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Patrick Bond Discusses the Concept BRICS-from-below: A Counter to the BRICS Summit

Politics of Climate JusticePatrick Bond, Politics of Climate Justice: Paralysis Above, Movement Below, has written a series of articles on the BRICS Summit that is currently being held in Durban. He firstly states that there is a need for the hegemony of BRICS to be resisted, and then responds to comments that foreign policy journalist, Peter Fabricius, made about him at a public debate about the BRICS Summit.

Lastly, Bond introduces the concept of BRICS-from-below, the counter summit to BRICS that he is involved in, discusses the different narratives at play and calls for an analysis of the pros and cons of BRICS.

‘We reaffirm the character of the ANC as a disciplined force of the left, a multi-class mass movement and an internationalist movement with an anti-imperialist outlook.’ So said Jacob Zuma, orating to his masses at the year’s largest African National Congress celebration, in Durban on January 12. [1]

Eleven days later, Zuma spoke to the World Economic Forum’s imperialists in a small, luxurious conference room in Davos, Switzerland: ‘We are presenting a South Africa that is open for business and which is open to provide entry into the African continent.’[2] (As a carrot, Zuma specifically mentioned the $440 billion in economic infrastructure investment planned in coming years, while back at home, above-inflation price increases were hitting those low-income consumers of electricity, water and sanitation lucky not to have been disconnected for non-payment.)

In a recent review ‘Will SA’S new friends turn out so different from the West?’ ) about a public debate on 28 February over the coming Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) heads-of-state summit, South Africa’s leading foreign policy journalist, Peter Fabricius, chose insults, perhaps to avoid addressing some deep dilemmas.

‘Bond is a familiar exponent of old-style communism,’ he alleged, and thus Ambassador Anil Sooklal ‘ought, from a purely rhetorical perspective, to have dismissed Bond’s attack as student politics. For certainly Bond was firing a blunderbuss at all of what the Left regards as the African National Congress (ANC) sell-out to international capital and neo-liberalism etc, rather than just at BRICS.’

In Durban, South Africa, five heads of state meet on March 26-27 to assure the rest of Africa that their countries’ corporations are better investors in infrastructure, mining, oil and agriculture than the traditional European and US multinationals. The Brazil-Russia-India-China-SA (BRICS) summit will also include 16 heads of state from Africa, including some notorious tyrants. A new $50 billion ‘BRICS Bank’ will probably be launched. There will be more talk about monetary alternatives to the US dollar.

There seem to be three narratives about BRICS. The first is promotional and mainly comes from government and allied intellectuals; the second perspective is uncertainty, typical of fence-sitting scholars and NGOs; and the third is highly critical, from forces sometimes termed the ‘independent left.’

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