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Brand writes: "As long as the priorities of those in government remain the interests of big business, rather than the people they were elected to serve, the impact of voting is negligible and it is our responsibility to be more active if we want real change."

Russell Brand. (photo: unknown)
Russell Brand. (photo: unknown)

We Deserve More From Our Democratic System

By Russell Brand, Guardian UK

06 November 13


Following his appearance on Newsnight, the comedian explains why he believes there are alternatives to our current regime

I've had an incredible week since I spoke from the heart, some would say via my arse, on Paxman. I've had slaps on the back, fist bumps, cheers and hugs while out and about, cock-eyed offers of political power from well intentioned chancers and some good ol' fashioned character assassinations in the papers.

The people who liked the interview said it was because I'd articulated what they were thinking. I recognise this. God knows I'd love to think the attention was about me but I said nothing new or original, it was the expression of the knowledge that democracy is irrelevant that resonated. As long as the priorities of those in government remain the interests of big business, rather than the people they were elected to serve, the impact of voting is negligible and it is our responsibility to be more active if we want real change.

Turns out that among the disenchanted is Paxman himself who spends most of his time at the meek heart of the political establishment and can't summons up the self-delusion to drag his nib across the ballot box. He, more than any of us is aware that politicians are frauds. I've not spent too much time around them, only on the telly, it's not pleasant; once you've been on Question Time and seen Boris simpering under a make-up brush it's difficult to be enthusiastic about politics.

The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don't think it does. I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right. The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears.

I remember the election and Cameron didn't even get properly voted in, he became prime minister by default when he teamed up with Clegg. Clegg who immediately reneged (Renegy-Cleggy?) on his flagship pledge to end tuition fees at the first whiff of power.

When students, perhaps students who had voted for him, rioted they were condemned. People riot when dialogue fails, when they feel unrepresented and bored by the illusion, bilious with the piped in toxic belch wafted into their homes by the media.

The reason these coalitions are so easily achieved is that the distinctions between the parties are insignificant. My friend went to a posh "do" in the country where David Cameron, a man whose face resembles a little painted egg, was in attendance. Also present were members of the opposition and former prime minister Tony Blair. Whatever party they claim to represent in the day, at night they show their true colours and all go to the same party.

Obviously there has been some criticism of my outburst, I've not been universally applauded as a cross between Jack Sparrow and Spartacus (which is what I'm going for) but they've been oddly personal and I think irrelevant to the argument. I try not to read about myself as the mean stuff is hurtful and the good stuff hard to believe, but my mates always give me the gist of what's going on, the bastards. Some people say I'm a hypocrite because I've got money now. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I'm rich and I complain about inequality they say I'm a hypocrite. I'm beginning to think they just don't want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

It's easy to attack me, I'm a right twerp, I'm a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it, but that doesn't detract from the incontrovertible fact that we are living in a time of huge economic disparity and confronting ecological disaster. This disparity has always been, in cultures since expired, a warning sign of end of days. In Rome, Egypt and Easter Island the incubated ruling elites, who had forgotten that we are one interconnected people, destroyed their societies by not sharing. That is what's happening now, regardless of what you think of my hair or me using long words, the facts are the facts and the problem is the problem. Don't be distracted. I think these columnist fellas who give me aggro for not devising a solution or for using long words are just being territorial. When they say "long words" they mean "their words" like I'm a monkey who got in their Mum's dressing up box or a hooligan in policeman's helmet.

As I said to Paxman at the time "I can't conjure up a global Utopia right now in this hotel room". Obviously that's not my job and it doesn't need to be, we have brilliant thinkers and organisations and no one needs to cook up an egalitarian Shangri-La on their todd; we can all do it together.

I like Jeremy Paxman, incidentally. I think he's a decent bloke but like a lot of people who work deep within the system it's hard for him to countenance ideas from outside the narrowly prescribed trench of contemporary democracy. Most of the people who criticized me have a vested interest in the maintenance of the system. They say the system works. What they mean is "the system works for me".

The less privileged among us are already living in the apocalypse, the thousands of street sleepers in our country, the refugees and the exploited underclass across our planet daily confront what we would regard as the end of the world. No money, no home, no friends, no support, no hand of friendship reaching out, just acculturated and inculcated condemnation.

When I first got a few quid it was like an anaesthetic that made me forget what was important but now I've woken up. I can't deny that I've done a lot of daft things while I was under the capitalist fugue, some silly telly, soppy scandals, movies better left unmade. I've also become rich. I don't hate rich people; Che Guevara was a rich person. I don't hate anyone, I judge no one, that's not my job, I'm a comedian and my job is to say whatever I like to whoever I want if I'm prepared to take the consequences. Well I am.

My favourite experiences since Paxman-nacht are both examples of the dialogue it sparked. Firstly my friend's 15-year-old son wrote an essay for his politics class after he read my New Statesman piece. He didn't agree with everything I said, he prefers the idea of spoiling ballots to not voting "to show we do care" maybe he's right, I don't know. The reason not voting could be effective is that if we starve them of our consent we could force them to acknowledge that they operate on behalf of The City and Wall Street; that the financing of political parties and lobbying is where the true influence lies; not in the ballot box. However, this 15-year-old is quite smart and it's quite possible that my opinions are a result of decades of drug abuse.

