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Bob Geldof and Live 8

Keith Parkins | 06.06.2005 14:56 | G8 2005 | Analysis | Globalisation | Social Struggles | London

Bob Geldof has come in for a lot of criticism for launching Live 8 to coincide with the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in Scotland. Is the criticism justified or fair?

'The harmful effects of the corporate globalisation project have led to mass popular protest and activism in the South, later joined by major sectors of the rich industrial societies, hence becoming harder to ignore. For the first time concrete alliances have been taking shape at a grassroots level. It is fair to say, I think, that the future of our endangered species may be determined in no small measure by how these popular forces evolve.' - Noam Chomsky

'For five hundred issues SchNEWS has been providing information for action to people involved in fighting for a better world. In that time we’ve covered hundreds of campaigns and struggles from across the world and learnt a simple lesson from all of them - without breaking the rules, the fight against injustice is a waste of time.' - SchNEWS

'If a few small actions against the G8 get picked off while big demonstrations do what they’re told by the cops Blair and Co will sleep comfortably in their five star beds. But if we start convincing the mass of protesters that demonstrations need to break the rules to be effective we can send a message of anti-capitalist solidarity around the world. Let’s do it.' - SchNEWS

Two decades ago Bob Geldof launched Live Aid. A massive two-concert rock concert across two continents. There was nothing like it before, there has been nothing like it since, not until now that is.

Live Aid was promoted as a fund raising exercise for famine relief in Ethiopia.

Not only was Live Aid a successful musical event, it was also a successful fund raising event. It also raised awareness of the Ethiopia famine.

Every other shop was rattling tins for money for Live Aid. There has been no fund raising event like this since other than the recent Tsunami fund raising appeal.

Live Aid also raised awareness of the famine in Ethiopia.

What it failed to do was raise awareness of the causes of that famine. Bob Geldof was not to blame as he was well aware of the causes and did not hesitate to make those causes known at every opportunity.

Why then the criticism of Bob Geldof from all quarters for the launch of Live 8?

When Bob Geldof launched the Live 8 concerts to coincide with the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in Scotland he was heavily criticised.

First he was criticised for distracting from the mass protest in Scotland aimed at G8.

Bob Geldof immediately answered that criticism by calling for a million people people to descend on Edinburgh.

This was immediately seized upon by the mass media as highly irresponsible. Not that the call was new, Bob Geldof was simply echoing the call that went out early in the year for a million people to descend on Edinburgh to shut down Edinburgh to highlight the ills of globalisation and to embarrass Tony Blair before the world's media.

Not that anyone actually dared suggest no protest should take place. No, it was more subtle. We are concerned at public safety, concerned that people will have nowhere to stay.

Pandering to the mass media and running scared, Midge Ure tried to play down the million people, claimed it was symbolic. It wasn't and never was.

No lesser person than Nelson Mandela, at the launch of Make Poverty History in Trafalgar Square, called for a million people. And who introduced Nelson Mandela to the crowd? Why none other than Bob Geldof.

Other criticisms were that those involved in Live 8 were aging white rock stars, were themselves extremely wealthy and so what did they know or care about world poverty? Even worse, where were the musicians from Black Africa?

There was nothing to stop Black Africa organising its own concert featuring the best of Black Africa as part of Live 8. Was Stevie Wonder an aging white rock musician?

Yes, there was a predominance of aging white rock musicians. But could that be because they had some talent, had stood the test of time, were actually real musicians?

Live 8 is not a fund raising event. It is to raise awareness, to put pressure on the G8 leaders. Could this be achieved by using unknown faces. To pull in a world audience, could that be achieved without well known faces?

Those organising and and appearing may be wealthy, but they are also well-connected.

A handful of anarchists may be able to organise the shut-down of Edinburgh, but could they organise a world-televised live rock concert?

We need all the help we can get.

Live 8 is going to get world coverage. It may help to a get a million people on to the streets of Edinburgh.

It is going to be very difficult to coral a million people. Are a million people going to be arrested using anti-terrorism legislation?

If any criticism is to be leveled at Bob Geldof it should not be for Live 8, but for his involvement with the Commission for Africa. As one of the strongest critics, WDM, has repeatedly pointed out, we do not need a commission, the solutions are well known, the causes of failure are well known. At best the commission is a distraction, at worst it is pushing more of the same, globalisation and a neo-liberal trade agenda.


G8 Diary

The G8 meet 6-8 July 2005 at Gleneagles, Scotland ....

2 July 2005 Make Poverty History March. March around Edinburgh to encircle the City Centre.

3 July 2005 G8 Alternatives Summit, Edinburgh. Counter-conference "Ideas to Change the World" aims to present a serious ideological challenge to the corrupt policies and ideology of the G8.

6 July 2005 Global Day of Action at the opening day of the G8 Summit. Shut down Gleneagles and send a big message to Bush, Blair and his mates. If you can’t make it to Scotland then do something locally on the day.

6 July 2005 Blockade The G8. A series of rural and urban blockades around the area of Gleneagles to disrupt the summit.

6 July 2005 Demonstration Against the G8. From Gleneagles Train Station to the entrance of Gleneagles. Let's see how close we can get!

7 July 2005 Peoples’ Golfing Association are planning to host an open golf tournament on the exclusive Gleneagles Golf Course.

8 July 2005 International Day of action on the root causes of climate change. Stop climate chaos - flood the G8!


Sir Elton: Why I'm joining Live 8, BBC news on-line, 31 May 2005

G8 protest 'should be peaceful', BBC news on-line, 1 June 2005

Geldof's call for 'Sail 8' demo, BBC news on-line, 6 June 2005

Geldof unveils Live 8 show plans, BBC news on-line, 31 May 2005

'Head for Edinburgh' Geldof urges, BBC news on-line, 31 May 2005

Live 8 concerts: The line-up, BBC news on-line, 31 May 2005

Live 8 line-up 'hideously white', BBC news on-line, 2 June 2005

Robin Maynard, Ethiopia - Basket case or organic horn of plenty, The Ecologist, May 2005

Keith Parkins, Make Poverty History, Indymedia UK, 1 February 2005

Keith Parkins, Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square, Indymedia UK, 4 February 2005

Stay in class for G8, pupils told, BBC news on-line, 1 June 2005

Ure makes G8 'don't panic' plea, BBC news on-line, 2 June 2005

Ian Youngs, Why Live Aid is happening again, BBC news on-line, 31 May 2005

Keith Parkins


Display the following 3 comments

  1. Sail 8 — keith
  2. (pronounced "Chumley") — Mr Cholmondley-Warner
  3. Spot on Chum. — M