Espreso. Global

Let’s disband BRICS and form CRANKS

22 August, 2023 Tuesday

We need a geopolitical acronym makeover to undermine dictatorships

BRICS should be relegated to history. 

This week’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg makes no moral, strategic or even financial sense.  The West should ignore it and invent a new acronym that focuses our resources.

Let’s push the undemocratic world into an acronym that defines what it comprises, and then cut it off economically.

BRICS is associated with economic success.  The five nations were supposed to dominate the world economy by 2050.  The problem was that the acronym lacked any moral dimension: China and Russia were undemocratic, abusing human rights and engaging in censorship and propaganda.  However, they were supposed to make money for the West, so everyone turned a blind eye.

BRICS also lacked any geopolitical dimension.  Throwing two dictatorships that were dead-set on undermining Western values into the basket along with Brazil, India and South Africa suggested the five had more in common than they did.  Blurring this picture was music to dictators’ ears.

We should therefore take China and Russia out of BRICS and throw them into a new basket with countries like Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria.  That’s where they really belong on moral and strategic grounds, quite apart from the fact that China and Russia have lost their economic lustre.  None of them should enjoy access to democratic market economies.  The five conveniently spell CRANKS, and their promotion of false values fits with the meaning of the word.

Forming a single market of democracies

Acronym warfare or politics fits into a wider strategy of separating the world into two economic blocs, a ‘Democratic Market’ and an ‘Undemocratic Market’.  Unplugging Russia from the West is the first step.  Autocratic and totalitarian countries like

Russia and China will cooperate with each other due to lack of alternatives and become poorer and less powerful.

The Democratic Market will be many times larger and will make democratic nations much richer than countries run by dictators.  It will eventually assure free trade between the US, EU, UK, India and every democratic country, and impose barriers against the totalitarian and autocratic world.

We need to shift the wealth gap from dividing people, and from dividing developed and developing economies, and apply it instead for a good purpose: to divide democratic and undemocratic nations. 

If an undemocratic nation wants to escape economic decline, it will need to become democratic.  Its people will be motivated to remove their dictator so they can be welcomed into the Democratic Market.  This will be an ‘idealogical free market’, in which economic survival is the reward for democratic behaviour, and economic failure is the consequence of undemocratic or autocratic behaviour.

The way we play our economic cards will determine whether we give democracy a long-term chance on the planet or we continue to finance totalitarianism to the point where it overpowers democracy in the end.

Attacking with Acronyms

CRANKS may be the right acronym for some of the worst undemocratic countries in the world, but, if we want to zero in on what makes them CRANKS, five labels spring to mind: totalitarian, oligarchic, abusing rights, dictatorial and spinning truth.  These conveniently spell TOADS, so we now have a shorthand way to see our moral enemies for what they are.  No offence is intended to the garden toad, which may quite reasonably want to steer clear of the acronym version of its name if it realises who is in the club.

Since dictatorships are not always the source but are often instead the product of dictators, we can also assemble a basket of the leaders of the CRANKS and TOADS.  Presidents Xi, Assad, Putin, Akhundzada and Kim combine to form XAPAK.

Of course, there isn’t an acronym long enough to cope with the sorry state of the world in which we live, which is precisely why we need to create the Democratic Market without delay and start to shorten the list. 

In the meanwhile, if we want to be more comprehensive, we could designate an Undemocratic Market consisting of Uzbekistan, North Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Myanmar, Oman, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey and Syria.  They conveniently form the acronym UNDEMOCRATS.

Call them what you will, we need to call out countries by name, by their bad values, and by their bad leaders.  Then, knowing the enemy, we can cut off their economies to give democracy the edge.

Instead of investing in the old BRICS, we should be divesting from, and actually sanctioning, the CRANKS, the UNDEMOCRATS and all nations that are TOADS.

Mark Dixon

Founder and Rater-in-Chief, Moral Rating Agency

Mark Dixon runs the Moral Rating Agency (, the goal of which is to get companies out of Russia, to get Russia out of Ukraine, Putin out of Russia, and dictatorships out of the world. 

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