Russell Brand, revolution and pragmatism

Russell Brand,  revolution and pragmatism

Today Russell Brand has made the news as he openly calls for revolution. Many comrades have been quick to criticise his statements for vagueness, but does it really matter if his statements didn't go far enough?

Russell Brand has long been a somewhat leftist friendly celebrity who is no stranger for causing some mild controversy. From preaching for a more humane, rehabilitative, caring response to drug addiction to performing hilarious critiques of the media with his appearances on MSNBC and the GQ awards, many people have rallied behind him and perhaps been made to stop and think about certain issues they thought they were sure on.

Though it seems for many anarchists and those on the far left in general, his efforts are hypocritical, in effective and not extreme enough to be worth getting behind. It is my opinion that in light of the state of the movement, if one can be said to exist in a meaningful way at all, these points are at least moot, and mostly counterproductive.

The fact of the matter is that Russell Brand is a celebrity with a huge public following, regular appearances in the media that reaches and influences the public in its millions. He thus has an enormous opportunity to effortlessly sway opinion in a way that we will perhaps never have. And it costs us nothing. He is not in a tiny under resourced political organization that's size dictates its biggest victory to be confined to the realm of distributing agitational propaganda; propaganda which is seen by the already converted, bar a few small gains against individuals bosses in mostly non unionised workplaces.

It hence makes absolutely no sense to only be seen as negative and cynical towards an open call for revolution and a condemnation of government, representative democracy and environmental damage. Yes, in the interview with Paxman he is tactically un clear about what his notion of revolution entails specifically and materially. This is probably because he honestly doesn’t know, but that is fine. Also, as he says the onus is not on him to do so as an individual. Of course Brand is not an anarchist. Of course he is not espousing these ideas from the position of being a proletarian. He is not being radicalised by a life of precarity and fear living on zero hour contracts, or being constantly threatened by benefit sanctions in lieu of finding non-existent jobs or creating them himself. But not only is he plainly aware of this, that isn't really the most important thing at hand.

The reality of our situation as radicals at the moment is that we are isolated and often alienated from the working class, a class we are a part of and a class that we ultimately aim to liberate as members of it ourselves. Our victories are small, our presence is largely misunderstood, limited or even non-existent. This is a truth we must confront if we want the next spontaneous expression of rage towards the status quo to be class conscious, organised, targeted and ultimately politically consequential. If not, it will manifest as it did in the riots of 2011 in the mass theft of consumer goods and wrecking our own communities resulting in imprisonment, repression and being labelled as apolitical thugs; equally condemned by the state and fellow working class people blindly succumbing to calls for draconian and reactionary measures, frenzied by a moral panic engineered by our oppressors.

To put it simply, we need to take what we can get when we are not winning the fight against capitalism in anyway at the moment. I am not calling to strive to become celebrities and to sway public opinion by means of trying to gain access to a platform that will always be against us, no matter how much it tries to simulate a debate and the illusion of alternative available via the ballot box. I don’t want anarchists to try and spread our message by getting spots on political TV shows like Question Time or Newsnight or by writing for publications like The New Statesmen.

We cannot compete with the media and we can’t hope to operate for our own interests using its apparatus which is designed by, and is a tool of those we wish to overthrow. We will never make anarchism a popular ideology by going on the news and whining about the great injustice of words like ‘anarchy’ and ‘communism’ being falsely re associated with notions of chaos and horrific totalitarianism. We can’t hope to become famous and influence public opinion in the way Brand can, or at least aspires to.

But we can influence public opinion by communicating with people on a level, fight by fight, struggle by struggle, conversation by conversation, not closed meeting by closed meeting, not TUC march by TUC march or bookfair by bookfair. And specifically with regards to Russell Brand and others like him, we can do this alongside by using this topical event as an opportunity to talk about our views, an action which does not imply we 100% endorse everything he has ever done or will do.

Posted By

Croy
Oct 24 2013 14:16

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Picket
Oct 24 2013 23:46

russell brand revolution = google hit 23. They've got 2 pages of real shite to get through first, before they read this post and take it as the unanimous and comprehensive anarchist critique.

