Russell Brand gets a shellacking from Michael Moynihan at The Daily Beast:
Most of us have the benefit of growing up politically in private. Not too many people remember the naive and silly views we held; the late night college bull sessions (during which we discover that utopia is possible, if only they would listen to us kids) are forgotten in the haze of pot smoke and advancing age. But Brand, as he always reminds us, was doing a mess of drugs when all the other kids his age were at university doing a mess of drugs. So Che and Chomsky had to wait.
But now, two decades later, Brand is now doing the rounds promoting Revolution, a meandering and pretentious mĂ©lange of student politics, junk history, and goofy mysticism. Now he will just proselytize and wait. Heâs Lenin in Switzerland, Mao on the Long March, Castro in the Sierra Maestra.
Many of Brandâs critics have noted that Revolution is full of vacuous nonsense, like his argumentâif thatâs the right wordâthat the economy âis just a metaphorical device. Itâs not real, thatâs why itâs got the word âconâ in it.â
And there is always the easy-but-true charge of Hollywood hypocrisy. Sure, itâs amusing that Brand rages about corporations and an economic system that has allowed him to loaf around a mansion muttering about the rich. More low hanging fruit: the $37 Russ-as-Che-Guevara t-shirts available on his website. Or how about when he was ejected from a Hugo Boss event for a spittle-flecked rant about Hugo Bossâs complicity with the Nazi regime, never recognizing the irony of his triumphant escape in a black Mercedes?
The main hallmark of a celebrity socialist is astonishing hypocrisy.
It seems that Russell Brand is a somewhat more eloquent version of Wrongly Wrongson, the blogger formerly known as Martyn Martin Bradbury.
In Revolution, Brand bemoans our âuninformed populace,â while repeatedly proving his point with fantastically wrong information. Itâs unsurprising that he compares Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump to Nazis, but if you have a habit of comparing your enemies to German fascists, itâs probably best to know a little something about German fascismâlike âeveryoneâs favorite founder of the Gestapo, Hermann GĂ¶ring,â who was actually everyoneâs favorite founder of theLuftwaffe (the Nazi Air Force).*
* It has been pointed to me that Hermann Goering was, on paper, indeed the “creator” of the Gestapo. But as historianÂ Edward Crankshaw points out in his book Gestapo, “those who think of the Gestapo as the creation of Heinrich Himmler are closer to the mark than the pedants,” despite Goering technically running the organizationâwhich was then a regional force, limited only to “police work” in Prussiaâin the chaotic year of 1933. Indeed, it’s rare to see Goering identified as the founder of the Gestapo (and not the Reichsminister of the Luftwaffe or the president of the Reichstag), and I think it’s safe to assume the Brand is unfamiliar with these distinctions.
Brand writes that after âthe United States said there was an âincreased threat from Third-World nations who were developing technologyâ that could disrupt U.S. domestic serenityâreally, they mean economic hegemony.â TheÂ United StatesÂ said that? When I attempted to source the quote, itÂ existedÂ nowhere but in Russell Brandâs book.
On the following page he offers this baffling recapitulation of the Cold Warâs end, when Mikhail Gorbachev âallowed a unified Germany to enter NATO, a hostile military alliance, on the condition that, âNATO would not expand one inch to the East,â the United States agreed. Then they expanded right into East Germany, likely giggling as they went.â Wait, so a defeated Gorbachev âallowedâ a unified Germany into NATO and then, like assholes, a unified Germany joined NATO?
We are told of âBlack Elk, the Native American chief who wrote a now-famous letter to President Franklin Pierce in 1854,â an âutterly ignoredâ proto-environmentalist tract. It was ignored at the time because the now-famous letter is also famously a fake. And Brand is confused: the phony letter is attributed toChief Seattle; Black Elk would have a hard time writing to President Pierce, considering he was born more than a decade after he took office.
Many of the quotes are mysteriously sourced, apocryphal, or misattributed. Brand claims that, âSince Friedrich Nietzsche (deceased) declared, âGod is dead,â weâve been exploring the observation of British writer G. K. Chesterton, who said, âThe death of God doesnât mean man will believe in nothing but that he will believe in anything.ââ Brand rewrites the quote (the original: âWhen men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anythingâ), which is from the pen of Belgian writer Ămile Cammaerts, something he could have discovered in a few seconds of Googling.
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