BRICS is coming to town this week, Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th, the ICC in Durban once again playing host to some of the heavyweights of our little planet and its septic politics.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and of course South Africa. (Wait, shouldn’t that spell BRICSA? Aaaah, but that wouldn’t be a clever little acronym that speaks of building, of development, of construction. Funny time to be speaking about construction in SA given the latest news about just how polluted and corrupt that industry is in its current mechanics).
But, whatever, they are coming, we are welcoming them, we are sitting down with them to decide on some mutual agreements around “partnership for development, integration and industrialization”. This is the theme being touted by the South African hosts, the department of International Relations and Co-operation, headed by her “Maite”ness, she of COP17 infamy.
Apparently, according to the minister and her crew, it would be unpatriotic to criticize SAs inclusion in the BRICS bloc. I take that kind of thing personally, so I decided to figure out my response and put it into some lyrics.
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m trying to decide just how worthy this whole thing is of my attention and ire. I have been reading and researching and trying to get to grips with the whole concept of BRICS so I can understand why there is such a solid and concentrated resistance to its existence and our participation therein as the only African country to be involved at any serious level i.e. we got to have our name in the acronym.
Lets start there: BRICS. Bricks should be used to build right? To build what exactly? Infrastructure (the means of extracting wealth & resources), development (producing the right logistical components to facilitate resource extraction) and growth (monetary profit garnered from increased resource extraction, as in GDP). These are primarily economic concerns it would appear, with no mention of social infrastructure (schools, clinics, houses) or development (education) or growth (trust in our civil services and political leadership). These are issues that seem to be concerned solely with our expansion as an economic power, not as a leader in human rights advocacy or democratic advancement.
Once again the red carpets are being rolled out, the blue lights are being dusted off, the sushi is being selected, all for the sake of increasing our capital carrying capabilities and concerns.
BRICS is described as a new Power Bloc. What power exactly? Political muscle against the failing age old Western dominated corporate and political paradigms of our times; economic and capital muscle to make sure that we get to carve a larger section of the pie that governments bake in the big buisness ovens; the power to decide who gets to play in the African sandbox and who has to stand in the naughty corner; the power to control the living standards and self-determination of the people who melt into the concrete mix that builds these “blocs”. Basically, the power to determine who stays in power and how that power is powered.
Needless to say, this doesn’t really include or make space for the “powerless”, the large percentage of people who will ultimately have to serve the ends of that smallest percentage, that ridiculous figure that represents the wealthiest elite few, that 1 percent figure that we are walling off the ICC for, that we shut down streets for, that we protect and pamper while they sweat over the details of their dominance.
I’m ranting here. Plenty of people have broken it down with a lot more clarity and control. Check these links
or better yet, get on board with the BRICS from below program that is currently running at the Durban Diakonia Center (http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?2,68,3,2853) the alternative anti-BRICS conference that has created a space for real democratic resistance to this situation as it stands.
It’s best I stick to what I know and say it with poetry, or in this case, poetry’s rough little cousin, Rap music. I will be launching a track into the digital download space tomorrow that speaks about my understanding of BRICS.
Something like “Whachuknow about building blocks and BLOCS that don’t build? Whachuknow about bricks that build and BRICS that never will?”
They’re dropping BRICS from above, we’re throwing bricks from below.