Could Russell Brand Save the World?

On October 23 Russell Brand, a popular British actor and comedian, appeared on BBC’s Newsnight to discuss his 5,000-word essay calling for revolution. This essay was published in a weekly issue of The Stateman, a British political magazine which was guest edited by Brand himself.

The article and, to a larger degree, the Newslight interview caused quite a stir both nationally and internationally. Not only because Brand is a popular celebrity who is preaching radical change, but because he seems to be voicing an opinion of political indifference, mistrust and empathy which is widely shared amongst young people who feel the same way.

Brand states that his views represent a growing underclass that feel that modern day politicians are frauds and liars, who no longer serve the individual citizen but rather serve the large multinational corporations. He calls for revolutionary change, towards a higher political system that takes social, environmental and economical issues into account equally. While he cannot say what this higher political system might look like, he is stating that it needs to happen and happen soon.

Well Brand might not have the answers but he has the right perspective. As the University of Waterloo Coalition for Sustainability Development (UWCSD) returns from the United Nations Climate Change Summit titled, Conference of Parties 19 (COP19), we have begun to look more deeply into not only what issues are present in regards to climate change, but also what possible solutions there might be.

Through our experience we have talked to climate change experts, both governmental and in academia, we have heard many passionate presentations explaining the different methods of viewing the issue and now have an understanding of what needs to happen to get global emissions back on track. But while we, as a passionate interdisciplinary group of students, are excited to share these standards and opinions back home in hopes to instigating this change, we have been told time and again “not to expect anything to happen from next years COP” and that we can expect the same amount of apathy from future COP’s as we saw at this years COP.

Why is that? How can the global community know the vast issue of climate change is upon us and not be able to agree on simple agreements to reduce our gross annual emissions? Why can’t a top-down approach to managing climate change work simultaneously with grass-roots initiatives? Why must we, passionate young people, be swept aside and prepare to embrace inevitable letdown from the global political class?

Which leads me back to Russell Brand. The man was heavily scrutinized for his manifesto with many calling his way of thinking “dangerous” or “irresponsible.” They claim that by preaching empathy (by not voting) he is in turn going to increase the divide between those who feel unrepresented and the political class. However to those who criticize him I say that they are missing the message. Russell Brand is not calling for uneducated anarchy nor is he preaching indifference to young people; he’s calling for revolution.

The world is on the peak of the 11th hour when it comes to enacting global change; some even state we’re past that point. The world needs to formulate an agreement, an understanding that change needs to happen, environmentally, socially and economically. Perhaps this can only happen through some sort of political revolution and if enough people in influential positions bring this need to light we could truly see the change we hope to see. Russell Brand has introduced the idea of change to an apathetic generation, and if he is able to get enough people to listen, perhaps he can change the world.

Here are a few alternative links about the interview:

Huffington Post:

The Globe and Mail:

Here is his article on revolution:

And a video link to the interview:

Author: Reuben DeBoer


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