I often hear an abomination on the radio. Not just a bad song, though; not a bad song at all. I wouldn’t use the word “abomination” for that. I reserve that for GMOs, and things at that level of evil and criminality. But this is symbolic. Back in April the DJ came on once sermonizing about the assassination of Martin Luther King, and you may be able to guess what song came next “in honor” of King. Yup – U2’s “Pride in the Name of Love”.
MLK wasn’t the teddy bear today’s liberals fondly fantasize him to be. He was a fierce critic of evil, and was killed when he started criticizing the war and the structural evil of capitalism. He despised liberals. One can imagine what he’d think of today’s far worse corporate liberals and their support for Monsanto. Meanwhile, “Pride in the Name of Love” would make a great slogan and theme song for Monsanto itself. As a slogan it’s similar to “Work Sets You Free” (“Arbeit Macht Frei”), the line posted at the entrance to Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz. (According to Dante, the gate of hell carries the inscription, “I, Too, Was Created by Eternal Love”.)
There’s something ironic about it, too. The title sounds ironic, but the song doesn’t sound that way at all. I don’t think Bono, laboring so mightily under the White Man’s Burden for those poor benighted brown masses of the world, meant the title be ironic either. He’s clearly very proud of his boundless love. He also just wrote something that sounded cool to him without understanding its implications.
But compare the title, and the neoliberal programs for which Bono serves as Celebrity Useful Idiot #1, to the concepts of democracy politics. We the people seek and need to build: Individual self-respect within the cooperative economy, and collective political self-confidence, as necessary toward democratic goals as well as valuable in themselves. These can be built only by we the people organizing ourselves, from the soil up, on a democracy basis. Meanwhile the top-down, supply-driven planned economy of corporate globalization, epitomized in the obscene plan for a “Second Green Revolution” in Africa, is seeking to do the radical opposite. It sees the people as inert and helpless, needing to be mined by elites as a raw material. “For their own good”, of course.
This is a lie. Nothing but Africa’s exploitation, dispossession, and debt enslavement is being contemplated. But even if some version of the good of Africa’s farmers and people were sincerely intended, it would still be in such a way as to see them as stupid, helpless, ignorant, infantile, and utterly incapable of self-respect and self-confidence, let alone agricultural self-management. In addition to all its other evils, a scheme like this is viciously elitist, anti-humanist, misanthropic. And when we consider how it’s white Westerners trying to impose this on Africans, it’s viciously racist.
So instead of “Pride in the Name of Love”, we have a similar Orwellian formulation: “Helplessness is Self-Respect”, “Submission and Dependency is Self-Confidence”, “Shantytowns are Prosperity”. And of course “Work, for Monsanto, Will Set You Free”.