BRICS and the reconfiguration of the world order

The 37th annual dinner of Third World Solidarity, an organisation that enjoys a close working relationship with Friends of Socialist China, was held on June 4, at the Royal Nawab Restaurant in the west London suburb of Perivale.

Among the guests were Councillor Tariq Dar MBE, Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, Councillor Shakeel Akram, Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow, Nisar Malik, prospective parliamentary candidate for Brentford and Isleworth for the Workers’ Party of Britain (WPB), veteran journalist Shafi Naqi Jamie, and many others, from the embassy of Kazakhstan, local government, community activism, the arts, business and other walks of life, including members and friends of Friends of Socialist China from Britain, Luxembourg and Malaysia.

The 135 guests were greeted by Evie Hill of the Znaniye Foundation and its Russian School, who introduced the host, Honorary Alderman Mushtaq Lasharie CBE, the founder and Chairman of Third World Solidarity.

With the ongoing genocidal war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and with June 14 marking the seventh anniversary of the Grenfell fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people, the first speakers were Palestinian activist for women’s rights, Ahlam Akram, the founder of Basira (British Arabs Supporting Universal Women’s Rights), and Emma O’Connor, a disabled resident on Grenfell’s 20th floor.

The main speaker was Keith Bennett, Co-editor of Friends of Socialist China, who spoke on the BRICS cooperation mechanism and its role in the evolution of a new global order.

A video message of greetings was received from Dave Anderson, former miner, care worker, Labour MP and shadow minister under Jeremy Corbyn, who is now the Chair of Marras – the Friends of the Durham Miners Gala, who was unable to be present.

Following the speeches, Hugh Goodacre sang a song marking the 40th anniversary of the miners’ great strike and this was followed by a virtuoso performance from singer and musician Mubarak Ali to round off the evening.

Keith began his speech by thanking all those who had made the evening possible, especially Mushtaq Lasharie, highlighting his decades of tireless activism and public service.

Referring to the two previous speakers, he expressed solidarity with the struggles of the Palestinian people and the Grenfell community. In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of people in India and Pakistan had taken to the streets raising the slogan, “My name, your name, Vietnam”. Today, for people around the world, their rallying cry has become, “In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians.”

Grenfell was one of those events where people will remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about it. It was an entirely avoidable tragedy, an act of social murder in the memorable words of Friedrich Engels. The council, the government and the companies concerned, knew that the building’s cladding, like that of other residential buildings still standing, was flammable and lethal. The building was known to be a death trap. The fire was one more manifestation, like the Hillsborough football stadium disaster, the Post Office Horizon scandal, the contaminated blood scandal, and the treatment of the Windrush generation, among others, of the ruling class’s contempt for working people. But the multinational working class community of Grenfell, like the others mentioned, is a community that has refused to be silenced and which has courageously persisted in the struggle for justice.

The following is the text of the main body of Keith’s speech.

I’ve been asked to speak this evening about the BRICS and their growing role in the reconfiguration of the world order.

But like a good novel, it takes a while, and there are a few plot twists before things start to fall into place. So please bear with me for a bit.

Let’s start with the origins of our host organization, Third World Solidarity. What world were we living in? What was happening?

The key event that led to the formation of Third World Solidarity was the US bombing, with the support of the Thatcher government here, of Libya on April 15, 1986 – an act of state terrorism in which the adopted baby daughter of head of state Colonel Gaddafi was among those killed.

This was the period when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were turning the cold war hot throughout the Global South. (Or Third World as it was then generally called and from which we derive our name.) This was the case from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to Angola. And from Ethiopia to Cambodia.

It was also, although we did not realise it at the time, the period when the Soviet Union, and its allied socialist countries in central and Eastern Europe, were entering their final days.

Their demise also triggered the collapse, or the retreat, of many socialist experiments throughout the Third World.

Although five socialist countries survived, most notably China, elsewhere, attempts to build socialism, or just to pursue independent development, were often replaced by IMF/World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), the downgrading of the role of the state, and the decimation of social programs and basic services, including in the vital areas of health and education. Neoliberalism acquired a practically religious aura. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, we were repeatedly told: “There is no alternative.” And for good measure, she added that there was, “no such thing as society, only individuals and their families.”

This neoliberal ideological hegemony was such that US political theorist Francis Fukuyama even proclaimed the end of history. And was catapulted from relative obscurity to intellectual rock star and guru status for his banal observation.

This apparently and now obviously ridiculous claim that history had come to an end meant that the evolution of human society was considered to have reached the destination of its journey with the hegemony of liberal democracy and the free market.

Although if democracy is to have any relationship to people having some measure of actual control over their own lives, and collectively over the evolution and running of their state and society, for hundreds of millions there was plenty of neoliberalism, plenty of economic impoverishment, but precious little democracy.

With the end of history there was also supposed to be a peace dividend. No more wars. And the Soviet Union was effectively persuaded to surrender with US promises that its NATO military alliance would not move one inch further east from a reunified Germany.

Of course, NATO marched inexorably eastwards. Slowly but surely laying the groundwork for today’s Ukraine tragedy.

As for no more wars, even to utter the phrase now can only draw a bitter laugh as we recall Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine and so many other conflicts, together claiming the lives of millions of innocent children, women and men.

Continue reading BRICS and the reconfiguration of the world order

Wang Yi: BRICS is opening up a new chapter of the Global South

The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the BRICS dialogue mechanism was held on June 10 in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. Russia holds the rotating chair of BRICS for 2024 and the meeting of foreign ministers was preparatory to the annual summit, to be held in Kazan. It was attended by the nine current BRICS member countries, along with 12 other developing countries, namely Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Türkiye, Mauritania, Cuba, Venezuela and Bahrain.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the participants had an in-depth exchange of views on BRICS cooperation and international and regional hotspot issues. All parties spoke highly of the important role of the BRICS mechanism and the achievements of its membership expansion. They agreed that the accession of more countries to BRICS has accelerated the process of building a multipolar world and promoted a more just and equitable international order. They also voiced support for the establishment of partner countries. All parties called for adherence to multilateralism, opposition to unilateralism and protectionism, promoting reform of the international financial architecture, enhancing and improving global governance, and increasing the voice and representation of developing countries. They also emphasised the need for peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultations and their support for all efforts conducive to peaceful resolution of crises. The meeting adopted a joint statement, the full text of which can be read here.

In his speech to the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that: “Over the past year, BRICS cooperation has moved forward with highlights, with speed and with strength.We made pioneering efforts and expanded the BRICS mechanism, opening up a new chapter of the Global South seeking strength through unity… Upon expansion, BRICS countries account for nearly half of the global population and one-fifth of global trade, and their total economic output has overtaken that of the G7 in PPP [Purchasing Power Parity] terms.”

Unmistakeably referring to the United States, Wang said that a major country was “still harbouring Cold War mentality, is cobbling up geopolitical blocs and even publicly challenging United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, which erodes the authority of multilateral mechanisms. Economic issues are politicised; the notion of national security is overstretched; and unilateral sanctions and technology barriers are growing. In the face of a contest between forces promoting world multipolarity and forces holding onto unipolar hegemony, between globalisation and anti-globalisation, we must follow the trend of history, stand on the side of fairness and justice, and make the right choice.”

He further stressed the need to, “firm up determination to safeguard peace and security and make new contributions to the political settlement of international hotspot issues. History shows that Cold War mentality, bloc confrontation or external interference cannot solve problems. Instead, they will create bigger problems or even crises. No matter how complex the situation is, parties must not give up dialogue and consultation. No matter how acute the conflict is, political settlement must be pursued.”

