UK
26/03/2015 19:18 GMT | Updated 26/03/2015 19:59 GMT

Russell Brand Voted World's Fourth Greatest Public Intellectual By Prospect Readers

Russell Brand, the comedian turned author/activist who posts daily rants to YouTube about religion, politics and the media, has been named one of the world's foremost public intellectuals.

Prospect Magazine's annual list of the world's top 50 thinkers placed Brand at number four - 41 places ahead of last year's number four - an economist whose writings have led to threats of imprisonment and execution.

Brand was placed beneath 'Capital' author Thomas Piketty, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and anti-globalisation activist and author Naomi Klein. He was above figures such as economist Paul Krugman and Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel.

Last year's fourth highest entry was Chinese economist Mao Yushi, who was placed 45 on this year's list.

His public criticism of the Communist Party "led to popular clamour for his imprisonment and execution, with tens of thousands signing a petition demanding his imprisonment on charges of treason" according to the magazine.

By contrast, Brand was mocked for saying he was "prepared" to die for the revolution promoted in his book, saying: “I’d give up everything. I’ve thought about this a lot, whether or not I’m prepared to go to prison or die for what I believe in. The answer is 100%, without question, yes, I’m willing to die for this.”

When Prospect placed Brand on the short list last month ahead of the readers' vote, it said he was "the spiritual leader of Britain’s disaffected anti-capitalist youth" and said, with a fair bit of understatement, that his inclusion "did not meet with universal approval".

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"Dismissed by his opponents as a clownish opportunist, he is nevertheless the most charismatic figure on Britain’s

populist left," the magazine said of Brand at the time.

Prospect editor Bronwen Maddox said of the results: “This was voted for entirely by readers and does not represent Prospect’s views. Russell Brand has made an important contribution to conversation and ideas over the past year.

"We have an initial list of 50 people for readers to vote from and, given the platform Brand has been given on the BBC and the Guardian, we felt he should be included.

"It is a list that is very dependent on events over the past year, so it is not surprising, with the recent release of Revolution and all the conversation around it, that Brand appears on this list.

"But this was very much Thomas Piketty’s race – he was well beyond all the others in terms of votes."

thomas piketty

French economist Thomas Piketty was voted number one