What he is calling for, in other words, is total global chaos and destruction. It is also true that much of the book consists of gibberish. A fairly representative sentence runs: “The significance of consciousness itself as a participant in what we perceive as reality is increasingly negating what we understood to be objectivity.” Yes, it is bilge; but that is not the point. Who cares what he really means or what he really thinks? The crucial thing about Russell Brand is that he seems to be popular – to strike a chord with people. After the long years of the post-crunch recession, there are many of a radical temper – especially young people – who are hoping for a prophet, for a new way, for someone who will show how humanity can subvert the long and imperfect reign of essentially free-market global capitalist democracy. It goes without saying that most of these people are on the Left. They want (or claim to want) a more “equal” society, to put down the mighty from their seat, to exalt the humble and meek – and so on.
In fastening their attention on Russell and his brand of semi-religious pseudo-economic mumbo-jumbo, they are revealing something very significant about modern politics: and that is the total failure of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party to motivate or inspire – at either end of the Left-wing coalition. Miliband and Ed Balls have long since alienated the Blairites. We have ministers actively briefing against the Labour leadership, and last week we were told authoritatively that Mr Tony does not think Ed has made any kind of case to govern the country.
We have Blairite stalwarts such as Tessa Jowell campaigning, correctly, against the so-called Mansion Tax – a tax that threatens to fall viciously on cash-poor Londoners who are living in expensive homes. But it is not just that Ed has lost touch with moderate Labour; he is the most Left-wing Labour leader since Michael Foot – and yet he can’t even stir the blood of the radical Left. Russell Brand is part of a phenomenon of general Labour hopelessness that has seen a huge increase in Scottish support for the SNP.
When Ed was told not to come campaigning for the Union in Scotland, that was because he is seen as being too much part of the Establishment – another besuited politician of the kind that Russell Brand deplores. The Scottish Labour Party is now in a meltdown, its leader having resigned because, among other things, Ed would not let her bash the so-called “bedroom tax” for a whole year, while he made up his mind about the issue. The result is that Labour could now lose between 10 and 20 Scottish seats to the SNP, and Scottish Labour is so desperate that it is actually thinking of bringing back Gordon Brown.
In the west of England, Left-wing votes are draining away to the Greens. In the North, as we saw at Middleton and Heywood, the party is seeing its chair legs sawn away by Ukip. The polls are now level pegging between Labour and Tories; the Labour lead has vanished; and as the election gets closer, people will be asking tougher and tougher questions of Ed Miliband, and about where he stands.
Take the issue of the hour – the EU demand that Britain should pay an extra £1.7 billion to the budget. We have heard a fierce and fine explanation from David Cameron: he thinks the surcharge is outrageous and another good reason for reforming the EU budgetary processes. What would Ed Miliband do, if he faced the same bill? To ask the question is to answer it: he would do nothing – nothing, that is, except cough up.
Russell Brand may be about as convincing as a political theorist as a toaster made by Russell Hobbs, but he is at least engaging his Left-wing audience with something they can recognise as passion.
Alas, I don’t have the slightest confidence that he will run for Mayor of London – as his publicists were confiding yesterday to a credulous media. But I would be thrilled if he did. As a phenomenon he is a sign of the disintegration of the Left and the weakness of Ed Miliband, and he therefore needs every possible encouragement.