RedHughs
Oct 24 2013 23:56

The main thing Brand says rather eloquently is that the system has no alternatives, does speak to or for the dispossessed. The present order is rotten from root to branch, everyone with the smallest bit of power buys into the prevailing universal lie.

But one call out this situation without being anti-capitalist. Any honest democrat would want to boycott the modern state's elections.

Honestly describing the utter hopelessness of the prevailing regime and the universal fabric of corrupt relations supporting it is necessary, requires guts and is something that even many describing themselves as revolutionaries often fail to do. But still, such honesty isn't enough and in fact such honesty by itself gets you nowhere. We know that pushing "redistribution" is like trying to ride a bicycle with no wheels down a cul-de-sac into a brick wall, a waste of time inside a futile venture. But knowing how bad things are, sadly, just doesn't by itself give the clues to a person in isolation (or especially a celebrity).

Picket
Oct 25 2013 00:01

Maybe Brand is sufficiently self-absorbed that HE will make it to google results page 3, then we can all put him right grin

Tyrion
Oct 25 2013 00:42
flaneur wrote:
It's probably more that sort of dismissive attitude. No one is born a communist. People are going to be interested in radical politics without a firm understanding, and they'll just fuck off if they're treated with dismission. I wonder if some anarchists actually want their ideas spread amongst others. Now you might hold someone in the public eye to a higher standard, but people you'd run into will have the same wooly ideas as Russell Brand. Are you going to call them clueless as well?

There have always been socialists that have acted in an obnoxious or exclusive manner and while that's certainly not desirable in any way, the notion that "perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement" is really very silly. Since Brand's quote was cited favorably in a post before mine, I see nothing wrong with pointing this out.

I'm not actually speaking to Russell Brand and I doubt he'll ever read my post, so I'm not especially worried about him feeling turned away from radical politics because of what I wrote. I've never found anyone to be swayed toward anarchism through having their knowledge and intelligence insulted so no, I wouldn't tell someone they were clueless for having dubious politics.

Standfield
Oct 25 2013 00:24
abysmalmusings wrote:
promulgate

Russell?

Y
Oct 25 2013 01:43

Marlon Brando was a liberal, although many, many looked to him for answers to their political questions. I suspect Russel Brand's radical liberalism is playing a similar role in the Spectacle.

I admit that I'd love to have a discussion with Brand about communism. Perhaps he'll start reading my blog; but I don't hold out much hope. What is socialism/communism?

Ablokeimet
Oct 25 2013 03:05
abysmalmusings wrote:
Articles like this make me want to put my head in the oven.

Be my guest.

RB has an opinion qualitatively better than virtually every other celebrity of his stature. Sure, it's confused and inadequate and it's even got some negative aspects to it. It's still vastly better than anything I've seen a celebrity say for at least 30 years. When he states his opinion, he is going to come under attack from the Right. The standard line of attack in these circumstances is the argumentum ad hominem - "You're a hypocrite! If you believe this stuff, you shouldn't be a rich celebrity." And, of course, the other side of the coin is that people who aren't rich celebrities don't get quoted saying radical things, either. If they want to get quoted they have to say things that are approved by the likes of Rupert Murdoch or the Daily Mail.

For people who want the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, and have thought it through somewhat more thoroughly than RB, this situation is therefore a trap. The controversy is actually part of a campaign by capital to restrict the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

What, then, is the appropriate response of people like us? It is two-fold:

1. We defend RB's freedom of speech and his right to be treated equally to others with a point of view to express.

2. We make concrete criticisms of his statements, criticising their inadequacies and advancing superior views.

If this gets one of us noticed in the mainstream media, it will be a small victory against capital.

vicent
Oct 25 2013 03:42

"jeremy don't ask me to sit here with you in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system"

laugh out loud

vicent
Oct 25 2013 04:38
vicent wrote:
"jeremy don't ask me to sit here with you in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system"

laugh out loud

sorry for the derail but when people talk of capital doing something, so you mean capitalist humans? or capital as a force in itself?

