The phenomenon of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) holds a very special place in world politics and international relations. It is an inter-state entity, but not a union of states, an integration association or an international organization. The group has no formal membership or charter, or criteria of adopting new members (should there be any). Some of its participants have thousands of miles of land and oceans lying between them, and two in the group are still formally in a state of war with each other. The five economies may be recognized as complementing each other only in some respects and spheres, and only with great allowances. The group is referred to as an actor in world politics, its participants are affiliated with the G20 and are invited to G8 summits. BRICS often comes out with general political declarations. However, in practical matters each of the countries prefers to act on its own, in its own interests (sometimes different from the interests of the other members of the quintet), and on their own behalf.
Politicians, analysts, and journalists often see BRICS as a prototype or even as a reality of a multipolar world (in other words, a world that is about to replace the U.S.-centered model). However, at the official level the participants in the group (except for Russia) have not yet given any grounds to suspect they may be prepared to spearhead a revolt against mono-polarity, or at least join in, should it ever erupt. Since the second half of 2012 some analysts have been predicting the group’s imminent collapse, while others have been arguing it is destined to expand.
What is it that has brought five countries (originally four, without South Africa), so different from each other, into the same class? What is it that has for seven years (a period of time not very significant politically and historically, but certainly not negligible) kept them together and inconspicuously shaped their world policy perspective? And what sort of perspective is this?
None of the states that have for the past couple of years been referred to as the BRICS group had any role in coining the acronym. Its authorship is attributed to Goldman Sachs experts, who in 2001 on the basis of two inter-related criteria (economic growth rates and potential) identified Brazil, Russia, India and China as a group of countries having the greatest growth capability. According to the Goldman Sachs forecast, by 2050 the aggregate GDP of the BRIC countries would exceed the overall GDP of the G7. In other words, in 2001 the BRIC countries looked to some (at least to Goldman Sachs analysts) as the most promising markets.
Emerging markets, and very vast ones, indeed were the main conclusion that was naturally derived from the 2001 Goldman Sachs forecast. Within the framework of the statistical analysis of the world economy the BRIC group is no more than virtuality, and whether it will last or not will depend entirely on what the just-mentioned parameters look like in the future. Of course, BRIC will certainly not disappear as a group of major economies and markets outside the West (including Japan). But the sphere of fast growth may either expand or narrow; in fact, the BRIC countries may just drop out of that category.
However, at the moment the forecast was made, putting the BRIC countries in the same group by parameters of their previous and expected growth was quite reasonable. The acronym hit the headlines of publications on world economic affairs to have settled in the mass media space very firmly, and, as experience has shown, for quite a long time. From any standpoint this is quite natural. But then something unexpected began and that ‘something’ hardly depended on Goldman Sachs.
After the term BRIC first appeared in print the member?-countries of that group spent five years wondering whether there was really something they had in common or not. It was only in 2006, at the 61st UN General Assembly session in New York that the BRIC foreign ministers gathered for a meeting to have heralded the beginning of the group’s political history. The first brief rendezvous by the BRIC heads of state took place in Toyako Onsen (Hokkaido, Japan) on July 9, 2008, immediately after a G8 summit. They agreed on holding a full-scale BRIC top level meeting in Russia’s Yekaterinburg (it would take place on May 16, 2009). Since 2010, BRICS heads of state gatherings have been annual.
Apparently, there are several explanations why the quartet eagerly accepted this very technical collective name invented for them by an outsider. The main of those reasons is the deep, fundamental crisis of the political, ideological and largely socio-historical identity in all countries of the group. It has affected each of them to different degrees and for different reasons, but is unmistakably present in all four cases. Russia’s situation is well familiar and needs no explanations. In China, the Communist Party’s leadership has long been drifting, inconspicuously but steadily, away from the ideological themes. At the last but one congress it came out with the term of “scientific development strategy” (the italics are mine – author), which in the context of remaining socialist realities in fact indicates actual reconsideration of a number of major ideological provisions – and not those of the Mao era, but of the recent past. Thoughts about the future of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the context of a crisis of socialist ideas and practices in the industrialized part of the world have haunted China’s society, Communist Party and leadership since the late 1980s. In India, national liberation, democracy and progress in the economy, science and engineering have, nevertheless, failed to narrow the gap in the level and quality of life compared with the industrialized countries and even China. In Brazil, whole areas of the former capital city are being walled off – this, too, indicates the identity problems are great, indeed.
