by Fabio Bozzo
What is BRICS
BRICS... this acronym recurrently arouses some enthusiasm in intellectuals fond of strong ideologies. At least in those parts of that world that, 30 years after the communist failure, still regret the USSR. Or worse by those who, 70 years after the Nazi-fascist collapse, persist in remaining in a Right that is now impractical (i.e. persists in wanting to be the child of a lesser God), in the place of a conservative Right, both liberal and identitarian.
What is BRICS? The letters stand for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. These countries, anthropologically very different and geopolitically incompatible in almost all respects, since 2009 have created a sort of club that, in the wishes of some of their leadership, should undermine the economic and financial supremacy of the West properly said (we emphasize properly said, since ethno-culturally Russia is in continuity with the West).
Since 2009, not a year goes by without the leaders of these countries meeting to sign energy, economic or trade agreements. To date, however, military alliances have been avoided, which already says a lot. Let's be clear: these treaties are not just fluff, there is also concrete. For example the mega agreement of natural gas export from Russia to China is an event not to be taken under consideration. With this agreement (assuming no geopolitical surprises, always possible) Russia will guarantee China a large part of the energy it needs so much, obtaining in turn an indispensable flow of liquidity.
Note that the gas deal was in part a response to Obama's amateurish foreign policy moves. The former Democratic President, in fact, brought Russian-American relations to a post-Cold War low. It would be unfair to blame only the Obama Administration for this, given that Putin is less dangerous than he tries to appear, but to enter into conflict with Russia for issues that could be resolved with compromise, while the New Cold War against China was already underway, was madness for Washington. Madness that the Trump Administration has only partially managed to remedy. We will see how the not exactly sprightly President Biden will behave, even if, to tell the truth, to date his geopolitical actions seem to resemble more those of Trump than those of Obama.
Let's go back to the BRICS. The reasons that have pushed the member countries to try to overtake the West with a sort of "ragtag army" are various, some legitimate and others not. The first is the desire to grow in economy and power, something that every State deserving of the capital "S" has the right to have.
Then there is an ideological background, that is the hatred towards everything that is western, in particular the United States. Here instead we are going on the pathetic, that is to say the anger towards the Western triumph, particularly American, in the Cold War, and to the timeless attempt to rewrite history. Each BRICS country declines differently, in quality and quantity, such resentment.
Finally, with the exception of Russia, an anthropologically European country, there is also an ethnic animosity towards white countries. This animosity is composed of an indefinable mix of envy, desire for historical revenge and simple racism. It is useless to go around in the name of political correctness: this is the reality of things.
Let us now analyze the real geopolitical possibilities of the states that make up the BRICS.
Brazil: South American giant, globally irrelevant
With nearly 214 million inhabitants, the country is a patchwork of contradictions. A high class is contrasted by a mass of dispossessed people, around 20% of the population, with few or no prospects. The economy, which until a few years ago had made even the most lukewarm anti-Westerners dream, today (also due to the covid-19 pandemic) is essentially stagnant, while regional differences are abnormal: a relatively prosperous South with a European majority is contrasted by a North with a black majority and Tanzania-like socio-economic parameters. The population, especially in the North, is constantly increasing, and this will accentuate social tensions and economic fragility.
Presidents Lula and Rousseff, consistent with their socialist faith, have implemented spending policies, devastated the budget, bought consensus today with money they hoped to earn tomorrow, increased the tax burden on the productive South in order, with a clever electoral welfare, to win elections thanks to the parasitic North. To make sure they didn't miss anything, they also doubled the deforestation of the Amazon, in the face of leftist ecologists (who always blame Western multinationals). And, of course, they plunged into the BRICS.
All of this, as an inevitable reaction, led to the election of the current President Bolsonaro, a sort of Trump in a Carioca version. Bolsonaro has certainly swerved in a conservative direction across the political, social and economic spectrum, but Brazil is a difficult giant to govern, in which size and various inefficiencies mean that the stimuli given today will need a long time to be felt across the board.
Conclusions? The Brazilian economy, however enormous at a regional level, is certainly not able to compete with those of Europe, North America or Japan. Its internal social parameters make it, no matter what is said, a country partly in the Third World and partly in the process of development, even though it is rich in excellence that should not be underestimated. Finally, its internal fractures, especially the South-North one, do not make it a country solid enough to undertake a geopolitics of global level.
