"Call It Democracy" is Cockburn at his angriest and most overtly political. It's probably the only song ever written about the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which promotes "development" in the Third World while serving the monied interests of the First World. I'm sure Bono likes this song.
Padded with power here they comeThis song inspired me to learn about the IMF and what they do. If you're one of the naive masses who wondered after 9/11 why people in other countries would hate us, the IMF is one answer (in particular, see the Wikipedia subheadings IMF/World Bank support of Military Dictatorships and Criticism). Cockburn was singing about Central America in the 1980s, but it could just as well have been Africa, South America, or Asia.
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor
North South East West
Kill the best and buy the rest
It's just spend a buck to make a buck
You don't really give a flying fuck
About the people in misery
IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt
See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello
And they call it democracy
A funny story about this song... The album came out in 1986 when Tipper Gore's PMRC was pushing for record labeling. When the sleeve for the vinyl LP was printed, not only were the lyrics printed on the back, but also the "offensive" words were highlighted in yellow! I think it was intended as a big middle finger to Tipper, something I wholeheartedly support (I had a hard time voting for Al knowing that Tipper would be First Lady, and I guess the Supreme Court agreed).