Alongside the legitimate external interests each of the BRIC countries has its own international political ambitions, the wish to take a more significant place not only in international protocol events, but also in running world policy affairs and, in the longer term, to have a say in changing the world order. On the other hand, at meetings in the existing formats (G8, G20, etc.), held in an outwardly democratic and egalitarian atmosphere, the delegates from the quartet have the most acute feeling of where the capabilities of their own countries end in the context of Western superiority. In such a context the elites and the ruling regimes cannot resist the temptation of trying to look, let alone become, more important in the world. Eventually it becomes their internal political obsession. A large country that is underestimated, let alone unnoticed, in the world is doomed to plunge into an intellectual and political crisis. It begins to regard itself and its social and historical choice and activity as a setback, if not an utter failure.
Lastly, the western origin of the very term BRIC must have played a certain role. At different times in some countries of that group there emerged ideas and speculations about the feasibility of creating a tighter political coalition, above all among Russia, India and China. However, all of them left an impression of an anti-U.S. bias, and in some cases they really were anti-American. In the meantime, not a single country in the BRIC group wishes to or can be outwardly and openly anti-American now, or will be able to take this liberty in the foreseeable future. To each of them relations with the West – and in the first place, with the United States – are in fact number one priority, even though this is not always recognized in public.
That’s how BRIC, once a subject matter of economic and statistical analysis, has turned into a world policy player. As soon as it emerged, the group was at once welcomed (without much fanfare or faked admiration, of course, but without anybody’s conspicuous resistance, either) to the fold of world politics and took a clear political shape, and not an economic one.
…IT MEANS THERE IS SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT
The fact that the West first in fact invented the acronym BRIC and then had nothing against that statistical abstraction from being turned into a political phenomenon prompts the question how unintentional that process really was. True, it may have been casual, but one cannot but see that the two central strategic priorities of the West – maintaining the model of economic growth as the chief instrument to control the world economy and finance, and a world order favorable for that model – are firmly pegged to BRIC/BRICS.
In the early 2000s, competent politicians and experts clearly saw the approaching systemic turmoil in the micro-financial sphere. There had already happened the financial crisis in a number of major Southeast Asian economies (1997) and Russia’s default (1998), which had not only internal causes. The speculative financial bubble began to be inflated, and the inevitable consequences of it were self-evident. Economic growth rates in the leading OECD countries remained invariably low for years, and the aggregate debts and the accumulated effect of budget deficits continued to snowball.
Global political and economic contradictions kept emerging and taking an ever more ominous shape. They can be summarized in the following way.
Maintaining relatively high economic growth rates was the gist of the classical formulas and methods of control. It allowed for maintaining social stability (the emergence of the middle class lifted the threat of social upheavals and social revolutions in the most advanced countries for quite a while), controlling inflation, and keeping unemployment within socially safe limits. But the resources for all those measures were borrowed from outside: low-priced energy, external markets, and the influx of cheap labor. In the global world some of these sources get weaker (the capacity of markets in the context of slow growth rates), others change drastically (the price of resources) or are transformed (migration); also, one must recall the harsh ecological restrictions. However, the most important factor is this – not a single country (including the United States) is isolated from the outside world; each country has long been nothing but a component of the world economy, finance and stability. Autarkic methods of control at the level of individual states are no good, because the whole of the global economy has gone autarkic. There are no laws, institutions, or theories now to keep it under control. The previous model combining the legally legitimate forms of state control inside the country and inter-state cooperation in the world is no longer sufficient, if not exhausted in principle.
At the junction of politics, ideology and practice two phenomena stand out. One, practical, is the United States’ determination to retain at any cost and strengthen its special (“leading”) position in the world, firstly, in the mutually related spheres of finance and military might. (To my mind, the yen is relatively weak against the dollar and the euro not just by virtue of certain specific traits of the Japanese economy, but also because the yen – even unlike the euro – has no nuclear arms or aircraft carriers to rely on.) The U.S. economy and finance have longed spilled over the national borders to provide the basis and chief driving force of globalization; only certain peculiarities of the internal politics and law, just as the acute shortage of a legal basis for global governance, do not allow to control them on the global scale.
For at least half a century the United States has deliberately steered clear (whenever possible) of conducting any policy or implementing any measures in the outside world that might entail real (and not propagandistic) transformation of the United States into a global empire. Ideologically and practically the United States is a descendant of Republican Rome, and it is perfectly aware that the republican form of government and democracy in ancient Rome came to an end the moment it began to turn into an empire. These are not just historical parallels. Since the late 1980s (the publication of Paul Kennedy’s book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers) the discussion over the U.S. foreign policy has always revolved around the choice between domination, hegemony and empire, the latter enjoying support only from the extreme right forces and politicians.
