"Don't vote: demonstrate, revolt…
…with all the spontaneity of the London rioters"
Russell Brand engages tens of thousands of people with political ideas in his online 'Trews' (true-news).
In our world of misleading soundbites and meaningless news reports, he reminds us that politics should involve some real thinking, as well as a passion for what matters, and a healthy self-deprecating sense of humour.
In an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC2 Newsnight in 2013 (below) now watched online by over 10 million people, he famously said he had never voted, and encouraged others to do the same. For many people, he made not‑voting seem purposeful. However…
Russell Brand has never suggested 'do nothing'. He advocates we do far more than vote to achieve change. Some of the better clarifications are in the Guardian interview with Owen Jones:
'I really admire the suffragettes, and think we should emulate them in getting the democracy that they fought for, because that democracy has been taken away from us.'
'The institutions that govern us will not change significantly, because for them this is not a problem. They have achieved the state they require. For them it's not broken. This is what they want. So for a significant change to occur it has to be achieved outside of those procedures. That's all that revolution means. Revolution means that the structures that are in existence are not going to provide the necessary change. You have to provide that change from outside of them. And obviously you have to attach it to peaceful protest.' (24:50)
On voting, he says:
'If you think there are parties that represent us against corporate power, if you think there are parties that represent us against the elite, if you think there are parties that stand for the environment, and the closest to that would be the Green party, stymied as they will be by the numerous trade agreements that shackle national power. If you think there is a party that can stand up to that, then vote for them.' (29:30)
These 7 linked debate pages offer argument on voting and democracy. Some are prompted by RB, but all by concern about the 34% who are just silent in UK elections.
The 2013 BBC2 Newsnight interview
For those who haven't seen it, here it the original BBC Newsnight interview, plus clips from his New Statesman editorial.
His New Statesman editorial
The original BBC interview followed RB being guest editor for the New Statesman. These are clips from his editorial:
'Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.
'Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. …'
'The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left's great legacy as it is dismantled around them.'
'Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they're boring and can't compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto.'
'The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes. Conservatism appeals to our selfishness and fear, our desire and self-interest; they neatly nurture and then harvest the inherent and incubating individualism.'
'I will never vote and I don't think you should, either. To genuinely make a difference, we must become different; make the tiny, longitudinal shift. Meditate, direct our love indiscriminately and our condemnation exclusively at those with power. Revolt in whatever way we want, with the spontaneity of the London rioters…'