Russia: the miracle of reconstruction, but the ice remains thin
In the last 30 years Russia has made great strides, first moving from communism to an essentially capitalist economy and then putting back together the pieces of a state that was becoming a collection of economic-mafia fiefdoms of the various oligarchs. Oligarchs who, it is worth remembering, were not the so-called "new rich" of Western progressive propaganda, but former second level executives of the old Soviet economy who took advantage of their initial position to buy up entire industrial assets below cost. Putin, as far as possible, has put these people back in line and at least restored the pre-eminence of state authority over them. But 70 years of Marxist delirium do not pass quickly, much remains to be done.
Russia is a cross between European democracy and Byzantine autocracy. This is probably a necessary transition that has stabilized the country, albeit at the cost of putting the brakes on not only democratic freedoms, but also on the more dynamic forces of the economy. In any case, the economy has improved in an impressive way, although it is still too tied to the export of raw materials, so much so that the recurring ups and downs of the price of hydrocarbons have immediate repercussions on the capacity for public spending. Industry suffers from Soviet obsolescence, although there are positive signs. Infrastructure is still inadequate, but the country is an open construction site that is working hard in this sector.
Financially, Russia has no foreign debt, an excellent result achieved by Putin, thanks to a clever use of cash obtained from the export of raw materials. However, the Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund suffered a terrible drain in 2009, the year in which it was used lavishly to cushion the crisis, which hit hard in Russia.
The armed forces, indispensable for a policy of power, have been reborn after Tsar Vladimir's cut-throat treatment, which reduced the number of personnel but enormously improved equipment and technology. Today they represent a formidable instrument, but not comparable to that of the United States, to the satisfaction of anti-Americans. However, it must be underlined that, as far as willingness to face possible crises and to fight them on the field is concerned, the Russians beat the USA 3 to 1 (see the intervention in Syria) and without competition with the weak Europe.
It is more difficult to compare Russian war capabilities with those of China. Leaving aside nuclear weapons, in which the US and Russia have no one on their level, Moscow on paper possesses the third most powerful conventional force in the world, recently surpassed by that of Beijing. Chinese overtaking is bitter, but it was unavoidable. Not only is the difference in population abysmal, but the economy of the Dragon is enormously stronger than that of the Russian Bear, with a consequent spending capacity that Moscow cannot remotely hope to match. All this is aggravated by international economic sanctions, which are damaging Russia much more than it appears.
In the confrontation with Beijing, Moscow has only two cards left in its hand: a military-industrial complex of all respect and the American awareness that the real danger for the free world now comes not from the Kremlin, but from the Forbidden City. It follows that the Russian and U.S. leaderships, if they want to face the global appetites of the Yellow Dragon with a sufficient margin of safety, will have to settle once and for all their many disputes with a compromise that makes "find the balance" in all areas of the world where there are currently frictions. It should be noted that, despite the crisis in Ukraine, perhaps reasonableness is moving some timid steps forward. Such an agreement (which was already on the verge of being born in 2002 at Pratica di Mare) would be advantageous for both: the United States would gain a formidable ally in the New Cold War, while Russia would put a stop to the Siberian appetites of China and at the same time would enter definitively into the family of Western Nations, where ethno-cultural anthropology has decreed that it is in spite of a tragic and unfortunate history.
Finally, the Kremlin's real challenge: demography. In this battle we can say that Putin has been a hero, so much so as to forgive him the anti-Western drifts typical of those who have not yet digested the defeat of his country in the Cold War. Today Russia has 146 million inhabitants. For 40 years (since the end of the Soviet era) few children are being born, to the point that the most pessimistic forecasts predict that in 2050 the Russians will be about 120 million. Obviously the Islamic population, today 9% of the total, is growing, and this can only exacerbate internal instability, starting with the Caucasian regions such as Chechnya and Dagestan. Putin, with considerable economic effort, has managed to reverse the trend: since 2012 the country has returned to a very slight demographic surplus, even among great Russians (i.e. ethnic Russians).