The other phenomenon, ideological, spells firm adherence to the ideas of liberalism (all of its varieties). More than enough has been written in the West about the acute and ever more obvious contradictions between the ideals of economic and political liberalism, on the one hand, and real practices and problems of the modern world, Western, in the first place, on the other. Ideology causes a powerful braking effect on social sciences, economic theories, in particular. On the one hand, there has emerged and been growing the feeling the model of control based on the ideas and methods of maintaining growth (which seems to have been confirmed by the crisis of 2008-2010) has been exhausted. On the other hand, no alternative has been proposed to this day. Nor is there any readiness to create one. The sole reaction in a situation like this is to search for new ways, spheres, and opportunities of using the old, ideologically orthodox methods. Hence the need for regions where markets have not yet achieved the highest degree of saturation and may still serve as growth engines.
A forecast which of the markets is promising will be a direct and obvious response to this demand. Mechanical expansion will keep the existing model of world finance and control going for sometime (and, consequently, maintain the distribution of the status and influence of actors within its framework) and postpone difficult and not yet clear decisions on reforms in these spheres. Over the past seventy years economic growth has remained the basic condition and mechanism of keeping the amplitude of the economies’ cyclical oscillations within socially safe limits, so an expansion of the high growth rates to nearly half of humanity would make it possible to “change without changing” the existing system of the world economy and finance for decades to come.
But for being used effectively, such markets are to be built in the existing system of world political and economic relations and be loyal to that system – otherwise spending on overcoming and/or insuring against political risks may make them unprofitable and unacceptably risky. In this case the point at issue is not just any markets, but five major (two of them, the biggest) self-sufficient and capable countries. This raises the problem of inter-relationships between the BRICS markets and states and the world economic and political order – today and tomorrow.
THE TRADITIONAL INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM AND THE GLOBAL WORLD
In view of the matters described above, the low growth rates in the leading OECD countries, the chances the 2008-2010 crisis may go chronic, the problem of the state debt in the United States and the European Union, and other accumulated distortions and contradictions in the world economy, the future and effects of the economic growth in the BRICS countries may admit a dual interpretation.
In the traditional system of international relations and the world order derived from it this sort of trend would with a high degree of probability point to a future redistribution of the balance of power in the world. This is precisely the way this trend has been interpreted over the past few years by the political forces and figures in Russia, who see it as a way of strengthening Russia’s positions in the club of the 21st-century “great powers.” In fact, they see eye to eye with those politicians and authors in the West who have been ringing alarm bells over the erosion of the strength and “leading role” of the United States and the West in general (in fairness, one must admit, though, that they see the worst risks coming not from future Russia, but from future China, and tend to look at India, by and large loyal to the West, as a counter-balance). Here again a traditional response from the system of the balance of power to this trend would look as follows: the United States would be creating any hindrance it can to economic growth and any strengthening of the BRICS countries, while the EU (and possibly Japan), on the contrary, would be supporting them to an extent not endangering their own weight, positions and interests and in a differential way varying from country to country. The West’s common task would be to delay, as long as possible, and prevent, whenever possible, the coming of the day when booming BRIC/BRICS countries might gain not just incentives, but also the potential for a resolute change of the world order in their favor.
However, in the paradigm of the global world the effects of BRICS countries’ economic growth look fundamentally different. If such growth on the expected scale or something very close to it does take place in the previewed period, it would be correct to see BRICS as a strategic challenge to Western states and corporations. It is beyond doubt the national capital of the BRICS countries – relatively weak these days – would prefer to operate in the markets of that part of humanity on its own. Three inter-related processes are possible here (in fact, they are already underway).
Process one is the wish of the national capital of the BRICS countries to gain effective support for its interests from the parent state. From that standpoint the situation in the five BRICS countries is rather different; but in any case such support is not guaranteed to the national capital at least for two reasons: a) the personal assets of the top state officials are often invested in the banks and shares of Western companies, which may create a conflict of private and public interest; and b) the orientation of the national bureaucracy towards continuing and making careers in international organizations works as an additional and ever more noticeable factor for such a conflict of interest, and there may occur resonance amplification in case the interests of groups a) and b) coincide.
