I always feel a little queasy when I hear champagne socialists like Russell Brand whining about an unfair system that mistreats the poor and rewards the rich. The reality is that his success and fortune have come directly from a system of largely free market economics and democracy, both of which are under serious attack.
Usually I wouldn’t have any interest in writing about the, quite frankly, very boring and unoriginal interview with Paxman in which he provided us with a few rants likeable but less articulated, to that of John Lennon’s – Imagine. Furthermore what did Brand actually say that was so profound? To me it just sounded like very repetitive angst-inspired drivel he could have picked up from a Rage Against The Machine concert. For a reason unknown to me the video has gone viral and potentially done an incredible amount of damage to our democratic system, by dissuading voters from voting, so deserves a response.
There is no reason that the rich, like Brand, whom publicly cry for the poor to propagate their careers, cannot give away all their wealth as a blank check to HM Revenue & Customs or a charity of their choosing. If he really cares for the less fortunate, then why wait for the tax rules to change and redistribute his income for him? This is the beauty of a free market system as it allows people who are truly philanthropic to accrue wealth and if they wish, give it away to those less fortunate, which is the most efficient means possible, far more efficient than the state.
You might think I’m being unfair, that perhaps he shouldn’t give away all his wealth within a system that he sees as constitutionally unfair and corrupt. Giving him the benefit of the doubt lets see how much money and effort he puts toward setting up a new political party or getting this revolution of his going. The trouble I have with millionaires like Brand is that if a revolution did take place both he and the rich would be immune to any disastrous consequences, probably responding by fleeing to America to escape ‘redistribution’. Not that I’m concerned about Brand leaving personally, but when he and the rich depart for America, they will take all their money with them leaving us a poorer but more equal place.
Where we do agree, sort of, is that mainstream politicians have not faced real opposition for decades (with exception to UKIP’s recent successes) and instead politics has become a cosy club for Eton graduates. Ironically, the biggest reason for this predicament is that 40% of people do not vote. To put this number in context; the Conservative Party gained the highest percentage of votes in 2010 with 47% of votes, which when considering only 60% of people voted, is a tiny percentage. The 40% of disenfranchised non-voters that Brand talks about already hold the democratic power for change, should they wish to exercise it. There are countless options; stand as or vote for an independent, vote for a fringe party, tactical voting, there is no excuse not to vote and then bellyache about politics afterwards.
Can you imagine the change that would be brought about if that 40% of non-voters voted for The Green Party and won as a majority? There would certainly be a revolution. This kind of revolution would be my idea of hell on earth, mind, but nevertheless it could be attained through our democratic process. Brand’s wealth could be redistributed amongst the poor; instead he could be placed on a state farm with the rest of us, growing organic wheat crops without the use of machine tools or fossil fuels and receiving food vouchers instead of monetary payment. In fact sign me up; I’m with Brand… viva la revolucion!