Addressing the two major conflicts in the world today, China’s top diplomat said that the war in Gaza is testing human conscience and sense of justice. We must push for an immediate ceasefire that is comprehensive and lasting, ease the humanitarian crisis and prevent further spillover of the conflict. We should support Palestine’s bid for full UN membership, support its efforts to restore legitimate national rights, restart the two-state solution, and bring about lasting peace in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Ukraine also continues.  China supports the convening, in due course, of a true international peace conference that is recognised by both Russia and Ukraine, participated in by all sides on an equal footing, and where all peace plans are discussed fairly. BRICS countries should take an independent, objective and just stance, help build international consensus for peace, and oppose attempts to instigate a new Cold War.

He also alluded to the need to break dollar hegemony in international banking and finance, saying: “We should work for early breakthroughs on local currency settlement and cross-border payment cooperation through the financial track. We should promote the use of more diverse currencies at the New Development Bank for financing and increase the share of local currencies in investment and financing activities.”

Wang Yi also held a number of bilateral meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the gathering.

Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, he noted that President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to China was a great success, adding that both sides should fully implement the important common understandings reached between the top leaders of the two countries and advance cooperation in various fields.

Lavrov said that Russia is willing to closely cooperate with China on multilateral platforms including the UNSC and enhance diplomatic coordination. The number of like-minded countries continues to increase in international and regional affairs while BRICS expansion reflects this positive trend.

Speaking with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Wang Yi congratulated South Africa on the smooth holding of the general election and the African National Congress (ANC) on continuing to play a leading role in South Africa’s politics as the largest party. He expressed the belief that the ANC will remain true to its original aspiration and firm faith and continue to lead the South African people to make greater achievements in building a new South Africa enjoying unity, stability and prosperity. Last year, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to South Africa and attended the BRICS Summit, during which he reached important common understandings with President Cyril Ramaphosa, ushering in a new era of building a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future. The historic expansion of the BRICS mechanism in South Africa has further encouraged the Global South countries to seek strength through unity.

China, he added, attaches importance to South Africa’s role as a major developing country, and stands ready to keep close multilateral coordination, be an objective, balanced and constructive voice on the Ukraine crisis and other hotspot issues, and contribute to world peace and stability.

Naledi Pandor said that last year, South Africa was honoured to host President Xi Jinping and thanked China for supporting South Africa in successfully hosting the BRICS Summit. South Africa not only attaches great importance to its relations with China, but also attaches great importance to Africa’s cooperation with China and the role of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Cooperation with China is the most important part of Africa’s international cooperation. Naledi Pandor looks forward to China strengthening cooperation in such fields as infrastructure, digital economy, renewable energy and human resources development in light of Africa’s development needs, so as to contribute to the continent’s stable development.

Meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, Wang Yi noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Brazil diplomatic relations, a significant year in bridging the past and the future for the development of bilateral relations. As President Xi Jinping stressed, both sides should grasp the strategic importance of the China-Brazil relationship, enhance its mutually beneficial nature, and highlight its comprehensiveness. China values Brazil’s significant influence in the Latin American region and is willing to jointly promote cooperation between China, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).

For his part, Mauro Vieira said that Brazil highly values its relationship with China, is ready to closely engage in high-level exchanges with China, strengthen cooperation in various fields including trade and economy, and define a new positioning for bilateral relations to open new prospects for the next 50 years. Brazil and China share similar stances on many issues, and the joint statement on the six common understandings on the political settlement of the Ukraine issue is of great importance.  Noting that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva firmly believes that dialogue and cooperation between China and CELAC are highly significant, Vieira said the China-CELAC Forum is a beneficial platform, and Brazil is willing to work with China to arrange forum activities and promote its further development.

On meeting with Iranian Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Wang Yi expressed condolences once again over the unfortunate passing of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter accident. Wang Yi said that during the current period, the Iranian state and nation has undergone a significant test. As a comprehensive strategic partner, China supports the Iranian government and people in adhering to their established domestic and foreign policies, maintaining independence, sovereignty, stability and development, and wishes Iran a successful presidential election.

Ali Bagheri Kani, on behalf of the Iranian government, thanked China for expressing condolences over the unfortunate passing of the President and Foreign Minister and for sending a special representative to attend the memorial service. 

