Radhika Desai in the Guardian: ‘The Brics are building a challenge to western economic supremacy’

Radhika Desai, author of Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire (Pluto, 2013) has written a piece for the Guardian‘s Comment is Free this week, describing how Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, (the ‘BRICS’ nations) united by rejection of the neoliberal model, plan to create their own institutions.

We have reproduced an extract of it below. For the full article check out the Guardian, here.

Radhika Desai

The recent summit of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) in Durban, South Africa, completed the group’s first cycle of summits, one in each of the five member countries. The summit declaration contained the usual pieties about “solidarity” between the Brics and their “shared goals”. However, unlike previous declarations, this one contained the first steps towards creating Brics institutions.

The most publicised among them, the Brics development bank, has been greeted with the usual western scepticism. Until recently, such scepticism tended to focus simply on comparative growth rates. With the Brics taking steps toward institutionalisation, there is a new element: can the Brics development bank really rival the IMF and the World Bank?

For the New York Times, the Brics don’t have “enough in common and enough shared goals to function effectively as a counterweight to the west”. They are “deeply divided on some basic issues”, are “rivals rather than allies in the global economy” and have achieved little. Worse, they have “widely divergent economies”, invest little in each other and have “disparate foreign policy aims and different forms of government”. Such a motley crew could declare a Brics development bank “feasible and viable”, but the devil would be in the yet-to-be-agreed-upon details.

Such scepticism is misleading. The Brics countries do have a mortar that binds them: their common experience, and rejection, of the neoliberal development model of the past several decades and the western-dominated IMF and the World Bank that still advocate it. Their rapid development over the previous couple of decades was despite, not because of, this. Countries whose governments were able and willing to resist this model developed faster. All Brics countries have become more conscious of this since the onset of the current financial and economic crisis, though individual countries’ rhetoric and policies differ in the degree of their criticism of neoliberal policies.

Once this is understood, the Brics’ increasing coherence becomes evident. They have long called for the reform of the IMF and the World Bank only to meet with resistance. Rather than waiting, they have decided to act.

To read the rest of this article go to the Guardian.

Geopolitical Economy

After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire

Radhika Desai

Radically reinterprets the historical evolution of the world order, as a multi-polar world emerges from the dust of the financial and economic crisis.

“You are not likely to find a better contemporary history of the world’s economy than this one. It is hard to put down, but the greater joy is that it undoes myth after myth about neoliberalism’s inevitability and the neoclassical abstractions that economic history has little to do with the state any longer.” – Jeff Madrick, Editor, Challenge

“Desai’s book shatters the stale notions that characterise traditional international political economy. She has provided scholars with a fresh, compelling and forceful account of the US’s failed efforts to dominate the world order order.” – Professor Ilene Grabel, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, USA

£21.99 only £19.50 on the Pluto site

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