southernmaineac...
Oct 25 2013 05:32

dont agree with half of what he said... i respect that he admitted he doesnt' have a program for revolution, but his self-admitted ignorant posits of what kind of world he'd like to see is in no way revolutionary in and of itself, in no way anti-capitalist, just more regulation, more taxes, more welfare(if you can call it that) and definately in no-way anti-authoritarian. give current state of corruption, power disparity, and apathy and ignorance, i am down right opposed to anything vaguely resembling authoritarian socialist programs... given a more participatory culture and i might entertain that sort of thing, but until then i disagree completely with what brand said, but understand, he doesn't have a rich analysis, and what he said is all you can expect from someone who doesn't spend their time researching revolution and culture change, learning from the past, and wondering how we can get to a more free, equal and just future... even if there is such a thing... also his implication that victory rests simply on there being a revolution, that victory is guaranteed, is dangerous, feeds very well into fascist hands who want nothing more than political instability as well... we need to be ready, and not let these incidences distract us, they can open up dialogues, but we shouldn't necissarily amplify those dialogues, but let it amplify our own

it is refreshing to here some diverse dialogue taking place however... makes me wonder more than anything why we are hearing them

Serge Forward
Oct 25 2013 05:58
Reginald J. Trotsfield wrote:
Quote:
it's much more likely to get hits from people searching for "russell brand" than people visiting the libcom front page!

Well that's sort of the problem. There probably will be a bunch of people who did identify with what Brand had to say who google search and find their way here, and the main blog offers no form of critique or presentation of Anarchist ideas, while at the same time people making criticisms in the comments section are being told they're whinging.

Aye, we can't let the riff-raff gatecrash the Libcom party without a thoroughly worked out analysis, can we. Fuck me, you sound like Libcom's answer to Mrs Bucket grin

Chilli Sauce
Oct 25 2013 07:01
Reginald wrote:
people making criticisms in the comments section are being told they're whinging.

No, people that are being dismissive and whingy are being told they're whinging.

If you want want to point out where his politics falter - something that damn near ever poster on this thread has acknowledged - and then offer a more consistently revolutionary, anarchist position no one would tell you were whinging. But having a go at libcom posters for even "dedicating time" to Brand at all or claiming that Croydonian has written and "uncritical statement of support", yeah that's basically whinging.

For that matter, there's nothing stopping you from requesting a libcom blog (I mean, I guess I can't guarantee they'll give you one) and writing up a critique of what Brand said.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 25 2013 07:11
vicent wrote:
"jeremy don't ask me to sit here with you in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system"

I thought this was a really good line, too.

I mean, obviously, it would have been better if he'd talked about how post capitalist society could only be forged in the furnace of working class revolution. Or how the goal should be moving from "government of people to the administration of things". A critique of the futility of utopian socialist schemes, the failure of state capitalism and social democracy - all those things would have been great.

But, he didn't do that. What he did was to defend the idea that abstaining from voting doesn't mean that you're somehow forbidden from social critique. And, at the same time, not having some sort of planned out post-revolutionary society doesn't preclude you from being a revolutionary.

Those are both pretty basic anarchist principles.*

*And before you go nuts, of course I don't think that makes Brand an anarchist.

commieprincess
Oct 25 2013 08:56

I really bloody enjoyed the interview, he's a joker. And I completely agree that, while some of his ideas seem pretty poorly thought through and contradictory, he acknowledges that and doesn't pretend to have all the answers.

But how can people overlook his explicit sexism so easily? People are making the argument that he's sort of opened up debate and pushed the limits of the views you normally hear on tv. But I'm not sure how it can really feel like that to the people (ie women) he undermines, objectifies and essentially excludes from his analysis. In the interview he says he agreed to edit for the New Statesman because a beautiful woman asked him to. That slightly got my back up. Then I read this where he's just so blatently and unapologetically sexist, and talks about women like they're just like frivolous, irrelevant trinkets who exist for his amusement.

