The first in an occasional series where nme.com blasts accepted opinion sees Steven Wells taking on NetAid - in RealVideo
Steven Wells gives half a cheer for our millionaire pop star chums getting together to sort out the world’s problems… Click here to see Steven Wells rant in RealVideo.
Heads up, poor folks, ‘cos a new day is dawning!
Twiglet-limbed children, flies crawling on your skeletal, bug-eyed faces – rejoice!
Tapeworm riddled teens – sweating your guts out in rat-ridden trendy trainer sweatshops – chill!
Pot bellied parents – crushed down by capitalist agri-business, western sponsored tyranny and the burden of debt – mellow out!
For soon you shall ALL be fed and fat and FREE!
Yo! Whoo! Yeah! Hang on in there, thinsters, ‘cos soon your suffering will be over!
Yes – the POP STARS are coming!
Bono! Jewel! George Michael! Bush! The Corrs! Celine Dion! They’ve noticed your suffering, they’ve felt your pain and – goddamit – they’re gonna do something about it.
It’s called Net Aid. Cisco Systems have joined up with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and “a world class line-up of entertainers” to end the growing problem of “extreme poverty”.
Wow! What a kicking idea! Would that be the same UNDP that’s part of the United Nations which has proved itself in recent years to be the toothless lap-dog of a ruthlessly imperialist American foreign policy which has directly caused untold suffering, starvation and millions of deformities and deaths in Iraq, for instance? Why, yes, I believe it is!
And would these “top entertainers” be the same bunch of over-paid, undertaxed and inadequately talented pampered poodles who only ever pop their heads over the tax-haven parapet when they’re asked to comment on an utterly safe “issue” – one that can’t possibly be misconstrued as in any way radical or, er, “controversial”. Yes. Yes it is.
So let’s get this straight: They’re FOR Tibet. They’re AGAINST child abuse. They’re FOR the environment. And, most important of all, they’re AGAINST “extreme poverty”. Super.
Not all poverty, you’ll notice, just “extreme” poverty. So they’re presumably not all that bothered about their millions of western fans living in shit houses and stuck in shit jobs on minimum wage. No, they’re against “extreme” poverty. So you’re overworked, alienated and depressed? Stop whining! Come back when your starving, motherfucker! Ever heard a single, feeble peep out of Bono or The Corrs when Northern Irish Catholics get the shit kicked out of them by the RUC for peacefully protesting against sectarian discrimination and intimidation? Have Bush distinguished themselves with their high profile campaigning against New Labour’s war on working class college students and the young unemployed in the UK? And does one automatically associate Ms Celine ‘Fucking’ Dion with the struggle of organised labour in the US against the hideous juggernaut of faceless, soul-sucking, spirit-crushing corporate capitalism? No, one does not. Strange that.
No. Celine is against “extreme” poverty. It’s probably safe to assume – given Ms Dion‘s status as the pre-chewed, pre-packaged, shrink wrapped mulch-spewing Queen Goddess Incarnate of ultra-bland, corporate cocksucking middle-of-the-road muzak – that she’s also against extreme haircuts, extreme music, extreme language and extreme genital piercing. So no surprise there, then.
Hey! Stop sneering! These people are sincere! In fact, so committed are the pop stars to destroying “extreme poverty” that they’ve actually gone as far as appointing a sort of Global Pop Star Cabinet. Here’s the current line-up:
Bono has been put in charge of Debt. Jewel‘s gonna sort out The Environment. And that bloke out of the Fugees, aptly enough, is gonna whip the world Refugee problem into shape. But nobody, at the moment, has been put in charge of Hunger. Hmmmm? Hey! Here’s a thought! Meatloaf‘s not all that busy at the moment, is he? (Er, it was the FOUR Horsemen Of The Apocalypse that the Bible predicted, wasn’t it?)
But let’s not be cynical. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume that our pop star chums are genuinely committed to eradicating “extreme poverty”. How, exactly are they going to help do this?
Because, let’s face facts, there’s an awful lot of “extreme” poverty about.
A third of the world’s population suffers from malnutrition. Another third actually experiences starvation. Education for the poor (especially poor women) is either grossly inadequate or entirely non-existent. Wage levels in the developing world are disgracefully low. Easily curable diseases cause untold misery because people are unable to afford the prices charged by greedy western pharmaceutical companies. Millions live in fear of famine thanks to the environmental destruction caused by intensive farming forced on poor countries by European and US agribusiness. And the whole stinking mess is exacerbated by crippling national debts and further compounded by corrupt and tyrannical governmental regimes which are – guess what – funded, supported and (more often than not) actually put in place by the West.
(Occasionally, of course, one of these tin-pot little Hitlers, like Saddam Hussein, will step out of line and the USA & chums will respond by bombing children, littering the environment with defective-birth causing radioactive shell casings and imposing “sanctions” that lead directly to even more death and suffering – hooray for democracy!).
But that’s not the real obscenity. The real obscenity is that, for the first time in human history, there is no shortage of food. There is, in fact, a world food surplus. And yet people starve.
There is no shortage of medicines – and yet children are maimed and killed by curable diseases.
There is no shortage of housing or building materials – and yet millions are homeless or live in abject squalor.
The world, in short is wealthier than it ever has been – and yet millions live in “extreme” poverty.
This is the real obscenity.
The last time, of course, that “top entertainers” got fussed about “extreme poverty” was during the Ethiopian famine of the 1980’s. They gamely responded with the Live Aid shindig, which, credit given where credit’s due, encouraged millions of decent working class westerners to dig deep into their pockets to help their fellow human beings.
But, as was pointed out at the time, the vast sums of money raised didn’t so much as dent the interest which the Ethiopian government pays to Western banks. So this time round the pop stars are targeting the cause, not the symptom. Debt! It’s evil! We’re against it! So stop it! Or, er. we’ll, like write a song about it. Or something.
Except that all they’ve really done is target another symptom – whilst once again apparently failing to recognise the root problem.
While Live Aid was shipping containers of food to Ethiopia, US and European agri-business were burning and dumping massively larger amounts of “surplus” food. Why? Because if they just gave the stuff away they couldn’t make a PROFIT on it, stoopid!
And that’s the real problem – a global economic system based solely on the relentless search for profits. Fuck the environment, fuck the poor, fuck the 3rd world, fuck the starving, fuck the planet – just so long as long as the rich continue to get richer, what’s the big fucking deal? You got a problem with that? Hey, you some sort of commie!?
But, like I say. let’s not be cynical about this. Let’s assume that the pop stars are sincere about wanting to end “extreme poverty”. And let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’ve figured out the real problem is capitalism. And that they’re willing to support any and every measure aimed at destroying this sick and evil system – up to and including the imposition of a 99.99% income tax on all pop stars.
Well good for you, comrades! We’ll see you on the barricades (and don’t forget to bring the charlie, yeah?).
It would, of course, be traditional to end a rant like this by saying that “extreme poverty” will only ever be finally eradicated when the last capitalist banker is strangled in the guts of the last pompous, self-important, hypocritical little pseudo-political pop star prat.
But, like I say, let’s not be too cynical.