Russell Brand wrote a very lengthy and very passionate piece for The Guardian yesterday, following up on his interview with Jeremy Paxman last week essentially reiterating many of the points he made in that interview, and expanding upon them. It’s a sharp, knowledgeable article that once again demonstrates why we should never underestimate the intelligence of Russell Brand, who — like David Letterman this week — is navigating a minefield. Why should we listen to a rich white man complain about the excesses of other wealthy white men? Isn’t that hypocritical? On the other hand, who is going to listen to a poor person without the bully pulpit of fame?
The entire article is so great that it’s hard to choose which paragraphs to pull from, but here’s a few of Brand’s points for the TL;DR crowd:
On why we shouldn’t vote:
The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don’t think it does. I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right. The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears.
On addressing the “hypocrisy” argument:
Obviously there has been some criticism of my outburst, I’ve not been universally applauded as a cross between Jack Sparrow and Spartacus (which is what I’m going for) but they’ve been oddly personal and I think irrelevant to the argument. I try not to read about myself as the mean stuff is hurtful and the good stuff hard to believe, but my mates always give me the gist of what’s going on, the bastards. Some people say I’m a hypocrite because I’ve got money now. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed. It’s easy to attack me, I’m a right twerp, I’m a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it, but that doesn’t detract from the incontrovertible fact that we are living in a time of huge economic disparity and confronting ecological disaster.
On why he might be wrong about the “not voting” strategy:
My friend’s 15-year-old son wrote an essay for his politics class after he read my New Statesman piece. He didn’t agree with everything I said, he prefers the idea of spoiling ballots to not voting “to show we do care” maybe he’s right, I don’t know. The reason not voting could be effective is that if we starve them of our consent we could force them to acknowledge that they operate on behalf of The City and Wall Street; that the financing of political parties and lobbying is where the true influence lies; not in the ballot box. However, this 15-year-old is quite smart and it’s quite possible that my opinions are a result of decades of drug abuse.
On the idea that we are living in a socialist society, only all the wealth is being distributed among the top class:
Here’s one for blighty; Philip Green, the bloke who owns Top Shop didn’t pay any income tax on a £1.2bn dividend in 2005. None. Unless he paid himself a salary that year, in addition to the £1.2bn dividend, the largest in corporate history, then the people who clean Top Shop paid more income tax than he did. That’s for two reasons - firstly because he said that all of his £1.2bn earnings belong to his missus, who was registered in Monaco and secondly because he’s an arsehole. The money he’s nicked through legal loopholes would pay the annual salary for 20,000 NHS nurses. It’s not illegal; it’s systemic, British people who voted, voted for it. I’m not voting for that.
Why don’t you try not paying taxes and see how quickly a lump of bird gets thrown in your face. It’s socialism for corporate elites and feudalism for the rest of us. Those suggestions did not come from me; no the mind that gave the planet Booky Wook and Ponderland didn’t just add an economically viable wealth distribution system to the laudable list of accolades, to place next to my Shagger Of The Year awards.
Read the entire piece here. You may disagree with some of his points, but there is no denying the man’s passion. And wouldn’t it be fascinating to look back at 2013 in 20 years and and laud the former drug addict turned sex monkey turned Katy Perry’s husband for planting the seed of a revolution?
(Hate Tip: koko temur)