I don't know, I can forgive his bumbling and incoherant analysis, and I'm glad he's saying lots of things which resonate with people, but I'm afraid the sexism detracts any resonance I might have felt and this is probably true for a lot of women.

Lohilidi
Oct 25 2013 09:43

People complain that he's being vague, but that's probably better. He knows he doesn't know what is to be done, that's because he wants all the people to devise the new system. He doesn't want to be a leader, he wants to be a member and a catalyst.

madashell
Oct 25 2013 09:44
vicent wrote:
vicent wrote:
"jeremy don't ask me to sit here with you in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system"

laugh out loud

sorry for the derail but when people talk of capital doing something, so you mean capitalist humans? or capital as a force in itself?

Well obviously capital isn't sitting in a smoky office somewhere making plans like Dr. Claw or something, but it makes as much sense to talk about capital doing things as it does to talk about the state or the economy. When people on here talk about capital doing such and such a thing I think they're generally talking about actions driven by the needs of capital.

woooo
Oct 25 2013 11:48

https://twitter.com/rustyrockets

its his twitter, i dont get twitter, but 7 million followers

also his fb

https://www.facebook.com/RussellBrand/info

1.9 mill 'readers'

to the social media comrades wink

Croy
Oct 25 2013 12:10
commieprincess wrote:
But how can people overlook his explicit sexism so easily? People are making the argument that he's sort of opened up debate and pushed the limits of the views you normally hear on tv. But I'm not sure how it can really feel like that to the people (ie women) he undermines, objectifies and essentially excludes from his analysis. In the interview he says he agreed to edit for the New Statesman because a beautiful woman asked him to. That slightly got my back up. Then I read this where he's just so blatently and unapologetically sexist, and talks about women like they're just like frivolous, irrelevant trinkets who exist for his amusement.

What parts of the full new statesmen article did you find sexist. To me at least, the intro to me sounded heaped in irony and more of a acknowledgement that The New Statesmen isn't that good rather than an actual comment about the woman. The most important thing that I tried to make clear in that article was that taking the opportunity he has created does not mean I support everything he does (including his sexism, though I personally haven't seen massive evidence for it other than the whole incident with him demanding one of his female co workers to expose her breasts to him) or that in the conversations with people I will not go further or critique what Brand himself said.

sometimes explode
Oct 25 2013 13:42

This is the first anarchist response I've seen that makes a degree of sense.

On the one hand there are those who are going enormously overboard in affirming Brand's performance on Newsnight as a watershed moment that more or less guarantees revolution.

And then there are the other responses (copiously reproduced here) that make attacks on Russell Brand pointing to his sexism, his vagueness, his references to "redistribution of wealth".

Anarchists are supposed to look at actual tendencies in society, no? Aren't we supposed to go to the working class and operate ALONGSIDE them? So let's see what actual material effect Brand's performance has on the tendencies being expressed by the working class...will it have a salient affect on class consciousness, will it help to get people into organising, or will it peter out to nothing, or remain trapped within the realm of Brand-as-commodity/messianic celebrity figure?

These aren't questions that will be answered by moral condemnation, rejection or uncritical affirmation of what he did, said and did not say. They will play themselves out in the world.

Let's stop acting as if we're the moral guardians of the political world and realise that Brand's performance was important because of what it PERFORMED, and not necessarily what it said or didn't say.

As other have said, here was an intelligent, articulate, working class man who argued with passion about the need for revolution, THAT should be applauded, or at least seen as a pretty interesting development. That Brand IS a sexist and is neither an anarchist nor a communist isn't really at issue- unless you believe for one minute he's going to be hoisted high as the leader of a new revolutionary movement (Lenin for the internet age, lulz).

And I would echo the poster who turned attention to Grangemouth. There have been several big announcements in the last few days that all this fretting about Russell Brand has caused so many people to overlook. My twitter feed has been awash with commentary on Brand and comparably nothing about Grangemouth, the appointment of Simon Stevens as the new NHS head in England, the executive of Serco quitting and so on and so on....

