A brics-from-below reader for the Johannesburg Teach-In July 23-24, 2018

What are the BRICS?
Together as a bloc, the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – control a quarter of the earth’s land mass but 42% of its population. The BRICS are relatively inwardlooking economies; although they host 46% of the global workforce, they are responsible for just 14% of world trade and 19% of world Gross Domestic Product (although this rises to 27% if measured in purchasing power parity terms – in which per capita GDP is also low, with only Russia enjoying an income higher than the world average of ($11,800).

The bloc was, however, initially named and celebrated – as BRIC, without South Africa until Beijing invited Pretoria to join in 2010 – by Goldman Sachs Assets Management chair Jim O’Neill in 2001. The first formal BRIC gathering was in 2006 when foreign ministers met at the United Nations, followed by heads-of-state summits at Yekaterinburg hosted by Vladimir Putin in 2009, by Lula da Silva at Brasilia in 2010, Wen Jia Bao at Sanya in 2011, Manmohan Singh at New Delhi in 2012, Jacob Zuma at Durban in 2013, Dilma Rousseff at Fortaleza in 2014, Putin at Ufa in 2015, Narendra Modi at Goa in 2016, Xi Jinping at Xiamen in 2017, and Cyril Ramaphosa in Johannesburg in 2018.

There is extensive ceremonial pageantry and back-slapping at these events, although they usually last just two days. Parallel conferences of business leaders typically have access to the state officials, unlike other official civil society BRICS events, which are kept on the sidelines and are usually held weeks before. (There is also usually an ‘uncivil society’ summit held by leftwing critics simultaneous with the BRICS leaders’ summit, e.g. in Durban in 2013, Fortaleza in 2014, Goa in 2016, Hong Kong in 2017 and Johannesburg in 2018 – under the ‘brics from below’ or People’s BRICS rubric, which in BRICS Johannesburg will be expressed as a “Break the BRICS” protest.)

New evidence of Africa’s systematic looting
Patrick Bond (Znet) 5 February 2018

A brand new World Bank report, The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018, offers evidence of how much poorer Africa is becoming thanks to rampant minerals, oil and gas extraction. Yet Bank policies and practices remain oriented to enforcing foreign loan repayments and transnational corporate (TNC) profit repatriation, thus maintaining the looting. Central to its “natural capital accounting,” the Bank uses an “Adjusted Net Savings” (ANS) measure for changes in economic, ecological and educational wealth. This is surely preferable to “Gross National Income” (GNI, a minor variant of Gross Domestic Product), which fails to consider depletion of non-renewable natural resources and pollution (not to mention unpaid women’s and community work). In its latest world survey (with 1990-2015 data), the Bank concludes that Sub-Saharan Africa loses roughly $100 billion of ANS annually because it is “the only region with periods of negative levels – averaging negative 3 percent of GNI over the past decade – suggesting that its development policies are not yet sufficiently promoting sustainable economic growth… Clearly, natural resource depletion is one of the key drivers of negative ANS in the region.”

India: New Bengali language edition of Marxism in Today's World
Peter Taaffe (Committee for a Workers' International) 9 January 2018

We publish below a new introduction by Peter Taaffe to his book 'Marxism in Today's World' which will be published in Bengali, this year. This book gives explanations of some of the basic ideas of the Committee for a Workers' International. It was originally the product of an interview with an Italian socialist in 2003. First published in English, Marxism in Today's World has since been translated into many languages. An edition was published in India in 2007 but this is the first time it has been translated into Bengali. It will allow our ideas to be outlined to workers and youth in West Bengal in India and Bangladesh.

Corporate-state degeneracy

Patrick Bond 4 October 2017

Last week a conceptual barrier carefully constructed by elites since 2015 was suddenly cracked at the University of the Witwatersrand Great Hall, by two of South Africa’s leading economic personalities: Pravin Gordhan, who served as a pro-business Finance Minister for seven years until being fired in March, and super-consultant Iraj Abedian, who in 1996 had co-authored the country’s post-apartheid homegrown structural adjustment programme. Two more solid bourgeois representatives would be hard to find. They both came to Wits to attack the enabling role of auditing firm KPMG in the scandal involving the “Zupta” network, a fusion of the patronage system within President Jacob Zuma’s government and the Gupta brothers from India who over the past decade have successfully “state captured” several large parastatal corporations and government ministries. However, instead of focusing on one firm, they made an unusually passionate case against what is sometimes termed White Monopoly Capital (though the two obviously wouldn’t name the beast as such given its controversial recent past). A few voices have made the same point, such as the leading trade union federation’s policy director Neil Coleman. In April, he asked, “Do we have to choose between a predatory elite and white monopoly capital?”

‘Africa Rising’ in Retreat: New Signs of Resistance
Patrick Bond (Monthly Review) 28 September 2017

A few years ago, at the very moment that Africa’s GDP ceased its rapid 2002–11 increase, a profound myth took hold in elite economic and political circles, embodied in the slogan “Africa Rising.”1 That myth persists. Deutsche Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann claimed in June 2017 at a Berlin conference that “Africa stands ready to benefit from an open world economy. Its economic outlook is positive.”2 The conference was arranged by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble to promote his G20 Compact with Africa, whose “main aim is to lower the level of risk for private investments” (but in the run-up to the German election, he and Angela Merkel were obviously also concerned to give the impression the strategy would reduce Europe’s African refugee crisis).

BRICS Summit in China: A Missed Opportunity
Patrick Bond on the Real News Network 6 September 2017

Patrick Bond, who held a keynote address at the BRICS counter-summit in Hong Kong says that critics consider the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, a missed opportunity to challenge corporate led globalization

Imperialism in Africa: China’s Widening Role
Lee Wengraf Review of African Political Economy China’s presence in Africa has grown dramatically in the twenty-first century. Neoliberal privatization and trade agreements opened up investment opportunities not only for the West but also for China, heightening rivalries between the two. China has emerged as a dominant powerhouse in Africa, not only securing drilling and mineral rights across the continent, but cementing political allegiances with African regimes through development projects such as dams, roads and bridges. Chinese leaders have very actively cultivated these relationships with frequent high-profile visits since the start of the African “boom” in the early 2000s. Loans from China to poor countries, mainly in Africa, have surpassed those from the World Bank. African oil-rich nations have been happy to embrace these alliances, welcoming “infrastructure for oil” deals. African leaders and business elites have sought out this foreign investment while attempting to secure favorable contracts requiring “local content,” that is, compelling manufacturers to invest locally, transfer technology and employ local staff. However, a number of reports describe Chinese companies importing Chinese labor and equipment, conveniently side-stepping “local content” provisions.

Demanding Zuma’s Resignation
Patrick Bond and Trevor Ngwane on the Real News Network 13 April 2017

ANC’s leadership called into question as Zuma’s corruption ridden Presidency is headed to an end, who will lead the country next, ponders Trevor Ngwane of the Johannesburg United Front and Professor Patrick Bond.

In South Africa, entering stage left: Jacob Zuma’s ‘Radical Economic Transformation’ alternative factoids
Patrick Bond 13 February 2017

South Africa’s two main warring political blocs – the forces of Fiscal Patronage (‘Zuptas!’ in local parlance, referring to the immigrant Gupta family’s curious influence over the president’s family and government) versus the forces of Fiscal Prudence (‘Treasury neoliberals!’ to critics) – are still represented by two men who have begun to stumble on terrain potholed by what a Donald Trump aid terms ‘alternative facts.’ After President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Thursday, punctuated by intense protest and repression in parliament, the country’s leading political reporter (and former ‘Friends of Zuma’ insider) Ranjeni Munusamy predicted, “Radical economic transformation is going to be all the rage, apparently. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan paid close attention to every word Jacob Zuma said. He has to operationalize this programme by allocating the requisite funding. Does he have the funds to fulfil these goals? Who cares? Zuma certainly does not.” Perhaps, but even if it was just another move in the tired African National Congress (ANC) talk left, walk right dance-step, Zuma at least included a belated definition of the long-promised Radical Economic Transformation: “a fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.”

South Africa labeled ‘junk’
Patrick Bond (Znet) 7 April 2017

South Africa is digesting the news of Standard & Poor’s April 3 downgrade of state debt to junk status following President Jacob Zuma’s March 30 cabinet reshuffle – 20 ministers and deputy ministers were fired or shifted including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan – which dropped the value of the local currency, the rand, from R12.4/$ to R14/$ over the past week. On Friday April 8, mass protests led by the outraged middle class and some progressive civil society allies aim to register dissent in all the major cities. The ruling African National Congress’ former military wing is mobilising hundreds of its veterans and supporters to ‘defend’ Zuma. As political conflict grows more heated than at any point since 1994, an already stagnant economy is now teetering. Even if the credit rating agencies’ biases and competence should be questioned, further junk ratings by Moody’s and Fitch could well cause a ‘run on the bank’ similar to 1985 when apartheid leader PW Botha’s crazed ‘Rubicon Speech’ catalysed a new round of financial sanctions by Western banks. Botha was compelled to default on a $13 billion debt and impose exchange controls, as the foreign debt/GDP ratio hit 40%. Today it is nearly 50%, but in contrast, might the current crisis generate a long-overdue era of redistribution, racial justice and radical economic transformation? This is the renewed rhetoric of many ruling party ideologues, and was also the promise of Gordhan’s replacement as Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba last Saturday, April Fool’s Day.

