Russell's Brand is stupid

If you’ve not seen Russell Brand perform his creditable sort of comedy live, what you have missed most is not dazzling jokes but the glow of pure celebrity. When viewed in the flesh, his is clearly one of those luminous persons celebrated for reasons as rare and real as they are ineffable. You could take a stab, of course, and say that this slight beast honed by extreme yoga suggests to his broad and young audience an answer to desire as decisive as it is unclean. In other words, he’s the sort of bloke you suspect of being able to sweet-talk his way into any and all of your orifices. Which is nice.

But Russell has begun, first in the New Statesman last October, to sweet-talk his aroused army into anti-politics. And now it seems the man who declares that he has never voted and urges his sex-cadre to follow suit will run on an anti-politics ticket to take on the gig of retiring London Mayor Boris Johnson.

An old grump could easily object to the sale of political detachment through sex. Laudable old grump John Lydon, nee Rotten, recently did and said “you do have to vote. You do have to make a change”. I am also an old grump, but I don’t know if Brand, likely to be absorbed into any number of pursuits from celebrity marriage to dharma wheel practice to infomercials between now and the 2016 mayoral election, makes enough of a difference for us to worry about.

That celebrities can ever really sell us anything other than merchandise and tickets is in doubt. There is a broad view that celebrities are important moral leaders, and this is why media outlets celebrate their good behaviour and mourn their bad. The internet spent the last week, for example, discussing the responsibilities of actress Renee Zellweger to cosmetic surgeons and all the women of the world. As though one mildly altered face and its reception could save a gender from millennia of physical abasement. This is a sort of buoyant pessimism that holds that people are as easily redeemed by stars as a Catholic by confessional. And that we are such a shitty species that celebrity morality and thinking is something by which we should be led.

Fucking seriously. The more we insist that celebrities can change the world by moral example, the more we endorse this terrible possibility. I do hope not to live long enough to see that the people we peculiarly call “role models” actually have a real-world impact.

The “news” industry now so fixated on celebrity as meaningful and moral currently doesn’t change a thing. Well, other than to speed the death of faith in journalism. People like Brand, so manifestly part of the orthodox entertainment industry, can never really provoke a change. But they can reflect one.

Brand is hardly the first to reflect anti-politics. It’s long had a place in politics itself. Although young fans of the hypersexual “radical” might not care to entertain the thought, Brand’s anti-political appeal has less in common with, say, The Pirate Party than it does to Pauline Hanson. Like Lambie, Palmer, Katter and other minor party or independent locals who rose to power on a platform of detachment from the political process, the shiny-eyed Brand is accumulating his cultural capital based on the appearance of a deep, and likely genuine, distrust of the political process.

His naivete is real, and when he says, “I can’t get my head around economics”, I believe him. This real ignorance sets him apart of course from the false ignorance of Clive Palmer, who has done a bang-up job of appearing to hate politics despite his long fascination for it. But otherwise, Brand is indistinguishable, save for a few cosmetic differences, from Jacqui Lambie. Even his sexy shtick is a little like the woman who has talked, while in office, of her admiration for men who are “well hung”.

Lambie, like Brand, makes no effort despite her new privilege to “get her head around economics” and understand the mechanics of capital, which has more of an effect on our lives than any other system. And this includes, of course, the good and bad morals of celebrities.

There is nothing to stop Lambie or Brand from asking people who do know about market controls to explain a thing or two. But the understanding is useless to the assembly of their power because who is going to listen to a speech on demand-side economics? No one is who.

Late in her term as prime minister, Julia Gillard gave an excellent speech on the deficit and monetary policy. It’s an instructive guide to former treasurer Wayne Swan’s Keynesian techniques and as a document of just political intention, it poops all over her famous “misogyny” speech. But the anti-political misogyny speech, which talked of the prime minister’s own experience and not at all of her hopes for the nation, is the one for which she is remembered and the one for which she got a spike in the polls.

Politicians have known for a while what Brand is just discovering. Talking about ideas like love, human connection and hurt feelings gets you noticed. Talking about economic cycles is something you only do when you’re pretty sure you’re going to be ousted by Kevin Rudd.

It’s peculiar that Brand, and Lambie, are seen as “real” while Gillard, the numbers nerd, is dismissed as a boring out-of-touch politician when she talks about the most real thing in the world: an economics she had managed to get her head around. For mine, Gillard became “the Real Julia” when she explained the deficit strategy to a nation. She was a fake Julia playing to the emotions of an imaginary everywoman on the day she tut-tutted at Tony Abbott for picking on her.

Anti-politics is as real as the real Julia, and data from the Australian Electoral Commission bears this out indicating that three million Australians did not vote in recent federal elections. In a June study, the Lowy Institute showed the high and rising ambivalence of Australians toward the very idea of democracy. When asked to choose between a strong democracy and a strong economy, more than 50% chose the former. Perhaps this is why politicians, especially the overtly anti-political kind like Palmer, choose not to talk about the economy in anything other than the crudest of terms. People don’t want politicians, but they do want strong economies. Even if they can’t be bothered to get their heads around them.

