Previous editorial opinion
Edition 112-April 1, 2014
Rise of the BRICS
Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa begin flexing
By Thomas Terrio

The recent crisis in Ukraine has given rise to a little known entity known as the BRICS. The name originated in a 2003 Goldman Sachs report, which speculated by 2050 the combined economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa would be wealthier than the current economic powers of the United States and Europe.

A recent joint statement by BRICS ministers in The Hague made it very clear without mentioning Russia directly: they are extremely concerned over the U.S. and European attempts to apply intense pressure on Vladimir Putin over his annexation of Crimea.

The BRICS are a result of two Western political ideologies or ideals coming together. They are socialism and capitalism in the form of globalization and free trade i.e., capitalists dreaming of unregulated new markets for their products with cheap labour and low overhead, and the socialist dream of feeding the poor and the death of political inequality in the third world. Both have failed miserably, because free trade is not free, and globalization in the West comes with a high price in the way of low wages, lost jobs, and lost entitlements.

Vladimir Putin makes a point at meetingPresident Vladimir Putin makes a point at a recent meeting of the Federal Assembly Council of Legislators in Moscow. Image: Russian Federation for media

The BRICS now constitute more than 3.4 billion of planet Earth’s 7 billion human inhabitants. People who have now had a taste of wealth not experienced in previous generations; and with this newfound wealth comes a growing hunger for political power and security. Something people in the West have enjoyed since the late 19th century.

There is no doubt Russia is now asserting itself in Europe after the demise of the Soviet Union; and with China’s rise in the East, signals a shift in world power structure both economically and militarily, which has resulted in the recent U.S. military pivot to Asia.

Brazil has the seventh largest economy in the world, the largest in Latin America, and second largest in the Western Hemisphere. In the coming decades, Brazil is expected to be one of the top five economies in the world. India’s economy in the world’s largest democracy, is forecast to grow at 5.5 percent in 2014. Furthermore, after struggling since 1948 with racial segregation and apartheid, South Africa has emerged as the largest economy on the continent of Africa in terms of GDP and purchasing power, as compared with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Many political and business leaders in BRICS countries have been educated in the West and are now prepared to take their knowledge and business savvy further than ever before in their own homelands, rather than seek-out a life in the West as many of their colleagues did in the past. Moreover, it's becoming abundantly clear they are willing to assert themselves whenever the need arises and are actively seeking to be a counter-weight against the Western led G7, IMF, and World Bank.

Furthermore, there is talk of the Chinese yuan replacing the U.S. dollar as the world’s major reserve currency. In my view, globalization has failed in the West and now countries such as China, India, and Russia in particular are prepared to flex their new found economic and perhaps military muscle to dominate their spheres of influence, rather than be dictated to by Western powers. Much remains to be seen, but the world we know is rapidly changing, and the West would be wise to find a new approach if it wishes to remain part of this New World Order.

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Thomas Terrio's View from the West Online Magazine