The Voice of the People .. Is that Russell Brand?

The Voice of the People needs to be heard.

I wonder what instrument can amplify the voices of the people? How can we be heard, and how can we effectively change the world and our lives? Is our frustration, our despair and apparent impotence to be answered by withdrawal from the political process? Who will speak for us?

  •  Parliament?
  • The Media?
  • Politicians?
  • Academics?
  • Celebrities?

Last week we witnessed a celebrity echoing the thoughts of so many of us. Our political representatives have ceased to be the servants of the people. They are the servants of the global corporations, politicians mere puppets  while the puppeteers hold the real power. I wonder where we have come to, if it takes a celebrity to make our point? Are we handing over the power we might have to one individual? Is there democracy in a TV show? 

Let’s have Tony Benn’s Democratic Revolution Now!

Benn says the  most revolutionary idea is democracy. If you have power, you use it to meet the needs of your community. As Tony Benn explains here  ”People who are poor, demoralised and frightened are easy to control.” This is how the very rich exert control – ensuing people are so downtrodden, so much ridden by debt, misery and pessimism, they have no desire to vote. “If the poor were to turn out and vote for people who represented their interests, that would be a real, democratic revolution.

In this article Prue Plumridge questions how we might respond to Russell Brand’s comments.

A Response to Russell Brand’s Interview

By Prue Plumridge

“Shock and horror was my initial response to Russell Brand admitting that he never voted  and whilst I still think it was  irresponsible of him to suggest that not voting is an option (if only because the thought of the Tories winning through the people’s apathy is frightening and abhorrent) his article in the New Statesman (once you get round his writing style) is nothing short of brilliant and everyone should read it. It sums up perfectly the state of play. At one end of the scale we have a political system in a state of decay and a bloated corporate sector which feeds on growth and consumption, both intertwined,  and on the other the so called 99%  who are disillusioned and  disempowered faced with rising inequality and growing poverty as well as the threat to our planet’s very existence. We face the burning question of how to save our planet from the ravages of unbridled capitalism aided and abetted by a corrupt political system and corporate sector which is totally out of control and ultimately will destroy us if we do not act.”

Time is not on our side.

The question is what to do about it?  

“Revolution is bloody and destructive and could leave us with nothing better or something worse – history tells us that.  Chris Hedges, the author of ‘Death of the Liberal Class’ believes that whilst violence may ultimately be the only response  to repression left to us, the ‘acts of resistance that sustain us morally are those that disrupt systems of power but do not violate the sanctity of life, even of those who enslave us’. These acts of resistance he believes should be carried out not necessarily because they are effective but because they are the right thing to do.  He acknowledges though that whilst those that carry out such acts are few and are often dismissed by the mainstream they are in fact beacons in the dark defying injustice.  He is quite clear too about the consequences of  ignoring the messengers  ‘we will either defy the corporate elite, which will mean civil disobedience, a rejection of traditional politics for a new radicalism, and the systematic breaking of laws, or see ourselves consumed.’Brand talks about the ‘spiritual’ imperative by which he means that we must acknowledge our connection to one another and to the planet on which we live which sustains us. ‘Consciousness itself must change’ he says. He quotes Buckminster Fuller who felt that the collective objectives should be ‘to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous co-operation without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone”. A worthy objective without doubt but also on current experience of the existing power structures pie in the sky and totally  unrealistic,  or so we are led to believe by the corporate and political elites whose continuing existence relies on the status quo. Our compliance and belief in our disempowerment convinces us there is nothing we can do to change things.

I don’t believe that we cannot change things and history is witness to that even if collectively we seem to have forgotten.
We are lulled  into a false sense of security by our fascination with the rich and famous, the media which deceives us with its stories and our attachment to consumption driven by a marketing machine which persuades us that it will make us happy. How much more comfortable it is to sit in our nice protective bubbles where nothing can hurt us as long as we keep our heads down and ignore it perhaps it will conveniently go away. There will be a price to pay for our apathy but for the moment we still can’t see it clearly.  But it is coming if we fail to act.
Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein, often sidelined by much of the mainstream media, have  long been calling us to action.  We need an army of such people who will keep up the noise until we all hear it loud and clear.Father Daniel Berrigan, an American activist in the 60’s said ‘It is important to keep perspective.  We haven’t lost everything because we have lost today. I happen to go very strongly with the Buddhist understanding that the good is to be done because it is good not because it goes somewhere.’ The struggle for justice may be constant and we may tire from time to time but all that matters is that we care enough to struggle for justice, for our planet and for future generations, even though we may never see the results in our lifetime. It is what should give us the courage to keep putting our heads above the parapet and keep on carrying out those ‘acts of resistance’ This is not about the arrogance of mighty works but rather incremental steps towards change through the  persistence and bravery of each of us as individuals and collectively to say there is another way.  Brand says ‘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.’  We are not impotent and it is time as he says for us all to wake up.”
Sources

7 thoughts on “The Voice of the People .. Is that Russell Brand?

    • Hi – thanks for your comment. I was trying rather to listen to the message rather than comment on the messenger. I am not a fan of his but I think he has at least stimulated a conversation despite the character assassination that is currently underway. Out of his article come the following ideas – from a resume posted by a friend and I don’t doubt that many of us would agree. Does it matter who brings the message? What matters is that we engage more people in the conversation than currently happens.
      1. We only have one planet, so we’d better start acting quickly to protect it because at the moment we’re destroying it
      2. Our current system of democracy is a fraud, as it perpetuates the rise to power of the same class of people since time immemorial
      3. Capitalism is a destroyer of people’s lives in order to create profit.
      4. The longer this goes on the worse the divide gets between the rich and poor – and developed world comfort depends on third world extreme poverty
      5. People do have alternative ideas about how to run the world but the vested interests invest extraordinary amounts of energy into marginalising and denigrating them in order to maintain their power
      6. The only outcome, with historical precedence and inevitability, is revolution

  1. Good blog. I dont agree with violent revolution but we do need to make BIG changes in our society and I think that Russell Brands not voting is the only way to make our politicians understand our contempt for them. I would however urge people to vote, but vote blank! In that way they will understand we are not apathetic. I would also urge civil disobedience. We need to demonstrate against all these stupid rules and regulation that are being enforced upon us. More regulations, more administration equals higher costs and more civil servants.
    We also need to get rid of these grey slugs who creep around the corridors in Whitehall keeping the status quo, it is mainly them creating this situation in my opinion.

  2. I think that we have given peaceful protest a chance and this has been deliberately ignored by the ruling classes. The time has not yet come for all out revolution but gauging from thee response of authority to the Summer Riots of 18 months ago I do believe that we need to be seriously considering civil disobedience as a revised weapons against the ruling classes.

    The intellectual capabilities and moral considerations of most politicians is now so out of touch with ordinary people that directed civil disobedience is the only way forward to make them see what is wrong.

    Why cannot people affected by the benefit cuts, excessive energy prices and reduced employment opportunities be brought together to undertake civil disobedience in specific areas. we would then be playing the rulers at their own game and hitting them where it really hurts in their own fields of operation.

    • All those touting peaceful protest should be reminded of just why it is we don’t work dawn till dusk anymore and have instead a much reduced standard eight hour working day – vive l’anarchie! I would suggest those wishing to make a meaningful protest take their pitchforks and flaming torches to the City of London, a cancer on the face of the planet if ever there was one, and burn it to the ground.

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