With all this, what can we say about Holy Mother Russia? That it is an indispensable resource for the West and that it is, will be and must be a geopolitical power, but it cannot hope to become a superpower like the United States and China. Simply because it does not have the numbers. Moreover, in order to achieve the objectives of well-being and strength that it rightly cultivates, it will have to put aside the last post-Cold War psychological scabs and enter definitively into the Western space, in order to avoid a socio-cultural backwardness of the Chinese kind, with relative loss of ethnic identity.
India: the flawed functionality of Asian chaos restructured by British legislation
With 1 billion 210 million inhabitants, it is the second largest demographic giant in the world, and will soon be the first. From the 1990s onwards, with the abandonment of social democratic recipes in favor of greater liberalism, the economy of the subcontinent has grown enormously. However, this growth has been uneven, both on a geographical level, where some regional excellences are contrasted by underdeveloped areas, and on a social level. In India, in fact, 10% of the population owns over a third of the wealth, while over 40% of the inhabitants live in poverty. It should be remembered that in 1981, in the middle of the socialist period, 60% of the population was poor. An improvement, the slowness of which augurs well for structural solidity. In recent years, after considerable growth, the economy has slowed down, although less severely than in Brazil and China. The population, which is already excessive today, will continue to increase in the coming decades, although even in this area we are beginning to see a reversal of the trend.
From a social point of view, India is a sort of functional chaos. The billionaire descendants of Brahmins live with millions of pariahs; the caste system, although theoretically illegal thanks to a British-style justice system (to the ideological despair of our anti-colonialist radical chic), continues to affect the fate of hundreds of millions of people; the Islamic minority is (who would have ever thought it?) increasing in population and increasingly resistant to civil laws. In the country 179 languages are spoken, so much so that, together with Hindi, English is also official as a lingua franca.
This ethno-cultural magma is held together by two factors. The first is the Hindu fatalism of the masses which, although it does not block human development as Islam does, helps millions of poor people to a serene resignation: if that is your karma to rebel is useless, be good and you will be reincarnated for the better. The second stabilizer is the political and legal system of English matrix, which is based on democracy and federalism. Federalism allows the administration of local realities, some more populous than Germany, very different from each other and impossible to keep together with centralism; on the other hand, Indian democracy is certainly not Swiss democracy, but it is still a democracy, which allows the whole population to express their thoughts, avoiding that madmen with dreams of glory come to power. On the contrary, to the honor of Indian politicians, it must be recognized that the subcontinent, from 1948 to today, has conducted a regional foreign policy, if compared to its gigantic dimensions. Another legacy of the rationality of the British school.
The only major foreign problems the Indian Federation has are with neighboring Pakistan (Muslim country always close to collapse, with which it has already fought and basically won three wars) and with China, which in the past attacked India and took away a Himalayan region. Since then, the border clashes have never completely ceased, while the collaboration with the United States has become a full-fledged alliance. Other than BRICS! To date the only serious military threats to New Delhi are Pakistan and China, threats offset by the US-led coalition with the West. A coalition that overlaps with the historical friendship and scientific-military collaboration that India has had for sixty years with Israel and Russia. This incredible ability to manage several parallel alliances for decades, in which the national interest of the various participants cancels out ideological differences, has made Indian diplomacy one of the most concrete and therefore effective in recent decades.
However, Hindu existential fatalism or not, the situation is not rosy. Corruption in the country is high, the economic crisis aggravated by the covid-19 has made itself felt and many Indians are showing dissatisfaction. It is no coincidence that in recent times there has been a chauvinist drift, albeit always at parliamentary level. Following a number of electoral victories by nationalists, foreign policy discourse has hardened, persecution of Christians has increased and occasionally anti-western rhetoric has also grown. The two Italian Marò (victims not only of Indian machismo, but also of the squalor of the Italian Left) were also victims of this atmosphere. Fortunately, the Indian leadership, so far, has always shown that it understands the difference between "tough guy" slogans, for electoral campaigns, and geopolitical reality, for the concrete.