And this is Brand’s great failing. It is not so much that he feels detachment from politics — that’s a valid impatience. It is that he thinks that we should abandon political control of economies. Like those powers haven’t withered away in any case.

Whether, like Palmer, one’s shtick about “all politicians but me are crooks” is strategic or, like Brand or Lambie, one’s view of political control is the product of authentic stupidity, it’s a dangerous game to believe the world as it is would be better without what remains of economic political management. You can stop voting, sure. You can vote for defiantly ignorant anti-politicians who can’t get their heads around their core business of collecting and distributing revenues. But what you can’t do with this sort of tantrum is take a look at the material conditions in which we are doomed to live. Love and infant-Marxism and quasi-Buddhism aren’t going to save us from increasing poverty. But Brand believes, like so many on both sides of politics do these days, that good feeling and a market freed from constraint will save the world.

Lambie says compassion for the men and women of the armed forces and “real Australians” will make a difference. Brand is really not saying anything that different when he asks for compassion of a more tie-dyed and acceptably progressive order. They’re both asking for us to abandon authority of any kind and allowing compassion to lead.

People like Lambie and Brand who believe in a more just world mean well. But they do not think well and when they hold a mirror up to the world and ask it to have a long hard look at itself; they are so dazzled by compassion, they cannot see the world is blind.

The world is blind and deaf to the matter of compassion because the world as we have built is not human. It is bigger than us and bigger than the individuals we indolently blame for its injustice. The world is a machine now so large and complex that it cannot respond to compassion. I can’t see compassion fixing climate change. That’s a matter for totalitarian control. That is a matter for absolute politics. Just being nice is not going to stop global warming. Which is why we’re probably going to have to rely on the not-nice Chinese authorities to do something more than wring their hands at polite conferences if we’re all to avoid being boiled.

This is not an argument for absolute politics. It is, however, an argument for politics which must survive to the degree it can be radically reshaped.

Even if he did get his head around economics, Brand will not reshape the political future. Celebrities don’t, and thank god for that. All they can do, and what they must do if they are to be as well known as Brand, is take our crude suspicions about good and evil and give them a voice. Like Lambie, he is selling our fear right back to us.  Even if he doesn’t last the distance to the mayoral elections, he’ll at least amass himself a pension with this posturing that’s every bit as good as a politician’s.

85 responses to “Russell's Brand is stupid

  1. Helen Razors thoughts are now washed up and in serious need of self reflection.

    A TIP: Please try to start entering into intelligent discussion with others. Your thoughts are far too uninformed, authoritarian, onesided and subjective.

  2. This ruddy piece doesn’t even attempt to justify its conflation of “anti-politics” with a critique of parliamentary politics, which is the thrust of Russell Brand’s argument.

    Perhaps the reason Gillard was dismissed by many Australians as “boring” and “out of touch” was not because she talks about ~hard numbers~, but because she fully identified with the neoliberalism that the parliamentary labor party has surrendered itself to?

  3. Mmmm..the article sounds like something that someone from a tax exempt foundation was ordered to write. I like Russell the anarchist persona but something just doesn’t add up to me. I know how painstakingly Bill Hicks and George Carlin worked on their scripts to get a rapid fire vicious commentary on the powers that be and they could never download as logically and consistently as does Russell.. According to Carlin he agonized over sentences for months. Yet this guy apparently, as if by magic, seems able to peel off monologues and public soliloqys at will. He’s either unbelievably bright or immaculately scripted and if he’s scripted he has been subjected to mind control to be able to absorb those 250 word commentaries and to reel them off on cue.

    Russell had ten years missing in a “black hole” post every drug in the universe. It may well have been a real black hole and that makes me wonder – is this real or is it just a ride! I think the whole deal is highly suss. No one lets anarchists systematically dismantle the official narrative on every TV show across the Anglosphere unless there is some other agenda at play. I mean Ron Paul cannot get three minutes in a one hour presidential candidate debate… I hope someone proves me wrong because his script is right on piste with the anarchy set. Probably written by the guy with a pod of R’s in the middle of his name.
    I wish he were true but I think he may be a shill sadly.

  4. Brand admitted numerous times that his task is not to design the revolution himself, but to work as a megaphone for all those alternative local realities that are trying to cope with destructive neo-liberal system.

    The journalist calls it anti-politics, while she really doesn’t see that, after destroying effective democracy and the social state, these local alternatives are the only political realities that might suggest us a way out.

    Plus, in history, countless times a ‘celebrity’ has made politics, sometimes in a commendable way.