Under the current international circumstances, he continued, developing Iran-China relations not only benefits the people of both countries but is also conducive to regional and world peace and stability, as well as to building a fairer and more reasonable international order and safeguarding the legitimate rights of developing countries. Unilateralism has reached a dead end, and cannot solve domestic problems, let alone global issues, as is fully proved in the prolonged Gaza conflict. Iran is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China in international and regional affairs, jointly uphold multilateralism, and seek solutions to global issues.

Meeting with Taye Atske Selassie, the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, a new member of BRICS, Wang noted that Ethiopia is an influential African nation and the seat of the African Union (AU) headquarters. Over the past two years, Ethiopia has made orderly progress in its domestic peace process and made remarkable achievements in economic and social development. Wang Yi expressed his belief that the Ethiopian government and people will achieve even greater success on the path of peace, development, and prosperity.

Noting Ethiopia’s deep friendship with China, Taye Atske Selassie said the elevation of bilateral relations to an all-weather strategic partnership is warmly welcomed by the Ethiopian government and people. China is Ethiopia’s largest source of foreign investment and export destination, and bilateral cooperation has strongly promoted Ethiopia’s economic and social development. Ethiopia is willing to learn from China’s development experience and to work with other African countries to promote greater development in China-Africa cooperation. 

In his meeting with Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, Wang Yi said that under the strategic guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping and General Secretary Thongloun Sisoulith, solid progress has been made in building a China-Laos community with a shared future. In the face of the complex international situation and domestic development tasks, China and Laos, as friendly neighbours with a shared future, need to work together to meet challenges, eliminate all kinds of external interference, oppose stoking bloc confrontation, and earnestly safeguard regional peace and stability. China firmly supports Laos in serving as the rotating chair of ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) and working together to build an even closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

Saleumxay Kommasith said that both Laos and China are socialist countries with similar ideas and systems. They both adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and are committed to safeguarding international justice and world peace. In the face of the current complex international and regional situation, the importance of Laos-China cooperation has never been greater.

Wang Yi also met with Thai Foreign Minister Maris Sangiampongsa and noted that China is full of confidence in the prospect of China-Thailand relations and is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with Thailand, enhance cooperation in various fields, accelerate the construction of the China-Thailand Railway and other major projects, and realise the vision of interconnected development of China, Laos and Thailand at an early date.

Maris Sangiampongsa said that Thailand hopes to learn from China’s successful experience in economic development, strengthen practical cooperation in various fields, and better achieve economic and social development. Thailand stands ready to work with China to jointly plan the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations next year so as to highlight the close friendship between the two peoples. Thailand is also ready to join the BRICS mechanism as soon as possible, play a more active role in South-South cooperation, and strengthen coordination and cooperation with China on multilateral platforms.

The following articles were originally published on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Pooling Strengths and Working Together For a Brighter Future of BRICS

June 11 (Foreign Ministry)

Remarks by H.E. Wang Yi at the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations Meeting

Nizhny Novgorod, June 10, 2024

Dear Colleagues, 

Good morning. It is a great pleasure to join you at Nizhny Novgorod for the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations Meeting. I thank Minister Lavrov and the Russian government for the thoughtful arrangements.

Continue reading Wang Yi: BRICS is opening up a new chapter of the Global South

ALBA party calls for calm to stop UK-China cold war becoming a hot war

Alba, the Scottish nationalist party founded by former First Minister Alex Salmond, has condemned the latest cold war moves by the British government against China.

In a March 26 statement the party’s General Secretary Chris McElney said that the sort of Cold War mentality on display by Westminster ends in hot wars. He called on the Scottish government to reject this approach, adding: “The real danger is from those who wish to divide the world into armed camps and who wish to shut Scotland out from the international community.”

Scotland had benefitted from a positive relationship with China in areas including education, trade, investment and tourism.

The below is reprinted from the Alba website.

