For the past year Brand has been airing his views on the Trews (or the True News), a daily YouTube broadcast. In recent weeks, he has discussed democracy in Hong Kong, the importance of embracing real politics by ignoring Westminster, and whether Obama should give back his Nobel Peace prize. In the book, his conclusion is simple: capitalism is kaput, celebrity charity won’t plug holes, revolution is the only solution. Yet it also feels like a bit of a cop-out: he insists all this can be achieved through love, peace and understanding.
Would he ban private education? “Yes.” And private health? “Yes.” He would “cull corporations” after they have served their purpose. Does he really believe all this can be achieved without coercion? “Yes.” How? “By focusing on the important issues. We’re not even talking about moderately wealthy people – we’re talking about a society so unequal, so ludicrous, that 85 people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest in the world.”
...He grins like a shark. “Yeah, I love it out here. This is where I belong. When I look at them Eton-educated people that govern us, I ain’t afraid of those people. I am excited. I’m going to enjoy this like nothing else, because for once I’m on the right side of the argument. And this is the right time. I feel it. I feel it. The means exist.”
I ask if he normally talks so fast. “Yes. Yes. So now, why I’m excited and why I endorse not voting, is because the farther politics drifts to the right, the better it is. Good. Antagonise people. Let’s get to the point where people are no longer just satisfied with iPods, iPads, iWatches. To the point where people go, ‘I’ve had enough.’” Is he advocating rioting? “It doesn’t have to be through rioting. It can be through total disobedience, non-payment of taxes, non-payment of mortgages.”
...Another man approaches: “Got any spare cash?”
He hasn’t, because he’s celebrity royalty. “I ain’t got a penny, mate. You got any money, Simon?”
Brilliant, I say, digging into my pocket. I’m interviewing you about the revolution and you’ve not got a couple of quid to give to this fella.
As Brand talks to the homeless man, the posh boy says Brand has got a touch of Marx, Che Guevara and Jesus. “But really, parallels shouldn’t be drawn because he’s in a league of his own.”
Hmm. I think I'd go for the John Lennon comparison instead. I could totally see Russell protesting a war by staying in bed for a week, or singing "Imagine no possessions" while owning an air-conditioned closet for his fur coat collection.
As amusing as Brand is, it must be said that his is just the kind of mostly-inoffensive naïveté you expect of entertainers. I'm more incredulous at the fact that the Guardian considers this kind of thing important enough to devote a lengthy article to. I tend to read them, especially their Comment Is Free section, primarily to make myself feel better about the vapid state of American media.