searching out the temporal or historical context of the phenomenon of interest; and being aware of the spatial or geographic variations in the phenomenon. Chapter 1 begins with a brief history of the interdependent world since 1460, the process of European expansion, colonisation and imperial­ ism, and the subsequent process of decolonisation. It then goes on to assess the plight of the ‘Third World’ today, the respective levels of social and economic development within these countries, and to consider whether a breakdown of the ‘Third World’ into smaller cate­ gories might be of some value.