©Edgar J. Ridley
It is well known that the members of the five BRICS nations have the potential to shift global economic power like never before. These countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, have the opportunity to harness wealth that can usher in new economies that will be sympathetic to the so-called developing world. However, these predominantly non-white nations will succeed in their union only if they are cognizant of the barriers to effective behavior. The success of the Group of Five will depend not only on their cooperative collaboration but the proposal and implementation of multilateral solutions. The recent move to deny the IMF’s request for further financing; as well as their condemnation of the West for the inept management of the global economy following the financial crisis, are courageous signs that indicate the weight the Group of Five can collectively bring to the table. [Indeed, these actions are reminiscent of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in his rejection of the suggestions of the World Bank]. Unfortunately, the group strains that have been reported, although natural in today’s world of global conflict, have the potential to sabotage any forward movement. The BRICS’ global relevance will be solely dependent on the use of effective, authentic behavioral patterns that lead to the settlement of any internal conflict. This will produce a united front equipped to solve today’s most complex problems.
Indeed, behavior will determine the future of the BRICS. To change behavior patterns, the BRICS must first change their mindset. Leaders of the BRICS must understand civilization’s historical dynamics. When you consider that economic and/or military decisions are based on a mythological framework that emanates from a flawed educational system, it is important that BRICS leaders do not allow their decisions to be informed by symbolic and mythological assumptions. Changing the mindset requires a transformation that will enable BRICS leaders to understand how the symbol systems from different cultures motivate people to make decisions based on myth. Today’s global cultural conflicts have their origin in symbol systems as they affect the neurological processes of the human brain, ultimately dictating human behavior. As noted by neuroscientist and evolutionary anthropologist Terrence Deacon of the University of California-Berkeley:
“One of the most social symbolic relationships to mediate is peace. This is not so much because of a conceptual difficulty, but rather because of a high potential and high cost of deception. The problem of establishing peace after a period of war also demonstrates the importance of the indexical substructure of the symbolic social relationships. Agreements and contracts concerning future behaviors and obligations are intrinsically symbolic. Because the referential link between symbols and their objects is indirect, the very same features that make symbolic reference the only means for definitively representing something that is as abstract and virtual as a promise or contract also open the door to misrepresentation and falsehood. The problem lies in determining whether a symbolic gesture for peace is made in earnest, particularly when it comes from a former enemy who in other circumstances may have employed misrepresentation and misdirection as a ploy.” 
Deacon’s assertion describes one of the core problems of symbolic behavior in negotiations. As I have emphasized with my clients and in my books, symbolic behavior must be eliminated. Symbolism, the origin of symbolic behavior, is a neurological misadventure of primordial man, and it must be replaced by symptomatic thinking, better known as the Symptomatic Thought Process®. The customary assumption that focusing on the symptom excludes the possibility of reaching the root cause of the problem is wrong, and has indeed gotten us into countless wars and the economic straits that we are experiencing now. My research has confirmed that in order to get to the root cause of conflict, we must undergo a symptomatic thinking process, for symptoms are part and parcel of the original problem. It can readily be seen that we have been functioning under erroneous concepts since early history.
It will be key for the leaders of the BRICS to initiate symptomatic behavior patterns, making all decisions based on symptomatic assumptions, if they are to achieve success. The Symptomatic Thought Process® is exhibited in my books, the most recent of which is The Golden Apple: Changing the Structure of Civilization, Volume 1 – it guarantees proper behavior patterns and decision making that will ensure not only a just civilization but a rearrangement of world power that will eliminate the behaviors that produce greed and military phobia that could easily end up in a nuclear disaster. I call on the leaders of the BRICS to work together productively for optimum effectiveness. They must be willing to forego any mythological treatment of each other and each other’s ideas.
Edgar J. Ridley is Chairman of Edgar J. Ridley & Associates, Inc., a global consulting firm specializing in behavior change and productivity, with clients throughout Asia and Africa. His new manuscript, Volume 2 of The Golden Apple: Changing the Structure of Civilization, is in progress.