April 24, 2024

BRICS is a rapidly developing association of states seeking to assert their economic influence on the world stage as an increasingly unified and weighty bloc in international politics. Communists must maintain vigilance when analyzing these developments in global affairs, accurately assessing the position and class character of each of these states within the imperialist pyramid. Furthermore, it is crucial to consider the broader objectives of BRICS as a bloc within the global imperialist system. Counter to the claims of some “leftist” groups, the emergence of BRICS as a counter to traditional Western powers represents not “the potential to create openings for this project [of constructing socialism]” by challenging the “imbalances among nations” [1] but rather signifies a sharpening of contradictions between the two main imperialist blocs vying for control of global monopoly profits. It sets the stage for heightened tensions and outright confrontations between these blocs, represented by the G7 on the one hand and BRICS on the other.

What Is BRICS?

BRICS is an economic association formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Since its establishment in 2006 (with South Africa joining in 2010), the association has grown significantly in weight and influence within the global economic system. BRICS aims to counter the geopolitical bloc represented by the Group of Seven, or G7, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They seek to accomplish this through deepening economic cooperation and coordination, facilitated by the New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai, which claims to “support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation, and other financial instruments.” [2]

BRICS has developed at a rapid pace these past two decades, constituting an ever-larger share of the global economy and even surpassing the G7’s share of global GDP in 2022, with the five original BRICS countries comprising 31.5% of global GDP compared to the G7’s 30% (which fell from roughly 40% in 2000). The rising economic importance of these countries is engendering increasing hostility from the G7 states, which seek to maintain the preeminence of their monopoly interests throughout the world. As BRICS grows in economic and military might, the polarization between these two blocs intensifies, raising tensions and sharpening divisions.

BRICS+

At its most recent summit this past August, BRICS expanded to include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates among its members, with over fifteen more countries greenlit for membership, representing a notable shift in the global balance of power. Of particular note is the addition of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, two major West Asian powers engaged in a decades-long economic and military struggle for hegemony in their region of the world. That these states would choose to cooperate now of all times indicates a growing shared interest on their part in confronting the economic (and military) dominance of the G7 powers.

President Lula de Silva of Brazil also called for a common BRICS currency at the summit, though this item was not on the agenda. Other leaders, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin (via video call), discussed the need to conduct trade between member states in national currencies instead of the US dollar. [3] These efforts are motivated by sanctions imposed by Western and North Atlantic states, particularly the US, on countries such as Russia and Iran, incentivizing their ruling classes to seek out and develop alternative financial mechanisms and currencies not tied to the US dollar, which presently predominates in the world economy.

Setting the Stage for Socialism?

Despite these developments, we should not view the challenge BRICS poses to the traditional capitalist-imperialist powers of the G7 as a positive development in the international communist movement. BRICS is a force not for socialism but for the further exploitation of the global working class by the imperialist powers that rule over us. The aim of these rising powers is only to carve out a larger piece of the capitalist pie for their respective ruling classes. Any development the NDB funds is for the sake of capitalist development, to the benefit of monopoly interests. Similarly, ongoing efforts at “de-dollarizing” their economies to escape US sanctions, though not necessarily harmful for workers impacted by them, in no way constitutes a socialist policy. Each member of BRICS is a capitalist state seeking capitalist development: the continuation of private property relations and the exploitation of the working class.

BRICS aims to leverage the economic weight of its member states to assert more control and extend the reach of their monopolies in extracting ever more profits from the workers, whether at home or abroad. The rise of BRICS sets the stage not for socialism but for rising competition and accelerated conflict between the leading imperialist blocs. Put more bluntly, it sets the stage for renewed inter-imperialist war.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.liberationnews.org/psl-editorial-brics-summit-reflects-worlds-desire-for-balanced-international-order/
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20160926230441/http://ndb.int/download/Agreement%20on%20the%20New%20Development%20Bank.pdf
  3. https://www.reuters.com/markets/currencies/what-is-brics-currency-could-one-be-adopted-2023-08-23/