Is there more to life than Russell Brand? I guess so, though it doesn’t feel that way right now.
Admittedly, I am starting to get a little self-conscious about all my eulogising of Brand in these posts, but it is difficult not to be inspired into thinking aloud by his own provocative contributions – the latest being another article in the Guardian.
There are some lovely descriptions of the futility of voting, such as this one:
The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears.
He also spears the perfidy of his critics:
When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.
But the crux of the matter – and the answer to those, like fellow comedian Robert Webb, who feebly argue that we should vote because it is the only way to be politically engaged – is found in this line:
The reason not voting could be effective is that if we starve them of our consent we could force them to acknowledge that they operate on behalf of The City and Wall Street; that the financing of political parties and lobbying is where the true influence lies; not in the ballot box.
Exactly. One only needs to do a small thought experiment to answer the Webbs. What is the worst that would happen if 80% of us decided to withdraw our vote at election time? The Conservatives would get in with 10-15% of the popular vote. In other words, we’d have the same corrupt politicians ruling over us as now but – unlike now – they would have not even the pretence of a democratic mandate to legitimise their actions. It would be clear they were simply in power to promote the naked self-interest of their class.
That alone would be a dramatic improvement on the current situation. It would also set up a dynamic of confrontation between the disenfranchised majority and the minority ruling over us. That would provoke new kinds of popular political organisation and engagement, threatening the current power structures and possibly impelling us towards real change. None of that will happen as long as we keep docilely waiting another four years to vote for more of the same.
And for those who doubt the extent to which our political systems have been captured by the global corporations, and are being asset-stripped, here is a truly terrifying illustration of what is going on out of public view: