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U2’s Bono: Capitalism Crushes Poverty

Rock icon weighs in on Rupert Murdoch, hashtag activists and Che Guevara

Bono wants to save the world one song at a time.

U2’s lead singer has never been shy about overstepping his reach, be it shoving music onto fans via iTunes or playing Live Aid to help starving Africans.

His activism has always been messy and full of contradictions, never more apparent than when his band dodges tax burdens while demanding others pay up.

His new memoir, “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story,” captures his colorful life with the Irish quartet, now in its fifth decade of music. The singer spoke to The New York Times about the book, his thoughts on activism and more.

The conversation found Bono, whose politics lean to the Left, admitting a hard truth for Times readers to hear. Socialism isn’t the global panacea we need. Capitalism, warts and all, is the better option.

Bono blasted activists who love breaking stuff but can’t be bothered getting their hands dirty to make things happen. Systemic change demands hard work, he says, and not everyone is up to the task.

More importantly, all the donations in the world won’t necessarily solve intractable problems like hunger. And that lesson clashed with the man he used to be.

I ended up as an activist in a very different place from where I started. I thought that if we just redistributed resources, then we could solve every problem. I now know that’s not true. There’s a funny moment when you realize that as an activist: The off-ramp out of extreme poverty is, ugh, commerce, it’s entrepreneurial capitalism.

Later, he slammed those who reflexively bash business leaders, ignoring how important they are for the greater good.

I didn’t grow up to like the idea that we’ve made heroes out of businesspeople, but if you’re bringing jobs to a community and treating people well, then you are a hero.

Bono also spoke of reaching across the aisle, praising anew President George W. Bush’s efforts to fight HIV in Africa. He admits doing so may lose the group some fans, but so be it.


The singer retained some of his progressive bona fides in the interview, calling Rupert Murdoch “evil” and reciting the Democrat party line that he’s destroying democracy without a scrap of evidence. He also cursed out Che Guevara, a no-no in far-Left circles.

Bono previously railed against President Donald Trump, too, calling him “potentially the worst idea that ever happened to America.”

Later, U2’s frontman banned Trump from attending U2 concerts and slammed him as a return to previous, cruel leaders.

Big primates have been around a lot longer than democracy, and this dude who shall not be named – he is just a new manifestation of that big primate.


  1. I see the New York Trash made sure Bono did some Trump-Bashing. You get more clicks that way from the Mob Rule and e-vigilantes that run the country now.

  2. Why do we listen to these artists? Do they know anything more then to be activist these days? I have listened to U2 for a long time and think their music is very good. But stay out of everyone’s business but your own. It’s OK to have opinions for sure, but this ideal that celebrities are anymore insightful than anyone else is just ridiculous.

  3. In related news, Bono ends career as geographer in a very different place than he started, now convinced Earth is round, no flat.

  4. As in any economic system – capitalism or socialism – the problem is the human element. Take the flaw out and any system would work. Add the flaw and capitalism is clearly the best prospect at raising people out of poverty because if you want to eat, you have to work. It’s a biblical principal.

    1. Humans, like all mammals, are are an individualist species, unlike ants or bees which are collectivist species. This guy thought humans could be rewired to be a collectivist species but he was wrong.

      “Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.”
      Leon Trotsky, ‘Literature and Revolution’ (1924)

  5. One thing we seriously lack today is the willingness to be honest with ourselves.
    We cannot EVER see the truth in anything if we cannot be honest with ourselves.
    This is a man who had early ideas and understandings but was honest with himself and
    allowed the truth in and is courageous enough to tell others.

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