The problem I have with Russell Brand


3:28 pm - October 24th 2014

by Sunny Hundal    


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The comedian Russell Brand was interviewed on Newsnight last night about his book, which you can watch above.

One headline is that Brand casually implies 9/11 was an inside job because George Bush had links to the Saudis, before half-heartedly back-tracking.

But I was more depressed by the first 10 minutes of conversation, and I want to explain why because I think this matters in a wider context.

In the debate Evan Davis wants to ask Brand a simple question: what is the alternative you propose? The comedian, who has apparently written an entire book calling for a revolution, doesn’t have a straight answer. Brand says the current system isn’t working (partly true) and points to activism by others challenging the consensus.

Brand says he is merely a high-profile voice and his job is to amplify the work of others. I think that’s fair enough.

But Davis has a more profound question that Brand clearly doesn’t want to answer. My version of that question goes like this: If you want to replace the current system of capitalism with something else, who is going to make your jeans, iPhones and run Twitter?

I.e. capitalism clearly has downsides, but it also leads to products that people really want to use. The desire for profit has led companies like Apple, Levi’s and Twitter to create popular products that – especially in the case of social media – we can sometimes even use for free (in return for being forced to watch advertising, of course).

In the debate, Evan Davis asks Brand about the fact that wages have historically gone up: making billions of people richer and allowing them to afford products like fridge freezers, TVs and iPhones. Brand’s response is: “Mate, I ain’t got time for a bloody graph“.

And then there are other responses that suggest he is blindly oblivious to his own privilege.

The problem I have with Russell Brand is that his style of politics is anti-intellectualism on an epic scale. He isn’t just leaving the heavy lifting to others, he casually dismisses facts like they are irrelevant.

Yes, our capitalist system is breaking down and our democracy has many flaws with it. But any discussion that starts with the premise that we need a revolution to over-throw the system must at least have a response to the inevitable: “and replace it with what?”

This isn’t to say I’m in favour of unadulterated capitalism or that I think cooperatives, mutuals, non-profit groups or social enterprises have no place. In fact we need far more of them. But, in effect, the Russell Brand critique is mild because all it really wants is a bit less of what is currently on offer a bit more of… some nice things that other people are asking for. To dress that up as a ‘revolution’ is plainly fatuous.

The establishment humours Russell Brand because he poses little threat to the system. Newsnight has him on because he’s good for their ratings, not because they want to bring down the system too. The lack of an effective critique means that people will listen to him, glaringly see the obvious contradictions and unanswered questions, and dismiss the Left as over-privileged white guys who don’t want to work but want their iPhones anyway.

A few years ago, I was going past the occupation of Parliament Square. I was quite defensive of the activists in the media and wanted to spend a bit of time just getting to know them. Bad idea. I came in being quite sympathetic, but soon realised that some of the people there only spoke in cliches and hadn’t actually looked into the nuances of what they were saying. The woman I was talking to seemed to think everything was a conspiracy. Soon she was joined by some people who firmly believed 9/11 was an inside job. I made an hasty exit. Of course, every group has its share of cranks but it was a very sobering experience.

If Brand gets more apolitical people to question the world they’re in, then great. But I worry about something else: that there’s a broader slide towards anti-intellectualism among lefties where facts don’t matter and smart critiques are junked in favour of cliches. The world is a messy place and our politicians are very flawed people. But we have to work (sometimes within the system) to continually reform it and improve it, not wait around for some vague revolution that will never come. If the end result is the UKIP-isation of the Left then I don’t want any part of that revolution.


Also worth reading: Why Owen Jones is wrong to suggest that criticism of Russell Brand is merely ‘snottiness’ — by Abi Wilks

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Richard Sage

The history of revolution is that fundamental problems in societies lead to discontent, disobedience and protest by ordinary people (non-intellectuals) and these protests are seized on by opportunists (also non-intellectuals) who purport to be following an alternate doctrine that was proposed by intellectuals. These revolutions fail because those who lead them become corrupted by power and doctrines are bastardised and customised to become self serving fiefdoms for the newly powerful. The revolution in western civilisation is only just beginning, the fundamental problem (inequality) has been identified and protest is getting louder. Brand is not able to suggest the alternative because it has not yet been written, that will come later. He will not be the revolutionary leader either, he is a signal, a sign that revolution is coming and sooner than you think.