Reacting to the UK Government statement on China, Alba Party General Secretary Chris McEleny said:

“As Alex Salmond has previously warned, this is the sort of Cold War mentality on display by Westminster which ends in hot wars. The Scottish Government should reject this viewpoint, defend valuable cultural exchanges and oppose any attempts by the UK Government to close them down or reduce the number of Chinese students who have the ability to be educated in Scotland. We have nothing to fear from talking and exchanging culture. The real danger is from those who wish to divide the world into armed camps and who wish to shut Scotland out from the international community.

“Scotland’s educational links with China have long presented opportunities to increase trade and secure Chinese investment in industry and infrastructure.

“These links also promote Scotland as a destination of choice for Chinese tourists – something which pre-pandemic delivered 172,000 visits to Scotland from China bringing £142M into the Scottish economy.

“Westminster’s feud with China undermines and will deeply damage over a century of Sino-Scottish educational relations”

Xi says China-Russia relations embrace new development opportunities

The Presidents of China and Russia exchanged friendly greetings and reviewed their bilateral relations, along with a range of regional and international issues, in a February 8 telephone call in advance of the Chinese New Year.

President Xi Jinping told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that China and Russia withstood many tests together in the past, and their relations embrace new development opportunities in the future. He added that it has become a fine tradition for him and Putin to exchange greetings at the turn of the year, review the achievements of the development of bilateral relations, and jointly look forward to the future.

Noting that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, Xi said that China is ready to continue to uphold the spirit of mutual assistance and everlasting friendship with Russia so as to jointly write a new chapter in China-Russia relations.

He stressed that the two sides should strengthen strategic coordination, safeguard the national sovereignty, security and development interests of their respective countries, and resolutely oppose external interference in their internal affairs.

He also called on both sides to support Kazakhstan in holding a successful Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit this year, enhance unity and mutual trust, and safeguard regional security and stability as well as the common interests of regional countries, adding that China also actively supports Russia as the rotating BRICS presidency this year.

President Putin said this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and China. Under the joint efforts of both sides, bilateral relations have reached an unprecedented high level.

Expressing thanks to China for supporting Russia’s work in the BRICS rotating presidency this year, Putin said Russia stands ready to strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese side in regional and international multilateral frameworks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to support each other, and to uphold multilateralism and safeguard respective legitimate interests.

Russia firmly abides by the one-China principle, opposes any dangerous actions provoking China on the Taiwan question, and believes that any plot impeding China’s peaceful reunification will not succeed, Putin noted.

The following article was originally published by the Xinhua News Agency.

BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) — China and Russia withstood many tests together in the past, and their relations embrace new development opportunities in the future, said Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.

Xi made the remarks in his phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, ahead of the Chinese New Year. In the phone call, the two heads of state also exchanged greetings of the Chinese New Year.

Noting that the Chinese Spring Festival is approaching and the festive atmosphere is strong, Xi said that the Chinese people are full of hope and confidence towards the coming Year of the Dragon.

Extending his best wishes to the friendly Chinese people, Putin said that the dragon symbolizes wisdom and strength in the Chinese culture.

He wished the Chinese people happiness in the Year of the Dragon and hoped that all their wishes would be fulfilled.

In the phone call, Xi said that it has become a fine tradition for him and Putin to exchange greetings by the turn of the year, review the achievements of the development of bilateral relations, and jointly look forward to the future.

Noting that he and Putin met twice and reached many important consensuses in the past year, Xi said that under the two leaders’ joint guidance, the governments, legislatures and political parties of the two countries have engaged in active exchanges, and bilateral cooperation in various fields has shown resilience and vitality, Xi said.

The annual bilateral trade volume met the aim ahead of schedule, while cultural and local exchanges between the two countries were vigorously carried out, and the Years of Sports Exchange between China and Russia were successfully concluded, Xi said.

Noting that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, Xi said that China is ready to continue to uphold the spirit of mutual assistance and everlasting friendship with Russia to jointly write a new chapter in China-Russia relations.