Taking down Trumpism from Africa: Delegitimation, not collaboration, please
Patrick Bond 9 February 2017

In the US there are already effective Trump boycotts seeking to delegitimise his political agenda. Internationally, protesters will be out wherever he goes. And from Africa, there are sound arguments to play a catalytic role, mainly because the most serious threat to humanity and environment is Trump’s climate change denialism.
Consider two contrasting strategies to deal with the latest mutation of US imperialism: we should protest Donald Trump and Trumpism at every opportunity as a way to contribute to the unity of the world’s oppressed people, and now more urgently link our intersectional struggles; or we should somehow take advantage of his presidency to promote the interests of the ‘left’ or the ‘Global South’ where there is overlap in weakening Washington’s grip (such as in questioning exploitative world trading regimes).
The latter position is now rare indeed, although before the election Hillary Clinton’s commitment to militaristic neoliberalism generated so much opposition that to some, the anticipated ‘paleo-conservatism’ of an isolationist-minded Trump appeared attractive. One international analyst of great reknown, Boris Kagarlitsky, makes this same argument this week largely because Trump is questioning pro-corporate ‘free trade’ deals. But the argument for selective cooperation with Trump was best articulated in Pambazuka as part of a series of otherwise compelling reflections by the Ugandan writer and former South Centre director Yash Tandon.



Patrick Bond 10 July 2015 (Originally published by teleSUR English) The main point of the summit of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa this week was host Vladimir Putin’s demonstration of economic autonomy, given how much Western sanctions and low oil prices keep biting Russia. In part this sense of autonomy comes from nominal progress made on finally launching the bloc’s two new financial institutions. But can these new banks address the extraordinary challenges in world finance? For example, more than 60% of Greeks voting in last Sunday’s referendum opposed the neoliberal dictates of Brussels-Berlin-Washington, thus raising hopes across Southern Europe and among victims of “odious debt” everywhere. Meanwhile, bubbly Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets were crashing by $3 trillion from peak levels in just 17 days, a world-historic meltdown, at a time Chinese housing prices were also down 20% over the prior year. Beijing’s emergency bail-out measures represent vast subsidies to financiers, just like those used in Washington, London, Brussels and Tokyo since 2007. Change is urgently needed yet the BRICS’ finance bureaucrats – especially two leading appointees from South Africa – won’t deviate from orthodoxy. Ongoing financial turbulence should offer a gap for the $100 billion Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which is anticipated to open its doors next month. However, it carries not only a strange name that even many insider experts often get wrong, but is dollar-denominated and structurally hard-wired to support the International Monetary Fund (IMF). To illustrate, according to CRA rules agreed at last year’s BRICS Fortaleza summit, after 30% of a country’s quota is borrowed – based on double the amount of its own contributions (China at $41 billion, and Brazil, Russia and India at $18 billion each, and South Africa at $5 billion) – then the borrower must next sign a neoliberal IMF agreement. For South Africa this could prove painful in the period ahead, after Pretoria finds itself borrowing from the CRA to repay the country’s soaring foreign debt. Inheriting $25 billion in apartheid odious debt in 1994, Nelson Mandela’s government worked diligently to repay. But over the past decade, outflows of profits, dividends and interest soared as the largest Johannesburg-based firms (Anglo American, DeBeers, etc) shifted their financial headquarters to London. The foreign debt ballooned to its present $145 billion, the same level compared to the size of the economy that was hit thirty years ago when PW Botha’s apartheid regime declared a default. To repay short-term debt in a crisis would soon exhaust the $3 billion Pretoria is permitted to immediately access from the CRA, and then the IMF will march in.