Good article. If there’s no alternative offered, what can somebody argue back with? That’s the the tactic here!

BEANS.

Brand is not a “truther”. He says as much in the interview. 12:46 ” I don’t want to talk about daft conspiracy theories.”

A better question is why this interviewer brought up the subject. Perhaps to brand him as a “Truther” – and tar all of his ideas as being out of bounds – especially his economic ideas.

Thanks for towing the neo-liberal status quo line. I hope the check is in the mail.

I never understand left-wingers who can’t explain what they want.

What we need is blindingly obvious and it’s what we’ve always wanted. It’s in the 1945 Labour manifesto.

He is a comedian

“A better question is why this interviewer brought up the subject. ”

I suspect because its included in the book.

Sunny, judging capitalism by the same ideology which capitalism itself espouses is also anti-intellectual. Brand is saying the same as a lot of working-class people, he gets a voice because of who he is, and judging a different system on the basis that it may not offer a new I-phone is daft to say the least, and, in any case, who says a different system cannot provide an I-phone?
The original Labour party were well aware of the need to change cultural and social values in order to embrace a different system unfortunately said party is now less Fabian and more Thatcher.
Totally agree Richard Sage, Brand is a signal and so was Occupation, even if they could not express themselves in terms which suit the intellects of the Islington crowd.

9. George Smiley

You are correct in your criticisms but you must of course realize that the general public is often anti-intellectual. They know if something is working for them and if it is not working. Brand, while being a man with a certain kind of intelligence, is not one of those PPE-from-Oxford chaps, but that doesn’t make his views irrelevant. He is expressing some widely held frustrations, that are rooted in a society where “the left” and “the right” are really not all that far apart on a great deal of issues.

I think the real motivation of the article is found at the end- a fear that “the left” might lose many votes to which it feels so entitled to the likes of UKIP. Personally I hope they do, whether it is to UKIP, the Greens or some other third force, because that is how democracy works- if the people for whom you normally vote are not listening, you force them to listen by disciplining them with your vote. It is not up to voters to prop up the same old crowd, if that crowd has effectively sold them out; and the real way of combating UKIP is to offer the voters a better deal, instead of lecturing them and talking down to them.

Brand is first and foremost a comedian,he is also the partner of Jemima Khan sister of MP Zac Goldsmith.
Many people increasingly feel alienated by the Establishment and where once there was deference and respect for politicians,there is now utter contempt and mistrust. They only have themselves to blame after the expenses scandal and giving themselves a 10% pay rise while everyone else suffers austerity. Osbourne taking the EU to court to maintain bankers bonuses at ridiculous levels despite banks essentially being bankrupt but for taxpayer rescue. People are beginning to see the extent of the Corporatocracy and the pointlessness of voting.

The problem I have with Russell Brand is not with him.

It is with the people who take his political opinion seriously and give him precious airtime. The man is unelected. He claims to represent people but who exactly ?

Though mildly amusing I am perplexed at his inclusion in debates on drugs. Presumably (in this age of shouldn’t smoke, mustn’t eat sugar, can’t drink alcohol) we’d rather people weren’t taking drugs. Therefore a better person to advise a committee would be someone who’d lived in a drug filled environment but learned how to resist them, surely ?

Yawn sunny. What a load of rot.
Problem is that Brand says a lot of truth.
The core message is that politicians and companies can’t be trusted.

