OK. So before I start this, a disclaimer: The fact that people are waking up out of their coma of apathy is great, and I can’t condemn that, but engaging in Facebook Clicktivism whilst half asleep is little better than sleepwalking out of your own window.

We need to think critically about this kind of thing, firstly. The FIRST invisible children video was shot in 2003, (http://ilto.wordpress.com/2006/11/02/the-visible-problem-with-invisible-children/) and the situation has changed. In circumstances as fluid and serious as this, it is important to have the most up-to-date information, not some second hand hyperbolised American cheese from a decade ago. The new one, I couldn’t say, admittedly. However, flying halfway around the world on your gap year to dig a well is not going to help anyone, and the money you fritter away doing it is not going to reach the people you, in your good intentions, are probably trying to help.

Only 34% of the money donated to Invisible Children goes to on-the-ground services (visiblechildren.tumblr.com) – a characteristic symptom of too many NGOs. What you are paying for is flights, travel expenses, HQ upkeep, admin and staff wages. There are plenty of other ways to change the way things are, such as LOCALLY DRIVEN grassroots community work. Happily, they are also far cheaper than shiny, rubber stamped-by-Bono token projects that fuck off back to the states and fail after the popular glow has worn off.

Aid creates dependency. Generations of poor children have grown up on UN handouts, and that is not a healthy atmosphere to engender the ability or motivation to work to improve the situation. Aid is the start a negative cycle, of which FDI, strings-attached aid, SAPs and donations are all a part of. Bottom Billion by Paul Collier gives an economist’s conservative (by my standards) slant on all of this – it is worth a read if insight is required.

The Ugandan government is pretty darn corrupt. Money spent in the country is likely to end up lining the velvet-trimmed pockets of fat cats in government who will finance arms deals, furnish the 4th LA mansion, or splash out on a new private jet. Again, read Collier.

Invisible Children advocate military intervention. How on Earth it makes sense to send in the army to stop war, I don’t know. The Ugandan military are probably nearly as bad as the rebels – they are rapists and murderers too. War is never a solution, war is never an end, and war is always murder. How can the murder of more innocent people be a positive answer to this problem?

I’m not saying don’t believe the hype. It’s just imperative that you look at things with a critical eye. Look at the flaws, and hopefully this can be the start of a new age of anti-apathy – the beginning of a new model of development that combats the root causes of war, debt and poverty.



Collier, Paul (2008) Bottom Billion


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About shakkka

Londoner, climate scientist, extremist. All views are my own.

2 responses to “Kony”

  1. Mezatronic says :

    So what your saying is, we should all read a few reuters article and adopt this “holier than thou” attitude about any case of huge injustice someone might of known about it first. Face facts we don’t live in a the a politically aware society and thats for a reason, and YES in a lot of cases people have to see things like this on the internet because it wakes people up… Are you seriously saying that global campaigns such as this dont work or aren’t worth while. If so please research a guy called Nelson Mandela…Also the video wasn’t and couldn’t have been made in 2003 as an interviewee in the video refers to the world as a ‘Facebook society’ and Facebook wasn’t launched until 2004 and it was a couple of years before Facebook became truly global so your at least 3 years out!

    • shakkka says :

      That was my bad there, I was talking about the first video that was so sensational in the states and got some wires crossed. But I’m not suggesting we adopt a ‘holier than thou’ sentiment because that never gets anyone anywhere – what’s the point in that? I do have faith in global movements, but are you really comparing this to the long, hard, slog of the anti- apartheid movement and Mandela? I’m not sure it is anywhere near that calibre – I’m not saying it won’t get there, but at the moment I feel it’s unfair to judge one against the other. To be honest, I am a real cynic when it comes to these things. I have been trying to get people interested for years – even my closest mates don’t bat an eyelid when I tell them about another atrocity or scandalous news item or piece of activism I’m getting involved in. Maybe it’s out of jealousy that the Kony 2012 thing is achieving what I never have done, but the whole method of it niggles me. Nothing I’ve ever done has been perfect, but I’ve usually felt it was the best in the circumstances, and I just disagree with a lot of the ways the charity is going about things. Like spending money donated on making more films, not actually preventing the problem they are talking about from continuing.

      Anyway, I dunno Mez, I can’t emphasise enough (and maybe I haven’t) that I think the fact it is getting people to think about the world beyond their own bubble is FANTASTIC. My hat is off in that sense. It is clearly an effective vehicle to inspire and captivate a social-network addicted youth, and there can be nothing said against that. What I was trying to say is that this is only a drop in an ocean and that we can’t take everything as it seems on face value – there needs to be some analysis.

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