I'm on tour so I've been with thousands of people every night (not like in the old days, I'm a changed man) this is why I'm aware of how much impact the Newsnight interview had. Not everyone I chat to agrees with me but their beliefs are a lot closer to mine than the broadsheets, and it's their job to be serious. One thing I've learned and was surprised by is that I may suffer from the ol' sexism. I can only assume I have an unaddressed cultural hangover, like my adorable Nan who had a heart that shone like a pearl but was, let's face it, a bit racist. I don't want to be a sexist so I'm trying my best to check meself before I wreck meself. The problem may resolve itself as I'm in a loving relationship with a benevolent dictator and have entirely relinquished personal autonomy.

Whilst travelling between gigs I had my second notable encounter. One night late at the Watford Gap I got chatting to a couple of squaddies, one Para, one Marine, we talked a bit about family and politics, I invited them to a show. Then we were joined by three Muslim women, all hijabbed up. For a few perfect minutes in the strip lit inertia of this place, that was nowhere in particular but uniquely Britain, I felt how plausible and beautiful The Revolution could be. We just chatted.

Between three sets of different people; first generation Muslims, servicemen and the privileged elite that they serve (that would be me) effortless cooperation occurred. Here we were free from the divisive rule that tears us apart. That sends brave men and women to foreign lands to fight their capitalist wars, that intimidates and unsettles people whose faith and culture superficially distinguishes them, that tells the comfortable "hush now" you have your trinkets. It seemed ridiculous that refracted through the power prism that blinds us; the soldiers could be invading the homeland of these women's forefathers in order to augment my luxurious stupour. Here in the gap we were together. Our differences irrelevant. With no one to impose separation we are united.

I realised then that our treasured concepts of tribe and nation are not valued by those who govern except when it is to divide us from each other. They don't believe in Britain or America they believe in the dollar and the pound. These are deep and entrenched systemic wrongs that are unaddressed by party politics.

The symptoms of these wrongs are obvious, global and painful. Drone strikes on the innocent, a festering investment for future conflict.

How many combatants are created each time an innocent person in a faraway land is silently ironed out from an Arizona call centre? The reality is we have more in common with the people we're bombing than the people we're bombing them for.

NSA spying, how far-reaching is the issue of surveillance? Do you think we don't have our own cute, quaint British version? Does it matter if the dominant paradigm of Western Capitalism is indifferent to our Bud Flanagan belief in nation? Can we really believe these problems can be altered within the system that created them? That depends on them? The system that we are invited to vote for? Of course not, that's why I won't vote. That's why I support the growing revolution.

We can all contribute ideas as to how to change our world; schoolboys, squaddies, hippies, Muslims, Jews and if what I'm describing is naive then you can keep your education and your indoctrination because loving our planet and each other is a duty, a beautiful obligation. While chatting to people this week I heard some interesting ideas, here are a couple.

We could use the money accumulated by those who have too much, not normal people with a couple of cars, giant corporations, to fund a fairer society.

The US government gave a trillion dollars to bail out the big five banks over the past year. Banks that have grown by 30% since the crisis and are experiencing record profits and giving their execs record bonuses. How about, hang on to your hats because here comes a naïve suggestion, don't give them that money, use it to create one million jobs at fifty grand a year for people who teach, nurse or protect.

These bailouts for elites over services for the many are institutionalised within the system, no party proposes changing it. American people that voted, voted for it. I'm not voting for that.

That's one suggestion for the Americans; we started their country so we owe them a favour now things are getting heavy.

Here's one for blighty; Philip Green, the bloke who owns Top Shop didn't pay any income tax on a £1.2bn dividend in 2005. None. Unless he paid himself a salary that year, in addition to the £1.2bn dividend, the largest in corporate history, then the people who clean Top Shop paid more income tax than he did. That's for two reasons – firstly because he said that all of his £1.2bn earnings belong to his missus, who was registered in Monaco and secondly because he's an arsehole. The money he's nicked through legal loopholes would pay the annual salary for 20,000 NHS nurses. It's not illegal; it's systemic, British people who voted, voted for it. I'm not voting for that.

Why don't you try not paying taxes and see how quickly a lump of bird gets thrown in your face. It's socialism for corporate elites and feudalism for the rest of us. Those suggestions did not come from me; no the mind that gave the planet Booky Wook and Ponderland didn't just add an economically viable wealth distribution system to the laudable list of accolades, to place next to my Shagger Of The Year awards.

The first came from Dave DeGraw, the second Johann Hari got from UK Uncut. Luckily with organisations like them, Occupy, Anonymous and The People's Assembly I don't need to come with ideas, we can all participate. I'm happy to be a part of the conversation, if more young people are talking about fracking instead of twerking we're heading in the right direction. The people that govern us don't want an active population who are politically engaged, they want passive consumers distracted by the spectacle of which I accept I am a part.