13. Ken Haylock

Anti-intellectualism isn’t an exclusively left wing trait – see UKIP et al; are you going to argue that Farage’s foot soldiers are intellectually coherent? The problem is that professional politicians, with their reflexive cynicism and blatant, patronising dishonesty, have discredited intellectually coherent positions of both left & right. The conservative party clearly has an agenda that it dare not articulate honestly lest it never be elected again, the ‘grown up’ left which was forced by the utter collapse of the old Soviet planned economic model and the more parochial national economic collapse of the 1970’s to abandon its ideological roots and has since brought us its own panoply of cynical lies, unpopular illegal and dishonest wars of conquest all built on obvious tissues of super-slick dishonesty etc equally have no credibility. The supposed intellectually coherent protest vote option, the Lib Dems, broke just about the only cast iron promise they made as soon as they surprised everybody including themselves by ending up in government. Who do you vote for, the slickest liar or the liar who you sense will feel most guilty and embarrassed as they screw you over in favour of their corporate donors? Oh, and the fact that politicians are all in general seen as grasping, venal {expletive deleted}s rather than noble patrician public servants probably doesn’t help the cause of analytical critique & ideologically consistent but intellectually coherent politics. Anybody who can navigate the system well enough to put themselves in a position to influence policy in a major political party or be selected to stand in a winnable seat for election for that party has probably disqualified themselves from office in the process for a lot of people… Brand clearly has the intellect to wrestle with some of the underlying issues, but were he to actually apply himself to do so, whether you would agree with whatever pragmatic & coherent policy pronouncements he offered, he’d probably destroy his own appeal in the process…

14. MadNumismatist

Listening to him last night, and his writing, and quotes and i can not help but think he had the wrong end of the stick;
He says, numerous times, that “resources need allocating fairly to those that need them” for m ethat is a classic definition of the free market; efficient allocation of resources. It would be “fair” to give everybody a lump of cola and pound of copper, but it is not very efficient, and definitely not allocated by “need”.
He also called for a tax cut for Tesco form 21%2 to 20%. Now it could be argued it is a slip of tongue, but he is obviously ignorant of the thing known as corporation tax.
He also claims to be the voice for the little people, and I do too; this is why we need to rid ourselves of big government, vested interest and crony capitalism; including unions and their lobbyists.
He also decried the bailout of the banks. I think you would be hard pressed to find ANY capitalist or free marketer that agreed with a bail out of the banks; I am sure they would also think it obscene; crony capitalism.
Furthermore, he loudly proclaimed that everybody should be responsible for themselves; that is clearly libertarian.
I think poor Russell is confused, and misled. Perhaps if he actually thought through his ideas before spewing forth, as is, he is doing more harm to the cause than good.

“But Davis has a more profound question that Brand clearly doesn’t want to answer. My version of that question goes like this: If you want to replace the current system of capitalism with something else, who is going to make your jeans, iPhones and run Twitter?”

What a fatuous point, which funnily enough was exactly the point that got Louise Mensch roundly mocked on Have I Got News For You? You don’t have to abandon products and companies to change the system, you just have to reorganise the companies in terms of who is the beneficiary of any profits. Easier said than done of course. But it is exactly the current system that funnels so much money upward that creates the kind of extreme power that so few have over so many that creates such imbalance and disenfranchisement. People feel that they have no stake because they don’t have a stake.

16. kropotkin goldman

You the man Dan.

Also I have often wondered what things I needed to create a new alternative to capitalism. I got me jeans, me smartphone and I’m tweeting someone a picture of my bits. Full Communism next.

17. kropotkin goldman

he still at least the ‘mad’ ayncap feels the same, eh Sunny, order order…

18. Fatcher Sengland

I have read and replied to this article on my HTC.

The revolution has begun.

If the end result is the UKIP-isation of the Left then I don’t want any part of that revolution.

Quite.

It is the libertarian Right that needs to be asked with what, exactly, it disagreed with Brand. He needs to be asked the same question about it.

Totally agree Richard Sage, Brand is a signal and so was Occupation, even if they could not express themselves in terms which suit the intellects of the Islington crowd.

