Hi Branko, I find a lot of what you post interesting and enlightening. But this post is implausible. If the - by far - biggest member of the BRICS is part of the new cold war constellation, and another big one engaged in a hot war of aggression and annexation in blatant violation of the UN charter, how can the BRICS really be at their core be a reincarnation of non-aligned countries.

I think they are largely a grouping of countries worried about the dominance of the US and Europe in global economic and financial affairs, about the weaponisation of the USD, and they are seeking to protect their economic sovereignty from that dominance by pooling resources and creating their own financial ecosystem.

Expand full comment

Well one of the good things about substack is comment section. You are describing the same reality, in a very similar way, only emphasizing different aspect. You are right, Branko is right, the key divide brtween the West and all others is weaponization of the dollar, West accepts weaponization, BRICS expressly refute weaponization.

Weaponization of the dollar through sanctions that are not being approved by UN is a blatant violation of the UN charter, just like other types of interventions from regime change to hot wars of aggression ...

Expand full comment

Yes, I think this is correct. I don't think BRICS is a counter to NATO and it's definitionally not a "neutral space" in the hot and cold wars since members of the BRICS are active participants in both. I think a better institutional rival is the G7 - which operates on a geopolitical level, but is more concerned with economic policy as an elite liberal (and neocolonial) club. BRICS share a dislike and resentment of that. But the BRICS have never amounted to much and rarely feature as a bloc in any negotiations or debates. In reality, they are dominated by C, which has not done awfully much to build the BRICS into a meaningful institution.

Expand full comment

Reminder that "BRICs" was originally a definition about economic growth and investment classes rather than geopolitical alignment.

Expand full comment

I do think there is a commonality, which is a mutual commitment to global development, something which the UN, World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc we’re supposed to focus on, but failed to do (due in part to ideological capitalist baggage). The is a great need for infrastructure and social investment in the Global South, which the existing international financial system has been unable to fund on a long-term basis at a reasonable cost of funds. I hope BRICS can create institutions which will do what the Workd Bank and IMF has failed to do.

Expand full comment

If BRICS were what you posit, it would be full of smaller countries in precarious geopolitical spots. The likes of Georgia, Armenia, Jordan, Tunis. In reality, they are biggish states happy to bully their neighbours but very sensitive about own sovereignty. They are like a club of high school swaggy big boys, some in direct confrontation with teachers, some thinking they might be soon.

Expand full comment

I think the BRICS has a very strong wiff of a Westphalian understanding: lots of sovereignity and independence on internal problems; all the while a desire for decent relations, commercial intrcourse and as much as possible, development that has been and is denied by the west. After all, G7 was formed as a consequence of the fact that the UN Development agenda was approved and was resented by the US, who proceeded to find an aliance of like-minded gangsters ready to support a system where "what is mine is mine, what is yours is also mine" promoted by the US.

Also the Concert of Europe, emerged after 1814 has some commonality with BRICS spirit.

The world is sick and tired of the "protection racket" perpetrated by the US.

Expand full comment

From the point of view of History, there are essentially two antagonistic schools today that interpret contemporary history.

The first one is the Postmodern school, which states that, after the end of the Cold War, there is no History anymore, but infinite “micro-histories” that have equal value; that is, this new period of History is the End of History: a concrete epoch where there is no logic of progression or even cause-effect. According to the postmodernists, History is, nowadays, essentially a literary genre. They claim to be above ideology.

The second one is the Marxist school, which claims History is essentially class struggle. This movement of class struggle -- called History -- will progress through the development of the productive forces and revolutions of the relations of production and modes of production towards Communism, which is a phase in humanity's existence where History would not exist anymore because there would be no more class struggle.

Besides those two “schools”, there are still the living fossils of the old Cold War, the liberal historians who still use the traditional, historicist, method of History as the history of the great men and great ideas. Irony here is John Lewis Gaddis -- quoted in this article -- is one of them. Poor John... he bet on the “globalization vs. fragmentation” dichotomy in 1991, only to now having to deal with China.

The postmodernists are the dominant force in the West right now, mostly because, in the USA, History was never a subject taken seriously, most of their best liberal intellectuals going to political science, sociology, economics or international relations. They feel triumphant because, apparently, their model has been proven true.

But there is a way to save the Marxist model: if we consider the postmodernists not the model, but the object, we can assume they are just an interregnum to the 2nd Cold War. In such case, the postmodernists were just a fad, a spirit of the time of the euphoria of the 1990s-2000s. As the Cold War resumes (the same way WWI resumed, in the form of WWII), polarization of the globe will also resume, disproving the postmodern model and proving the Marxist model (because one of the poles is China, the new Marxist-Leninist superpower, a direct descendant of the October Revolution and rightful successor of the USSR). Since China definitely represents the hegemony of the industrial proletariat and the USA continues to represent the hegemony of the capitalist class, class struggle would resume, thus proving Marx's theory.

If Marx's theory is correct, then it is obvious the BRICS cannot represent the successor of the Non-Aligned Movement, but the (spiritual) successor of the Warsaw Pact. The big difference here being that it is not a directly military alliance, but a multi-pronged alliance that aims to destroy the American Empire (and, therefore, capitalism) through a different flank (finance and trade). Nobody can blame China for that choice of path, because, let's be honest, the Great Crisis of 2008 proved the whole world this flank is indeed vulnerable.

Expand full comment

History with a capital 'H'! Is there a church? Can I join?

Expand full comment

So BRICS+ aren't happy with the UN and WTO too?

Expand full comment

BRICS is simply multilateral reality knocking on a US unilateral illusion

Expand full comment

It is really important to be clear, who is who:

a. US/West: countries accepting and obeying the supreme leadership of US, i.e. using dollar as ultimate weapon, in addition to military force and secret services operations, from regime change to inciting wars

b. victims of such operations, great and small

c. BRICS that expressly refuse all use of force or sanctions outside of UN approved mechsnisms

In short:

unilateralism, with US as the rule maker


multilateralism, with BRICS as initial multitude

Expand full comment

Which of the BRICS expressly refuse all use of force or sanctions outside of UN approved mechanisms? R?

Expand full comment

As BRICS goes, so goes The West.

From July, 2022.

Ukraine Notes - The Long Proxy War III.

Sometimes some things are as written. Sometimes. The fate of The West decided.


Expand full comment

Unherd just published a very interesting piece by Thomas Fazi - elaborating on some of the themes you raise Branko. Here's the link https://unherd.com/2023/08/the-dawn-of-the-brics-world-order/

Expand full comment

I am confused. If the BRICS are becoming something like a new non-aligned movement in response to a new cold war, then what are the opposing sides of this new cold war? That is, who stands opposite NATO?

The obvious answers are Russia and/or China, so that makes the BRICS something of an enigma. To reuse terminology from the first cold war, BRICS is a still-evolving hybrid of second world and third world that originally was conceived by Jim O'Neill as a large emergent component of the new one world born at the "end of history". This seems like an unstable identity, and eventually BRICS+, or some alternative such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, will emerge as the new second world, with any number of third worlds forming in response.

As the Wall Street Journal reported this week, it seems that nuclear energy (and energy more generally) will be at the forefront of this geopolitical reorganization.


Expand full comment

Um artigo que lança luzes sobre o passado recente e explica em parte a necessidade de mudanças na organização do comercio global, afastando a comparação com o histórico de países não-alinhados, assim como a camisa de força da guerra-fria, numa visão positiva em relação a desestimular guerras reais ou por procuração e contribuir para reduzir as desigualdades.

Expand full comment