When I was in Occupy Columbia, we started our meetings by chanting, “The system is broken.” You may or may not condone the Occupy Movement, but you have to admit a few things. Conservatives believe there is something wrong with how the U.S. is operating. Liberals believe there is something wrong with how the U.S. is operating. Put those two groups together and you are left with one conclusion; everyone believes there is something wrong with how the U.S. is operating.
I suppose it is unfair to say everyone is upset with the current state of affairs. I can think of two groups that aren’t; incumbent representatives and the mega-rich, in short, the 1 percent. How can you be upset with a system that gives you lifelong power, or wealth beyond reason? The incumbent thing really bugs me.
I mean, think about his. Remember Mark Sandford, the former “Appalachian Trail” governor. The governor that disappeared, and then told the state he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, when it turned out he had used tax payer dollars to visit his extra-marital affair in Buenos Aires, Argentina back in 2009, yeah, a whole 6 years ago. That Mark Sandford, remember him? In 2013, he was elected to be the Congressional Representative for South Carolina’s First District, as a “Family Values” Conservative. How in the hell did that happen?
I bring up that one tiny example out of millions of others only because I am sitting in the middle of South Carolina. Wall Street brings down the world’s economy, and no one goes to jail. Since the financial meltdown, the top 1 percent has made a bundle, the DOW Jones breaking 3 record highs in 2014, while a large percentage of our war veterans are homeless. Companies, not workers, are debating the TPP (Transpacific Partnership) behind closed doors, while unions are generally under attack. After Sandy Hook, polls showed that more than 90 percent of Americans supported background checks, and yet no legislation happened. As I write, we mourn the loss of many of the Charlie Hebdo staff and talk about freedom of speech, while mega-companies are pressing congress to do away with Internet Neutrality. The system is broken.
That is what Mr. Brand’s latest book, Revolution, is largely about, albeit as much from a British slant as an American one. The way multinational companies rape the planet and oppress the working classes. The way governments, all proudly declaring democracy, actually work for companies and capitalism, providing the people only a feeling of democratic representation.
Russell has a fun writing style, very reflective of his somewhat rambling stand-up comic approach. He starts with a thesis, which reminds him of some personal event, which leads to some other anecdote, throw in a little ramble or tirade, only to then return to his current premise. He is fond of contractions, at times contracting a contraction. He also, understandably so, throws in a lot of backstreet Brit lingo, which can be a little clumsy for hardcore Yanks, but you can work your way through it. Reading the book, at least for the first half, has the feeling of a campfire stoner session.
As the work progresses he settles into more serious discussion. Something more than his own musings, he brings in quotes and ideas from a host of top thinkers on related subjects. He apparently has researched his opinions. While I cannot say he made a concerted effort to gather together writings for this specific book, he clearly has done a fair amount of personal research that he calls on, and obviously went to the effort to secure the authority to quote and recite and reference. Additionally, his tone settles. The contractions and lingo become less frequent, and at times Mr. Brand becomes quite eloquent.
A large part of the work centers on Russell’s personal journeys, and his belief and faith in a higher power. He truly sees some degree of faith as a requirement for change. I will not argue his view. It is his, not mine. However, despite my lack of agreement with this overtone, I did not find his preference to detract from my enjoyment or interest in the work. It is a perspective, not a requirement.
The thesis of the work is indeed its title, Revolution. Not a revolution with guns, coups and gnashing of teeth, he talks about a person-by-person revolution. Social change from within that we spread to societal change without. That said, he does not suggest we simply sit and wait. The passive revolution he calls for he expects to be an active, current course change. I cannot disagree with that, though there are many points that need to be ironed out.
I enjoyed the book, and I believe it is valuable reading for everyone. Even if you do not agree with his views, it will give you a different perspective to work with.