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Russell Brand, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight, recently called for “a revolultion, a socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth“.

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The complete accurate transcript.

Jeremy Paxman: “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?”

Russell Brand: “Well, I suppose like a person who’s been politely asked by an attractive woman. I don’t know what the typical criteria is. I don’t know many people that edit political magazines. Boris [Johnson]..he used to do one, didn’t he? So I’m a kind of, a person with crazy hair, quite a good sense of humour, don’t know much about politics, I’m ideal.”

Paxman: “But is it true you don’t even vote?”

Brand:
 “Yeah, no, I don’t vote.”

Paxman: “Well how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”

Brand: “Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere, for alternatives, that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means; alternate political systems.”

Paxman: “They being?”

Brand: “Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on me plate. But I say, but here’s the thing that you shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet; shouldn’t create massive economic disparity; shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people, like, doing a magazine for a novelty.”

Paxman: “How do you imagine that people get power?”

Brand: “Well I imagine there are sort of hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations…”

Paxman: “They get power by being voted in, that’s how they get power…”

Brand: “Well you say that Jeremy…”

Paxman: “You can’t even be arsed to vote?”

Brand: “It’s quite a narrow, quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within in the ah…”

Paxman:
 “In a democracy that’s how it works.”

Brand: “Well I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy. Given that the planet is being destroyed. Given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What are you saying? There’s no alternative? There’s no alternative? Just this system?”

Paxman:
 “No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying if you can’t be arsed to vote why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?”

Brand: “You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations now. And which has now reached fever pitch where you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacit complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you change it then?”

Brand: “I’m trying to.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you start by voting?”

Brand: [Laughs] “I don’t think it works. People have voted already and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.”

Paxman: “When did you last vote?”

Brand:
 “Never.”

Paxman: “You’ve never, ever voted?”

Brand:
 “No. Do you think that’s really bad?”

Paxman: “So you struck an attitude, what, before the age of 18?”

Brand:
 “Well I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that, really, just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve.”

Paxman:
 “You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?”

Brand: “No, no, no. I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system. And drug addiction is one of the problems it creates when you have huge, underserved, impoverished populations, people get drug problems. And, also, don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served. I say that the apathy…”

Paxman: “Of course it doesn’t work for them if they didn’t bother to vote.”

Brand: “Jeremy, my darling, I’m not saying…the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs, they’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations. Look at..ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court, because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Isn’t that what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, innit?”

Paxman:
 “Yeah.”

Brand:
 “So what am I gonna do, tune in for that?”

Paxman:
 “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution don’t you?”

Brand:
 “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”

Paxman: “All of those things may be true.”

Brand: “They are true.”

Paxman: “But you took…I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.”

Brand: “Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard, it’s gorgeous.”

Paxman: “It’s possibly because…”

Brand: “And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do. Because I’m against them. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.”

Paxman: “You are a very trivial man.”

Brand: “What you think I am, trivial?”

Paxman: “Yes.”

Brand: “A minute ago you were having a go at me because I wanted a revolution now I’m trivial, I’m bouncing about all over the place.”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution, many people want a revolution, but I’m asking you what it would be like.”

Brand: “Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored, where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osbourne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue receiving their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying.”

Paxman: “What’s the scheme, that’s all I’m asking. What’s the scheme? You talked vaguely about a revolution, what is it?”

Brand: “I think a socialist egalitarian system, based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment… I think they should be taxed. I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?”

Paxman: “Who would levy these taxes?”

Brand:
 “I think we do need like… I think there needs to be a centralized administrative system but built on…”

Paxman: “A government?”

Brand: “Yes, well, maybe call it something else. Call them like the Admin Bods so they don’t get ahead of themselves.”

Paxman: “And how would they be chosen?”

Brand: “Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you, in a bloody hotel room and devise a global, utopian system. I’m merely pointing out that the current…”

Paxman: “You’re calling for revolution!”

Brand: “Yeah, absolutely. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for genuine alternatives.”

Paxman:
 “There are many people who would agree with you..”

Brand: “Good.”

Paxman: “The current system is not engaging with all sorts of problems, yes. And they feel apathetic, really apathetic. But if they were to take you seriously, and not to vote…”

Brand: “Yeah, they shouldn’t vote, they should, that’s one thing they should do, don’t bother voting. Because when it reaches..there’s a point…You see these little valves, these, like, sort of cosy little valves of recycling and Prius and like you know turns up somewhere, it starts reaching the point where you think ‘oh this is enough now. Stop voting. Stop pretending. Wake up. Be in reality now. Time to be in reality now’. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make any difference? We know that already?”

Paxman: “It does make a difference.”

Brand: “I have more impact at West Ham United, cheering them on, and they lost to City, unnecessarily, sadly.”

