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November 10, 2012

An Education in Global Good: Pilgrims Geldof and Bono's Steep, Wondrous Learning Curve.

This weekend's Financial Times previews a cautionary tale with a happy ending that every world-changer, compassionate capitalist and limousine liberal on the planet should take to heart. See Pro Bono: How Rockers Change the World, by Peter Aspden, about the Live Aid campaign started by Bob Geldof and Bono on news of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. Excerpt:

First came the single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, big-haired contributors singing hastily written lines in assault of the seasonal charts. Then came the 1985 concert, Live Aid, featuring some good music, some bad music and torrents of televisual fury from the righteous and unstoppable Geldof.

The public duly bought the single and whipped out its credit cards. But the organisers of Live Aid were at the bottom of a steep learning curve. They soon realised, in Bono’s words, that there was “more to extreme poverty than unfortunate circumstances”. They had picked a battle against a drought; what they faced now was a war against the global economic order.

It was pointed out to Geldof and Bono that the amount they had raised, tens of millions of pounds – far beyond their initial ambitions – paled in comparison with the debt payments faced by African countries. If they were serious about famine and starvation, they needed to raise their sights. It was no longer enough to be concerned artists.

They needed to make some new buddies. They had to become properly political.

Learning the Moves: Geldof & Bono gave this King George an Irish Bible.

Posted by JD Hull at November 10, 2012 08:49 PM


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