From Socialist Voice, January 2007

Bono takes the queen’s shilling

What is it with middle-aged Irish rock stars that they feel the need to validate their own existence by accepting the title “Sir” from the British state? First we had Bob Geldof, now followed by Bono (Paul Hewson), accepting the “honour” from that high-profile parasite living in Buckingham Palace, operating on behalf of British imperialism.
     They follow in the footsteps of “Sir” Tony O’Reilly, owner of the Independent Newspapers Group, a company that has a history that is anti-union, anti-worker, viciously anti-republican, anti-neutrality, pro-EU, pro-Washington, and pro-British. Then there was “Sir” Michael Smurfit, head of the Smurfit Corporation (which has come under severe criticism for its treatment of indigenous peoples in Latin America).
     Have these two individuals been rewarded for their services to rock music? No. For their fashion sense? No. Bob and Bono have been honoured for their services in campaigning to “end world poverty.” As our readers know only too well, world poverty is not ended but in fact increasing. Both Bush and Blair are in charge of countries where poverty is endemic. The likelihood of their seriously wanting to end world poverty, and changing the policies that are responsible for the spread and deepening of poverty globally, are very remote. If Bush won’t end poverty in the United States, he won’t end it in Africa.
     We have to ask the question, Has the plethora of rock stars, celebrities and failed politicians added to or stymied the building of the necessary global alliance to struggle against poverty and for fair trade? Or are we cynical in believing that it was just another opportunity for some individuals to reinvigorate their flagging career, to boost album sales? Or just an opportunity to court further media attention—driven, as most of them appear to be, by an exaggeration of their own self-importance? Is it the case, just like “Big Brother” reality television, that they have to have some dysfunctional Irish clown to perform?
     Egos like Bob’s and Bono’s are easily stroked, and their concerns are easily corralled into safe photo-ops and handshakes for the cameras by the agents of global corporations and global imperialism.
     It is becoming increasingly clear that the courting of celebrities can be a double-edged sword. They can be the vehicle by which the establishment can manipulate and sidetrack genuine people’s campaigns into a safe cul-de-sac.
     As James Connolly wrote, “Yes, ruling by fooling is a great British art—with great Irish fools to practise on.”

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