Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #2

The likelihood of receiving Revolution as a Christmas present has, I believe, taken a step in the right direction and so with only days to go before finding out if it will indeed grace the presence of my meagre pile of presents, I find myself wondering about the efficacy of conducting anti-capitalist rhetoric (which is what I’m expecting Revolution to be, given what I have heard so far) via that which is very much, both symbolically and literally, a medium of capitalist production (said book replete with R.R.P.). Not that this is in anyway an original line of thought because I have heard (radio) and read (online and in print) many arguments where Russell Brand is criticised for charging £x amount for the book, a book which aims to bring about massive change w/r/t the ways in which we live, because he would appear to be profiting from said book – in good old capitalist tradition, one might say.

revolution

Though this is an obvious place to begin a criticism of Russell Brand and his book, it strikes me that the possibility of making any headway without the very act of ‘selling’ his ideas to a willing public is slight. The reason I suggest this is all to do with ‘value,’ or at least the perception of value. To explain, let’s think about the amount of ‘free’ stuff knocking around the Internet and what it actually does to the consumer’s ideas of value. It would appear that consumers download free stuff at the drop of a hat, but then never go on to read such stuff because their perception of value of said stuff is not all that high/great. Whether or not this is actually, statistically true, or not, can be argued elsewhere, but that is what I am led to believe and I have a particular example with which to emphasize my point.

The Coming Insurrection is arguably as inflammatory as anything Russell Brand is capable of spouting, and in spite of its undoubted success in terms of units downloaded for free in PDF form, it is very easy to meet people who have never heard of it, or even heard of the hullabaloo that followed with the arrest of the Tarnac 9 (or 10) and the shockingly anti-democratic treatment these individuals suffer(ed) at the hands of French ‘authorities.’ One thing that needs to be clarified here is that The Coming Insurrection was published anonymously,[1] and there is no evidence that can be verified to connect any of the Tarnac 9 (or 10) with said publication. So even with the move to ‘pre-terrorist’ detention (wonderful, French government democracy at its best), and the stripping away of a whole host of human rights, it is safe to say that Revolution is more widely known than is The Coming Insurrection. Obviously, this is mostly to do with Russell Brand’s position in popular culture, because The Coming Insurrection is well written and worthy of critical attention, and therefore no less important in terms of its value.

So, to cut to the chase, what exactly is my point? Well, I am willing to suggest that what it takes to bring about a shift/revolution/change to the present system of capitalism is, perhaps, best borne from within the capitalist mode itself, in a somewhat Foucaultvian respect where ‘power’ is concerned. Capitalism is strongly defended as ‘the supreme’ way of living, by financiers, governments, despots, and all manner of not-so-nice individuals and/or groups, so it is likely that to counter such opposition, an opposition that I fear is gaining momentum as defenders of capitalism rally to besmirch Russell Brand’s ideas as I write this, it is necessary to use the tools of capitalism against itself: tools such as money, media, mass production. Capitalism has, and history proves this, assimilated all manner of subversive and deviant culture and made them its own by profiting from them. Why not, in an attempt at bringing down capitalism, use the profits gained through capitalist principles to launch an attack on capitalism itself? Is this not what Russell Brand is doing by presenting the world with this book, Revolution, replete as it is with all the hallmarks of capitalist culture?

[1] It was actually published by The Invisible Committee.

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