There has been so much written in the media about Live8 and the broader Make Poverty History events that it is virtually impossible to come up with anything original to say. But sometimes there is so much said that it is worth stating what, seems to me to be, the obvious as a filter process. So here, in note form, are eight points:
1. Regardless of anything else, the fact that so many people are concerned about poverty in Africa is positive. There is no future for any kind of progressive politics if people can’t feel at least a basic level of solidarity with those who live in such appalling conditions.
2. Musicians have as much right as anyone else to express this basic solidarity. If you expect deep political and historical analysis from rock bands then you are either deluded or being rhetorically dishonest. Whatever you may think of his style or approach, or his views on other issues, Bob Geldof has done a lot of good work in putting Africa at the forefront of public debate and deserves credit for that.
3. Charity and aid programmes are an expression of this basic solidarity. They are at their most useful when targeted to specific crisis such as Live Aid’s work on Ethiopia and the recent Tsunami appeal.
4. Charity and aid programmes are not, however, a long term solution to global poverty in general and poverty in Africa specifically.
5. The ending of tyranny and the extension of democracy are essential parts of any transformative programme for Africa.
6. To be in favour of economic and social progress in Africa while being ‘anti-globalisation’ is a contradiction.
7. To try and change the subject when the Labour government adopts a broadly progressive position on debt relief and development is pathetic.
8. People who think attacking Scottish policemen is a way to tackle poverty in Africa, or raise awareness of it, are fools.