22:48 Wednesday 23rd October 2013
[J]EREMY PAXMAN: Now guess who wrote this. “When people talk about politics within the existing Westminster framework, I feel a dull thud in my stomach, and my eyes involuntarily glaze, like when I’m conversing and the subject changes from me and moves on to another topic.” The combination of distaste for mainstream politics and overweening vanity identifies it immediately as the work of Russell Brand, comedian, actor and now it seems, political theorist. For is there no limit to the man’s talents? He’s now guest editor of the venerable left-wing magazine The New Statesman. He wants a revolution he says. Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I suppose like a person who’s been politely asked by an attractive woman. I don’t know what the typical criteria is. I don’t know many people that edit political magazines. Boris, he used to do one, didn’t he? So I’m a person of crazy hair, quite good sense of humour. Don’t know much about politics. I’m ideal.
JEREMY PAXMAN: So is it true you don’t even vote?
RUSSELL BRAND: Yes. No I didn’t vote.
JEREMY PAXMAN: Well how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm, which is quite narrow, and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means, alternate political system.
JEREMY PAXMAN: They being …
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I’ve not invented it yet Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on my plate. But, I’d say here’s the things you shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet. Shouldn’t create massive economic disparity. Shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people like, doing a magazine.
JEREMY PAXMAN: How do you imagine that people get power?
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I imagine there are hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations.
JEREMY PAXMAN: You get power by being voted into power. You can’t even be arsed to vote.
RUSSELL BRAND: It’s quite a narrow .. quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within the ..
JEREMY PAXMAN: In a democracy that’s how it works.
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I don’t think it’s working very well Jeremy, given that the planet is being destroyed, given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What you’re saying? There’s no alternative. There’s no alternative ..
JEREMY PAXMAN: No I’m not saying that. I’m saying if you can’t be arsed to vote, why should we be arsed to listen to your political point of view?
RUSSELL BRAND: You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations now, and which has now reached fever pitch, where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system. So voting for it is tacit complicity with that system. And that’s not something I’m offering up.
JEREMY PAXMAN: Well why don’t you change it then?
RUSSELL BRAND: I’m trying to.
JEREMY PAXMAN: Well why don’t you start by voting?
RUSSELL BRAND: I don’t think it works. People have voted already, and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.
JEREMY PAXMAN: When did you last vote?
RUSSELL BRAND: Never.
JEREMY PAXMAN: You’ve never ever voted.
RUSSELL BRAND: No. Do you think that’s really bad?
JEREMY PAXMAN: So you struck an attitude .. what .. before the age of eighteen?
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that really just administrates for large corporations, and ignores the population it was voted in to serve.
JEREMY PAXMAN: You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?
RUSSELL BRAND: No no no. I’m saying I was part of the social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system, and drug addiction is one of the problems it creates. And you have huge underserved impoverished populations and people get drug problems, and also don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system, because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served. I say that the apathy ..
JEREMY PAXMAN: Well of course it doesn’t work for them if they don’t bother to vote.
RUSSELL BRAND: Jeremy, my darling. I’m not saying that .. the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs. They’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations. Look, ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court, because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Is that’s what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, isn’t it?
JEREMY PAXMAN: Yes there is ..
RUSSELL BRAND: Why am I going to tune in for that?
JEREMY PAXMAN: You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution, don’t you?
RUSSELL BRAND: The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass. We are exploiting poor people all over the world. And the genuine and legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political doesn’t class.
JEREMY PAXMAN: All of those things may be true ..
RUSSELL BRAND: They are true.
JEREMY PAXMAN: But you talk .. I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.
RUSSELL BRAND: Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard. It’s gorgeous.
JEREMY PAXMAN: It’s possibly because ..
RUSSELL BRAND: And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do. Up against them. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.
JEREMY PAXMAN: You are a very trivial man.
RUSSELL BRAND: What do you think I am trivial?
JEREMY PAXMAN: Yes.
RUSSELL BRAND: A minute ago you were having a go at me because I want a revolution. Now I’m trivial.
JEREMY PAXMAN: I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution. Many people want a revolution. But I’m asking you what it would be like.
RUSSELL BRAND: Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor, where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans; where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored; where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osborne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue receiving their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying.
JEREMY PAXMAN: What’s the scheme? That’s all I’m asking. What’s the scheme? You talk vaguely about revolution. What is it?
RUSSELL BRAND: I think a socialist egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations, and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment. I think they should be taxed. I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron says profit isn’t a dirty word. I say profit is a filthy word, because wherever there is profit, there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?
JEREMY PAXMAN: Who would levy these taxes?
RUSSELL BRAND: I think we do need .. there needs to be a centralised administrative system ..
JEREMY PAXMAN: In government. There needs to be a government.
RUSSELL BRAND: Well maybe call it something else. Call them the admin bods, so they don’t get ahead of themselves.
JEREMY PAXMAN: And how would they be chosen?
RUSSELL BRAND: Jeremy don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system. I’m merely pointing out that the current ..
JEREMY PAXMAN: You’re calling for revolution.
RUSSELL BRAND: Yeah. Absolutely. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for genuine alternatives. I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?
JEREMY PAXMAN: Because by the time somebody comes along you might think is worth voting for it may be too late.
RUSSELL BRAND: I don’t think so, because the time is now. These movements are already occurring. It’s happening everywhere. We’re in a time when communication is instantaneous, and there are communities all over the world. The Occupy movement made a difference, even if only in that it introduced to the popular public lexicon the idea of the one per cent versus the ninety nine per cent. People, for the first time in a generation ,are aware of massive corporate and economic exploitation. These things are not nonsense, and these subjects are not being addressed. No-one is doing anything about tax havens. No-one is doing anything about the political affiliations and financial affiliations of the Conservative Party. And until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious? Why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent to vote? Why would we? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? Ain’t you been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense? Then it’s this one gets in, then it’s that one gets in. But the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?
JEREMY PAXMAN: I’m surprised you can be facetious when you’re that angry about it.
RUSSELL BRAND: Yes I am angry. I am angry. because for me it’s real. Because for me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I turn up once in a while to a church fete for. For me this is what I come from. This is what I care about. Remember that ..
JEREMY PAXMAN: Do you see any hope?
RUSSELL BRAND: Yes. Totally. There’s going to be a revolution. It’s totally going to happen. I ain’t got a flicker of doubt. This is the end. This is time to wake up. I remember I saw you in that programme, where you look at your ancestors, and you saw that way your grandmother had to brass herself, or got fucked over by the aristocrats who ran her gaff. You cried because you knew that it was unfair and unjust. And what was that, a century ago? That’s happening to people now. I just come from a woman who’s being treated like that. I’ve just been talking to a woman today who’s being treated like that. So if we can engage that feeling. Instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the TV for people to paw over emotional porn. If we can engage that feeling, and change things, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an actor? I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.
JEREMY PAXMAN: Russell Brand.