  5. Articles like this are rarely worthy of response, but this one is so shallow as to be patronising. The mainstream media have a vested interest in the continued evolvement of economics towards protection of the very rich and very little for the rest of us. But you’d think alternative media might at least take a listen to someone who’s talking about a complete paradigm shift in the way we see economics work, and what needs to be done before so many people tip into poverty that there is, indeed, an uprising of world proportions. I’d think too the conservatives would also want the working poor to be somewhat mollified, lest revolution come along and take all their riches away. Blowing Brand off as a celebrity nuff nuff is a way of mocking him and devaluing anything he says. Bring it on, because the more that is done, the more young unhappy people will listen to him. And that’s what we really need. A multitude of voices to create a better world order than the one which is looming in front of us now.

  6. I’d have to agree with the many comments pointing out the obvious – that Brand is highly intelligent and his views, while contentious (and I disagree with much of what he says), should be taken seriously. To dismiss him as a charming airhead suitable only for the bedroom and as eye candy is not only offensive, it’s just plain dumb.

    Time for you to get your own column in The Australian, Helen. They’re very well paid there and, going by your work over the last year, I think you’ll fit right in.

  7. Comparing Russell Brand to Jacqui Lambie is absurd. And bing a ‘celebrity’ (which is just a label we give people) and being a potential agent of positive change are not mutually exclusive. We do give too much air time to idiot ‘celebrities’, but Russel Brand is not one of them.

    1. Wow- what a lot of vitriol- obviously timely subject matter and well pitched Ms Razer. The gulf between ‘straight’ economics and the growing populist distaste for the corporatist state is a palpable thing. I have sympathy for your exasperation with Russell’s brand – and the fundamental importance of economics in the political discourse.It must be said that current economic orthodoxy and the consequent allowable parameters of discussion, don’t address the fundamenntal and mathematically certain, inequity of capital vs wage growth eloquently and validly described by economist Tomas Picketty. This is key to our future. The corporatist manipulation of free market ideology and the exponential centralisation of capital and power, as described by John Ralston Saul and others; academically rigorous but not discussed in the mainstrean, again outside the accepted discourse. This is the true source of the collective exasperation, and it aint going to go away.

  8. ‘People like Brand, so manifestly part of the orthodox entertainment industry, can never really provoke a change.’

    Provoke as you might Ms Razer, so manifestly part of the orthodox media industry, change will not come in your wake.

  9. It’s easy to postulate opinions on who does or does not measure up to standard when we decide who should have a voice. The cult of celebrity is no more or less meaningful as the readily accepted meaningfulness of political voice. The time is paid for, the opinions reflect a price tag and the end result is ‘ratings’. If that is the paradigm we have build for ourselves then let’s open the doors of the free market on opinions and see what audiences gravitate towards. Whether it is extreme right, extreme left or the extremely homogenised and asinine bleating of a contrived and corporate central space, it is the thinnest parts of the bell curve where we derive the colour and creativity that informs and challenges the deepest part of our psyche. Therein lay the seeds of change. Who cares which mouth built the bridge of words. Let’s use that bridge to compel change and to drive our species towards meaning.

  10. You completely missed Brand’s point. You have overestimated Brand in order to underestimate him. All that Brand wants is that mass people think consciously to become more aware of the service politicians are supposed to deliver to common people. He has used his celebrity status to reach people. And you are saying that is bad! really?! Also you have used a very cheap-shot microscope to put Russell under “celebrity” paradigm. There is a difference between celebrity by which we understand ‘multi-billioniare” Simon Cowell and Russell Brand. I could go on but it is a waste of time because your unintelligent, cheap and uncritical Daily Mail or Sun type headline proves Russel Brand is anything but stupid and if here is any stupid, that is you.

  11. Aren’t you also a celebrity of sorts, Helen Razer? Why should we listen to you over Russell Brand?
    For the record, I think the both of you have a lot intelligent to say, but I think when it comes down to it, Russell is there with us on the front lines, even if his social status affords him more protection. He attempts to be selfless in an environment that would otherwise coddle him. He admits to his mistakes, he seeks change, and he rejects the privilege he previously sought after. That does not seem like someone who is stupid, or at least any more stupid than the rest of us.

    1. Also, who cares if he votes, here in Australia we have no understanding of British politics. He does not refuse to vote on principle, he refuses to vote for anyone who is less than satisfactory, and apparently that is what he sees. I’d love to have a discussion with him, but I won’t presume to sit back and treat him like an idiot for his views when he continuously demonstrates that he is not, in fact, stupid.

  12. To be fair to Brand, I think you’ve verballed him Helen. He didn’t advocate not voting. He advocates carefully assessing whether there is any party that reflects your views. If not, then don’t vote of a party which doesn’t. To me this suggests the opposite of what he has been accused of. He’s advocating for more engagement with the political process.

