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Live 8 is not Live Aid

The original Live Aid back in 1985 was something I supported. I watched it, gave them my money and continued to vote for Margaret Thatcher in the next election because, just like in Africa, extreme statism needed to be opposed in the country I lived in too. Back in those days the Tory party had at least some intellectual coherence.

Live Aid was a very specifically targeted project: there was a catastrophic famine in Ethiopia and regardless of the fact that it was the result of a war vastly exacerbating the effects of a drought, I felt at the time that specifically aiding civilians with emergency assistance was neither going to destroy the local economy (it had already collapsed to less that subsistence) nor would it significantly enrich the Marxists at the top who were in no small way responsible for that state of affairs. Most importantly, Live Aid was asking for private money, and as it was mine to give, I gave some.

This time things are rather different and far less straightforward. It is not all bad, mind you. The Live 8 extravaganza has quite a few people associated with it making demands for the developed world (of which Russia is not truly a member, it should be noted) to open their markets to the Third World… and this is rightly targeted at the G-8 leaders. Quite so. What the hellholes of the world need is more globalization, not less, if they are to lift themselves out of their dire conditions.

But alas the main thrust of what Live 8 seems to be about is to induce the governments of the G-8 to take money from their taxpayers and assign it to nebulous and frequently counter-productive projects in Africa, often in effect propping up the regimes who are the single biggest cause of their own nation’s problems and directly responsible for local poverty.

As with any large gathering of the music illiterati, coherence and cogency are going to be as rare as pelicans in Perthshire. Yet some of the people listening to the streams of babble at this event will come away with the simple idea lodged in their brains that making trade freer is one of those things that would make the world a better place. So whilst I have no interest in supporting Live 8 myself and I had better things to do than watch it yesterday, perhaps some good will come from it in spite of the toxic statist message at this event’s core.

18 comments to Live 8 is not Live Aid

  • J

    I keep getting 500 errors when I post comments…

  • yes, we do seem to be having intermittent server glitches for some reason

  • anaximander

    As with any large gathering of the music illiterati, coherence and cogency are going to be as rare as pelicans in Perthshire

    Hahahaha. A priceless quote!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Two compensating aspects of the whole event were the performances of Robbie Williams and Pink Floyd. Superb.

    On the other hand, the concert confirmed my view that Coldplay is the most over-rated band going.zzzzzzzzz

  • Verity

    I haven’t watched any of it, nor read about it except what I cannot avoid seeing on Samizdata.

    Coincidentally, I am rereading P J’s Eat The Rich and I just happen to be on the chapter on Tanzania. This says it all with great articulacy, entertainment and understanding of life on the ground. Of course, PJ had actually been in Tanzania for the writing of his piece, and had stayed in hovels and kicked about with local people. To anyone who hasn’t read Eat The Rich, it will be a revelation – and it is terribly, terribly funny.

  • pommygranate

    Yet some of the people listening to the streams of babble at this event will come away with the simple idea lodged in their brains that making trade freer is one of those things that would make the world a better place

    I wish this were so but i fear not.

    Today’s Sunday Times features a MPH marcher proudly wearing a “Fair Trade is not Free Trade” T-shirt.

  • Bernie

    It seems fair to predict their will be great jubilation about the cancellation of much debt. There will be commitments to increase government aid budgets with some conditions attached. The conditions will be attacked by Guardian types. There will be very little in the way of freeing up markets but this will not be cried over.

    If the above is what actually happens I will be very interested in Geldoff’s response. Is he really making a stand about something here or has he been bought by NuLabour? Will he understand Bush’s objections to just pouring aid money into corrupt and repressive governents? Will he roundly condemn the G8 for not freeing up trade?

  • The largest number of placards displayed by marchers in Edinburgh yesterday were from Christian Aid. A very high proportion of them bore the message: “Trade Justice Not Free Trade”. There was also a huge anti-Free Trade banner on St John’s Episcopal Church at the western end of Princes Street.

  • What made me laugh was how many of the performances were so appallingly bad. You would think people tried to do their best in front of so many…if that was their best…egads. It is was certainly a case of the ole’ dogs showing the whelps how its really done.

  • Sylvain Galineau

    The very nature of the event is what makes it so appealing to politicians, especially Brown and Blair. After all, they get to spend everyone else’s money and almost get credit as if it came out of their own pocket. Come to think of it, it’s amazing these events are not more common.

  • Andrew: yes. Although, if one considers Sting an old dog, then he still stunk. And Robbie? Give me a break.

  • pommygranate

    Alisa
    Robbie? Did you watch him?
    Whatever you think of his music. he was about the only performer able to drag the ironically named “Golden Circle” out of their lethargy. It looked more like an Actuarial Convention.

  • I did. Sorry, but he had no effect whatsoever on my lethargy:-) I went to bed early and have the last hour taped. I’ll watch it tonight, and hopefully PF will not dissapoint, but I am not holding my breath for that, either. The Who were better than expected, though. I was never a fan of theirs, but I guess they had the benefit of being compared to the rest of them. Again, what AID said.

    BTW, who are the Golden Circle?

  • pommygranate

    PF will not disapoint you, Alisa. They were awesome.

    Golden Circle was the “VIP” area – a collection of journos, record co execs and their mates, corporate hospitality, etc. Effectively killed all the atmosphere and made it impossible to differentiate from the crowd watching the Ladies Singles at Wimbledon.

  • That one may have not been as boring as you make it sound :-)

  • pommygranate

    John Lennon in a 1980 interview on Charity concerts

    “I am not going to get locked into that business of saving the world on stage. The show is always a mess and the artist always comes off badly..

    Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn’t mean a damn thing. After they’ve eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I’m not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway.”

    from (Colbycosh)

  • Heh. I guess he has matured since writing “Imagine”.

    BTW, PF is still the best band there ever was. They were awsome!

  • Paul Marks

    I was in a room with a television that showed the entire British event followed by the entire American event. For various reasons I was unable to leave the room (for any long period of time) or turn off the television set.

    Oddly enough it was not as vile as I had feared. It seems my opinion of popular music was not based on sufficient evidence (whenever I have heard it in the past I have had the chance to turn it off – an option I have exercised very quickly).

    The music was mostly very bland rather than a nightmare of horror. Indeed I was amused (in a cruel way) at seeing all these people who were unable to sing, but clearly thought they were wonderful.

    My favourate bit came when a singer in the American event said that A.I.D.S. in Africa had been created by “the hand of man” (the old “it was an evil American germ warfare plot” line). The million morons who had turned up to watch the show cheered, and I almost fell off my chair.