I had some hopes for this book. Russell Brand and I are superficially alike. That is to say, we both have long tangled hair and a tendency to stand up for justice rather than kowtowing to authority.

However, the revolution that Brand proposes is perhaps-unalterably bound up in a movement towards a religiously-inspired spiritualism. Brand would argue that that is the point. They need to be connected together.

He opens the book with a prayer and talks about his belief in god. Which god you ask? Doesn’t matter. Brand seems to accept all the contradictory claims of various religions as true. But what does that matter when you believe that science cannot explain everything. Especially Consciousness. I’ll be writing to Dan Dennett for my money back then.

Some of the claims drift into the beyond ridiculous. Whether or not you think that the entire working class is being oppressed and knowledge of other alternatives is being carefully controlled and discredited, a group of people doing mediation does not drop a city’s crime rate by 20%. I couldn’t even find the study that Brand was referencing, but you do not need to know that it does not make sense.

That’s the bad stuff though. There is also lots of good stuff in the book.

He writes in an engaging style. It’s entertaining, it slips in and out of poetry and moves seamlessly between the fun and the serious. It is self-aware enough to realise that many will regard Brand as a champagne socialist.

Some of which is contentious. For example, he claims that the US election has been won by the side with the most money. He points out that isn’t claiming this always has happens. It is just that it has happened every time ever so far. Thought provoking, though you could argue that the side with the most support should be able to raise the most money.

Other points are less contentious. Wealth inequality is increasing. We are severely damaging the planet. The currently democratic process fails to engage people. We all know this he states again and again. And we do. That is to say, most people would accept these ideas (though not all). Few would argue that 85 individuals should have the same net worth as 3,500,000,000 others.

Every election we discuss low voter turn-out. People don’t seem to care. Except clearly, people do care about democracy in general. The nation phones into premium rate lines to vote for X-Factor every week. Even I voted in Eurovision. It’s the current political system, a feeling that they have no voice and no power that people are disenfranchised with.

Whether his socialist utopia will work is another question. His experiences with the Buy Love Here project does not bode well, nor does the evidence that human nature is rather unpleasant.

However, at worst you can argue that Brand becomes the reductio ad absurdum to his own ideas. That does not mean he doesn’t have a point.




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This entry was posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 at 11:37 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.