I know I’ve been blogging quite a bit about how much I hate the whole Live8/mph thing. And I still hate it. I don’t like the bullying, the preaching, the mass hysteria directed towards those who question it’s worth. I don’t like the bandwagon jumping. And I don’t like Bob fuckin’ Geldof.
I know I’ve said all that. But I would dearly love to be proved wrong: I’d love it if, in a sudden outpouring of goodwill, all African debt was cancelled, and the economic realities were suspended, and the resulting money was spent wisely.
I’m not watching the show. Tell you the truth, I really can’t be arsed, because I know that Gerrof would be preaching and that just ain’t good for me. Instead, I’m catching up on a bit of reading. And one of the things I’ve been reading is the Economist, which has a very good article about the whole thing.
The aid sceptics?some of them veterans of the industry, their palms calloused from many previous bouts of hand-wringing over Africa?have all the best lines in the debate. Everything has been seen before, they say, nothing has worked. But what do they mean precisely? Do they mean that the World Health Organisation should abandon its efforts to put 3m HIV-carriers on anti-retroviral therapies? Perhaps those already on the drugs should hand them back, lest they succumb to ?dependency?. Should Merck stop donating its drug, ivermectin, to potential victims of riverblindness? Let Togo reinvent the drug itself! Perhaps, in the name of self-reliance, Tanzania’s government should stop giving pregnant women vouchers to buy mosquito nets. Get sewing, ladies!
No one should be naive about aid. It cannot make poverty history, and it can do harm. But to say that nothing works is wrong. Cynicism is only the most common form of naivety.
It’s very easy to be a cynic about all of this, and naysay everything that’s suggested. It’s very easy to support mph/Live8 as well, and put a wee bit of HTML on your site and a bit of plastic on your wrist, while sitting and doing nothing about it. The cynics sneer at the supporters, saying that they’re naive, easily led and opportunistic. The supporters look at the cynics and call them uncaring, selfish, unwilling to support something just because it’s new, or because it’s popular.
I’m still cynical about the whole thing. I still hate Geldof. I’m still of the opinion that, no matter what happens in the developed world, only the developing world can pick itself up. We, on the outside, may be able to help, but it still has to come from within.
But … I’d love to be proved wrong.