Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bob Geldof on Europes treatment of Africa

He sees its problems being made worse because of Europes Emotional baggage.

«In the 1990s, European leaders focused disgracefully on passing the Maastricht Treaty while the Balkans burned. Europeans put their internal economic and bureaucratic cohesion above their responsibilities to their neighbours. As hundreds of thousands of Bosnians came to our borders, we turned, as ever , to Washington and prayed for help. A few years later, in Kosovo, European governments were belatedly part of the solution as well as the problem. And finally, in Macedonia, they acted before a crisis turned into a tragedy. »

«For Europe to work, we need to understand why there is no solidarity. We need to build on the Western idea of the individual, which only functions when it acts in concert with the common good, to find things to bind us together in the absence of a Soviet threat. The truth is, we dont have the same common feeling for people in Bulgaria that people in the United States, under the cult of the flag or the fetish of the constitution, feel for someone from Minneapolis or Texas. And we wont get it by taking refuge in our Christian past, or seeing ourselves ridiculously as a counterweight to American power, at a time when China and Indias success is the big story of our time. The solution cannot be to retreat behind our protectionist fences, our very large, well-tended hedge. Europe cannot exist by or unto itself. It must engage with the world. »

«Europe is failing Africa our immediate neighbour. Our common history goes back millennia through the black popes and saints, the Islamic period, the crusades, the slave trade and colonialism and post- independence. But it is our future together that is most at stake.»

«The Pope enjoined Europe to be open to the other continents. Africa makes a mockery of that ideal. Each of the principles that lie behind the European project equality, mutuality and solidarity has been perverted into its opposite: dependence, double standards and duplicity. We drop meagre scraps from our tables of prosperity with one hand, then scoop them up with the other. We talk about partnership but we have enslaved a continent with loans, forcing the poorest countries in the world to spend more every year on interest payments than on healthcare and education.»

«We lecture them on free trade, but close our markets to their agricultural produce and swamp them with subsidised imports of European products. Each European cow gets subsidies worth 157 times what the EU gives to each African. Our double standards are almost designed to keep Africans in poverty while impoverishing Europe morally. We force them to sell us commodities but prevent them from adding value to them. An African who wants to sell pineapples in the EU faces a tariff of 9% for fresh fruit, 32% for tinned pineapples and 42% for pineapple juice. This goes back to the original perversion of Adam Smith by European colonialists who decided Africas comparative advantage would be its poverty.»

«Forget the invisible hand of the market, this is the malignant cheating hand of the protection racket that much EU trade regulation is. Europeans boast about our aid programmes, but over half the money is spent in middle-income countries, mostly in Europes immediate neighbourhood.»
What can an individual do? Anything he sets his mind to, and Geldof seem to get that very well. In a continent where aid is used mainly as an phrase used to conceal domestic cronyism, he looks like more that an honest man who speaks clearly he looks nearly Jeffersonian in his view of man, the individual, his capacity to do good, and his inherent humanism.
To him it depends on individuals being responsible for themselves, true to themselves, and good. You need concepts like right and wrong to get there.

There is no place for moral relativism in what he does. Hes lives its antithesis nicely.

No comments: