The naïve amongst us really believed that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stood a fighting chance at landing the World Bank presidency. The realists and the cynics knew that the whole thing was but a mere charade. As things eventually turned out, the decision had already been made. If anything, the formality of going through the election process gave more credence to the stark reality that the US is still very much intent on holding to whatever vestiges of influence and power remaining at its disposal. It is a reality which the Brics member states are fully cognisant of and now seem ready to change.
We are currently living the effects of the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression. It is a crisis which in so many ways has signaled the implosion of America’s brand of capitalism. Most importantly, the crisis has confirmed the waning influence of the West and increased the urgency for an alternative system of development and wealth creation to be found.
More harm than good has resulted from the current system of capitalism as championed by the US. Countries with resources are exploited and impoverished. Capitalism in the form that it exists today has resulted in a grossly inequitable world where less than 5% of the global population (primarily residing in the US), consume more than 25% of the resources.
Inequality aside, capitalism has more dire consequences which threaten our world not least with global warming and terrorism pursued by those who seek redress against the theft and plunder of their resources, cultures and religion through violence.
All told, there is plenty of evidence around that the geopolitical center of the world is shifting from West to East. Most fair-minded people are convinced that a prolonged recession could in the end deal a body blow to the US economy and spell the end of America’s dominance in our world. And that is really not a bad thing. If anything it is a good thing that countries endowed with resources should benefit directly and fully from the exploitation and beneficiation of their oil and minerals.
It is in this context that the case for Brics is not just a compelling proposition but one which could save capitalism and civilisation as we know it from self-destruction. Brics should forge ahead with its initiatives to establish an alternative center of economic power. Recent efforts to set up a Brics development bank must be supported and substantive plans drawn up for a fast tracked implementation.
In March 2012, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa signed a new financial cooperation agreement in New Delhi geared at boosting trade amongst themselves. In 2010, trade between the Brics countries stood at $230-billion. It is their stated aim to double the trade volumes to $500-billion in the next three years. We know that collectively, Brics is home to 40% of the world’s population and approximately 20% of global GDP. All things considered then, there is absolutely no reason why Brics should pander to the whims of the US-led World Bank and IMF.
For decades, the IMF and World Bank has waged and sustained an economic war of attrition against the Third World using weapons such as Structural Adjustment Programmes which saddled developing countries with insurmountable levels of debt. In effect, unprecedented and unrelenting acts of economic terrorism have been waged by the IMF against Third World nations. The World Bank which has among one of its stated objectives, the alleviation of global poverty has done more to worsen the plight of the poor than improve it. It is therefore very disappointing that when the opportunity arises for the World Bank to change tack and appoint a well-qualified and experienced resource from a Third World nation, they chose to thumb their nose at us. It was an indefensible gesture and one that must be treated with the contempt it deserves.
As with all crises, the current one presents opportunities which BRICS must capitalise on in order to ensure a safer and sustainable civilisation. Brics has an opportunity to pursue a more responsible and equitable form of capitalism which ironically has the potential to save the world from America’s dangerous version of the same. As the world makes the transition from one order to the next, this is indeed a battle Brics cannot afford to lose.