Russell Brand and the vacuity of a faux revolutionary

The imperishable author and raconteur Mark Twain once opined that if you “give a man a reputation of an early riser, he can sleep till noon”.

In a culture which is noted for being meretricious, so called “celebrities” who have the appearance of erudition and speak in grandiloquent soundbites tend to be exulted to a quasi-cultish degree. One notable example of such a trend is Russell Brand.

For one thing, Brand’s characteristically mellifluent rhetoric is underpinned by platitudes; his modus operandi, as stated in an interview with Mehdi Hasan is to instigate a “revolution of consciousness”. What exactly does that mean? It sounds erringly similar to the inchoate ramblings of a LSD induced post-modernist Gallic philosopher.

As a an apparent revolutionary he also to tries to discourage people from voting. Except that by relinquishing your suffrage one is not engaging in a revolutionary act, but is instead engaging in the actions of a reactionary troglodyte; It undermines an essential component of being a democratic citizen and effecting political change.

The most noble and praiseworthy actions of English radicalism was campaigning successfully in compelling Parliament to assign suffrage to all members of society. Arguing against voting constitutes an egregious inversion of such struggles- which made democratic citizenry an inalienable right.

The apotheosis of Brand’s moral retardation however finds form in his contention that David Cameron is a more imminent threat to Britain than the soi-dissant ‘Islamic state’. Not only does this underplay the evident existential threat of IS by framing them as only “abstract” and “conceptual” threats- such a juxtaposition between heinous barbarians and a Tory toff is actually indicative of Brand’s perverse moral calculus.

Mr Cameron, though he has many faults, does not subjugate women to slavery (a significant affront to gender equality), he does not evangelise unrestrained hatred to those who don’t adhere to his religious beliefs ( a significant affront to secularism) and most importantly he does not engage in genocidal practices (which is a significant affront to humanity).

Yet by framing Cameron as more of a threat than IS, Brand is engaging what has characterised the far left since their dalliance with Stalinism: dysphemistic masochism and euphemistic impartiality. “We are responsible for IS and shouldn’t do anything” (paralysing the possibility of any coherent strategy to counter the group and absolving them from any moral responsibility for their abhorrent actions). “The west is a greater threat to the world than IS”, oh really! A coalition of governments which at the very least entertain the realisation of enlightenment values is worse than fascistic, internecine zealots.

My use of collective pronoun above is of course conceptual because Russell Brand is really a narcissist of the worst kind: one who views himself as noble and intelligent and self-effacing. One who is probably all too aware of the sophistry inherent in his polemics but continues to peddle them so as to assuage the spineless status of pretentious, lazy liberals.

One who is devoid of any genuine principle- appearing on Russian state tv propaganda– and one who has the nauseating audacity to inaugurate “the next Orwell” as if he were a notable expert on Orwell- or on anything for that matter.

Oh, and he isn’t fucking funny either.

Tom Owolade

Twitter: @owolade14

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9 comments on “Russell Brand and the vacuity of a faux revolutionary

  1. Mark Lambert says:

    The current world of TV soundbites is a very scary one.
    We have Brand, with his “don’t vote, revolution,” idiotic rhetoric, and no comeback when challenged by Paxman. As if I would care anyway, but what do we get?
    Vicky Beeching, a Theologian, sometime singer, apparent expert of social media ethics, who gets on all sorts of TV snips from current affairs soundbites, religious programs, and newspaper reviews, went almost wild about Brand’s Newsnight appearance and his “revolution” stuff. Her views are important, we are told.
    Mohammed Ansar, who regularly got on TV and Radio as the apparent “friendly Muslim,” and has now been dumped by them all, did exactly the same thing. Brand sat down with him and had a “discussion.”
    If it’s true that we are in the middle of a huge dumbing-down in news and current affairs, the three above mentioned, exemplify it.

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  2. Trofim says:

    Russel B says there is like a fret of global warming. He commutes between his home in California and London apparently. I’m quite sure he is unaware of the contradiction between his words and his actions. People who cause global warming are a different sort of human being to him.

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  3. Spot on. Russell Brand was okay when he was being the clown, but he knows less than nothing about politics, he reveres Naomi Klein for God sake!

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  4. First, boycotting voting is entirely consistent with advocating revolution. Voting and democracy are a part of the current system, and working within the current system lends it legitimacy. A genuine revolution seeks to upturn the existing order, including democracy. This has always been the position of the far left, and the contemporary Labour Party is a case in point for how real change cannot come through the ballot box.

