Russell Brand is getting a lot of attention in recent days, and somehow he's managed to keep his clothes on while doing so. In case you've missed it, for the last seven months, he's been producing daily news features on his YouTube channel, claiming to provide people with 'true news'. I must admit, I've found them rather tantalising. He puts far too much effort into self-promotion and often descends into a repetitive splurge of pseudo-revolutionary catchphrases like a broken record in a Shoreditch store - and yet, I find the world-view that he presents captivating and, dare I say it, truthful. I don't seem to be alone in this reaction. His YouTube channel is closing in on 600,000 subscribers, and some of his most popular Trews episodes have well over 1 million views. Meanwhile he has released a new book, signalling his move from the catacombs of comedy to the platform of politics. In it he calls for a social revolution, in which national power is devolved and people organise themselves into small, local, autonomous communities.
Why is Brand so perversely appealing? And why do I say he seems truthful? It might be that what he has to say seems to offer an answer to the questions that the 'real' news poses every day. I know little about politics and economy, but from what little the media tells me, it seems as though our government is addicted to war and our economy is in perpetual tatters. Whether this is true or not, some of us general public folk are becoming more and more disenfranchised by a system that, regardless of its morality, is ultimately confusing and impenetrable. What can we do under such powerful and mystical mega-structures? Revolt, Brand would say. Disregard the current structures, and make your own, small, friendly structures which you can understand and share.
His charm might also be because he is saying what we have all started thinking to ourselves already (and what is more perversely appealing and seemingly truthful to me, than that which I am already thinking?!). There are such obvious problems in the world - poverty, hunger, disease - problems which at times I have thought were isolated and to some extent manageable, each with their own individual remedy. However, Brand brings to light the fact that all of these problems are fed by one core issue - financial inequality. As he highlighted in this recent episode of the Trews, there are 94 trillion dollars in the USA, a country of 317 million people. That's almost $300,000 for each person. However, 46 million of them live in poverty. According to the video, the inequality of wealth in the world's richest country is worse than ever before. How can we expect problems like poverty, hungry, and disease to be approached when the base human vice of selfishness reigns supreme over our world's cash flow?
These statistics remind me of one more closely related to my topic of interest - food waste. Each day, for every person on the planet, there are an average of 4,600 calories harvested. Consider that the average woman is recommended a daily intake of 2,000kcal, and the average man, 2500kcal. Evidently, there is enough food in the world to feed everybody. But we as a society are so bad at distributing it that not only do people die of hunger across the world, but we simultaneously throw away something around a third of all food produced on our planet. Whilst more than 20% of children in Asia are malnourished, two thirds of Americans are overweight. Were we all individually to decide whether food should be shared equally, or to be overstocked and wasted by the rich minority, who would dare to choose the latter? Yet this is a crime that we collectively commit every single day.
It is inequality that drives global hunger, and only a major social restructuring that leads to the redistribution of power and wealth can cause a significant change. It's been said that if we are to make poverty history, we have to also make affluence history. But what it is that drives affluence? It is, as briefly mentioned before, an innate, yet disturbingly unnatural, human propensity to love oneself more than one's neighbour, to be selfish and greedy. We were all born like it, yet paradoxically, we were not actually created to be like it.
We need the opportunity to be free, not only from our affluence and financial inequality, but from our greed and selfishness that is tightly tied round our hearts. There needs to be a way that our dirty rotten 'natural' selves can die, so that we might live a new life, fuelled by a peace and love that almost feels unworldly. A revolution is certainly in order. But before we look at society, we must look deep into our hearts and revolve ourselves. Only then will we find The Way to true equality.