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))?
Tag Archives: Russell Brand
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
 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.
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?
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.
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, 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?
 It was actually published by The Invisible Committee.