In conclusion, it can be said that India, if it maintains internal stability, is and will remain a giant, but if it wants to continue on the path of human progress that it has undertaken, all in all well, it will have to guard against suicidal anti-Western temptations. Its geopolitical enemies are the same as those of the West, its economy is tied in double strings with ours and its political structure is a clone of it adapted to the local reality. Therefore, if the leadership will maintain the balance and wisdom shown so far, the future will be positive; if, on the contrary, it will fall prey to the third-worldist rhetoric, we will probably witness a breakup of the country, something that has already happened several times in the history of India.
China: the greedy sooner or later break out
With one billion and 444 million inhabitants, it is the most populous country in the world, as well as the third largest geographically and the one that has criminally "donated" to humanity the covid-19 pandemic. We can hardly call it a giant with feet of clay, but some structural cracks are beginning to show. The single communist party still fiercely holds the reins of power and, since the '70s, has created a strange "feudal-communist" system unique in the world. This system, in theory, would guarantee substantial economic freedom, while keeping the power of the party intact. In reality it has created a regime where a high ranking oligarchy dominates in a satrapic way and enriches itself by exploiting the population in an inhuman way.
The coastal regions, proud of their Manhattan-like skyscrapers, are counterbalanced by the backward internal provinces; the regions of Tibet and Inner Mongolia have undergone an accentuated ethnic substitution by ethnic Han settlers sent by the central government; Chinese industrial pollution has become a world-wide problem far greater than that of the USA; the economy, after 40 years of vertiginous growth, has undergone an abrupt slowdown and remains too tied to exports to the West, as domestic consumption, essential to the well-being of a people, among the majority of the population remains at the levels of developing countries.
These problems are not the only ones. The one-child policy, born with the praiseworthy intent of preventing an insufferable overpopulation, has also generated unexpected problems, so much so that it must be abandoned. Certainly the population will decrease in the coming decades by a few hundred million individuals, but, before decreasing, it will age. This means that in a country without social assistance there will soon be a few hundred million elderly people without work, without pensions and without children to support them. All this in a regime that values its subjects according to the consumption-productivity ratio.
Even the grip on the common people is beginning to show cracks. The protests, even violent ones but for now only at provincial level, are increasingly large and frequent, triggering (obviously) fierce repressions. But history teaches us that revolts are followed by revolutions, provided that the state does not implement real reforms, which Beijing does not seem to want to do. On the contrary, since the arrival of Xi Jinping at the top of the Forbidden City, the Chinese leadership has become abruptly vertical, giving the current President even more power than Mao had. It is no coincidence that Xi has strongly re-evaluated the figure of the Great Helmsman, put aside many of Deng Xiaoping's reforms and implemented a true communist ideological restoration. All seasoned by a propaganda well beyond the limit of the ridiculous (see management and statements about the covid-19 pandemic) and by an internal police control worthy of Stalin, but who also knows how to take advantage of modern information technologies.
It is inevitable that a regime and a leader of this kind should be aggressive in foreign policy, at the limits of what is reasonable. This expansionism is multifaceted: sometimes based on economic investment and soft power, as in Africa, sometimes on more direct intervention, as in Burma and recently in Kazakhstan. Not forgetting, of course, direct territorial disputes, according to which Beijing feels entitled to threaten sovereign states, fortunately armed to the teeth, such as Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam. Since the Yellow Dragon's foreign policy has already been analyzed elsewhere, let us limit ourselves to two considerations.
The first is that Chinese expansionism (composed of a dangerous mix of classical Sinic imperialism and Marxist-Confucian ideological messianism) has created an enormous US-led coalition that de facto surrounds China globally. For now the problems with the West and the lucrative business with Beijing have meant that Russia has been the only real, albeit partial, geopolitical shore of China, but as we have seen this situation is bound to change.
The second analysis concerns the Dragon's internal politics. Xi Jinping, in a sharp break with traditional Sinic patience, is pushing the accelerator of confrontation with the rest of the world. On the one hand, this may appear as a desire for revenge for the "century of Chinese humiliation" (1840-1950) and as the desire to make the West, which has become soft and unsure of itself, pay its historical bill. Although it is a very dangerous bet, we can honestly understand the motivations, if not historical, at least psychological. On the other hand, however, Beijing's expansionism is very reminiscent of that of the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 1600s. At that time, the Turks had reached the maximum territorial expansion, but they had also unequivocally taken the path of internal decadence. The reaction to this decadence was to attack the Habsburg empire headlong and attempt to conquer Central Europe. The result was the emergence of a vast Christian coalition that repulsed the Ottoman onslaught, wrested about half of their European conquests from the Turks, and made the decadence faster and more inescapable. It is almost certain that Chinese aggressiveness is the result also and not only of internal problems. In that case the Yellow Dragon is heading to the most dangerous phase for itself and for the world, but also to a probable Ottoman-type disaster.