If we all collude and collaborate together we can design a new system that makes the current one obsolete. The reality is there are alternatives. That is the terrifying truth that the media, government and big business work so hard to conceal. Even the outlet that printed this will tomorrow print a couple of columns saying what a naïve wanker I am, or try to find ways that I've fucked up. Well I am naïve and I have fucked up but I tell you something else. I believe in change. I don't mind getting my hands dirty because my hands are dirty already. I don't mind giving my life to this because I'm only alive because of the compassion and love of others. Men and women strong enough to defy this system and live according to higher laws. This is a journey we can all go on together, all of us. We can include everyone and fear no one. A system that serves the planet and the people. I'd vote for that. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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+59 # MEBrowning 2013-11-06 16:00
I'm liking this guy more and more. Unfortunately, about a quarter of us are crackpots and idiots who think that living "according to higher laws" means identifying with billionaires instead of their neighbors, and hastening the Rapture. And there will be those with very deep pockets who are hell-bent on twisting information and turning us against each other — just as they always have done. But what can it hurt to try?
+14 # Vardoz 2013-11-06 18:39
Perhaps too many are too stupid to get it- What a terribel situation we are in.
+2 # brux 2013-11-09 10:05
I don't know if it is "too stupid" but what is the point of "getting it" when there is nothing to be done and it just makes one miserable and takes one off-point of the purpose of providing for one's life? I think a lot of people are somehow able to just turn off that political part of their beings and try to get some little enjoyment out of their lives, when they know they will face misery and abuse if they do anything different.
0 # 6thextinction 2013-11-09 20:30
I worked in the inner city with residents who may not have higher education, or any power, but "get it" much better than those who have both (who I've also worked with for an equal length of time). All the conversation below about voting distracts from what he is suggesting instead: personal involvement, action, political engagement as shown in Occupy, Anonymous and The People's Assembly. Don't vote in their corrupted elections; rise up and fight against what is ruining us as a country, and individuals.
+21 # Nominae 2013-11-06 19:46
Quoting MEBrowning:
... about a quarter of us are crackpots and idiots who think that living "according to higher laws" means identifying with billionaires instead of their neighbors, and hastening the Rapture....and turning us against each other ...

Cogent comment indeed. And I give Brand *great* credit for simply pointing *TO* the alternatives that really *do* exist, and that the media really *does* spend most of their time and money trying to hide from the public.

Brand, admirably, does not claim to be "The Wizard", but does what he can do in that he has the "Pop Culture Pulpit, and a commendable mind for organizing and coherently presenting the disparate parts of the puzzle for what they really are. Variations upon the overall Corporate Takeover
of the Planet.

Brand's work right here is a *serious* beginning step for the new paradigm in which the population will eventually create itself an entirely new system. One in which the paramount concern will be the way we treat our Planet and one another, and how we might better improve *everything* to that end.

People will not need to "overthrow" the present system as much as to simply walk away from it, and do things differently. The "revolution" must be, and is already, one of new ideas. New systems.

It will not happen overnight, but I am elated to say that it *IS* happening. And Russell Brand is one of the new harbingers ?
Now that's delicious humor indeed, but I'm *SO* glad he's here !
+1 # brux 2013-11-09 10:07
> but I am elated to say that it *IS* happening.

Uh, all the metrics about equality and democracy say that is ... "malarky". Let's be honest, that is just not true.
+48 # curmudgeon 2013-11-06 16:07
"The people that govern us don't want an active population who are politically engaged, they want passive consumers distracted by the spectacle of which I accept I am a part."

That's why the dumbing down of education and the entertainizing of news (Murdoch notwithstanding ) and buggering of labor unions kicked into gear under Reagan and Thatcher - think about it

I'll say another thing ......Russell may or may not have his head on straight but what comes out is the 'right stuff'
+7 # Vardoz 2013-11-06 18:38
From George Carlin- His profetic words. THE AMERICAN DREAM on UTUBE.
+23 # Charles3000 2013-11-06 16:16
He expresses his feelings and his feelings ring true. You cannot ask more of a person. For a serious suggestion for what he seeks read Occupy: A Manifesto on RSN under Occupy.
+8 # Inspired Citizen 2013-11-06 16:49
I liked what he said in the interview EXCLUDING the opposition to voting. Here in Tompkins County yesterday, we unseated a rep in co. leg. for his "no" vote on a resolution to Congress asking them to pass an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Door to door flyer work by 7 of us and a good candidate unseated that guy, a long-term incumbent.

If we're going to have a revolution, and we desperately need one, we're going to have to win at the ballot box. Brands tactics won't help.
+14 # Kathymoi 2013-11-06 18:58
I agree. Russell said he'd vote for a system that supports humans and the environment instead of profits. We need to select our own darn candidates---no t accept the candidates we're given by the political parties---and vote them in. I think it's our best bet, but it would take massive participation and communication. It's possible, but I don't see it happening much yet. Bernie Sanders is trying to get this going too. I like him. He's an independent, not a party member, and he supports what he believes is good for humans. I'd like to see people get together and select an independent from their community (state, or national community) who is independent of party politics and committed to initiating support for the human being and the environment in which humans live. It would require participation by about 99% of the population.
+1 # GrannyBgood 2013-11-07 07:06
I love this guy! I just don't want to play into the very hands that DON'T WANT US TO VOTE and destroy whatever meager function of Democracy we have left.

If anything, we need MORE Democracy..ever ywhere in our lives, but to get that we need MORE CHOICES,,and the System needs to be tweeked (not Twerked!) so that can happen and there are viable choices that can lead to viable change, like allowing third parties to actually emerge instead of just becoming Spoilers..a system like IRV or ranked voting.
Mine gives you a first AND second Choice..First gets 2 points, second gets one..the winner has the most points. Simple. You can vote for what you REALLY want and back it up with what you'll tolerate compared to what you really DON't want.
Just not voting at all will not replace our dysfunctional Democracy with a better's Use it or Lose it, like with so many other things!
0 # brux 2013-11-09 10:12
Since voting is mostly symbolic, while I'd like to agree with you and say people should vote, it does not work, so as a symbol - not voting, at least on certain occasions sends just as much of a message.

