I have no great love for Russell Brand. For all his postmodern, kooky charm, his not-so-lazy sexism sounds like it burped out of some 1950s patriarch. “When I was asked to edit an issue of the New Statesman I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me.” Not a great start, eh Russ?
For anarcho-feminist, self-righteous, leftist green meanies like me, it’s easy to throw rocks at Brand. And he knows it: “The Right seeks converts and the Left seeks traitors.” But if high morals impede change, boredom kills it dead. Politics has become a work of soundbites. Brand’s passion stands out against the same old lies in different colour ties, fusing a radical critique of our broken system with popular appeal. He flips the traditional hand-wringing over voter apathy on its head – it’s us that care, it’s the politicians who don’t.
And he isn’t setting himself up as a replacement politico either. By admitting that he has only complaints, not solutions, he is presenting himself as a concerned citizen holding a sparkly loudhailer, with all the zealous fire of a Chartist with a blowtorch.
Brand’s brand might not be my cup of kombucha. But if we’re serious about opposing the insanity of free market fundamentalism, environmental degradation and the political alienation the status quo has fostered, we need a broad base of opposition. I’m all for a diversity of tactics. I’m with Russell.