The left’s reaction to the BRICS

By Manuel Raposo
September 8, 2023

The author is editor of, a Portuguese Marxist web magazine. Published Sept. 4, 2023, this article was translated into English by John Catalinotto.

Unable to stop the expansion of the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are scheduled to become members on Jan. 1, 2024] and the growing prestige that the organization has gained in the dependent world outside the imperialist centers, the West has tried to diminish their importance through negative propaganda, omissions or the usual anecdotal coverage. Denouncing these maneuvers is important in order to clarify what is at stake. But it is also essential for the left to reflect on its political responsibilities at a time when the world is clearly changing.


In these circumstances, what tasks does the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist left have?

A lump in the throat

The BRICS Johannesburg summit was very upsetting for those ruling in the Western capitals, who saw it as confirmation of the isolation to which the rest of the world has condemned them. No wonder the meeting was the target of attempts at sabotage; that is the proper name for the maneuvers they set in motion.

First, there was the “condemnation” of Putin, which Western countries entrusted to the devious International Criminal Court in order to threaten him and prevent his presence in person in South Africa — which it did. Then there was French President Emmanuel Macron’s clumsy attempt to invite himself to the summit, with the idea of placing a Trojan horse in Johannesburg, a move clearly rejected by the summit’s organizers. Finally, the West silenced the most relevant aspects of the meeting and its undeniable success, and sought to instigate an intrigue over alleged leadership disputes among Russia, China and India.

All of this shows that the imperialist West cannot play (it never has!) on the same board that the emerging powers are playing on today – that of economic relations based on their mutual advantages and political relations based on their respective sovereignties.

General opposition resists the usual colonialist maneuvers

The West’s attempts to impose itself by force, intrigue or sabotage (of which the weapon of sanctions is the latest prime example) – by insisting on relations of a colonialist and imperialist nature, which until recently were unimpeded — are failing today, because they come up against powers with ample economic capacity, which are capable of defending themselves by any means and willing to guarantee defense for their allies.

In addition to the economic confrontation and the creation of new international institutions, the joint military maneuvers of various countries in South Africa, the Pacific, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia are a sign of the determination of these countries not to let themselves be intimidated by the U.S.-European-Japanese triad, whether in the form of NATO or other recent combinations.

The importance of the current enlarged BRICS can be measured by several aspects that appear decisive: (1) a broad commercial, cultural and military exchange among its members; (2) the establishment of rules for collaboration based on common gains among countries on all continents; (3) a commitment to each country’s own development, particularly in the creation of infrastructure (which will make it possible to envisage substantiated, long-range growth, breaking the cycle of dependence centered on the exploitation of raw materials and low-value products); (4) the creation of its own means of payment in trade among the member countries and means of financing that reject the dollar and the imperialist institutions on which the U.S. has based its domination. (The latter threatens to erode the colossal income that the hegemony of the dollar provides for U.S. imperialism.)

In this last respect, it is worth remembering, as did economist Michael Hudson recently, the direct link between the dollar and Yankee militarism. The astronomical and ever-increasing U.S. military budget is the lion’s share of the gigantic U.S. debt to the rest of the world, and this debt, in turn, is sustained by the domination of the dollar. The more than 800 U.S. military bases scattered around the world are thus paid for by the Treasury Bonds bought with dollars by the countries that the U.S. threatens!

And Michael Hudson added: Strip the dollar of its global dominance and you will be drastically reducing the U.S. military budget. (Sputnik News, June 9)

There are more things on heaven and Earth

The evolution of the world, of which the BRICS is an example, is extremely important because it points to the weakening of the Western imperialist bloc, which has been dominant for the last 80 years, if not longer.

It is this aspect that rightly arouses the support and even the hope of left-wing, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist forces, even in Western countries. There is indeed a shift in the world’s balance of power the likes of which has not been seen since the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949. But that’s not all.

On its own, this movement will not change class relations in each country involved in the transformation, or in the world as a whole. For the time being, the same ruling classes remain in power; the capitalist processes of development retain their basic aspects; the reactionary character of various political regimes continues. The regimes in place may even become more “legitimized” in the eyes of their people, should significant progress be made in the countries concerned (until now held back by the hegemony of the monopolies and imperialist institutions) and to the extent that the people experience improvements in their living conditions.

There is, however, an objective revolutionary factor in this process: Millions of workers, proletarianized, will be brought into the arena of the class struggle in its most modern form — that of full confrontation with capitalism, providing a clarification of the different class interests at stake. These masses will tend to be better prepared, and will demand new rights and grasp the value of class solidarity.

For this reason, the greatest progress that this evolution can bring will be the one resulting from the working class becoming aware of its own interests — not in line with the ambitions of the national capitalists who are trying to assert themselves or gain more power in this process, but independently and in dispute with the class interests of these capitalists.

How can we confront the changing world?

In this sense, the path that may open up as a result of the decline of Western imperialism requires the working masses of the so-called Global South to organize and become conscious of their rights as proletarian classes, providing them with the means (ideology, political program, organization) to confront their own capitalists, in the concrete conditions of their respective social struggles, both internal and international.

In the same way, the moment demands that the working masses of the developed and imperialist countries show practical solidarity, as equals, with the workers of the rest of the world who are trying to liberate themselves and make progress. This contrasts, it must be admitted, with the collaborative stance toward the designs of the imperialist bourgeoisies (even if only through apathy) on the part of the populations of the developed world, particularly in Europe. This stance can be seen with regard to the war in Ukraine, the sanctions on Russia, Venezuela or Cuba, the threats to China, Iran or North Korea, and the attempts to discredit the progress of the BRICS or any initiative leading toward independence coming from the countries that imperialism has subjugated.

But, as the Portuguese experience of its 13-year-long colonial wars shows [1961-74], time plays in favor of those who, relying on their own strength, are committed to liberating themselves and making progress.

From our point of view, carrying out this task requires rebuilding the communist movement (which today doesn’t exist as a movement) in each country and internationally, pointing it towards the revolutionary objectives that the moment demands: sinking the imperialism of the U.S.-EU-Japan triad, supporting the movements in dependent and peripheral countries to free themselves from imperialist tutelage, helping to differentiate the class interests at stake in the course of these movements, and stimulating and organizing the political independence of the proletarians in the process of struggle against capitalism.