The problem is that NOT VOTING is not reported, seen or cared about.

I read an article the other day that said that not since Teddy Roosevelt have more people voted for the President than not voted at all in any election. Let me repeat that ....


This is a pretty astounding proof that our system is not democratic.
+28 # angelfish 2013-11-06 16:59
Thank you, Russell. You have eloquently said what most SANE Americans have been thinking for decades!
+4 # Kathymoi 2013-11-06 19:01
we gotta rethink the no voting stance though. Instead of not voting, how about going a bit further into revolution and actually supporting someone who is not part of the political party system to run for office and represent us in the government. In the US, the government can completely change what it does. We can change our constitution, our tax system, --anything and everything. We can certainly change the farm bill!! But we have to be the government to make the changes. Writing a letter to a politician is not going to result in change. And one good representative in the government is not enough to make change (see Bernie Sanders). We need hundreds of us in the government.
+13 # Nominae 2013-11-06 21:18
Quoting angelfish:
Thank you, Russell. You have eloquently said what most SANE Americans have been thinking for decades!

Indeed you have, Mr. Brand, and give not a thought to those who whine about "long words". Never, ever allow your work to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator as many here in the U.S. will actually demand. You know .... compound words such as "watermelon", and "telephone pole" just tip some readers over.

Consider it your contribution to the economy. If the dullards can't keep up with the conversation, perhaps they will be inspired to go out and actually purchase a real dictionary.
And then get some kid who knows his ABCs to help them use it.

People helping people.
+12 # E-Mon 2013-11-06 17:54
"The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears."

This line sums it all up quite nicely. I laughed till tears flowed when I read that line because it's so true. I've been on planet for 60 years and except for a small handful.. Ron Paul, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich come to mind for present day politicians, and JFK in the past, it's been disappointment after disappointment. All the campaign promises crumble to dust as soon as they're elected. Tell em what they want to hear to get your foot in the door, then do whatever you want when you're in. Or perhaps more correctly, do the bidding of your corporate sponsors once you're in.

My hat's off for Russell Brand for not being afraid to be "politically incorrect" and telling like it is. Naive? Maybe... Maybe I'm naive too, but then again perhaps doing the same old same old year after year and expecting different results (the definition of insanity) is even more naive. He's right. The system is working.... For the elite insiders who are benefitting, but certainly not for the rest of us.
+5 # Vardoz 2013-11-06 18:36
How about LBJs war on poverty and RDF the New Deal? There have been some greats and Obama is not one of them and neither is this twisted, sadistic congress.
+4 # Rain17 2013-11-06 20:22
I'm sorry, but I just don't have the negative view of President Obama that many other people here have. I don't agree with everything that he has done; but, given what he has had to deal with, I think he has done a good job. Not great, but not bad either.

The ACA has its issues and is not perfect, but I am grateful that it passed. And, despite presidents of both parties trying to get universal coverage, Obama is the only one who took a step forward in that direction.
+2 # bingers 2013-11-07 05:56
Remember also that the bad stuff in the ACA was put there by Republican amendments, which was the price of getting it done, and they then refused to make available funding for a good web site.
+3 # MEBrowning 2013-11-07 10:20
And nobody that I know of has ever mentioned that ultra-rightwing websites were gleefully encouraging their readers to go on the site on the first day it was open and sabotage it. Who knows how much damage that alone may have done?
+4 # Kathymoi 2013-11-06 19:10
Ron Paul if elected would bring certain disaster because he would assist in quickly removing any meaningful regulation of business we have left and would favor the dissolution of whatever services the republicans are doing their best to dismantle. I'm for Bernie. Elizabeth sounds good but she's a party member and that means taking orders from the party bosses (read as corporations.) Dennis, yes. But what about non politicians? Let's get them into the government. Non party members. Not running as democrats or republicans. Running, like Bernie, as independents, and with little money spent on their campaign. We can't vote for someone who has tv ads and a tuxedo appearance at a party convention, a staff of public relations experts, and so on. That politician is calling up Monsanto and Bank of America for interest free loans to be repaid in laws written in their favor. Select ethical independents to run for governor, senator, congressman, president, and all the president's cabinet and staff. That's a revolution I can support.
+4 # Billy Bob 2013-11-07 08:09
But the other 100,000,000 people who vote, DO vote based on TV ads. How do you plan to change that?
+5 # GrannyBgood 2013-11-07 10:21

More and better DEBATES on the actual ISSUES.

In fact, make those ads illegal..that'l l immediately take the biggest chunk of filthy loot out of our elections!
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-11-07 12:46
Sounds great. How do you plan to do that?
+5 # MEBrowning 2013-11-06 22:45
Not Ron Paul, E-Mon. Check out his stance on women's issues. The man — a physician, no less! — sounds okay on foreign policy, but many of his domestic policies would be a disaster.
+5 # Eliz77 2013-11-07 10:02
Ron Paul is not on my list. He is a corporatist like Obama, and unlike O, look at Paul's kid. OMG, a terrible fruit from a crooked tree. Be very careful who you spot as leaders. Know who you are voting for. Think: could I do the job? Who do I know close to me who could. And then when they are elected/hired, keep an eye on them and help guide them to do the job honestly. A democracy is hard work, but worth it.
-2 # E-Mon 2013-11-07 16:35
[quote name="Eliz77"]R on Paul is not on my list. He is a corporatist like Obama....."

