BRICS: Continuation Of Neoliberal Machine?
Fatima Moosa 24 July 2018

The Brics Summit is taking place from July 25 to 27 in Johannesburg, South Africa. BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The Summit is the Brics countries meeting with each other to discuss policies and developments. The grouping has been hailed as an alternative to international institutions like the G20. It has been called revolutionary in some circles. But is that the only way we should be looking at the Brics grouping? FATIMA MOOSA takes a closer look.

Many in the South African government, academia and the media have been hailing the summit as an important event on the South African calendar. It is an important event. The fact that South Africa is even a part of the grouping is significant given the country doesn’t even have the largest economy on the African continent. It is an important platform.

However, that is not the only lens we should be using to examine the summit and the grouping through. A group of workers, feminists and activists have gathered at the Wits School of Governance to discuss the Brics summit and how it does not represent an alternative world order but rather a continuation of more of the same. The teach-in will be a platform to debate on the need for the internal problems with Brics to be fixed before it can be portrayed as an alternative.

Patrick Bond, political economist at the University of Witwatersrand, said in an interview with The Daily Vox that there has been a failure to ask the tough discussions about the Brics Summit and the grouping as a whole.

He said there has been big push from Iqbal Surve and the Independent Media and DIRCO (the Department of International Relations and Cooperation) to make it appear like Brics has all of the solutions. However, Bond says Brics has been an amplification of neoliberalism, climate destruction, ecological disasters, exploitations, gendered violence and a general amplification of the problem.

“We are of the view that you can’t have an overarching network of tyrannies that will do any good and therefore you need to change the Brics internally,” says Bond.

Bond says groups like trade unionists, feminists movements, student movements etc tend to be sidelined when dealing with global change and the teach-in wants to showcase those views as very necessary.

“The crucial thing is Brics from below is what we’ve been doing for five years starting in Durban and every other Brics conference is a critique of Brics from above but also Brics from the middle,” said Bond

He said the middle is the layer of journalism and academia and civilised society like Oxfam who promotes a harmony model with the tyrants. Bond says there needs to be more nuance as the “middle” which is buying into the sunshine story is very dangerous. This is especially as there is no courage to ask the difficult questions.

The Brics summit brings together ministers, academic and media from the five members countries and all around the world. Most importantly, it brings together the heads of states of each of these countries, all whom are impressive in their own right. There will be Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi and Brazil’s Michel Temer along with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa.


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