You probably heard or read about a recent television interview British comedian Russell Brand did with revered BBC man Jeremy Paxman, which seemed to cause many a Brit to choke on their tea and crumpets. If you haven’t heard about it, then read this RT.com article about it and even watch the video of the interview if you like.
Many people from the mainstream media and the blogosphere alike have already had their say about the things Brand had to say about democracy, voting, politicians and society in general, and his proposed solutions. Most have been nonsense, but some have been very good – like this open letter to Russell Brand or this one by Jeff Berwick.
A friend of mine recently asked me on facebook what I thought about Russell Brand’s interview. Here’s my response.
I quite like the guy, he’s funny and he’s a thinker. He challenges people’s beliefs/assumptions and that’s useful to society.
It was interesting to see him talk about not voting and how this got Paxman’s back up. Here Paxman was representative of society. It’s basically not allowed to talk about not voting in society; it’s either ridiculed and dismissed as nonsense or angrily opposed. People react like this because accepting such an idea into discussions forces us to question things we’ve been accepting as true all our lives – such as the belief that by voting we make society a better place. This is a very difficult thing for people to do, especially for people like Paxman whose career and perception of himself as a man who is contributing to making the world a better place entirely depends upon the belief that government IS virtue. Imagine how it would feel for him to even consider the possibility that this might not be true. It’s often quite emotionally distressing for most people, and we resort to ridicule or anger as defence mechanisms to swat away this annoying fly who forces us to consider the possibility that we may have been wrong all this time; that what we were taught as truths were in fact the delusions/misconceptions/assumptions of our teachers and parents. That’s why Brand got Paxman’s back up.
Brand correctly identifies many of the symptoms of the flaws in our society, but his ignorance of economics prevents him from correctly identifying their root causes – which in turn leads him to advocate ‘solutions’ which couldn’t work for various reasons of an economic nature and would inevitably result in less freedom for individuals than currently we have. But it’s no crime to be ignorant of something, after all we’re all ignorant of many, many things. His passion should be applauded. I hope he continues to think and takes some time to learn about economics, and change his convictions on what would make the world a better place accordingly. If he does, then he could become a powerful voice for liberty in our age. British society certainly needs them.