[Marxism] another really stupid column touting BRICS

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Apr 7 08:17:15 MDT 2013

Actually, lots of Third World nationalists hope BRICS will be different 
largely based on untested monetary/financial aspects of world crisis 
management... We had the summit last week in Durban and at our 
counter-summit - http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?2,68,3,2853 - I 
argued otherwise: that the best term to sum up BRICS is subimperialist. 
(Various positions are laid out here: 
http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?2,68,3,2892 ) ... and I've been 
debating this point the last few days at the International Studies 
Association - and will again against World-System advocates in Riverside 
at a conference. So far, no reason to change my view, but please keep 
your ideas coming as we'll be developing this much more in coming 
months, ahead of the G20 meeting (in Russia) in early September.

For the official SA 'left' formulation, see below:


(These two post-BRICS statements below are fib-ridden yet revealing in 
their enthusiasm. Tragically, in what may be the one area of SA foreign 
policy in which strong progressive advocacy has generated mildly /anti- 
/[not sub-] /imperialist /action, Palestine solidarity, it appears that 
Pretoria does not want contagion, for as an apartheid-Zionist brags 
below, /"It is a credit to the leaders of Brics, and particularly to the 
minister of international relations and cooperation, Maite 
Nkoana-Mashabane, that *they did not succumb to pressure from the BDS 
lobbyists*. It is perhaps time for South Africa to follow the example 
set by all the *other Brics states that maintain excellent and mutually 
beneficial relations with Israel*"/ ... and in a similarly upbeat way, 
Nzimande/"starts by locating the significance of the dynamism in the 
economies of BRICS countries like Brazil, India and China and the 
p*otential for these to be partially delinked from global capital, 
especially from its current crises*"/ whereas in reality the 'delinking' 
often appears as neoliberal, pro-corporate/, 
/crisis-amplifying/relinking/, what with - to name just three cases - 
Nkoana-Mashabane repeatedly confirming the merits of the BRICS' 2012 
gift of $75 bn to the International Monetary Fund; the BASIC countries' 
collaboration with Obama on the Copenhagen Accord and subsequent COPS 
which confirm catastrophic climate change; and the extraction-oriented, 
export-oriented, Resource-Cursing agenda that facilitates and finances 
BRICS corporations' looting of Africa along the lines of the 1885 Berlin 
model. Interestingly, perhaps accidentally, Nzimande draws out a needed 
linkage between SA's crony-capitalist role in defending the Central 
African Republic's Bozize tyranny and the BRICS summit... though true to 
form, this linkage below occurs in an inverse way, for Nzimande would 
surely not want to draw attention to the logic of SA's militarised 
'gateway' role for the BRICS, given the five regimes' similar intentions 
relating to the African people and environment.)

  Why the BRICS matter - Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande
04 April 2013

SACP GS says initiative perhaps one of most important developments since 
collapse of the Soviet Union

*BRICS: A qualitatively new development and a site of struggle(s)*

The holding of the fifth Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South 
Africa) Summit in South Africa for the first time, on 26-27 March 2013, 
was indeed an important moment in our country's long history of 
international work and international solidarity. I am deliberately 
saying a long history precisely because the international work of our 
movement goes back to the founding of especially both the ANC and the 
SACP. Ironically and most importantly, it was during the era of the 
isolation of the apartheid regime, that our internationalist work 
deepened and reached new heights, thus placing South Africa, through its 
national liberation movement, as an important component of 
anti-imperialist and progressive forces in the world.

It is important to locate both the history of South Africa's 'diplomacy' 
and that of our participation in BRICS within this historical context, 
so that we do not fall into the mistaken notion that our progressive 
internationalist and diplomatic work only started in 1994. In fact, as 
we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passing away of the late 
President of the ANC, Cde Oliver Tambo this month, we should also be 
recognizing Cde OR as perhaps, more than anybody else, South Africa's 
premier diplomat and leading internationalist, for the role he played in 
the isolation of the apartheid regime and forging the extensive 
international relations of our liberation movement.