Xi stressed that the two sides should strengthen strategic coordination, safeguard the national sovereignty, security and development interests of their respective countries, and resolutely oppose external interference in their internal affairs.

The two sides should cultivate new momentum for bilateral cooperation, maintain the stability of the industrial and supply chains, jointly host the China-Russia Years of Culture, hold down-to-earth and warm cultural exchanges that connect the hearts of the two peoples, and constantly tighten the bonds of their people, Xi said.

Xi called on both sides to support Kazakhstan in holding a successful Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit this year, enhance unity and mutual trust, and safeguard regional security and stability as well as the common interests of regional countries, adding that China also actively supports Russia as the rotating BRICS presidency this year.

China stands ready to strengthen international multilateral coordination with Russia, practice the true multilateralism, advocate an equal and orderly multipolar world and economic globalization that benefits all, and make the global governance system more just and reasonable, so as to make positive contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said.

For his part, Putin said this year marks the 75th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and China. Under the joint efforts of both sides, bilateral relations have reached an unprecedented high level.

Last year, Russia-China cooperation in various fields yielded fruitful results, Putin said, expressing his willingness to continue to maintain close interaction with President Xi, so that the two leaders can guide the two countries to achieve new progress in cooperation in all fields.

He hopes the two sides will successfully hold the Russia-China Years of Culture and a series of cultural and people-to-people exchanges this year, further cementing the foundation of friendship between the two peoples.

Expressing thanks to China for supporting Russia’s work in the BRICS rotating presidency this year, Putin said Russia stands ready to strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese side in regional and international multilateral frameworks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to support each other, and to uphold multilateralism and safeguard respective legitimate interests.

Russia firmly abides by the one-China principle, opposes any dangerous actions provoking China on the Taiwan question, and believes that any plot impeding China’s peaceful reunification will not succeed, Putin noted.

The two heads of state also exchanged in-depth views on current international and regional hotspot issues. The two heads of state agreed to keep close contact in the new year, and have in-depth exchanges on China-Russia relations and strategic issues of common concern. 

BRICS+ and the future of the international order

This thought-provoking article by Elias Jabbour – associate professor of theory and policy of economic planning at Rio de Janeiro State University, and member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group – explores the shifting dynamics of global power and the emergence of BRICS+ as a significant factor in the evolving international order. The article underlines the significance of China’s socialist development in particular – which has positioned it at the centre of a rising multipolar world – and an emerging “globalisation with Chinese characteristics” which promotes development, peace and common prosperity, in contrast to the enforced inequality and violence that characterise imperialist globalisation.

Elias notes the resurgence of the Global South as a key factor in the transformation of the international order, and the role of BRICS+ in this process. While the Global South is made up of “a heterogeneous set of countries, with differentiated levels of development”, these countries collectively “have the ability to converge on some fundamental issues for their own future, and for that of humanity itself.” Put in other words, the countries of the Global South have a shared interest in opposing imperialism, defending sovereignty and pursuing peaceful development. China stands at the centre of the process of uniting the countries of the Global South in promoting a multipolar, democratic and fair system of international relations.

The article also highlights the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative as a key component of China’s global strategy, and the potential for BRI to transform the global economic landscape by promoting infrastructure development, economic integration, and a shift away from the financialised neoliberal model associated with the US.

Elias discusses the disastrous consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the concurrent global imposition of neoliberalism. On the other hand, the US’s moment of triumph did not last long, and the last decade and a half have witnessed “the erosion of the ability to reinvent capitalism due to financialisation and the emergence of a socialist country (China) as an economic power whose path reflects nothing of the neoliberal recipes sold by the IMF and the World Bank have contributed to the acceleration of a systemic transition, in which a new globalisation centered on China is only its greatest expression.”

In conclusion, the article argues that the political future of BRICS+ and the broader Global South is intricately linked to China’s trajectory and its ability to offer a developmental model that counters neoliberalism. It suggests that the global struggle against underdevelopment and for independence is gaining momentum, with BRICS+ playing a pivotal role in shaping a more equitable global order.

