Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records

Or, in this day and age CDs and iTunes. From the article:
Instant Karma is an Amnesty International project featuring 23 John Lennon classics on 2 CDs for $21.98.
The organisation says the project is keyed to stopping, "the horrific human rights abuses taking place in Darfur, Sudan" and the proceeds from both discs will be used to that end.


But it's hard not to be cynical about this kind of project, the undoubted good intentions of Amnesty and the artists involved notwithstanding.

Exactly how much of the money raised really will reach Darfur once production, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, distribution, and all the other costs have been met?? And of that, how much of it really will be used to stop the crimes?

Meanwhile, Apple is already using Darfur Instant Karma songs to boost iTunes.

My emphasis added. Of course the recording boasts plenty of the usual pop royalty, including of course U2 (Bono's quite the darling of World Bank if I recall correctly). Reminds me of all the hubbub surrounding the Live Aid recording back a couple decades ago. A band I used to listen to, Chumbawamba put out an LP (remember those?) in 1986 titled "Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records" (click the link to check the lyrics) that was critical of the project and its deflection from what was actually causing the mass starvation in Ethiopia. These days, it's starvation and genocide in Darfur, which was barely worth noting in Western media until just three years ago. One wonders what on earth could possibly be motivating this sudden attention and demands for "humanitarian" intervention (an oxymoron if ever there were one). Maybe I'll just close with an old Chumbawamba lyric:

The first world's got greedy, we're consuming it all
The third world's got hunger, and military control
This unequal balance is a master plan
One gets rich from the other's land
They've got it all worked out, and we give our consent
They've got it all worked out, and we give our consent
They've got it all worked out for Central America
And they've got it all worked out for Africa
And in our naivete we believe myths and over consume
And give them our consent
Dying in the shadow of the USA
Let them eat bullshit, make the land pay
Make a fast deal with the local elite
Then substitute cash crops where once grew wheat
Build a cycle of dependence on a starvation diet
With food as a weapon, workers stay quiet
And multinational names have blood on their brands
From taking an interest in misused lands
Del Monte, Tate and Lyle, Ralston, Purina
Coca-Cola, RTZ, and Unilever
All packaging lifestyles for the glamorous West
Expand the company, exploit the rest
We are not isolated by distance
But by greed and our racist history
Just a wall's width away
Still impossible to reach across
This space in front of me
It's we who write this history
We who guard the money-tree
We support the companies
We stole the colonies
And when the system starts to crack
We'll have to be ready to give it all back
And when the system starts to crack
We'll have to be ready to give it all back
See the space which lies between the rich and the poor
How the space increases as we keep on taking more
Keeping that space between as all
Is how the west can keep control
With a mission and a checkbook promising aid
Posing for the camera the United Nations man came
Ha talked of control and the terrible drought
And the way that the west would bail them out
Then he stopped smiling and talked conditions
Of mutual aid, and American wishes
Sending in aid with sewn-on strings
If they won't buy arms then it's pulled back in
Feeding the world American style
Colonel Sanders has an empire behind his smile
Back up the investments with a military regime
Then cleverly says it's to keep the world free
But the multinational myths are beginning to fall
The poor don't want aid, they want control
And if we really want to see the third world eat
We've got to see through the wrapping on the high street
Past the barriers of culture that dictate our lives
We're busy consuming as the other half dies
And the answer's not a question of charity
Not whilst profit's still the top priority
So let the glossy shop-fronts know what to expect
And you bosses of Companies...
And the cycle of hungry children
Will keep on going 'round
Will keep on going 'round
Until we burn the multinationals to the ground

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