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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Joining the pop revolution

Yes, I admit: I went to Live8 in Berlin yesterday and I enjoyed it. Being revolutionary has never been so easy. Go there and sit in the sun while listening to some music. Anne Will made a good effort in reminding the crowd why they were there, that this was a demonstration, not a pop concert. Wir Sind Helden went one step further and demanded to "Fuck Pop" and to "Join Punk" in going to Edinburgh by bus the next morning. I seriously considered following them, but then there is an election coming up and I really have to get this campaign going. Not a good time for spontaneous decisions. And I was seriously impressed by the millions and millions of signatures for three simple but effective demands. Last time I checked the numbers were about to hit the 25th million. Whoa.

However, despite being the biggest concert ever and being for a good cause, I do have my doubts about how much this will actually change. There was an interesting article in the German Weekly Die Zeit just now stating that Blair and Geldof had agreed that Blair would address government leaders while Geldofs would organise the masses. No disagreement on the issues. But am I to cheer for Blair's power play and - indirectly - for the Iraq war in joining Live8? And then: Why did Blair make the EU summit last week fail? Was it because he couldn't agree to keeping EU's Common Agricultural Policy which is a main block to a more just trade regime? I am curious how things will turn out - in the G8 and the EU. At least, the agreement on debt relief looks like a step in the right direction.

In the UK, the "Make Poverty History" campaign had to face massive criticism: For being racist, for ignoring HIV and climate change, for oversimplifying the problems in Africa. There's a lot of truth in this, but the dilemma remains: How can one reach and activate millions of people without oversimplifying, without asking for the obvious? I still believe that one needs all three: Campaigns that reach out to the masses, experts that refine the demands and make them happen and attentive warners that prevent assimilation and remind us of other important issues and questions. I went to Live8 in Berlin yesterday and I actually enjoyed it.

By the way: Does anyone have an explanation for the long breaks during the Berlin show? Or why they chose Michael Mittermaier as presenter? Please do tell me.

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