    And let us not be in any doubt that our political process has been hijacked by corporate interests; that the state is a shell where as the real decision-making power is smuggled through the back-door into the hands of a global corporate elite, the political class seek to both disguise the process and declare their their impotence with debates about trivialities and personalities. Globally, there is a inflection-point coming and Brand may not have the answers but he certainly correctly highlights the malaise, the powerless and the anxiety that we’re feeling.

  13. So why are you doing a con job on Brand. Agreed that he is not the most intelligent agent for change. But the coincidence of rubbishing his non voting stance (and he can’t be charged by the VEC “cos he aint here in Oz) and the desperation of the Electoral commission to get people registered for voting is a little obvious. Even Centrelink assists the commission by violating the privacy of pensioners and giving addresses to the commission. So spying on Australians is well established in both State and Federal government over something that is nothing to do with “security”.

    Anyone voting in this coming Victorian election could be brand(ed) an idiot and the road to hell is signposted by those who know the way. Russel Brand is right – voting for them only gives consent to their madness.

  14. What’s your beef with Brand? What he’s doing now is more “fighting the good fight” than anything you’ve written; personally I find him sincere, and I’ll be surprised if he gives up on his efforts to change politics.

    And if you think that politics starts or ends with the ballot box then you’re really not qualified to talk about it.

  15. “Late in her term as prime minister, Julia Gillard gave an excellent speech on the deficit and monetary policy.”

    Actually no, she didn’t. She’s an example of the so-called progressive side of the political spectrum abrogating the economic debate to the Right, who while proclaiming the mastery of the subject, are as the GFC and the continuing crisis in Europe demonstrate, pig-ignorant of the fundamentals.

    I would suggest looking up Economist Bill Mitchell on why our entire political class are wrong but first you need to get your head around the fact that the Australian federal government, as a sovereign currency issuer can no more run out of money than the MCG run out of points on the scoreboard. As a sovereign currency issuer it necessarily needs to spend in order to issue currency into the private sector, it doesn’t need to borrow from the bond-markets (a redundant legacy from when the currency was pegged to the gold standard exploited by the right who erroneously conflate morality and fiscal rectitude, to hobble the capacity of government to work in the interests of those it represents, ), that taxation consequently doesn’t fund spending at the federal level and that public sector ‘debt’ equates to private sector savings as a matter of accounting.

  16. Wow, Helen, did you do any actual research or fact-checking for this article? Brand never said he was running for Mayor; in fact, his latest ep of The Trews (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOBR0KTMU8c&list=UUswH8ovgUp5Bdg-0_JTYFNw) discusses the very rumour (you may also like his piece on the Zellweger fiasco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvFAkKPi2UE&index=2&list=UUswH8ovgUp5Bdg-0_JTYFNw). Have you read his book? Watched his YouTube channel? Do you have any idea of what his ideas actually are? What a lazy, vindictive piece of writing.

  17. In your opinion… lucky for us ‘in a democracy’ we dont have to swallow the crap you self righteous journos stuff down our necks… you clearly miss the point of Brand..clearly he has ruffled your precious little feathers, got you all hot under the collar & now you can’t think straight.. lol.. haters gonna hate, losers gonna lose.. and shit journos gonna write shit .. worst article ever on crikey.com.au written from envy & emotion as opposed to fact.. admit it.. you want his dick..

  18. I don’t usually comment on this type of things, but this is a really poor article.

    Clearly badly researched (!), makes no valid points and casts the writer as someone who has given up on the world anyway. The comparisons made are a laughable – have you read Brand’s writing and read about the UK social landscape he’s standing for or just copied hearsay articles from other publications and retro-fitted them to Australian issues?

  19. I think a lot of what Russell Brand has to say resonates with so many people (check his YouTube hits) because they are true. People are sick of greedy politicians serving their corporate masters and the increasing gap between rIch and poor. The fact we’re destroying our world and doing nothing about it. The fact everything revolves around profit at the expenses of everything else.
    He has hopes and dreams that there could be another way like many of us do and while I don’t agree with everything he says he’s certainly more interesting to listen to than almost all of our truth dodging slight of hand politicians.
    Branding him (no pun intended) as just a celebrity is trying to belittle him and the serious message he is trying to give out which is generally one worth listening to in my view famous or not famous.

  20. I’ve been unhappy with a lot of Razer’s columns recently but this is just the worst. Just a long line of media tricks and contortions that add up to nothing in the end but a desire to shock while hiding immature writing. If I wanted that I’d buy comics. Goodbye Razer’s, goodbye Daily Review.

  21. Celebrity politicians are about as credible as celebrity columnists, and as equally likely to leave any sort of
    mark – good or bad – on society.

