We all know the system isn't working. Our governments are corrupt and the opposing parties pointlessly similar. Our culture is filled with vacuity and pap, and we are told there's nothing we can do: "It's just the way things are."
In this book, Russell Brand hilariously lacerates the straw men and paper tigers of our conformist times and presents, with the help of experts as diverse as Thomas Piketty and George Orwell, a vision for a fairer, sexier society that's fun and inclusive. Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Nov 2014
From the book
Brand / REVOLUTION
The first betrayal is in the name. "Lakeside," the giant shopping center, a mall to Americans, and "maul" is right, because these citadels of global brands are not tender lovers, it is not a consensual caress, it's a maul.
After a slow, seductive drum roll of propaganda beaten out in already yellowing local rags, Lakeside shopping center landed in the defunct chalk pits of Grays, where I grew up, like a UFO.
A magnificent cathedral of glass and steel, adjacent, as the name suggests, to a lake. There was as yet no lake. The lake was, of course, man-made. The name Lakeside, a humdrum tick-tock hymn to mundanity and nature, required the manufacture of the lake its name implied, just to make sense of itself.
For me, though, as a teenager, this was no time for semantic pedantry but one of inexplicable rapture. I couldn't wait for Lakeside to descend, to make sense of the as-yet-empty lake, to fill my life as surely as they'd fill that lake, to occupy my mind as surely as they'd occupy that barren land. I couldn't wait to go to Lakeside. The fact that I had no money was no obstacle to my excitement at the oncoming Mardi Gras of consumerism. Lakeside seemed like the answer, that's for sure, but what was the question?
What kind of void can there be in the life of a thirteen-year-old boy that requires a shopping center to fill it? Why would a lad growing up in Essex in the eighties have a yearning to shop that would be a more probable endowment of one the gals from Sex and the City?
Joseph Campbell, the cultural anthropologist who I'll be banging on about a lot in this book, said, "If you want to understand what's most important to a society, don't examine its art or literature, simply look at its biggest buildings." In medieval societies, the biggest buildings were its churches and palaces; using Campbell's method, we can assume these were feudal cultures that revered their leaders and worshipped God. In modern Western cities, the biggest buildings are the banks—bloody great towers that dominate the docklands—and the shopping centers, which architecturally ape the cathedrals they've replaced: domes, spires, eerie celestial calm, fountains for fonts, food courts for pews. If you were to ask the developers of Lakeside or any shopping center what they are offering consumers (formerly known as "people") they'd say, "It's all under one roof"—great, a ceiling, and, more importantly, "choice." Choice is the key. Apparently, then, what excited me as a bulimic Smiths fan and onanist was the possibility of choice, and for anybody to be stimulated by the idea of choice, the precondition must be a lack of choice. Which is a way of saying a lack of power, a lack of freedom.
I'm not inferring that we need to revert to a medieval culture, by the way, all bubonic and snaggletoothed with shabbily bandaged hands, chewing on a turnip, genuflecting in a ditch as a baron sweeps by on horseback. If we've learned anything from Blackadder, it's that history was a shit-hole.
What I believe is that we're only just beginning to understand the incredible capacity of human beings, that we can become something unrecognizable, that we can have true freedom, not some tantalizing emblem forever out of reach. Not weary compromise and nagging fear.
I used to believe in the system that I was born into: aspire, acquire, consume, get famous and glamorous, get high and mighty, get paid and laid. I saw what was being offered in wipe-clean magazines and silver screens, and I signed up. I wanted choice, freedom,...