I beg to differ on this. Ron Paul sponsored a bill to audit the Federal Reserve. If you've done your homework you would know how important this is to the survival of the nation. The Fed being a private, for profit central bank has never been audited since it's creation in 1913. It is the biggest scam in the history of the world, quietly siphoning off the wealth of an entire nation. While even I may not agree with everything Ron Paul stands for like MEBrowning's women's issues, this one issue, auditing the Fed trumps everything else, and my hat's off for his courage and integrity. Like the David and Goliath story.... Standing up to the giant. Nobody else would touch it with a ten ft. pole. Obama on the other hand, looks to be a willing pawn of the banksters.
+14 # Terrapin 2013-11-06 18:18
The Spirit of George Carlin lives!
+3 # stanhode 2013-11-06 20:04
You got it!
+11 # Floe 2013-11-06 18:18
How can anyone not love this guy? I just hope he doesn't live extravagantly as that will render his sincerity false. Even with truckloads of money, one should live a low carbon footprint especially if one calls for renewal to our planet. I'm a flaming atheist however it is kind of ironic how Jesus-like Russell Brand looks.
-30 # 2013-11-06 18:30
Russell, you are a great talent. Since Capitalism is so evil in your eyes, you should stop making movies since they are based on Capitalism. You should stop appearing at theaters for stand-up comedy since they are operating on the Capitalistic principle.

In order for your Utopia to appear, you should plant the seed and give away 75% of your wealth. In fact, you should give that 75% to your government !

Your ideas will work - until you run out of other people's money to pay for them.
+12 # Kathymoi 2013-11-06 19:13
Thank you Russel Brand for using your position of fame to communicate on the popular media ideas that would never otherwise get a hearing there. Thank you.

I understand why you don't read what's written about you, but I hope you read my comments.
+2 # ChickenBoo 2013-11-08 00:43
I agree! I have to say, I honestly had never heard of Russel Brand before his interview with that pompas ASS, Paxman. Brand poured his HEART out, and he may be a junkie (EX junkie) and he may be Hollywood, but OMG. He will reach people who would never have heard this message any other way. Keep an eye on this Russel Brand...he's a "dark horse" that comes clear from the back of the track and wins the race right out from under everyone. Don't let the turkeys get you down Mr. Brand!
-1 # brux 2013-11-09 10:16
It's not capitalism is bad or wrong, it's that our version of capitalism and democracy is a sham - you know ... a sham, like your post.
+13 # Vardoz 2013-11-06 18:31
Thank you Russell- This is a very important time for all people who make up the 99%. They depend on our apathy!!!! Just imagine what will happen to us and our Earth with unfettered global corporate power. It will be the end of us.
+6 # Kathymoi 2013-11-06 19:19
"They" meaning the 1%?
The 1% depends on the 99% not getting actively participatory in the selection of candidates or the promotion of candidates because the 1% needs a certain kind of person in government that they can own and control. If we, the 99%, got ourselves a bit organized to select ethical intelligent informed people from among ourselves (not the political parties) to run for every office--mayor, governor, congress, senate, president (president and all the president's cabinet as one unit)--that would be the revolution. They'd be blaring away on their tv ads and their network news infotainment about their political offering and defaming our choice, and we could ignore them entirely and vote in our people---our government.
0 # brux 2013-11-09 10:18
> The 1% depends on the 99% not getting actively participatory in the selection of candidates or the promotion of candidates because the 1% needs a certain kind of person in government that they can own and control.

I'd be a bit more cynical myself ... the 1% depend on having enough power to lie to, disrupt, beat, shoot or otherwise intimidate enough of the 99% that they stay in their places for fear of being hurt or killed. That's really not so hard, especially as time goes by and people are almost bred for the leash.
+4 # spercepolnes 2013-11-06 19:02
Inspired Citizen - first you have to have someone to vote for that actually cares - it does happen in small ways, but not enough to make much of a difference at the moment in the overall scheme of things.....
-3 # Rain17 2013-11-06 20:12
My issue with Brand is that he can afford the luxury of not voting and pursuing whatever self-destructiv e political strategies Brand will never have to face the voters, let alone ever get elected, take office, and actually have to try to implement his agenda. No he can just write articles and go on TV shows criticizing everyone else.

Unlike Brand I actually have real-life concerns that are more pedestrian. I've said it before, but I'm gay. One or two bad elections and the hard-won civil rights, including gay marriage, of the last few years could all go away. And those who advocating not voting, voting third-party, or pursuing any other self-destructiv e political strategy that inevitably results in electing Republicans are not on my side. And thus I count Brand as one of them because, if people in the US took his advice and didn't vote, they would be helping those who would want to take away my civil rights.

I know that ours is an imperfect system and that most, if not all, politicians are "bought". But I just don't get what Brand is trying to achieve by telling people not to vote. What good does not voting bring?
+6 # Skeptical1247 2013-11-06 21:58
ANd then there is the flip side of your question. When the fix is in on who gets to be a "candidate", and it is, particularly in the case of the Democratic Party, does it really make a difference whether you vote for tweedlydee or tweedledumb? I believe that is Brand's point.

