Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Russell Brand

The 4 Strategies Available to the British Left

After getting thrashed in the election, Britain’s Labour Party is gearing up for a leadership contest. This provides us with an opportunity to talk about the different strategies open to the left and the potential consequences of each. There are four that stick out to me:

  1. The Miliband Strategy–concede that the Tories are right that austerity is needed, but accuse the Tories of being too cruel and indifferent to the welfare state to be trusted with it.
  2. The Blair Strategy–enthusiastically embrace the Tory position on economic issues to demonstrate economic competence and political seriousness to voters.
  3. The Corbyn Strategy–mount a vigorous intellectual attack on austerity presenting a clear ideological alternative to the Tories.
  4. The Brand Strategy–attack the structure of the political system itself for being unable to produce good political outcomes.

Let’s talk about each one.

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Russell Brand is Not a Hypocrite

Over the last year, British comedian Russell Brand has fashioned himself into something of a champion for the little guy–for poor and marginalized people in society. Politically, he’s a classic, old school Marxist. He sees politics as a fundamental struggle between owners and workers and wants a revolution of some kind to empower the masses (though he admits he doesn’t know what form that revolution should take). I’ve written about Brand before, and I don’t fully agree with his views, but I sympathize with his core observation–that our society is not yet fully just and that many groups of people suffer unnecessarily as a result. I also appreciate that he is providing us with opportunities to discuss fundamental questions of political theory with a wider audience. In recent weeks, we have seen conservatives in Britain attempting to discredit Brand as a political actor by labeling him a hypocrite. The story goes that because Brand has a lot of money (an estimated net worth of $15 million), this disqualifies him from taking issue with the distribution of wealth in Britain. This is a deeply misleading argument that would, if universalized, leave the poor and marginalized utterly voiceless.

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Robert Webb vs. Russell Brand

The other day, I wrote a piece commentating on British comedian Russell Brand’s argument against voting. Now another British comedian, Robert Webb (of Peep Show fame) has written an opinion piece for New Statesman criticizing Brand’s position. The irony that a critical issue in political theory is being debated in front of a wide audience for the first time in years by two comedians is not lost on me. All irony aside, as a serious political theory person whose interest is the political system and what’s wrong with it, so I want to have a look at Webb’s argument.

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Thoughts on Russell Brand

Over the last several days, the interview Russell Brand had with Jeremy Paxman has been travelling around the internet. My Facebook feed has been chock-full of links to the Brand interview from excited left-leaning friends, vigorously exclaiming their support and excitement that someone with as high a profile as Brand is openly criticizing the political system on a program readily  viewable by millions. As a critic of our political system myself, I am indeed pleased to see elements of the critique echoed in the media. That said, Brand’s emotional passion for change nonetheless requires rigorous analysis to parse out which elements of his critique are valuable and which are incomplete or otherwise defective. That’s what I’m on about today.

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