I examine the growth experience of the current BRICS countries in the light of the experience of earlier BRICS-like countries (France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan) as well as of the settler economies (Argentina, Australia, Canada, the US and South Africa) using the developmental framework of Alexander Gerschenkron. I also examine the political implications for the BRICS countries of their economic growth. The economic analysis shows the possibility of a middle-income trap at all points in history, due in part to the inability of countries to modify their development strategies or to adopt appropriate policies: continuing to foster the acquisition of labor and capital is critical for growth. In the political sphere, economic development changes the constellation of political forces in a country and the smooth adjustment to new political realities is a key factor in sustaining rapid growth. Within this analytical framework, China and India seem the BRICS countries best poised for continuing their development path. However, the BRICS are unlikely to initiate fundamental changes in the global economic order.