Tag Archives: revolution

Caution – #Longform Blog Post

A Question at Once Simple, yet Complex (and Potentially Dangerous): Money – What’s Up With That?

This essay takes an abstract notion that we no longer recognise as being abstract, money, and questions what might happen if we choose to stop believing in it as a necessary part of human existence. In choosing to view ‘money’ in this way, there is little need to engage with the economic thoughts and principles of the ‘masters of money’, either old (Smith, Hayek, Keynes, et al) or new (Sharpe, Sachs, Greenspan, et al), because they merely peddle a fallacy – that money is all-important to human life. Instead, we should question the validity of money and the wide ranging effects it leaves in its wake, as we bear in mind the essay’s leading question: Money – what’s up with that? What’s up with selling children and adults into slavery? What’s up with wanting to earn/horde money at the expense of other human beings? What’s up with killing other humans for diamonds, oil, opium, territory, etc.? What’s up with killing animals for their skin, horns/tusks, head, flesh, etc.? What’s up with the endless consumption of ‘goods’ and ‘services’ in the ‘developed’ world, as billions exist in conditions of hunger and poverty? What if we gave up our obsession with, and misguided belief in, money?


A good old-fashioned literary term, the suspension of disbelief, may help when attempting to tackle such questions, but first we must consider the many ways in which the seeming ‘realities’ of life differ from what is actually going on around us on a daily basis. In the face of such contradiction and paradox, we as humans choose to block-out, or ignore certain things altogether in order to carry on with our daily routines. Here are a few non-money related examples to test this thought:

  • (Our planet – deity free version) The earth is circa 3.5 billion years old and has passed through cycles where its temperature has fluctuated from extremes of heat to extremes of cold and everything in between, yet we view our attempts at controlling ‘global warming’ as some kind of achievable goal as we hurtle through space at a few hundred thousand miles per hour whilst orbiting a huge thermo-nuclear reactor (our ‘sun’) that will eventually grow so huge that the earth will be burnt to a crisp, allegedly.
  • (Our planet – deified version) The earth is around 6,000 years old and is presided over by some sort of beneficent god, and has only ever been blighted by plague, famine, and/or flood at the will of such a god(s) (small ‘g’ because I hope to not favour one denomination/religious belief over another).
  • (Imagined boundaries) Those who have flown and have had the chance to look down upon the earth notice that there are no lines surrounding the countries, states, and/or territories they fly over. Countries, states, and/or territories are all part of a collective imagination in which we choose to suspend our disbelief. In a similar vein, and very much still in keeping with the aviation model, the vast bulk of the land one flies over (and here I can only refer to those developed countries that I have seen for myself from the air) whether it be across North America, Europe, or Asia, is ‘countryside’, for want of a better term. It may be farmed for agriculture or other purposes, or it may be ‘wild’, but it is certainly not land that is built upon. Cities, at least from the air, are not all that imposing after all; and in spite of figures warning us that our population of circa 7 billion is likely to reach 10 billion pretty soon, the earth’s population is not all that great when you choose to put it into some sort of context – if all of the planet’s human inhabitants stood side by side, shoulder to shoulder, they would not cover the surface of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands in the South Pacific[i] – but generally, we choose the suspension of disbelief model; or we listen to the people who say that to do so would not be practical because it would be too crowded (it is not a suggestion, merely a hypothesis aimed at gaining perspective on the issue).

The idea here is not to mock those of us who choose to believe or not believe the versions noted above, but to show that there are times in life when we choose to suspend our disbelief in order to function. If we thought of our position as it really is on a daily basis, on a rock (one of the many rocks in our solar system), flying through space at alarming speeds that we are unable to perceive due to gravity’s ability to hold us in place (which sounds bizarre when you stop and think about it), then we might just be forgiven for running around screaming that the sky is about to fall in (sort of Chicken Licken fable-ish); or, if we choose to relinquish our faith in a higher being that we cannot actually see, touch or hear in a bona-fide concrete way, then pretty much the same running and screaming may occur. The suspension of disbelief model is a valuable tool to avoid such a scenario.