Process two is the interweaving of the national and transnational capitals, which may result from the financial and economic interests of business groups and also from the policies of individual countries, each having their own reasons to be interested in promoting or preventing such interweaving. In that sense the position of the BRICS countries is greatly varied: whereas the capital of India or South Africa have long cooperated with the capital of Western countries without experiencing any political hindrances (lobbying for the commercial interests of competing business groups excluded), China and, in particular, Russia, are faced with a policy of active resistance to such interweaving. Certainly, factor number one is that Russia and China continue to be regarded in the United States (and consequently in its relations of alliance with Europe and Japan) as potential rivals.
Process three is still a rather hypothetical one – what price will the BRICS countries be prepared to pay (if at all) for the opportunity to develop transnational cooperation by states, corporations and regional markets? The operation of WTO mechanisms should not be perceived as something automatically guaranteed. Whereas Russia joined the WTO at the end of 2011 (the accession will take five to seven years to accomplish), the four other BRICS countries have long been represented in that organization, which by no means relieves them of the need to protect the interests of national economies.
However, a very remarkable problem may come to the forefront by 2050. Any state machinery exists at the expense of taxes levied in the home territory; strictly speaking, it cares a whole lot more about the reliability of the taxpayer and the tax collection rate than about the taxpayer’s nationality. Transnational corporations, in particular, those of them which prefer to do business under transparent, “white” patterns, ever more often prove more diligent (and more wealthy) taxpayers than legal entities and individuals of the parent country, never missing a chance to dodge taxation, use legal lobbying or resort to tax evasion schemes. This problem is found in all of the BRICS countries, although to a different extent. In the long term, the state may be getting ever stronger and more interested in reliance on global and not intra-country factors of stability, security and prosperity as more effective and backed up by more tangible guarantees. The less democratic the country, the greater the room for maneuver the authorities have in such matters.
In a word, the global world paradigm is bringing about a complex and still largely uncertain system of trans-border (transnational) relations among the state, businesses and civil society. Not only ties and relationships between actors of different countries, but also relations between the domestic state, businesses, and society become transnational. (This is seen very well in today’s Russia, with its offshore businesses, on the one hand, and the hysteria of the ruling circles over real and/or imaginary external influences on intra-country processes, on the other.)
A comparative analysis of these two scenarios makes the strategic political and economic task for the United States and the West look like this: how best to use in the interests of the Western world the opportunities which may open up with the expected growth in the BRICS countries and at the same time to minimize the risks of political, economic and military-political redistribution of power in the world resulting from that growth. In other words, how best to preserve the BRICS countries as the engines of growth and as solvent markets, and not ever more ambitious and capable competitors.
CHINA AND POLITICAL INSTITUTIONALIZATION
The question about a future role of China holds a special place at the focal point of the aforesaid contradictions, goals and tasks. Apparently, Washington is torn between the idea of perpetuating China in the existing world order with its future acceptable evolution and the temptation of unleashing a military and economic confrontation against China, using the same templates which, the United States is certain, caused the former USSR to disappear from the political map of the world. However, within certain limits the “carrot” of involvement may be easily complemented with the “stick” of a confrontation threat.
Whereas the choice of confrontation may be made by the United States unilaterally, involvement will require the other party’s participation. The idea of BRIC/BRICS in relation to China looks the optimal scenario. First and foremost, it does not imply straightforward involvement (the way it was often done in relation to the Soviet Union) and on the face of it is not related with the concept and practice of involvement at all – although it is well compatible with both in content. In that sense it is objectively the ideal protection of the image of any of the countries in the group. Also, it is of importance that the group is not someone’s intentional creation, in contrast to many unions and international organizations of the past or the newly-established coalitions of interested countries that emerged in the 2000s. Its participants made the decision on their own and without any haste.
In the BRIC/BRICS group China is an objective and uncontested leader, and it will remain so in the future. It is the main trading partner of all other participants but Russia. Of all countries that donated the initial letters of their names to the group’s name, only China is really prepared to take advantage of the forthcoming reform of the world currency-financial system, which is still in the discussion phase: BRICS accounts for more than 40% of the world’s hard currency reserves, but China’s share in that amount is as large as three quarters. In military terms it is thrice more impressive than India and enjoys Russia’s deserved respect. It was China that has derived the greatest benefits from the emergence of BRIC/BRICS: participation in the group has formalized its status of a permanent global player (and not just in certain cases and respects), but at the same time it has required no special statements or actions by China that might have alerted its ill-wishers.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, an actual participant in all G8 summits in the 2000s, a G20 participant and a member of the WTO and many other international organizations, and now also the actual leader of BRICS, China has ever more intangible assets it might loose in case of a hypothetical turn towards the dismantling of the existing world order.