BRICS cook the climate

As they meet in Durban on March 26-27, leaders of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – must own up: they have been emitting prolific levels of greenhouse gases, far higher than the US or the EU in absolute terms and as a ratio of GDP (though less per person). How they address this crisis could make the difference between life and death for hundreds of millions of people this century. South Africa’s example is not encouraging. First, the Pretoria national government and its Eskom parastatal electricity generator have recently increased South Africa’s already extremely high emissions levels, on behalf of the country’s ‘Minerals-Energy Complex’. This problem is well known in part because of the failed civil society campaigns against the world’s third and fourth largest coal-fired power plants (Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile), whose financing in 2010 included the largest-ever World Bank project loan and whose subcontractor includes the ruling party’s investment arm in a blatant multi-billion rand conflict of interest. Other climate campaigns have made little dent against the guzzling mining and smelting industries which chew up South Africa’s coal-fired electricity and export the profits. The same is true for the high-polluting industries of the other BRICS countries, even in China where environmental protests are rising and where it is

Introducing BRICS from above and BRICS-from-below | Pambazuka
There seem to be three narratives about BRICS. The first is promotional and mainly comes from government and allied intellectuals; the second perspective is uncertainty, typical of fence-sitting scholars and NGOs; and the third is highly critical, from forces sometimes termed the 'independent left.

BRICS FROM ABOVE BRICS FROM THE MIDDLE BRICS FROM BELOW What is BRICS? Numsa Fact Sheet 1 BRICS Inequalities Fact Sheet Bond BRICS critique for Amandla Patrick Bond Amandla READ PDF BRICS in Africa anti-imperialist, sub-imperialist or in between? Edited by Patrick Bond Professor of political...

Building BRICS from Below? - The Bullet - Socialist Project
Aug 3, 2014 - The Sixth Summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Heads of States, in Fortaleza, was accompanied by three others: the Business Meeting of BRICS, the Third Trade Union Summit and NGO's and movement's “ Dialogues on Development: the BRICS from the perspective of ...

The BRICS in International Development
Jing Gu, ‎Alex Shankland, ‎Anuradha Chenoy - 2016 - ‎Political Science
The 'BRICS from below' narrative is highly critical of the grouping, describing its member countries as 'sub-imperialists' who seek regional domination and exploitation. Strongly condemning South Africa's positioning itself as the gateway to Africa, this narrative highlights the violations of socioeconomic, political and civil ...

Brics-from-below | China Labour Net
Mar 26, 2013 - 7-10pm UKZN Time of the Writer festival panel (Sneddon Theatre at Howard College Campus), with a focus on progressive critiques of SA Political Economy and Social Culture (likely with Sampie Terreblanche, Ashwin Desai, Andile Mngxitama, Jonny Steinberg, etc), in conjunction with brics-from-below

Just another Brics in the wall | African Independent
Oct 27, 2016 - The Brics leaders may regret these growing ties to global power. As the Brics- bloc coherence comes into question, a progressive Brics-from-below network will offer a far more attractive version of South-South collaboration. – The Conversation. Patrick Bond is a professor of political economy, University of ..

BRICS-from-below: An alternative to the alternative | Afraso
And while the BRICS Business Forum provided big companies with a voice in the BRICS Summit, people living in these areas are not invited to participate in the debate. To raise their voices, several civil society organizations had prepared BRICS-from-below to discuss BRICS and its impact. The participants represented

BRICS economies are still a mystery - Ifp-Fip IFP
In Durban, for the first time, organizations and social movements of the BRICS and other countries gathered at the fifth Summit of Heads of State, in a movement called “The BRICS from below.” The impact of the actions by countries of the club was criticized and discussed there. Now, the challenge is to promote this debate.

BRICS Bank: A Challenge to Bretton Woods or More of the Same? | - IPS
Sep 23, 2014 - ... dismisses the phenomenon as 'sub-imperialism' and is helping construct a 'brics-from-below' network. Join the Institute for Policy Studies' Global Economy and Foreign Policy In Focus projects for a forrum to examine such questions in the spirit of healthy and progressive debate, as Mark and Patrick bare

BRICS Trade Unions Confront a Dynamic, Dangerous World - Fedusa
regulated societies – China (2011) and Russia (2015) – prevented a 'brics from below' or. People's Forum from occurring. China's 2017 hosting means that when the BRICS leaders meet in Xiamen, a counter-summit will take place in Hong Kong, with similar hosts and attendees as occurred during the 2005 World Trade.

Patrick Bond Discusses the Concept BRICS-from-below: A Counter
He firstly states that there is a need for the hegemony of BRICS to be resisted, and then responds to comments that foreign policy journalist, Peter Fabricius, made about him at a public debate about the BRICS Summit. Lastly, Bond introduces the concept of BRICS-from-below, the counter summit to BRICS that he is involved.

BRICS in Africa - cadtm
BRICS in Africa, anti-imperialist, sub-imperialist or in between? a reader for the Durban Summit. Introduction to Brics and brics-from-below Patrick Bond. The Brics come to Durban Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Recommendations from academics to Brics.