Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Live-8 losers

Reports are emerging that at least some of Bob Geldof's Live-8 concerts are struggling for financial support. Reason magazine notes,
Live8's German organizer, Marek Lieberberg, admitted to 'The Independent on Saturday' that the July 2 concert "has failed to attract the support of politicians or business sponsors" in Germany. According to the British paper, "the lack of support meant the rock bands appearing at the event risked having to pay" for the million-euro show themselves.
What a pity (this by the way is irony). As I've noted here before, Geldof's previous excursion into global feel-good-ism probably did more harm than good, feeding the oppressors who manufactured famine rather than those he sought to help. David Rieff now makes a similar point; writing in Prospect Magazine he argues,
The millions donated to Ethiopia in 1985 thanks to Live Aid were supposed to go towards relieving a natural disaster. In reality, donors became participants in a civil war. Many lives were saved, but even more may have been lost in Live Aid's unwitting support of a Stalinist-style resettlement project ... The standard argument is that to do nothing is to acquiesce in whatever horror is unfolding, from Saddam Hussein's Iraq to the mass killings in present-day Darfur.... Yet an alternative case can be made: in the global altruism business it is, indeed, sometimes better not to do anything at all.
Geldof's bleeding heart offers the lesson that if it's the thought that counts, then you should at least make sure your thought is a good one. And here's a good thought: If you want to help the victims of bad governance -- which presently describes most of Africa -- then don't give the bad governments money, think first about what better government looks like. (And here's a clue: if it looks anything like Mengistu, Mugabe or Jospeh Stalin it' s not good at all.) But thinking thoughts like this is much too much skull sweat to demand of an aging pop star in need of a career transfusion; a much harder job by far than strumming a guitar and mouthing off like a sanctimonious cretin.

And being a sanctimonious cretin never harmed anyone's musical or political career, as the careers of Grateful Dead, Bono and Kofi Annan all attest. In fact, as PJ O'Rourke observes,
The principle feature of contemporary American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things -- war and hunger and date rape -- liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things. People who care a lot are naturally superior to we who don't care any more than we have to. By virtue of this superiority the caring have a moral right to lead the nation. It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal.
Like Live Aid, Live-8 is more to do with making you and Bob Geldof and Bono feel better about themselves than it is about effecting real help. Think about it.


  1. If you don't get a shiver where your spine should be when you hear
    'Do They Know It's Christmas'....your loss.

    I challange your view that the effort was wasted. Live Aid was always about 'us' first. It was a watershed in Western awareness, in the internationalism of civilisation. Got us to wake up and smell Africa and the world.
    The advance of civilisation, the new awareness, has always been more important and will outlast and outshine all the side-effect of multi-million dollars worth of SPIN OFF humanitarian aid.

    And at any rate, I don't agree the money went to the wall, but that is far from the point.

    There's a world outside your window, and it's a world of dread and fear.

  2. In his saner moments Geldof admitted Live Aid did not achieve anything much. He has also said Bush is the most influential President since Kennedy, and that Clinton was an asshat - in so many words.

    Africa stopped paying interest on debt years ago.So yes - this is just posturing to revive Geldof's career and profile. Pope Bono has been getting all the limelight lately.

  3. Perfectly right about that Ruth. Bloody soap-box paddies.

    But Live Aid was what it was (ie, what I said).

    "Am I buggin' you?"- Bono on 'Rattle & Hum'

    Yes you are!!!

  4. Its always easy to sit back and take shots at other peoples efforts. Perhaps you would be happier if we just ignored the problem and never mentioned it. Anyway, the people who are dying are not white so why should we worry - would this be an improvement?

  5. Was it Peter Hitchens who noted that surely the poor starving children of Africa had suffered enough without now being expected to revive the flagging careers of old clapped out rockstars?


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