The White Rocker's Burden


I didn't watch Live8, but Timothy Burke did. Here's a piece of his review:

Bob Geldof responds that at least he's doing something, and that doing something is better than doing nothing….

No. It's not. Not when the entire event and most of the language surrounding it just encourages the ghostly recurrence of the white man's burden view of world affairs, that everything bad out there is somehow the fault of privileged white Euro-Americans and is somehow theirs and theirs alone to rectify. Not only were African artists almost entirely missing from the concert–a few pencilled in hastily at the end–but so were Africans as actors in their own ongoing drama. They're welcome as former victims thanking their saviors, but otherwise, it's not about them. That entire attitude is as much as–indeed, far bigger–a problem than the underfunding of development. It's the liberal mirror image of neoconservative interventionism, a refusal to face the world in its moral and political complexity, instead trying to make it something that people with good intentions and an exaggerated sense of their own power can remake.