Darrow Miller and Friends

The Rock Star Who Preached Capitalism: Bono Changes His Tune

Bono at Live Aid preached redistribution now believes in capitalismBono, the rock star who rose to prominence almost 30 years ago, is singing a new song … about capitalism!

A famine in the Horn of Africa killed 400,000 in Ethiopia in 1983-84. In response, two musician activists–Bob Geldof and Midge Ure–organized what became one of the largest television broadcasts of all time: Live Aid. On July 13, 1985, the concert took place simultaneously in London, England (72,000 people in Wembley Stadium) and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (100,000 people in John F. Kennedy Stadium). Live Aid was broadcast globally and viewed by an estimated 1.9 billion people in 150 nations. The effort raised $283,600,000 for famine relief.

The Irish rock band U2 was launched into prominence at Live Aid. Bono, the band’s lead vocalist, was interviewed there. In the interview he expressed his opinion that people should engage personally and publicly in helping the poor. He also indicated that governments are responsible to solve the problem of poverty.

Bono’s pilgrimage in thoughts about how to help to poor has mirrored that of many of us. At first, we have functioned from a closed system, “zero sum” economic model that regards the redistribution of resources as the key to helping the poor. Governments are responsible to use taxation to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. Bono actually says it like that in the YouTube interview linked above.

But the redistributionist model, a spinoff of socialism, has failed miserably. Government and private programs built around moving money from the rich to the poor do little to solve poverty. In fact, they often create more poverty by fostering dependency and encouraging corruption.

Now Bono has come to see that. Like many of us, the rock star—already a believer in Christ—has moved on in his journey to a sort of second conversion experience. He has come to see what actually lifts nations out of poverty: capitalism and free markets. This change of thinking came when Bono heard Ghanaian economic professor George Ayittey. Professor Ayittey, who founded the Free Africa Foundation, spoke at a TED conference. After hearing that presentation, and reading Ayittey’s book, Africa Unchained, Bono embraced the merits of an open system, “positive sum” economic model. This approach affirms the virtues of free markets for individuals and nations, the advantages of private property, and the essential of the rule of law. (Go here to view Professor Ayittey’s message that so impacted Bono, “Africa’s cheetahs versus hippos.”)

You can read more about Bono’s “second conversion” here.

One of our most popular posts is another personal testimony by Scott Wisley titled Aid That Increases Poverty. You might also want to read Creating Wealth Is Better than Curing Poverty.

When we try to cure poverty by engaging our hearts only, we usually end up creating more of it. By using our minds AND our hearts we can develop real solutions.

–          Darrow Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).


  1. Lianggi Espinoza

    September 23, 2013 - 7:42 pm

    I agree that an “open” economic system is better than “closed ” one. But I feel uneasy calling it “capitalism”. From my Latin American reality (Mexico and Chile, at least), I think our capitalist system is not “open”, rather, it is “open” for a few and “closed” for many people. And instead to favor freedom, limits it.

    Thank you for the excelent post. Blessings.

    • Darrow

      September 24, 2013 - 6:37 am

      Hello Lianggi

      Words can miss understood until they are defined. What you seem to be referring to is consumer capitalism or hedonistic capitalism. Another form of so called capitalism is crony capitalism where governments manipulate the markets.

      When we speak of capitalism we think of “free markets” or oikonomia – stewardship of resources. There are three famous virtues in this definition of capitalism: work as hard as you can (fight against laziness), save as much as you can (non-consumerism) and give as much as you can (share with the larger community). These virtues generate wealth which is not primarily for personal consumption, but for the sake of the family and the health of the larger community.