Jesus al’mighty. Is it really that bloody hard to explain what you want instead? Maybe Russell Brand should write a book calling for revolution and expand on his ideas in there. Oh wait… I mean if he can’t even get his point across when he’s given 15 min on Newsnight, why the fuck would non-lefties who aren’t sympathetic to his stuff going to take it seriously?

Dan:
You don’t have to abandon products and companies to change the system, you just have to reorganise the companies in terms of who is the beneficiary of any profits.

Where do people come up with this bollocks? Is it written down somewhere so I can read and laugh at it? could you explain why anyone would make jeans or continually innovate with new iPhones without a profit motive?

I’m all for finding ways to limit CEO pay, to have workers get a larger share of profits, to have stronger unionisation and better working conditions. But that is still capitalism. That isn’t a revolution.

As long as the left focuses on what divides us rather than the opposite we’re going nowhere.

I think Russell Brand has done amazing work in the last few months engaging and energising loads of people-including loads of young people. Moreover he’s done it with panache, wit and joy,

I think the charge of anti-intellectualism is absurd. What could equally said to be anti-intellectual is to try and sum up over 150 years of British history with all its complexity in one graph. And why that graph? Why not one showing the exponential and catastrophic rise of greenhouse gas emissions in the same time period or the inexorable rise of inequality since 1979? Russell was right not to engage with it. As for bloody Evan Davis he doubts inbuilt obselesence-what a enquiring mind bloody Oxbridge develops.
The capitalist system we have is rooted in slavery and colonialism and the fundamental idea that it gives one human the right to dominion over another if it spins a buck is grotesque. I wonder if the people who’ve thrown themselves from the roof in Foxcomm (apparently one of China’s better factories) think iphones are the high point of human endeavour.
What I saw on Newsnight was a member of the British elite attempting to patronise someone who challenges it. There’s no spirit of enquiry or attempt at genuine discussion of ideas-more an attempt to mock ‘I’m trying to take you seriously’.Indeed.
Good on Russell for using his 15 minutes valuably-getting in references to the Focus E15 mothers, the firemen’s dispute, the anti-democratic attacks on peaceful protesters seen at Parliament Square this week, the BBC and its corporate pals and TTIP. Good value for money if you ask me.
I’m glad to see Liberal Conspiracy is back as I’ve read some fine stuff on it (last time I looked it was moribund) but please please please smell the coffee. The system you celebrate still sees the vast majority of the world in grotesque poverty-indeed it depends upon that. It has also in only 250 years taken the biosphere to the point where it may not sustain humans by the next century. Some bloody achievement.
The power dressers have taken us as far as they can. We need something new and need to draw as widely as possible on the collective mind to work it out. It won’t be easy and it might be very painful but human possibilities are endless if we can find a way of engaging them in ways not dominated by ego and greed. As Cornel West said on Democracy Now a couple of weeks back: ‘We need to get on the love train, get on the justice train’. Russell’s onboard and we’re waiting for you to jump on too.

Where do people come up with this bollocks? Is it written down somewhere so I can read and laugh at it? could you explain why anyone would make jeans or continually innovate with new iPhones without a profit motive…people wanna cover up the legs and genitals and people like communicating with friends and that. Yeah?

I’m all for finding ways to limit CEO pay..*slow handclap* well, well done you. *red salute* solidarity comrade

to have stronger unionisation and better working conditions…where and what party wants worse conditions? otherwise its just vague Labour crap.

also nice anti-Owen Jones blog entry link. *shakes head* wtf.

I don’t know why Brand is so angry. He’s got largely what he wants. Peace, proseperity – the virtual decriminalisation of drugs (for users anyway.) You’re statistically more likely to go to prison for evading TV licence or council tax.

In fact the best compromise he could wish for, excepting drugs funded by the hard pressed NHS I suppose. At least the drugs are not subject to punitive taxation as is tobacco and alcohol. Smoking is now being banned in open spaces and even E cigarettes are being clamped down on. What do legalisers expect ? Special dispensation for cannabis joints to be smoked in public ?