If people are worried about the spectacle contaminating politics then they ought to stop engaging with the spectacle and letting it dominate their conversation. On the other hand, we could realise that we need to contaminate the spectacle for our own ends.

batswill
Oct 25 2013 13:58

I think artistic license exempts him from the usual political correctivism which others must obey to keep their jobs.

Ramona
Oct 25 2013 20:20
commieprincess wrote:
I really bloody enjoyed the interview, he's a joker. And I completely agree that, while some of his ideas seem pretty poorly thought through and contradictory, he acknowledges that and doesn't pretend to have all the answers.

But how can people overlook his explicit sexism so easily? People are making the argument that he's sort of opened up debate and pushed the limits of the views you normally hear on tv. But I'm not sure how it can really feel like that to the people (ie women) he undermines, objectifies and essentially excludes from his analysis. In the interview he says he agreed to edit for the New Statesman because a beautiful woman asked him to. That slightly got my back up. Then I read this where he's just so blatently and unapologetically sexist, and talks about women like they're just like frivolous, irrelevant trinkets who exist for his amusement.

I don't know, I can forgive his bumbling and incoherant analysis, and I'm glad he's saying lots of things which resonate with people, but I'm afraid the sexism detracts any resonance I might have felt and this is probably true for a lot of women.

I agree completely. Yes he said some interesting things and my criticism is not that he wasn't full communist enough, but that he's created a whole persona based on being a really horrible misogynist but we can just overlook that for now. It's really depressing.

commieprincess
Oct 26 2013 06:47

FUCKING HELL.

Ramona, thanks for that and putting it much more elegantly.

Croydonian and Sometimes Explode, I normally really enjoy both your posts and I'm shocked at your responses. (Except I need to stop being shocked by this stuff because it just happens far too often.)

So what, SE, you think sexism is on the same level as vagueness in terms of critiquing someones ideas? And I'm not sure if this was directed at me, but pointing out sexism is the same as claiming to be some kind of moral guardian?

Croydonian, I am seeing sexism where really it's just ironic banter? I just don't understand the joke? Is this really what you're suggesting? I can't be arsed right now to pick back through the article for "evidence", but I do remember that every female throughout the article is mentioned either for her body or looks, or as a victim. The men mentioned in the article might have the piss taken out of them, but it's because of their ideas and/or actions. I'll re-read it later as I can't remember specific examples. But, just so you know, when someone is upset or pissed off about sexism, it's generally considered kind of dickish behaviour to tell them they just didn't understand a joke. And apologies if that sounds harsh, but I'm just bloody sick of dealing with this shit.

bastarx
Oct 26 2013 07:44

CA I think this is quite problematic:

Quote:
This is a truth we must confront if we want the next spontaneous expression of rage towards the status quo to be class conscious, organised, targeted and ultimately politically consequential. If not, it will manifest as it did in the riots of 2011 in the mass theft of consumer goods and wrecking our own communities resulting in imprisonment, repression and being labelled as apolitical thugs; equally condemned by the state and fellow working class people blindly succumbing to calls for draconian and reactionary measures, frenzied by a moral panic engineered by our oppressors.

What's wrong with the mass theft of consumer goods? And the places we live are neither ours nor communities.

Serge Forward
Oct 26 2013 09:26

I don't think that's at all problematic, unless you're an ultra-spontenaeist. While kicking off like in 2011 is not only understandable and has many positive aspects, there are the obvious downsides mentioned in the quote. But if we ever want to get anywhere as a class, we need to be organised, clued up and more politicised in terms of going beyond rebellion.

OneKlart
Oct 26 2013 11:11

I do remember that every female throughout the article is mentioned either for her body or looks, or as a victim.

In the first paragraph, he says

When I was asked to edit an issue of the New Statesman I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me. I chose the subject of revolution because the New Statesman is a political magazine and imagining the overthrow of the current political system is the only way I can be enthused about politics.

