BRICS: Minus x Minus = Plus? About the Art and Challenges of Growing from Within

This article discusses the complex challenges that the conglomerate of states, widely labeled as BRICS, faces and/or needs to improve to take up a leading position in global economics and growth. Here, it seems necessary to analyze the original founding member’s status and perspective towards global politics and how to manage the discrepancy between an initial idea and the daily political and diplomatic routine. To understand the inclusive and exclusive nature of BRICS, this article shares insights on what this alliance brings to the table, what future members may demand and/or look for, if such expectations can potentially be kept, and what kind of threats may arise as a consequence of disappointment. The conclusion of this chapter may offer an explicit hint about the joining country’s self-conception, the inner-political tasks to master, and the global political impact that BRICS creates.

Keywords: global alliance, economic transformation, political impact, diplomatic divergence.


Let us travel in time and visit the year 2001. It is an unstable year with lots of question marks and people wondering how, why, and if 9/11 happened as it was reported. Holding onto the facts, we saw planes crashing into the Twin Towers, such and neighboring edifices crashing down, and many people dying – direct victims and rescue forces. Our thoughts remain with them, especially as the results of independent analysts, who tried to shed more light on this whole situation, were never truly communicated to the public. As a result of this lack of transparency, uncertainty and doubts remained with the global community, which turned out into a perfect environment to further deepen such a level of insecurity and to take advantage of it at the same time. Accordingly, some parties feared to see World War III being initiated, while others felt easy to blame groups being potential executives in these operations.

Right in this turbulent year, Jim O’Neill, a Goldman Sachs economic researcher, first mentioned the term BRIC, represented back then by Brazil, Russia, India, and China (O’Neill, 2001) and most likely initiated its existence per se (Mostafa, Mahmood, 2013). O’Neill identified the economies of such countries as potentially powerful enough to surpass some of the traditional more likely Western power players, forming part of G7. While G7 itself went through a proper transformative process from G6 to G8 and ended up creating another alliance, namely G20, it turns out to be highly interesting to investigate how it might be possible to join both the present-day G20 and the BRIC alliance simultaneously. Additionally, it is worth examining how politically close and interlinked the original BRIC countries found/find themselves to the political tensions that arose between the Western and Middle Eastern world starting from 2001 onwards – an epoch when mankind longed for unity and not fragmentation. 

A half-hearted welcome?

G7’s expansion to G20 could have been understood as a remarkable act of productivity. A core group of potentially economically sound countries opens up its gates for sustainable exchange by including a wider range of countries in the process of obtaining new levels of growth and wealth. Analyzing the extended list of attendees of such meetings, we can easily identify the fact that the GDP of such countries strongly differs. Here, we may have a look at the economic capabilities of the initial core group of G7 and the attached partners. Even though the purpose of building economic alliances is to increase one’s wealth and to share some improvement with the partnering country at the same time, two classes within G20 could easily be identified, namely those able to follow the US dollar-driven market and those falling behind it.

Having a look at the global market and individual interests of some of the attending countries, such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China – it already seems to be an outstanding positive fact that specifically countries like India and China share the same conversation. Focusing now on the original BRIC nations, we see their mutual and enormous potential for manpower, terrain, and ambition. Sharing beneficial facts such as manpower and natural resources, they also see themselves commonly struggling with the framework of the US dollar market. The fact that their GDP in number is higher than that of the G7 nations could have driven them to target independence from the US dollar (Adler, 2023) and may have created the path for their ambition to grow economically, more like by setting up their own exclusive club.

Imagining the situation within a G20 meeting may feel like a tremendous farce to countries outside of the economic stability of the G7’s core group. It is not surprising that nowadays BRIC nations and sympathizers not only want to learn how they can support the G7 to become even more stable but also look for proper solutions to become executive partners on one common level by themselves. Fortunately enough, the BRIC nations were able to witness how the G7 and the extended version of the G20 potentially operate and what they could expect from such cooperation in the future.

Accordingly, being included in the G20 may have been the starting point of fragmentation. The dream of creating an alliance that rules a certain percentage of the worldwide impactful GDP was born, and the opposing side towards the G7, G20, and the Western world in general, built its path (Cheatham, 2023). Even though a common dream existed, it may have been ignored what it takes to truly get there. Accordingly, following the global financial crisis of 2009, experts shared criticism towards the real economic strength, impact, and capability that BRIC may offer and whether the alliance will be able to catch up with previous goals that were shared (Duggan, et al., 2021).