For that matter I don’t understand Emma Thompson and the like getting shirty about the state of politics either. Their agendas seem pretty well catered for already. If I declare my UKIP tendencies (old Tory in fact) which are increasingly backed by election results I am derided as a nutter and incapable of cogent argument.

And what is it with Bono, Clooney, Brand et al. These people remain untested in political contest and yet have a disproportionate democratic say. At the moment they are mere entertainers, for goodness sakes.

24. Steve Stannard

I see you have deleted my comment that complied 100% with your comments policy. Clearly free speech doesn’t work for you Sunny.

25. Jeremy Poynton

My problem with Russell? He’s a Narcissist and a twat. That the left media give him so much air time shows how out of touch with the real world they are.

He should have been a persona non grata after what he and Ross did to Andrew Sachs. Instead, like Campbell, with blood on his hands, he’s a Lefty media darling.

Still, the Left has no problem with holding opposing views at the same time, does it?

26. Jeremy Poynton

Chris
I never understand left-wingers who can’t explain what they want.

What we need is blindingly obvious and it’s what we’ve always wanted. It’s in the 1945 Labour manifesto.
======================================================

WE? Since when did I ask you to speak on my behalf? We? Huh.

27. Gerald Payne

“But Davis has a more profound question that Brand clearly doesn’t want to answer. My version of that question goes like this: If you want to replace the current system of capitalism with something else, who is going to make your jeans, iPhones and run Twitter?” Without going into how important Twitter and iphones really are to HUMAN culture,asking this sort of question shows the limits to liberal thinking. What do you think happened in and happens now in those societies that do not subscribe to corporate culture. They still communicate with each other, probably on a much closer, human scale than western, so called civilization does, and they still make and wear clothes. Want to check you have not bought into the corporate propaganda Sunny.

19

Sunny, you are unable to detach yourself from capitalism, you need to look at the inventions which have emerged directly from state control. I’m not suggesting that a socialist economy should look like the USSR but they did put the first man into space quite easily without a profit motive and computers and modern communications were the result of indirect/direct intervention by the state. But that’s not the point really, asking someone where they think their Iphones and
jeans come from to ascertain their political, economic and social vision is plain naff.

22, 24
If you cannot detach yourself from capitalist values then you will always question why there are so many others who are not happy with their lot.

The fact is there are more people listening to Brand than the garbage coming from our existing representatives, the left need to be more accessible to the many and that won’t happen by spouting about how anti-intellectual they all are.

you need to look at the inventions which have emerged directly from state control. I’m not suggesting that a socialist economy should look like the USSR but they did put the first man into space quite easily without a profit motive

These are the sorts of cliches I was referring to above.

1) I’m all for state investment into R&D. I’d like to see more of it and I celebrate it. A mixed economy would have that anyway.

2) The Russian space mission was state driven project with a singular mission…partly in competition with the USA. In the end the USA won that race anyway.

And I’m glad you bought that Russian example up, because there’s a big difference between state investment into public goods (R&D, education, health, public services) and the production of consumer goods.

When I refer to jeans and iPhones I’m making a specific point about the production of consumer goods that we all take for granted. Their development is based on state R&D (hence they pay back taxes – and we should tighten this) – but ultimately its a really stupid idea to have state-sanctioned companies producing consumer goods… as the Russians eventually found out.
That’s why I asked my question about iPhones.

Jeremy Poynton 25

“…the Left has no problem with holding opposing views at the same time, does it?”

Like its policy on uncontrolled immigration and carbon reduction.

In response to others’ comments apropos Brand’s anti-intellectualism: I expect people find directness refreshing these days – as opposed to spin, evasion, condescension, party political messaging and thought control.

After all. Where has intellectualism got us ? Dubious wars, terrifying indebtedness, cultural fragmentation – housing, welfare, NHS, energy, cost of living crises.

Brilliant ! What a great job you’ve done !!!

