Russell Brand’s useful tirade

(Contributed photo)

There has been criticism and praise of Russell Brand’s recent political tirade in an interview with Jeremy Paxman. He heavily criticizes the current political establishment, explains his position as a non-voter and discusses income disparities among other social inequalities.

Brand calls for a revolution, in any way possible, to change the current paradigm towards a more equal, well-represented political system. However critical of Brand’s rhetoric you may be, his positions are well-informed and rooted in reality.

A frequent mistake regarding political positions is categorizing them as right or wrong or radical or dangerous. Happy mediums are usually most popular. We have reached half-way points between communism and capitalism, realism and liberalism and protectionism and liberalization. Many western societies are  hybrids of theories on opposite ends of ideological spectrums.

Like most radical calls for change there are elements to Brand’s statements that are revealing and useful.

He does not vote because as an informed citizen he recognizes that his vote holds no worth. There is no candidate who is representing the needs of the majority and more importantly, the system would not be conducive to such a candidate.

There are plenty of others like Brand who do not vote, not because they are uninterested or apathetic, but because they have no interest in any candidates nor faith in the system. Many point to the fact that if nobody voted then the system would fail. But if that happened, and the system collapsed, then a new one may form which is exactly what informed non-voters want.

The main problem with non-voting in the current system is that there is no way to differentiate between informed non-voters and apathetic non-voters. Having an abstention option on ballots would solve this problem.

If the results of an election show a large group of abstained voters, politicians will understand that people are willing to vote, but the representation is absent and potential voters are disenfranchised. This will result in political parties seeking out explanations for non-voting. Ultimately, non-voters will be a political problem requiring a solution. The motives may be entirely self-interested, but if that’s what it takes for the system to address the needs of the people, then so be it.

An adapted ballot will accomplish another feat as well— it will officially recognize an interested and informed group of non-voters.

Think of non-voters like atheists in that they are not uninterested in the idea of religion but they choose to unsubscribe because of their educated positions on the matter. It is hard to differentiate between atheists, agnostics, and other non-believing groups, and thus they struggle to collectively influence change.

This has improved in recent years as more defined groups within atheism have formed and their voices are now echoed more prominently in public policy and society more broadly. For informed non-voters, organization and official recognition will go a long way towards shaping public discourses and influencing policy. Having an identifiable group forces politicians to appeal to their needs and allows those needs to be articulated with more clarity. There is strength in numbers. However, until numbers are transformed into an identifiable entity, politically they mean nothing.

Russell Brand justifiably called attention to social inequalities and problems with the political system where profit and exploitation have become institutionalized.

Dismissing his opinions because he is an actor or comedian is arrogant and gives his positions regarding lack of representation further legitimacy.  Republicans or traditionally conservative pundits in the US and UK questioning Brand’s credibility are simply in no position to make such claims.

They brush off Brand’s comments as the ravings of an attention-craved actor, but do so while worshipping every conservative’s sacred deity Ronald Reagan and forget all about the Governator.

Like Brand, who is wealthy off the current system while calling for its demise, those opposing his vision of a socialistic egalitarian society are operating with an insincerity.

As the UK and  the US scoff at any mention of socialism, they also praise Nordic countries for their social services, education systems and low crime statistics.

Nordic cities consistently top the happiest places in the world and these titles are given by American publications. But for some reason, even as Americans praise Nordic society as successful, they are vehemently opposed to the necessary means of getting there.

Russel Brand provided some oversimplified answers to complex questions but did point out some undeniable flaws in the current system and accurately recognized an under-represented under-class.

His revolution and vision for the future are vague but the movement towards a more equal, prosperous and happy society is inevitable. Nordic countries are not perfect but are far closer to achieving societal and economic sustainability than any nation who is calling Brand’s comments uninformed.


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