Though what likely first comes to mind to most when thinking about the rock star known as Bono are the many memorable songs from his band’s long and successful career, or perhaps his humanitarian work on behalf of the poor of Africa.
However, when ‘Comment is Free’ contributor (and British marxist literary critic) Terry Eagleton looks into the soul of the widely admired cultural icon he sees something much darker. His latest Guardian contribution, a June 26 review of a book about the U2 front man by Harry Browne, explores the the dark, capitalist underbelly of the Dublin born star.
After a few introductory paragraphs, Eagleton goes on the attack.
For all [Bono's] carefully crafted self-irony (how ridiculous for me, an overpaid rock star from working-class Dublin, to be saving the world!), the inside is a place he has never betrayed any great reluctance to occupy. Since an outsider is unlikely to know much about global economics, he is likely to take his cue from the conventional wisdom of the insiders, which is why Bono is both maverick and conservative.
he inherited the social conscience of the 1960s without its political radicalism, which is why he has proved so convenient a front man for the neo-liberals.
In fact, as Browne points out, he has cosied up to racists such as Jesse Helms, whitewashed architects of the Iraqi adventure such as Tony Blair and Paul Wolfowitz, and discovered a soulmate in the shock-doctrine economist Jeffrey Sachs. He has also brownnosed the Queen, sucked up to the Israelis, grovelled at the feet of corporate bullies and allied himself with rightwing anti-condom US evangelicals in Africa
Browne’s case is simple but devastating. As a multimillionaire investor, world-class tax avoider, pal of Bush and Blair and crony of the bankers and neo-cons, Bono has lent credence to the global forces that wreak much of the havoc he is eager to mop up. His technocratic, west-centred, corporation-friendly campaigns have driven him into one false solution, unsavoury alliance and embarrassing debacle after another.
Of course, Eagleton’s righteous outrage towards Bono’s rock ‘n roll imperialism is quite understandable when you consider that (as we’ve noted previously) he is an advocate of the marxist-inspired “religion” known as ‘Liberation Theology‘, a vocal ‘Occupy‘ supporter and Shlomo Sand enthusiast. The anti-Bono activism of the literary critic also seems a bit more comprehensible when you contemplate that he once cast Jesus, in a book he wrote about the Gospels, as a proto ‘Palestinian insurgent‘ and (most memorably) recently characterized a quite well-known antisemitic Jew named Karl Marx as nothing less than a “Jewish prophet”.
All of this seems to demonstrate once again that armchair communist revolutionaries never die, at least as long as their discredited, destructive theories can continue to find fertile ground on the cultural pages of the Guardian.