Political institutionalization is continuing, but it is not being accelerated. The group is integrated with the existing international order. It has not yet encountered any cases of resistance to it as a group (disagreements with certain states or their associations over specific issues excluded). While emphasizing the need for reforming many aspects of current international practices (the United Nations, the world financial system, etc.) BRICS in general and each of its participants in particular have in mind nothing else but reform, i.e. a legitimate process of making orderly changes, and not radical demolition.
Economic integration is out of the question for quite obvious economic and political reasons. But the participating countries share a number of long-term strategic interests. In part, they need changes to the international order not because they are anti-U.S. minded, but because the development of countries and economies that embarked on the path of modernization in the 20th century is largely different from that of the pioneer countries (this will be discussed below in greater detail).
In the early 2000s, globalization entered into a phase where the task of its international regulatory and legal formalization emerged in the forefront. Without discussing this separate problem thoroughly, I shall merely remark that the emerging global world order is being built up from the international one; it is incorporating the latter, but leaving it intact at the lower, sub-global level. Whereas at the beginning of that process international relations bore quite a few traces of a “wild field,” these days some hazy contours of political institutions of a global world and global law, without which these institutions would be impossible, have appeared on the horizon. And within their framework the institution of the state at some future date will have to put up with a considerable transformation of the principles and practices of sovereignty.
Apparently, this is the chief distinction of the international (world) and global orders: in the context of the former, sovereignty is nominally absolute (in practice it is liable to certain restrictions, of course); in the context of the latter, the state is a subsystem of the world order, allowed into that world order by the other participants only on certain conditions and with the observance of certain rules.
At the modern stage, when global political institutions are still to be created (if that turns out to be necessary, of course) and when rivalry among different models of exporting law is in progress with the aim of making it global or causing tangible effects on the future content of law, the phenomenon of spaces has acquired a special place in organizing the actual world order. The BRICS group can be rightfully considered as one of the emerging international and political spaces, quite remarkable in scientific terms from the standpoint of the pace of emergence, and in political terms, of great interest as far as its capabilities, contradictions and prospects are concerned.
Space is not a synonym of territory. It is an organization of geotory (territory plus water area) for a certain mode of life, economic or other activity, the development of forms and opportunities for using the geotory on the whole and/or of its individual parts, infrastructures and resources. The world experience indicates that only within a certain space it is possible to form, maintain on the long-term basis and institutionally formalize social relations of any kind. Irrespective of whether the point at issue is power or law, the type of market or regulation of types of activity, political or public life – all this implies certain relations, their duration and stability in time, as well as the existence of corresponding functional institutions. A combination of these features forms a certain space.
The international political space is noticeably different from the political spaces of the countries concerned and from the spheres of international (world) and global politics in general. A common feature of all such spaces is reliance on the effective formal and also informal rules, techniques, methods of activity and gradual creation of a set of precedents future global legitimacy will rest upon.
The emergence of the BRICS group in the capacity of such a space became possible through a combination of the rather advanced political globalization, which enables so different countries to develop a sense of community, and global communications. The latter help maintain that sense on the day-to-day basis and, what is most important, create the technical possibility to permanently maintain not just transnational, but also trans-continental proactive political communication among a wide range of participants.
The BRICS space is still embryonic, and its development may follow different trajectories. It is precisely a space, and not a traditional union of states and/or an inter-governmental organization. Old-time smoldering contradictions may resume among some of its participants or new ones may crop up. This is just normal in a political space and inevitable during the phase of its emergence, but it would be utterly unacceptable inside a union and very troublesome for an international organization. South Africa’s decision to join in, the interest displayed by other states, and the BRICS countries’ active participation in the G8, G20, the UN and other international organizations mean that the emergence of BRICS as an international political space is an accomplished fact by and large, and that the tasks of developing that space and its activity are next on the agenda.
BRICS AS A SPACE
The dilemma facing the BRICS countries as an international political space may be described as follows.
If in cooperation within the G20 and the international scene they are first and foremost or exclusively centered on interstate relations, in the longer term this will objectively place them on this hypothetically second, i.e. lower tier of a future global world order (if and when it becomes a reality). Apparently, the more successful inter-state cooperation by the BRICS countries is, the more firmly they are tied to the second tier of the global world order.
Accessing the top tier would be possible apparently on the condition the BRICS countries try to create their own spaces of global importance. These are to include a portfolio of global law ideas and a region (not an enclave, of course, because in a globalized world and for the BRICS countries this would be hardly possible, though) of neo-capitalism, protected from the effects of the crisis of the practices of intra-country and international regulation that emerged in the wake of the Great Depression and World War II. Cooperation among the BRICS countries will retain its key significance, but its goals and tasks look far wider.
