Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Guilt merchants of the 21st century

Few things infuriate me more than musicians getting onto a political bandwagon that most of them know little about, with the primary goals of:

  • Assuaging their consciences for their self imposed guilt of being very wealthy;

  • Attention seeking, because it wouldn't look cool to not seem like you give a damn, raising sales of their albums as a result;

  • Telling people off for living their lives the way they choose, whilst themselves making token gestures in that direction.

Most of those doing this are either in the politically naive bracket (also known as stupid), or simply like telling others what to do. They believe that instead of simply being musicians, they have a duty to "change the world" through their messages.

It can't always be wrong. Music has a place in political dissent, when it is about fighting genuine oppression, as with totalitarian government and free speech. However, it is a fact of globalisation that it costs so little to produce music and distribute it, and audiences can be so large that musicians can make a fortune out of one album. Those musicians who performed at Live Earth are wealthy because of property rights, contracts, independent judiciaries and capitalism. They are not grateful for that. I can only assume they either feel (notice they feel more than think):

- Very lucky to be wealthy and successful (in which case if others are less lucky they might want to share their luck); or

- Know they've worked hard to be successful, but think they better support causes to encourage people to change behaviour to make the "world a better place.

Madonna's personal wealth is more than the GDP of about five countries - but for all of the socialist pontificating she's not going to give hardly any of it away. She's far too career obsessed to be a true socialist.

Most of the criticism of Live Earth has been because it was boring or the carbon footprint created by the concert. Frankly, I don't give a damn about either of those things. I didn't go, and the obsession with carbon footprints is becoming almost a religious crusade. I know someone who will give a telling off for flying instead of going by train.

The sort of guilt passed out by climate change evangelists is akin to a sort of Catholic/Protestant judgmentalism. The new sins are now:

- Flying;

- Driving;

- Leaving appliances on standby;

- Using incandescent lightbulbs;

- Not recycling all you can.

In the past you might have been pilloried for:

- Swearing;

- Having sex before marriage;

- Masturbating;

- Not going to church;

- Not standing up for elderly people on the bus;

- Getting divorced;

- Being single at age 25 for women (unless a nun), 45 for men (unless a cad or entertainer, because we all know, you know!);

- Criticising the Royal Family.

I don't know what element of humanity has this overwhelming need to judge others, to set rules and humiliate those who don't follow them. There are others of course, the obsession with judging people's lifestyle related to health is the other one. Smokers, people who eat "the wrong foods", people who don't exercise are all subject to the judgment machine.

Why isn't it a sin to tell others how to live their lives?


Anonymous said...

Hi Scott

Long may your lucid and intelligent posts continue. Assuming the planet is getting warmer, I just don't see the inherent evil in the process; we'll just have to adapt. I think the great irony of the Green movement on this issue is that it seeks to preserve the status quo which from their perspective is what got us into this mess in the first place. Bizarre.

I'm right with you on the millionaries too. It would have been interesting to see pictures in the media of them all arriving and leaving on their private jets. Nothing against private jets - I wish I had one, but someone please spare me the hypocrisy. If you really believe in something, lead by example or shut the hell up.

Cheers, Sean.

Anonymous said...

How do you know the "primary goals" of these musicians?

How do you know they are "not grateful for property rights, contracts, independent judiciaries, and capitalism"?

I don't think you do. You could make a few interesting arguments on the theme of this post, but you've really failed to do so.