Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The folly of Live 8 (reprise)

I've decided to return to the subject of African poverty and the recent Live 8 spectacle one last time. My other two posts on the subject are located here and here.

Live 8 certainly succeeded in getting peoples' attention by appealing to a mass audience with loads of cheesy pop artists. It also got plenty of media coverage, adding to the success of simply gaining exposure to themselves. Another successful achievement was getting Pink Floyd to reunite, which is a great and rather amazing feat in itself. Aside from that, however, there is really no other success of a meaningful sort to come from all this.

Peoples' awareness to the problem of African poverty was raised, but then again, who wasn't already aware of the dire circumstances over there? There has also been much criticism of certain favored methods of outreach, including those of the "throwing money at the problem" variety. I covered some of the criticism in my other posts, and Kirsten at Enjoy Every Sandwich has chimed in with a series of good posts about the subject (one post, two posts, three posts, oh my!).

Now it has come to my attention (thanks to Kevin Carson) that George Monbiot has provided some sharp criticism focused directly at the likes of Bono and Bob Geldof and whoever else is content with simply getting on their knees in front of the G8 and hoping to recieve anything more than a pearl necklace. The title of Monbiot's piece sums things up rather succinctly: Bards of the Powerful
Far from Challenging the G8's Role in Africa's Poverty, Geldof and Bono are Giving Legitimacy to Those Responsible

Here's a brief excerpt that explains the folly of Geldof and company's thinking:
Take their response to the debt-relief package for the world's poorest countries that the G7 finance ministers announced 10 days ago. Anyone with a grasp of development politics who had read and understood the ministers' statement could see that the conditions it contains - enforced liberalization and privatization - are as onerous as the debts it relieves. But Bob Geldof praised it as "a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world" and Bono pronounced it "a little piece of history". Like many of those who have been trying to highlight the harm done by such conditions - especially the African campaigners I know - I feel betrayed by these statements. Bono and Geldof have made our job more difficult.

This is one of the many things I encounter in the world of politics that reminds me of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that goes like this:
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

*UPDATE: Rather than create yet another post for this, I'm just going to include the following link here. BK Marcus has levelled the most devastating critique of Live 8 and African aid that I have yet to encounter in the blogosphere. As he states better than I have thus far:
That's right: Foreign Aid is colonialism abroad and corporate welfare at home. It strengthens the worst political players in Africa and the worst political players at home.

To read the whole thing, click on the link below.
aid kills


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