If It’s So Broken, Why Won’t Someone Fix It

The other day the twitterverse was awash with talk of Russell Brand. Since he is of the celebrity ilk, this is no surprise. Katy Perry and all that.

Then someone put up a link to this:

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman (I was trying to think of a televisual New Zealander I could liken him to. Alas, there is none.) questions Brand about his guest editing of the New Statesman magazine and never having voted.

Paxman was more or less saying that Brand couldn’t complain about the system if he wasn’t willing to vote. Another way he said it was, “Why should we listen to you if you can’t even be bothered going out there to vote.”

Brand was countering Paxman with the argument that the system of Westminster democracy is so broken serving just a few massive corporates and such a tiny fraction of the population that a vote within that system is actually a vote for the system.

As much as Paxman tried to steer the interview, Brand wouldn’t allow it. He is not voting because of his absolute indifference towards

When Paxman asked what Brand was doing when he was 18, he replied he was a drug addict because he came from the kind of conditions that he says are exacerbated by the current political system. He says people don’t want to engage because they are not represented by the current political elite.

The apathy doesn’t come from us the people, it comes from people running the system. Where there is profit, Brand says, there is deficit. This deficit has led to a massive underclass of people who don’t see any hope coming from or receive anything to improve their lives from those in power. That’s why they, and he, don’t vote. Why would you? The system gives you nothing so why vote for it.

Here is Russell Brand’s 4500 word manifesto which appeared in the edition of the New Statesman he edited.

He calls for a revolution.

New Zealand just had a series of local body elections with turnouts so poor that more people watched the current series of The Block than bothered to post in their vote.

According to our own Electoral Commission, 29% of people are just not interested in politics. I would imagine politics not being relevant to their daily existence being the root cause of that.

Politics has never been interested in them.

It’s not that we are apathetic, it’s just that the choices we have on offer are so unbelievably poor or so far apart from what we believe a good and functioning society should be that we are not wanting to take part.

If you give us something to vote for, we will vote. If you keep everything for yourselves, then you might as well keep the system for yourself as well. I’ll just get on with making sure my kids are fine thanks.

Mr B.

PS: Since the current capitalist paradigm is built on oil and money, I’ve often wondered what would happen if we all just decided that money wasn’t important any more and we just stopped spending it. Does that make me a communist?


Russell Brand’s 4500 word manifesto – New Statesman, 24 October, 2013

Newsnight Interview with Russell Brand – BBC Newsnight, October 2013

Electoral Commission Survey of Voters and Non-Voters, 2011.


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