A Brand New Revolution?
Brand is an unauthorized, unqualified intrusion into political discourse. Brand is the town clown, the court jester, the ‘idiot’ many readily dismiss. There has never been a more urgent time than this for a Russell Brand – and many more like him.
We saw Russell Brand’s brand new book Revolution on sale with a third of the price off. Probably not what you hope for when you have just released a new book.
The book has been ridiculed by many, but there has never been a more urgent time for someone to unsettle the status quo.
All sides of politics – and those in between – have pilloried Brand’s book. As one reviewer proclaims: ‘Brand’s writing is atrocious: confusing and tedious, filled with references to books he’s half read’.
It’s true to say the book is not a polished political treatise. It appears that the politics of the book arise not from a right or left ideology but a mishmash of enlightened spirituality that has assisted Brand in making, and so far maintaining, serious lifestyle change. The revolution does not appear to have articulate policy positions or a coherently mapped out plan for social change.
There are lots of things one can criticize about Brand, his writing, and his revolution. And there are many who want to write him off as the town clown, the court jester, the idiot.
But perhaps that’s exactly what makes those in power so uncomfortable. The town clown, the court jester, and the ‘idiot’ don’t play by the rules. They are tolerable as long as they make us laugh, but once they stray from that role into any space that might cause us to ‘think’ – they are out of character, not in their right place, an affront to serious policy and political players.
Articulate political discourse from the mainstream political parties in both the UK and Australia is barely distinguishable – it all coalesces into the classic pro-market neoliberal position with varying shades of grey. This political discourse combines with the banking class to produce a merry-go-round of greed, austerity, benefit cuts, greed, less government spending, balanced budgets, greed, housing unaffordability, child poverty, migrant hating, greed, nationalistic jingoism, and more greed to produce a planet of gross inequality and unfairness. And all washed down with nice polite well-dressed blandness.
Brand – the upstart, the town clown, the court jester, the ‘idiot’ – wants to start a revolution that brings this system down. But he doesn’t have the ‘right’ pieces of paper. He doesn’t have the ‘correct’ approach.
He wants to talk directly to all the people (and there are lots of them) who are totally pissed off with the articulate policy discourse. A discourse that has alienated them to the point where they don’t even feel empowered enough to exercise their democratic right to vote.
He advocates a populism to confront financial power and environmental degradation, rather than boring gradual attempts to restrain an economic system that is running amok.
Brand is messy. Unshaven. Unsuited. Brand just doesn’t fit! He does not conform. He rambles about better ways to deal with the big global challenges we face. He talks of spirituality and meditation (what they hell do they have to do with politics!).
He suggests things can change for the better if the majority of disenfranchised people exercise their rights! Now there’s an idea.
Brand is an unauthorized, unqualified intrusion into political discourse.
There has never been a more urgent time than this for a Russell Brand – and many more like him.