So how does a suspension of disbelief model apply where money is concerned? Let us consider our history and our relationship to money. It is commonplace to attach value to ‘things’, whether they are the things of modern life (smart phone, data plan, false tan, etc.) or things that have existed since humans first walked the earth (clothing, food, shelter, etc.). The main difference between the things of modern life and those of the first humans is that the concept of value and its measurement are now regulated, recognisable, and beyond the control of the bulk of the earth’s population: i.e. in the production of ‘money’. The perceived value of things, and indeed the ‘need’ for such things, has become abstracted from us by this very regulation and control. For example, imagine I am one of the first humans to walk the earth and I have had a successful hunting/gathering trip, but I have not the skills to build a shelter for myself. Yet I am able to recognise that there are others better equipped at building shelters and who may be interested in sharing my spoils, and in exchange they may provide me with shelter. In such an instance I am an influencing factor, along with those I deal with, in the process of ascribing value to a) the spoils hunted and gathered, and b) the shelter I require – now, would we describe the spoils as money, or the shelter as money, or both, or neither? Ask yourself why, or why not?

Leap forward a number of millennia and the ability to hunt and/or gather has diminished because we as a species have ‘evolved’, and not only that but the access to land to hunt/gather on is limited as we live in a society where private property is a key factor in the accumulation of wealth. So, instead, I take my actual money (paper, cotton, or metal) or plastic card, the value of the currency I use being set/managed by others, and head for a shop where a price is set/given by those running the store. I hand my money over in exchange for such goods, either physically or electronically. Neither the value of the goods (the prices vary on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis) nor the value of the currency is stable, yet we all think we have a good understanding of what we refer to as ‘money’ – it is the paper, cotton, metal, or plastic I/we use to ‘buy’ said goods. But in this example, and in the one above, how is it that money, which really only stems from the regulation and control of value, is seen as so stable and so unquestionably ‘real’?

The reality of money is now such a motivating factor that humans will go to great lengths to acquire it. But what can our walk through history tell us about this kind of acquisition? Take the poor old cow, for instance. A beautiful and intelligent animal, revered by many, but one that is exploited beyond all reason – for its milk, meat, and skin. The cow is believed to be the oldest form of ‘money’ used by humans, but I doubt any of us would consider walking into a shop to purchase goods in exchange for a cow. And what about cowrie shells (is the ‘cow’ of cowrie just a happy coincidence)? How would we feel walking into a shop with a pocket full of shells as our currency, or tulip bulbs for that matter? The point being made here is that money is not stable. Things have value ascribed to them and those values change over time – sometimes things that were once so valuable and sought after are now just commonplace and value-less.[ii]

Now this all seems pretty simple, and I imagine the reader to be asking the question: So what? Well, what I am moving towards is a question that follows on from that of the title (Money – what’s up with that?), and asks instead: Do we need money? Many will see this as a stupid question and will choose to answer ‘yes’ without actually spending any time thinking about it. What I ask is that the reader suspend their disbelief (at the thought of considering such a stupid question) for a little while longer.

There will be those who choose to object to even considering such a question:

  • Those in positions of ‘power’, such as heads of state, monarchies, oligarchs, dictators, business moguls, crime-lords/ladies, etc., will object because money to them is as important as life itself, which is why they protect their money with ferocity and aim not to allow all but a minority to possess it in great quantities. Likewise, and for much the same reasons as the above, there will be those who are not in positions of power but with ambitions that aspire to achieve such positions of power. For both of these groups, such a question is tantamount to a threat and they will go to extremes to counter such ideas, stopping at nothing until such a threat is eliminated.[iii]
  • Then there are the masses that work for a living and choose the suspension of disbelief model unthinkingly on a daily basis – must work, must earn money, must raise children to believe the same, must do so until death brings relief (and a hefty inheritance/death tax bill), etc. This group is generally too busy consuming to consider doing anything else other than what it does best – move (unthinkingly) through life with respect to money as a central and necessary aspect of said life. This is the group that amasses debt throughout its lifetime, ensuring the continuation of the work/pay habit.
  • Then there are those who have never had money in sufficient quantity to truly consider themselves to be living the life they wish for. This group may object because they have not yet had the chance to experience the ‘benefits’ of money, and may view such talk as spoiling the party before it is their time to arrive.
  • Below this group is the world’s poor, people who value food, shelter, and protective clothing in much the same way as I imagine the first humans did – as some of the most important things in their lives. Money for this group is still very much an abstract notion.


So, who will persist with such a stupid thought? By devaluing (no pun) my own thoughts here, am I suggesting that to read on implies that you are stupid? No. To discuss the concept of money as something which is open to debate, and eventual eradication, requires a mind-set that is open and inventive. So please read on without fear.

If we forgot all about money, like an overnight amnesia of the fiscal kind, how would life be different? The short answer: it would not. Everything that exists in the world exists regardless of whether money is present or not. Value must be put to one side because it is too abstract a notion – I mean, I value an old, beat-up copy of a paperback book, but it is not worth more than a few pennies – so how can value be measured in this instance? It cannot, so do not try. Instead, think of what I am about to say as something that is credible and possible – go on, suspend that disbelief.

Overnight amnesia model with respect to money (a starter model, if you will):

Money disappears and we are faced with the world as it is today. There is still war, famine, and things that are not very nice. Those of us living in countries that are thought of as ‘developed’, with infrastructures such as schooling, medicine, transport, sanitation, etc., will see very little change to our daily routine, except for the fact that the control of our respective governments begins to dissolve as money becomes a distant memory – no need for taxation when money does not exist.

The tasks and routines of daily life will not disappear, at least not initially, because we still need food, shelter, and clothing. Progress, in terms of things changing, developing, improving, etc., is still possible because we do not lose skills overnight and it would appear that humans like to deal with change and modification. What would have to change to enable this is our mind-set with respect to how we view what we do. If I choose to work, doing what I know best, then I would choose either a role as educator (knowledge is valid as a source of comfort and joy, and an essential aspect of the human experience), or as a skilled worker (my ‘trade’, as it were). Instead of working for money, I work for the benefit of others – people just like me. They may choose to work doing something that does not benefit me directly, but I imagine somewhere down the line they will be of benefit to someone whose work impacts on my life in some way, therefore we are looking at a more advanced ‘relational’ model of living and working.

William Blake Angel of Revelation

Of course, the countries ravaged by war, famine, and the like, will take their own time to readjust as they see fit, but without external influence governed by monetary gain (arms deals, oil deals, human slavery/trafficking, etc.) there will be little incentive to live a violent life, hell-bent on amassing great wealth when those around you do not value the wealth you yourself perceive. Think of me with my Lira, Drachma, and Deutschemark again – do you give a shit? Will you slit my throat to possess these for yourself? Of course not, they are worthless. Diamonds will just become shiny bits from the earth, as will gold, silver, and platinum – pretty to look at, but fucking pointless in terms of possessions.

Then there will be those who do not wish to work. Fair enough. Give it time. Life is pretty boring when you have nothing to do, and crime is no longer a valid option because money is no longer an end in itself. When you can have what you want, in terms of food, shelter, clothing, and time to spend with family and friends, why would you commit a crime? You would not. As for physical crimes of violence against fellow humans, well perhaps that is for another essay. And what of the progress I alluded to before? If money does not exist then it is no longer a barrier to making sensible decisions that will affect humankind both in the present and in the years to come.[iv] Invention and innovation will thrive now that the restrictions placed on them by money are removed. Everything on, and of the earth has no monetary value. We eat, sleep, develop, thrive, change, adapt, and innovate without money.


Lots of criticism and balking about how impossible the eradication of money is may ensue. Or it may not. Perhaps this will just be ignored as some sort of whacko-nut-job rant. But what if it were considered as a serious option? Stealing children to later sell them will cease as a practice. Exploiting people as sex slaves for money will cease. Murdering animals for horn and/or skin will cease. Killing other humans for diamonds, oil, opium, territory, etc., will eventually cease. Hunger and poverty will eventually cease to afflict billions around the world. Committing petty crimes to feed habits will cease. Ask yourself – who would object? How dangerous could such a thought be?

[i]See: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/South+Georgia+and+the+South+Sandwich+Islands/@-54.8247929,-37.001101,7z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0xb93db6e252a87925:0x7ee37cda884db0bd

[ii] In fact, I keep a tin filled with old notes and coins of various currencies in a drawer at home: Drachma, Lira, Deutschemark, Franc, and Peseta – what are they worth now, these once regulated currencies?

[iii] Here is a contemporary tale that speaks of the lengths those in power will go to in order to silence such threats to their status quo of being in, and of having ‘money’ and ‘power’: (French version) http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2009/12/18/julien-coupat-la-prolongation-de-ma-detention-est-une-petite-vengeance_1197456_3224.html; (English translation found here) http://www.sikharchives.com/?p=4275

[iv] I recently had the roof of my house surveyed because companies keen to install solar panels under the government’s latest bout of funding (funding to assist with nullifying the effects of climate change, allegedly) targeted me. My house was rejected from the scheme because it wouldn’t produce enough energy, therefore, the investment banks accessing government funds to install solar panels wouldn’t make a huge enough profit on their initial investment. So, what was the motivating factor – profit or climate? (Solar panels are way inefficient anyway, some converting as little as 17% of the sun’s energy into power – even the most advanced attempts are struggling to reach a 50% target http://www.soitec.com/en/news/press-releases/world-record-solar-cell-1373/)

Anecdotally, is the Insurrection Coming? #Brexit

This is an important question and, anecdotally, from opinions garnered from those within both Leave and Remain camps, public opinion seems to reflect unprecedented levels of dissatisfaction felt with politics in its current late-capitalist mode – hence my notion that #PoliticsIsDead (click the pictures if you want, and stuff)


So, is the Insurrection on its way? Is there, as the Tarnac community is alleged to have suggested, a Coming Insurrection? It seems wrong to sit by and watch as economies shuffle from one disaster to the next, as has been the case throughout much of the present capitalist model, arguably. But do the people have the will to mount an insurrection?


I guess we’ll see…

Peterloo Massacre Remembered #3

An interesting piece on tonight’s BBC Countryfile programme discussed the SNP’s plans to provide better access to the lands of Scotland for Scotland’s inhabitants. What was once common land was grabbed by the wealthy and shut off by fences and walls, and was turned into private property. Around 50% of land in Scotland lies in the hands of just 452 individuals (according to BBC sources).


At the time of such change from common land to private property, much violence was used to subjugate Scotland’s people. My great-great-great grandfather, James ‘Elshender’ Alexander, lived at around this time and was subjected to terrible punishment for attempting to feed his family by living off the land. Living off the land becomes a difficult proposition when you cease to have access to the land. Good luck to the SNP, and good luck to the working class people of Scotland who may soon be free to use their land as they see fit.

Peterloo Massacre Remembered #2

A news item on tonight’s BBC’s 6 O’clock News featured New York and the new skyscrapers that are beginning to dominate Manhattan’s skyline. The buildings are some of the most expensive examples of real estate anywhere in the world, with one apartment reportedly selling for $100M. The interesting thing about the news item was the allegation that very few of these super-expensive properties are ever likely to be occupied by actual people. It is odd to think that in a city where 50% of working class people live on or below the poverty line (according to BBC sources) that buildings are being crammed into an already over developed site, only to be left to stand empty – all whilst feathering the nests of the very wealthy individuals and collectives buying said properties.