Many have had enough of clever dicks who blind with science, attempt to close down the press that calls them out (Leveson) and control the very language of debate (therefore the scope of debate) through stifling political correctness.

The people are seeing for themselves that the ‘wise’ men really were talking bullshit and that their ‘simplistic’ view of the world was the right one after all.

And so we have Brand/UKIP – conflate the two if you will. They are only similar in that everyone is sick of politico speak. To lament the ‘UKIP-isation’ of politics is bewildering. I hear that voting turnouts have gone from 40 to 60% – a good thing, surely ?

There is nothing hysterical about UKIP. They aren’t shouting – if anything the shouting was done by everyone else during the EU elections. Decent people have been provoked beyond endurance – have seen that the clever dicks aren’t very clever at all and are quietly withdrawing their support through the appropriate democratic process – which is a darn sight more than can be said for other groups who resort to terror or set our cities on fire when they don’t get their way !

There is never any credit for peaceful revolt. Instead – in some areas of the press, TV and politics – you’d think that UKIP (old Tory in fact) was the worst thing to have befallen the country and that its supporters should be disenfranchised (which they were until Farage came along.)

But anyone form the Left or the faux Right (Cameroonians) keep up the vitriol and intellectual snootiness.

YOU are doing wonders for UKIP recruitment.

30

E-K

‘But anyone from the left or faux right … keep up the vitriol and intellectual snootiness.

You are doing wonders for UKIP recruitment.’

I probably don’t share the same political position as yourself but I agree with most of your comments and it’s a shame that the existing Labour Party don’t listen to Brand, Occupy et al.

There is a long history of the educated middle-classes bringing about revolutions on the basis of their education and social positions. The Labour Party took it’s lead from the Fabians, middle-class intellectuals who were able to read the needs of the many. Arguably, one of the best post-war Labour leaders was Harold Wilson, who came from a middle-class background, was well educated and attended Oxbridge. He had what is commonly called ‘the common touch’ and, as a narrator, appealed to the working class. He never dismissed people on the basis that they were unable to articulate their needs and I believe that he would have been appalled by most of the current shower and more so from Sunny’s post.

Sunny, I can easily articulate my politics and vision for the future because I have studied politics just as you can articulate your neo-liberal leanings because you have studied economics. The economic system is failing big time in the West and global capitalism makes it very difficult to democratically change policy on the basis that there are too many places for capitalism to run to. However, because the many are becoming more aware of the inequalities and inefficiencies of this system, but are unable to formulate an exact plan for how this can be addressed, (I doubt if most existing left-leaning politicians are able to do so)dismissing them as anti-intellectual isn’t going to win support.

Brand does not need to come on news Night and stand up for the normal citizens, he could just as easily walk away and not care about anybody… like all the other celebrities. Sunny I think your comments are not really welcome

Sunny Hundal,
You’re an ok writer but your use of negative lead ins: ‘I worry, the problem I have, but I was more depressed…’ say more about your cast of mind and your own confusion than your views, which are vague at best (seeming to revolve around ‘I don’t like Russell Brand’). Think about what you’d like to say and what you have to offer, write it down and post it. But be warned, it might be harder than you think.

Brand is misguided and adds some foolish addendums to his aims and suggestions (such as refusing the vote) but a lot of good has actually come from the debate he has stimulated. As irritating and overbearing as he can be at times, he is still more accessible to the disenfranchised working classes than the conveyor belt of white, middle class, privately educated men that currently influence the lives of the British nation in the populist parties. He has opened dialogue and for that I commend him – he is wrong about a great many things but he also deserves a modicum of respect for his acerbic criticisms of an at times self-serving system, as you can see here:

http://lovelanguageloveliterature.com/2014/10/29/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-brand/

34

I totally agree with you, Brand has opened up debate. There is no doubt that today’s young people are obsessed with celebrity, using this to introduce them into politics is no bad thing. Most of us started with ‘The Beano’ before we attempted ‘War and Peace’, Brand is not going to be a political heavyweight or a revolutionary but he could be the catalyst for creating a new, well informed electorate.