This article first appeared in Geopolitical Economy Report.

The emergence and rise of new poles of power to the detriment of existing ones is nothing new in history. Since the 18th century, there have been countless examples of transitions in international hegemony. This accelerated with the emergence of industrial capitalism in England, which was more advanced than the Portuguese and Spanish commercial capitalism that for centuries had dominated much of the world, especially Latin America.

Even the capitalist dynamic inaugurated by England has characteristics that are not unfamiliar to economic historians with great theoretical and conceptual rigor.

Well known is Vladimir Lenin’s discovery of the uneven nature of the development of nations and the tendency of the most developed countries to lose dynamism while others begin to enjoy what economist Alexander Gerschenkron called the “advantages of backwardness”.

So the international order cannot be observed, from a historical point of view, as a march where countries change positions like in a military parade.

The emergence of monopolistic capitalism brought with it the tendency toward war, for example. We have witnessed two great world wars where the center of the dispute was world power, with results that consolidated new political actors on the international stage, mainly the United States.

A new systemic transition

I start from the historical principle that reality has shown Lenin to be correct, regarding the uneven development of the system and the tendency toward stagnation in the developed centers. These processes open spaces of power in the world.

I also say that we will have little to offer in terms of explanation for the future if we do not relate the transformation of the United States into a unified continental economy at the end of the 19th century, and its impacts on the development of the international capitalist system, with what we have witnessed in China over the past decades: the emergence of a unified continental economy in the third-largest country in the world, which is generating huge impacts on the international political economy – and is still little investigated by so-called experts.

This is a fundamental point when we want to develop a sophisticated thinking about the BRICS+ and the future of the international order. I will return to this point.

On the other hand, we are witnessing a new wave of systemic transition today. This time, there is the emergence of new poles of global power on one side, while on the other there is an accelerated stage of political, social, moral, and economic decomposition of a hegemonic power: the United States of America.

It is interesting to note that the new order that is emerging is itself the product of the order created by the United States after World War II, which accelerated in the late 1970s with the rise of neoliberalism, and especially after the end of the Soviet Union.

Globalization led by the powerful finance of the United States was a reality that transformed the economic geography of the world, but which is eroding within its own limits. Since the moment when financialization became the dominant dynamic of accumulation in capitalism, and neoliberalism won hearts and minds around the globe, the world has entered a spiral of greater instability and unpredictability.

Continue reading BRICS+ and the future of the international order

The BRICS and China: towards an International New Democracy

We are very pleased to publish this important discussion article by Dr Jenny Clegg on the interrelationship between the development of the BRICS cooperation mechanism and multipolarity, anti-imperialism and socialism. 

Jenny looks carefully at the contrasting positions of those she dubs BRICS optimists and BRICS pessimists, as well as those occupying a political and analytical space between these two poles. Whilst there is a certain consensus that multipolarity is on the rise, there is a wide divergence of views as to how this relates to anti-imperialism let alone socialism. However, for Jenny, “the challenge for the left is to understand the interconnections: to fail to grasp the threats and opportunities at this momentous international juncture would be to fail spectacularly.”

Having discussed the political standpoint of the BRICS, assessed the prospects for their replacing dollar hegemony, and outlined the anti-imperialist framework of President Xi Jinping’s various global initiatives, Jenny draws attention to Mao Zedong’s and the Communist Party of China’s development of the concept of new democracy during the war of resistance to Japanese aggression, arguing forcefully for its applicability to the international terrain in the current period:

“As China now directs its efforts towards encouraging an international anti-imperialist movement among states of the Global South, with the BRICS as a significant group, the concept of New Democracy can shed light on the thinking behind this. There are three key points to highlight: an understanding that world revolution develops through stages; an analysis of the national bourgeoisie which recognises their potential to resist imperialist subordination and take part in independent development; and the assessment of the overall international situation given the existence of a major socialist state.”

