In October 2013, Essex-born comedian and actor Russell Brand was offered the role of guest editor for Britain’s highly-regarded current affairs and politics magazine, New Statesman. In his article here, he argued that voting for any established political party is a waste of time, and claimed that if we want meaningful realistic and rapid societal change, we need much more than voting – we need a revolution.
Brand’s article aroused considerable media attention, including intense criticism from Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. More importantly, it granted him an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight (here), which catapulted Russell Brand’s political views into the public domain.
In the aftermath of the Paxman interview, people all around the world started calling for Brand to help place political power back in the hands of the multitude. As one man put it during Brand’s Newsnight follow-up interview with The Huffington Post UK (here): “You have, whether you like it or not, become a political leader of sorts. Are you here to stay… are you going to use that celebrity for the positive, and actually turn the dark arts into something good?”
3 months later, Brand’s YouTube channel The Trews was born.
1 1/2 years and 1 million+ YouTube subscribers later, Russell Brand has become the second most influential political figure in the UK, after the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron. The influence Brand now possesses on a global scale has become so significant that Fox News has him on their “most wanted” rant list (just one example here), and UK Labour leader, Ed Miliband, as head of the opposition to the Conservative Party, volunteered himself to be interviewed on The Trews (interview here) just days before the upcoming UK general election.
Despite the indisputable impact that Russell Brand’s views on voting have had on politics, the ubiquitous argument made about politics today remains conservative – that voting for an established party is the only way to effect positive change.
Brand’s response to this was to do something truly unprecedented. With the help of director Michael Winterbottom, Brand rushed the release of a documentary in cinemas across the UK that clearly outlined the injustice of ever-increasing austerity for everyone throughout Britain, Europe, and the USA, citing examples such as the £131 billion paid out by UK tax payers, and the $30 trillion paid out by US tax payers, to bail out the bankers and keep corruption within current financial systems afloat.
Not only that, immediately following the first screenings of the documentary on April 21st, Brand broadcast a live event to everyone in the 200 cinemas nationwide, calling for people to get involved in a new restructuring of society in the interest of the masses. I was there, and for me, such an action seems revolutionary in and of itself.
Or at least it would have been if Russell Brand had not received such heavy criticism for his demeanor during the live event. With his head lolling back distractedly during the interview, he openly called for director Michael Winterbottom to join him at the front for questions because he was feeling “aggro.” I could see why he was feeling so frustrated, though. Despite making it clear in the film that what we need to do is collectively unite for change, everyone in the audience, from the average Joe to Brian May from Queen, seemed to keep asking the same question: “What do you want us to do now, Russell?”
It has long been my belief that for us to collectively evolve, we, as members of the human race have an obligation to take responsibility for our actions and their global implications. We cannot just meditate and eat vegetarian food and think things will change, but rather we have to find our own personal way to directly get involved in positive societal change for the betterment of all.
In other words, t
On Friday, April 17th I happened to catch a single party political broadcast by a group of people calling themselves TUSC, or the “Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.” This group is not proposing the creation of a new political party within the current political structure, but instead is forming a coalition of working people from all walks of life interested in offering an alternative to the established parties and a way to vote “none of the above” in the upcoming parliamentary election.
I felt a passionate compulsion to bring all these ideas together in order to propose a sought-after answer to the persistent question: what does Russell Brand actually mean when he says do not vote for the established political parties?
I looked through recent footage from Russell Brand’s YouTube channel to formulate a linear narrative that answers this question, and ultimately explores the deeper political message – what is the alternative?
So what do you think?
What Is The Alternative To Voting For The Established Political Parties?
I am also proposing to organize a free conference and invite a variety of speakers from different movements whose collective cause is rapid positive societal change so that we can make the world a better place for the future. You can read more, register your interest, and suggest speakers for the proposed conference here.
No one person can change the world. We can only do that it if we come together.
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