Monday, 31 August 2015

Revolution, by Russell Brand

I honestly did not buy this book. My parents gave it to me last Christmas as an ironic present.

I've had a pretty low opinion of Russell Brand, his antics and his half thought out opinions, but reading this book gave me a lot more respect for the man. The book is well written and very witty, if at times a bit vulgar. Brand rejects the materialism of a lot of the young people today and acknowledges the need for spirituality. He talks a lot about God and even has a chapter on the Lord's Prayer. His theology is far from Christian, but it's better than the crass thoughtless atheism that is all too common. He also draws much from the experiences of his recovery from drug addiction, which I can relate to as somebody who works with drug users.

Nevertheless, despite my new appreciation of the man, I was hardly impressed by the political thoughts of Russell Brand. The impression I get is that he's a lazy thinker, who is happy to parrot Noam Chomsky without making any real effort to undestand economics and politics in any objective way. He describes various politicsl and economic solutions, without asking any hard questions about how possible problems they would encounter. He seriously thinks that organic farming is a solution to world hunger, despite the fact that organic farming produces smaller harvests.

Brand shows himself to be an illogical thinker. In one telling moment, he states that anyone who opposes his idea of revolution must therefore think the current political and economic system is the best possible one. This is not true at all. There are two other positions such a person could take. One could hold that the system we have is better than other alternative systems, even if not ideal. Or one could hold that the human cost of a revolution would be so high that it could not be justified.

Brand images that when his revolution happens, it will be a peaceful revolution and not the violent revolutions that he dislikes. But why should this be so? It's difficult to find historical examples of the kind of revolution that Brand would like. He seems to like Anarchism in Spain, but that did not last long enough for us to evaluate it as a long term model. The revolutions in Eastern Europe that ended Communism were mostly bloodless, but they resulted in capitalist institutions taking shape, so they are not much help to Brand.

This is an enjoyable read and reveals a man who is generally quite decent in sentiment, but sadly very shallow.

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