Our own SACP played a pivotal role in forging the internationalist 
agenda of the national liberation movement as a whole, with someone like 
our late and longest-serving General Secretary, Cde Moses Kotane 
(uMalume) playing a leading role, especially in forging relations 
between our national liberation movement with the then Soviet linked, 
socialist bloc of countries. In fact the history of the entire 
anti-apartheid movement still holds important lessons for South Africa 
and the world today, especially in the struggles for an alternative and 
just global world order. It is also within this strategic framework and 
lessons that we should locate our approach to BRICS.

The formation of BRICS is perhaps one of the most important developments 
since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. It is an 
attempt not to forge a hegemonic or sub-imperialist bloc, but to exploit 
the shifting (economic) global balance of forces in favour of the 
developing world. It is for this reason that BRICS is an important, 
qualitatively new development, that as the SACP we need to engage with 
closely. It is a development we dare not be dismissive, infantile or 
oppositionist about as it is an important site of struggle, for a better 
world. It is not a given that BRICS will inherently play a progressive 
role, but it is something that has to be struggled for, as it has a huge 
potential to play such a role. For instance imperialism will not leave 
BRICS alone, especially because of its potential threat in further 
shifting the global (economic) balance of forces.

The BRICS countries combined have 42% of the global population; 20% of 
the world's GDP; 15% of trade volume; 75% of foreign reserves (estimated 
at about USDollar 4,5 trillion). The combined contribution of BRICS 
countries to global growth is estimated at around 50% and is said to be 
increasing. These are important resources which, used properly, can 
further shift the economic balance of forces further towards the 
developing world.

BRICS talks to, and relates, to many of the themes of the SACP 
Programme, the South African Road to Socialism (SARS). Our approach to 
BRICS must be informed by the fact that as communists, together with our 
Allies, we must take responsibility for the national democratic 
revolution in all its sites and fronts of struggle. To do this we need 
to participate in taking our revolution forward both from inside and 
outside the state. It practically means participating in BRICS as part 
of government, and also embarking on mass mobilization and building 
internationalist consciousness amongst our people. It is for this reason 
also that it is important that trade unions in the BRICS countries take 
an active interest in forging a progressive BRICS agenda. We therefore 
welcome the initiative by COSATU to host a BRICS trade union meeting and 
state its positions on a number of things that were on the agenda of BRICS.

The BRICS development also relates to the internationalist work and 
tasks of the SACP, especially as directed by our SARS. SARS starts by 
locating the significance of the dynamism in the economies of BRICS 
countries like Brazil, India and China and the potential for these to be 
partially delinked from global capital, especially from its current 
crises. At the same time SARS warns that "none (of these countries) will 
escape its impact. China, with its US oriented, export-led growth 
strategy will face very serious challenges".

SARS also specifically links the developments in some of the BRICS 
countries to the task of taking forward the African revolution. SARS 
starts by outlining the challenge facing our continent:

"The SACP has a particular interest in (and responsibility for) the 
continent in which we are located, and particularly our region Southern 
Africa. Africa continues to be the most brutally oppressed region of the 
world... Millions of Africans have been rendered landless, and millions 
are without employment. In many African countries life-expectancy rates 
are amongst the lowest in the world, while infantile mortality is 
amongst the highest".

Our SARS Programme further notes but also problematizes the 
sustainability of the current high growth rates in Africa, warning that 
these are from a very low base, and they may have been linked to the 
commodities boom arising from demand from some of the BRICS countries. 
The challenge, as identified in our SARS, is that of sustainable African 
development and more sustained linkages with BRICS. The Fifth BRICS 
Summit placed African development at the centre of its discussions and 
resolutions. However in order to ensure that this focus is not only just 
for that Summit, the perspectives contained in our SARS are helpful in 
ensuring a dynamic, sustainable, ongoing and mutually beneficial 
relationship between Africa and BRICS.

Discussions and issues inside BRICS also touch on very important matters 
regarding the transformation of global financial relations. The proposed 
establishment of a BRICS Bank is something that we need to engage with 
very closely as the SACP. The Bretton Woods institutions like the IMF 
and the World Bank, have been major instruments for the maintenance and 
reproduction of imperialism and a neo-colonial, neo-liberal world order, 
especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The establishment of 
a BRICS bank is something that should be supported, and for this bank 
must seek to catalyse new financial relations between the developed and 
developing world. Our approach as the SACP must be that such a bank must 
in the medium to long term be seen as one of those institutions that 
should break the imperialist logic of international financing 
organisations. This is what must be struggled for. Such a potentially 
new developmental trajectory must also inform our own national banking 
and other financial institutions, thus linking the idea of a BRICS 
development bank to our own financial sector campaign.