Paxman:
 “Now you’re being facetious.”

Brand:
 “Facetiousness has as much value as seriousness, I think you’re making the mistake, of mistaking seriousness for solemnity”

Paxman: “You’re not going to solve world problems by facetiousness.”

Brand: “We’re not going to solve them with the current system. At least facetiousness is funny.”

Paxman: “Sometimes.”

Brand: “Yeah, sometimes, Jeremy. So listen. So let’s approach this optimistically. You’ve spent your whole career berating and haranguing politicians. And then when someone like me, a comedian, goes ‘they’re all worthless, what’s the point in engaging with any of them’, you sort of have a go at me because I’m not poor anymore. I’m sorry!”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you about that. I’m just asking why we should take you seriously when you’re so unspecific about what…?”

Brand: “You don’t have to take… Firstly, I don’t mind if you take me seriously. I’m here just to draw attention to a few ideas, I just want to have a little bit of a laugh. I’m saying there are people with alternative ideas that are far better qualified than I am, and far better qualified, more importantly, than the people that are currently doing that job. Because they’re not attempting to solve these problems. They’re not. They’re attempting to placate the population. Their measures that are currently being taken around climate change are indifferent, will not solve, will not solve the problem.”

Paxman: “You don’t think it’s possible that, as human beings, they’re simply overwhelmed by the scale of the problem?”

Brand: “Not really, well possibly. It might be that, but that’s all just semantics really, whether they’re overwhelmed by it or tacitly maintaining it because of habitual… I mean like, mate, this is what I noticed when I was in that Houses of Parliament. It’s decorated exactly the same as Eton, is decorated exactly the same as Oxford. So a certain type of people goes in there and thinks ‘this makes me nervous’ and then another type of people go in there and go ‘this is how it should be’. And I think that’s got to change now. We can no longer have erroneous, duplicitous systems held in place unless it’s for the serve…only systems that serve the planet and serve the population of the planet can be allowed to survive. Not ones that serve elites, be they political or corporate elites and this is what’s currently happening.”

Paxman: “You don’t really believe that.”

Brand: “I completely believe it. Don’t look at me all weary, like you’re at a fireside with your pipe and your beard.”

Paxman: “I mean Ed Miliband (inaudible)…”

Brand:
 “Well he went to the same primary school as Boris, didn’t he?”

Paxman: “He did but he then went to a comprehensive school in north London.”

Brand: “Well that’s very good. That’s all well and good. But what I’m saying is, within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough. So you can well understand public disturbances and public dissatisfaction, when there are not genuine changes and genuine alternatives being offered. I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Paxman:
 “Because by the time somebody comes along you might think it worth voting for, it may be too late.”

Brand: “I don’t think so because the time is now, this movement is already occurring, it’s happening everywhere, we’re in a time where communication is instantaneous and there are communities all over the world. The Occupy movement made a difference in, even if, only in that, it introduced, to the popular public lexicon, the idea of the 1% versus the 99%. People for the first time in a generation are aware of massive, corporate and economic exploitation. These things are not nonsense. And these subjects are not being addressed. No one is doing anything about tax havens, no one is doing anything about their political affiliations and financial affiliations of the Conservative Party, so until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious, why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent to vote? Why would we? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? Ain’t you been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense. Then it’s this one that gets in, then it’s that one gets in but the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?”

Paxman: “I’m surprised you can be facetious when you’re that angry about it.”

Brand: “Yeah, I am angry, I am angry. Because for me it’s real, because for me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I just turn up to once in a while to a church féte for. For me, this is what I come from. This is what I care about.”

Paxman: “Do you see any hope?”

Brand: “Remember that…yeah, totally, there’s gonna be a revolution. It’s totally going to happen. I ain’t got a flicker of doubt. This is the end. This is time to wake up.
I remember I seen you in that programme, where you look at your ancestors, and you saw the way your grandmother were out to brass herself or got fucked over by the aristocrats who ran her gaff. You cried because you knew that it was unfair and unjust. And that was what? A century ago? That’s happening to people now. I just come from a woman who’s been treated like that. I’ve just been talking to a woman, today, who’s being treated like that. So if we can engage that feeling, instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the TV for people to pore over emotional porn. If we can engage that feeling and change things, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an actor? I mean I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.”

Read Brand’s New Statesman guest editorial here.

Read Brand’s 05/11/13 The Guardian response to the backlash brought on by his Paxman interview here.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Russell Brand on Newsnight | Two Old Chairs on 31 Oct 2013 at 6:26 pm

    […] Recently, Russell Brand was asked to edit New Statesman and was interviewed on Newsnight by Jeremy Paxman.  [UPDATE: transcript by frothquaffer] […]

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