This 22 June 2014 video from London, England is called Russell Brand speaks at The People’s Assembly Anti-Austerity Protest.
By Seamus Jennings in Britain:
Who are the real false prophets
Saturday 15th November 2014
Russell Brand deserves praise for making us think again about what revolution is and its relevance to a modern, liberal society, argues SEAMUS JENNINGS
Nigel Farage can be fairly described as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s a modern day Enoch Powell, with a party whose PR resources work overdrive 24/7 to try to prevent its octogenarian ranks from saying something not just euphemistically racist.
But another man has also recently been called out for being a naked populist, moneyed hypocrite, extreme thinker and a clown. The difference with Russell Brand is that his vilification is much more worrying.
Here we have a man who is not preaching hate but talking of love and his hopes for political progression not regression. He may talk like an 18th century dandy, he might have met a journalist in a Shoreditch juice bar to talk about social revolution and yes he was married to Katy Perry. However these are the usual criticisms that the mainstream media like to make when they cannot address his actual ideas.
That eternal Monty Python laine seems an appropriate descriptor of Brand: “He’s not the messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy!”
He is a Catherine wheel firing sparks. Some hit the mark while others fall short but his provocation is an important test of established thinking. When one reads the trawl of articles written by so many of the political commentariat the phrase “Well, you would say that” comes to mind.
The most common criticism is based on realism — that Brand’s ideas are undergraduate spiel.
Comedian Robert Webb railed against Brand in an article which ironically was far more reminiscent of immature thinking, being so smarmily convinced of its own intelligence.
Pastor Martin Niemoller’s words spring to mind when reading Webb’s loyalty to mainstream politics: “Then they came for me — the Cambridge educated middle-class male actor — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
I don’t have high regard for political “moderation” and “sensibility,” for when an admirable principle or idea challenges the status quo it is often called extreme or laughed off. A sensible political idea is simply a byword for one which doesn’t challenge established “sense.”
These “sensible” commentators call Brand patronising, that he is dumbing down the complications of a political system that cannot be interfered with. But it is this exact attitude of undue reverence for the engineering of the 1 per cent that is the real mockery.
It was Tony Benn who said: “Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself.”
Understanding some of Brand’s ideas may be like trying to catch smoke but I’d rather be coming from his position than so many of his adversaries.
I engaged with this distrust of imagination in politics last year while writing Tony Benn’s obituary. “Bennism” of course was a term coined in the 1970s for what was called Benn’s “loony” set of left-wing opinions.
Evan Davis evoked this attitude when he sneered his way through a Newsnight interview on Brand’s opposition to capitalism like an older brother humouring a six-year-old on whether Santa Claus exists.
As you might question how on earth Santa visits every house in the world on one night, or perhaps the possibility of actually flying, Davis asked: “Do you want to overthrow John Lewis?” — as if Brand was already organising the October revolution.
I don’t think I could come up with a more pedestrian or unimaginative question.
Brand may not be the best messenger but he has cultivated a debate about what it means to live in a corporate Britain and why the desire for change has dissipated under a succession of politicians who look out for photo opportunities more than the poor and disadvantaged. And the BBC asks what is going to happen to the high street.
Revolution is [a] word which has lost a lot of meaning, especially in Britain where we never quite managed to orchestrate our own. Brand deserves praise for making us think again about what revolution is and its relevance and manifestation in a modern, liberal society.
Brand has attracted derogatory comment from all sections of the media, and is quite easily stuffed by right-wing publications into the bracket of “lovey dovey,” “hippie,” “tree-hugger” and all the other epithets used to describe people without the apparently necessary lack of empathy.
Modern politics in Britain leaves no room for the voice of dissent. And that voice isn’t the verbal bile which Farage spews out on so many public platforms.
The involvement of disenfranchised voters in Ukip’s fantastical “People’s Army” is tantamount to a victim of a mugging suffering amnesia and then campaigning for the right to steal at will.
We all need to decide whose corner we are fighting. The off-hand disregard for Brand is particularly frustrating on the left. No-one else so prominent in the public sphere is talking about revolution, real social justice and genuinely questioning the legitimacy of capitalism.
We shouldn’t be picking Brand apart, which plays into the right’s distraction tactics.
The left needs to thank him for his role in bringing the socialist cause into the mainstream, and start focusing on what we need to do to keep it there.