Coverage and perceptions of the 15th summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) which ended August 24 in South Africa, were colored in advance by delusions spread by some fervid “fans” of the organization internationally. They had insisted against all evidence that the summit would inaugurate a new world currency to compete against the dollar. Along with this, they imagine that the BRICS is creating a new geopolitical bloc against the United States or the “United States-led West.” Some call this new geopolitical phantasm the “Global South.”
The Moscow-based American political analyst Andrew Korybko has long fought to correct these rumors spread by what he calls “the alt-media community.” I would list the prolific Pepe Escobar prominently among the rumor-spreaders. Surprisingly, English-language RT has been spreading these rumors alongside Escobar—even though it is owned by the very same Russian state which has been forced to correct these rumors through its top officials.
Left-wing and right-wing sources alike have popularized the same formula: American imperialism—or the “United States-led West” and its dollar-hegemony—oppress the Third World, Europe, and Russia. But now a turnabout is coming, the US and the dollar are weakening, and a new geopolitical bloc with its new world currency will replace them.
But step back a second! Back to basics. As patriotic Americans—or Africans for that matter—and as human beings—what is our real interest in the BRICS? If the dollar could actually be replaced—what would be the benefit? And what would be the benefit of merely a stronger lobby for developing countries? It might suppress some of the State Department’s incessant bullying of them about “democracy?’ But is that all we are aiming for? Of course not!
We want development. We want Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, along with ourselves, to advance in productivity, nutrition, health, education, and life expectancy. And accomplishing those objectives will enable them to live the productive and meaningful lives we wish for ourselves as well. We know that that requires national sovereignty, and we also know from our own sad experience of recent decades, that national sovereignty requires the economic sovereignty which a second Donald Trump administration will restore here.
Would replacing the dollar bring development? Will a Third World lobby bring development? Of course not! How could they? No more than foreign aid could do so.
Lyndon LaRouche first confronted this question as an American GI in British India immediately after World War II. Poor Indian landless laborers, “coolies,” asked him, "Is the United States going to send us agricultural machinery? Is it going to send us textile machinery, so we can no longer be coolies at eight annas a day, but we can have our own life?" He promised them he would fight for such a policy when he returned, as he did.
What LaRouche did not know then, was that President Roosevelt shared that commitment. At that time, the US industrial machine was the greatest ever seen in history, producing fully 50% of all world output. Rather than shut it down after the war, Roosevelt intended to convert it from weapons, to capital goods production for a new, gigantic world market. Not just the reconstruction of Europe, but launching industrialization and modern agriculture throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Roosevelt had launched this policy before the war with his “Good Neighbor” policy for the Americas. History courses teach us that he stopped sending the Marines into Central and South America to collect debts to bankers—but that was the least of what he did. He helped US industry out of the Depression through programs which exported our capital goods to the South, into viable, well-planned industrialization projects which paid off the credits and helped both partners to prosper. One of those projects was the creation of the Brazilian steel industry, which today is one of the world’s ten largest.
Roosevelt’s design for the Bretton Woods post-war monetary system was a global version of what he had successfully applied in the Americas. John Maynard Keynes’ British Empire plans were rejected, and Roosevelt’s fixed-exchange rate system based on a gold-reserve-backed dollar was adopted. Fixed exchange rates are required for low-simple interest (1-2%) long-term international loans for export of technology from the US, Europe and Japan, into development of former colonies.
But when Harry Truman succeeded to the Presidency after Roosevelt’s untimely death, Roosevelt’s full intentions for the Bretton Woods institutions were gradually curtailed under British influence. The end of the Bretton Woods system and introduction of floating exchange rates after Aug 15, 1971, followed by the Volcker shock beginning 1979, substantially finished off most Third World development plans. See Oks, David and Henry Williams, “The Long, Slow Death of Global Development,” American Affairs Journal Volume VI, Number 4 (Winter 2022): 122–150.
Lyndon LaRouche collaborated closely with developing nations’ (and US) leaders in pursuit of a shared vision of development, including with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Mexican President José López Portillo, and Guyanese Foreign Minister Fred Wills. LaRouche’s 1975 proposal for an International Development Bank was reflected in the final resolution of the Non-Aligned Movement at Colombo in 1976. But his fight was never for creation of a Third World lobby, nor to replace the dollar—quite the contrary. It was for real development in the only way in which it is possible: through cooperation of perfectly sovereign nation-states, in a fixed-rate, gold-backed dollar system—in an updated and perfected version of Roosevelt’s 1944 Bretton Woods system.
From 2007 until his death in 2019, LaRouche fought for the creation of a New Bretton Woods system based on the initiating role of what he called the “Four Powers”: the US, Russia, China, and India. They have many differences, many disagreements among themselves. But they are sovereign republics, and they must fundamentally agree on the sorts of reforms which will make national sovereignty continue to be possible. And only these four, LaRouche said, have the combined power to defeat the globalist British-centered empire which now rules the planet through its central banking system—inclusive of our Federal Reserve.
LaRouche said that the United States should initiate the process, because of our unique constitutional provisions for a credit system—as the New Bretton Woods System will be—as against a monetary system.
Recent US administrations have not had the slightest interest or understanding regarding such questions, but the second Trump administration will be different. To reindustrialize the US will require a Federal credit-issuing institution like a third Bank of the United States, effectively replacing the Federal Reserve—which raises the question of an international credit-issuing institution, created by treaty, under a New Bretton Woods agreement. Again—to reindustrialize the United States will require massive demand. Where will that demand come from under present depressed conditions? Great infrastructure projects can provide only a part of the required demand. Most will come from the vast needs for capital goods from the former colonial sector—the same demand on which Roosevelt would have relied to sustain US prosperity after World War II.
Unusually for contemporary development scholars, Oks and Williams, whom I cited earlier, write that world development will require changes by the US, among which they emphasize “a new and credible Bretton-Woods style framework” and “an internal revolution toward production in the United States…” That revolution is churning loudly now.