The establishment hate what they call ‘apathy’ but their definition of the word is flawed. They consider people not voting to be apathetic. They consider those terrible voxpops of ‘ordinary people’ not knowing who the hell Ed Milliband or Nick Clegg is as being a symptom of apathy.
The truth can be very different. The truth can be that people are turned off by a system that actively pushes them away. It is a system that provides them with narrow choices of blue or red that might as well stand for Tesco and Sainsbury as Tory and Labour. It is a flawed system of hierarchy where only the most cynical and worthless can really excel because you have to actually want power. Why would anyone other than the deranged and dictatorial head up the Westminster greasy pole?
The thought of people drifting away in their droves terrifies the establishment because it is only this veneer of legitimacy holding them up. Having a celebrity come along and encourage people to drop out is one hell of a threat. So it’s best to just put the message out there that he’s not really understanding politics properly and hope he goes away.
Russell Brand gave some very good and eloquent answers in his interview with Paxman on Newsnight (following him guest editing an edition of the New Statesman in which he called for revolution). It shows that political activity when defined by establishment figures can be so narrow it fails to include the activities that people do on a regular basis such as their involvement with union issues and their local communities. People are political every day in all kinds of ways.
Paxman trotted out the usual guff about not having a right to air your views if you can’t be bothered to vote. But people fought for the right to vote because they wanted to have a say in the running of their lives. They thought it would change everything. They were wrong. They died for the right cause but they died in vain. Voting does not automatically change the world because much of our politics is directed and misdirected by corporations who fund the system for their own advantage. Winning the right to vote sounds lovely but winning the right to occasionally influence which set of numpties rules over us doesn’t sound like fun. It sounds kind of pointless.
The answer, as Brand rightly points out, is to get political by not voting. We need to change the system and you can’t do it from within so let it rot in Westminster and let’s help nurture a new one everywhere else. You don’t need to be given rights to have your say and get active. Just take the opportunity and never give up.
- WATCH: Russell Brand brings the message of revolution to Newsnight (newstatesman.com)
- Russell Brand branded a “trivial man” in fierce exchange with BBC’s Jeremy Paxman (mirror.co.uk)