Friday, October 25, 2013

Russell's Brand of Revolution

If you missed the recent Newsnight interview last night between Paxman and Russell Brand, watch it now.

Russel gives an accurate and simple diagnosis: the politico-economic system is broken. 
There is grotesque inequality, and we are trashing the planet. All true.
Voting doesn't work. Partially true.
People are angry and frustrated True.
Revolution is coming soon. See below.

Paxman lies back and sneers "Yeah? And what will you actually do if you overthrow the system?"

Russell doesn't know yet. He has been busy. Fair enough. He's an actor, not a constitutional expert.

But speaking as just one of thousands of reasonably intelligent people who have spent the last decades thinking about what to do, I can say we have some definite answers to the question of the changes we need.

They can be summed up in three words: Democracy, Equality, Sustainability.
The tough question is not really so much the programme of what to do if the present system were to be swept aside. 
The question is, how do we sweep the present toxic system out of the way?

Russell, and thousands of his supporters, reply "Simple. Revolution".

Now what he means by revolution is a revolution of consciousness. But this is too subtle for either his opponents or his fans to take on board. For them revolution means revolution.

The problem there is that for classical revolution to succeed, it needs the army and police on the side of the people. 

And they are not. Not in any numbers. Not even the people, because they are substantially brainwashed by the Murdoch/Mail/Telegraph axis. Not yet.

Of course, brainwashing is superficial, and it can break its hold. People can entertain contradictory thoughts in their consciousness. In particular, a dissociation can happen between head (brainwashed) and heart (angry with the 1%). 

But at present, I can see no chance for a successful classical revolution. Maybe things will change, but at present, it just feels as if we are living in a massive contradiction:
1) The system is broken
2) Voting by itself will not fix it (though, pace Russell Brand we should all continue to vote Green wherever we can)
3) Revolution will be defeated until people stop imbibing tabloid lies. Or tabloids stop telling lies.
4) Even if revolution succeeded, history shows that they nearly always degenerate either into chaos or into a totalitarian state. 

So it looks as if we are at present in some kind of stalemate, a political limbo. 
Maybe it all has to get worse before it gets better.
But social change comes unpredictably. Nobody predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall, nor did they predict the Arab Spring, but they happened. So Russell's Revolution could conceivably happen here, suddenly, unexpectedly, maybe on the back of food riots.

But sadly, it is more likely that we would get some kind of half-cock rebellion, swiftly to be crushed by police and army, followed by some kind of counter-revolutionary repressive regime.

This all needs more thought, especially regarding what happens after a revolution. 

More later.

1 comment:

Hengist said...

I wonder where Russell Brand will take his revolution from here. It might be cynical to say the Establishment has nowt to worry about so long as Paxo can interview leaders of the revolution.