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Backlash against Brand shows he got it right

Be worried. Be very worried. The “revolution” word got top billing on the BBC’s Newsnight. And, God forbid, the word “profit” was called “filthy” by a comedian, actor, radio host and author who has over seven million followers on Twitter. No wonder the media – right across the spectrum – is working overtime to give Russell Brand a thumping.

In his article for the New Statesman, Brand flings down a barbed and well-crafted and often hilarious gauntlet – as he did in his confrontation with Jeremy Paxman last week.

He challenges the notion that our present Tweedledee and Tweedledum parliamentary system is the only form that democracy can possibly take. He makes a strong claim that there is a revolutionary alternative.

From the Spectator’s James Bloodworth to the Daily Mail’s Janet Street-Porter to the Independent’s Joan Smith, Brand is being tarred and feathered.  Accusations range from that of “being a narcissist”, “spurning a right that people died for” (Spectator) to indulging "adolescent waffle about 'revolution'".   
 
It has also enraged Tom Watson, Labour’s former deputy chair, who for example, wrote in the Daily Mirror: “That vote which Mr Brand thinks is worthless is all the little guys have got left. In 2015, millions of us can send the bankers and hedge fund bosses that fund the greedy Tories packing.”

How? By voting for Ed – let’s have responsible capitalism – Miliband? Surely, you are not serious Mr Watson.
         
Defenders of the status quo all around are outraged that Brand dared to say what millions think: the parliamentary system is neither representative nor truly democratic.

His attack on the political system and call for a revolutionary change touched a raw nerve because he points to the fact that the democratic emperor really has only a few tatters for clothes.

“I have never voted,” Brand writes. “Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”

Yes, his and Jonathan Ross’s prank calls to actor Andrew Sachs back in 2008 were unpleasant. But that was some five years ago and Brand has come a long way since, politically speaking.

In 2009 he co-signed a letter from the Hoping Foundation to the Independent calling for an end to the Israeli attack on Gaza and attended the anti-G20 protests in London. Brandt remains a vocal supporter of the Occupy movement.

In June this year he took part in a video backing US whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Last month he was ejected from the GQ awards for hilariously but seriously accusing sponsors Hugo Boss of being “Nazi tailors”, thus biting the very hand that fed him.

Brand’s chief crime is that he calls for a revolutionary alternative. Not only that, but a socialist and inclusive one which is not dour and dogmatic but which links Britain’s legacy from Pagan times, to the English revolution, the Tolpuddle martyrs and the immediacy of the ecological crisis.

Jibes that Brand’s call to arms are just “banalities about revolution”, that  “wild emotions are all very well” and “where’s your programme?” are just that – cheap and nasty jibes by defenders of the status quo. They emanate to use Brand’s eloquent words, from “people who have never struggled, who are a dusty oak-brown echo of a system dreamed up by Whigs and old Dutch racists”.

The Observer’s Nick Cohen makes the most insidious and hurtful accusation by comparing Brand to Mussolini, claiming that chiefly the far right would benefit from a revolution. But he also lets the cat out of the bag. “Now, as in the 1920s and 1930s,” he notes, “many inhabitants of most European countries agree with Brand's slogans that all politicians are crooks and democracy is a sham. Today's crisis has left Europe in a pre-revolutionary situation.”

The furore that Brand’s remarks have caused shows the established commentariat in their true colours, dismissing the idea of a revolutionary change while clinging on to their own privileges and positions. They are the ones living in the past while Brand looks to the future. We’re with him all the way.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
28 October 2013

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Your Say


Mick Blakey says:

Total agreement, he is gifted in that he can present the truth with humour and humanity and is unaffected by these pompous condescending prats who have nothing to offer in place of his narrative. I reckon he will be joined by many more people from the world of celebrity and those in the military who have posted anonymously their disagreements in the USA, he is one of the odd symptoms of the awakening of the masses to finish off this awful mentality being foisted on us to keep the status quo even while it is falling apart in front of their eyes.


Jed Bland says:

The one thing we have to work out is how we prevent the finance houses from sabotaging the country if a non-Tory government is elected - as they have tried to every time in the last fifty years. Unless someone can come up with a bright idea they have us by the short and curlies.


Fiona says:

Kudos to him certainly, both for the interview with Paxman and his long and eloquent essay in NS which should be read in its entirety by anyone who hasn't so far. However I'd have like him better ( I don't in fact like him much to start with) if he hadn't begun his pro-revolutionary statement by declaring that he decided to accept guest editorship of the magazine because 'a beautiful woman' asked him to - so if she was plain and dowdy, or simply not up to his standards of gorgeousness ...? It's good that he's got principles that he's willing to put out and get skewered for but then he's a celeb and being critically skewered is all good publicity. He's also not saying anything that other socially concerned alternative type comedians such as Mark Thomas and particularly Jeremy Hardy haven't also being saying for years, older and less flamboyant as they are (but also a lot funnier.) I hope he does genuinely mature into someone really worthwhile, puts his sexism and posturing behind him, gives away his enormous wealth - to revolutionay organsiations would be a start - and becomes someone to whom it would be worthwhile to listen on an ongoing basis. Currently he's bit of a trickster and court-jester who are useful people to have in any society and if that's what he continues to be, fine but not quite enough.