Adding, in this chapter, South Africa to the setting of BRIC, we finally get to BRICS. This step seems to be of utmost interest on the way toward learning slightly more about the self-conception of these nations. Bound to their economic status, which is strongly dependent on the global impact of the US dollar, the latter BRICS nations were more likely excluded attendees to the G20 meetings and unmasked in the same way. Having learned their lesson and being motivated to initiate change, a new exclusive alliance was born, bringing very complex dynamics with it. Interestingly enough, India, Brazil, and South Africa remain members of G20, while they also hand over the presidency of such from one to another (Daran, et al., 2023).

Following this double standard, we may agree on the fact that all BRICS nations benefit from their continuing membership within G20, and their additional strong economic partnerships with member states forming part of G7, and the Western world in general. Having built a basic economic security in such a way, we should analyze the political and economic interests between the RIC nations – Russia, India, and China. Here, we will be able to see that these three nations follow complex international political traits and that their inner triad does not find itself without tensions. All RIC nations do have their inner political pros and cons (Adler, 2923), although it is hardly possible to overcome them. Forming only an imaginary trio of success, the inner-political discrepancies of the RIC nations do not create a proper ground for sustainable and convincing activities. Having welcomed Brazil and South Africa is more likely a part of strategic planning. Besides being powerful partners because of their natural resources, both countries are the first of their kind on their specific continents and end up being ambassadors for what BRICS may stand for.

The intra-political discrepancies persist and become even more intricate as Brazil and South Africa not only need to adhere to the interests of BRICS itself but also to the interests and necessities of their countries, continents, and the global community in general (SJØLI, 2023). How to overcome or deviate from such an interest’s patchwork quilt?

Progress by fragmentation?

BRICS nations understood the fragmentation of G20 to be a chance for self-growth and self-realization within a team of self-appointed high-end performers. Based on the fact that, excluding Russia, all initial BRICS nations experienced colonialism, the fragmentation from G20 could also be identified as a process of self-identification (Kenny, 2024) and targeted independence, while we continuously witness that such a thing as complete global independence no longer exists. Taking the US dollar or Euro as an example, we will see that both currencies turn out to be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when two states sign a bilateral US Dollar or Euro contract and a curse when BRICS nations and their allies fear suffering the consequences of USA or Euroland sanctions, either directly or indirectly (Greene, 2023).

The relationship towards the US Dollar and Euro thus remains ambivalent within the BRICS alliance and its sympathizers. To offset the mentioned potential risk and lack of influence with the World Bank and the IMF (Adler, 2023), BRICS nations established the BRICS Development Bank in 2015, now known as the NDB – New Development Bank. This ought to be a step towards practical support for members and an alternative to the aforementioned traditional Western-driven institutes.

While such an action could be a strong hint towards what BRICS nations are capable of creating, the initial political discrepancies remain and continuously have an impact on the idea of common global growth, wealth, and impact. The idea of growth turns out to be of such crucial interest, as it was never clearly communicated what such growth shall look like. From what we have gathered so far, BRICS nations seem to have identified economic independence and growth as their unique goal, but no structured groundwork has been done to enable such a journey. Only at the last BRICS Summit in South Africa in 2023 did the alliance of nations realize the fundamental groundwork that was truly needed and required, editing a communiqué of 94 points (BRICS, 2023), making internal and external procedures more accessible to both members and non-members.

Having agreed to mutually grow and being aware that such an act requires the management of processes that create a common ground, mandatory initial steps were taken. Steps that definitely require more attention and that need to be put into a wider context. While accepting and communicating the interest to work with organizations and institutes such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Security Council, the UN Charter, the Human Rights Council, and accepting International Law (BRICS, 2023), the BRICS Nations do not follow a truly credible political line.

Supporting the BRICS Chairmanship (Russia) for 2024 in full, as well as accepting the 2024 list of new members, is a concrete political statement. It challenges the above-mentioned acceptance and cooperation of UN-based organizations and milestones in a fundamental way. Unfortunately, modern BRICS finds itself in danger of becoming a common pool of two different parties. Namely, those who seek economic partnership to provide their countries with financial stability, and on the other hand those who interpret the content of the latest declaration in a highly subjective manner to primarily destabilize the already present structures offered by the Western international and intergovernmental organizations.

While the majority of BRICS members and friends supported the idea of building global peace, it remains a question of how such kind of peace may look like and what kind of path leads to this specific kind of peace, especially as the Secretary of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation asked the world to fight against the Western nations’ dominance (Brooks, 2023). Following this path, BRICS may be misled, misused, and involved in a new edition of the Cold War of a greater global relevance (Cheatham, 2023), ending up with a process that potentially leads to its discreditation – a BRIXIT.

The question remains: Quo Vadis BRICS? Is it the common idea of economic growth that drives this alliance, is it the hidden agenda of invisible stakeholders with questionable political interests, or is it the necessity of financial stability that forces countries to dance at two weddings at the same time?

Identifying the fake ambassadors

Brazil and India, two of the initial members of the alliance, communicated their doubts about whether the expanding number of members automatically increases the impact and economic relevance of BRICS (Adler, 2023). A Brazilian official communicated in August 2023 that his country is alert and fears that the development of BRICS could lead to something not truly scheduled in the beginning (Adler, 2023). Here, both may relate to the initial discrepancies between the original members of the alliance and their true motivation to get into this kind of exchange.

One of the most common and well-known strategies to attract members is to offer them a safe haven within a global environment of chaos and instability. The counterpart of such a safe spot is dynamics that not only cause financial insecurity on a state level but also social inequity which potentially gives birth to a threat to democratic structures (Brozus, 2021). Touching on the topic of threatening democracy by undermining a country’s stability, I kindly ask you to make up your mind and identify the major crises that the global community has faced and/or experienced since the year 2000. Try to identify the extent of such within the political and social system of states. Try to visualize, who was obviously involved, who was indirectly connected, and who potentially benefited from such crises. Most likely, you will find that most of the crises, excluding COVID-19, were related to the USA and Euroland.

Following this investigative path, you will see that Palestine, which applied for membership in BRICS and is aware of the interlinkages between the USA and Israel, asked the USA to be the mediator between Israel and Palestine (Alqarout, 2023). Is this a coincidence or a strategic move by a hidden stakeholder, who is firmly part of BRICS and has an interest in destabilizing the relationship between the USA and Israel? Furthermore, does the communicated fear of Brazil already take up a concrete role within global politics?

As previously mentioned, it is more likely that all kinds of international cooperations and alliances express a political statement. Therefore, the intentions of BRICS remain unclear, when it sympathizes in public with Palestine and still shows a strong economic exchange with Israel (Alqarout, 2023); or BRICS claims to follow International Law and the guidelines of the Human Rights Council and accepts questionable new members at the same time. Taking this as a simple example, possibly repeating itself in similar settings around the globe, turns out to be highly unethical. And here we connect once again with the broad variety of BRICS members’ individual interests, such as those of India, trying to balance its interests between BRICS nations and the West (Ashby, et al., 2023).

Even though BRICS currently represents 42 percent of the world’s population and 36 percent of GDP (Ashby, et al., 2023), it seems to be yet too big to identify common goals and too diverse regarding individual political interests. The committee of original BRICS members itself appears to be too strategically decentralized regarding proper interests, which means that BRICS itself remains without a proper scout. Based on the inner divergence of BRICS (Granville, 2023), it does not have a common ground and inner standing that allows it to benefit truly from the above-mentioned percentages.


Summing it up, the global alliance of BRICS and states in friendship faces a long list of topics to manage in order to get where they wish to be, namely the new dominant safe alliance on this planet, not only responsible for their understanding of keeping the peace but also for guaranteeing economic growth and stability.

Being born out of a half-hearted fragmentation process, separating more or less from G20, the five founding members remain fragmented within their circle (Klomegah, 2023). Common goals cannot be identified as there is an absence of inner consensus, and each partner follows an individual agenda inside and outside of the G20.

The scheduled and promised goal of common growth appears exceedingly unrealistic without the ability to create a credible agenda that remains convincing for both the superficial and the more ambitious reader.