  22. Dear helen.
    Your entire generation have been in a delusion since the 1980s. All of your neolibral and Keynesian econo ic theories were a massive lie and have failed miserably. Swan and gillard were as austere as the liberals.
    Brand argues for true democracy, and has interviewed anarchists, Marxists, soldiers, politicians and even Thomas piketty, who is far from radical. not your pathetic facade, youve been so proud of wince the seventies, riding high on your bullshit civil rights campaigns.
    No one believes in either labor the liberals bcause of massive inequality and political disenfranchisement. It will not change, well sooner be fascist, due to the complete collapsof your and yes it’s YOUR econo ic system.
    Stop knocking a working class man who refuses to bow down to your useless “social democratic well stab you and smile” crikey shit. Were not buying it anymore.
    You and the oldies at the Australian are the same. You all back the state and concentrated power and debate meaningless nonsense no one cares about. You keep within narrow confines and give false hope, while bashing people who actually demand better. Don’t pretend your an independent moralistic writer, you
    aren’t. Your as naive as the pseudo hippie mindset of which you come.

  23. Brand has already said he isn’t running for mayor. This is old news now. Get with it.

    And I’d rather brand in a position of power over all the muppets in govt at the moment.

  24. Brand may be an idealistic visionary of leftist moralism but at least he is aware of the extent of our predicament, Helen. Our problem today is not simply climate change – climate change is part of a general inertia of the impact of globalisation and industrialisation, which ultimately comes out of the capitalist system we toil under.

    His ‘voting is meaningless’ anti-politics is rightly politics in itself, but aside from the obvious naivetie of this position it is fundamentally correct: there’s almost no point in voting anymore because what wins at the end of the day is always capital. Sure there may be some social democratic policy that can be pushed but these policies can (and if our current ideological trajectory is any indication, will) be scrapped and sabotaged by those with the power to do so.

    We need big, radical political change and this has to be global and systemic. At least Brand realises this.

  25. “Even if he did get his head around economics, Brand will not reshape the political future. Celebrities don’t, and thank god for that.”

    I have one word for you

    “Reaganomics”

  26. Did you read his manifesto (latest book) or did you just rely on grabs from recent interviews? I think the latter. Which makes you as uninformed and shallow as you claim Brand to be.

  27. To be perfectly clear, the assumption that Brand’s idea of politics/revolution, and therefore his candidacy for London Mayor, is superficial or meaningless because he lacks a mastery of current economics is to completely miss the point. Anyone who has seriously listened to Russell speak over the last few years – or who has lived in the world observing things with an open, rational and compassionate mind – would be well aware that the primary reason for the plethora of problems our society is faced with IS the current economic system. It is fatally flawed and maintains the rich and powerful and those with vested interests while the rest suffer horribly in abject poverty, or else (like most of us in Australia) are drip fed just enough of the good stuff to not give a shit, either way. I would argue that he is not anti-politic so much as anti-the current structures that see the vast majority of the world’s wealth controlled by a tiny minority. Whether meaningful change, in the form of governance that distributes wealth equitably, will ever be possible before catastrophic wars/climate change/disease decimate the global population, who knows? But the fact that the current economic system (which governs all politics – Mining tax, anyone?) is broken and needs a fundamental overhaul cannot be disputed. The problem is coming up with a solution that doesn’t involve the afore mentioned pestilence. While he has articulated the problems and the need for revolution with devastating clarity on many occasions, he has (justifiably) copped a lot of flak from commentators for not offering any real solutions. The common refrain is that “Brand is all talk” and to a certain extent, they are right. So, I applaud Russell for actually taking this small but meaningful step towards being accountable for the change he advocates. I don’t know if Russell will be able to affect anything, even if he was to become mayor, and I’m worried that a man with such self-confessed narcissism and addictive tendencies may become lost from a cause that many people, including myself, truly believe he is one of the few people capable of championing on a large enough scale. There is no question that Russell is one of the most intelligent, and charismatic personalities alive today. His speed of thought and eloquence are simply mind boggling (to knock him for using so many fancy words is either ignorance or jealousy) and he is channelling that into something really positive to plant the seed of change in a new generation (or at least his sex cadre) who are starting to comprehend the shit-storm of a world they are about to inherit. You say “The world is a machine now so large and complex that it cannot respond to compassion”. Firstly, this is exactly Russell’s point, we have become blind to compassion and instead value money and possessions to the detriment of our own existence. Secondly, if that truly is the case then let’s all fuck off and die because we have clearly reached the point of no return… The systems that have been in place for millennia have become bigger than us but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. Whether change can be affected remains to be seen but good on the bloke for trying. Haters gon’ hate.
    Lastly, Razer, the superficial title sums up your complete lack of authority to make valued judgements on this issue: ‘Russell brand is stupid’ – Fucking seriously!

    1. 1) genitive. play on words
      2) Brand isn’t as stupid as he’s ignorant. and recalcitrant.
      3) Now, your quote: “…IS the current economic system. It is fatally flawed and maintains the rich and powerful and those with vested interests while the rest suffer horribly in abject poverty…”

      Take a reality check: The world has always been about maintaining the rich – and in 2014, the rich, by definition is YOU – who has clean water and internet access. Well, you should stop enjoying your success and give it all away then.

      BUT – in reality the world population, on average, is living in the BEST – yes, BEST conditions ever in history.

      Is there still poverty? Yes! Is there more work to do? Hell yes. Are there qualified people working on the problem? Yes, but you want to “get rid” of them.

      Are there a bunch of ignoramuses trying to fix a problem (rich getting richer) since the beginning of time – but with no education and NO SOLUTION on how to fix it? Yes. That is Brand and his entourage. And that is what you are effectively arguing for.

      Stop for a moment and THINK. Educate yourself and come up with real solutions. Not: “Revolution will come”- which is code for “kill them all and let us eat cake”.

      When you have no real solution you’re really saying that eliminating (killing/jailing) the rich and getting their wealth is the “right” means of redistribution. Even if that’s not your intention, that’s been the default mode of “fixing the system” since the dawn of civilisation if you’re crying so hard to hit the reset button.

      If so, that’s just sheep talk. Sheep with sharp teeth.

      1. 1) yep, I missed it. Doh. but it doesn’t make the title any less superficial.
        2) Ignorant? of what? and is being recalcitrant supposed to count against him? change is sometimes only affected by recalcitrance – where would the civil rights movement be without Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and co?
        3) “The world has always been about maintaining the rich – and in 2014, the rich, by definition is YOU”. No shit, read my comment again. And who said anything about giving it all away or killing and jailing the rich? This isn’t about a money grab from (obscenely) wealthy individuals so it can be flung out of a rickshaw in the slums of Mumbai. It’s about creating a structure that is not geared towards perpetual growth.

        I’m not disputing that these may be “the BEST conditions in history” but for some reason it brings to mind this Monty Python line: “OK, OK but, apart from the aquaduct, sanitation, roads, law and order, education and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?!”. We are in bed with the devil and it’s nice and warm (for some). But we need to snap out of it collectively.

        This debate (I say debate because there ARE solutions out there but one size won’t fit all and not enough people are talking about the alternatives) isn’t a flippant call for change – It is necessary for life (I don’t just include humans in that category) to avoid annihilation.

        Exponential growth fuelled by greed and enabled by (long) established structures is unsustainable. We are rapidly running out of space and resources. It may not be our generation, or the next, but if the trajectory of growth remains exponential there will be a collapse. And talking about it is the very least we should be doing.

  28. Anybody who has ever heard Russell Brand on a talk show, on his own shows or being interviewed would have to be deaf and blind to say that he is either an idiot or stupid – he is clearly very intelligent, articulate, passionate, quick-witted, considerate, honest and well-informed about a broad number of subjects – all traits which are sadly lacking in most of our politicians.
    For the author to compare him to Lambie is like comparing Gandhi with Hitler. Prepostrous and ridiculous!

    1. Seriously Gandhi/Hitler Vs Brand/Lambie ? bit over the top
      although I agree with your opinion of Russell Brand. I used to think he was a waste of space but then saw a couple of interviews and realised I was judging a book by its cover. easy to do, witness Helens article

  29. The subject appears to be about celebrity politics and, as appears obvious, those with the highest profile are the confused choice when an understanding of the value of the Democratic process (your vote in this case) is not seen as having a connection to your future in that said Democracy. I am running as an Independent with no profile in the State seat of Prahran on the simple ideal that your vote for me will get you, the voter, educated on all facets of the Legislative and Constitutional system so that all can be aware of the choices for the future.

  30. I’m surprised at the tenor of this article. Do you really see a difference between the Labor and Liberal parties? Surely, as Ralph Nader said of the Republicans and Democrats, the only real difference is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporate interests enter the room.
    Russell Brand’s call for a revolution is naive, sure, but he has come to the same conclusion as most of the serious thinkers of late modernity (Zizek, Badiou, Jamieson, etc): namely, the current state of affairs is becoming impossible. No one has a solution yet, certainly not Brand. But if we don’t give the problem its due soon – whoops, Apocalypse.

  31. Nice piece, Helen. I like your take on Julia, especially. Totally agree about Brand. What a smug and childish know-nothing. Utterly depressing that so many take him seriously. Then again, what to say about those who take Tony Abbot seriously? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know any more about economics than Brand and I’ve got doubts about Bill as well. Our problem is that we have a generation of empty politicians. We turn to people who wear their uselessness on their sleeves in preference to those who try and hide it behind lying spin. (Woe is us.)

