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By Darlington Chiluba 

At some point in human history, the idea of a global village was viewed as a possible social and economic equaliser. 

The very idea that geographic borders could be bypassed became an endearing aspiration for most nations to build technological and economic capacity to participate in the new global trade regime. 

This was part of the lure of global trade under the capitalist structure. Afterall, trade and open market ideas had shown tangible success in some countries, particularly in North America and Western Europe in such an obvious way that it was only reasonable for those paragons of succesful capitalism to export their expertise to the rest of the world.   

Somewhere along the line, this notion and panacea of shared global economic success and social equality became blurred by a rigid hierarchy. 

The so-called global north and south divide, which most hoped would be narrowed held ever more rigid and even wider. 

Part of the problem was that overtime, the west created institutions that appeared to entrench a global ranking system of nations based on select fundamentals considered important by the west, such as inflation, GDP and other factors. In this era, perception was important for a country to be a good member of the global village. This was the message at domestic, regional and continental levels. Trade, finance and technology, it was tutored, could not flourish in an unstable environment.

 Paradoxically, diamonds, gold, oil and timber always made it out of unstable countries like (old) Angola, for example.   

At global level, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was one of the only non-western organisations that arguably held some form of real global economic power. Member states of OPEC sold their valued commodity in the currency of a global superpower, the United States Dollar.

It is possibly this underlying transactional agreement that could have kept the organisation extensively relevant and powerful. Yet, no matter how powerful OPEC was, and still is, it did not necessarily derail or directly challenge the global village idea. 

Not until the creation of BRICS (acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Republic of South Africa, RSA) has that idea of the hierarchy of the global village been directly challenged.    

For instance, all BRICS nations are top five economies on their respective continents with perceptible international standing. China particularly is the world’s second largest economy whose influence around the world is wildly palpable. 

Russia is still a military and economic superpower to an extent. Of these nations, only Brazil the active member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – another creation of the west to achieve global justice. Russia withdrew its membership, China and India are not members. Worse still, the ruling party in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) recently wrote to the United Nations (UN) expressing their intention to withdraw that country’s membership, although at some point they rescinded the decision this shows their intention to withdraw. 

The BRICS nations rank as some of the most powerful nations in the world, so their rejection of the ICC is a statement meant to assert their own sovereignty and recuse themselves from a system of perceived global hierarchy. While most nations can readily accept an economic hierarchy and, maybe political one from a 

policy and institutional perspective, a global judicial hierarchy is difficult to accept, let alone condone. Moreso, when the judicial interpretations are based predominantly on human perceptions that are skewed to one region. Whether by chance or default, this has created criticism and perception that the ICC exists to further entrench a hierarchy that retains one global superpower.    

From a social political perspective, BRICS seems to have made clear their interruption of the global village concept as currently conceived. It cannot be a social hierarchy to the extent of imposing global judicial authority. 

From an economic angle, the USA has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at roughly $26.9 trillion, being the world’s strongest economy. Meanwhile, some statistics show the combined BRICS GDP at over U$ 26 03 trillion.    

This comparison is important because this is the first time in recent memory that nations ideologically opposed to western liberal capitalism have held such equivalent financial power. Secondly, it creates possibility of an alternative concept of a global village by nations typically referred to as south or eastern. 

In this respect, the likelihood of shifting the axis of power from the west becomes a real possibility. So far, this global shift of power which Russia lost after 1989 has happened almost entirely from an economic than military position.      

 If this unfolds as a direct challenge to the current system of global order, the definition of superpower could shift from nation states to cooperative institutions such as BRICS. Interestingly, dominant nations have utilised international institutions such as the IMF and ICC among others to create consensus for their actions around the world. 

In the final scenario, one ponders if the global village can be held together by only technology and finance or something more important like human relations.

If the last factor is to be considered as essential, then the hierarchies accepted in economics statistics and political rankings cannot impose here. A global village cannot exist to impose one culture over another. 


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