Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Two concerts - two different worlds

We are not on the edge of climate change disaster. It is happening now. Many people are already finding their lives altered and even destroyed by extreme weather. The present conflict in Darfur, for example, in which 400,000 people have lost their lives, has its long-term roots in a drought that took place during the 1980s, with a subsequent massive loss of arable land for farmers and nomadic tribes. The failure of the rains in the 1980s was once viewed as a freak occurrence. But recently scientists have shown the connection between global warming and desertification in Africa. To highlight the urgent need for action on climate change, a group of talented musicians and stand-up comedians are performing in London this Friday, under the banner of a "Night of Unity". Peyoti For President and other musicians have been keenly aware of the clear and present danger posed by global warming. In fact, Peyoti and his supporters already launched the idea of uniting fellow musicians for a London event in March, unaware of the plan for the global Live Earth concerts planned for July 7.

The contrast between the Live Earth and Kings Cross events reveals some telling political realities. The Live Earth SOS (Save Our Selves) concerts are being masterminded by Kevin Wall, who orchestrated the wildly successful Live 8-Make Poverty History events around the G8 summit of 2005. He is working with environmental campaigner and former US vice-president Al Gore and a host of big name bands, including Spinal Tap, Genesis and Duran Duran. Wall is CEO of Control Room, a global internet consulting firm, and a venture fund capitalist. Live Earth’s business partners include Bill Gates’ Microsoft Network MSN, Mercedes Benz’s Smart, and Pepsi. US ticket sales are entirely under the control of the online auction site, e-Bay, one of the world’s biggest corporations. At the time of the Live 8 concerts in 2004, Bob Geldof denounced the resale of free tickets as "sick profiteering". To pre-empt such criticisms this time around, a holier than thou e-Bay is stipulating that sellers must donate 20% to charity. But the e-Bay farrago is only the most blatant indication of the perils of so-called partnering with big business.

While corporations like Microsoft have the power to reach billions of people, they are also part and parcel of the very same global capitalist system of production and consumption that is destroying the planet. Partnering with Pepsi Cola is perhaps even more outrageous than e-Bay. Community groups in India, and elsewhere have denounced the Pepsi and Coca Cola companies as being "unjust and exploitative on a global scale". They have condemned their monopoly of the bottled water trade and the assassination of local trade union leaders opposed to their operations. While the corporate executives planning July 7 have so much money they don’t know where to put it, most musicians and artists live hand-to-mouth. Despite the flourishing live gig scene, they struggle just to meet their expenses and pay the rent. Despite this they are ready to put their head above the parapet and look beyond the status quo, in their music or their politics or both. A World To Win asks you to support the May 4 event in every way that you can.

Corinna Lotz, AWTW secretary

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Live Earth,' what a paradox, when the sponsers are Microsoft, Pepsi & Mercedes. Its true - these corporations have bottomless funds, but choose to use 'Live Earth' to make more money and in doing so, help to do the opposite of 'saving ourselves.'

Thanks for the mention of the struggling artists everywhere, as opposed to the trillions of the corporations and their 'user' attitude to the arts to help make profits for shareholders. Its appreciated.