New York’s poor and working classes were turfed off the land that eventually became the landscaped Central Park, and ever since, people have been forced to move farther out because of spiralling real estate prices. This latest example is only the most ridiculous manifestation of the gap that exists, and that continues to widen, between the rich and the working classes. Perhaps the Occupy Movement should extend its remit to include a form of squatting in buildings where people could be housed comfortably instead of being forced to live in poverty? What violence might today’s establishment mete out in the face of such peaceful protest?

Peterloo Massacre Remembered

This post, and the short ones that follow, are a way of paying respect to those who lost their lives at St. Peter’s Fields, Manchester on this day in 1819. Losing one’s life is a heavy price to pay for standing up and having one’s voice heard, but many of us must be thankful for the bravery shown in the face of violence meted out by the establishment almost two centuries ago. Working class rights were first established as a direct result of the intended peaceful protest of the 60,000 people attending St. Peter’s Fields, and so the following posts ponder some significant issues facing working class people at this very moment. It remains to be seen whether today’s generation is able to achieve similar levels of cultural change.


For more information on the Peterloo Massacre visit The People’s Museum, Manchester.

Thoughts on Money Inspired by Russell Brand’s Revolution


Chapter 8 of Revolution sees Russell Brand address one of my favourite topics: money as fallacy. It is heartening to hear another speak of this as I spend a lot of time bemused at the fact that so few people think this way. At a recent party (I am not a party-goer, but the host of this particular party, and her family, are so very nice that whenever they extend an invitation I am inclined to accept) I spent a good amount of time talking to someone who didn’t recoil at my suggestion that money is in no way real (most of the people I have tried to have a conversation with have actually, physically recoiled, leaving me feeling that I’m wasting my time pursuing such thoughts with them). What is it about money, and our present ‘global economy,’ that people have such a hard time debunking in their heads? Is it that people don’t question where money came from as an ideological tool (of whatever)? Or is it that we, as a society (speaking Western-industrialized here, but this can extend to many others), spend way too much time and energy, in fact some people do little else, trying to chase down every coin and note (and electronic versions of these) they can lay their hands on? Whatever the reason(s), the only way that money’s dominance will diminish over time is by sparking conversation now. To that end, why not start by asking yourself how the world would look without money (or a monetary system like the one we operate under (an ominous thought in itself, operating ‘under’ money))?

Action, of sorts, Inspired by Russell Brand’s Message of Revolution

Whilst emptying my email inbox I came across this, as yet, unanswered email sent to Russell Brand, via his management team, in late 2013 – funny how people can confuse my surname with my given name.


Dear Alexander,

Thanks for your email which I have forward to Russell’s office in the US.


From: “Alexander, Matthew”
Date: Thursday, 24 October 2013 16:24
To: Moira Bellas
Subject: Russell Brand’s Revolution

Dear Ms Bellas,

I hope that this email will eventually find its way to Russell Brand. I watched with interest the interview that Jeremy Paxman conducted on Newsnight (23rd October 2013) and felt compelled to write to Mr Brand. I do hope that this is not a nuisance to you. The address to Mr Brand is typed below.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Alexander


Dear Mr Brand,

It is refreshing to hear someone of your stature calling for revolution. The interview that Jeremy Paxman conducted was poor (on his behalf) in that his own ignorance and complicity with the present system is all too obvious, and certainly does not represent impartial journalism. Paxman is more at home dealing with ‘buffoons’ like Boris Johnson, a man who is in no way stupid judging by the expense of his education but who is content to ‘act the fool’ because this deflects criticism away from him and his right-wing views. Buffoons like Johnson allow Paxman to ‘play’ at being the serious interviewer. It is no wonder that people ‘glaze over’ and show a lack of interest in politics when Boris Johnson is considered a serious politician, or indeed worthy of the title of Mayor of London.