"gayness" brings to light another point. The two Corporate Parties are allowed by their owners to offer up and actually legislate the occasional freebie "social justice cookie" for the lefties, They are NOT allowed at this point to do a damn thing that will cost the corporations either money OR power, and they damn well have NOT even tried since 2008

THink about that in the context of recent history. THose of us that think it's great for you to get rights that you have been so wrongfully denied, but are still are not happy about economic slavery and environmental degradation and corrupted government at every branch... and twig.

I feel that we ARE on the same side AND there are numerous strategies and matters of timing to be considered. Making a difference in our own lives may require economic boycotting AND voting AND street demonstrations, AND gradually withdrawing our labor and our money from the Plutocratic Economy, then perhaps a General Strike to shut down both that economy and the government until the fuckers get it. It won't run without us, the money stops flowing when WE don't show up. Let's just see how long your company or government can survive without cash flow.
+3 # Skeptical1247 2013-11-06 22:18
CONTINUATION: I'm thinking the CEO's will fold in about 3 months, as they have debts to service. The government will be freaking out in 10 weeks when the tax withholding starts to dry up. Goods won't be made, orders not filled, trucks not moving, banks that are already under-capitaliz ed are gonna shit a brick as deposits dry up. It pisses me off that some jerk can shut the government down based entirely on idiotic procedural conventions. BUT it is a powerful thing to realize we can shut down THEIR economy and THEIR government by the simple act of NOT SHOWING UP. THey can't show up and make us go to work, make us put money in the bank, make us go shopping. Might be more effective than voting for D1 or D2, who are in reality the same goddam person. Being prepared for this eventuality, even if it never comes to pass, would be a smart strategy to pursue. The worst outcome is you got more canned goods, bottled water, and cash in hand
+4 # Nominae 2013-11-06 22:53
Quoting Rain17:
.....I know that ours is an imperfect system and that most, if not all, politicians are "bought". But I just don't get what Brand is trying to achieve by telling people not to vote. What good does not voting bring?

Part I

Brand is simply observing the fact that *real* change cannot be accomplished by working within a broken, corrupt, and "pre-rigged" system.

Voting at the local level still has some effect as Inspired Citizen points out, but at the level of State and National, voting is simply an empty exercise designed to give citizens the illusion that they have any power at all, which then makes them less likely to dig out the torches and the pitchforks.

But either way, Brand is not the "Voting Czar". He is simply stating an opinion, not issuing a decree. You can relax.

Consider this analogy. You (the 1%) own a sandbox called the USA. Politically, you don't really care whether the sand in the sandbox is all shoved over to the Right, or all shoved over to the Left, just so *ALL* the sand remains *in* the sandbox.

So, when elections roll around, you allow *only* candidates on the ballot who will keep things status quo, in terms of shoving the sand back and forth to create the illusion of "progress" or "change", but which will, in reality, change nothing of actual import (to you, the 1%).

0 # Nominae 2013-11-06 22:59

Part II

This action is calculated to make the puppets go along with your illusion that their vote gives them "a seat at the table".
It never has - and under the status quo - it never will. The illusion does, however, throw a very handy damper upon the impulse to violent revolution, as it was designed to do.

On a National Level the act of voting makes no more difference than standing in place and flapping ones arms in the air. As political critic Ms. Goldberg was quoted as saying: "If voting really changed anything, it would be illegal."

t has already been determined by "the man behind the curtain" that a vote for *EITHER* candidate (that was allowed by the Machine *to* run) *IS* a vote for the Machine, resulting, as previously noted, only with the sand being pushed over to one side or another of the sandbox for effect.

Politicians are fond of dangling "Red Meat" issues before the public. Red Meat issues are defined as those which really don't affect the bottom-line of the Machine, but which are simply *wonderful* for their ability to distract the public from looking a issues that *DO* affect the bottom line of the Machine such as Global Climate Change, the secretive TPP, the NDAA, etc.

Those are issues with real life consequences to the 1% if *they* were ever allowed to be openly discussed.

+3 # Nominae 2013-11-06 23:04
@ Rain17

Part III
Issues such as flag burning, gay marriage, etc. are issues that do not affect the financial bottom line of the Machine, issues that the 1% cares nothing about, but issues that can keep the public handily distracted from the financial issues.

Even as civil rights for gays are vastly improving, we have laws being gutted by the Supreme Court eviscerating the Civil Rights act for other minorities. The Machine doesn't care who votes for what, good, bad or ugly, so long as no one "rocks the boat" of financial State. That is eventuality is "under lock and key", seen to long before Elections ever commence.

The term "Red Meat issue" is borrowed from burglary techniques which distract any residential guard dogs
by tossing red meat over the fence. As the dogs are
left fighting over the red meat, the home invaders walk right past them. If you are one of the dogs, you are intensely interested in the red meat.

If you are the home invader, the red meat is simply a means to complete a robbery unmolested. A way to neutralize the threat posed by guard dogs, that allows you to complete your crime in silence.

As Rain17, you have posted many arguments here that are obviously undergirded by the fear you experience as a gay man in this society, and less upon "Big Picture" analysis.

+2 # Nominae 2013-11-06 23:07

Part IV

My gay younger brother faces those same pressures, but he does not find that it obviates his ability to also see the "Big Picture" rather than only what he calls the "all about me" perspective.

