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(en) Australia, Melbourne, A Space Outside* #1 - Whats wrong with the way bono "fights povertY" ?

Date Wed, 11 Oct 2006 08:31:18 +0200


It's just not useful, that kind of celebrity endorsement. In fact, it's a killer blow for us. To see the
on the faces of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair! This is exactly what they want ­ they want peop
believe that this is their crusade, without actually changing their policy.
---John Hilary, director of campaigns and policy of the network, War on Want
On November 18th and 19th, the G20 (finance ministers from the G8 plus 12 of the
world's most significant economies) will meet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Collins
Street in Melbourne. Make Poverty History will host a concert at the Myer Music
Bowl and Melbournians will be exposed to a politics that could be quite effective
in absorbing dissent, that lacks critical reflection of the flaws in the mainstream
politics of international development and foreign aid. This requires an intervention.
At the Live8 concerts in July 2005, U2's
Bono and Bob Geldof sent messages to
stadium audiences and TV viewers that
the world's eight richest governments had
made the most significant commitments
ever to overseas aid and debt cancellation
for third world countries. In reality, the
outcomes of the G8 conference of world
leaders and finance ministers meeting in
Gleneagles Scotland actually cemented
lesser commitments to debt cancellation
than had previously been committed. We
are not being told the whole story.
Bono praised the G8, saying "the world
spoke and the politicians listened", and
labeled UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
and Chancellor Gordon Brown the "Len-
non and McCartney" of poverty reduc-
tion for their espoused commitment to
foreign aid. Geldof rated the G8 "On
aid, ten out of ten. On debt, eight out of
ten. On trade... it is quite clear that this
summit decided, uniquely, that enforced
liberalisation will no longer take place."
At the 2005 G8 Summit, rich govern-
ments agreed to `double aid by 2010 to
$50 billion a year, with $25 billion going
to Africa', and that `poor countries should
be free to determine their own economic
policies.' However, over half of this $50
billion was not actually new pledges at
all, but was from old pledges or future
aid budgets, meaning less assistance after
2010, and significant portions of aid will
still be tied to conditions in the interests
of rich countries. For example, accord-
ing to Yifat Susskind, associate direc-
tor of US-based women's human rights
organisation Madre, Bush's Millennium
Challenge Account, praised by Bono and
Geldof for boosting aid flows to Africa,
ties aid to co-operation with the "war on
terror" and favours Christian organisa-
tions that promote abstinence over "safer
sex" approaches to prevention.
In 2005, it was exposed that Make Pov-
erty History wristbands were made using
Chinese sweatshop labour, and that UK
On November 18th and 19th, the G20
(finance ministers from the G8 plus 12
of the world's most significant econo-
mies) will meet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel
on Collins Street in Melbourne. Make
Poverty History will host a concert at the
Myer Music Bowl and Melbournians will
be exposed to a politics that could be
quite effective in absorbing dissent, that
lacks critical reflection of the flaws in the
mainstream politics of international de-
velopment and foreign aid. This requires
an intervention.
At the Live8 concerts in July 2005, U2's
Bono and Bob Geldof sent messages to
stadium audiences and TV viewers that
the world's eight richest governments had
made the most significant commitments
ever to overseas aid and debt cancellation
for third world countries. In reality, the
outcomes of the G8 conference of world
leaders and finance ministers meeting in
Gleneagles Scotland actually cemented
lesser commitments to debt cancellation
than had previously been committed. We
are not being told the whole story.
Bono praised the G8, saying "the world
spoke and the politicians listened", and
labeled UK
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor
Gordon Brown the "Lennon and Mc-
Cartney" of poverty reduction for their
espoused commitment to foreign aid.
Geldof rated the G8 "On aid, ten out of
ten. On debt, eight out of ten. On trade...
it is quite clear that this summit decided,
uniquely, that enforced liberalisation will
no longer take place."
At the 2005 G8 Summit, rich govern-
ments agreed to `double aid by 2010 to
$50 billion a year, with $25 billion going
to Africa', and that `poor countries should
be free to determine their own economic
policies.' However, over half of this $50
billion was not actually new pledges at
all, but was from old pledges or future
aid budgets, meaning less assistance after
2010, and significant portions of aid will
still be tied to conditions in the interests
of rich countries. For example, accord-
ing to Yifat Susskind, associate direc-
tor of US-based women's human rights
organisation Madre, Bush's Millennium
Challenge Account, praised by Bono and
Geldof for boosting aid flows to Africa,
ties aid to co-operation with the "war on
terror" and favours Christian organisa-
tions that promote abstinence over "safer
sex" approaches to prevention.
