Raising Awareness of the Pointlessness of Raising Awareness

Jonathan Bunch has an excellent post at In the Agora about the whole silly Live8 concert last weekend. As a series of concerts, I'm sure it was interesting. I'd love to have seen U2 and Sting and, especially, the reunion of Pink Floyd, but I was busy and didn't get to see it. But I'm not sure it would have been worth it to have to sit through the inevitable and interminable talk of "raising consciousness" about the plight of Africans, about whom the audience couldn't possibly care any less. The lead singer of one soon to be forgotten band declared the event "the greatest thing that's ever been organized, probably, in the history of the world." Yes, he said that. Without any sense of irony whatsoever. For once I'm in full agreement with Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, who brilliantly lampooned the whole affair. Count me in for the Linkers of the Revolution:

As Geldolf said, "Something must be done, even if it doesn't work." By participating in the Linkers of the Revolution event, you can do something. It won't work, of course, but that doesn't matter. Something must be done. And this is, technically speaking, something.

The most ridiculous thing about it all is that they didn't do it to raise money, they did it to raise "awareness" and whatever other empty buzzwords they could think of. You know, to empower people, to create synergy and convince people to take ownership of this tragic situation. Because, you know, the children really are our future. Sadly, a budding tropical storm in the atlantic has delayed the first shipments of awareness to the African subcontinent and it's likely to rot in port because the ships can't get through.

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You know, to empower people, to create synergy and convince people to take ownership of this tragic situation. Because, you know, the children really are our future. Sadly, a budding tropical storm in the atlantic has delayed the first shipments of awareness to the African subcontinent and it's likely to rot in port because the ships can't get through.

Great post. That's hilarious. I was looking for those words when I wrote my post, but I couldn't find them.

I did get to watch some of the event on MTV, and if someone had given me a dime for every time a lame MTV "veeeejaaay" said "empower" or "awareness" I would be rollin' on dubs right now.

Live 8 concert? Reminds me of something like Woodstock.

Wo, man.....


In ages past, when I was working for someone else, I had to go to a seminar or two of the motivational variety and came away thinking that the world would be a far better place if every motivational speaker in the world were ritually disembowled on national television. Hell, put it on pay per view. I'd pay $59.95 to see Anthony Robbins' head paraded through town on a stake. Now that would create some synergy.
I actually knew a guy who did motivational speaking and tried to talk me into doing it. He'd say, "You've got charisma, you're comfortable speaking in front of an audience, you're a good writer. You could make gobs of money." Yeah, but at the cost of my dignity and self-respect. No thanks. Of course, this is the same guy who was into numerology and tried to B.S. me one night about how it really works. After I hammered him about how irrational and stupid it was for an hour, he finally admitted that he didn't really believe it, he just used it to impress women at parties. God, if I was that pathetic I'd kick my own ass.

Their plan seems to be to set up some type of paternalist system over Africa, which is ironic since it was one of the original justifications for the west going into the continent and exploiting it. These people have their hearts in the right places but are going about this all the wrong way. The rich countries don't give a damn about Africa, what was allowed to happen in Rwanda and Sudan should tell you that. Instead this people should be focusing their attention on real economic solutions that start in Africa. Solving these types of problems isn't as easy as just wanting it to be solved.

The reality is Africa is a lost cause, we could spend trillions in aid and not change a damn thig there. The only people that can change their destiny are the people of Africa themselfs. This whole concert was about self promotion and feel good self love, the limouisine riding private jet flying rock stars couldnt relate to a middle class American never mind a Starving African. Lets see all the millionaires on the stage there give 90% of their wealth away to help the cause. NOT GONNA HAPPEN !

Though it might sound mean or something, it at least got Pink Floyd to reunite for a few songs. I downloaded it instead of watching it (the house I was at didn't have cable televison) and I was surprised that they're so old-looking. :/

Anyway, isn't the main problem with Africa the leaders? I don't really know much about what's really wrong with Africa today other than the starvation and things like that (Seeing Hotel Rwanda was probably the only thing that I've ever really heard about it). It does seem that putting money into Africa isn't going to do anything though.

Kele, the problem with Africa is corruption. It starts at the top, but it filters down. Several years ago, we saw a program on German TV regarding a river boat that ran up and down a river in Nigeria. They transported not only goods, but also people. The people had to pay a surcharge to the riverboat captain--in addition to the posted fare--in order be transported. The corruption is worst at the top, but it does filter down.

I totally agree. The concert is a waste of time and a display of hypocresy. Althought, the guy who writes in the agora and the other right wing critics of the concerts really get into my nerves. Yeah, the solution of African problems is not some idiotic concerts to rise consciousness...nor is the supposed "trade help" or assitence (which is usually NOT) from first world nations. And their apologists (like the right wing columnists mentionated in the links) are hypocrites too: they forget European and US reponsability for African problems (you know, colonialism, racism, slavery, supported dictatorships, weapons sells and ugly political divisions they left as their legacy in that tormented continent). So to the hell with G8 too...

By Sergio Méndez (not verified) on 08 Jul 2005 #permalink


I'm not familiar with Africa in particular, but I am with other poor nations like Haiti. I think that corruption is usually a result of some other problem, rather than the problem, if you will. I know that in the case of Haiti at least, corruption is caused by an emphasis on institutional functionality rather than on their democratic nature or public oversight. These issues are always complex and I don't think you can ever really point out a "the problem" to poverty in any nation, it's always an assortment of problems that are deeprooted. And you definitely can't simply will a country, let alone a continent, into overcoming poverty by telling people how much poverty sucks.

Matthew, I probably overemphasized the corruption issue, but it really is an issue over there. There are other problems caused by European colonialism, and the continuing dumping of agricultural products by the Europeans and US in third world countries, which impedes the development of the indigenous agricultural industry there by keeping prices down. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

But the corruption problem in sub-saharan Africa is a real one.

According to their website, the concerts were intended to put pressure on the leaders of the G8 to address the problems of Africa; with particular emphasis on abolishing the huge agricultural subsidies western nations currently use to flood the markets of African countries, in addition to calling for the cancellation of debt and a doubling of aid.

It's obviously a messy and flawed coalition mired in compromise, but that's politics. Since the concerts seem to have caused the G8 leaders to at least pay lip-service to the goals stated above, they can on that basis be considered successful.

Clearly Africa needs to do its bit to have a chance of sorting out its problems, but the least we can do is stop economically shafting them.

See http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=637

Sorry to interrupt the tone of unrelenting cynicism; I'll leave you to it.

By Ian Gibson (not verified) on 09 Jul 2005 #permalink

One thing I haven't quite figured out is why the countries in question just don't pay the debt in question. It is highly unlikelly that the will to get additional credit anyway for some time to come, so why should they care about repaying their debt incurred by their prior currupt leaders in collusion with the former lenders? This seems to be a bit silly.

Ooops, I made an error. I can't figure out why the countries in question just refuse to pay the debt in question.

Believe it not, raj, I knew exactly what you meant.