There is the potential to mobilise the revolutionary message in a way that has never before been possible through the use of social networking and other tools of mass popular culture. The apathy of the people, with regard to present day politics, is connected to the disdain that is shown to them by those career politicians who are more interested in their own concerns than in the concerns of the people they are elected to represent. I see the way forward as a ‘re-imagining’ of politics rather than a revolution, which is a loaded word and offers many an example of past failures with which detractors will then undoubtedly use for their own ends. A re-imagining offers hope of something different, and I think that was the message you were communicating last night.

Paxman’s insistence at putting you on the spot in order to get a handle on the mechanics of the re-imagining is a tactic designed to debunk your message and I thought you negotiated this well – and this is what gives me hope of a new beginning, because people like you who can defend themselves with words and who can deflect the all-too-simple tactic of ‘bash the utopian’ are a thorn in the side of the established order: you are a thorn. It is impossible to think that anyone has all the answers at this stage, as you rightly commented. What is likely to follow is difficulty and hardship, but one that is likely to lead to a better future for humankind – and surely that must be the sole aim of this re-imagining.

I detest poverty. I detest war. I detest hatred and violence. I believe in humanism, where harmony promotes love and understanding. This must be a peaceful re-imagining, a re-imagining that has at its fore the desire to end wrongdoing and unfairness. Money is fallacy. The desire for money, and the accumulation of it, is divisive. There is no need for anyone to be poor when money is viewed in this way. I believe that a vital part of the re-imagining of world politics is to promote the ‘money is fallacy’ message. Without drawing attention to this, money is afforded an almost preternatural status where its very existence is never questioned; and this means that the poor, the starving, the fearful, and the vulnerable remain just that.

If you can continue to use your celebrity status, and that of your acquaintances, to promote the idea of a need for change then I believe there will be a mass ‘awakening;’ but the message must be repetitive and strong from the start, for far too many people are content to numb their minds to the ills of the world via whatever means necessary. I am nobody and no-one, but I am happy to spread the word by whatever means available to me. I come from a poor, working-class background and believe in a better future for all. I hope that these words are passed on to you as I am excited by the prospect of political theorising that has the potential to change lives – and I’m sure there are many of us.

Thank you for the hope you give to humankind.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Alexander

Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #4 (unfinished stuff around: ‘access to money would surely cut the majority of unethical and illegal behaviour around the world (more on this in a future post)’)

So this is that post, or at least a start on that post.


What happens to all the ‘criminals’ in the post-revolution period? Well, to start thinking about such a question we need first to figure out what type of criminal exists. There’s no room to list them all in categories, etc., so we’ll have to put up with some generalisations, which isn’t great but…

Starting with the biggies of arms, drugs, and trafficking, whether sex related or not (and sex is such a troublesome word to use in connection with ‘trafficking’ but I’m not about to make up brand new terms – that would just be confusing). All of the big three listed here are primarily about money, greed, and exploitation. Take away a monetary system that is heavily weighted in favour of sociopaths, and what reasons are left to pursue such trades? None. Give such sociopaths access to as much money as they wish to have and watch as they stop dealing in arms, drugs, and people.

Move down the chain to those who steal things, whether corporate billions or TVs from houses. Do the same here and what motivation is there to continue stealing? None.

Now it’s the turn of the violent. A tricky one, full of complications that surely depend upon one’s sensibilities, but think of how violence is rarely a matter of pure violence but is connected with feelings of power over others, past history, cultural context, so many things that it would be hard to list them all. Think again of how less stressful life would be without the worry of monetary gain/loss. Think also of how those who feel they have nothing left to lose, or have lost everything important to them in the first instance, and consider the extreme acts they will commit, which rarely stack up in terms of common sense, because these are the only things they have any control over. To fuel their sense of power they may injure, kill, harm, and perform acts of cruelty and torture.[1] Remove their need to exert ‘power’ in such ways, by removing the problems associated with feeling ‘powerless’ within a system such as our present monetary system based on capitalist principles, and the vast majority will not choose violence as a result. For the minority who will, well that’s another thing to consider, but it will indeed be a minority.

