The BRICS have played an important role at moments in slowing down neoliberal trade policy, but do not depart from a global trade model that has yielded great profits for a few major transnational companies and witnessed a race to the bottom in term of wages, working conditions, and environmental protection.
The BRICS are following the pattern traditionally adopted by Northern countries of enclosing and exploiting land, both nationally and abroad, to benefit capital and global agro-industrialisation. They are also using law and diplomacy, notably Bilateral Investment Agreements, in order to facilitate access to foreign land, and foster their own economic interests.
Brazil provided perhaps the best hope for social movements that the rise of emerging economies might offer new opportunities for progressive economic and social transformation, but 12 years after Lula's election the alliance between social movements and Brazil seems much more fraught with tension.
South Africa under the ANC and its alliance with the BRICS promised a more moral, democratic vision of global governance, but in practice its foreign policy has been too often swayed by narrow commercial interests and short-term growth.
The economic rise of China, India, Brazil and others has prompted plenty of speculation about its implications for US power and global governance. But what does the rise of these nations mean for social movements committed to economic, social and environmental justice? This Reader pulls together a series of working papers.
Understanding China's rise on the global stage cannot be understood without acknowledging its role in reinforcing neoliberal globalisation. Allying with nascent Chinese civil society will be critical for reshaping China and the world's future.
The BASIC bloc of countries in UN negotiations have too often ended up collaborating and colluding with the inaction of industrialised countries, undermining the future of the poor in their own countries and throughout the South.
India's foreign policy strategy is driven by a desire to become a major world power and bolstered by the interests of its corporations seeking new markets, but it has come at a cost of deepseated poverty, internal conflicts and repression of social movements.
The BRICS challenge to US imperial power is an important development, but building a more humane and ecologically sustainable world will require fundamental changes to the politics and policies practiced by the emerging powers.