It is easy to sneer at Russel Brand. His shtick is just so cringe making half the time- that mix of awkward sweary truisms mixed in with 12-steps to recovery prophetic zeal.
Tonight Michaela and I took the kids to see the Guardian Live screening of Owen Jones and Russell Brand talking about revolution. There were many moments when I found myself cringing into my seat.
But I also cried.
Brand’s basic point is that having in theory won the celebrity/wealth/success lottery, he found that it was all hollow, shallow. He found that in consuming more than anyone could ever want he was destroying himself, and then as part of an on going process of recovery, he knew that he could not stay silent- he had to use the platform he had to raise some objections. He had to challenge the shallow emptiness, the unfairness, the unsustainability, the selfishness.
In many ways, he spoke like a religious convert, the other side his Emmaus Road experience. The meeting was screened from the Emmanuel Centre- a big church in Central London, and just above his left shoulder were the words of John 10:10 I have come to bring you life, and life in all it’s fullness. Brand himself has the words of Francis of Assisi tattooed on his arm Lord make me a channel of your peace.
And tonight, I think the prayer was being answered, in part at least. At one point he told all the audience that they were “..all Fucking Lovely, and it is all going to be OK…” if we just learn some humility and start to look for ways to help one another. Simplistic, emotional, naive even, but also a sweary echo of what Jesus was all about.
There were no real big ideas tonight- no complex processes of change, no economic alternatives to the Capitalist overarching evil narrative- but the clarity of the objection to what is, and the desire to change was all there.
There were 5 of us in the cinema in Dunoon. It was just like going to church. In a good way. The revolution starts here…
Following watching Russell on MSNBC via some internet post or another and hearing him counter the argument that Americans would seek to dismiss a lot of his ideas as just ‘socialism’ with the phrase “Socialism is the politics of Christianity, the politics of common decency,” I ordered the book which arrived today … should be an interesting read!
I disagree completely with Brand when he advises people not to vote, but otherwise, I find him refreshingly honest and often insightful. A force, beyond voting, for good in the main.