Elaine Venn says:

And all this from the man who bought Laurence Oliviers old house for £1.5 million. Drop in the ocean for him then! Humble indeed.


Dave Bones says:

excellent


Stephen Humphries says:

On the Whole, I believe this article does a great service to Russell Brand and the awareness he is bringing to the very real economic disparity facing the UK and other countries alike. Conversely I must suggest that instead of dismissing the critique of a distinct lack of being able to produce an actual plan for a more inclusive, even Utopian society using these individual's that are 'more qualified to implement' these ideas; To actually be considered in order to continue the momentum bought on by Russell's 'popular' Status as a celebrity (Ironically you've gotta laugh that he made his fortune through a media that tolerates the said disparity he is attempting to right) Essentially constructive criticism is there to enhance the basis for what Russell is standing for and let it be clear i commend his actions in full. It takes serious guts to do what he is done. All i am asking for is a little less talking and a little more action...oh wait this is starting to sound familiar to the current system we already use. I hope whoever reads this (if anyone)at least appreciates the dangers of the paradox presented.


Les Teeling says:

is it not time that we have a figure such as Brand with his standing as a personality speaking in a way that lots of the people are thinking; that the old system has had its day and we should be looking to replace both Houses with those people who can deliver for the good of the majority. the Establishment has had it good for too long. we were supposed to build a land fit for heroes post 1945 not a land fit for profit and to hell with the rest of you


Errol Baptiste says:

Very well spot on by exposing those crooked bankers and politicians.


Geoff Anderson says:

I don't quite get Tom Watson's claim that "In 2015, millions of us can send the bankers and hedge fund bosses that fund the greedy Tories packing.”

I can see how our votes could send the 'greedy Tories' packing, but surely the bankers and hedge fund bosses will still be in place, doing their best, as Jed Bland says above, to prevent incoming Labour from governing effectively.

Or does Watson believe that the newly elected Labour government would send those bankers and hedge fund bosses packing? That would make an interesting manifesto promise!


Dave says:

Come on guys, who in their right mind could describe Russell Brand as ever saying anything remotely intellectual? And remember that with the motive for profit no would ever had even thought of designing the computer that you use to write such rubbish on.

I am all for free speech, but grow up a bit eh?


Daud R Matthews says:

Personally I am not a fan of Russell Brand, but I think he is right in what he says. This country seems to be going towards the economic elite will have a good life and retirement while the workers will be worked to death with no retirement. For me, it all went pear shaped when PM Thatcher sold off the public utilities. Then successive governments made it worse. It appears Blair went to war to try to win lucrative contracts for the global conglomerates and failed miserably. And, the most telling point, for me, was when there was the mining disaster in South America, a new shaft was sunk and a new cage developed. Right then the US flew in their top mining engineer - from where - Afghanistan [ref: BBC report] apparently now the worlds biggest source of deposits. 'Nuff said - but think about it.


Frank Hayes says:

There's a lot of 'straw man' arguments being advanced here by some who seem disinclined to address the substantive issue that an opposite set of concepts to the failed strategies of Friedman / Thatcher / Blair / Cameron / Miliband and their ilk have now achieved their widest ever recent global exposure for consideration. Now, what could be wrong with that? Unless, of course, you don't really want these ideas spread about the place! And that, of course, too, is a valid point of view, particularly if you happen to be a reactionary or a political ostrich. I am not, so well done Russell, And while I'm at it, well done Matt Damon too, let's hope there's are a few billion more humans joining this throng. Anybody ever hear the term 'fellow-traveller'. Welcome aboard, and I hope you might stay for the whole of the rest of our journey. There's lots to learn for all of us. Chill, guys, and open the other eye.


Dylan says:

Breath of fresh air what Russell Brand said on Paxman & said in such an articulate way. I disagreed with nothing he said.


Tim Hart says:

What a dismal assertion of Tom Watson about the importance of voting. But surely we don't need Russell Brand to tell us that voting is pointless and democracy is non-existent. Even with the downturn of pub drinking you could still walk into most pubs and find someone propping up the bar and spouting a similar condemnation of our current society. If we are betting on the celebrity culture of people like Brand to create something better then it will be sometime never!


Ian Watson says:

My only surprise is that the Blair & Bush Corporation allowed Russell Brand to be projected in such a revolutionary way. In essence , he basically said in a very articulate manner what millions of people around the world are thinking , but have neither the balls or the platform to do it. I found it entertaining to watch Jeremy Paxman wrestling with his tory conscience whilst squirming and fawning. Russell needs to be aware now of an occasional swinging umberella tip on a London bridge and make certain he doesn't use shampoo spiked with polonium B. Paper tiger or not, at least he had the courage of conviction to emphasize that the Capitalist system is well past its sell - buy date.


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