Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Frontman: Bono (In The Name of Power) by Harry Browne – review by Terry Eagleton

June 26, 2013.

Irish musician Bono arrives at 10 Downin
Bono arriving for a visit to 10 Downing Street in March 2013. 
Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images 
(Harry) Browne points out, he (Bono) has cosied up to racists such as Jesse Helms, whitewashed architects of the Iraqi adventure such as Tony Blair and Paul Wolfowitz, and discovered a soulmate in the shock-doctrine economist Jeffrey Sachs. He has also brownnosed the Queen, sucked up to the Israelis, grovelled at the feet of corporate bullies and allied himself with rightwing anti-condom US evangelicals in Africa. The man who seems to flash a peace sign every four seconds apparently has no problem with the sponsorship of the arms corporation BAE. His consistent mistake has been to regard these powers as essentially benign, and to see no fundamental conflict of interests between their own priorities and the needs of the poor. They just need to be sweet-talked by a charmingly bestubbled Celt. Though he has undoubtedly done some good in the world, as this book readily acknowledges, a fair bit of it has been as much pro-Bono as pro bono republico.

If Bono really knew the history of his own people, he would be aware that the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s was not the result of a food shortage. Famines rarely are. There were plenty of crops in the country, but they had to be exported to pay the landlords' rents. There was also enough food in Britain at the time to feed Ireland several times over. What turned a crisis into a catastrophe was the free market doctrine for which the U2 front man is so ardent an apologist. Widespread hunger is the result of predatory social systems, a fact that Bono's depoliticising language of humanitarianism serves to conceal.

Browne's case is simple but devastating. As a multimillionaire investor, world-class tax avoider, pal of Bush and Blair and crony of the bankers and neo-cons, Bono has lent credence to the global forces that wreak much of the havoc he is eager to mop up. His technocratic, west-centred, corporation-friendly campaigns have driven him into one false solution, unsavoury alliance and embarrassing debacle after another. The poor for him, Browne claims, exist largely as objects of the west's charity. They are not seen as capable of the kind of militant mobilisation that might threaten western interests.
Read the rest here.
Comment: Bono is nothing short of an agent for neo-liberal interests.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, his posturing is racist and against the interest of non-elite Africans and poor people everywhere.

So you may be wondering why it is necessary to pick on Bono, again.  Is it not enough that folks like Harry Browne and George Monbiot have succeeded in 'undressing' this court jester for elite interests?

I think it important because as foolish as Bono may appear he is influential.  The same is true of similarly deluded jesters such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie, for example.

These folks are drawn from the entertainment world where make-belief teaches values and privileges mindsets.  Those values and mindsets are the stuff of elite politics and its power interests.

In a sense, Bono and his likes make elite interests seem normative - something to admire and even to live up to (there is definitely a politics of aspiration being sold.)

What is hidden is the character of oppression and its relevant intersections that run through the demographics of race, class, gender, age and sexuality.

Poor people - Africans in particular for Bono - are a kind of political currency the rich elites use to justify and replicate their power interests.

Bono fronts the nonsense of ending hunger and upliftment by supporting the structural conditions that are its cause.  He may be too stupid or plain blind not to see what he is doing but that is beside the point.

What is also important is to see how he uses Africans to keep himself relevant.  His posturing is messianic in character but it is also very much more about keeping him among the rich and powerful.

A politics of struggle and revolution cannot be drawn from the very values and interests that create and foster racism and impoverishment.

The rich and powerful are so because the masses are made poor and kept marginal.  It is a brutal politics and history that cannot be erased with smiley faces even ones that sing.

This is what Bono helps to do - he is an agent of repression who must be resisted alongside the other shiny teeth people that Hollywood and record/fashion companies thrust down our throats.

Change comes from those who need it - not those who stand to lose their power and interests in the process.


No comments: