By Mikhail Delyagin
Stock market analyst Jim O’Neill coined the term “BRIC” a decade ago as an umbrella concept for large, rapidly developing non-Western economies.
The term proved catchy and soon found its way into common usage, while serious analysts shrugged in bewilderment, pointing out the deep-lying differences between the BRIC member country economic structures. The global crisis in 2008-2009 only highlighted these differences, as China’s growth slowed to eight percent and Russia’s eight-percent growth fell sharply.
However, over time, this nominal grouping of countries with deep-lying differences proved to be based on an equally deep, albeit hidden community. The community turned out to be so appealing that it began attracting new members and planning a permanent coordinating body.
First of all, this community is rooted in the understanding that the standard liberal path of development is not acceptable to these countries, as is the Washington consensus that puts a country’s socioeconomic policy at the service of the world market and global corporations to the detriment of its own people.
Despite their differences, the large, diverse BRICS economies, suffering from technological underdevelopment, equally require common rules of the game that will be fundamentally different from universally imposed liberal dogmas. A growing understanding of this idea (which has not grown sufficiently robust in Russia), unites BRICS countries in their common development ideology counterpoising the crisis-ridden West.
Disputes in the WTO, G20 and a number of international forums indicate another fundamental controversy between the G7 and BRICS countries.
The former believe that the rest of world, not the G7, should pay for the recovery from the global crisis, into which the G7 had in fact driven the entire global community. Above all, this is unacceptable for BRICS countries, as it may spell their economic collapse.
Negotiating a united stance, BRICS countries are forging a new alliance, and presenting a soft counterpoise to the West more reminiscent of the Non-Aligned Movement than a socialist bloc. They are also creating conditions to keep the G20 and other international institutions running.
Finally, the social, managerial and cultural diversity of BRICS countries open up unrivaled opportunities for broadly sharing experiences, such as for resolving socioeconomic issues. For example, as Russian rural communities look increasingly like Brazilian favelas in terms of social deterioration, the experience of normalizing the latter may prove helpful to our country.
Furthermore, the growing ethnic districts and reclusive communities for the wealthy in large Russian cities may soon make the social and ethnic segregation experience of South Africa, especially after the apartheid regime was toppled, ever more necessary and relevant.
So, even the most diehard Russian liberals, like Sergei Vasilyev, Yegor Gaidar’s former comrade, more and more often turn to other BRICS countries’ experience as an inspiring example. Apart from case study China, Brazil, which is still poorly known in Russia, provides a wonderful example of socially orientated and quite successful governance.
Mikhail Delyagin is Doctor of Economics, director of the Institute of Globalization Issues
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