Russel Brand: I won´t vote!

An interview Russell Brand gave to Jeremy Paxman last week has got the media buzzing with comments and discussions on the topic of voting or abstaining. If you find the time enjoy the full video. Basically Russell Brand declares himself a committed non voter. His reason being that the system in itself is faulted and corrupt, thus by voting you make yourself complicit to all that is wrong with society. His bottom line is that a revolution is needed more than anything else.

I think Russell Brand has a few things speaking for him. First of all he is very well politically educated and has strong opinions into which a lot of thought seems to have gone, making him a remarkable partner for debate should one give him the chance to finish his sentences.

Also Russell Brand seems to take more time to study his interviewers than they do learning about him. This usually gives him a nice advantage. 

Finally Russell Brand has over and over again proven that he has a spine and gigantic balls. He stands up for sanity in the face of whatever is thrown at him and it would seem; never prostitutes himself to the media.

Now on his view that voting makes you complicit with a system. Maybe it does. The loss of belief in the functioning of democracy within many countries is tremendous. (and no, dear fascists and theocrats etc. a functioning democracy is still the best choice).

It is understandable, that in the view of perceived and real powerlessness to change systems that are – more often than not – proving to be the extensions of plutocratic power structures, belief in a functioning democracy and hope for change are both dwindling. Income disparity is increasing and ecologically the world is being raped.

So I definitely understand Brands motivation and argumentation. My personal approach to the topic is still a different one.

On complicity:

Yes maybe. But even in countries run by a two party dictatorship (USA/GB) there is a choice between bad and worse. And somehow the worse side is usually better at getting their sectarian followers to vote. As much as I agree that to a very advanced point many parties are serving money more than the people, these same people do tend to lose a lot more under one outcome than the other. So not voting by people of Brands opinion will always backfire as in making the strongest proponents of said system even stronger.

Also this corrupt system has been around for millennia. Voting, especially for everyone – even in western civilisations – for but a small portion of that time.

On the belief in democracy (or lack thereof):

Of course people lack the belief in democracy on many levels. Austria  (here) is as great an example for this as are most western countries. This disillusionment stems from the simple fact, that the people usually have tried to change things; more than once. Petitions have been signed, demonstrations held, politicians bearing hope supported and elected. In most cases the government did all but show the people the video footage of them actually using the papers to wipe their ass and them laughing at their supporters through tainted glass.

So yes I also get that aspect. But I also know that peoples belief in democracy has to be taken care of. People have to see, that their vote counts. This is best done on a local level. Which is why I am a great fan of multilevel democracies, giving people the chance to see their vote actually mattering on a local level. Even or maybe especially in the US have counties proven, that they can achieve very much even in the face of Washington. Switzerland is a perfect example for continuous democracy from the cradle to the grave, from local to national level.

On the need for revolution:

Also do I understand his approach here. If the banks getting off scott free (apart from some minor fines, compared to their profits), corporations basically doing what ever they want and the NSA going haywire destroying more freedom and democracy than it is protecting (allegedly protecting) don´t get you mad… you don´t deserve a better government. Revolution still is and should be a last resort. I´ll be assuming that Russel Brand was not advocating an all out violent Revolution. Nevertheless. Even if all systems are deeply corrupt, one has to at least weigh the options against one another taking into account all the structural damage a revolution can entail and who the primary sufferers of such an radical change would be.

A soft change has historically proven to usually be the better choice; and whatever robbing blind of state coffers by corrupt officials has already taken place. It´s all long gone. Here in Austria we have a share of political corruption at least as high as in the US but slowly at least mid and low level corruption is being tolerated less. Most of the top honchos still get away. Usually in the “OK you took huge bribes… hang on to those but please resign and we´ll never talk about it again” kind of matter.

So dear Russell. I respect your honesty and intellect, yet disagree that not voting is a good solution. Should you want to get into politics (which apparently you don´t) please do so; but start on a very local level. Whatever the smallest electoral level in the UK might be. Take care of those few people and give them back trust in democracy and in a politician who isn´t in it for the money. That will be the beginning of your revolution: a peaceful one.


for your further entertainment some more examples of Russell Brand showing spine and balls.

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