Russell Brand: Constructivist?

Russell Brand has been waxing lyrical about revolution in his recent editorial for New Statesman. It’s worth a read and there’s a thousand and one things in there that could be a point of discussion here but it was a few paragraphs that caught my eye, particularly seeing as though Russell Brand seems to be giving IR theory a go. It seems like he’s in to a bit of constructivism.

Brand writes,

“Capitalism is not real; it is an idea. America is not real; it is an idea that someone had ages ago. Britain, Christianity, Islam, karate, Wednesdays are all just ideas that we choose to believe in and very nice ideas they are, too, when they serve a purpose. These concepts, though, cannot be served to the detriment of actual reality.”

So for Brand, ideas are important and things we take for granted as being ‘real’ are entirely made up. His assertion that these ideas are, however, separate to an ‘actual reality’ puts him in line with most ‘mainstream’ constructivists rather than more ‘radical’ constructivists like post-structuralists.

Brand goes on to state that:

“The reality is we have a spherical ecosystem, suspended in, as far as we know, infinite space upon which there are billions of carbon-based life forms, of which we presume ourselves to be the most important, and a limited amount of resources.

The only systems we can afford to employ are those that rationally serve the planet first, then all humanity. Not out of some woolly, bullshit tree-hugging piffle but because we live on it, currently without alternatives. This is why I believe we need a unifying and inclusive spiritual ideology: atheism and materialism atomise us and anchor us to one frequency of consciousness and inhibit necessary co-operation.”

Here he’s bringing up a couple of points about politics not only being state/nation-centric but also human-centric; arguing for a rethinking of humans as the referent of politics and security and shifting it towards the environment. His suggestion of some kind of inclusive spiritual ideology being used to do this speaks to recent debates about security cosmopolitanism.

I’ll let Brand have the last word…

“In 2013 (another made-up imaginary concept) we cannot afford to giggle, drivel and burp like giant, pube-covered babies about quaint, old-fashioned notions like nation, capitalism and consumerism simply because it’s convenient for the tiny, greedy, myopic sliver of the population that those outmoded ideas serve.”


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