Freddie Trevaskis Hoskin reviews Russell Brand’s recently published best selling book Revolution .
He takes personal anecdotes, spirituality, the ideas of friends and leading political theorists and fashions them into one roller coaster of a general message.
This is not to say that the book seems fragmented or cobbled together.
Throughout Brand is funny, charming and his writing style flows naturally between jokes and explanation of anti-capitalist politics which helps greatly in making theory accessible and interesting without patronising the reader.
Brand’s politics are as the title may suggest, revolutionary.
Brand launches quickly into a funny and common sense critique of capitalism.
The fact that the 85 richest people control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 Billion, he points out, is just blatantly insane.
He is also very quick to realize that climate change is inexorably linked with capitalism and the huge profits made by oil companies, saying “Either we ditch capitalism or we ditch the planet.”
Once he has pointed out these problems which are usually hidden from public discourse he goes on to use his particular brand of wit (No pun intended) to explain simple but radical solutions.
He understands the power that labour has in the system pointing out that “The system that exploits us cannot function without us, without our labour.”
He advocates workers control through a co-operative system, localised direct democracy and communities organizing themselves to produce what they need for the common good.
He even explains and denounces imperialism and commodity fetishism.
All of this is done in a funny and engaging writing style, far from dry academia.
Brand really helps to bring theory to life and bring life to theory.
However, Brand’s politics are not perfect.
This is understandable; he is a comedian not a political theorist and he has done pretty damn well.
But some criticisms must be made.
Throughout the book he links the idea of revolution with his, relativity eastern, idea of God.
He constantly argues that destruction of the self or ego is necessary to revolution; on this point most revolutionaries will not agree.
Brand is also a pacifist, believing that revolution must be an entirely peaceful one.
Here he does not see the inevitable violent response of the state machinery to any threat to capital.
He even admits at a number of points that he is relatively fond of the police and army.
Finally Brand occasionally uses racially charged humour in the book, with one or two examples of making fun of accents or a tradition.
Compared to many comedians these days, who rely hugely on racist and misogynist humour, Brand is far less problematic and does seem to be trying to unlearn these mindsets and argues quite vocally for the rights of immigrants.
This does not however mean he should be let off the hook – all instances of racism no matter how slight ought to be called out.
In conclusion while Brand’s politics are not perfect they are pretty good The true virtue of this book is its accessibility, the fact it is actually an enjoyable and entertaining read while dealing with serious political issues.
It is quite a good introduction to anti-capitalist politics in general and would definitelt leaves you yearning to take action.