Posts filed under ‘campaigns’

Eyes on the G8, not just London


Wasn't it amazing how effectively the London bombings knocked the Make Poverty History capaign and the Gleneagles summit off the front pages? I mean, just look at mustard seeds as an example! There's a post on the bombings, but nothing on the coach trip to Edinburgh. What an astonishing experience! Nearly a quarter of a million people taking over the streets of the city for 7 hours. I spoke to a police officer (I'd lost one of my bus charges!) and he said there'd been no trouble, no drunkenness and no ambulances called. He couldn't believe it. I'm usually not on the side of people who whinge about the media and their reporting, but I couldn't help noticing how effective violence is as a publicity stunt! Look how much coverage and screen time the handful of anti-globalisation demonstrators got by comparison with our record-breaking demo.

Of course, the good news is that there was some significant good news to come out of Gleneagles. The package of debt relief, doubled aid and a commitment to tackling Aids is going to make an enormous difference to millions of people's lives.

Here's the question that intrigues me. What if we've actually done it – what if we've actually changed the way of life for Africa, and with it, the world? What effects will that have? Let's be optimistic. Let's say that release from crippling debt will revolutionise the economies. Let's say that the aid gets to where it's needed. Let's say that the Aids programme starts to bite. African lives are going to change dramatically – thank God! We need to keep up the pressure so that the debt relief is extended as far as is needed.

But how does it change us? I wonder if it's going to alter radically our postmodern mindset? I have a feeling that somewhere at the heart of Po-Mo is a despair of the complexity of reality. It seems to me that part of the demise of the Big Story is a pessimism about being able to alter things on any significant scale. The global economy is just too big, complex and powerful. Unaccountable multinationals, far more powerful than nation states, are unaccountable. If the pressure on them in one place gets too great, they decamp operations elsewhere. So we give up on any hope of changing the world and instead concentrate our efforts on small, individual, single issues. We might at least make a difference in our own back yards! So, for example, we profess a "zero tolerance" policy towards drugs and jail someone for 14 years for having a dope party in the privacy of their homes, but live with the fact that the drugs cartels can be inconvenienced but never eradicated. Small wonder that students these days are so frighteningly conservative by comparison with our generation, obssessed with grades and CVs!

But what if we've actually done it this time? What if we've got the most powerful people in the world to listen and act? How much pent-up hope will that unleash? Will we find other ways of making a difference to the Big Picture? So many questions! I confess to being quietly hopeful…

dave faulkner has an interesting section on "What Did the G8 Accomplish?"

Oh, the picture? It's of two of the demonstrators at Edinburgh, saying to the G8 (ala Sting) "We'll be watching you!"

16 July, 2005 at 10:49 pm 2 comments


Time to move …

... to my own hosted site on http://mustardseeds.wolsblog.com. See you there.

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