All of the BRICS group members are “chasing development” economies. Historically they started forming market-type economies too late; they are overburdened by colossal internal problems (each having its own); they have entered a period when the Western world in its old centers has gone far ahead, away from the classical model of capitalism towards a global economy; this capitalism (let us call it for convenience ‘old capitalism’) has also ventured into the period of a systemic crisis (which is apparently bound to last) and the just-started forecast period of a new phase of the world’s scientific and technological development, in which the most advanced countries still enjoy a head start.
Quite obvious are the systemic political and economic distinctions among the BRICS countries. Whereas western-type capitalism in Brazil, India and South Africa is beyond doubt, China does not fit in with the definition of capitalism by any standards. The Russian model is not called unconditionally capitalistic either at home or elsewhere, though everybody agrees it is a market-type economy. The diversity of formations may in the long run prove the group’s weakness as well as its strategic competitive edge: internally diversified systems are more stable as a rule.
Catching up with the industrialized countries in terms of their overall or per-capita GDP is an important development parameter of a country and its economy, but a very mechanical one (if the end goal is development and not just growth). Besides, following in the West’s footsteps in fact spells strategic backwardness, possibly, with irreversible consequences: not a single country following the path of “chasing development” has so far managed to outperform the old development centers, with their best case practices and benchmarks.
The potential capabilities of the BRICS countries as spheres of growth may be reoriented towards the development requirements of these countries proper and/or the interests of banks and corporations representing “old” capitalism. Of course, a stark choice may have to be made only in a situation where the United States (and also the EU and, possibly, Japan) will opt for a policy of active economic deterrence of growing competitors. The BRICS countries’ common task and goal is to use cooperation with the TNC/TNB to the benefit of national development. Their aggregate market is as large as nearly half of humanity, and it will certainly be a solid argument in talks, if only the BRICS countries manage to coordinate common principles and approaches.
And the last consideration, but the most important one in the long term. It still remains to be seen whether this is good or bad, but the BRICS countries do not stick to orthodox or any other rigid ideologies, which is an innate feature of the United States and, to an ever greater extent, of the European Union agencies. While sharing the ideals and values of political and economic freedoms, human rights, democracy, free market economy and some others, the BRICS countries at the same time do not see the ways and means of achieving the above-mentioned features in such a straightforward way (each has its own ideas of how to go about this business). The development tasks, too, pose different requirements. In a situation where all competitive edges are objectively in the hands of the ‘old-timers’ – the trans-national banks and corporations boasting huge resources and experience – the ‘chasing development’ countries may successfully cope with the tasks of modernization only on the condition the state will take center stage. Consequently, the economy will be inevitably deviating from the purely theoretic, in fact, ideological model of a ‘pure’ market (in practice not found anywhere in the world) towards the mechanisms and markets of redistribution, and their economic theory is yet to be created. As a consequence, the BRICS space may serve as a launch pad for a sort of ‘post-capitalism,’ with such distinguishing features as the subordination of economic growth to the tasks of development, a strong role and capability of the state (as an economic actor, too), and orientation towards prolonged and dynamically sustainable development and political lobbying for the necessary conditions in the international order.
The common strategic goal of all this activity will be creating spaces of “new” capitalism within the framework of the global world, and not in confrontation with it. Such new capitalism would rely on the resources, potential, markets and opportunities of the BRICS countries, but at the same time minimize the manifestations of crises and their effects and would be free from ideological allergies and phobias of the ‘old’ capitalism (in particular, the prejudice that the state and a free market economy are incompatible).
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The international political space of the BRICS group has materialized in the sense all of the five states share their affiliation with that group and the desire to cooperate with the other participants. In principle, there is a possibility of cooperation with the existing and future international organizations and spaces and of plugging in new participants (on a permanent or ad hoc basis), as well as of creating within BRICS some specialized spaces and/or organizations (in particular, those, for the affairs of the Arctic and the Antarctic and the World Ocean).
The prospects and opportunities will largely depend on to what extent the efforts exerted by the founding states are complemented and backed up by the expansion of the political space to business circles and civil society of the corresponding countries, as well as by the development of new spaces in relations among the group’s members. The group incorporates continental, oceanic, energy and raw materials exporting and industrialized countries and economies. In principle this will allow for creating a major cluster of internal spaces capable of causing positive effects on processes at the global level.