G8 summit in my backyard
Everywhere I turn these days, I find posters and publicity for the upcoming G8 summit. The leaders of the world’s eight most influential developed countries will be meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, to discuss matters of international policy in July; and it just so happens that Gleneagles is only a half-hour train ride from Bridge of Allan, where I live.
As you might imagine, this is a big deal for people living in these parts, and massive protests are expected in Gleneagles and Edinburgh. Bob Geldof, the organizer of the Live Aid and, more recently, the Live Eight concerts, is calling on a million people to march in Edinburgh on July 2 as part of the global “Make Poverty History” campaign, which you’ve probably seen ads for on TV. I’m going to march in Edinburgh (not sure about Gleneagles yet, since there are more predictions for violence and arrests at the summit demonstration), and hopefully take in a workshop or two, if only to try and educate myself about the issues at stake.
In my efforts to educate myself so far, I keep coming up against two seemingly opposed points of view—generally speaking, those of activists and campaigners versus those of economists and business journalists.
The Make Poverty History campaign is as good a summary I can find for the arguments coming from the first group. In short, the three aims of the campaign are “trade justice”, “drop the debt” and “more and better aid”. Read their manifesto here.
The most forceful opposing views that I’ve read come from a political columnist named Stephen Pollard (check his bashing of Make Poverty history here or here) and, as usual, The Economist (they charge for the content on their website—hardly surprising—but I’ve provided you with a free copy of one of their recent articles dealing with making poverty history here).
Of course, my gut tells me that I should be siding with Bob Geldof, Bono, and the rest of the Make Poverty History crew instead of capitalist cheerleaders like Stephen Pollard and The Economist, but what do you think? To do my part for making poverty history, should I be representing on the front lines at Gleneagles in the face of tear gas and riot squads, or cruising the high street with my credit card? If anyone’s got a handle on these issues and is willing to take the time to unravel the moral complexities of international policy decisions, please send me an e-mail and take me to school.
Posted by matt at 05:14 PM