Owen Jones: Encouraging disengagement? Quite the opposite
I have no time for the all-too-smug, seen-it-all-before snottiness towards Russell Brand that is so prevalent among the political commentariat. Such commentators are disproportionately drawn from highly privileged backgrounds and their work is read often only by the most politically engaged. In terms of fostering debate about the nature of our democracy, well, the impact is limited – and yet an attitude of “politics belongs to the experts”, a hangover from the days of restricted suffrage, still lingers. (Disclaimer: I’m not making any claims about my own reach, either.)
That’s why I have a lot of time for Brand. I didn’t support his call not to vote. But I’ve visited enough sixth forms to meet students debating what democracy is because of the grenade Brand threw into Jeremy Paxman’s studio. Rather than encouraging mass political disengagement – I think the powerful have done that without much outside assistance – a witty comedian with big hair is doing the opposite.
Revolution is funny, full of charm, and engaging. Is it a thorough textbook detailing a coherent alternative new society? No, and let me know when someone strings that together. But it will be read by an audience who doesn’t, say, read the Guardian, and may encourage them to think about issues such as grotesque inequality, the concentration of wealth and power, and the many injustices that afflict and even define our society. Few of us achieve that.
• Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist