The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) thread

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) currently meeting in South Africa and considering expansion. BRICS currently accounts for 40% of world’s population. Possible new entrants include: Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It’s setting itself up as an alternative to the G-7

I would worry less about BRICS if India hadn’t taken its recent hard-right turn. Brazil also seems to be teetering between democracy and authoritarianism, although since I’m living in the US I’m not sure I’m in any position to point fingers on that score. For now Trumpian authoritarianism has been at least temporarily defeated in both US and Brazil.

WSJ video (below) mentions that India and Brazil are both worried about expansion and including more authoritarian regimes, so that’s at least something. But China (and Russia) want to set it up as an Authoritarian power block to counter the G-7.

I propose: Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Indonesia, and Thailand to become SHITBRICS.

In all seriousness, if they expand and become primarily authoritarian countries I almost worry less about that. Expansion plus a couple strong authoritarians hiding behind a bunch of weakish democratic countries worries me more. I just don’t think a bunch of authoritarians are going to be able to keep their little club together without some strong unifying ideology other than being authoritarians.

The challenge for the West I think is that this sort of collection of nations (Russia and China are sort of special cases obviously, but they end up here because they now share the same sort of outsider status) has its roots in some very real grievances with former imperial powers, and current and past hegemons, and in general some rather reasonable level of distrust of the USA, western Europe, etc.

During the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement included countries that felt squeezed between the USSR and the USA, and while in the USA we tended to be very suspicious of these countries, our fears that they were merely pawns of the USSR were largely unsubstantiated. We were correct though in thinking that these countries did not necessarily have the same priorities we did. Unfortunately, in the climate of the Cold War, that alone was enough to make engagement with anyone who wasn’t wholly on our side difficult.

Not that the BRICS folks are paragons or anything. In many cases, they are taking stands on climate for instance that are not helpful at all. Many of these nations are pursuing domestic agendas that are the antithesis of what we would want in our countries. But from their POV, some of what they are talking about makes sense. There is a definite “we got ours, now you can’t have yours” vibe to a lot of interactions between the West and the rest of the world sometimes.


Too many of these countries start with vowels.

Oh come on!

Yeah, put this in the wrong thread.

It’s so brave of BRICS to step up like this. The technothrillers and spy dramas of the Free World™ needed a vast global villain to oppose us for, like, a generation.

That’s a pretty good acronym to remember them all.

Interesting update on the Indian Sikh assassination plot. The intelligence official blackmailed a criminal into being his catspaw

The official told Gupta - who the prosecutors described as an Indian national involved in drugs and weapons trafficking - about a “target” in New York. The official wanted Gupta to orchestrate the target’s murder, in exchange for getting criminal charges against him in India dropped.

Link to the investigation in that link that’s still up on Archive:

The padawan has become the master.

This kind of highlights why income inequality isn’t really a great metric to judge society by though.

In India, the per Capita GDP has skyrocketed over the last few decades. While this growth is not evenly distributed (leading to the slight uptick in wealth percentage held by the top 1%), it did still easily in a huge increase of wealth for the rest of society.

I believe that essentially every metric by which we would measure quality of life has improved dramatically in India over the time period we are talking about.

While an increase in income inequality would likely result in even greater gains, we need to look at those other measurements of quality of life to judge whether things are improving, and it definitely is. Hell, just life expectancy alone shows that it’s now TWICE what it was under the British Raj.

Yeah, “Inequality between African Americans has risen since the abolition of slavery” isn’t a winning argument.

Well, they still have time to catch up to the USA where our life expectancy is going down now!

Also, globally life expectancy went from 48 years in 1950 to 70 in 2012.

I get to live in oppressive squalor for longer!

Yeah, what’s the big deal?


With the millions of poverty-stricken Indians living in sewage, I think it remains a pretty decent metric to look at.

I appreciate what you’re saying about it. We probably shouldn’t only look at it in isolation. But it’s a major problem.

Technically, of course, the problem in material terms isn’t inequity, it’s the absolute levels of poverty we are seeing. If, say, the inequity was between people living like an American middle-class suburban family, and people living like, oh, Musk or Bezos or something, no one would really care!

But, um, it’s not like that, surprisingly enough.

Sure, India still has a huge population of people living in poverty.

But here’s the graph, of extreme poverty:

Under the British Raj, the percentage was way higher than it was in 1980, when that chart starts.

And note, that chart only goes to 2017. Today, India has effectively eliminated extreme poverty.

That’s not to say there aren’t tons of impoverished people in India, there are. But no longer are they at the crushing level of “extreme” poverty, and now they can start focusing on “regular” poverty.

While the great evil of global capitalism has grown income inequality, it’s exactly that global trade which has brought India’s population out of the crushing poverty that it used to live under.

We look at things like wage stagnation in the US, but seemingly forget that the US isn’t the whole system. The global capitalist trade system has lifted literally billions of people out of poverty.

I’m always curious about how actual life expectancy has changed over the years. Like, if you actually managed to make it out of childhood, how long were you generally expected to live to? Thomas Edison was born in the 1800s and lived to 84. That seems a pretty good age, even by today’s standards.

I think a lot of that came down to factors like were you a woman who was going to have to push out 8+ kids and the risk associated with each birth? Were you working in a job that had a high mortality rate? How likely was it you would be required to fight in a war or live in a region ravaged by war?

Each high mortality test you can pass significantly increases your life expectancy. Then it’s just kind of how old can you go before some cancer or other inevitable disease of aging gets you.

So there were always individuals who would make it to an age that seems pretty good even today. It was just less statistically likely that any particular individual would because of all the things that could kill them first.