Processes such as the 15th BRICS Summit, which began on August 22 in Johannesburg, will raise the question of social transformations.
Today, there may no longer be a strong socialist camp with a glamor that exceeded its limits as it did during the USSR, but at the BRICS Summit the discussion of social transformations will be imperatively placed against and within their capitalist societies.
And this is because within a condition of an ever-increasing geopolitical division, especially after the war in Ukraine, which also takes economic forms if we consider how the US is simultaneously trying to limit Chinese exports and China’s access to high technology, it seems that there are a large number of countries that are looking for a more multipolar organization of the world and it seems that they would be interested in a partnership that would represent the Global South.
BRICS a pole now bigger than the G7
If we look at the distribution of global GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, then we find that in 2022 the five BRICS countries namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa accounted for 31.67% of global GDP in 2022 , while the G7 countries 30.31%. At the same time they represent 43% of the world’s population – the G7 countries less than 10% – and 16% of world trade. Also important is the fact that it is precisely these countries that have contributed comparatively more to global growth compared to the lower growth rates of the “western” economies.
However, it is not only the absolute figures that are of interest and explain the shift of several countries in that direction.
The way the BRICS countries are integrated into the global economy is also important. And this is because although they are fully integrated into the networks of globalization and with the acceptance of the capitalist rules of the game, they nevertheless have certain distinct characteristics in relation to “western” economies:
- greater emphasis on the export of goods and raw materials than capital,
- a greater emphasis on real investment than on financial flows, a greater tolerance for government investment
- and a logic of loans with a “development” stigma.
All this is reasonable to gain the interest of several countries.
The Chinese “One Belt One Road” strategy also played a decisive role in the past period, which allocated, despite individual problems, comparatively greater funding compared to Western countries.
Above all, however, if something attracts countries to the version of globalization that the BRICS currently represent, it is that they do not link economic relations and transactions with requirements for domestic politics and institutional formation. That is to say, at a time when increasingly, mainly on the initiative of the USA, Western countries are setting conditions for the rule of law, or human rights, or the adoption of a “Western-style market economy”, for economic relations or investments, the countries of BRICS insist on a logic of “non-intervention”.
This, after all, was also seen in the fact that most of these countries had no problem condemning the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine and at the same time refusing to coordinate with Western sanctions, continuing their economic dealings with Russia. After all, even the ceiling on Russian oil prices proposed by the US was ultimately designed so that the countries of the South could continue to buy Russian oil, but on terms that limited the revenues for the Russian economy.
Number of applications for participation
It is no coincidence that currently 22 countries have officially applied to join BRICS: Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia , Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Vietnam. At the same time, several other countries have expressed interest, including Turkey.
All this points to a real interest in this process. Obviously, not all of these countries see this move as a break with the West, after all, most of them are in one way or another fully integrated into a dense web of economic relations with Western economies. Not all countries agree geopolitically, sometimes they have conflicting positions.
However, they are interested in having an alternative pole within the international system that operates on terms different from those of Western economies, or at least today’s.
Let us not forget that more and more a mixture of sanctions and trade war practices is combined with a peculiar “instrumentation” of the function of the dollar as a world reference currency, which also explains the search for “de-dollarization” practices.
BRICS: Definitely a different pole
Not all BRICS member countries have sought a complete break with the West, nor has the West correspondingly sought a break with all BRICS member countries. India, Brazil and South Africa, for example, still have developed relations with the West and respectively e.g. the US still insists on trying to “win” India, not only economically, but also geopolitically, in an effort to form a security axis under its leadership against Russia and China.
The situation is even more complex with the countries that want to join the BRICS and which seem to be essentially just seeking an opportunity to be able to take advantage of the full range of economic relations and partnerships that exist, without choosing a “camp”.
Of course, at the same time, China would like to establish its position as a leading power of the global South and give the mark that it is a power that does not underestimate emerging economies, especially since it knows that there are many expectations in this direction. .
At the same time, Russia – which chose to facilitate the meeting host South Africa by deciding not to attend Putin himself (for whom the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Ukraine is pending) – obviously hopes that he will continue to have good economic relations with a range of countries determined not to be fully identified with the West. Discussions on how to continue the supply of Russian grain to Africa, after the collapse of the agreement on Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea, are also trending in this direction.
In any case, it is clear that in one sense the world has already changed. That what was described as a multipolar world, more complex and certainly more contradictory is no longer a prediction or an expectation, but rather a reality that is already producing results at all levels.