The Fifth BRICS Summit also emphasized the necessity to find new 
resources and alternative ways of dynamising the BRICS economies and 
those of Africa and the rest of the developing world. This is indeed a 
very important commitment that has the potential to deepen the delinking 
(or decoupling as our SARS says) of the BRICS and developing economies 
from the current global capitalist crisis. The discussions at the Summit 
also underlined the importance of 'internal' trade amongst the BRICS 
countries, including the exploration of using the currencies of the 
BRICS countries as the basis of such 'internal' trade. These are 
important initiatives and sites of struggle to weaken the imperialist 
hold over the global economy.

It is also going to be important for the SACP to proactively intensify 
engagements with the BRICS Communist Parties around the potential of 
this platform to contribute towards our anti-imperialist agenda. 
Incidentally all the BRICS countries have fairly large and/or 
influential communist parties. In China, the Communist Party is the 
ruling Party; in Russia it is a former ruling party and is currently the 
largest opposition party in that country; in Brazil one of its two 
communist parties is in alliance and in government with Brazil PT ruling 
party; India has got relatively large Communist Parties that have been 
in an out of power in some of the Indian States. The SACP has had fairly 
good and close relations with all these parties. This relationship must 
be used to engage on BRICS. It is therefore going to be important for 
all our structures to have systematic discussions on BRICS as part our 
discussion on our international work and tasks.

It is also going to be very important that we consistently seek to place 
BRICS in the public agenda as much as is possible, including using 
alternative media platforms. Already bourgeois mainstream media in South 
Africa, and unfortunately also parts of the public broadcaster, have 
sought to use the tragic death of our soldiers in the Central African 
Republic to try and defocus completely on reflecting on the outcomes of 
the BRICS Summit last week. Indeed this has been the agenda of the 
opposition to try and take away the significance of the BRICS Summit as 
one of the important achievements of the Zuma-led administration.

Other important achievements of the Fifth BRICS Summit were the holding 
of a BRICS Academic Forum and resolution to launch a BRICS Think Tank. 
This will require that South Africa form its own permanent BRICS 
Academic Forum and Think Tank. These are going to be very important 
platforms in the broader battle of ideas, and the SACP must seek to 
engage in these fora and platforms on an ongoing basis.

Doing all these things is absolutely necessary and it is part of the 
SACP taking responsibility for our national democratic revolution. We 
must not be spectators in our revolution, or selectively choose, often 
opportunistically, when to be part or not of our national democratic 
revolution. Whilst we should always maintain the independence of our 
Party, but we are not independent from, instead we are part of, our 
national democratic revolution.

Communist cadres to the front, in all key sites of struggle and power!




  BDS lobby fails at Brics

Ben Levitas

The proceedings of the fifth Brics summit that took place on March 26 to 
27 2013 at the Durban International Convention Centre provided an 
international stage for civil organisations to garner the limelight for 
their causes. One such organisation, which promotes the Boycott, 
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel by South Africa, foundered in 
its call on Brics' countries to sever trade with Israel's "illegal" 
settlements in the "Occupied Palestinian Territories" and to impose an 
immediate arms embargo on Israel. They held a protest attended by about 
150 people in Durban as part of their awareness campaign. South Africa 
joined the Brics (an acronym for the grouping of the world's leading 
emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South 
Africa) bloc in 2010 and will hold the chair until the next summit in 2014.

The intervention by the BDS activist group threatened to subvert the 
conference had it succeeded in gaining traction and was reminiscent of 
the infamous 2001 Durban conference, which inextricably linked Durban 
with the most anti-Semitic rhetoric witnessed in any democratic country 
since the Second World War.