In her conclusion, Jenny writes that: 

“Anti-imperialism and socialism are… not the same but they are inter-related: in the ebb and flow of the international situation the BRICS may swing this way and that, but what does make a difference to the anti-imperialist struggle in its international dimension is the solidity of China’s socialism.

“As a socialist country China is the most firm in its anti-imperialist stance: it has the strength, unity and manoeuvrability to stand up to and resist US pressure; it has its past experience to draw lessons from, failures as well as successes; it can stabilise the vacillations of the BRICS members to foster the group’s collective focus; it has the commitment and the sense of direction for the future to open the way ahead for the wider Global South in its struggle against imperialism.

“Through its own development, China is able to offer an enabling environment for other developing countries to remove those obstacles still constraining their national development.” 

Jenny’s article, which is based on her presentation to a conference hosted by the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in September, represents a profound and original contribution to a vital debate and deserves the widest possible readership and discussion.

A member of our advisory group, Jenny is a retired academic and an activist in the anti-nuclear, peace and friendship movements. She is the author of China’s Global Strategy Towards a Multipolar World, published by Pluto Press.

Introduction

Over the last year or so the world has undergone a transition: from the all out drive by the US to assert its dominance through the New Cold War on China and Russia, it is now agreed across the international political spectrum – and widely acknowledged in the mainstream press – that a multipolar era has arrived.

When Biden, visiting Latin America, the Middle East, and then Southeast Asia through the summer months of 2022, failed to rally support for Ukraine and for isolating Russia economically, it became clear that the multipolar surge was cresting.  2023 then brought numbers of proposals for peace and offers of mediation from across the Global South – China, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the African peace delegation.  Meanwhile, squeezed ever further as Western banks jacked up interest rates, developing countries began to come forward with their own proposals to change the system of debt financing.[1]

The BRICS summit in August was seen to mark the watershed moment with its expanded membership now looking to eclipse the G7 as leaders agreed to explore ways to sidestep the dollar.

With US hegemony fraying and numbers of countries starting to break free from its dominance, what is the left to make of this? What kind of a group is the BRICS with its mix of capitalist countries together with socialist China? 

Reactions to the summit exposed divisions amongst the left.  On the one hand, there are those who welcome unequivocally the rise of BRICS in the multipolar terrain as an advance for anti-imperialism.  Hailing the summit as a ‘giant step for multipolarity’, Pepe Escobar, well-known leftist geopolitical analyst and contributor to the Asia Times, reported its calling to ‘abandon the US dollar,’ whilst Fiona Edwards of No Cold War offered unalloyed support with the summit presenting a new high in the rise of the Global South and the priorities of economic co-operation and peace.[2]  Meanwhile, Ben Norton of the Geopolitical Economy Report website is constantly positive about the BRICS as, with the financial architecture of the world fracturing, the group works ‘to develop a fairer system of monetary exchange’.[3]

At the other end of the spectrum, political economist Patrick Bond has emphasised the ‘sub-imperialist and neo-imperialist tendencies of powerful BRICS members’, claiming this renders them ‘helpless to enact any substantive changes’.[4]  In similar vein, in a recent piece entitled Multipolarity: false hope for the Left, Zoltan Zigedy, a US-based communist, launches an uncompromising critique of left-wing intellectuals and academics who ‘cheer any force that attempts to diminish US power’: warning against the confusion of multipolarisation with anti-imperialism, he claims these analysts have just ‘become observers of a chess game between capitalist governments’.  What he asks, has this got to do with socialism?[5]

Between these BRICS pessimists and BRICS optimists are numbers who bridge both sides of the argument, including Vijay Prashad of the Tricontinental Institute who, seeing the development of the BRICS as part of a long history of struggle against colonialism and imperialism, hails the summit ‘for peace and development’ whilst pointing to a certain neo-liberal influence, as well as Andrew Murray and the editors of the Morning Star for whom BRICS is necessary but ultimately, lacking political cohesion, not enough.[6]

Continue reading The BRICS and China: towards an International New Democracy