South Africa: from the hopes of political correctness to tribal self-destruction
The Republic of South Africa, with its 60 million inhabitants, has disappointed all the expectations of the post Apartheid, destroying the good of the old system and increasing the bad. But in Western nihilistic moralism this is fine, since this was done for the emancipation of non-European peoples.
South Africa is a country almost in disarray. The state is struggling to appease tribal rivalries (particularly between Xhosa and Zulu), the economy is in shambles, corruption is out of control and the white (9% of the total) and Indian (2.5%) minorities are fleeing to avoid progressive genocide. The problem is that the last two ethnic groups mentioned are the very ones who kept the economy going. The black population is constantly increasing and there are no plans for demographic control, while crime every year delivers bulletins worthy of a civil war. AIDS is also on the rise, so much so that the infected population has reached the frightening figure of 19%, the fourth highest in the world. And this in the state where, under another regime, almost 53 years ago the first heart transplant in history was performed. It is worth remembering that in the white community the percentage of HIV-positive people is 0.3%.
Industry, small and niche under Apartheid, is in total crisis. Agriculture, which up until the 1990s was the heart of food production in all of Africa, deserves a separate discussion. With the collapse of the racist (and, therefore, immoral) regime of the white minority, successive black governments began a progressive and methodical campaign of expropriation without compensation of Anglo-Boer farms, topped off with calls for the pure and simple extermination of whites launched by the leaders of the black parties, starting with the communist party. The result? From being the granary of the continent, South Africa has gone into an irreversible crisis in the agricultural and food processing sectors. The only sector that has maintained its historical importance is mining, thanks to the immense wealth of the subsoil and international interest in their extraction, although the relative figures are lower than in the past.
With these figures, we can say that South Africa (barring a tribal breakdown, always possible in Africa) will remain an excellence on the African scene as long as the structure of the state created by the Anglo-Boers remains in place. When the last traces of Western civilization disappear, the country will become a classic representative of its continent: an exporter of raw materials, with a corrupt and extremely wealthy leadership and a population that is dying of hunger and AIDS.
Let's conclude the roundup on BRICS with some numbers. The numbers are not political and have no ideology, ergo they cannot be accused of racism or "cultural westernism". Today, of all the countries examined, only China can nurture the dream of ousting the USA from the rung of the world's leading power. This could happen if the American domestic demography distorts what the population of the United States has been until now: a European majority living on another continent. Therefore, let's look at the respective Gross Domestic Products, reported for the year 2021, and the respective annual military expenditures (without the No. 1 army, you cannot overthrow the No. 1 empire...).
GDP in millions of dollars, source International Monetary Fund:
- USA 22,939,580 (first in the world)
- China 16,862,979 (second in the world)
Annual military spending in billions of dollars, source International Institute for Strategic Studies:
- USA 738 (first in the world)
- China 193.3 (second in the world)
To these data it must be added that, both in GDP and military budget, the ten chasing countries are all allies of the United States with the exception of Russia, which is located halfway between the two superpowers.
Cold and pitiless numbers, with which many anti-Westerners will have to accept to live for at least another 40 years, with peace of mind of geopolitical messes such as the BRICS, which make dream only the radical chic Third Worldist salons between a glass of champagne and a caviar crouton.
Graduated in History with modern and contemporary majors at the University of Genoa. Essayist, he is author of Ucraina in fiamme. Le radici di una crisi annunciata (2016), Dal Regno Unito alla Brexit (2017), Scosse d'assestamento. "Piccoli" conflitti dopo la Grande Guerra (2020) and Da Pontida a Roma. Storia della Lega (2020, with preface by Matteo Salvini)