The Revolution Will Not Be Boring

By Anneke Vo

Russell Brand recently released his latest literary offering to the masses. Anneke Vo dishes up her impressions of the book.

When British comedian turned activist/presenter, Russell Brand, released his latest book, Revolution, several mainstream media publications personally attacked him for being all talk — a “champagne socialist” — and for using his fame and status to egotistically hijack the struggle of the working poor. Little did they understand or anticipate the fierce direct action and practical campaigning that would follow as a result of the book’s message; after a sustained campaign last year by London residents, including Brand, US property conglomerate Westbrook (also known as “Westcrook”) was defeated in its plan to privatise social housing in East London and punish low-income tenants. And this was only the beginning.

Revolution is Brand at his most impassioned and authentic. In recounting his own struggles with addiction, mental illness, fame and divorce, we catch an intriguing glimpse inside the mind of a high-profile celebrity, conditioned to seek fulfillment in the hedonistic indulgences of the upper 1%. Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, first class luxury and coveted success — it appeared as though the Trews creator was living the dream. But inside, Brand confesses, he felt spiritually impoverished. Determined to turn his life around and give back to the community, Brand took up the cause of transcendental meditation and a health-conscious lifestyle as part of his recovery journey — he is now collaborating with the David Lynch foundation to advocate for at-risk youth and sufferers of addiction.

The ideas in the book are not new, but repackaged in a more engaging and accessible form than the scholars and political theorists that came before him. Citing leading thinkers such as Noam Chomsky, Thomas Piketty and Naomi Klein, and drawing on his own involvement with the Occupy movement, Brand explores the notion that political divides are perpetuated by outdated models of existential separateness. Inspired by his awakening to a collective need for greater meaning, wellness and compassion, Brand articulates a compelling vision of a more egalitarian society: communal anarchism offers an ethical, sustainable alternative to crony capitalism, corporate domination and global inequality. Written with verve, wit and subversive audacity, Revolution is a hilariously lucid and provocative manifesto for today’s generation.

With his revolutionary vision, Brand is optimistic, but not naïve; he recognises that before we can see any widespread, lasting change, there needs to be a revolution in consciousness. His unwavering belief in grassroots action over traditional partisan politics has caused a stir among establishment defenders, which fortunately hasn’t deterred clued-in fans and activists from planting new seeds of a more joyful, culturally-creative paradigm. The underlying message will certainly resonate with those who have ever questioned the system, or experienced even the slightest dissatisfaction with the status quo. If that’s you, it’s worth giving this book a glance. It will open your mind, make you laugh, and hopefully ignite a little fire in your spirit to shift your bum off the couch and become the change you want to see in the world.

Revolution is published by Random House and can be found in all good bookstores.

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