BRICS: An Overview
For decades, the imperialist western powers have portrayed themselves as invincible. With the illegal dissolution of the USSR, escalations and provocations have increased — creating more instability instead of less. NATO, despite promising otherwise, has continued to serve as the militarized arm for expanding global imperialist hegemony led by the United States; ravaging the rest of the world in the process. Many people in the global south have realized, often from direct experience, the exact threats posed to them by the imperialist danger. The Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) cooperative association is important precisely because it is an emerging, and significant, challenge to the US-led hegemony, and is poised to continue growing well into the next decade.
Five countries are currently in BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. On June 16, 2009 one of the earliest stated goals of BRIC was “serving common interests of emerging market economies and developing countries, but also building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity”. At the time, in 2009, it was only BRIC; South Africa joined the cooperative framework in 2011.
With these goals in mind, how do the diverse member-countries of this association plan to achieve their mutual goals? Through peace, through cooperation, and through mutual benefit. BRICS is not a military alliance, unlike NATO, which, despite being a military alliance, claims to want to achieve global peace and stability. Actions speak louder than words, and NATO’s actions are anything but peaceful. There was no peace when NATO bombed Yugoslavia, and there has been no peace as NATO has continued expanding in eastern Europe, in direct violation of its promises in the 1990's; building a network of bases, garrisons, and outposts closer and closer to Russia's borders. Global peace, stability, and prosperity cannot be achieved through a handful of countries occupying the whole world and holding the people of other countries hostage at gun-point, as NATO and the United States have been trying to do.
In June, 2022, Beijing hosted the 14th BRICS Summit. The member-countries of the association released a declaration outlining 75 points on global governance, the COVID-19 pandemic, peace, economic recovery, climate cooperation, and more — all with the goal to Foster High-Quality BRICS Partnership, [and] Usher in a New Era for Global Development. Some highlights stand out:
30. We reaffirm our commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons and stress our strong commitment to nuclear disarmament
In comparison to the BRICS stance, the United States has previously stated that it would “refrain from using nuclear weapons against most non-nuclear states, but has neither ruled out their first use in all cases nor specified the circumstances under which it would use them”. China is the leader of the “No First Use” (NFU) movement, as it is the only nuclear-armed country in the world with an unconditional NFU policy — ie, the Chinese government is the only government in the world to declare that it will not, under any circumstances, ever commit a nuclear first-strike. Nuclear warfare would be devastating for the entire planet, and seems dangerously close at all times. The danger of nuclear armageddon seems only to have escalated in recent times, as the United States has continued its provocations around the world, from Ukraine, to Taiwan, and beyond.
48. We underscore the prime importance of securing universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy
When BRICS says that they are placing a focus on modern energy, it is not just talk. For example, China’s Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) has helped Kenya increase energy access in Kenya from 21% to 75%, relying primarily on renewable sources. The BRI has also built hydropower dams in Argentina and seven hydroelectric dams in Cambodia. The BRI as a framework for developmental cooperation is responsible for projects across the world, and stands as a testament to China's commitment to these goals in both word as well as deed. China, through BRICS and the BRI, is leading the way in win-win cooperation and developmental partnerships with the global south that, unlike imperialist projects such as the IMF and World Bank, deliver as promised, rather than serving only as mechanisms for control and exploitation.
56. As BRICS countries produce around 1/3 of the world’s food, we stress our commitment to furthering agricultural cooperation and driving sustainable agricultural and rural development of BRICS countries aimed at safeguarding food security of BRICS countries and the world.
The goals explained in point 56 are of particular importance, especially for Socialists — everyone deserves to eat and no one should go hungry, which is also a value supported globally by the BRI. A separate and potentially even larger point being made here is the mention of the size and impact of BRICS. Since it is only five countries, some may not realize how large it is at first glance; however, two of those countries are China and India, the two most populous in the world. As mentioned in the statement, BRICS currently produces 33% of the world's food, and the 3.2 billion people inhabiting those countries make up 40% of the entire world’s population. BRICS is a massive portion of the world whether the west realizes it or not, and it is only growing. The old world is dying and the new world is being born — the realignment is well underway.
73. We support promoting discussions among BRICS members on BRICS expansion process.
BRICS is currently made up of five countries, but there are currently six more that have publicly expressed interest in joining, which would more than double the number of countries involved. Those countries are Iran, Argentina, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt. Notably, Argentina is already a participant in the Belt and Road Initiative, and has been cooperating with China for years on mutual development and economic cooperation. Perhaps the primary appeal to countries interested in joining BRICS is the growth of a non-Western framework for cooperation. It is important here to note again what BRICS is and not. BRICS is not a Marxist-Leninist organization, not a military alliance, not a communist agreement, and not explicitly presented as a Socialist framework. The countries joining, and those in it, may not even harbor positive feelings toward socialism. The feelings that many of them likely do harbor, and are motivated by, are negative ones toward the west after seeing the destruction and pillaging wrought by the United States and Europe for generations. While some of the countries involved are capitalist, and surely not free of their own contradictions, Marxist-Leninists and anti-imperialists in the west have a responsibility to support, at least critically, any organization building global solidarity, promoting development, and challenging the imperialist hegemony. There are options for historically exploited and imperialized peoples to turn to now, and they are choosing to turn away from the imperialist powers. As China and the US continue to clash on the global stage, having opposing stances on Ukraine, and even more recently with the US provocations regarding the Chinese island of Taiwan. Global support is overwhelmingly on the side of China, and it would not be shocking to see even more countries express their interest in and support of the BRICS framework and its undertakings.
In addition to an overall BRICS statement, Xi Jinping also gave a speech at the Summit mentioned above. The Chinese President's main points were:
First, we must adhere to solidarity and maintain world peace and tranquility.
Second, we must adhere to cooperative development and jointly address risks and challenges.
Third, we must persist in pioneering and innovating to stimulate cooperation potential and vitality.
Fourth, we must adhere to openness and inclusiveness, and gather collective wisdom and strength.
In recent years, many countries have expressed their desire to join the BRICS cooperation mechanism. The introduction of fresh blood will bring new vitality to BRICS cooperation, and will also enhance the representation and influence of the BRICS countries.
These points reiterate the goals of BRICS and should be convincing as to why we as Marxist-Leninists should be interested in it. As anti-imperialists, understanding the forces of imperialism and its opponents is necessary, especially as the contradictions seem to sharpen more and more every day. China and BRICS are facilitating cooperation, peace, and infrastructure growth, while the United States is facilitating violence, imperialism, and destruction. We are internationalists and we are anti-imperialists; BRICS and China will only continue growing and developing as a strong influence in the global community.