You’ve hit the nail on the head here. Russell, despite being very intelligent in the artsy-performer type way, is incredibly anti-intellectual.
While I’m in principle in favour of revolution, I’m 99% certain that if it’s overseen by Russell Brand, we’d just end up with something worse. He’s incapable of critical thinking and doesn’t seem to even understand the importance of rational argument. Whenever he’s met an argument he doesn’t have a response to, he reflexively tries to charm his way out of embarassment. That’s just not good enough. If ever anyone is going to devise a new system, it’ll be done by the smartest people in the best universities. The problem is, too many of them are doing well in the current system.

36

Unfortunately the so-called ‘brightest’ don’t appear to have the will or the wherewithal.

“The establishment humours Russell Brand because he poses little threat to the system. Newsnight has him on because he’s good for their ratings, not because they want to bring down the system too. The lack of an effective critique means that people will listen to him, glaringly see the obvious contradictions and unanswered questions, and dismiss the Left as over-privileged white guys who don’t want to work but want their iPhones anyway.”

Absolutely right. This is something that a significant minority on the left just don’t get. They derive glee from seeing Brand ‘sticking it to the man’ on TV but they are being short-sighted. They don’t grasp the harm his car-crash political ‘thinking’ does to any wider alternative to unfettered capitalism.

As noted, he’s not the one who has to face the harsh consequences of his ludicrous recommendations. He may as well tell the masses to just not work and sit at home in their great big mansions with their millionaire bank accounts – after all, that’s what Che Brand does, so surely everyone else can do that?

I suspect the capitalist establishment is quite happy to see him on TV making an idiot of himself and tarring some decent and credible causes and ideas by association.

#13. Ken Haylock

“Anti-intellectualism isn’t an exclusively left wing trait – see UKIP et al; are you going to argue that Farage’s foot soldiers are intellectually coherent?”

Sunny neither said nor implied anything of the sort. He implicitly compared Brand’s anti-intellectualism with that of UKIP:

“If the end result is the UKIP-isation of the Left then I don’t want any part of that revolution.”

We do need an alternative to the current state of affairs, but I don’t see Brand or UKIP even bothering to try and formulate one.

I’m not sure I would exactly call it anti-intellectualism, though. That leaves the critics open to charges of living in cloud-cuckoo land, which is more Russell’s environment. It is simply a refusal to even try to put together logical and practical solutions. People want their lives improved. Most people will be happy enough if that comes through progressive reform. ‘Revolution’ is for those who like breaking glass and have little thought for housebuilding.

38

Brand may not pose a threat to the system, then again there are very few politicians/governments over the last few decades who have managed to do so either. This is probably one reason why young people have become alienated to politics. I’m sure there are many who believe that it should be a far more worthy thinker than Brand who rouses the masses, but that’s not happening is it, that’s been left to a covert conservative who knows what his right arm’s for.

People do want their lives improved but politicians have spent over a century attempting to reform capitalism, perhaps you have a better idea of alternative reforms considering you are clearly against a system change.

“People do want their lives improved but politicians have spent over a century attempting to reform capitalism,”

And in the past century a lot of reforms have been made which have clearly improved the lives of everyone. Health care, standards of living, education and life expectancy have all improved considerably. When alternatives to capitalism have been tried in that time they have almost invariably been economic and human disasters. Do you not think that life is on the whole considerably better for the vast majority of people than it was 100 years ago?

“perhaps you have a better idea of alternative reforms considering you are clearly against a system change.”

I am in favour of reforming the system, boradly along the lines of those changes advocated by Sunny and many on the democratic left. When you say ‘a better of alternative reforms’ I have to ask, ‘alternative to what?’ Brand and his fellow ‘revolutionaries’ have either offered no suggestions at all or nothing remotely feasible or worked-out. You don’t have an alternative.