Much further down he writes:

The immigrant capacity to cause social negativity is pretty slender. Especially if you live in luxury in Hollywood and the only immigrants you meet are Gabby, my Mexican second mother, and Polo who looks after the garden. It probably seems more serious if you’re in a council flat in Tower Hamlets. Still the fact remains that an immigrant is just someone who used to be somewhere else. Free movement of global capital will necessitate the free movement of an affordable labour force to meet the demands that the free-moving capital has created. The wrath is directed to the symptom, not the problem.

These are the only mentions of women in the article. I don't see the victimisation. I see the mention for looks, in the very first sentence - a sentence which on its own would be ridiculously vacuous. However in the context of the paragraph, where the second sentence is quite shocking for a mainstream political publication, it makes comedic sense. It's part of a one-two to shock people at the start of the article.

It's even possible that he's taking the piss out of himself with this opening. A woman I know wrote on Facebook: "Wasn't he making a self-deprecating joke alluding to his own weakness to refuse an attractive woman? To me, this was how it sounded - making a mockery of himself rather than objectifying a woman."

However, it is definitely ill-judged, as loads of people are going to be offended by it regardless of whatever his intent was. I think what Musa Okwonga ahs to say about this is relevant.

OneKlart
Oct 26 2013 11:09

Good article, Croydonian.

Directly because of people I know on Facebook posting or talking about the Brand/Paxman interview, I have been able to introduce several people to the Anarchist FAQ. Working people, intelligent people, but people who would not under normal circumstances read or think about anarchism.

Everyone I posted that link to said they found it really interesting, one of my friends even posted "I think I'm an anarchist!".

As regards to his problematic casual sexism, another (female) Facebook contact wrote:

there's a lot to be said for getting him onside before tackling his sexism (which he documents himself in his memoir http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/nov/12/biography.mikeleigh ). He looks like he's on a journey, it would be great to welcome him and influence that journey positively rather than dismissing him because he's not yet 'on message' in every respect.

...which I think is sensible.

Croy
Oct 26 2013 12:35
commieprincess wrote:
Croydonian, I am seeing sexism where really it's just ironic banter? I just don't understand the joke? Is this really what you're suggesting? I can't be arsed right now to pick back through the article for "evidence", but I do remember that every female throughout the article is mentioned either for her body or looks, or as a victim. The men mentioned in the article might have the piss taken out of them, but it's because of their ideas and/or actions. I'll re-read it later as I can't remember specific examples. But, just so you know, when someone is upset or pissed off about sexism, it's generally considered kind of dickish behaviour to tell them they just didn't understand a joke. And apologies if that sounds harsh, but I'm just bloody sick of dealing with this shit.

I am sorry if I have offended you but honestly my interpretation of the jokes in that article sort of make sense to me and they are obviously different to yours and I don't think is alone a problematic thing. Perhaps my tone was not on point but honestly I just wanted to sort of say "well tbh i am interpreting it differently on these specific occasions" rather than pretend its ridiculous for some one to interpret it otherwise and act as if I wouldn't think his sexism was a problem, but like I said on that joke and article, I don't personally interpret anything he has said to be sexist. Of course him being sexist is a problem, but as I tried to make clear me writing the article and not mentioning it doesn't mean I don't care about it or think it's a problem. Of course it's a problem, but it is something we can address alongside the positive things he said in the conversation I believe his statements have started, or could start.

Croy
Oct 26 2013 12:43
bastarx wrote:
CA I think this is quite problematic:

Quote:
This is a truth we must confront if we want the next spontaneous expression of rage towards the status quo to be class conscious, organised, targeted and ultimately politically consequential. If not, it will manifest as it did in the riots of 2011 in the mass theft of consumer goods and wrecking our own communities resulting in imprisonment, repression and being labelled as apolitical thugs; equally condemned by the state and fellow working class people blindly succumbing to calls for draconian and reactionary measures, frenzied by a moral panic engineered by our oppressors.