The Durban 2001 World Conference against Racism gained notoriety and 
infamy for its attempts to link Zionism and racism. The focus on blaming 
Israel as the main perpetrator of slavery, racism and human-rights 
abuses hijacked the agenda of the conference and deflected attention 
away from all the other villains. It also frustrated genuine victims 
from obtaining the attention they deserved. Ironically, the two states 
that most adamantly pursued the linking of racism with Zionism were 
Syria and Iran. Syria has since proceeded to murder close to 100 000 of 
its own people and not one resolution of condemnation of human-rights 
abuses, or of war crimes has emanated from the holy sanctum of the 
United Nations or the World Criminal Court. Iran pursues a policy of 
religious persecution against Bahais, Christians and other minorities, 
regularly executes people in public places and suppresses all 
expressions of political opposition, is now the butt of international 

What made this BDS initiative particularly ominous, was the powerful 
groups allying themselves with its objectives and propagating its 
narratives: namely, The Young Communist League of South Africa, 
supported by the South African Communist Party and The Congress of South 
African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

Buti Manamela, South African member of parliament and national secretary 
of the Young Communist League of South Africa, officially handed over a 
memorandum on behalf of several South African organisations appealing to 
Marius Fransman, deputy minister of the department of international 
relations and cooperation, at the summit for "decisive action" on 
Palestine. In Fransman they have a willing collaborator. Through his 
reckless comments 
questioning the loyalties of South Africa's Jews to the country and 
accusing them of indifference to the well-being of its "poor" citizens, 
he has become culpable of fomenting divisive policies threatening the 
peaceful co-existence of Jews with other groups in the "rainbow nation".

Resulting from a prior skirmish the Jewish Board of Deputies has taken 
Fransman to the Human Rights Commission 
for stating that it was not right and fair that Jews should be the 
recipients of tenders to purchase properties, in areas which he 
designated as previously "Muslim". On relations with Israel, Fransman 
and his mentor Ebrahim Ebrahim have pursued a belligerently hostile 
policy towards Israel. Travel by all tiers of government officials to 
Israel to gather information, or for purposes promoting economic ties 
has effectively been halted. South Africa has been at the forefront of 
countries condemning Israel at the United Nations and has actively 
litigated against Israel at the International Criminal Court to have its 
"security wall" declared "illegal".

Assured of widespread support from Zwelinzima Vavi, the general 
secretary of Cosatu, Young Communist League secretary Manamela and 
widespread sympathy from the upper echelons of the African National 
Congress, BDS South Africa co-ordinator Muhammed Desai had reason to be 

According to Desai the Brics can and should play a decisive role by 
taking "two immediate actions: impose military and arms embargo on 
Israel and secondly to end all and ban all trade with Israel's illegal 
settlements". He also called for the suspension of economic, financial 
and technological assistance to and co-operation with Israel and for a 
severance of diplomatic, trade and cultural relations with Israel

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, also of BDS South Africa, echoed these demands. "We 
now hereby call on Brics to take decisive action against the increasing 
Israeli occupation (and its illegal settlement enterprise) as well as 
Israel's apartheid policies against the Palestinian people. The time has 
come for progressive countries that seek a peaceful and just world to 
take clear action in the interests of the oppressed Palestinians --- 
taking such action would put Brics on the side of the developing 
countries, on the side of the peoples of the world and on the right side 
of history."

In a region bereft of legitimate leaders and of functioning democracies 
the moral bankruptcy of the BDS agenda to overlook all the human-rights 
abuses of the Arab regimes is apparent and abhorrent.

The BDS talks loosely of bringing "justice" for the Palestinian people 
without spelling out what exactly is intended. It fails to posit any 
clear positive plan of how Israelis and Palestinians will live and share 
the land. Its partisan agenda blames only one side, the Israelis, and 
expects only compromises from the Israelis. It prescribes only punitive 
measures for the Israelis and absolves the Palestinians of all 
responsibility or blame. This view, sees Palestinians only as victims, 
with no control over their fate. This fatalistic view is unhelpful. It 
circumscribes the role Palestinian leaders can play and should be 
perceived as demeaning to the Palestinian people.

It is a credit to the leaders of Brics, and particularly to the minister 
of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, that 
they did not succumb to pressure from the BDS lobbyists. It is perhaps 
time for South Africa to follow the example set by all the other Brics 
states that maintain excellent and mutually beneficial relations with 

More information about the Marxism mailing list