Russell Brand Calls For Left-Wing Revolution, But Bemoans 'Exclusivity' Around Socialism


Frustration and anger at politicians and the Westminster village serves to turn ordinary people off politics altogether, rather than usher in the "revolution", Russell Brand has bemoaned.

The left, the comedian says, needs a Tea Party. But a lack of confidence, and a tendency to take themselves too seriously, is what prevents socialists having their own Nigel Farage.

In a 4,000 word polemic as guest editor of the New Statesman, Brand said the "moral superiority that is peculiar to the left is a great impediment to momentum. It is also a right drag when you’re trying to enjoy a riot.

Russell Brand has been the guest editor of the New Statesman

"Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness, socialism has become in practice quite exclusive."

"Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I’m a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a f***ing laugh."

Brand recalled getting stick from both the right and the left, when he joined the G20 protests in London, donning a black beanie hat and protected by minders.

“I felt pretty embarrassed that my involvement [in a protest] was being questioned, in a manner which is all too common on the left," Brand said.

That air of exclusivity, over-sincerity and smugness on the left has turned many of the disillusioned away from politics and toward their XBox instead, Brand said. “Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz. The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes.

“Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people.

"A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels.

"The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left’s great legacy as it is dismantled around them.

“We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.”

The comedian has been making waves across the political waters over the past year, writing op-eds for Huffington Post and the Guardian on topics like the Woolwich terror attacks and Margaret Thatcher, and appearing on Newsnight and Question Time. He is set to discuss his political motivations in a live Q&A with HuffPost UK's political director Mehdi Hasan in just under a fortnight's time.

Brand, who has admitted in the past that he has never voted, said he finds political talk inherently boring. “When people talk about politics within the existing Westminster framework I feel a dull thud in my stomach and my eyes involuntarily glaze. Like when I’m conversing and the subject changes from me and moves on to another topic. I try to remain engaged but behind my eyes I am adrift in immediate nostalgia; “How happy I was earlier in this chat,” I instantly think."

As guest editor of the left-wing magazine, Brand has brought on board pieces from Naomi Klein, Rupert Everett, Gary Lineker, Noel Gallagher, Alec Baldwin, David Lynch, Judd Apatow, Oliver Stone, Howard Marks and Martha Lane Fox.

Before You Go