Groping in the Dark with the “Non-Places” BRICS: Geopolitics of the Emergence of an Empire or States Racing to the Bottom?

Johannes Tsheola


Theorization of regionalism is yet to resolve the question of the appropriateness of amalgamation versus pluralism jurisdiction. The formation of the BRICs in 2009, and the inclusion of South Africa in the 2011 BRICS in complete disregard of the Goldman Sachs’ foundational conceptual modelling and forecasting of the original acronym (Brazil, Russia, India and China), has tacitly reinvented the philosophical and conceptual questioning of globalism and regionalism. The BRICS does not fit notions of amalgamation or pluralism regionalism, thereby accentuating the cracks of the explanatory power in analytical concepts of market integrationism in global geopolitics and international relations. Whereas China and Russia are not perfect fit for the concept of emerging economies, the business, financial and economic framing of the set is grounded in an oxymoron of the calibre of development, globalization and regionalism. The latter two have appeared to provide convenient flags under which all ships could sail; hence, the emergence of the BRICs, BRICS, Nafta, Mercosur, Next-11, BRICSAM and IBSA. Given historical matrices of coloniality in global geopolitics and international relations, Russia and, perhaps, China could be harbouring self-interests relating to cultural, historical and ideological assimilation within the set. To this extent, the BRICS set’s regionalism should construed as another oxymoron wherein member states joined “non-places” that are “groping in the dark” within global geopolitics and international relations. Nuance notions of “empires” provide useful insights to understanding the motives underlying the BRICS set. This article aims to determine if the BRICS set signifies the emergence of contemporary empires with “civilizing” missions or if it is a manifestation of states racing to the bottom. The article concludes that the BRICS is a deeply complex and conflicted set that involves attempts at both externally-driven and inward-oriented management of international geopolitics through “civilizing” missions and/or “non-places” regionalism of states racing to the bottom.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n25p187

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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