Has Bob Geldof joined Russell Brand in seeing the political light? For more than 30 years, Geldof has thrown himself into numerous humanitarian projects, starting with his famous Band Aid single in 1984 and the subsequent Live Aid concert to draw attention to famine in Africa. Poverty, hunger and inequality haven’t gone away despite the best efforts of Geldof and countless others.
Given an honorary knighthood in 1986, Irish-born rock star Geldof has been feted and courted by leading politicians and the CEOs of the major corporations. He achieved the status of a one-man NGO, gaining entry into major summits. Geldof is a member of numerous charitable commissions and a very rich man from his days with the Boomtown Rats.
Often dismissive of those who criticised his work on the inside track for lending the global establishment credibility, Geldof now seems to acknowledge that the political system itself is holding back solutions to pressing problems. In doing so, he has joined comedian Russell Brand’s recent call for a political revolution.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Geldof agrees with Brand’s point of view and warns that the current system of democracy "may not be viable for much longer". He praised Brand for his "articulacy and expressing the anger of the moment". Brand caused a storm during an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight. His call for a revolution has had nearly 10 million views on YouTube. Leading up to his interview, in an essay in the New Statesman, Brand called for the “overthrow of the current political system”.
In his interview, Geldof denounced the banks as a form of “outright international global gangsterism”, giving themselves money through fraud. He said:
"That's what it was. Mispricing of products, fraud. Mis-selling of products, fraud. Fixing the interbank lending rate. Fraud. It was fraud on an unprecedented scale! They sucked billions out of the world economy, destroying individuals, companies and countries.
"Russell [Brand] is completely right. That model cannot sustain us as we saw, it bankrupted Greece, almost Italy, almost France and almost Ireland. It just can't work. When you have these supposed masters of the universe averaging more than 248 times the average worker's pay, you have a serious problem of inequality. Inequality stops a society functioning and so it has to stop.
"I do think the version of democracy that we have been living with just may not be viable for very much longer. We will have something where we have proper freedom and elected representation. "We all co-operate in the knowing lie, which is that everybody promises more and that the economy will inevitably grow. what does that mean? It means more, more of what? That's not viable in an unsustainable and finite world.
"Nor can you in a four-year electoral cycle put into place programmes that would help to ameliorate the effects of that. If the economy is affected in that way by definition politics are so that the politics that we've grown up with in a different economy cannot work in a new one, there has to be a newer type of politics. You will see a change in the type of politics. It'll still be our government, it needs to be otherwise you'll have problems and it still needs to be a more coherent economy."
Geldof and Brand express what millions more sense, not just in Britain but around the world, but are denied the chance to articulate. Our limited capitalist democracy cannot deliver on its commitments to its citizens while it openly favours business and financial interests.
Geldof may not have gone quite as far as Brand, but he knows the old game is up and his forthright remarks about the failure of the present system are important. Developing new forms of real democracy based on a charter of social, human and political rights is the priority for 2014. So support the Agreement of the People and other projects aiming to break out of our current political cul-de-sac.