  32. Utter garbage Razer. You’re dismissing someone’s opinion because of their so-called celebrity. I may not agree with everything Brand stands for either, but I’ll defend his right to say it. You may not think much of the man and that’s your opinion, but as Harry Callaghan stated so well, “Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody’s got one”

  33. I don’t think you have been following Brand enough to know what he thinks. Political control over the economy doesn’t really exist – Australia represents the last of the Keynesians, something we will not be able to afford because revenue is being off shored rapidly and in the last ten years the loss is comparable with our debt, haven’t heard Labor much on that one have we. The TPP is about to be signed – the democratic process in most countries is now dysfunctional. Sure people can vote – but there is little need to wrestle with the decision for any length of time. If you want the world to continue to corporatise vote for the major parties, if you want it done with a lil more Keynesian influence vote Labor, if you want more and are willing to be in conflict with the corporate world vote Green, an option Britain doesn’t really have. Meantime – if you want your quality of life and community maintained you better act locally and this is far more important than a vote, because eventually the corporate order is going to try to sell it out from underneath you, unless of course you have establishment connections. In the UK and US there are few Keynesians left and none in power- an economist like Piketty would never be allowed to appear in the Anglosphere establishment. Every time something radical comes along the media – even the would be independent – scoff and do there gate keeping job. Palmer is proof that money buys politics – people are busy with their lives, watch ISIS, Ebola – trust guys in suits and sell their future, voting isn’t participation – its mostly co-option. In a past era you may have known someone who knew a candidate, we are now detached millions voting for brands who need money, they have to earn that money – if a party comes along and says ‘lets publicly fund elections’ – the global corporate world are not going to be happy about that, u think they would allow that, Wake Up Helen.

  34. Given that we currently have a Prime Minister who has admitted he has no understanding of the economy, I don’t think Lambie or Brand seem so bad. At least they seem to be able to speak from the heart

  35. Spot on Razer, someone ask Humphrey B Bear if he’s going stump up for the next federal election. We wouldn’t notice a thing if he got up.

  36. Personally I don’t find Russell Brand particularly funny however some of what he has to say on contemporary politics and power relations is pretty valid. However he is dopey to even advocate refraining from voting. The status quo, the default position, is that the bastards win. If everyone simply takes their hand off the till, this is the end result. They long for your apathy. It’s a sponge for their disinformation.

    Progressive politics, and political change, are shoulder to the wheel, paper in the ballot box. Engagement, not the opposite. There is no other way in a liberal Western democracy.

  37. “When asked to choose between a strong democracy and a strong economy, more than 50% chose the former”.

    I think the point you are trying to make here is that “Only a small majority of the population (53%) choose ‘a good democracy’ over a ‘strong economy’”. Saying “more than 50%” makes it seem like a good thing when in fact, it isn’t.

    Plus your link to the Lowy Insititute study is broken.

  38. I m surprised That russel floats your boat to be honest Helen. To me he kind of looks like a hairy character from the nightmare before Christmas. I kind of think of him being sold as a sex symbol in the same way that skinnyfat guy from twilight was a few years back.

    Anyway, I do agee with you that Russell Brandt is a grandiloquent ridiculous wanker whose opinion should not sought after on any meaningful subject whatever. But surely I think this is self evident. Well it should be.

    David by all means, ask me about Keynes. However you might be more interested in scholler– black, cdo’s, leveraged buyouts and derivatives if you really want an understanding of modern financial mechanics and markets.

  39. True genius Razer. The unqualified celeb is no person to ask for street directions let alone societal directions. The comment about that suggests people are not better off then 40 years ago is just silly and 100% incorrect. Life expectancy, neonatal mortality, literavy all better. Sure there are plenty of people who are not well off, but the cyclical nature of the financial cycle is fickle and understood by no one completely. There are simply too many inputs and outputs.

    This doesn’t mean we should listen to fools, and Lambie is one. And is being used as a tool, a blunt one, by CP.

  40. I have always thought that most voters are swayed by what is easy to understand more than by what is abstruse yet vital. Witness Peter Reith, career ruined by the comparatively trivial misuse of a phone card rather than by lying to Parliament.

    1. “Trivial misuse of a phone card”. If I remember rightly, it was several thousand dollars. The sort of trivial oversight that will land you in jail if you take that amount of money from Centrelink.

      Not that I think it was a big deal, just making a comparison.

  41. I haven’t seen much of Brand and the little I’ve seen leads me to believe he relies on anti-establishment for his appeal and I doubt his tilt at office is serious.

    Lembie on the other hand is a senator and it is a disservice to her to put her in the same bracket as Brand who, lets face it, can say stupid things and get away with it.

    The attention Lambie has had indicates to me she’s not as dumb as this article states. I saw the Insiders episode when Cassidy asked his “gotcha” question, “Do you know what sharia law is?”. She struggled to answer and this is what the media focused on afterwards. But we all know what she meant and most of us agree with her. Yes, if the had the smooth style to be able to say on the spot that sharia law is marrying off 12 year old girls, men having up to 4 wives, people having hands chopped off for theft and women being stoned to death for adultery, she might have come out of the interview in better shape.

    Lambie speaks for a section of society that doesn’t sip lattes in Brunswick Street and the sneering inner urban elites are once again focusing on the superficial when writing off Lambie. She will get better.