[1] For a study of the human character in the form of a novel, heavily influenced by his own experiences, see Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The House of the Dead, available for free at Project Gutenburg.

Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #4

What might a new system look like? There’s no harm in speculating, so here goes.


For those obsessed with the capitalist model and fearful of how things might pan out if widespread revolution takes hold, here’s an interesting alternative, potentially:

Given that money is a construct, not naturally occurring, but that lots of people do not see it as such, and therefore cannot imagine life without money/finance/transactions and so on, how about a revolution where money is available to all – as available to the homeless, the starving, the young, the old, just basically no restrictions where access to it is concerned? Such access to money would surely cut the majority of unethical and illegal behaviour around the world (more on this in a future post), and would continue to placate those who love the fallacy of a monetary system, so everyone wins, when you think about it.

Those who like to work can continue to work, and let’s face it, work does provide a certain routine that can be useful – if anyone reading this has ever had occasion to claim benefits for an extended period, or knows someone who does, you’ll know how miserable, repetitive (but not in a good way), monotonous life can be without a ‘purpose.’ And of course, jobs would still need to be done following a revolution, I mean we all need to eat, and sanitation is a good idea, but there would be greater emphasis on ethical ideas following such a revolution because when it’s not all about the money (and the possession of it, leading to hatred, war, famine, disease, etc.), the greatest ideas can take hold, using human potential for way better things than mining Alaska for oil, for instance, or for drilling asteroids and/or comets for diamonds, or for hoarding huge stocks of food in one part of the world whilst on the other side of the world millions starve to death. But anyway, the point is that for those fearful of revolution (and surely none of us wants the violence associated with The Glorious Revolution, or The American Revolution, or The French Revolution, or The Russian Revolution, or The Chinese Revolution, you get the point here?) the actual act of revolution does not need to be/look/seem so different from what happens in the world presently. But first we must just stop and consider for a moment how obscene it is that hundreds of thousands of people will, today and everyday most likely, be spending money in shopping malls buying stuff they really don’t need, when they stop and analyse things, whilst millions starve, die, are mistreated by others, kill each other with weapons of hate. Remove money from the equation, and this is ‘money’ that is not available to all, and many problems disappear.

So there’s a brief, of the top of the head type suggestion, inspired by Russell Brand’s Revolution.

Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #3 (a short one, but with a bit more tagged on as I’ve had a rest and feel a bit more alert now)

What interests me most about Russell Brand’s thoughts around revolution, and which is encapsulated in the following words, ‘like every aspect of this project, we’ll work that out together’ (again, p.31), is the ‘make it up as you go along’ attitude he adopts. Using, here, an American political term, Russell Brand may be seen, by some, as nothing more than a ‘flip-flopper,’ a term, I believe, once ascribed to John Kerry during Bush Jr.’s re-election campaign (2000?). But, isn’t such flip-floppiness preferable to the kind of rigid viewpoint that present day politicians adopt, especially when such fixity leads them to making awful decisions that lead humanity in all kinds of decidedly inhumane directions?


I mean, think of it, could the following sentiment have panned out a little closer to its original intent if the followers of manifest destiny-type thinking had just changed their minds and/or course of action along the way?

What friend of human liberty, civilization, and refinement, can cast his view over the past history of the monarchies and aristocracies of antiquity, and not deplore that they ever existed? What philanthropist can contemplate the oppressions, the cruelties, and injustice inflicted by them on the masses of mankind, and not turn with moral horror from the retrospect?

Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… #3 (a short one)

On p.31 of Revolution, when Russell Brand talks of ‘systemic change on a global scale,’ I am reminded of an article I read a number of years back where a group of Oxford graduates (if my memory serves me well) chose to live on £18k per annum, donating anything above this figure to good/worthwhile causes. I don’t know how successful this particular course of action was for those involved, but the thought of it stayed with me, and very much appealed to me because it offered an example of another way of living – one that does not rely on the ‘endless consumption’ model of late stage capitalism. I mean, when you come to think about it, apart from the essentials of food, shelter, clothing, etc., how much stuff do you actually need in your life?


Russell Brand’s use of the Lakeside shopping complex, with respect to the excesses of capitalist living and the emptiness felt in the aftermath of needless spending (obviously, some won’t see shopping as needless, but hey-ho), is quite interesting and offers a chance for the reader to pause and think about our unconscious habits where the spending of money is concerned.

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.


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.

Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts…

This post, and the ones that will likely follow, all prefixed with ‘Some Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts…’, is inspired by the comedian’s turn to politics and the like. Having watched Russell Brand on Newsnight earlier in 2014, where Jeremy Paxman was particularly rude and dismissive of Brand (a weird attitude for Paxman to take considering that when Paxman interviews people such as Boris Johnson, a ‘buffoon’[1] of the highest order, he treats them with the respect you come to expect of an interviewer working for the BBC), I became interested in the message Russell Brand appeared to be promoting – and to that end I am hoping to receive his latest book, Revolution, as a Christmas present (and if that happens there will definitely be more Russell Brand Inspired Thoughts… (the local library, where I had hoped to borrow a copy, is inundated with reservations for the sole copy it possesses, thus, I’d be waiting a long time before getting to read it)).


This particular post focuses on one of Russell Brand’s current projects as he challenges ‘popular’ policy w/r/t drugs use. The documentary that aired on BBC Three on Monday 15th December 9pm, Russell Brand: End the Drugs War, was interesting in that it raised a fundamental question that exists around the area of ‘drugs:’ why do the users of some drugs become criminals in the process of using said drugs? It, the documentary, surely raised other questions and, judging by the reviews following the programme being aired, likely polarised opinion, not least because Russell Brand advocates the legalisation of ALL drugs. Whether one agrees with Russell Brand on this point, or any of the other points he raises, is, to some extent, by the by. What is most interesting is the fact that he is attempting to engage people (politicians and the general public) in matters that frequently fail to be addressed satisfactorily.

A major shift in drugs policy came about in America in 1914 with the passing of The Harrison Narcotic Act (1914). Laws in the UK became sterner following the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971), a move prompted, arguably, by the United Nations’ belief that UK laws were not stringent enough. Again, these are not necessarily what we should be focussing on. What is most important is the ‘turn’ from drug users being seen as a ‘health’ problem, to suddenly being viewed as ‘criminals’ liable to prosecution.[2] The incredible shift that took place to make this possible is interesting in terms of political manoeuvring, and the motives behind such manoeuvring, and Russell Brand’s documentary goes some way to addressing and/or highlighting this. So whether one finds Russell Brand to be ‘one’s cup of tea’ (likeable/affable/well-intentioned), or ‘not one’s cup of tea’ (annoying/naive/out-of-his-depth), it is hard to dispute the fact that he challenges and/or draws attention to current thinking where drugs, and drugs laws are concerned.


[1] The term ‘buffoon’ is used here to describe a person (Boris Johnson in this example, but there are others) who has been educated to the highest level, and is clearly not stupid, but who chooses to act like a fool for reasons I cannot discuss here.

[2] And here it is very important to distinguish between those scorers of scag (or whatever else), those emaciated individuals with a whole host of health issues that you can very much discern just by looking at their pitiful form, and those people who commit crimes whilst ‘on’ drugs (because not all drug users commit crimes – other than the crime of taking a drug). And perhaps we should also distinguish them from the suppliers and/or dealers of scag (or whatever else), for they are a very different breed of individual.

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