What's wrong with the mass theft of consumer goods? And the places we live are neither ours nor communities.

A lot of people here seem to have assumed I have a moral problem with the looting because I used the word theft. This is not the case. I have no moral qualms about stealing consumer goods, the point I was trying to make was that the riots could have been a lot better if all the anger that it was spurred by had been directed at political targets rather than falling prey to our materialistic desires which have been engineered and shaped by the media etc.

The places we live may not be ours but they certainly are communities. This seems a really odd suggestion that is more reminiscent of the atomised liberal society with everyone just acting in their self interest and their self interest alone that our enemies would want. If they weren't communities, how has any solidarity or actions ever been possible around say, the closure of local hospitals. Yes this pride in where you live can often be nationalistic or including of the areas bosses, business owners, petty bourgeois etc but it can also be really useful and good, mostly because there is a often un spoken notion of working class spirit underneath it.

sometimes explode
Oct 26 2013 12:46
commieprincess wrote:
So what, SE, you think sexism is on the same level as vagueness in terms of critiquing someones ideas? And I'm not sure if this was directed at me, but pointing out sexism is the same as claiming to be some kind of moral guardian?

Of course not. Pointing out sexism is obviously important and it's obviously not on a par with conceptual vagueness. I'm probably expressing myself poorly, but what I'm trying to get at is the that

yes RB is a misogynist; yes he is a millionaire even if from a working class background; yes he is part of the spectacle; no he isn't going to ensure revolution over night.

All the critiques, including the feminist critique, are perfectly accurate and true.

That is the critique at the level of content.

There isn't just one level at work in this though.

Brand is a celebrity- we can't pretend celebrities don't have a massive psychodramatic potency over the minds of their fans, and of the broader culture around them. There is a psychodramatic effect here that neither moral nor political critique alone can understand.

Brand is part of the spectacle that turned against the spectacle- is this the recuperation of dissent? No. If it were recuperation the word "revolution" would never have been uttered. There is something that is absolutely significant about the spectacle turning on itself like this. Somehow the spectacle became authentic- if only for a moment- and that is interesting and exciting.

There is also the question of the singularity of RB's performance. Here was a working class voice* that expressed genuine rage about the way capital exists in antagonism to life. When you go around everyday carrying that rage inside you, to see it expressed on television, to have an experience of affective resonance so that it feels like your rage is being shouted into Paxman's face, so that it feels like you are shouting in Paxman's face.......that is deeply felt and deeply important. At least it was for me.

The critiques of Russell Brand the man- yes, absolutely, I agree 100%. But these critiques don't touch Russell Brand's performance as a symptom of something strange happening to the spectacle itself. They don't touch the completely impersonal transmission of affect- the rage that isn't contained in any one body and so doesn't belong to any one person.

So my post is more about making the critiques and moving on to analyse these other aspects of what's happening. And I want to be clear, because I've been involved in a couple debates about this on Twitter as well (admittedly some of that being to do with my lack of care with my wording). I'm not advocating for Russell Brand as a revolutionary, I'm not affirming Russell Brand as a good man, I am suggesting this is evidence that mass radicalism is around the corner.

I'm just not going to reject the importance of his performance on that basis.

I don't know if any of this makes my position any clearer, or if it's just more evidence that I'm missing the point... if I am missing the point, then it isn't wilfully.

* whether or not he's actually working class doesn't matter now- the psychology of accent has its effects regardless

Spikymike
Oct 26 2013 13:01

I tend to agree with Malva on the political content of Brand's interview but also a bit with mikail on the emotional impact of the interview which, despite my general dislike for the guy, did strike a chord with me given the usual blandness of Paxman's efforts on the BBC. But the fact that we can get at all excited about this episode and the claimed opportunities which this opens up for anarchists and communists in casual conversations with people when we, and most of our fellow workers, have so demonstrably failed to effectively respond to the current economic and social crisis, up to and including Grangemouth, is frankly just sad - a sign of our weakness and a false belief in the significance of both media debates and the milieu's puny efforts at propaganda.