1. The Boring Future of Russell Brand

    Russell Brand has spoken. If there is one nice side effect here it is that everyone is talking about it. That includes me.

    One thing I have seen come up recently in Brand’s material is the imperative need for a (political) revolution. In the modern left the current emphasis is on pending ecological catastrophes (with wild finger pointing at recent Act of God-esque weather phenomenon in the USA). There are also many Marx-attuned folks who are convinced that the 2008 financial downturn and the failure to turn it around for everyday people marks the beginning of the “Final Crisis” of capitalism. Brand takes lightly from both tendencies and says a revolution is necessary to avert total environmental and economic collapse. More broadly, this means catastrophe is inevitable and to dodge it we require a revolution.

    Readers of “Tired of Progressivism” may think “Well, now you agree with this as you spent over a thousand words convincing me that things are getting shit.” Here I may disappoint. In particular there is nothing certain about a thorough-going revolution. Despite their deep divisions one thing anarchists and communists agreed on was how terrible conditions were and how certain revolution was. In the mid-1800s socialists were convinced one was right around the corner: “Twenty years” they said. Twenty years later it became forty years. By the Great Depression an exiled but esteemed Alexander Berkman committed suicide, convinced he was a burden to the unattainable dream. Weeks later the Spanish anarchists of the CNT …

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  2. Tired of Progressivism

    Russell Brand has begun commenting on matters of political import. In some ways he echoes “Your Politics Are Boring as Fuck” but rebranded to apply to mainstream politics.

    Brand has come under fire from many quarters, but it is the Telegraph’s response which I think is the most insidious. It is not a gutless ad-hominem attack like many, but considered and ideological. Tom Chivers, like many others including my parents, buys into the vulgar progressivism that engulfed my childhood school and home:

    Wherever you live in the world, the odds are that you will have an easier life than someone born in the same place 200 years ago. Not everywhere – there are pockets of regression, little eddies in the forward current – but generally speaking, humans have it better than ever before.

    He goes on to speak of the last five years of austerity, of a shrinking horizon of possibility for most working people, as an aberration. He ignores the cuts and privatisation that we have seen in these years are extensions of efforts that date back to our days of affluence, that the social forces that desired an emasculated welfare system have simply used austerity to their advantage. Similarly he ignores the slow failure of civil society.

    I straddle a generation where my school books trumpeted the freedom to travel without papers, the sanctity of the private individual and the presumption of their innocence, and the so-cherished freedom to dissent and to associate as a triumph of western civilisation …

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