book review · capitalism · politics · revolution · russell brand · wealth

Revolution – Russell Brand (review)

I finally got round to reading Russell Brand’s ‘Revolution’ recently. I had heard mixed reviews and had my doubts because of this. A lot of people were sceptical about Brand’s seemingly sudden interest in politics and the associated activism. I completely understand where this comes from but ultimately, Brand’s messages about politics are well thought out and interesting.

The book looks at our current political system, its flaws and the possibility of revolution. I have been full of anger against the current political system for a long time. But, I have also been left feeling like nothing will ever change. Reading this gave me a little bit of hope for the future. Brand acknowledges the difficulties, the chaos that may come from a revolution. However, it appears that it would all be worth it in the long run.

“Do we ditch capitalism or the planet? We can’t have both.”

Primarily, ‘Revolution’ looks at possible alternatives for the current systems in place. As Brand repeats, the system wants everyone to think that there are no alternatives that could possibly work. This benefits them, they stay in power and remain stupidly wealthy. Brand highlights several alternatives in a fair amount of detail. For example, there are millions of people living in poverty whilst there are people with excess resources. In a fair society, we would not leave people in poverty knowing that the rescources were available for them. If we were to put more limits on big businesses then the rich/poor divide would stop expanding so quickly. Brand also discusses the importance of making food and farming more localised again. It would be perfectly possible for the world to be fed if this were the case, the food industry as it stands is unecessary.

At times, his writing is extremely verbose and therefore, difficult to understand. Thankfully though, Brand does take time to explain some things in more simple terms. I like this in books about politics. One of the reasons so many people avoid politics talk is because they feel like they do not understand enough, it feels beyond them. Unlike many political commentaries, ‘Revolution’ feels more accessible to the everyday person. You do not need to be incredibly well read to understand the basics that Brand is talking about.

There is a lot of focus on the wealthy. Brand discusses the clear ridiculousness of all these billion and millionaires existing when there are so many people living in poverty. It is obviously unfair. Brand explains that “the richest 1 per cent of British people have as much as the poorest 55 per cent.” Knowing facts like this makes me incredibly angry and it should make you angry too. All of this also gives a very good reason for those in power to keep things as they are. They get to stay rich and powerful so fuck the rest of us. You might be thinking that Brand cannot comment when it comes to money because of his status, he acknowledges this. He is one of few rich people who would be willing to give up some of his obscene amount of money if it led to a more equal society. Brand recognises his privileged position.

For me, there was a bit too much rambling about spirituality but I can see where Brand is coming from with his writing on this. It also really made me want to try meditation! Brand also relates a lot of issues to his drug addiction. On the surface, this might seem to be a load of drivel but it is actually really interesting and makes a lot of sense. He explains that his recovery would not have been possible without other compassionate people around helping and encouraging him to keep going. We need this in society, compassion and community.

“government, transnational corporations and the media cooperate to advance and maintain an agenda that is detrimental to the majority of us and the planet.”

Essentially, Russell Brand might seem like a bit of a twat but he knows what he is talking about. He is clearly well read on the subject and unlike many academics, he makes his writings accessible to people outside of the Oxford educated. If you have any interest in politics and more importantly, changing the current system, I would recommend reading this. If anything, it has a lot of information from other economists, sociologists and such which can lead to further reading.

“The system that exploits us cannot function without us – without our labour, without our compliance, without our consent.”

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