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There’s going to be a revolution?

Russell Brand exhibits a victim mentality – but if it’s western European politics you’re interested in, he has a point.

How very post-modern that an angry voice attracting global media attention is a comedian: Russell Brand.

At the time of writing, his splenetic BBC interview about the pointlessness of voting was all the rage on social media, with comment strings as long as your arm.

Against him was arrayed a phalanx of mainstream media commentators seeking to point out that a dilettante fomenting revolution is still a dilettante.

Brand claims never to have voted, by choice, because politics as currently practiced has never worked for people like him, from the wrong side of the tracks.

Meanwhile, he says, it props up elites whose power and influence only seem to increase in proportion to the financial, environmental and social distress they are instrumental in causing.

He was particularly angry that UK Prime Minister David Cameron was trying to overturn new European Union law to limit bankers’ bonuses.

He was angry about climate change and the apparent collective inability to do anything about something that looks apocalyptic.

russell brand might have a point about capitalism and government

ILLUSTRATION: Angela Keoghan

In Brand’s world, it is the fault of corporate elites rather than our own enjoyment of cars, electric lights and television that we despoil the planet.

In that sense, Brand exhibits a victim mentality. But if it’s western European politics you’re interested in, he has a point.

A huge number of people in the western world are just relieved to hear him say all this and stick it to the man in such an angry and impassioned way.

While the social fissures and economic dislocation are writ small in New Zealand by comparison with, say, Spain with 40 percent-plus youth unemployment, they are far from absent.

The rich in New Zealand have gotten richer. The poor have gotten poorer.

Now a heartless government is flagging through offshore oil and gas exploration and fracking, mining, you name it, and we’re going to ruin the place by accident.

That’s the short version of the summer barbeque conversation for many New Zealanders this summer. These people want
a change of government, they want it now, and their faith in democracy to throw up the best results was seriously challenged before charades such as that playing out in Washington, DC.

Many also say, or at least imply, that they are willing to live more sustainably – a requirement tied to their wider political aims. I suspect it would be a cold day in hell before many of them would agree never to fly again, but all the same, what they’re saying is that enough is enough.

Perhaps there’s always been that constituency, but it feels like it’s growing. Give it one more decent global financial crisis, and we might start needing some innovation in the ways that we govern the world we’ve created.

For alternatives, read the history of the 20th century and throw in climate change. 

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