If you’re reading this blog you obviously haven’t been living under a wi-fi inaccessible rock. In all likelihood you’ve seen Russell Brand’s interview with Jeremy Paxman which aired on October 23rd. The exchange was remarkable in that it was a celebrity interview which was NOT comprised of complete twaddle. Here’s the link just in case you missed the hype.
Rusty gave us something meaty to get our chops around and I mean that in the most cerebral way possible. I applaud him for that. Yet I take issue with some of the things he has to say. He needs a good talking to and I’m just the one to give it (a talking to that is).
Before I launch in I need to qualify that I too, have been seduced by Russell Brand. Initially I thought he was a just dirty Katy Perry dumper but I read a couple of his articles and was completely blown away. The dude’s a wordsmith. His pen is indeed mightier than his sword. Given Rusty’s reputation as a pants man extraordinaire that’s quite a statement. Even Alain De Botton constantly retweets him, affording him a status higher than Proust. (Sorry – a pretentious reference to Alain’s How Proust Can Change your Life which I haven’t read. My life has stayed the same).
In the interview Rusty states that the western system of governance is broken and calls for a revolution. Time for some direct quotes.
Paxman: “In a democracy that’s how it works.”
Brand: “Well I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy. Given that the planet is being destroyed, given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What are you saying? There’s no alternative? There’s no alternative? Just this system?”
Paxman: “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution don’t you?”
Brand: “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”
Paxman: “What’s the scheme, that’s all I’m asking. What’s the scheme? You talked vaguely about a revolution, what is it?”
Brand: “I think a socialist egalitarian system, based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment…I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?”
Listening to this titillated my inner social democrat. Isn’t it wonderful however that he is questioning the nuts and bolts of our system and inviting us to do the same thing? It would all be as dandy as Rusty’s attire except for one small point which rubbed me the wrong way. (I’m sure that Russell is unused to women telling him his point is both small and rubbing ineffectively. Honk!).
Russell Brand does not vote. Russell has intellectualized his choice but it is still WRONG.
Brand: “ But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations now. And which has now reached fever pitch where you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacit complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.”
Its understandable. “They are all as bad as each other”, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, you’ll only get a politician”. Such cliches are true and getting truer with each election we have to endure. Still I strongly, strongly believe we should respect our democratic right. In fact I feel we are acting like spoiled first world brats when we don’t.
In our malaise we forget that throughout the course of history hundreds of thousands of people have died for this right. People are still suffering immensely for the sake of democracy – Arab Spring anyone? Yet Russell would have us waste this invaluable privilege. Having to chose from our sorry crew of leaders every three years is a royal pain in the arse but imagine having no choice at all?
I am sure that if Rusty was living under the regime of say Robert Mugabe, Colonel Gaddafi ,General Pinochet or communist China he would not be so down about voting. Similarly had he been a woman at the turn of the last century he’d undoubtedly be all for universal suffrage.
Yes Russell – our system leaves much to be desired but refusing to vote is NOT the answer. I’m going to lean on another writer I admire deeply to help make my case. Veteran journalist PJ O’Rourke headed the foreign affairs desk at Rolling Stone throughout the 1990s. During that time he travelled to pretty much every third world fracas going. Lebanon, Libya, South Korea, the Philippines, Gaza, Managua – you name it PJ was there. He writes;
“I can sum up everything I’ve learned about trouble in a few words and I will. Civilization is an enormous improvement on the lack thereof. So called Western Civilization as practiced in half of Europe, some of Asia and a few parts of North America is better than anything else available”.
You can wag your finger about corporate greed and environmental destruction until it falls off but you cant deny this statement. Russel I urge you to speak up, agitate for change, take the to streets and hold our system accountable. But when polling day rolls around man up, get your skinny-jeaned arse to the booth and tick all the right boxes.
Did Russell Brand make you feel a little heated last week?