As a gay man, one supposes (perhaps incorrectly) that a primary concern in your world would be tolerance for others.

Your absolutist views that would *force* people to vote (ala Australia), which would remove the freedom to "vote one's own conscience" for those who *DO* vote, and your insistence that people should vote only for what *you* want, is simply one of the most primal, jackbooted forms of full out intolerance of others that I can think of.

As a gay man, you need tolerance from others, as do we all.
The best way to get tolerance, is to *give* tolerance.
Call it Karma, or the Law of Cause and Effect.

I have said it before, but it appears to bear repeating: One person cannot control and change the minds of others. One can only control the way one chooses to respond to the minds of others.

+2 # Nominae 2013-11-06 23:09

Part V

You ask what is the "good of not voting" ? It reflects the inviolable right to Human Freedom Of Choice. In this case, the freedom to choose *NOT* to vote, without explanation to *ANYONE*.

I will defend *MY* freedom in this regard even as I will defend YOUR freedom in this regard. Please consider extending the same freedom to others that you would like to have for yourself.

Perhaps even to Russell Brand.

You might even consider rethinking the idea of *forcing* your ideas down everyone's throat at the end of a Gun.
(State Force, such as you applaud in Australia).

In this country, at least for now, everyone has the inalienable right to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. They also have the right *not* to think for themselves. By extension, this includes the right to vote, or not to vote, as they themselves see fit.

That's just the facts on the ground in the country in which you choose to live.

And in any country, intolerance of others is not your friend.
+1 # GrannyBgood 2013-11-07 07:23
See my post, Upsite....
+3 # GrannyBgood 2013-11-07 07:32
My Two Choices system also frustrates the money powers gaming our too predictable system leaves all the variables open to the People (including of course, getting your party started and the right candidates on the ballots) because of that all-important Back-up vote that allows real choice instead of just having to vote against the what we have now.
0 # janla 2013-11-08 15:02
"And in any country, intolerance of others is not your friend."

I suppose this also means that we can't believe that everyone else but us in this country is stupid.
0 # ChickenBoo 2013-11-08 00:54
Rain, our votes really DON'T "count. Believe me, we didn't vote Obama into office...we were GIVEN him. Same with Bush, same with Clinton. It is all a sham. Gays, like the other minorities, are rising up and demanding their rights, and if the corporations give us Romney for a leader, well there will be ALOT of angry minorities (Women, gays, Mexcians, etc.) who will cause all sorts of trouble. And while these folks are rioting, other dirty deeds wil be discovered, and the corporations don't want that. You are right....a wasted vote will become a Republican vote. But the corporations still don't want trouble with the people, so even if a Republican DOES get the most votes, we will still only get the "leader" they give us, and it will be one who will keep the rabble calm and working and paying. Don't be down on Brand...I will bet you he's pro gay rights.
+1 # janla 2013-11-08 15:00
Voting does count; it is important to making our system work. Sometimes it may seem that our votes do not make the kind of change that we want, but that only means that we have to persistently work both behind the scenes and at the ballot box for the good of us all (having, of course, thoughtfully ascertained what that is). To not vote is to lie down and let ourselves be rolled over - and no whimpering allowed as the wheels cut off our breath. We must continually be active on our own behalf.
0 # brux 2013-11-09 10:21
Good point, I think Brand is not suggestion not voting for everyone, or all of the time. Actually, I don't know what he's suggesting because he is all over the place, but generally trying to interest people. Now ... is he trying to change things, or just get enough attention so that the magazine he world for can make enough money to pay him and stay in business?

And you can always try to explain what good voting does? Was it voting or something else that caused a majority of people to change their minds on gay issues in the last 10 years?
+7 # great_pumpkin 2013-11-06 21:23
Hello? One BIG component of a society that works better would be publicly owned, non-profit banks. The interest on money loaned from a publicly owned bank gets re-spent into the economy for the public good. No federal debt. No need for income tax to service the interest on it either. We do not need our government to borrow money from the FED (a private bank) and pay interest on it. Vote with your dollars and move your money to locally owned credit unions. Any business without customers goes out of business eventually.
+7 # MEBrowning 2013-11-06 22:47
Exactly. Hit 'em where it hurts — their balance sheets. And that goes for Koch products, too.
+6 # Nominae 2013-11-06 23:36
Quoting great_pumpkin:
Hello? One BIG component of a society that works better would be publicly owned, non-profit banks. The interest on money loaned from a publicly owned bank gets re-spent into the economy for the public good. No federal debt. No need for income tax to service the interest on it either. We do not need our government to borrow money from the FED (a private bank) and pay interest on it. Vote with your dollars and move your money to locally owned credit unions. Any business without customers goes out of business eventually.

Absolutely ! One of the great ideas on creating our new system that came from Occupy was very much like this marvelous suggestion from great_pumpkin.

Occupy pointed to the publicly-owned Bank of North Dakota as a model for proving the fact that this *can* be done.

We need not "defeat" Wall Street" (and the Corp.Fat Cats), we can simply walk away from them, and create a new system from the ground up.

A new system predicated upon how we wish to treat the Earth environment upon we all depend for life itself, and upon how we want to treat one other, perhaps reflective of the way we ourselves would like to be treated.

