The self-proclaimed saviour of the antipathy class walks amongst his selfie-taking disciples wherever youthful voices of discontent against the establishment are expressed. ‘Do as I say and not as I do’, says the modern-day Jesus with his beard and long hair. Russell of Essex has ridden all the way from the studios of Hollywood to save YOU from the thieving, lying, money-worshipping elites. Only this time the messiah and the ass are the same.
Behind his comic behaviour, Russell Brand does have a point in what he has to say against social inequality and the war on drugs through his leftist, liberal views. For instance, Britain currently has 104 billionaires inhabiting the island with a combined wealth of over £301bn. Thus, it is safe to ponder if those 104 are truly that much more productive in their output to society than police officers, EMTs or teachers, and whether some heavy redistribution would not actually be in place. Similarly, the drugs war is at best a complete waste of time and resources considering how ineffective it has been since the 1970s.
However, his lack of understanding of how the structures of politics work is astonishingly bad and ill-considered.
Headline after headline Russell Brand comes across as a conservative plot to keep the youth from voting. With his no-voting agenda Mr Brand is buying into the ‘there is no alternative’ Thatcherite dystopia, just from the flip side of the same coin. By not voting, those who feel disillusioned or indifferent towards the establishment admit to their defeat.
Fuelling the alienation from politics does not help the cause of anyone who wants change. Modern politicians’ reason for living is to gain power and to keep hold of it, and if they can get that without having to consider the young voters, then they are happy to pay no attention to the 20-somethings. It is as simple as that.
Understandably, politicians tend to be more interested in policy areas such as tax-cuts and pensions, because they are in general economically very well-off, highly educated, and middle-aged or older.
Therefore, voting is important in order to let the politicians know that the poor and the youth matter in choosing who runs the government. If only the conservatives, the rich, the middle class, and the anti-immigrant Eurosceptics vote, then they are the groups who dictate the issues discussed and policies made.
Rarely will anyone find a candidate to vote for with whom they completely agree with, which is why one has to understand the importance of voting for the lesser evil. This way, in some constituencies, the student vote could really count in determining which party gets the seat in 2015. It is an optimist’s shout for change, as these constituencies form a small speck in the sea of 650 seats, but a start nevertheless, given the current unfair electoral system.
Brand is a brand. He is selling his revolution to anxious teenagers, who wear Ché Guevara t-shirts because they think it is cool and rebellious. His anti-capitalist, anti-establishment antics appear to be just another act in the 24/7 series of the life and times of Russell Brand. His revolution is a publicity stunt gotten out of control, because that’s what he does the best. He sells books, films, t-shirts, anything; makes money and gains fame.
The question is: would Russell Brand really storm into the Bank of England or the halls of Westminster to demand his revolution? Would any of his followers? Happily expressing their fury and angst through the medium of Internet, Brand’s minions do not want to recognise the realities of a revolution. They are being sold a romanticised, glorified image of a righteous uprising of the underprivileged.
But Marxist socialist utopia is what the name suggests: a utopia. In the world of financialization and stock market gambling the workers’ revolution is not happening mainly, because the modern revolution is handicapped by the ease of moving liquid assets to the Cayman Islands and production to China.
Which is why the contemporary class war has been fought. It was started by the rich elites and it was won by the rich elites, to paraphrase Warren Buffett.
Calling for revolution without offering any alternatives is pointless. Russell Brand’s ranting against capitalism and for a complete abolition of the government is only useful to the extent of alternatives offered. Unfortunately, he does not offer any.
Instead, he could take some of that ADHD energy of his and channel it towards changing the voting system, which is one of the major issues in the current British democratic structure. First-past-the-post system feeds the two largest parties in power more than anything else. Our establishment and alienation from it are going to be extremely difficult to solve without revising the electoral system problem.
Anarchy in the UK is not going to work. Even John Lydon said that discouraging people to vote was ‘so damn ignorant'. And if the problem is the lack of choice, then Russell Brand should create options. Form a party, run for office, or campaign for feasible changes. Just don’t give up because the current selection is not particularly pleasant.
The real revolution lies within the system itself.