Many topics that surround BRICS remain unclear. One of the most prominent and crucial points for BRICS itself is how to manage the broad range of diverse political agendas and interests, including challenges such as balancing economic cooperation with BRICS nations and Western partners, as well as the interpretation of what it means to accept and follow the framework of Human Rights, being only one example.

At the moment, it looks like ambition was more likely the driving force and not a concrete plan and/or agenda. Enlarging the number of members does currently not truly support the vision to increase the GDP, as the latest accepted members only contribute 4 percent of the members’ GDP (Jütten, Falkenberg, 2024). That indicates that more members may more likely increase the complexity in decision-making and increase at the same time the complexity of internal discrepancy. The fact that BRICS identified Ethiopia as one of the poorest countries in Africa but labels it still to be of a highly strategic value (Klomegah, 2024), underlines how straightforward planning towards economic growth can get lost in complexity. 

Before coming to an end and the final statement of this conclusion, it remains necessary to briefly discuss the danger of fragmentation on a state level. The nature of BRICS and their new members’ financial strength shares a strong hint that this alliance is strongly built on the necessity to benefit from economic alliances to bring financial stability back home. We also discussed the status of several members who see themselves as more likely to be forced to accept hidden stakeholders’ plans to benefit financially, as outlined above. I kindly ask you to read between the lines and understand that this is not an easy task to manage, namely to accept moral failures on one side in order to create benefits for one’s people. Being disconnected from the global community in order to join such an alliance, and then potentially feeling let down and isolated at the same time, leads to even greater distress that could trigger further disconnect and extremism in the future (Erdmann, 2024).

Taking up the topic of this chapter and considering if Minus x Minus = Plus? Based on the fact that BRICS nations have obviously fragmented, at least partly, from G20 and some of them even from the Western world, I have considered them in my calculation to be represented by a Minus. I repeat myself by clarifying that the Minus is not a validation of such states, but refers to the process of fragmentation. Being caught up in the diversity and complexity of global interlinkages and interests, I believe it was not beneficial to take this step and to deviate from what truly needs to take place, namely a common path creating dialogue that builds true cohesion and supportive exchange, guaranteeing sustainable exchange, in order to prevent the above-mentioned fragmentation and potential radicalization.

Here, it should not be the question of whether the world was ruled by a unipolar order and has now shifted to a bipolar order (Singh, 2014). The world needs to be led by political and diplomatic experts who understand that we all live on one planet, that we all form one humankind, and that we therefore can only work all together towards one common goal, namely to give credit to our planet that allows us to live thereupon and to build unity within humankind. Lasting relationships are the foundation upon which superstructures can be build.


Note: Internet pages added on March 29th, 2024

Adler, 2023, Can BRICS create a new world order,

Alqarout, 2023, Is BRICS really the lifeline Palestine needs ,

Ashby, et al., 2023, What BRICS Expansion Means for the Bloc’s Founding Members,

BRICS, 2023, XV BRICS Summit Johannesburg II Declaration,

Brooks, 2023, BRICS member countries urged to prioritise peace and security,

Brozus, 2021, G7: Inklusiver, selektiver und vorausschauender Multilateralismus,

Cheatham, Gallagher, 2023, Why the BRICS Summit Could Be a Big Deal,

Daran, et al., 2023, The Future of BRICS: Between Objectives and Challenges,

Duggan, et al., 2021, The BRICS, Global Governance, and Challenges for South–South Cooperation in a Post-Western World,

Erdmann, 2024, Personal Identity and Peace Building,

Granville, 2023, Brics summit: Is a new bloc emerging to rival US leadership,

Greene, 2023, The Difficult Realities of the BRICS’ Dedollarization Efforts—and the Renminbi’s Role,

Jütten, Falkenberg, 2024, Expansion of BRICS: A quest for greater global influence,

Kenny, 2024, BRICS,

Klomegah, 2023, Russia Underestimates China and South Africa’s (BRICS) Peace Initiatives,

Klomegah, 2024, Nigeria Contemplates BRICS Membership,

Mostafa, Mahmood, 2013, The rise of the BRICS and their challenge to the G7,

O’Neill, 2001, Building Better Global Economic BRICs,

Singh, 2014, BRICS and the World Order: A Beginner’s Guide,

SJØLI, 2023, The BRICS: An alliance for peace,

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