What's wrong with Live8?
It would be very easy to be simply cynical about the Live8 concerts and their celebrity endorsement. How can you not shudder at the thought of a bunch of pampered multi-millionaire airheads like Kate Moss and Mariah Carey lecturing us about the plight of the poor? Or how about the fact that the Spice Girls are conveniently planning to release a 'best of' CD shortly after their comeback gig in London's Hyde Park? Nice timing. Elton John might spend a good whack of his cash on his own Aids charity, but he is also known to spend £5,000 on flowers - every single week. After Bob Geldof branded the auction website, eBay, "electronic pimps" for allowing winners of his text message lottery to sell on their concert tickets for up to £500, the website has banned their sale. However, Geldof seems happy enough that over 15,000 tickets for the event have been 'reserved' for some very special guests: those with enough cash will be able to buy themselves 'gold circle' tickets. For up to £400, they will be enjoying luxury nibbles and champagne in the sealed-off area right in front of the stage, before they retire to a good night's kip in a five-star hotel nearby. Fighting poverty does not have to compromise the lifestyle of the well-to-do, does it? Of course Geldof himself does very well out of his image as a poverty-busting loudmouth, thank you very much. In 1999, he sold his TV company, Planet 24, for an estimated £25 million to Carlton TV, before setting up Ten Alps, which produces all the TV programmes in which Geldof and his brat daughters appear. Though he 'only' paid himself a wage of £80,000 last year, his 8.3% stake in the company is worth about £2 million (Independent on Sunday June 12). Bob Geldof and his mate, Bono, have acted as the 'missing celebrity link' that has allowed Gordon Brown to completely incorporate Make Poverty History and the anti-capitalist sentiment that has been accompanying it. By acting as MPH's (very unofficial) spokespersons and praising Blair and Brown to the skies, they have helped the British government put itself forward as the champion of the poor. Geldof was happy to front Blair's Commission for Africa. "If there is failure at Gleneagles it will not be Britain's fault," says Geldof, who challenges "the rest" to "spoil our party" (Daily Mirror June 4). And who could forget Bono's hilarious remark at the 2004 Labour Party conference, when he praised Brown and Blair for being "the new Lennon and McCartney of international development"? While we should be highly critical of those celebrities who are taking part in Live8 to simply further their own career and of the religious-moralistic agenda of Geldof and Bono, communists would be very much mistaken to simply echo The Sunday Telegraph's Anthony Daniels, who arrogantly writes: "To save the world by going to a pop concert: how gratifying is the self-importance of youth!" (June 5). In today's alienated society, guilt-ridden celebrities are substituted for working class leaders. Many young people will see Geldof as - yes - a really good bloke who does what he can to fight injustice and poverty. It is up to communists to patiently explain that calls for 'justice' and 'fairness' have very little effect on the real world. Mass organisation, concrete solidarity with our poverty-stricken brothers and sisters across the globe, is the only way to achieve radical change. Kelly Scott Related articles: * Historic con trick * Aid, debt and fair trade * Six months after the tsunami * What's wrong with Make Poverty History?