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Brand – Not Part of the Club

October 29, 2013

Brand imageThe inevitable has happened, the media have lined up in their droves in order to lambaste and undermine Russell Brand and the ideas he discussed in his essay for the New Statesman and within his entertaining interview with Paxman – who’d of thought it?

The reaction of some in the media was to be completely expected, however something that I had not considered (how, I have no idea) was the fervent attacks he has received from the so called ‘left’. Now, I completely understand Russell Brand is problematic. His record of misogyny is a monumental obstacle to his progressive credentials in its self. However, that does not completely undermine the radical ideas he has discussed of late. And that is what he has done, discussed them. He hasn’t imposed them, he hasn’t forced them down the throats of progressives, he hasn’t kicked teenagers up and down the country until they yield to his Stalinist inspired might. He has used his influential platform to project ideas and discussions that have been taking place in the workplaces, homes, rallies, meetings, pubs, cafes across the country and around the globe. He has shone a light on these discussions and given them much needed publicity.

Now, you would think this would be something that would please those who have been discussing them. You would think that those so called progressives who work in the media, who work in places of influence and who may have been working hard in order to further the discussion and eventual realisation of a society in which people are put before profit would be happy with Brand’s highlighted exchanges. But you see there lies the problem, Brand got the credit, they never.

The left has long been the vanguard of truth and as I said in a discussion on twitter last week, the truth is not for public discussion, unless that is – you’re the one getting the credit for saying it. It all reminds me of the great Tony Benn’s famous speech about a boy falling down the well and people in the village throwing a piece of rope down for him to climb back up, each one not quite being long enough – resulting in the boy shouting back up ‘tie your ropes together’. We’ve all probably heard it, we’ve all probably cheered as he said it. But we also knew straight away that the likely hood of ‘prominent lefts’ or many of the factions that make up ‘the left’, changing their approach of waving their ropes in the air as high as they fucking can in the blind hope that one day someone will notice theirs (whilst lambasting everybody else for being so crass as to do the same) was about as likely as that boy getting out of the well before you heard Tony’s next speech.

As I said in my last article, I don’t think Russell Brand is trying to be some sort of leader of the left or the next Che Guevara (although it would make the T-shirt sales easy given his likeness). Brand’s intentions for me were to force these issues into the mainstream for  people to be inspired by. Left wing politics has been completely missing from mainstream discussion for far too long and this opportunity should be pounced on and fostered in a progressive and dialectic way. Those involved in progressive movements should be out engaging people and discussing these ideas, transforming them with people within their own contexts.

Apparently though, Brand does not have all the answers, so we should completely dismiss him. But I would worry if he did. Brand offers a rallying point, somewhere for discussion to begin on a much larger and public scale. What these so called progressive thinkers and writers offer is more of the same, ‘keep calm carry on’ – voting works apparently, look at all those who voted for minimum wage in the UK and Obama care in the US – but what about all those who voted for the closure of Guantanamo, all those who voted for the scrapping of University fees (never mind the problems with minimum wage and the fact ‘Obama Care’ still can’t be accessed)? Yes, existing elites may offer scraps from the table and their mechanisms of power such as the media will continue to remind us of their great generosity. But the truth is, people are going hungry in a world full of wealth and the current system is what supports that reality. Great change is needed and taking opportunities to discuss how to achieve that should be taken with both hands.

Yes, we should ‘discuss’ progressively the difficulties of some of his arguments in the process of transformation and yes we should be highlighting the problems of ignoring Brands well documented misogyny. But, we should also be using whatever platforms we have to continue to push these issues into mainstream discussion, not using our influence as a supposedly progressive columnist to cut them down in order to appeal to the populist thought that Brand does not have the right because ‘he’s not part of the club’.


From → Politics, UK

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