Bandaid 30 is available for download on iTunes and is set for CD release, with Bob Geldof telling the public that 'a focused effort can put a stop' to the 'foul little plague' that is ebola. 'I love living in this country at moments like this', he declared during an interview with the BBC, adding that the UK 'leads the world' in such charitable campaigns.
The good intentions of many involved in events such as Bandaid cannot be denied, and I will certainly admit that celebrity activists and good-natured donators alike are doing more to help the impoverished and diseased in the short-term than are cynical philosophers. Yet the maverick in me cannot help but condemn the whole affair. It is natural for people who are surrounded by hideousness, poverty and disease to set about the task of putting right the wrongs they see. Altruism, however, is not in the long-term a useful characteristic, but for when it collaborates with intelligence.
By being charitable on occasions such as Bandaid, the British national removes himself of the blame and guilt associated with the suffering of others. He makes peace with the injustice of the world and hides behind a veil of smug self-righteousness whenever poverty and disease are mentioned. Britons know that charity does not solve the problems of poverty and disease; that it does at best have little impact on them -- and at worst prolongs them. People donate because they are told it is the right thing to do, and because they would like to believe it. This is an understandable yet cardinal fault.
The British obsession with morality -- with what is right and what is wrong -- is usually irrelevant and always tedious. It extends into all areas of life and intrudes like an inquisitive child into domains in which it is wholly unwelcome and which it cannot comprehend. Sadly, as emotion is stirred more easily than intellect, most of the population would rather do what they are told to be right than say what they know to be true. Hence, whilst a majority of people would likely acknowledge the inherent contradiction in using private property as a means to address the evils conceived of private property, few have the awareness, the confidence or the inclination to say so.
There is something quite condescending about expecting a human-being to be satisfied with the crumbs that fall from a richer man's table. Society should instead be organised in such a way as to make it impossible for any man to require the charity of another. Rather than viewing ourselves in the West as wealthy philanthropists seeking to ameliorate the living standards of impoverished foreigners, we would do well to acknowledge the common struggle of the working-class across the globe, and to take issue with the system that makes the present circumstances inevitable instead of making bland statements about privilege and poverty, us and them. Until such times we not only condemn ourselves to the psychological slavery of consumerism, but we condemn also the rest of the world to the physical slavery of poverty and disease.
Charity events are often more about egoism and conformity than they are genuine benevolence. Those whose intentions are genuinely altruistic are nonetheless but fires in the sun, allowing their lack of imagination to triumph over any humble desire to do good. I have nothing against Bob Geldof and his people, but I cannot share their enthusiasm or pride. Let's not fool ourselves into believing that there's something exceptional about what we're doing: the whole thing is common, dull and predictable. If this is modern Britain at its best -- the vanity of a few conceited narcissists and the ignorance and obedience of the rest of us -- then I'm afraid there's little hope for anyone.