In 2005, it was exposed that Make Pov-
erty History wristbands were made using
Chinese sweatshop labour, and that UK
members of MPH, Oxfam knew about
this. The MPH campaign was criticised
for being more concerned with celebrity
and politician partnerships, than with
finding real solutions to economic in-
equalities.
The problem with these concerts is that
they have a colonising effect of creating
perceptions that governments are willing
partners in ending poverty ­ that they are
"on the same side" as the protesters, but
unlike the protesters, are "doing more
than just complaining". K-punk argued
that Live8's predecessor concert a decade
earlier, Live Aid reconciled us to agitating
merely for philanthropic capital. Indeed,
as K-punk notes, the constant assurances
from the stage that the audience was "do-
ing something" by showing up for a con-
cert and buying a wristband "cheapen[ed]
agency in every sense".
Bono's Dirt Sheet
Bono has his own product line, RED
which aims to "eliminate AIDS in Af-
rica" (as stated on the back of the RED
Amex credit card), through donations to
aid organisation. Armani, Amex, GAP
and Converse have already signed up to
be part of the new campaign. GAP and
Converse are both renowned for their use
of sweatshop labour, and Amex exists
off credit interest, often in the form of
consumer debt.
Bono has also come under fire for fi-
nancing a video game that essentially
takes players through a military invasion
of Chavez's Venezuela. "Mercenaries 2:
World in Flames" depicts the destruc-
tion of Venezuela in order to undermine
a nationalist movement that challenges
US Imperialist hegemony in the region.
The video game depicts the overthrow of
the government, the bombing of major
Venezuelan cities and rural areas, and the
takeover of the oil industry. Scenes also
bare similarity to the real life war zone
and brutality of the Iraq invasion. Eleva-
tion Partners is the investment firm estab-
lished by Bono that has to date invested
$300 million dollars into the game's cre-
ator, Pandemic Studios. Pandemic Studios
is a subcontractor for the US Army and
CIA funded Institute for Creative Tech-
nologies, which mount war simulations in
California's high desert in order to con-
duct military training.
What's wrong with the mainstream poli-
tics of international development and
foreign aid?
At the G8 Summit in 2005, Bono, Geldof
and Make Poverty History were calling
on world leaders to commit .7 per cent
of their economy's gross domestic prod-
uct (GDP) to foreign aid. This appeared
to be a noble call, and some might say
it would be a vast improvement on cur-
rent aid levels. The problem with this
analysis is that nothing will change simply
by throwing money at people. A good
example of one of the more insidious
"foreign aid" projects is Australia's mili-
tary deployment in the Soloman Islands,
which perpetuated violence and sought to
intervene in government for imperialist
purposes.
As Zoe Roberts says, the type of foreign
aid and international development sup-
ported by Bono suggests that behind the
compassion, people are still stuck in a
colonial world view. People think they are
the answer to the world's problems, still
bringing enlightenment to the savages,
except now, they're bringing them an end
to poverty.
So when U2 come to town and when
Make Poverty History stage their con-
cert at the Myer Music Bowl on Friday
17th November, keep in mind that the
mainstream politics of international
development and foreign aid is not going
to provide real solutions to the world's
problems.
---------------------------------------------
John Hilary in Quarmby, K., "Why Oxfam is Failing
Africa", new Statesman, 30 May, 2005
Stuart Hodkinson, "Geldof 8 ­ Africa nil: how
rock stars betrayed the poor", New Internationalist,
9/11/2005 http://newint.org/features/geldof-8/9-
11-05.htm
Stuart Hodkinson, "Inside the Murky World of the
UK's Make Poverty History Campaign", Red Pepper,
June 28, 2005.
Taken form Zoe Roberts, "Strings attached: Bono's
heaven", Mutiny zine, Number 2, May 2006, Sydney.
http://www.ucdsu.net/newswire.php?story_id=1191
Zoe Roberts, "Strings attached: Bono's heaven",
Mutiny zine, Number 2, May 2006, Sydney.
==========================
*Anti-authoritarian collective.
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