Guthrie lived today he might write, "Some men rob you with
a six gun, others with a microphone."
Bono announced his latest campaign to save the poor through capitalism
- or rather, the other way around. This is Red, a marketing scam
which finds the increasingly deranged U2 frontman in business
with Nike, Converse, The Gap, Giorgio Armani and American Express.
Red products include Converse sneakers made from "African
mudcloth", "vintage" Gap T-shirts, Armani wraparound
sunglasses and a red American Express card. The companies will
donate "a portion" of their profits to fighting AIDs
in Africa, the continent for whose poor Bono claims to be the
spokesman. This portion is for the most part unspecified [American
Express promises 1% of spending]. Nor is it specified whether
Bono takes a cut - presumably he would be crowing if he werent,
as he did when U2 pimped iPods for free.
just a couple of degrees from becoming a Saturday Night Live skit,"
says Noel Beasley of the UNITE/HERE textile workers union. "Its
like if you took Bob Dylans The Times They Are A-Changing,
used it to pitch Rolex watches and tried to convince people that
if they bought enough luxury goods they could make a revolution.
Its ludicrous on its face."
Financial Times termed Red "the latest in a series of marketing
experiments by companies worried that television advertising is
losing its punch. Many of these efforts are based on the idea
of using good works or services as a way to get consumer attention."
The term for this, in respectable marketing circles, is "corporate
explicitly believes that only
such powerful insiders can effect
meaningful change. Capitalism controls
everything, and therefore,
only capitalist solutions
can be "effective".
said on Kick Out the Jams, Dave Marshs Sirius radio show,
"This is obviously the economic wet dream of every retailer
and credit card loan shark in the world, if you can pitch consumerism
as the salvation of the planet, while garment workers and shoe
workers are starving to death and literally burning to death in
horrific conditions in places like Burma and Thailand." As
a member of the executive committee of the International Textile,
Leather and Garment Workers Foundation, Beasley regularly monitors
sweatshops and slave labor conditions around the globe, up close
and in person.
his scheme at Davos, Switzerland, where he attended the World
Economic Forum, a meeting of leaders of the worlds richest
countries. According to Financial Times, he got the Red idea from
Robert Rubin, one of the architects of Clintonomics.
explicitly believes that only such powerful insiders can effect
meaningful change. Capitalism controls everything, and therefore,
only capitalist solutions can be "effective".
Caracas, Venezuela, the World Social Forum took place at the same
time as the Davos conference. The WSF is a meeting of leaders
and activists from around the globe, from poor nations as well
as rich ones. It is dedicated to the proposition that social justice
occurs only when people govern themselves. The World Social Forum
is the sound of some of the worlds have-nots speaking for
themselves, which Bono sees as counter-productive. But today,
five South American nations are run by governments that believe
otherwise, while the countries where schemes like Red operate,
particularly Britain and the U.S., allow their populations to
grow poorer and more powerless by the day.
World Social Forum is a meeting of
leaders and activists from around the
globe, from poor nations as well as rich
ones. It is dedicated to the proposition
that social justice occurs only when
people govern themselves.
to be a disciple of Martin Luther King. Dr King spoke of the "triple
evils" - racism, war and poverty - as inextricably connected.
He eventually concluded that opposing one of them without opposing
all of them didnt make any sense. So Dr King risked his
relationship with the Lyndon Bird Johnson administration by first
attacking the war in Vietnam, then starting the Poor Peoples
Campaign, which raised exactly the same issues as the World Social
his ilk want to convince good-hearted folks that there is no need
for the lowly to move. As long as Bono cuddles with the mighty,
poverty and AIDS in Africa are being powerfully addressed. So
Bono, "spokesman for the poor", meets with President
George W Bush and never mentions Iraq or New Orleans.
For the past
several years, Bono has argued that African nations need to be
relieved of their multi-billion dollar debt to rich countries.
Much of that debt has been erased. This has produced no tangible
reduction in poverty. Bono has issued pronouncements about increased
U.S. aid to Africa after every one of his meetings with George
Bush and his senior officials. That increase never comes and,
as detailed by an article last summer in the U2 fanzine "Rolling
Stone", the way what little aid there is gets dispensed
makes conditions worse.
World Social Forum will be held, fittingly enough, in Africa.
An offshoot, the U.S. Social Forum, will be held next year in
Atlanta, a symbolic return to the South which gave birth to Martin
Luther Kings Poor Peoples Campaign. Both of these
massive gatherings [20,000 people are expected in Atlanta, 300,000
in Africa] will be suffused with culture, as artists from around
the world speak directly with poor people, not about them from
afar. The sound of a certain Irish pop star, off shilling for
sweatshop syndicates and their middlemen, will be heard only faintly,
if at all. - Rock n Rap Confidential, March 2006.