Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary Australia

Next Friday, November 17 — the day before the G20 meets in corporate luxury in Melbourne — the advertising campaign now known as ‘Make Poverty History’ (and previously known as ‘Jubilee 2000’) is staging a concert. According to the organisers:

We live in an exciting time. This is the first time in history that our generation has the financial capacity, resources and internationally agreed framework to put an end to extreme poverty. The MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY Concert will provide Australians with a voice in a global movement that stands in solidarity with the world’s poor. Show your support for making poverty history on a global stage by joining top Australian performers and over 20,000 people to celebrate the largest MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY event ever held in Australia!

Aside from being a gross insult to the intelligence, this is pretty nauseating stuff.

To begin with, the ‘problem’ with ‘poverty’ — which ‘Make Poverty History’ has identified as being most germane to attracting an audience — is the supposed fact that “Every single day, 30,000 children are dying as a result of extreme poverty”. One is tempted to ask these 30,000 children (thankfully, adults do not appear to die as a result of the same malady) whether they too feel that their imminent death is “exciting”. But of course the ‘we’ who live in “exciting times” are the same ‘we’ who genuinely believe that the existence of extreme-poverty-unto-death is some kind of an historical oversight; a “shameful” episode that merely requires the good will of fans of (the truly execrable) Eskimo Joe to be closed, once and for all.

In reality, “this is [not] the first time in history that our generation has the financial capacity, resources and internationally agreed framework to put an end to extreme poverty” and “the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY Concert will [not] provide Australians with a voice in a global movement that stands in solidarity with the world’s poor”. In addition to demonstrating bad grammar, the ability to make nonsensical assertions and to display political ignorance, such statements make a mockery of the struggles of ‘the poors’ for freedom and dignity, and do nothing to express solidarity with them.

Several responses are standard to criticism of ideologically bankrupt and morally schizophrenic initiatives like the UK’s Make Poverty History campaign. One is to rail at the impudence of calling into question the campaign organizers sincerity and good intentions. Another is to pout, “well, what alternative do YOU offer…?” Or, more disingeuously, critics will be accused of sneering at the genuine heartfelt desire among the millions of people who contribute hard-earned money to projects and programmes meant to alleviate world poverty’s all-too-numerous symptoms…

‘Poverty, consumerism and anti-imperialism’, toni solo, ZNet, January 9, 2006

    They Aren’t the World : Culturcide

    There comes a time
    When rock stars beg for cash
    And that’s how the world
    Is supposed to come together as one

    There are people dying
    And they just noticed
    And they think they’re
    The greatest gift of all

    We can’t go on
    Pretending day by day
    That record companies and media gods
    Will soon make a change

    We all play a part
    In a world that starves us all
    And our cooperation
    Is all they need

    (Chorus)

    They’re not the world
    They’re not the children
    They’re just bosses and bureaucrats
    And rock ‘n’ roll has-beens

    There’s a choice we’re never given
    To run our own lives
    Without it your better day
    Is just a better lie

    Well buy the record
    So they can pretend they care
    And their careers
    Will be stronger and guilt-free

    As Michael and Lionel have shown us
    The world’s just TV
    If children are starving
    Let ’em drink Pepsi

    They’re not the world
    They’re not the children
    If you want to change anything
    Start from the beginning

    There’s a choice we’re never given
    To run our own lives
    Without it your better day
    Is just a better lie

    When you’re rich and famous
    There seems no contradiction at all
    ‘If we can just have a number one hit
    We’ll solve it all’

    You must realise
    That change cannot come
    If CBS
    Decides what’s the problem

Make poverty history: eat the rich.

In other news… Simultaneous explosions in Mexico City (The Guardian [AP], November 6); Leftist rebels claim responsibility for Mexico City blasts; demand Oaxaca governor resign (International Herald Tribune [AP], November 6); Making the world safe for capitalism: Oaxaca, Mexico

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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