    And who could give a discourse on supply side or Keynesian economics anyway? Not anyone I’ve met recently in Fitzroy, I can tell you.

    1. If stupid Jacquie Lambie actually knew that “sharia law is marrying off 12 year old girls, men having up to 4 wives, people having hands chopped off for theft and women being stoned to death for adultery”, she would have said it, it isn’t very hard to remember.

      Barry Cassidy gave her enough rope and she was “well hung”.

    2. “Lembie on the other hand is a senator and it is a disservice to her to put her in the same bracket as Brand ”

      Nonsense. Lambie and Brand appear to be as ignorant as one another. It is a sad reality today that holding a particular position is seen as equivalent to being knowledgeable about, having competence in and being worthy of that position. – It may well be true in some cases but it doesn’t necessarily follow that is.

      The fact is that it is *not* reasonable to opine on matters that you don’t understand, let alone have the ability to argue rationally. Doing so is generally acknowledged to be either ignorance or prejudice. In Lambie’s case, it is both. In Brandis’s, I suspect that he is ignorant but that his manager isn’t and this latest rant is simply aimed at publicising his newly released book.

      Lambie deserves no more respect for beng a senator than does Abbott for being Prime Minister. They are both bigoted and ignorant, as indeed are most, if not all, of the LNP Cabinet.

      It may be an old fashioned notion and one not consistent with our social conditioning, particularly that so beloved of our worst Prime Ministers, Menzies, Howard, and Abbott who all revere an anachronistic monarchy and the class privilege that goes with it, however respect is only due when it is earned. Title, position, status, should not confer it, only how you behave towards others and the World.

      Lambie and Brand fail equally dismally on that front. Neither deserves any respect.

    3. I agree to a point about the sneering at Lambie. Hopefully, though, she’s learned to have at least a basic grasp on subjects she soeaks out strongly ob.

    4. SO you say “that Lambie is a senator and it is a disservice to put her in the same category as Brand who can say stupid things and get away with it”

      HAVE YOU HEARD ANY OF THE THINGS THAT LAMBIE HAS SAID????

      All of it is stupid and embarrassing to anyone with half a brain and has been outside Tasmania

    5. Hmmm – you’re sneering about the sneering inner city elite.

      I’m a Fitzroy resident. I love sipping lattes on Brunswick street with alarming regularity. I rarely sneer. And I am a Professor of Economics.

      Jacqui Lambie deserves all the negative attention she gets; she’s thoroughly ill-suited for a career in politics, without the necessary background to prepare her for the tough intellectual challenges in politics.

  42. Mix the intellect of Gillard with the charisma of Brand & you might have something. Slick Bill Clinton might have come close with Obama a distant second. A lot of space before you get another contender.

  43. Great article.

    The road to hell may not be paved with good intentions but it is signposted by well meaning idiots.

    1. Well put Arnold. Patronising rubbish Razer. Being representatives of the people, we are all “qualified” and allowed a voice on politics, be you Brand, Palmer, Hanson, Lambie, Abbott or Gillard. And voters make a democratic choice based on their own understanding. The more chaotic, and out of control the better in my opinion.

      To anyone that insists that Gillard, or any other western leader or central banker, has done well in managing the economy (something that is not manageable in any logical way) is insane in their ignorance of the basic evidence. Average westerners are worse off than they were 40 years ago, and the thirld world is copping a first world beating whenever they want to control their own economies and resources. More so called unqualified people in office wouldn’t exactly wreck anything worth keeping.

      1. “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
        ― Harlan Ellison

        You can keep your doom and gloom. I’m not buying it.

      2. “To anyone that insists that Gillard, or any other western leader or central banker, has done well in managing the economy (something that is not manageable in any logical way) is insane in their ignorance of the basic evidence. The more chaotic, and out of control the better in my opinion.”

        I want you to pledge, here and now, that you will never, ever, go near other people’s money. Good god.

      3. That may be because there are people who understand economics very well, who have the money to make a difference and are,,,,,,, all the way to the bank.
        We need to be economically literate, we definitely need our politicians to be economically literate and it would help if general scientific literacy was on an equal par.
        It’s far easier to screw you over if you aren’t aware it is happening.

    2. Lets not forget that Ronnie Regan and Arnie (unfortunately!) got pretty far in politics despite being actors.
      Anyone (Russell Brand) who uses their air time and takes risks to knock spots off the Murdoch press is the people friend. Do we care if he can manage a diverse range of portfolios…? Not at this point. He got HUGE traction.
      Prefer he support democracy rather than anarchy but the present system has been weakened and being ramrodded by the economic Right.

      Funny comments coming from a citizen comedienne cum political commentator…

    3. When you openly admit you don’t understand economics and then talk about the system serving a particular group, yes you’re unqualified.

      Either lean enough economics to know what people are talking about or stick to the jokes.

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