Personally I would like to see re-nationalisation of utilities, a national business investment bank, and financial transactions tax. That is for starters. But I don’t believe for a moment that Russell and his millions of followers want to give up their i-pads, playstations, choice of nice clothes and branded beers, so it is pointless to act as if anyone is arguing for the complete overthrow of capitalism. The only reasonable argument will be about in what areas it should be constrained or indeed kept out.

If you think it’s time for another go at communism, I am afraid I can’t go along with that, and I don’t think many people would. It sounds nice on paper but in reality it’s usually a bloody disaster and gives you a society so repressive and in practice unequal it makes what we have look like a paradise. It just does not work and will never work.

“who says a different system cannot provide an I-phone?”

I would. What evidence have you for any other system offering such technological advancement?

40, 41

‘Personally I would like to see re-nationalisation of utilities’

Well good luck to that, 4 out of 6 of our energy companies are owned by overseas companies.
11 out of 22 water companies are also owned by foreign companies.

It makes me weep when I hear these ‘progressive reforms’ proposed by ‘the democratic left’, who totally rejected those same ideals of old Labour which was the aim of clause 4. The global and local conditions affecting the UK are totally different to the original nationalisation programme and where do you think the money will come from to ‘forcibly’ buy those companies out, with respect, you sound as naïve as you believe Russell Brand to be.

‘If you think it’s time for another go at communism’
I seem to have missed the first go, perhaps you can remind me when this country ever came anywhere near communism.

Do I think that life is far better than it was 100 years ago, do you think that’s relevant to those who are now using food banks and are being made homeless because they can’t pay the bedroom tax?

42
Perhaps you can offer some evidence as to why you don’t think a different system could provide an I-phone. But it’s irrelevant anyway, the I-phone is here and isn’t going to somehow disappear because a different economic system emerges.

Reforming capitalism in a global system becomes ever more difficult, business will just pull out and move on if unpalatable reforms are proposed. Currently we pay £51 billion per year in in-work benefits in order to provide cheap labour but at the same time enable consumerism to remain buoyant.

And if you don’t rate Brand then stop using him as a yardstick, as one poster has already stated, he’s a signal in the same way as UKIP is, Marx he is not.

A critique doesn’t need to provide rigid, decreed alternatives to be valuable. That isn’t the point. It is an analysis, which looks to expose the inadequacies of a certain entity. Brand does provide answers. He provides answers about what is going wrong in our society. That is valuable within itself; if we say that in our ‘democracy’ that no one can critique or analyze unless they have an all-encompassing deterministic narrative for future social development readily at hand (bound and in 12 pt. double spaced preferably), then our democracy really deserves its quotation marks.

You wouldn’t refuse a scientist funding for an experiment because he couldn’t categorically tell you he had ‘the Answer’ yet.

You’re are reinforcing the foundations of our broken society when you espouse this nonsense about concrete alternatives and you sound like every politician and pseudo-activist that has got in the way of a genuine people’s movement since the 19th century.

I’d much rather listen to Brand raise tangible and important issues and ideas without providing an alternative (although he has on several occasions spoken about local level organization and clearly believes in an Anarcho-syndicalist social structure; but of course, that is too much of an alternative, right? You’re talking about an alternative within the parameters of the current discourse.), than listen to you deriding him whilst offering nothing constructive in the course of your ‘critique’.

As for the consumer hypocrisy rhetoric – forget about it. We live in an insidiously hypocritical society. We will initially have to work within the limitations of our hypocrisies if we want to break free from them.

The same way that you will have to deal with the blatant hypocrisy you pedaled in this article.

Its disproportionate, thats the problem: For example Apple is sitting on a fortune m8. £95billion (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VqsFp0J22Hc ) when people at the other side of the world are dying of hunger and sickness, when and wars are widespread, are you telling me that that a company sitting on a vast fortune(which according to others- they dont know what to do with it) is okay? Disproportionality, thats the problem. I’ll draft the alternative for Brand, watch @GrezSuzio


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