    Second, brand did not say David Cameron is worse than ISIS. He said that he poses a greater threat to the UK specifically. So comparing the two directly misses the point – nobody said ISIS’ actions in the Middle East are comparable to David Cameron’s in the UK, only that ISIS do not directly threaten the UK, whereas Cameron does. Existential threat? Come on, ISIS are having trouble expanding within the Middle East in non-Sunni areas, if you think they can make it through about 10 developed countries and across the channel you’re living in cloud cuckoo land.

    I also don’t know why you place such weight on the west because we “entertain enlightenment values”. You can entertain whatever you want, but hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis beg to differ – and that’s just one of the atrocious wars we’ve been involved in over the past few decades. ISIS are disgusting but their power is far more limited than the west’s.

    Brand is not against a “coherent strategy” for dealing with ISIS; he’s just against military action, a position I’d assume requires a low burden of proof given the west’s recent record in the ME.

    Also, I’m no fan of RT, but ask anyone from outside the west and the BBC is ‘state propaganda’. Most media looks like (and is, to a degree) propaganda from the outside. I don’t see anything noteworthy about someone like brand appearing on a variety of media shows to gather support/attention, everyone does it.

    And I agree brand is vague and rather annoying, but my guess is that’s the point. It’s like OWS: he’s just trying to bring issues to air rather than advocating a certain set of beliefs or reforms, because once you do that, those beliefs or reforms become the issue when the real issues are broader than that.

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    • You don’t think Representative democracy is a legitimate system? You don’t think western states entertain enlightenment values such as freedom of speech and secularism? You don’t think Brand engages in false moral equivalency? You think the BBC is comparable to the RT in terms of propaganda? You can wallow in your moral degeneracy and contend IS. Are not much of a existential threat but it’s very rich of someone who wants to undermine representative democracy and believes the west doesn’t embody some enlightenment values to contend ” I live in cloud cuckoo land”. What is your model for utopia? Venezuela? Cuba? Cloud revolutionary socialist land aren’t always pretty, mate.

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      • Anonymous says:

        haha this is a pretty pathetic reply. You’ve just ignored the fact that Unlearningecon points out some fairly huge strawmen in your argument and instead replied with a load more strawmen. Unlearningecon never said Representative democracy isn’t legitimate, nor that western states do not entertain enlightenment values such as freedom of speech and secularism, nor that Brand doesn’t engage in false moral equivalency (he/she just points out that you were attacking a strawman). The rest of the comment is just irrelevant (unless you are attacking something other than the content of Unlearningecon’s argument that i am not aware of).

        Also it is kinda ironic that the authors of politics ad infinitum should criticise Brand for “have[ing] the appearance of erudition and speak[ing] in grandiloquent soundbites” (Mert is the worst in this regard). It’s good that you want to make change in the world but writing pretentious, wordy blog posts seems (to me) like a pretty inefficient of achieving it. Try to innovate, create, and act – it will serve yourselves and the world better.

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      • Thanks for the sagacious advice, Buddhanonymous.

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      • “You don’t think Representative democracy is a legitimate system?”

        The issue is not what I think; I’m simply claiming that a revolution by definition would work from outside democracy.

        “You don’t think western states entertain enlightenment values such as freedom of speech and secularism?”

        ‘Entertain’ does a lot of work here. Does it mean that they profess to advocate it? That they actually follow through? That they don’t follow through entirely but do so better than any previous civilisation? These all have different answers, so you’ll have to clarify what you mean.

        “You don’t think Brand engages in false moral equivalency?”

        No, I didn’t see him directly claim ISIS are morally equivalent to Cameron.

        “You think the BBC is comparable to the RT in terms of propaganda?”

        I’d say no, but with the caveat that this is a subjective question to which I cannot give a definitive answer – who knows what I would think of the BBC were I born outside the west? I once had a conversation with an Egyptian man during the revolution, and he repeatedly complained about the “big propaganda” made by the BBC, misleading viewers and not helping the cause.

        In any case, my point is that in making a variety of public appearances, you’re going to be put on various outlets with views you don’t like. I see no problem with Brand appearing on every station from Fox News to North Korean television if he wants to communicate his message to as many people and audiences as possible.

        I’m also not sure what your last paragraph is about. ISIS’ status as a threat to the UK is distinct from what I think of their beliefs and practices. And my “model for utopia” is not the issue at all.

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      • I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. Thanks for the debate though (no sarcasm).

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