Bruce Cockburn – Call It Democracy


Canadian folkie Bruce Cockburn argued back in 1986, that the foreign policy of powerful countries is about making a buck, not lifting people in poor places out of their misery. As well, that international organizations are not benevolent, either. The International Monetary Fund is a target in one verse.

The IMF goes back to 1944, and on the face of it, with almost 200 member countries, seeks to encourage financial stability in countries dealing with low revenues, high debt, inflation, high unemployment, and more. The IMF works to foster international trade.

Cockburn figures the IMF does more harm than good, leaving developing countries in debt.

More generally, the IMF has been criticized for the conditions it has sometimes imposed on countries to get into their version of fiscal shape. This has meant getting troubled countries to reduce public spending to address government debt. The IMF has also been criticized for not been sensitive enough to local conditions and on-the-ground needs of the places it exists to serve.

Also by Cockburn: If A Tree Falls, If I Had A Rocket Launcher

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Radiohead – Electioneering

You’re not really “into” music if you don’t dig Radiohead. Or so hipsters will tell you. The comedian Adam Carolla is fond of saying how people try to make claims that they appreciated Radiohead first. So early, in fact, that they were fans when the band members were zygotes.

Which is all curious given that progressive rock is often criticized for being bombastic noodling.

Electioneering is from the band’s revered OK Computer album (1997). It is a cynical satire from the perspective of a politician that will do most anything for a vote. ¬†Slandering elected representatives for lacking principle is probably an easy target and the blame for such wishy-washiness could also be directed at the voting public that have high expectations, and even contradictory ones of their governments.

The song also references the IMF. This is the International Monetary Fund. It is a member organization of nearly 200 countries which tries to oversee and promote the financial health of its members and others. Going back to 1945, the IMF is criticized for not having a fair understanding of local needs and situations in countries where it is working to reduce poverty. As well, that this nongovernmental organization (NGO) is correspondingly insensitive to developing countries and a puppet tool for the richer ones. IMF loan conditions are cited as unforgiving and invasive, in this regard. Likewise, the lyrics of the song bleat that politicians move us backward.