Right ON, pumpkin !
0 # brux 2013-11-09 10:26
You can argue this stuff until you are blue in the face ... the problem is it's all virtual and mental ... the issue is funding the public sector ... and that means taxes.

It's a tac problem pure and simple, it started with Reagan and continued with Bush, an almost military action to declare war on the public sector so the few in the private sector can take over everything.

The solution is rather simple, fix it, put it back the way it was - remove the distinction between working and investment income, remove special loopholes, make the tax system progressive right to the top ( as I wrote in my article - stop treating billionaires like millionaires ).

If we want to have a big military - fine, but the rich and powerful should not have the right to defund the public sector to do it, they just have to pay more taxes ... that is, to put their money where their mouths are.
-4 # 2013-11-06 23:37
How can you guess "Voting doesn't work" that's pure leftist B/S. The fact is 2/3rds 100mn of the 150mn age right to vote, don't vote. Laziness or government voter registration tricks aside fix it and vote another 100mn lower class and poor people. Get Australian compulsory vote then tell me it fails. If only 50mn current USA voters say 60% are the richer ones who benefit still leaves 20mn like you plus the 100mn non voters say 75% like you = 95 mn voting as you want leftish and just 55mn voting rightish then you win all you want.
+4 # MissMarple 2013-11-07 00:15
In about 1776, one third of the Colonists wanted to stay British. One third wanted to leave and form our own country. One third didn't care what happened and just wanted to be left alone. At the end of the war, those who wanted to stay British, the Tories, went to Canada. Of the Americans who were left, half didn't care and wanted to be left alone. The other half wanted to create a new country, and did; the Articles of Confederation. When they didn't work, men were sent to Philadelphia to fix them, but instead they wrote the Constitution, overthrowing the old government and forming a new one. Most people went along with it, some people opposed it, and some just wanted to be left alone.

From election to election we have found that less than half of Americans care one way or another. The rest just want to be left alone. That percentage has grown from the original half, but probably from laziness rather than idealism. Nobody should be surprised when less than half of Americans vote; only half of Americans ever cared what happened to America in the first place.

Of those who were and are left, some came from the slave holding South, that depended on the slaves, and most came from the North that held some slaves but didn't depend on them. The Civil War didn't end that struggle; it continues today. The effort to keep minorities, poor, elderly (Democrats) from voting by Republicans is part of that struggle.
+1 # Billy Bob 2013-11-07 07:10
... "it was the expression of the knowledge that democracy is irrelevant that resonated. As long as the priorities of those in government remain the interests of big business, rather than the people they were elected to serve, the impact of voting is negligible and it is our responsibility to be more active if we want real change"


Democracy isn't irrelevant. It isn't being tried. Voting is the 1st line of defense. No matter what else you do, if you don't vote, you're not involved.

But, it doesn't stop there. If we simply vote and don't demand that our voices be heard, we aren't doing enough.

This isn't an "either/or" kind of thing. That's like asking if you love your wife "OR" your kids.

0 # GrannyBgood 2013-11-08 05:28
Exactly...not irrelevant, just misused....and it's as false to say that Democracy has to be Capitalistic as it is to say Socialism has to be Totalitarian..R EAL Democracy has not yet been achieved..or as you say, really been tried, especially to the extent we COULD be applying these principles of self-determinat ion in the age of this technology. In an ideal system we could be voting on ALL major issues that concern us.
But alas! As we know, our system is corrupt and they who rule like it that way. I also think we should have more of a Parliamentary system in Congress...oh but wait...That word comes from Parla...meaning to Talk to each other...
0 # RobertMStahl 2013-11-07 09:00
A cultural landscape, particularly one that is a step in time, is open to form, the only means by which this terrific hole in the landscape of culture can be filled. Try Lynn Margulis, Gregory Bateson, James Lovelock, Francisco J Varela, or Randell L. Mills as prospects for advancement where change is not an internal surgical operation, but where we can remain still inside as we learn about the much more broad base of a pyramid only racketeers occupy the eyeball of, now, as change takes place.
+3 # scoff 2013-11-07 19:36
"They say the system works. What they mean is "the system works for me"."

This is the crux of the problem: the few who are invested the status quo and support it regardless of the pain it causes the billions of others who are robbed by that same status quo.
0 # brux 2013-11-09 10:02
> As long as the priorities of those in government remain the interests of big business, rather than the people they were elected to serve, the impact of voting is negligible and it is our responsibility to be more active if we want real change.

Well, so far, Russell Brand is firing on all cylinders. I'm liking what he says and how he says it, at least he's entertaining and honest.

The problem of democracy is worse than he states here, it is that in our current system any real expression of democracy becomes, to the status quo, the rich and those who benefit in ways they believe are sufficient, subversive, a threat, and even terroristic.

Imagine "democracy" being terroristic, just because the people of the planet dare to ask people, that mostly never worked and don't have any right to the property they control by force, to pay a few taxes to keep normal people out of poverty, misery and abuse?

We also have to blame ourselves, our consumption of the myths and stories that rationalize this system we have. Our subscribing to the media, our putting our own hands in the handcuffs of inequality, so to speak. But we have an excuse, more and more we are born into slavery and programmed by the system in different ways. Surely if there was a God, God would have to say that our creation of man (and woman) is an abomination compared to his, but God's creation apparently had a few mistakes that he has not bothered to fix.

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