PUTTING BRICKS IN THE BRICSA BLOCMay 24, 2015
These two articles were both shared by Ms. M.W., and they are both important signals not only of the continuing breakdown of USA unipolarism, they also highlight the fact that the BRICSA bloc is cementing its bi-lateral relationships and planning for a very long-term game, one in which there are, apparently, no similar counterbalancing plans from the West, at least, not on a major public scale. Here are the two articles:
For the moment, let's concentrate on the first article, and these statements:
"On May 19, Li Keqiang is due to hold talks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Over the past year, the Brazilian government has announced plans for a slew of infrastructure projects, including the extension of airports and ports, the building of 11,000 km of railway and 7,000 km of highway.
"Beijing is pushing to close China’s participation in building freight rail and high-speed rail in Brazil. Brazil is looking for investors for a $2.4 billion railway project that will link the center and western parts of the country.
"Amongst the deals inked in July last year between Rousseff and Chinese President Xi Jinping was, most significantly, a railway spanning the continent from Brazil’s Atlantic coast to Peru’s pacific ports, which woud significantly reduce the costs and time required for Brazil to ship raw commodities to China." (Emphasis added)
Brazil is, of course, the premier power in South America and, as its growing economy and military potential attest, an emerging world power. A transcontinental railway linking Rio de Janiero, Brasilia, and Sao Paolo to Cuzco and Peruvian ports would all but cement that position for quite some time, unless of course similar deals are being worked out with Buenes Aires for similar railroads to Chile. But in any case, the article makes clear why it is to China's and Brazil's benefit for such deals. Notably absent, of course, is the USA, whose foreign policy vis-a-vis Latin America is best summarized in the phrase "United Fruit Company" and "CIA." In other words, the USA's foreign policy for Latin America has been a long litany of simply replacing Madrid and Lisbon as the colonial hegemon, and sponsoring coups from Gautemala to Chile, dictators from Batista to Somosa, and all points in between. A transcontinental railroad in Brazilian hands together with a booming economy offers the other countries in the region something else besides American bases and CIA coups, so watch for growing Brazilian influence in Bogata and Caracas over the long term. What it means is that at least the B and the C in the BRICS are willing to put their money where their mouths are, and to take real, and huge, practical steps to create a multipolar world.
And that "multipolar world" brings us to the second, and in my opinion, much more significant story here, and that's the second article:
"Demographic changes in BRICS mean the appetite for higher education is expanding quickly and providing a source of international postgrad students that the US and UK are currently exploiting.
“'Over the course of the next month and a half we should agree on the fundamental structure of BRICS University so that in September, the BRICS Network University, endorsed by all members of the association, will be officially established,” Klimov said.
"Both the UK and US universities are heavily dependent on the BRICS, especially China and India, for their international numbers. India, by 2024, will be home to the largest tertiary-aged population, numbering over 119 million."
As the article indicates, the USA and UK currently exploit the huge demand for college, graduate, and post-graduate education in the BRICSA nations. But that, I think, is only half the story here, if even half. It's probably more like only 20% of the story. Here's why:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it abundantly clear, in speech after speech, that neither he nor Russia are wanting to see a continuation of the current "USA-unipolar" global system. But he's also made it abundantly clear that neither he nor Moscow want to see a return to the Washington-Moscow bi-polar system. Rather, he has been stressing a multi-polar world order of Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia, and so on. And we should believe him, if for no other reason than no one nation - not even China and certainly not Russia or the USA - can afford a unipolar world.
But what does this have to do with universities, and the sudden "urge" for a "BRICSA" university?
I suggest the answer is rather simple. The university, particularly in the French, British, and American systems, has been "the training ground for empire," i.e., the elite universities of those nations have provided the bulk of the training for the administrators and bureaucrats to run the agencies of empire, and run them smoothly and effectively. One need only think of the importance of the Sorbonne and other Parisian ecoles to the French state bureaucracies, of the Oxbridge system in Great Britain to the ministries of government, or the Ivy league in the USA for the departments of government and the Wall Street investment and legal firms. Later, with the unifications of Italy and Germany in the 1870s, the old universities of those countries assumed a similar importance.
But by training their own future leaders in those western institutions, particularly in the USA, the BRICSA bloc is confronted with a problem, for those universities - particularly in the schools of international relations, economics, finance, business, and political science - reflect the American "unipolar sickness." Those universities, while giving great insight into the chief competitor to the BRICSA bloc and to its "culture" and geopolitical philosophy, are not really equipping people with the practical tools to implement the kind of vision that the BRICSA bloc is all about. The need for a BRICSA equivalent to the Sorbonne-Oxbridge-Ive League is thus apparent, and the fact that the BRICSA nations recognize this is a tribute to the fact that they understand the realities of "soft power," that simply building railroads from Sao Paolo to Cuzco or from Shanghai to St. Petersburg is not enough, for cultural and bureaucratic implications will result, and bureaucracies - effective and efficient ones - will be needed to put into place to run and maintain it.
So what might one look for? What might one predict?
For one thing, expect the BRICSA university system to consideably more competitive than the overpriced American equivalents, where administrators rake in huge salaries and adjunct professors starve to death. Expect the BRICSA university system to provide a quality education at a fraction of the cost of its American competitors, and, rather than being top-heavy with administrators, expect it to have a much more faculty-governed approach, as is the case with the British Oxbridge system. Having faculty administer the university cuts costs. Expect it, likewise, to make heavy use of internet content, and to avoid the "educational-theory claptrap" that now is seeping into American college, graduate, and post-graduate education. And expect the BRICSA univerisities to syphon off the best faculty talent from those overpriced American universities in short order. After all, why be an underpaid adjunct professor for an American university, working without any benefits and at a pittance, when the BRICSA universities will guarantee a salary, and respect your contribution, when the overpaid administrators and tenured professors in that system, who do scant teaching anyway, do not?
There's something else one might expect from this, and I'm bold to suggest that it might be the resurgence of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth in the long term. Here's why: recent geopolitical events have made it abundantly clear, if you're not sticking your head into the globaloney sand like Mr. Cameron, that Mrs. Thatcher was probably right: Europe might be a fine idea, but it is inimical to British institutions, culture, liberties, and economic and political sovereignty. On the other side of the Atlantic, things are not too rosy either, for American unipolarism ultimately could force Britain, and for that matter, the Commonwealth, into situations again not in the best interests of the country or Commonwealth. But Britain has singular advantages in this respect over the USA, advantages that would equip it well in the multipolar world emerging, and in particular, training people to run it, and that is that Oxbridge tradition. After all, that tradition had to train people to run the world's only global empire which was also a "multicultural" empire, to use that overused modern expression, and for whatever faults the British Empire had, and it had many, it at least was effectively run. That system has been considerably expanded to other excellent universities in Britain, and these could, conceivably, provide the only real counterweight in the Western World both to the culture of unipolarism in the American system, and the emerging competition from the BRICSA bloc. Additionally, while Great Britian certainly has its own bumper crop of Euro-fanaticists both within government and the university system, there's still enough pushback that this still does not approach the status of "Euro-dogma" one sees in French or German intellectual circles. In the long term, in other words, because of the British university cultural tradition and the United Kingdom's long geopolitical history, Britain could be poised to exploit the emerging multi-polar world of Europe, the BRICSA bloc, and the dwindling American empire, by standing in a middle ground - culturally, intellectually, and geopolitically, between them. It is uniquely positioned to do so, and has the technological infrastructure necessary to do so. Currently, the political will is lacking. But eventually, I suspect, reality will clarify even the vision of the Euro-dogmatists.
See you on the flip side...