My estimation of Russell Brand grew slow and steady over the years. First, I thought only of him as a loud/lewd sort of comic, bangled and bedecked; funny, but a little irritating. As his activism and journalism increased, I began to pay closer attention. He wrote a couple of books, he was interviewed frequently on current affairs programmes, often side by side with respected members of the British establishment and his YouTube channel took off. Bit by bit, his activism became more public, his journalism more vitriolic in its intolerance of injustice and, gradually, my own intolerance of him was eroded. So I thought I’d give Revolution a look.
A fair chunk of the first section of the book (100 pages or so) recounts his own personal journey from addiction and the highs and lows of fame to a spiritual awakening. While it certainly wasn’t trying reading, I have to say I did feel a little bit cheated as I was looking for more fire and brimstone socio-political upheaval rather than spiritual musings. Nevertheless, if you’re of an open mind and not averse to yoga, meditation and all that malark you’ll still find plenty to take from Brand’s spiritual approach to life.
There is method to the madness though, as the section does prove vital to the structure Brand would like to impose on any political or economic revolution we have in the future. Brand believes that a political, social and economic revolution is only possible and sustainable if a spiritual revolution precedes it; like a stiff breeze that heralds the coming tornado.
As the book progresses and you get into the meat of social injustice, hence the calls for revolution. I was of the opinion before I read this that a political/social/economic revolution (and not the political revolution of GE 2011 where Tweedle-Dum replaced Tweedle-Dee) was somewhat necessary, so I was a perfect audience for Brand. However, if you’re not of that opinion, I think you’d have to concede he sells it pretty well. On the other hand, if you’re not of that opinion, I get the feeling you’d rather stay oblivious to the painful truth so you’re unlikely to cause yourself further pain by picking up this book. Also, as Brand can be something of a marmite figure, there’s many who can conjure up plenty of reasons to object to Brand as a proponent of this kind of talk, thus further muddying the waters of revolution.
He sums up his thesis quite well though, and I’ll conclude by relaying it here. Our current economic system has created a world wherein the world’s richest 80 people (you could squeeze them comfortably onto a double-decker bus) have more assets than half the world’s population. If that was the only example of injustice and cruelty that had come about from our horribly warped version of society, we could live with it. But it’s not. The current global economic system is quite literally killing the planet. So not only is it immeasurably fairer, kinder, nobler and more just to have a revolution, it is absolutely necessary in order to guarantee the survival of the human species.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.