Pope Catholic Shock

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It’s weird how the Pope was fêted in the US almost as a left-wing radical, just because he doesn’t wholly approve of unbridled greed. People, he’s the Pope. He’s head of the vast thing, that does all the things.

I’m lost for words here. The one I did for the current Phoenix probably says it all.

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Is Bono A C***?

Mike McCaughan delivers an entertaining intro
Mike McCaughan delivered the intro

I mean, one shouldn’t just assume.

Or to put the question more precisely, is the supposed anti-poverty campaigner actually promoting neoliberal global exploitation? This fair question is asked by journalist Harry Browne in The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power), which got its Galway launch tonight in good old Charlie Byrne’s bookshop.

As I understand it, the thesis is that Bono has become the poster child for what is sometimes referred to as the “conscience consumer”. This is the sort of person who chooses a credit card because it gives some tiny percentage of each transaction to charity, who is ready to make the world a better place just as long as they don’t have to get involved personally.

Through being rich and powerful, and associating with the rich and powerful, Bono has come to promote the idea that the rich and powerful will save the world. Despite all the evidence to the contrary so far. It’s an interesting argument, and given his odder actions and pronouncements – see links below – I am inclined to think it’s true.

Is it? Read the book and let me know. College is back and I have about fifty others to get through right now.

Marx In Soho

Want to see a play about Marx? I’m serious. It’s time to look again at capitalism’s most famous critic. Was he onto something? Clearly it has its faults – the main one being, the way makes all the money gather at one end. But does Marx offer any solutions?

On the face of it, his approach to the problem hasn’t worked out well. Any country that called itself Marxist seemed to end up being a pretty crappy place to live; authoritarian and restrictive. On the other hand, these states bore not the slightest resemblance to what Marx envisaged. There’s only one major one left now, and somehow we all owe it money. On yet a third hand, the stateless workers’ paradise he did predict seems to be taking its time materialising.

With a track record like that, you might fairly wonder why anyone still pays him any attention. Was he just an eloquent guy with a compelling vision and a terrific beard? Maybe so. But he was an interesting guy.

What’s more, he’s being played by an interesting guy. Actor-director Jerry Levy is a sociology professor back in Vermont, but at an age when most would be retiring he began touring the world with Howard Zinn‘s “Marx in Soho”, a one-actor play on the idea of Marx returning to see the modern world.

It’s on today Thursday in the Town Hall Theatre Galway, and will be followed tomorrow with Wallace Shawn‘s “The Fever”, a darkly comic piece about the pitfalls of owning a conscience. Both shed moving, humorous light on the times we’re living in. See you there?